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THE LAURENS ADVERTISER
LAU RENS, S. C, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3, 1912.
?OSCAR W. UNDERWOOD
MATCHLESS LEADER OF A UNITED DEMOCRACY
WORTHY OF A UNITED SUP
THE PROGRESS OF
A SANE YOUNG MAN
By Samuel G. Blytiik.
(Saturday Evening Post, December 30, 1911.)
It was hot in Washington on Wednesday, the second of August last?so hot
you could fry an egg on the pavement at Ninth and F if so be your taste ran
to tried egg ? la asphalt; and it was even hotter than on that torrid corner
In the glass-ceilmged chamber of the House of Representatives.
Only a few wilted statesmen were present at noon, and the chaplain laniniidly
besought that they should be purified from all guile and let it go at that it
may bayc been there was a feeling that some of tliosc statesmen?reposing coat
less and within the zones of inllucncc of the electric fans in the various com
mittee rooms?should have their guile removed too; for no sooner had the
cliaplam concluded his thirty seconds of prayer than the absence of a quorum
was suggested. The heated statesmen came pouring in from all sorts of places,
shoving themselves sulkily into their coats, and answered to their names as
the roll was called. Two hundred and thirty-three of them responded, each
asking his neighbor: "What's up?"
It wasn't long before they all found out. After Mr. Burke, of South Dakota,
had corrected the Record to show he voted in the negative on a certain propo
sition instead of answering "Present," Oscar W. Underwood, the Democratic
tloor-leader, and by the same token the majority floor-leader, was up. Also,
Oscar W. Underwood was cool. Two hundred and thirty-two statesmen were
moist to the point of saturation and heated to the point of liqucscence; but
Underwood was cool. Not a bead of perspiration gemmed his brow; not a sag
was m his collar and his shirt-bosom preserved its pristine gloss.
Underwood Center of a Dramatic Scene.
He had a newspaper in Iiis hand; and as he rose the gasping patriots on
both sides took notice and shoved up their temperatures a degree or so by
"The gentleman from Alabama is recognized," said the Speaker, leaning for
ward eagerly as if he knew what was coming.
"Mr. Speaker," began Underwood calmly, evenly, dispassionately and coolly?
which is most important?"Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question of personal privi
r lege." The Democrats applauded some more. The Republicans grinned. It
was no affair of theirs, save as a show.
I He asked that the clerk read from the newspaper he held in his hand, and
sent a page-boy scurrying up to the desk with it. The clerk read in that sing
song manner in which all reading clerks read. It was a telegraphic dispatch
from Lincoln, Nebraska, a^d it began: "The recent activity of Representative
Underwood in defeating the attempt by Champ Clark ami others to reduce the
steel and iron schedule has met with the disapproval of W. J. Bryan."
The reading clerk paused here, as if to let the enormity of this sink into the
parboiled perceptions of the perspiring patriots, and began again: "Today
Bryan authorizes the following statement: 'The action of Chairman Under
! wood in opposing an immediate effort to reduce the iron and steel schedule
reveals the real Underwood. Speaker Clark and other tariff reformers tried
to secure the passage of a resolution instructing the Ways and Means Com
mittee to take up other schedules, including the iron and steel schedule; but
Underwood and Fitzgerald, of New York, succeeded in defeating the resolu
There was more of the statement, but that is enough to show its general
tenor. It charged Underwood with being tainted with protection an|K having
an individual interest in the iron and steel business, and was a very pointed
and personal assault on one big Democrat by another. After the clerk had
Jinishcd reading the statement there was a moment of silence. Underwood
tood looking directly at the Speaker, who still half leaned across the big desk
up under the flag. Then Underwood began speaking slowly, dispassionately,
evenly and! gravely.
Underwood's High Political Courage.^
"The statements contained in that article are absolutely false 1" he said. In
stantly the entire Democratic side broke into a roar of applause.
"If the reflections that paper contains rested only on myself I should not
lake the time of this House .to answer them; but the statements contained in
that article arc a reflection on the only body of Democracy that is in control
of this Government, and as the representative leader on the floor of this House,
of this majority, I should be untrue to my party if I did not rise here and
stamp those utterances with the brand of falsehood 1"
Underwood continued. He asserted he had asked the committee to take up
the iron and steel schedule first because he comes from an iron and steel dis
trict, and appealed to his Democratic colleagues on the committee to support
this statement, which they did. He said the committee had deemed it wiser
to take up the woolen and the cotton schedules first because the irc?i and steel
schedules had been cut in the Wilson, the Dingley and the Payne Bills?and
wool and cotton had not been revised for many years. Mr. Kitchin, of North
Carolina, corroborated what Underwood claimed; and Underwood further
proved his case, explaining his connection with the iron and steel business?
he is a stockholder in a company that makes pig iron?and having a telegram
read from Mr. Bryan, dated April twenty-third, to Ollle James, in which Mr.
Bryan asked James to convey his congratulations to Underwood.
"Mr. Speaker," said Underwood, "Mr. Bryan did not say I was protcction
izing the Democratic party when I brought ;n the frcq-list bill. Not until I
differed with him on the woolen schedule did he have one word of criticism so
far as my conduct was concerned. * * * I had to write a woolen schedule
that would protect the revenues of this Government, and because I did so and
<tid not obey the command of the gentleman from Nebraska, Mr. Bryan, he
is endeavoring to make the country believe I am not an honest Democrat in
favor of an honest revenue tariff."
There was some more of the speech, but not much. It was delivered ear
nestly, but without heat and without an attempt at oratorical flourish. There
was no frenzy of denial, no protesting of innocence, no beating about the bush.
A* sane young man made a sane denial?and proved his case. That was all
there was to it?except one thing.
Underwood a Presidential Possibility.
That one thing is this: When Underwood finished that statement and sat
down amid the applause of the House, the State of Alabama had a candidate
for the Democratic nomination for President. Underwood didn't know it; nor
* was it the fact that he had assailed Mr. Bryan that made him a candidate.
Assaults on Mr. Bryan arc as common as Mr. Bryan's assaults on other people
Hand about as effective. What gave the State of Alabama a presidential can
didate was this: Here was a man with the highest type of political courage?
indcoendence Here was a man who did not attempt to palter with a situation,
and a delicate one politically, but met it calmly and proved his contention,
ilcrc was a man who, as floor-leader of the House majority, was endeavoring
to do what seemed best for the Democratic party and the country and not for
JJie benefit of any individual or the theories of any individual; and the country
Ipplauded and began fto ask: "How about tins chap Underwood? He seems
to have stuff in him." , . , TT ,
Of course the Bryanophohes seized upon the circumstance to laud Under
wood and equally of course the Bryaniacs would have seized on the circum
, ItanS to laud him had he praised Bryan. That isn't the point. 1 he personal
c .nation of it was negligible. The mere fact that Underwood rose to a question
o Personal privilege and denounced Bryan meant nothing in the sober thought
of the people; but the independence with which he did it, the calm and con
inc ng manner in which he made his proof, the fact that the entire majority
lufSorted him-coming as it did after an arduous session of Congress, in
which this same Underwood had displayed qualities of leadership and general
shi? an sanencss that had caused a wakening of interest in him among the
aSittSSI that Rood opinion which had been formative to form, and
naturally put Um in the light of being available for the Democratic
""^^^iS^Sm^ Change very materially before fhe Democratic
National convention is held, Alabama, first on the ro Icall. instead of yielding
to so. e Other State farther down the list when it is tune to place favorite an?
favored sons in nomination, will send an orator to the platform in her own
J,. present for the consideration of the delegates the name of Oscar W.
Flndrrw^ chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in
^S^SS^t^^S^ i?d floor-leader of the Democratic majority In the
Underwood's Long Legislative Experience of Great Value.
A trreat many men wise In public affairs have held that the Fathers who
made the Constitution would have builded even better than they did:if they
extraordinarily well qualified for the presidency because of Iiis long experience
in Governmental matters. Granting that Mr. Taft had long experience in the
executive end of the Government, he was wofully deficient in knowledge of
the legislative end; and this has been apparent all through his term. So with
Mr. Roosevelt. The tragedy of the death of Major McKinley will hold his
name high among the names of our Presidents; but, considering him critically,
no historian at all familiar with the facts can deny he was an expert President,
a capable President, a President who could secure results, a President who
knew how to deal with the Congress which makes the laws be must execute,
because of his long experience and service in the House.
HON. O. W. UNDERWOOD.
Underwood's Varied Public Service.
Now, when you talk of a man as a receptive or an aggressive candidate for
a presidential nomination you tot up his qualifications; and, no matter whether
Underwood's name ever* gets before the convention or not, no matter if it rc
-ecivcs'no yotes save those of Alabama, the fact is he is highly qualified so far
sfs-the mechanics of the Government is concerned. He has served in the House
of Representatives for seventeen years. When he took his scat, in December,
1895, he was thirty-three years old. He was placed on the Committees on Public
Lands and Expenditures on Public Buildings. In the Fifty-fifth Congress lie
was promoted to the important Committee on Judiciary, and in the Fifty-sixth
went to Ways and Means. He was on Rules and the Irrigation of Arid
Land-, in the Fifty-seventh Congress, on Appropriations and Irrigation of
Arid Lands in the Fifty-eighth, and in the Fifty-ninth went back to Ways
and Means, where he has since remained, arriving at the chairmanship in the
present or Sixty-second Congress, when the Democrats gained control of the
In all these years he has been a quiet, systematic, steady worker?not demon
strative, not flashy, but studious and industrious; and the mere reading of the
names r' the committees on which he has served will show how wide Iiis
experience has'been, lie has touched all phases of the legislative side of the
Government and mastered them. So far a.s the mechanics of this Government
is concerned?the knowledge of bow to do the things that must be dot.e- there
is no man in Congress who is the superior of Underwood. And, without laying
myself open to tiie charge of booming Underwood, the more knowledge of the
mechanics of the Government that is brought to the White House by its four
year resident the better things will be for the country at large.
Underwood's Methods Like McKinley's.
Somebody asked me once if I didn't think Underwood is a good deal like
McKinley in many ways. Laying aside whatever criticisms there may be of
McKinley, the fact is as 1 have said?he was a most expert and effective
President because he knew how to do things. I think the comparison fairly apt.
McKinley was a Republican and a protectionist?and Underwood is a Demo
crat and a believer in tariff for revenue; but the two men had many traits in
common. McKinley was, and Underwood is, a student of tariff economics.
McKinley got his results by compromise, by conciliation, by smoothing diffi
culties away, by a polite consideration of the claims of others, by being willing
to give and take, by suaveness and civility that masked a real determination?
and so docs Underwood. McKinley recognized the vast complexities of the
legislative machine and knew bow to harmonize difficulties that were pressing;
knew how to straighten out tangles and avoid pitfalls?and so does Underwood.
McKinley knew when to recede and when to advance, and when to stand
stock-still in a position?and so docs Underwood. When McKinley talked of
the tariff, for example, he knew what he was talking abOUt?aild SO do< S
Underwood; but McKinley was, and Underwood is, tolerant of the opinions
of others, and is ultimately concerned in getting what seems best for his party.
I make no comparison here of the men other than a comparison of their
methods. McKinley was effective?and so is Underwood. These are the
Underwood's Leadership Beset With Tremendous Difficulties.
Underwood's position when the Sixty-second Congress was called into special
session by President Taft last April, for the purpose of passing reciprocity
legislation, was a position of tremendous difficulties. He was made chairman
of the Ways and Means Committee. He had been second to Champ Clark on
the Democratic minority of the committee in the Sixty-first Congress, in which
the House had a Republican majority and passed the Paync-Aldrich tariff law;
and third in the Fifty-ninth Congress, when the House was also Republican
and when he was ranked on the minority side of this committee by Champ
Clark and Bourke Cockran. Cockran was out of Congress when the Democrats
came into control of the House and Clark was made Speaker. Without protest,
Underwood succeeded to the chairmanship of the committee.
Underwood was in the House, though not on the Ways and Means Com
I mittle, when the Dinglcy tariff was made.,and he was on Jjie Ways and
reciprocity legislation, to which the
Democrats were favorable, the House
was Democratic mainly because of the
dissatisfaction of the people with the
Payne-Aldrich tariff law, the election
that made the House Democratic being
the first opportunity, the people had to
express that dissatisfaction tangibly.
The Democrats had a majority of
nearly seventy. They bad not had pos
session of the House for sixteen years.
They were politically hungry and polit
ically thirsty. Thevyjfcedcd sustenance.
They thought they inBfo chance to elect
a president in 1912^and get full swing
at all the perquisites ami prerogatives
of the Government *, and each man of
the two hundred and twenty-eight Dem
ocrats was full of schemes for mailing
this chance a certainty. They were all
anxious to revise the tariff in order to
keep faith with the people, but they had
many plans for Revision and many
shades of opinion as to how it should
be revised. They felt their power avid
importance. They were eager, avi'.v, en
thusiastic and none too prudent.-.
Underwood an j the
v Underwood was made leader of these
f men. His task was to hold them in line,
to keep tlu.n together, to get them at
work intelligently and cohesi cly?to get
results. He knew that the Democratic
party, if it was t > have any response
I from the people in its demand for the flection of a Democratic president in
[ 1912, must show the people it is trustworthy and tit t<>r confidence. He knew
of the varying opinions as to what should be done with the tariff; knew of
I the enthusiasm and lack of judgment, the partisanship, and even the fanaticism
of some of his followers; knew they had been so long outside that the
attainment of the inside position might lead to excesses in legislation. He chose
his lieutenants well and went at the job.
His task is not yet completed. The President vetoed the tariff hills that were
formulated in the House under Underwood's direction and intrinsically his, \
though changed in many particulars in the Senate and in conference. There
will be more tariff legislation in the House in this session. The President has
demanded it and the Democrats arc willing to go at it again in their own
way. What Underwood must do again is to hold his party in line to meet
as complex a situation as be had to meet in the extra si jsion that ended last
summer?and never forget for a minute that there is a presidential election
next year that undoubtedly will be largely decided upon the tariff question,
Judging the future by the past, he will do it. It i^ a situation charged with
dynamite. Many of his Democratic colleagues are anxious for radical action
in many ways. The Congress will not adjourn until just 1 fore the first national
convention is held. The record of the present House will figure largely, not
only as to the individual fortunes of Underwood but also as to the fortunes
of whomsoever shall be nominated by the Democrats f. >r president and that
candidate's success at the polls.
Underwood Opposes Initiative, Referendum and Recall.
He is an advanced conservative in his views of other legislation. For example,
he does not favor the wide extension of the initiative, referendum and recall.
His contention is that these measures have worked out satisfactorily in local
matters where the people clearly understood the issue.-; but that in larger
matters of national importance the Congress is better able to protect the
interests of the people.
"The people suffer far more from the failure to enforce existing
laws than they do from the lack of proper legislation," he says. "The
people should drive from the places of power and responsibility the
unfaithful servants and elect those who will be faithful to the trust
imposed upon them. The masses rf people are far letter judges of
men than they are of measures, and are far more liktly to select an
honest man than an honest measure."
Underwood was born in Kentucky in 1862, was educated at the Rugby
School in Louisville, and the University of Virginia,; and was admitted
to the bar in 1884. He went at once to Birmingham, Alabama, where he has
since practiced law. He was first elected to Congress iij 1894 and has been
returned regularly since. He early took a hand in politics and served on State
and district committees In-fore he went to Washington. As I have shewn,
his experience in the House has been varied and his advance has been, steady.
He is not a showy man, but a studious. He is not an eloquent orator, but
a convincing speaker. His greatest speech was in opposition to the Payne
Aldrich bill when that measure was reported to the House of Rcprcsentativi -
by the Republican Ways and Means Committee in 190v. He made several
important speeches in advocacy of his own measures during extra session
of the House last summer, but none was so important or so exhaustive as
that speech against the Payne bill. He spoke for several hours, took up the
bill section by section and analyzed it from his information and convictions.
This was one of the great speeches of a season of remarkable presentments of
tariff doctrine on both sides of the House.
Underwood does not write his speeches. He says he caiinot memorize easily,
and never attempts to make a set speech or a speech wfcerc he follows copy
exactly. His method is to collect all the available inforn?tion bearing on his
subject and arrange it in skeleton form. He sets it out by Jivisions, subdivisions
and topics. He goes over these, rearranges, classifies, di'ides and subdivides.
Then he may write portions of the speech, or he maj not. At any rate,
when he comes to talk he has nothing before him but a so** of P?Per w11" hls
in+it- ~L- :* ?r.A Um ?fc!^- ? :?i-?-?'- ?
(Extracts from interview
car W. Underwood,
? Staff Correspondence
New York World.
Section, December 3,
"There has been no a
the part of the manu facti
give labor its share of the
derived from the tariff I
have kept all the profits."
* * *
"To protect profits is to|
inefficiency and to str
rather than to develop v
* * *
"I prefer to lower the
by taking bricks off the tc
wall rather than by dyj
the structure at the botH
* * *
"The people have lc
the Republican party _
has not kept faith with tj
* ? ?
"If it (the Sherman Af,
forced as a criminal sts
an efficient instrument
venting and punishing
and restraint of trade. |
his wife a real
assisted by b'f
him and ha:
takes the ut
and Iiis ami
control of tb
and leaves hir*
ccm. It if
lays out his
his cravat. 2L
bright, well c*
of life. No*'
wonder is c ;
Uncle Joe Ca
hama hr,s grow I
men.* recently tl'|,
L'nited States." t
Oilier lender! 1
now taking net
erncr, who dfsY]
ijig the extra
boom, the Birmiii
"The rise of ul
marvel of Amcric.]
look for its ciihufl
June 25 in the g0\
That this disti
growing in favord
country is plainly!
for the Pres.
"1 think in.
me the coniph
that they will
have their iric*
"Um I have
do they must
a man's worl
yonder," wn i
am going u>
am not going
didatc for tn?
will have to
! Oct. IS, 1011
The Under |
of the tariff v|
V lo iu:|
'1 !:is is a scj
It is gi od pi
If such a
and vetoed h
and llic Ucpj
face an angi
If Taft sill
have all the]
to the Dcinoq
him to rccov
he has lost.
has deprived i
gives the De|
ri-t.~- t' ?