Rollo Ogden: 1856-1937

Editor of The New York Times 1922-1937

Obituary of Rollo Ogden
Published within blackened rules on Page One of The New York Times
On Tuesday, February 23, 1937.


Obituary of Rollo Ogden
Published in a full-page format by The New York Times
On Tuesday, February 23, 1937, page L 3.


Selected editorials by Rollo Ogden
Reprinted in special edition by The New York Times
On Tuesday, February 23, 1937, on page L 3.



Obituary of Rollo Ogden

Published within blackened rules on Page One of The New York Times on Tuesday, February 23, 1937.


Rollo Ogden Dead


Editor of The Times


Succumbs at 81 After a Week's Illness
A Leader in Journalism for Almost
Half a Century


Rollo Ogden, editor of The New York Times, died at 3:15 o'clock yesterday afternoon.

At the age of 81, he resisted a heavy cold and came to his office daily until a week ago. Thereafter at his apartment in the Algonquin Hotel, 59 West Forty-fourth Street, he continued his work two days longer before putting it aside on the advice of Dr. I. Daniel Shorell of 8 East Sixty-fourth Street. His condition grew rapidly worse Sunday as a pulmonary congestion developed, from which he was not able to rally.

His death closed a long editorial career which absorbed him so intensely that he had already prolonged it more that a year after eye trouble had made it necessary for him to have the news read to him. After twenty-nine years as editor of The New York Evening Post, and thereafter seventeen years of The New York Times, he was reluctant to halt the daily exercise of scrupulous and candid judgment of public affairs in which he was engaged to the last.

His son, Nelson Ogden, mechanical engineer, of Philadelphia, and his married daughter, Mrs. John Marshall Lindley of Wellesley Hills, Mass., were among those at his bedside. His wife, the former Miss Susan Mitchell of Cleveland, Ohio, who had shared fifty-four years of married life with him, died April 7, 1935.

His funeral, which will be simple, in accordance with his expressed wish, will be Thursday morning at 10 o'clock, from the Frank E. Campbell funeral establishment at Broadway and Sixty-sixth Street. His family requests no flowers be sent.

The news of his death provoked immediate expressions of regret, not only at The New York Times, where countless pages had been enriched by his contributions, but also among those outside journalism who were aware, despite his desire for impersonality, of his position as dean of American editorial writers, of his encyclopedic knowledge and of his belief in the possibility of a well-ordered progress.

His life constituted one of the longest chapters in the history of the American newspaper profession - to which he turned from the Presbyterian ministry fifty years ago, at the age of 31, actuated by a change in religious outlook and a growing inclination for literary work.

After four years as a literary free lance, occasional contributor and book reviewer, he became in 1891 a regular member of the editorial staff of The New York Evening Post under Edwin Lawrence Godkin, who welcomed his trenchant pen, and whose post he filled after 1903 as chief editor.

He came to The New York Times in 1920; and, on the death of Charles Ransom Miller in 1922, he succeeded to the post of editor.


The obituary of Mr. Ogden will be found on Page 3.

Copyright 1937 by The New York Times Co. Reprinted by permission.

Return to the opening page.


Obituary of Rollo Ogden

Published in a full-page format by The New York Times on Tuesday, February 23, 1937, on page L 3.


Rollo Ogden Held High Place Among Nation's Editors For Nearly 50 Years


Rise As Editor Rapid After Leaving Cleveland Church For Career in New York

FOUGHT FOR CITY REFORM


Chief Editor of The Evening Post in 1903 - Joined The Times in 1920


SAW PERIL IN 1929 BOOM


Then Bent Energies to Rallying National Morale After Slump - Kept Faith in Democracy

Rollo Ogden was born on Jan. 19, 1856, at Sand Lake, Rensselaer County, N.Y., of a family which traces back in this country to 1640. His father was the Rev. Isaac Gray Ogden, a Presbyterian minister who served various parishes in the western sections of New York State. His mother, Emma Huntington, came of a family of Canadian origin. Both parents had been school teachers and from them the boy received most of his early education. The school facilities of the time were meager at best, and in any case they would have failed to meet the needs of the precocious lad. From the first he must have shown the talent for rapid absorption of the printed word and the retentive memory which in later years so deeply impressed his colleagues. One tradition of his childhood pictures him wrestling with his father's Greek and Latin lexicons when the boy and the books were much of a size. He showed an almost equal aptitude for games. His proficiency at baseball passed over, in later years, into an excellent game of golf.

He entered Williams College, where he worked his way through in part by his earnings from private tutoring. He seems to have been able to transmit his own exceptional powers of concentration to his pupils; at least, there is the record of one student whom he successfully prepared for a college entrance examination in Greek in the course of a single Summer. At Williams he was a pitcher on the college baseball team.

Ordained in 1881

He was graduated from college in 1877 and spent two years at Andover Theological Seminary and another year at the Union Theological Seminary in New York. In 1880 he went to Cleveland as assistant pastor of Old Stone Church. He was ordained in the following year. The minister of Old Stone was Arthur Mitchell, who had come the previous year from Chicago. His young coadjutor gave lessons in Greek to the two daughters of the house. Their studies at Lake Forest University had been interrupted by the family's removal to Cleveland.

On Nov. 30, 1881, he married Susan Mitchell, in the presence of the two grandfathers of the bride, Matthew Mitchell of Morristown, N.J., and Alfred Charles Post, the distinguished New York surgeon. Soon after the wedding the young couple left for Mexico City, where Mr. Ogden was on the staff of the theological institution maintained by the Presbyterian Mission Board. His duties in the intervals of teaching took him through the Mexican countryside, on horseback and on foot, and the state of public order was such that he carried a revolver on these journeys. Though the Mexican sojourn lasted not quite two years, Mr. Ogden acquired a knowledge of the Spanish language which he put to good use afterward in his books relating to Spanish-American history and in a number of translations from that tongue. On one occasion many years later a group of Latin-American journalists, at dinner in The New York Times building as guests of the publisher, were surprised and pleased to be greeted by the chief editor of The Times in their own tongue.

Took Pulpit in Cleveland

Mr. Ogden's work in Mexico was cut short by a serious illness which overtook Mrs. Ogden and compelled their return to Cleveland. There he received a call to the pulpit of the Case Avenue Presbyterian Church, where he remained from 1883 to 1887. In the latter year he resigned his post and retired from the ministry, actuated by a change in religious outlook and a growing inclination for literary work. It was a spiritual and personal problem sufficiently familiar in that period of profound intellectual change, and Mr. Ogden was no exception to the rule that such cases of conscience involved heavy sacrifices, emotionally and materially.

His salary as pastor had been his only source of income, there were no savings and there was a small daughter in the house. But the decision was made and the Ogden family left Cleveland for New York. The next four years were a period of arduous labor as a literary free lance with modest returns. He contributed book reviews and special articles to The New York Evening Post and its closely associated weekly publication, The Nation. The family made its first home at Ramapo, N.J., lived at some time at Rye, N.Y., but before very long moved to Summit, N.J., where it has maintained a permanent home to the present day. In later years Mr. and Mrs. Ogden lived the greater part of the year in new York City.

On Evening Post Staff

In 1891 Mr. Ogden joined the editorial staff of The Evening Post. It was the beginning of a connection that was to last very nearly thirty years. He contributed daily editorial comment of a general nature and wrote a column of literary chronicle and criticism. In this last decade of the Nineteenth Century, which was the first of Mr. Ogden's service on the paper, The Evening Post, under the fighting leadership of Edwin Lawrence Godkin, was among the foremost representatives of independent journalism.

The Nineties saw the first successful attack upon Tammany misgovernment in New York City since the exposure of Boss Tweed by The New York Times in the Seventies. It resulted in the election of a reform Mayor in 1984 and again in 1901. When Mr. Godkin laid down his trenchant pen in 1899 he was succeeded as editor of The Evening Post by Horace White under whom Mr. Ogden's contributions to the editorial page grew in scope and weight. About this time, he acted for a while as correspondent for the noted English newspaper, the Manchester Guardian.

Editor-in-Chief in 1906

Mr. Ogden succeeded Horace White as chief editor in 1903. The Evening Post continued to oppose the Bryan leadership in the economic sphere but showed itself sympathetic to the anti-imperialist issue brought forward by Bryan in the 1900 campaign. It stood firm against a policy of overseas expansion long after the issue has been abandoned by its original sponsor. Theodore Roosevelt's early procedure in Panama was assailed by Mr. Ogden in an editorial of tremendous impact. It consisted of the story of King Ahab and his seizure of Naboth's garden, as told in I Kings, 21, and reprinted in The Evening Post under the title "Panama, 899 B.C." With unflagging vigor and an inexhaustible display of argument, invective and biting irony, Mr. Ogden in The Evening Post continued to assail the protectionist policies of the Republican party, stoutly championed the cause of civil service reform, and threw support to what would now be called progressive policies and in defense of what would now be called the underprivileged classes.

The Evening Post's editorial policies favored women's suffrage, protective legislation in industry, international cooperation for peace and the defense of Negro rights. At no time did the reputation of the Evening Post stand higher than in the years preceding the World War when Mr. Ogden helped to shape public opinion with the assistance of a brilliant staff of writers, among whom were Alexander Dana Noyes, Fabian Franklin , Paul Elmer More, Hammond Lamont, Simeon Strunsky and the publisher of the paper, Oswald Garrison Villard, who in addition to his other duties rendered full service as a daily writer for the editorial page.

Mr. Ogden hailed the appearance of Woodrow Wilson on the political scene and remained a firm supporter of the Wilson policies through the World War and after, though always reserving full freedom to comment and dissent. He recognized the extreme severity of the Versailles peace terms, but he looked to time and the League of Nations to revise a settlement which was perhaps the best to be had under existing circumstances. His ardent support of the League of Nations did not blind Mr. Ogden to the practical expediency of accepting the safeguards demanded by Wilson's opponents as the price of American adhesion to the League.

The Post's Tribute to Him

In 1919 Thomas W. Lamont acquired The Evening Post from the Villard interests, and Mr. Ogden was one of a small group of directors managing the paper. On May 6, 1920, The Evening Post announced that Mr. Ogden had resigned as chief editor to join the staff of The New York Times.

"Readers of The Evening Post," the statement continued, "need not be reminded of what Mr. Ogden's winged pen, backed by broad culture, judgment, high courage and zeal for public service, has done to maintain the tradition of independent journalism. The loss involved in Mr. Ogden's departure is ours, but not the public's. We are confident that through the columns of The Times his influence on good journalism and good citizenship will continue to operate upon a much larger audience than The Evening Post can give him. His associated can only testify to the benefits they have derived from the company of a distinguished leader of thought and a loyal gentleman."

His Work on The Times

Mr. Ogden came to The Times on May 17, 1920, as associate editor to Charles Ransom Miller, and two years later, on Mr. Miller's death, succeeded to the post of chief editor. His last years found him the dean of New York newspaper editors and one of the Elder Statesmen of American journalism. Under his guidance the editorial page of The New York Times continued to uphold through years of tremendous national expansion, followed by years of severe economic distress, the principles of a sober progressivism. In the field of local politics The Times carried on the fight against Tammany Hall and for honesty and efficiency in the government of the city. In the late Twenties The Times would not allow itself to be misled by its very real admiration for the personality and career of Alfred E. Smith into a state of unjustified optimism about the emergence of a "New Tammany," a skepticism vindicated by later events. In the successful Fusion assault upon Tammany Hall in the Fall of 1933, precipitated by the discreditable performances of the Walker administration, The Times added another impressive chapter to the record which began sixty years ago with the unmasking of Boss Tweed. In the field of international relations The Times urged American cooperation for world peace through membership in the World Court and close tough with the League of Nations. The Times was among the first to characterize the intergovernmental war debts as a drag upon prosperity and an obstacle to friendly understanding among the nations. It insisted that the United States owed it to itself and to civilization to discard the heritage of war irritations and strive toward a true perception of the factors underlying the preservation of the peace of the world. Chief among such factors was placed the maintenance of friendship between the United States and the Atlantic powers by whose side she waged war in Europe.

Welcomed by the Publisher

Mr. Ogden found a warm welcome on The Times editorial staff from Adolph S. Ochs, the publisher. The association of interests between these two men was instantly observable to the members of the editorial council, which meets daily to discuss the news and the comment to be made upon it. Mr. Miller, who had carried the tremendous burdens of the editor-in-chief through the war years, was in failing health.

Mr. Ochs foresaw the problems which were to come upon the world in the peace and reconstruction periods and found in Mr. Ogden one who could carry on the traditions of The Times editorial page and enrich them, and could address himself to new world issues with a fresh and forward-looking mind, tempered by a profound knowledge of the past and its lessons. Mr. Ochs gave the new editor unhampered freedom to search for the truth and to employ the power of his pen in support of the principles and policies which seemed right.

Took New Era Soberly

The editorial page of The Times, under Mr. Ogden's guidance, refused to let itself be carried away by the doctrines of the New Era in the years of dazzling prosperity which preceded the stock market collapse of 1929. It viewed askance the new economic philosophies which came to life under the hot breath of the great bull market. When the election of Mr. Hoover in 1928 brought the stock market to the boiling point, The Times continued to sound a warning against the madness which had seized upon the entire nation. When the smash came and the American people, under a rain of terrific blows, reeled blindly from unbridled optimism into a mood of bitter hopelessness, Mr. Ogden addressed himself to the indicated task of helping to stiffen national morale against the creeping paralysis of despair. He had been hard on the New Era and its creed of permanent and unprecedented prosperity. He now assailed the killing doctrine that our economic system and the American people were facing a verdict of doom. In another column are reprinted, among other examples of his editorial writing, extracts from the article "Lift Up Your Hearts," which appeared in the way of a New Year's message in The Times of Jan. 1, 1932. If his editorials at the height of the gambling frenzy had a touch of Isaiah, the censor and judge, this New Year's affirmation of faith and courage reads like the "Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people" of Isaiah in time of tribulation and remorse.

Absorbed in His Work

Mr. Ogden's energies in the last twenty-five years were given almost exclusively to his daily editorial labors. After the publication of his "Life and Letters of Edwin Lawrence Godkin," in 1907, his outside writings comprise a few magazine articles. During his entire connection with The Times his vacations were short and at long intervals. His absorption in the daily task was intense and sustained, without suggesting a condition of overdriven and overwrought activity. The passing years saw him give himself to the duties of his exacting position with a zest which argued that from his labors he derived mental sustenance and recreation. He carried a great burden of work and heavy responsibilities with unfailing equanimity. He obtained results from his editorial associates by showing himself the easiest of taskmasters.

His principal recreations aside from The Times were his family, his friends, golf, the theatre, and a vast amount of reading. He had a gift approaching Lord Macaulay's for consuming printed matter at lightning speed. It goes without saying that the editor of a great metropolitan newspaper must keep himself informed of the movement of current opinion and contemporary thought. With Mr. Ogden there literally seemed to be nothing new in print that escaped his attention. He was in touch with daily and periodical journalism in this country and abroad, and with the whole world of books, from the most difficult and adult of general scientific works -- excluding actual textbooks -- down to popular fiction and detective novels. To the latter he was in the habit of turning for complete mental relaxation; three or four mystery novels on a rainy day when golf was impossible were not beyond his powers. His associates on The Times, each with a special field of interest, took it as a matter of course that Mr. Ogden should find time away from his responsibilities as chief editor to read apparently all that there was to read in each man's particular department. Exceptionally complete and abundant was his knowledge of the literature of politics, comprising history, biography, memoirs and letters, both American and foreign. From that source there derived the inexhaustible stream of anecdote, quotation, parallel and allusion which constituted one of the hallmarks of his brilliant style. It was his genius to illuminate a modern problem with a sudden flash of ancient wit and experience.

Forceful, Humorous Speaker

He did not make a practice of public speaking, though his position obviously brought him in daily contact with public movements and prominent men. Most of his talks were made on the occasion of visits by distinguished guests to the home of The New York Times or in connection with recurrent celebrations within The Times family. His remarks under such circumstances had the same rich, humorous and unforced quality that gave savor to his editorial expression. His knowledge of the classics remained fresh. He spoke Spanish fluently and French and German with a fair amount of ease, and he had a nodding acquaintance with several other foreign tongues. Between 1905 and 1911 he made three visits to Europe.

His formal speeches dealt as a rule with journalism or were delivered before audiences of newspaper men and the allied professions. In the course of such addresses he consistently expounded the principles of his trade as he practiced them. It was his basic creed that the good newspaper man must subordinate himself to the publication which he serves, not in the sense of consenting to take orders from above but by freely merging his own efforts with those of the institution. His views on the proper relations between the press and government were set forth in an address before the American Society of Newspaper Editors at Washington on April 20, 1930. He summed up his belief in three "propositions":

"1. A government without newspapers would be intolerable.

"2. A government with newspapers in endurable.

"3. A government by newspapers would be the worst conceivable."

The last proposition suggested an ironic view of the human limitations of the journalist. But there was nothing detached about Mr. Ogden's beliefs concerning the rights of the editor in his own proper field, which is to plumb public opinion, to instruct it and be instructed by it, free of interference.

"I think," he said in the same speech to the editors, "that any man of spirit strong enough to dig a ditch or plow a field would wish to escape an occupation made slavish by the despotic command of either a government or a political party."

On Jan. 27, 1927, as part of the formal inauguration of the radio telephone between New York and London, Mr. Ogden was interviewed by E.A. Perris, editor of The London Chronicle. The English editor asked what were the causes of American prosperity -- for we were prosperous in 1927. Mr. Ogden's reply exhibited the same sympathetic but clear-eyed appraisal of America that he had shown in speaking of his own profession. American prosperity, he said, was due to "good luck, free trade over the territory of the United States, abundance of money and credit, surplus of raw materials and food, high wages, standardization."

It was a straightforward analysis, which nevertheless took on color and tang from the initial item in the list -- America's "good luck."

Mr. Ogden was the author of the standard life of the historian William H. Prescott in the American Men of Letters Series (1904) and "Life and Letters of Edward Lawrence Godkin" (1907), and translated from the Spanish "Maria, a South American Romance," by Jorge Isaacs. He was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, of the Century Club and the Baltusrol Golf Club. He was a member of the advisory board of the Columbia School of Journalism, and as such helped pass upon the Pulitzer awards.

Mrs. Ogden died April 7, 1935. Mr. Ogden leaves a son, Nelson, who is a mechanical engineer by profession and lives near Philadelphia, and two daughters, Alice and Winifred. The latter is Mrs. John Marshall Lindley of Wellesley Hills, Mass.


Copyright 1937 by The New York Times Co. Reprinted by permission.

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Selected editorials by Rollo Ogden

Following are typical examples of editorials written for The New York Times by Rollo Ogden, editor:

Al Smith
Herbert Hoover
Hope for America
Annus Mirabilis
The German Spectacle


Al Smith

From "Victorious in Defeat," Nov. 7, 1928

Long before the end of the presidential campaign it was evident that Governor Smith had made it what it was. Whether he won or lost the election, he had conquered a great place for himself in our public life. He had, in the first place, revealed to his fellow countrymen an extraordinary personality. His vigor, his frankness, his instinctive attitude of regarding nothing alien to him which is human were disclosed in their full measure for the first time. And with them he united a boldness in political leadership which is almost without precedent in our public life. He exemplified time after time what Emerson said of the ability of a man of native strength to work his will even amid the oldest and moldiest conventions.

* * *
As a political achievement what Governor Smith did in this campaign must rank high. He took a divided and discouraged party and filled it with hope. He met complacent political opponents and robbed them of what they believed to be their best campaign issues. It was a piece of consummate audacity for Governor Smith to spike the guns of high protection. And he did it by proposing to make protection more universal and equitable. Out of its professed scope the Republicans had left the farmers. Governor Smith would bring them within it. Here was another piece of political strategy, like his stand on prohibition, entirely due to his initiative and daring. The Republicans found soon that they must put forth their best endeavors if they were to hope to defeat a man of such political skill and personal charm.

It was this last, after all, that most strongly marked out Governor Smith in the Presidential campaign and made it easy for him, in touch with the vast multitudes which thronged to see him, to capture their imagination. His unaffected simplicity, his entire naturalness of bearing, his affability with great or humble equally, the conviction which he so easily conveyed that he was one who loveth well both man and bird and beast -- all these things seemed to cast a spell about the Governor as he moved on from one conquest of hearts to another and left behind the impression of a flashing and fascinating personality which must long endure.


Copyright 1928 by The New York Times Co. Reprinted by permission.

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Herbert Hoover

From "The Hoover Tragedy," Nov. 9, 1932

For the president personally in his defeat there will be a feeling of kindness touched by the pathos of the political misfortunes against which he has struggled in vain. The strong god, circumstance, was too powerful for him. He was held responsible for the sins of others. Upon his individual head was wreaked the spirit of resentment and vengeance for events which neither he nor any other man in public office could control. It is true that he partly exposed himself to such attacks by identifying himself with the wrong policies and foolish promises of his party four years ago; but to single him out as if he were the sole man accountable, the only one to bear the burden, the fitting target for the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, was no doubt inevitable, as human nature goes -- especially as the nature of the political animal goes -- but distinctly and grossly unfair. Mr. Hoover was deserted by his friends as well as assaulted by his enemies. The campaign was going against him almost by default, until he stepped forward to assume the whole load of it. To the end he presented the pathetic spectacle of a man exerting all of his strength against formidable and insurmountable obstacles. It was a clear case of an individual made to suffer unjustly for the mistakes and crimes of others.


Copyright 1932 by The New York Times Co. Reprinted by permission.

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Hope for America

From "Lift Up Your Hearts," Jan.1, 1932

Nothing to which the young men of America may look forward? There is everything. Appeals to their intelligence, their ingenuity, their resourcefulness, will fairly be raining upon them during the next few years. Their initiative will first of all be directed in the main to their own personal affairs. In these they will find invitation for all their energy and adaptability. But at the same time they will confront larger public questions, with which they may wrestle with the consciousness of men doing something for their country and for the social order into which they were born. There is, for example, much talk concerning the breakdown of the capitalist system. About all this there is a multitude of words without wisdom. Capitalism is, in fact, what we choose to make it. Capitalism is less important than capitalists. The system is one, in essence, which depends upon individual effort and puts a premium upon success. But the men who make the system work, and who profit by it, may little by little change its aspects in the eye of the public and render it more acceptable and useful. They can do this by gradually altering its methods; by inviting wider and wider cooperation in its activities; by keeping it open to all the winds of publicity and of discussion. In actual fact, this sort of thing is already being done by many of the rising captains of industry. They will survive, and capitalism will survive with them, if they exhibit to the world this kind of fitness to survive. The whole is a wonderful opportunity offered to those soon to come upon the stage of large affairs. It offers them a challenge to their special abilities and to their deepest sense of civic responsibility. We are sure that increasing numbers of them will accept it.

In our political life the field opening before our capable and aspiring youth is fully as tempting. American government, high and low, is really begging for willing hands to make it more effective. Reforms of all kinds are clamoring for leadership. Party organizations are in need or revivifying and direction. Politics and politicians have to be reclaimed from the sinister meaning too often attached to their names. In the administration of our cities alone there is room enough for fruitful experiment and for bold pioneers with the personal qualities which win an enthusiastic following. In short, democracy in the United States must be freed from the common reproaches, the frequent sneers low leveled at it, and made to work satisfactorily. That task is eminently one for young men. And it is heartening to observe how many of them are pressing forward to take it up.

In almost every direction a sensitive mind will feel that we are on the eve of great changes. Education is visibly quivering with the sense of a wonderful transition and transformation. Throughout our whole society new needs and demands are making themselves articulate. What is sure to be done in heightening the comfort and deepening the content and happiness of the great masses of our population is enough to fire the imagination of ardent youth. The advances which have been made in the past, as we compare generation with generation, are destined to be left far behind in the future. Exactly what the world will be in a few years -- how the immense experiments now afoot will work out -- cannot be predicted. But it will be a new world, and to those who dwell in it and shape it to their hearts' desire it will appear a fair world. To the courage and confidence and hope of the next generation it may safely be turned over.

It is an ancient sigh: "If Youth but knew! If age but could!" Well, it was not a youth but an old poet, turning his experienced gaze upon a world in turmoil and in gloom, who wrote the message: "We bid you hope." Let that be the word of cheer, both to old and young, on this first day of the New Year.


Copyright 1932 by The New York Times Co. Reprinted by permission.

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Annus Mirabilis

March 4, 1934

"Look on this picture -- March 4, 1933 -- and then on that -- March 4, 1934." That might pass for sufficient defense and praise of President Roosevelt's first year in the White House. When he took office, the gloom in this country was so thick that it could be cut with a knife. All the banks had to be closed; industry and commerce were at their lowest; the unemployed numbered at least 13,000,000; every citizen exchanged with his neighbor blank looks of doubt, alarm and despair; the general feeling was that the new President had taken over a state of things which it would be impossible for him to repair. But a year later we have the happy contrast of steadily increasing recovery, of improved business and manufacture, of the banking crisis ended, of several millions more at work, and more important than all, a sweeping change of sentiment, with revived hope and renewed courage visible on all sides. To the question still put by some obstinate pessimists, what the President has done, the answer is just to look about and note the concrete evidence everywhere.

No President in his first year -- not even Van Buren in the Panic of 1837 -- ever faced such desperate necessities of action as confronted Franklin D. Roosevelt a year ago. His personal contribution to the mental uplift of the American people has been without precedent. He has done many important things, but the spirit in which he has done them has been still more important. The qualities which he has displayed came as a surprise to the closest observers of his previous public career. As Governor of New York for four years he had seemed to be more of a politician than a statesman; too often timid and hesitant and compromising; occasionally stooping to conquer questionable support; his eye more on a nomination for high office than on achievement in it. Then there was his campaign for election in 1932. It was, to be sure, shrewdly planned in the sense that he held himself as an inevitable beneficiary of the immense popular revolt against President Hoover, but it was marked by little bold and forthputting utterance and gave the people only an inadequate conception of the man whom they were about to elect President.

From the moment of his taking the oath of office, all the old hesitancies and veilings fell away from him. He stood forth as one willing to assume the heaviest responsibilities with the utmost resolution and firmness. Withal, he set about his arduous labors with cheery optimism; having confidence in himself; sure of the response of the people to his leadership; versatile, resourceful, daring, and with a fine courage and hopefulness that never failed him. He went fare to justify the old latent belief of Americans that the hour would bring forth the man. Certainly the black hour of March 4, 1933, marked the accession to power of a man whose blithe energy was all that could have been hoped for.

"Measures, not men." That political saying appears to have received its quietus in the person of President Roosevelt. He has sponsored many measures, but not one of them has made upon the country an impact anything like that of his own personality. Critics say that he was the most fortunate of men in assuming power when misfortunes were heavy upon the land. Doubtless there is something in that, politically speaking. Any change must be for the better when things are at their worst. But it requires a man of heroic mold and great strength of character to deal with public misfortunes so as to win from them glorious gain both for his own reputation and for the country's good. This is what Mr. Roosevelt has done, even his political opponents being witnesses. One of his great efforts has been to restore commodity prices for the farmers. But he has bestowed upon them and upon the whole nation a more precious gift. It is that of "the commodity called a man."

Such a meed of praise will be accorded Mr. Roosevelt by the almost universal voice of the country today. This does not mean that he has solved every problem or vanquished every foe. Indeed, it may fairly be said that he has created new problems and raised up formidable obstacles in his future path. He is at least partly responsible for the new and exigent demands of organized labor, which are today like a cloud on the horizon of industry. He also sees rising before him new and powerful "blocs" of voters who now maintain that they have a vested right to support by the government. It would be possible, and even desirable, on other occasions, to point out serious mistakes which the President has made and inconsistencies into which he has fallen. But on this anniversary say every note except that of congratulation should be stilled. Americans will salute their President at the end of his first year in office, will be proud of the vigor and high spirit with which he has faced a frowning world, and will count upon him to go on with the same ardor and good cheer in the great and trying work which remains to be done.


Copyright 1934 by The New York Times Co. Reprinted by permission.

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The German Spectacle

From "Germany's Plight," July 2, 1934

When Hitler came to power in Germany last year it was boasted that the revolution by which he rose was accompanied by less bloodshed than any known to history. This was despite his previous furibund threats that "heads would roll" on the setting up of the new regime. But today the German news is stained with blood. Reports continue of executions without trial, and of many suspicious "suicides." If the revolution began with little bloodshed, it now seems to be saying: "From this time forth, my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth."

This is the thing which today shocks and horrifies the outside world. People do not stop to apportion, blame or indulge in recrimination. They simply stand aghast at what is literally an awful spectacle in a civilized country. One thinks with shuddering pity of what it must be to live in a land filled with spies and informers; where the population is not allowed to know what has happened, but is aware that terrible deeds are being done; where innocent persons, once under suspicion, are liable to arrest and execution without a word of explanation or opportunity for escape. This is no time to taunt the German people for having by their insensate course, or by that of their rulers, brought these calamities upon their own heads. Even those most stoutly opposed to recent German policy, most confident that a government based on intolerance, proscription and ruthlessness could not long survive, must be so appalled by the startling events in Germany as heartily to wish that some way may speedily be found to make the Reich appear less like a habitation of cruelty. Prediction of the way of safety, or of what man or group may eventually lead Germany into it, would at present be a gratuitous blunder. The world, however, cannot stand by with complacency or indifference when Germany seems to be sinking into the abyss.

Many aspects of the German plight are still wrapped in mystery and doubt. But some things stand out as established certainties. One is that the pretense of a Germany united and happy under the Hitler regime has all along been a myth. The last few days have made it clear that the trumpeted "totalitarian State" never has existed. Germans are not so unlike other human beings as not to resent the kind of minute and daily tyranny imposed upon them in the name of National Socialism. There were doubtless extremists and madcaps among the Storm Troopers who sought to stir up a mutiny against the government, but they must have believed that they represented a large body of German discontent and indignation. This revolt may be put down with an iron hand. The Hitler government may appear to take on a new lease of life. But it can never be again the haughty and overweening regime of the past twelvemonth. Its feet of clay have been uncovered for the whole world to see.


Copyright 1934 by The New York Times Co. Reprinted by permission.

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