Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/378

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Political Writing Since 1850

and bitterness." In contrast was the more liberal spirit in Justice Harlan's dissenting opinion:

The practical effect of the decision today is to give certain kinds of property a position of favouritism and advantage inconsistent with the fundamental principles of our social organization, and to invest them with power and influence that may be perilous to that portion of the American people upon whom rests the larger part of the burdens of the Government and who ought not to be subjected to the dominion of aggregated wealth any more than the property of the country should be at the mercy of the lawless.

In the meantime a vision of a new and radically different social and industrial order was popularized in 1888 in Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward.[1] The book was a romance in which the hero, after going to sleep in 1887, awakes in the year 2000 to find vast changes. He learned that

there were no longer any who were or could be richer or poorer than others, but that all were economic equals. He learned that no one any longer worked for another, either by compulsion or for hire, but that all alike were in the service of the nation working for the common fund, which all equally shared, and even necessary personal attendance, as of the physician, was rendered as to the state, like that of a military surgeon. All these wonders, it was explained, had very simply come about as the results of replacing private capitalism by public capitalism, and organizing the machinery of production and distribution, like the political government, as business of general concern to be carried on for the public benefit instead of private gain.

The book was extremely popular for a few years. Bellamy Clubs were organized to discuss the questions it suggested, and it became the confession of faith of the Nationalist party.

Equally important was the new criticism of the operation of government and its purposes. This began with Woodrow Wilson's Congressional Government (1885), which pointed out the evil results in the existing relations of the executive and the legislature, notably the irresponsibility in legislation and the lack of leadership in Congress, which his own administration has since so well illustrated. A few years later Frank J. Good-

  1. See also Book III, Chap. XI.