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Speech. (Given at Labor conference re: copper strike. Lansing, Michigan. 31 December 1913.)

Now gentlemen, as Governor of the State of Michigan I want to say to you gentlemen who are assembled here that I heartily welcome your coming. I am ready to receive information and help from any source and every source. It is not necessary for me to discuss what you are already familiar with and we have a definite program to follow here and I shall welcome anything that this meeting may have to offer, and if there should be any man in the audience who has anything farther to offer after the three speakers are done, I shall be glad to hear from him.

Up to the present time I have done my best as Governor of the State of Michigan to bring about an amicable settlement of this great industrial dispute and if there is anybody who can offer any further help I shall welcome it. I am in hopes however that one thing may characterize the work this afternoon- what can be done under the laws of Michigan rather than what should be done- what can be done, and comply with the laws of this State. That is what we want light on and I hope we may get something of that kind this afternoon.

I now present to you Mr. William Mahon, President of the Amalgamated Street Railway Employees, who will make a statement to me as Governor of Michigan, and to those here assembled this afternoon.

(After hearing others speak, the Governor continued:)

Now gentlemen, I wish to ask you a few questions before I make any definite statement and I really wish that I might be understood. I have come to the conclusion after living 60 years that the larger number of controversies and the larger number of difficulties in this world arise from infirmities of temper. Now there is one man here who understands what I mean when I say that and it is my friend Darrow. And gentlemen it is exceedingly difficult for you and for me to overcome the infirmities of temper. If you ever solve any great problems that affect men and women you have got to struggle as far as you can- and it has been done in the main this afternoon- to get rid of the idea that the other fellow is necessarily a devil. Don't misunderstand me, I am talking about all men. I mean the Governor as well as the men who dig coal or copper. Now when this problem is settled in Michigan and finally settled it will have to be settled right. There is no doubt about that, and it will have to be settled with that idea in mind of give and take. Now get that thoroughly in mind. Don't let it get away from us. I am not enunciating anything new but I would to God, men, that we could even credit the ugliest man with good intent, to do his best, to do his best, and I would like to always be at my best. I want to ask a few questions. Please do not put me on one side or the other. Please never talk to me from a political standpoint. I do not care a continental for my political prospects, gentlemen, I am not looking to them, I never have and I am not now. I am not simply earnest and emphatic in what I say. I do not think any man has intentionally thrown a thing of that kind at me. I am not a political aspirant for anything except for the privilege of rendering to every man some service, to the humblest man as well as to the man highest up. I am not standing here to defend 29 years of my life in Michigan. There are men sitting here whose fathers, whose sons have been under my tuition and I will take their answer. I will take their answer. I will take the answer of two generations and I should be unkind to you and would not regard my own self if I should make such defense. I am not going to do it. I want to ask a few questions. I want to ask them as a friend to all of the people. Let us leave out the dog question. I don'' like that. I am not criticizing, I often use the phrase myself. But I don't like the use of the word very well. Men and women are something more than dogs under all circumstances. What I want to know of Mr. Darrow is- he ought to understand this situation by this time and I think he does. I want him to tell you men and tell the Governor of the State of Michigan what is the one leading point of contention he understands it at this hour.

Source: Newton, Roy, editor. Life and Works of Woodbridge N. Ferris. (Big Rapids, Michigan: n.p., 1960), 241-242.