President Wilson (Cummings)
Republican leaders have been moved by a strange and inexplicable jealousy of the President. Their feverish animosity, expressed in gross abuse and through secret intrigue, has been productive of one of the most unhappy chapters in American history, recalling the similar experiences of Lincoln and Washington.
Political malice followed the President to the peace table. Every device which partisanship could develop was employed for the purpose of weakening the influence of our commission at Paris, and making the task there still more difficult. The President made every sacrifice, even of health itself, for the cause of peace. The long continued strain in composing differences abroad, the expenditure of nervous vitality and intellectual force in building a new order of human relationship upon the ruins of the old, lay heavy toll upon his reserve power. Then came the return in triumph, only to find here a widespread propaganda of opposition, making it imperative that he take up in his own country a struggle for the preservation of that which had been won at such incalculable cost. Following the superhuman labors of seven years of unexampled service, this meant the wreck of his health. Sickness for months upon a bed of pain, and worse than the physical sickness, the sickness of heart which comes from the knowledge that political adversaries, lost to the larger sense of things, are savagely destroying, not merely the work of men's hands, but the world's hope of settled peace. This was the affliction—this the crucifixion.
As he lay stricken in the White House, the great hand of malice knocked and knocked upon the door of the sick chamber. The enemies of the President, up on the floor of the Senate, repeated every slander that envy could invent. And they could scarcely control the open manifestation of their glee when the great man was stricken at last. The Congress was in session for months while the President lay in the White House, struggling with a terrifying illness, and many times at the point of death. He had been physically wounded, just as surely as were Garfield and McKinley and Lincoln, for it is but a difference of degree between fanatic and partisan. The Congress during all this period, when the whole of heart of America ought to have been flowing out in love and sympathy, did not find time amid their bickering to pass one resolution of generous import, or extend one kindly inquiry as to the state of the President of their own country.
In one sense it is quite immaterial what people say about the President. Nothing we can say can add or detract from the fame that will flow down the unending channels of history. Generations yet unborn will look back to this era and pay their tribute of honor to the man who led a people through troubled ways, out of the valleys of selfishness, up to the mountaintop of achievement and honor, and there showed them the promised land of freedom and safety and fraternity. Whether history records that they entered in, or turned their backs upon the vision, it is all one with him. He is immortal.