Elihu Root

Elihu
Root
1845
1937

American Lawyer, Educator, Cabinet Officer, Statesman, Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

Author Quotes

Nobody knows through how many thousands of years fighting men have made a place for themselves while the weak and peaceable have gone to the wall.

The wolf always charges the lamb with muddying the stream.

Nothing is more important in the preservation of peace than to secure among the great mass of the people living under constitutional government a just conception of the rights which their nation has against others and of the duties their nation owes to others.

The worst, the hardest, the most disagreeable thing that you may have to do may be the thing that

About half of the practice of a decent lawyer is telling would-be clients that they are damned fools and should stop.

Politics is the practical exercise of the art of self-government, and somebody must attend to it if we are to have self-government; somebody must study it, and learn the art, and exercise patience and sympathy and skill to bring the multitude of opinions and wishes of self-governing people into such order that some prevailing opinion may be expressed and peaceably accepted. Otherwise, confusion will result either in dictatorship or anarchy. The principal ground of reproach against any American citizen should be that he is not a politician. Everyone ought to be, as Lincoln was.

To eradicate or modify or curb the tendencies which thus survive among civilized men is not a matter of intellectual conviction or training.

At the same time, freedom of trade regardless of political control is diminishing the comparative value of extension of territory.

Science has been arranging, classifying, methodizing, simplifying, everything except itself. It has made possible the tremendous modern development of power of organization which has so multiplied the effective power of human effort as to make the differences from the past seem to be of kind rather than of degree. It has organized itself very imperfectly. Scientific men are only recently realizing that the principles which apply to success on a large scale in transportation and manufacture and general staff work to apply them; that the difference between a mob and an army does not depend upon occupation or purpose but upon human nature; that the effective power of a great number of scientific men may be increased by organization just as the effective power of a great number of laborers may be increased by military discipline.

True love of country is not mere blind partisanship. It is regard for the people of ones country and all of them it is a feeling of fellowship and brotherhood for all of them it is a desire for the prosperity and happiness of all of them it is kindly and considerate judgment toward all of them. The first duty of popular self-government is individual self-control. The essential condition of true progress is that it shall be based upon grounds of reason, and not prejudice. Lincolns noble sentiment of charity for all and malice toward none was not a specific for the Civil War, but is a living principle of action.

Claims of right and insistence upon obligations may depend upon treaty stipulations, or upon the rules of international law, or upon the sense of natural justice applied to the circumstances of a particular case, or upon disputed facts.

Secretary of War Stanton used to get out of patience with Lincoln because he was all the time pardoning men who ought to be shot.

War comes today as the result of one of three causes: either actual or threatened wrong by one country to another, or suspicion by one country that another intends to do it wrong ... or, from bitterness of feeling, dependent in no degree whatever upon substantial questions of difference. . . . The least of these three causes of war is actual injustice.

Cruelty to men and to the lower animals as well, which would have passed unnoticed a century ago, now shocks the sensibilities and is regarded as wicked and degrading.

The attractive idea that we can now have a parliament of man with authority to control the conduct of nations by legislation or an international police force with power to enforce national conformity to rules of right conduct is a counsel of perfection.

War was forced upon mankind in his original civil and social condition.

Gradually, everything that happens in the world is coming to be of interest everywhere in the world, and, gradually, thoughtful men and women everywhere are sitting in judgment upon the conduct of all nations.

The growth of modern constitutional government compels for its successful practice the exercise of reason and considerate judgment by the individual citizens who constitute the electorate.

We all know of course that we cannot abolish all the evils in this world by statute or by the enforcement of statutes, nor can we prevent the inexorable law of nature which decrees that suffering shall follow vice, and all the evil passions and folly of mankind. Law cannot give to depravity the rewards of virtue, to indolence the rewards of industry, to indifference the rewards of ambition, or to ignorance the rewards of learning. The utmost that government can do is measurably to protect men, not against the wrong they do themselves but against wrong done by others and to promote the long, slow process of educating mind and character to a better knowledge and nobler standards of life and conduct. We know all this, but when we see how much misery there is in the world and instinctively cry out against it, and when we see some things that government may do to mitigate it, we are apt to forget how little after all it is possible for any government to do, and to hold the particular government of the time and place to a standard of responsibility which no government can possibly meet.

Honest people, mistakenly believing in the justice of their cause, are led to support injustice.

The law of the survival of the fittest led inevitably to the survival and predominance of the men who were effective in war and who loved it because they were effective.

When a teacher of the future comes to point out to the youth of America how the highest rewards of intellect and devotion can be gained, he may say to them, not by subtlety and intrigue not by wire pulling and demagoguery not by the arts of popularity not by skill and shiftiness in following expediency but by being firm in devotion to the principles of manhood and the application of morals and the courage of righteousness in the public life of our country by being a man without guile and without fear, without selfishness, and with devotion to duty, devotion to his country.

Human life is held in much higher esteem, and the taking of it, whether in private quarrel or by judicial procedure, is looked upon much more seriously than it was formerly.

The limitation upon this mode of promoting peace lies in the fact that it consists in an appeal to the civilized side of man, while war is the product of forces proceeding from man's original savage nature.

I guess you will have to go to jail. If that is the result of not understanding the Income Tax Law I shall meet you there. We shall have a merry, merry time, for all of our friends will be there. It will be an intellectual center, for no one understands the Income Tax Law except persons who have not sufficient intelligence to understand the questions that arise under it.

Author Picture
First Name
Elihu
Last Name
Root
Birth Date
1845
Death Date
1937
Bio

American Lawyer, Educator, Cabinet Officer, Statesman, Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize