Philip Dru: Administrator/Chapter XVII

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Chapter XVII
Selwyn and Thor Defend Themselves

In the meantime Selwyn and Thor had issued an address, defending their course as warranted by both the facts and the law.

They said that the Government had been honeycombed by irresponsible demagogues, that were fattening upon the credulity of the people to the great injury of our commerce and prosperity, that no laws unfriendly to the best interests had been planned, and no act had been contemplated inconsistent with the dignity and honor of the Nation. They contended that in protecting capital against vicious assaults, they were serving the cause of labor and advancing the welfare of all.

Thor’s whereabouts was a mystery, but Selwyn, brave and defiant, pursued his usual way.

President Rockland also made a statement defending his appointments of Justices of the Supreme Court, and challenged anyone to prove them unfit. He said that, from the foundation of the Government, it had become customary for a President to make such appointments from amongst those whose views were in harmony with his own, that in this case he had selected men of well known integrity, and of profound legal ability, and, because they were such, they were brave enough to stand for the right without regard to the clamor of ill-advised and ignorant people. He stated that he would continue to do his duty, and that he would uphold the constitutional rights of all the people without distinction to race, color or previous condition.

Acting under Selwyn’s advice, Rockland began to concentrate quietly troops in the large centers of population. He also ordered the fleets into home waters. A careful inquiry was made regarding the views of the several Governors within easy reach of Washington, and, finding most of them favorable to the Government, he told them that in case of disorder he would honor their requisition for federal troops. He advised a thorough overlooking of the militia, and the weeding out of those likely to sympathize with the “mob.” If trouble came, he promised to act promptly and forcefully, and not to let mawkish sentiment encourage further violence.

He recalled to them that the French Revolution was caused, and continued, by the weakness and inertia of Louis Fifteenth and his ministers and that the moment the Directorate placed Bonaparte in command of a handful of troops, and gave him power to act, by the use of grape and ball he brought order in a day. It only needed a quick and decisive use of force, he thought, and untold suffering and bloodshed would be averted.

President Rockland believed what he said. He seemed not to know that Bonaparte dealt with a ragged, ignorant mob, and had back of him a nation that had been in a drunken and bloody orgy for a period of years and wanted to sober up. He seemed not to know that in this contest, the clear-brained, sturdy American patriot was enlisted against him and what he represented, and had determined to come once more into his own.