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Andrew Dickson White (1832 – 1918)


American diplomat, author, and educator who was the co-founder and first president of Cornell University.
Andrew Dickson White
He [Paolo Sarpi] was one of the two foremost Italian statesmen since the Middle Ages, the other being Cavour.
White quotes
My purpose in writing these essays has been to acquaint men who are interested in the bearings of modern history on public life with sundry statesmen whose time was devoted not to seeking office or to winning a brief popular fame by chicanery or pettifoggery, but to serving the great interests of modern states and, indeed, of universal humanity. I would present these statesmen and their work as especially worthy to be studied by those who aspire to serve their country in any way.
White
Turgot's attempt... showed how the results that had followed Law's issues of paper money must follow all such issues. As regards currency inflation, Turgot saw that the issue of paper money beyond the point where it is convertible into coin is the beginning of disaster—that a standard of value must have value, just as a standard of length must have length, or a standard of capacity, capacity, or a standard of weight, weight. He showed that if a larger amount of the circulating medium is issued than is called for by the business of the country, it will begin to be discredited, and that paper, if its issue be not controlled by its relation to some real standard of value, inevitably depreciates no matter what stamp it bears. Turgot developed his argument [on currency inflation] with a depth, strength, clearness, and breadth, which have amazed every dispassionate reader from that day to this. It still remains one of the best presentations of this subject ever made; and what adds to our wonder is that it was not the result of a study of authorities, but was worked out wholly from his own observation and thought. Up to this time there were no authorities and no received doctrine on the subject; there were simply records of financial practice more or less vicious; it was reserved for this young student, in a letter not intended for publication, to lay down for the first time the great law in which the modern world, after all its puzzling and costly experiences, has found safety.




White Andrew Dickson quotes
A thoughtful historian tells us that, between the Middle Ages and the nineteenth century, Italy produced three great men. As the first of these, he names Machiavelli, who he says, "taught the world to understand political despotism and to hate it"; as the second, he names Sarpi, who "taught the world after what manner the Holy Spirit guides the Councils of the Church"; and as the third, Galileo, who "taught the world what dogmatic theology is worth when it can be tested by science."
White Andrew Dickson
This whole theory [of John Law and Jean Terrasson], as dear to French financial schemers in the eighteenth century as to American "Greenbackers" in the nineteenth, had resulted, under the Orleans Regency and Louis XV, in ruin to France financially and morally, had culminated in the utter destruction of all prosperity, the rooting out of great numbers of the most important industries, and the grinding down of the working people even to starvation.
Andrew Dickson White quotes
The theologians who took up the work which the first reformers had laid down soon came to consider intolerance as a main evidence of spiritual life: erelong they were using all their powers in crushing every germ of new thought. Their theory was simply that the world had now reached its climax; that the religion of Luther was the final word of God to man; that everything depended upon keeping it absolutely pure; that men might comment upon it in hundreds of pulpits and lecture rooms and in thousands of volumes;—but change it in the slightest particle—never. And in order that it might never be changed it was petrified into rituals and creeds and catechisms and statements, and, above all, in 1579, into the "Formula of Concord," which, as more than one thoughtful man has since declared, turned out to be a "formula of discord."
Andrew Dickson White
For similar folly, our own country, in the transition from the colonial period, also paid a fearful price; and from a like catastrophe the United States has been twice saved in our time by the arguments formulated by Turgot.
White Andrew Dickson quotes
A change had indeed been brought by the emancipation of the serfs, but there was little outward sign of it. The muzhik remained, to all appearance, what he was before: in fact, as our train drew into St. Petersburg, the peasants, with their sheepskin caftans, cropped hair, and stupid faces, brought back the old impressions so vividly that I seemed not to have been absent a week. The old atmosphere of repression was evident everywhere. I had begun my experience of it under Nicholas I, had seen a more liberal policy under Alexander II, but now found a recurrence of reaction, and everywhere a pressure which deadened all efforts at initiating a better condition of things.
White
Even before Melanchthon sank into his grave, he was dismayed at seeing Lutheranism stiffen into dogmas and formulas, and heartbroken by a persecution from his fellow-Protestants more bitter than anything he had ever experienced from Catholics.
White Andrew Dickson
The French philosophy of the eighteenth century was in full strength. Those were the years in which Voltaire ruled European opinion, and Turgot could not but take account of his influence. Yet no one could apparently be more unlike those who were especially named as the French philosophers of the eighteenth century. He remained reverential; he was never blasphemous, never blatant; he was careful to avoid giving needless pain or arousing fruitless discussion; and, while the tendency of his whole thinking was evidently removing him from the orthodoxy of the Church, his was a broader and deeper philosophy than that which was then dominant.
Andrew Dickson White
I was... told by a person who had known him [future Emperor Nicholas II] intimately from his childhood, that, though courteous, his main characteristic was an absolute indifference to most persons and things about him, and that he never showed a spark of ambition of any sort. This was confirmed by what I afterward saw of him at court. He seemed to stand about listlessly, speaking in a good-natured way to this or that person when it was easier than not to do so; but on the whole, indifferent to all which went on about him. After his accession to the throne, one of the best judges in Europe, who had many opportunities to observe him closely, said to me, "He knows nothing of his empire or of his people; he never goes out of his house, if he can help it." This explains in some degree the insufficiency of his program for the Peace Conference at The Hague and for the Japanese War, which, as I revise these lines, is bringing fearful disaster and disgrace upon Russia.




Andrew Dickson White quotes
There was strong warrant for pretensions... As far back as 1493, Pope Alexander VI had settled disputes between Spain and Portugal arising out of their rivalry in the Orient and the Occident by drawing a line from pole to pole one hundred leagues west of the Azores, giving all west of it to the Spanish, all east of it to the Portuguese. Both these nations attempted more or less persistently to exercise the sway thus given over the oceans as well as over the continent. The Portuguese forbade under heavy penalties any person, whether native or alien, to pass through the waters off the African and Brazilian coasts without special permission; the Spanish were hardly less severe toward those who without leave approached their dependencies. But, though the realization of the earth's rotundity renewed the old difficulty, and Spain and Portugal discovered that the Papal decision was futile, since all their new dominions could be approached both from the east and the west, both nations continued to maintain, as best they could, their sovereignty over the vast oceans. Other nations followed these examples.
Andrew Dickson White
The British representative was an ambassador, and had a spacious, suitable, and well-furnished house in which he could entertain fitly and largely, and to which the highest Russian officials thought it an honor to be invited. The American representatives were simply ministers; from time immemorial had never had such a house; had generally no adequate place for entertaining; had to live in apartments such as they might happen to find vacant in various parts of the town—sometimes in very poor quarters, sometimes in better; were obliged to furnish them at their own expense; had, therefore, never been able to obtain a tithe of that social influence, so powerful in Russia, which was exercised by the British Embassy.
White quotes
Carlyle uttered a pregnant truth when he said that the history of any country is in the biographies of the men who made it.
White Andrew Dickson
Against all these assertions Grotius published to the world a demonstration that no such rights could exist. His whole argument was mainly a development of two postulates. The first of these was that the right of nations to communicate with one another had been universally recognized; that it was based on a fundamental law of humanity; that the liberty of the sea being necessary to enable nations to communicate with one another, it could not be taken away by any power whatever. The second was that every attempt to make an ocean highway a monopoly of any single nation is forbidden by the immensity of the sea, its lack of stability, its want of fixed limits. This argument in places seemed thin. The book [Mare Liberum], after the custom of the time, was filled with an array—far more than sufficient—of learned citations; but its most significant feature—that which went to make it the herald of a new epoch—was that it took its stand upon the inalienable rights of mankind,—that it mainly deduced these rights neither from revelation nor from national enactments, but from natural law as ascertained by human reason.
White Andrew Dickson quotes
Of all tyrannies of unreason in the modern world, one holds a supremely evil preeminence. It covered the period from the middle of the sixteenth century to the middle of the seventeenth, and throughout those hundred years was waged a war of hatreds,—racial, religious, national, and personal;—of ambitions, ecclesiastical and civil;—of aspirations, patriotic and selfish;—of efforts, noble and vile. During all those weary generations Europe became one broad battlefield,—drenched in human blood and lighted from innumerable scaffolds. In this confused struggle great men appeared—heroes and martyrs, ruffians and scoundrels: all was anarchic. The dominant international gospel was that of Machiavelli.
Andrew Dickson White
The work of this young professor (Thomasius) and his disciples was to dethrone the heavy Protestant orthodoxy which had nearly smothered German patriotism, to undermine the pedantry which had paralyzed German scholarship, to substitute thought for formulas, to bring right reason to bear upon international and municipal law, to discredit religious intolerance, to root out witchcraft persecution and procedure by torture from all modern codes, and to begin that emancipation, of public and especially university instruction from theological control, which has given such strength to Germany, and which today is invincibly making its way in all other lands, including our own.
Andrew Dickson White quotes
Into the very midst of all this welter of evil, at a point in time to all appearance hopeless, at a point in space apparently defenseless, in a nation of which every man, woman, and child was under sentence of death from its sovereign, was born a man who wrought as no other has ever done for a redemption of civilization from the main cause of all that misery; who thought out for Europe the precepts of right reason in international law; who made them heard; who gave a noble change to the course of human affairs; whose thoughts, reasonings, suggestions, and appeals produced an environment in which came an evolution of humanity that still continues. Huig de Groot, afterward known to the world as Hugo Grotius was born at Delft in Holland on Easter day of 1583. It was at the crisis of the struggle between Spain and the Netherlands. That struggle had already continued for twenty years, and just after the close of his first year, in the very town where he was lying in his cradle, came its most fearful event, that which maddened both sides—the assassination of William of Orange, nominally by Balthazar Gerard, really by Philip II of Spain.
Andrew Dickson White
He [Grotius] avoided another danger as serious as his precocity had been. He steered clear of the quicksands of useless scholarship, which had engulfed so many strong men of his time. The zeal of learned men in that period was largely given to knowing things not worth knowing, to discussing things not worth discussing, to proving things not worth proving. Grotius seemed plunging on, with all sails set, into these quicksands; but again his good sense and sober judgment saved him: he decided to bring himself into the current of active life flowing through his land and time, and with this purpose he gave himself to the broad and thorough study of jurisprudence.
White Andrew Dickson
The British ambassador was Sir Robert Morier. He too was a strong character, though lacking apparently in some of General [der Infanterie] von Schweinitz's more kindly qualities. He was big, roughish, and at times so brusque that he might almost be called brutal. When bullying was needed it was generally understood that he could do it con amore.


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