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26 June, 2013
Woodrow Wilson As I Know Him
Chapter VIII - The End Of The Campaign
by Tumulty, Joseph P.


The final meeting of the gubernatorial campaign was held in a large auditorium in Newark, New Jersey, where the last appeal was made by the Democratic candidate. It was a meeting filled with emotionalism such as I had never seen in a campaign before. The Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson, had covered every section of the state and it was easy for even the casual observer to note the rising tide in his favour. The campaign had, indeed, become a crusade; his eloquence and sledge-hammer blows at the opposition having cut our party lines asunder. I was present at the final meeting and took my place in the wings of the theatre or auditorium, alongside of Senator Smith, the Democratic chieftain who a few weeks before had, in a masterful fashion, manipulated the workings of the Convention at Trenton in such a way as to make the Doctor's nomination possible. Mr. Wilson's speech on this occasion was a profession of faith in the people, in the plain people, those "whose names never emerged into the headlines of newspapers." When he said in a delightful sort of banter to his audience, "I want you to take a sportsman's chance on me," there went up a shout of approval which could be heard as far as the hills of old Bergen.

The peroration of his final speech, spoken in a tone of voice that seemed not only to reach every ear but, in fact, to touch every heart, was as follows:
We have begun a fight that, it may be, will take many a generation to complete, the fight against privilege; but you know that men are not put into this world to go the path of ease. They are put into this world to go the path of pain and struggle. No man would wish to sit idly by and lose the opportunity to take part in such a struggle. All through the centuries there has been this slow, painful struggle forward, forward, up, up, a little at a time, along the entire incline, the interminable way which leads to the perfection of force, to the real seat of justice and honour.

There are men who have fallen by the way; blood without stint has been shed; men have sacrificed everything in this sometimes blind, but always instinctive and constant struggle, and America has undertaken to lead the way; America has undertaken to be the haven of hope, the opportunity for all men.

Don't look forward too much. Don't look at the road ahead of you in dismay. Look at the road behind you. Don't you see how far up the hill we have come? Don't you see what those low and damp miasmatic levels were from which we have slowly led the way? Don't you see the rows of men come, not upon the lower level, but upon the upper, like the rays of the rising sun? Don't you see the light starting and don't you see the light illuminating all nations?

Don't you know that you are coming more and more into the beauty of its radiance? Don't you know that the past is for ever behind us, that we have passed many kinds of evils no longer possible, that we have achieved great ends and have almost seen their fruition in free America? Don't forget the road that you have trod, but, remembering it and looking back for reassurance, look forward with confidence and charity to your fellow men one at a time as you pass them along the road, and see those who are willing to lead you, and say, "We do not believe you know the whole road. We know that you are no prophet, we know that you are no seer, but we believe that you know the direction and are leading us in that direction, though it costs you your life, provided it does not cost you your honour."

And then trust your guides, imperfect as they are, and some day, when we all are dead, men will come and point at the distant upland with a great shout of joy and triumph and thank God that there were men who undertook to lead in the struggle. What difference does it make if we ourselves do not reach the uplands? We have given our lives to the enterprise. The world is made happier and humankind better because we have lived.
At the end of this memorable and touching speech old Senator James Smith, seated alongside of me, pulled me by the coat and, in a voice just above a whisper and with tears in his eyes, said: "That is a great man, Mr. Tumulty. He is destined for great things."

It did not seem possible on this memorable night that within a few days these two Democratic chieftains would be challenging each other and engaging in a desperate struggle to decide the question of Democratic leadership in the state.

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