Back in the days of typewriters, dictionaries were a great obstacle to my developing what my detractors call “time-management skills.” I couldn’t look up one word without running across another that fascinated me, which in turn caused me to look up another, then three more, and one and on, each word opening the floodgates of dopamine in my brain as I utterly forgot what I had set out to do.
The Web is a dictionary taken to the nth power.
Today, I stuck up for our Founders’ vision of a republic rather than a democracy, which caused Bud to say fine, if that’s what you want, then let’s return to precisely their vision. That caused me to say that I was for repealing the 17th Amendment. Then, when I went for a link to explain to readers which amendment that was, I started reading about the debate at the time over this “reform.” I saw that William Jennings Bryan (you know, the guy Clarence Darrow took apart at the Monkey Trial) was for the change, and Elihu Root opposed it. Thinking Mr. Root was perhaps a man after my own mind, I went and looked him up.
And I read on Wikipedia this excerpt from a letter he wrote to The New York Times in 1910, while serving as a U.S. senator from New York:
It is said that a very large part of any income tax under the amendment would be paid by citizens of New York….
The reason why the citizens of New York will pay so large a part of the tax is New York City is the chief financial and commercial centre of a great country with vast resources and industrial activity. For many years Americans engaged in developing the wealth of all parts of the country have been going to New York to secure capital and market their securities and to buy their supplies. Thousands of men who have amassed fortunes in all sorts of enterprises in other states have gone to New York to live because they like the life of the city or because their distant enterprises require representation at the financial centre. The incomes of New York are in a great measure derived from the country at large. A continual stream of wealth sets toward the great city from the mines and manufactories and railroads outside of New York.
Wow. Wow. Wow. Imagine that. A serving politician who actually wrote not only in favor of an income tax when there wasn’t one, but told his own constituents why they should shoulder a particularly large portion of that burden. Now there’s a man of principle for you.
You will ask now whether he was re-elected. Well, he didn’t run again.
But it’s not like he retired. He went on to serve in several prominent capacities. In 1912, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, for “his work to bring nations together through arbitration and cooperation.” Nevertheless, he would later oppose Woodrow Wilson’s initial position of neutrality as WWI broke out. He believed German militarism must be opposed.
He was a reluctant candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 1916. Charles Evans Hughes won the nomination, and went on to lose to Wilson.
I think I might have voted for Root, given the chance.