In 1900 Americans still clung to their “American dream,” and the essence of it was to avoid “foreign entanglements.” In fact the attack on
The effect of the Spanish-American war (continuing American “entanglement” in the affairs of others) lent major importance to the question: who was to exercise the ruling power in America, for the nature of any “entanglements” clearly depended on that. The answer to this question, again, was governed by the effect of an earlier war, the American Civil War of 1861-1865. The chief consequences of it (little comprehended by the contending Northerners and Southerners) was sensibly to change the nature, first of the population, and next of the government of the Republic.
Before the Civil War the American population was predominantly Irish, Scots-Irish, Scottish, British, German and Scandinavian, and from this amalgam a distinctly “American” individual evolved. In the direct sequence to that war the era of unrestricted immigration began, which in a few decades brought to
The man who first involved
His editor's choice of words is exact; Mr. House did not guide
His immense daily record of his secret reign (the Private Papers) fully exposed how he worked. It leaves unanswered the question of what he ultimately wanted, or if he even knew what he wanted; as to that, his novel shows only a mind full of half-baked demagogic notions, never clearly thought out. The highfalutin apostrophe on the flyleaf is typical: “This book is dedicated to the unhappy many who have lived and died lacking opportunity, because, in the starting, the worldwide social structure was wrongly begun”; apparently this means that Mr. House, who held himself to be a religious man, thought poorly of the work of an earlier authority, described in the words, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
In the search for the origins of Mr. House's political ideas (which at first were akin to Communism; in later life, when the damage was done, he became more moderate) the student is cast on significant clues. His editor finds in his early thought a note “reminiscent of Louis Blanc and the revolutionaries of 1848.” With this in mind I earlier directed the readers attention to Louis Blanc, the French revolutionary who for a moment, in 1848, seemed likely to play Lenin's part and summoned the assembly of workers' delegates which was an anticipation of the 1917 Soviets.
Such notions, in a Texan of the late 19th Century, are as unexpected as Buddhism in an Eskimo. Nevertheless, Mr. House in youth acquired these ideas; someone had implanted them in him. His middle name, Mandell, was that of “a Jewish merchant in
That is about all that can be elicited about the intellectual atmosphere of Mr. House's mind-formative period. In one of his most revealing passages Mr. House himself comments on the suggestion of ideas to others and shows, apparently without realizing it, how powerless he ultimately was, who thought himself all-powerful: “With the President, as with all other men I sought to influence, it was invariably my intention to make him think that ideas he derived from me were his own … Usually, to tell the truth, the idea was not original with me … The most difficult thing in the world is to trace any idea to its source … We often think an idea to be original with ourselves when, in plain truth, it was subconsciously absorbed from someone else.”
He began to learn about politics in
In that spirit Mr. House entered Texan politics: “I began at the top rather than at the bottom … it has been my habit to put someone else nominally at the head, so that I could do the real work undisturbed by the demands which are made on a chairman … Each chairman of the campaigns which I directed received the publicity and the applause of both the press and the people during the campaign … they passed out of public notice within a few months … and yet when the next campaign came around, the public and the press as eagerly accepted another figurehead.”
Mr. House used
Thus Mr. House, aged fifty, was a president-maker. Until I read his Private Papers I was much impressed by the “uncanny knowledge” displayed by a leading American Zionist, Rabbi Stephen Wise, who in 1910 told a New Jersey audience: “On Tuesday Mr. Woodrow Wilson will be elected governor of your State; he will not complete his term of office as governor; in November 1912 he will be elected President of the United States; he will be inaugurated for the second time as president.” This was fore-knowledge of the quality shown by the Protocols, Leon Pinsker and Max Nordau, but further research showed that Rabbi Wise had it from Colonel House!
Evidently Mr. Wilson had been closely studied by the group of secret men which then was coalescing, for neither Mr. House nor Rabbi Wise at that moment had met him! But Mr. House “became convinced that he had found his man, although he had never met him … ‘I turned to Woodrow Wilson … as being the only man … who in every way measured up to the office' “ (Mr. Howden). The standard measurement used is indicated by a later passage: “The trouble with getting a candidate for president is that the man that is best fitted for the place cannot be nominated and, if nominated, could not be elected. The People seldom take the best man fitted for the job; therefore it is necessary to work for the best man who can be nominated and elected, and just now
The Zionist idea coupled itself to the revolutionary idea, among the group of men which was secretly selecting Mr. Woodrow Wilson for the presidency, in the person of this Rabbi Stephen Wise (born in
The strength of this secret group is shown by the fact that in 1910, when Mr. House had privately decided that Mr. Wilson should be the next president, Rabbi Wise publicly proclaimed that he would be that, and for two terms. This called for a rearrangement of the rabbi's politics, for he had always supported the Republican party; after Mr. House's secret selection of Mr. Wilson, he changed to the Democratic one. Thus Mr. House's confused “revolutionary” ideas and Zionism's perfectly clear ones arrived together on the doorstep of the White House. Agreement between the group was cordial: Mr. Wise states that (after the election) “we received warm and heartening help from Colonel House, close friend of the president … House not only made our cause the object of his very special concern but served as liaison officer between the Wilson administration and the Zionist movement.” The close parallel between the course of these hidden processes in
The secret of Mr. House's hold over the Democratic Party lay in the strategy which he had devised for winning elections. The Democratic party had been out of office for nearly fifty unbroken years and he had devised a method which made victory almost a mathematical certainty. The Democratic party was in fact to owe its victories in 1912 and 1916, as well as President Roosevelt's and President Truman's victories in 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944 and 1948 to the application of Mr. House's plan. In this electoral plan, which in its field perhaps deserves the name of genius, lies Mr. House's enduring effect on the life of America; his political ideas were never clearly formed and were frequently changed, so that he forged an instrument whereby the ideas of others were put into effect; the instrument itself was brilliantly designed.
In essence, it was a plan to gain the vote of the “foreign-born,” the new immigrants, solidly for the Democratic party by making appeal to their racial feelings and especial emotional reflexes. It was worked out in great detail and was the product of a master hand in this particular branch of political science.
The unique, fantastic thing about this plan is that Mr. House published it, anonymously, in the very year, 1912, when Mr. Wilson, secretly “chosen,” was publicly nominated and elected. In that busy year Mr. House found time to write, in thirty days, a novel called Philip Dru: Administrator (the unusual word recalls the allusion in the Protocols to “The Administrators whom we shall choose ……”). The chapter entitled “The Making of a President,” which is obviously not fiction, makes this almost unreadable novel a historical document of the first importance.
In this chapter of his novel (which Mr. House was prompted to publish by his assiduous mentor, Dr.
Before that, Selwyn has devised “a nefarious plan,” in concert with one John Thor, “the high priest of finance,” whereby “a complete and compact organization,” using “the most infamous sort of deception regarding its real opinions and intentions,” might “elect its creature to the Presidency.” The financing of this secret league was “simple.” “Thor's influence throughout commercial America was absolute … Thor and Selwyn selected the thousand” (millionaires) “that were to give each ten thousand dollars … Thor was to tell each of them that there was a matter, appertaining to the general welfare of the business fraternity, which needed twenty thousand dollars, and that he, Thor, would put up ten and wanted him to put up as much … There were but few men of business … who did not consider themselves fortunate in being called to New York by Thor and in being asked to join him in a blind pool looking to the safeguarding of wealth.” The money of this “great corruption fund” was placed by Thor in different banks, paid at request by Selwyn to other banks, and from them transferred to the private bank of Selwyn's son-in-law; “the result was that the public had no chance of obtaining any knowledge of the fund or how it was spent.”
On this basis of finance Selwyn selects his “creature,” one Rockland, (Mr. Wilson), who on dining with Selwyn at “Mandell House” is told, that his responsibility as president will be “diffuse”: “while a president has a constitutional right to act alone, he has no moral right to act contrary to the tenets and traditions of his party, or to the advice of the party leaders, for the country accepts the candidate, the party and the party advisers as a whole and not severally” (the resemblance between this passage and the allusions in the Protocols to “the responsibility of presidents” and the ultimate authority of their “advisers” is strong).
Another chapter shows how the election of the “creature” was achieved. The plan described makes electioneering almost into an exact science and still governs electioneering in
Selwyn begins the nomination campaign by eliminating all states where either his party or the other was sure to win. In this way he is free to give his entire thought to the twelve doubtful States, upon whose votes the election would turn. He divides these into units of five thousand voters, appointing for each unit a man on the spot and one at national headquarters. He calculated that of the five thousand, four thousand, in equal parts, probably could not be diverted from his own or the other party, and this brought his analysis down to one thousand doubtful voters, in each unit of five thousand in twelve States, on whom to concentrate. The local man was charged to obtain all possible information about their “race, religion, occupation and former party ties,” and to forward this to the national man in charge of the particular unit, who was then responsible for reaching each individual by means of “literature, persuasion or perhaps by some more subtle argument.” The duty of the two agents for each unit, one in the field and one at headquarters, was between them to “bring in a majority of the one thousand votes within their charge.”
Meanwhile the managers of the other party were sending out “tons of printed matter to their State headquarters, which, in turn, distributed it to the country organizations, where it was dumped into a corner and given to visitors when asked for. Selwyn's committee used one-fourth as much printed matter, but it went in a sealed envelope, along with a cordial letter, directed to a voter that had as yet not decided how to vote. The opposition was sending speakers at great expense from one end of the country to the other … Selwyn sent men into his units to personally persuade each of the one thousand hesitating voters to support the
By means of this most skilful method of analysis, elimination and concentration
The remainder of the novel is unimportant but contains a few other significant things. Its sub-title is “A Story of Tomorrow, 1920-1935.” The hero, Philip Dru, is a young West Pointer under the influence of Karl Marx, who is elected leader of a mass movement by acclamation at an indignation meeting after Selwyn's and Thor's conspiracy has become known. The manner of this exposure is also interesting; Thor has a microphone concealed in his room (something little known in 1912 but today almost as familiar in politics as the Statesman's Yearbook) and, forgetting to disconnect it, his “exultant” talk with Selwyn after Rockland's election becomes known to his secretary, who gives it to the press; a most implausible episode is that the press published it! Then Dru assembles an army (armed, apparently by magic, with rifles and artillery), defeats the government forces at a single battle, marches on
Dru next attacks
In fact hardly anybody can have persisted to the end of this novel, and nobody would have cared where Philip and Gloria went, with one exception. There was one solitary being in the world for whom the story must have held a meaning as terrible and true as Dorian Gray's Portrait for Dorian: Mr. Woodrow Wilson. In that respect Philip Drew: Administrator is a unique work. Two questions haunt the student. Did Mr. Wilson read it? What prompted Mr. House (or his prompter) to publish this exact picture of what was going on at the very moment when “the creature” was being nominated and elected? Considered in that light the book becomes a work of sadistic mockery, and the reader becomes aware that the group of men around Mr. House must have been as malevolent as they are depicted to be in the chapter, “The Exultant Conspirators.”
Is it conceivable that Mr. Wilson did not read it? Between his enemies and his friends, during an election campaign, someone must have put it in his hands. The student of history is bound to wonder whether the perusal of it, either then or later, may have caused the mental and physical state into which he soon fell. A few contemporary descriptions of him may be given as illustration (although they anticipate the chronology of the narrative a little). Mr. House later wrote of the man he had “chosen” and had elected (“the only one who in every way measured up to the office”), “I thought at that time” (1914) “and on several occasions afterwards, that the President wanted to die; certainly his attitude and his mental state indicated that he found no zest in life.” When Mr. Wilson had not long been president Sir Horace Plunkett, the British Ambassador, wrote to Mr. House, “I paid my respects to the President, and was shocked to see him looking so worn; the change since January last is terribly marked.” Six years later Sir William Wiseman, a British governmental emissary, told Mr, House, “I was shocked by his appearance … His face was drawn and of a grey colour, and frequently twitching in a pitiful effort to control nerves which had broken down” (1919).[††]
Apparently a sure way to unhappiness is to receive high office as the instrument of others who remain unseen. Mr. Wilson inevitably looks wraithlike when contemplated against this record, now unfurled. Mr. House, Rabbi Wise and others around him seem to have gazed on him as collectors might on a specimen transfixed by a pin. In the circumstances, he must have been guided by guesswork, rather than by revelation, when at the age of twenty he decided that he would one day be president. This was known and Rabbi Wise once asked him, “When did you first think or dream of the presidency?” As the rabbi knew so much more than the President of the way in which the dream had been realized, he may have spoken tongue in cheek, and was evidently startled out of his customary deference when Mr. Wilson answered, “There never was a time after my graduation from Davidson College in South Carolina when I did not expect to become president,” so that the rabbi asked sardonically, “Even when you were a teacher in a girls' college!” Mr. Wilson, apparently still oblivious, repeated, “There never was a time when I did not expect and prepare myself to become president.”
Between Mr. Wilson's secret “choice” by Mr. House in 1910 and his public nomination for president in 1912 he was prompted to make public obeisance to Zionism; at that point the American people became involved, as the British people had in fact been committed by the
This could only have one meaning; it was a declaration of foreign policy, if Mr. Wilson were elected. No need existed to “make evident the sense of identity” between Americans and Americans, and Jews in America were in every respect free and equal; only a refusal to identify themselves with America could alter that and Mr. Wilson in effect proclaimed this refusal. He was specifically stating that Jewish “identity” was different and separate and that
To the initiates it was a pledge to Zionism. It was also an oblique allusion and threat to
At that time all the Zionist propaganda was directed against
Then, at the very moment when Mr. Wilson made his implicit attack on Russian “intolerance,” assassination was again used in
The future of
Those ten tranquil years would have changed the course of history for the better; instead, the conspiracy intervened and produced the ten days that shook the world. In 1911 Count Stolypin went to Kieff, where the Czar was to unveil a monument to the murdered Liberator, Alexander II, and was shot at a gala performance in the theatre by a Jewish revolutionary, Bagroff (in 1917 a Jewish commissar, discovering that a girl among some fugitives was Count Stolypin's daughter, promptly shot her).
That happened in September 1911; in December 1911 Mr. Wilson, the candidate, made his speech expressing “a sense of identity” with the Jewish “cause.” In November 1911 Mr. Wilson had for the first time met the man, Mr. House, who had “chosen” him in 1910 (and who had then already “lined up all my political friends and following” on Mr. Wilson's behalf). Mr. House reported to his brother-in-law, “Never before have I found both the man and the opportunity.”
Before the election Mr. House drew up a list of cabinet ministers (see Philip Dru) in consultation with a Mr. Bernard Baruch, who now enters this tale. He might be the most important of all the figures who will appear in it during the ensuing fifty years, for he was to become known as “the adviser” to several Presidents and in the 1950's was still advising President Eisenhower and Mr. Winston Churchill: In 1912 he was publicly known only as a highly successful financier. His biographer states that he contributed $50,000 to Mr. Wilson's campaign.
Then during the election campaign Mr. Wilson was made to feel the bit. After initial indiscretions he promised Mr. House (as earlier quoted, and compared with Philip Dru) “not to act independently in future.” Immediately after the election he received Rabbi Stephen Wise “in a lengthy session” at which they discussed “Russian affairs with special reference to the treatment of Jews” (Mr. Wise). At the same moment Mr. House lunched with a Mr. Louis D. Brandeis, an eminent jurist and a Jew, and recorded that “his mind and mine are in accord concerning most of the questions that are now to the fore .”
Thus three of the four men around Mr. Wilson were Jews and all three, at one stage or another, played leading parts in promoting the re-segregation of the Jews through Zionism and its Palestinian ambition. At that time Mr. Brandeis and Rabbi Wise were the leading Zionists in
He was distinguished in appearance and in intellect, but neither he nor any other lawyer could have defined what constituted, in him, “a Jew.” He did not practise the Judaist religion, either in the Orthodox or Reformed versions, and once wrote, “During most of my life my contact with Jews and Judaism was slight and I gave little thought to their problems.” His conversion was of the irrational, romantic kind (recalling Mr. Balfour's): one day in 1897 he read at breakfast a report of Dr. Herzl's speech at the First Zionist Congress and told his wife, “There is a cause to which I could give my life.”
Thus the fully assimilated American Jew was transformed in a trice. He displayed the ardour of the convert in his subsequent attacks on “assimilation”: “Assimilation cannot be averted unless there be re-established in the Fatherland a centre from which the Jewish spirit may radiate.” The Zionists from
Such was the grouping around a captive president as the
But between 1911 and 1919 life was delightful for Mr. House. He loved the feeling of power for its own sake, and withal was too kind to want to hurt
“It was invariably my intention, with the President as with all other men I sought to influence, to make him think that ideas he derived from me were his own. In the nature of things I have thought more on many things than had the President, and I had had opportunities to discuss them more widely than he. But no man honestly likes to have another man steer his conclusions. We are all a little vain on that score. Most human beings are too much guided by personal vanity in what they do. It happens that I am not. It does not matter to me who gets the credit for an idea I have imparted. The main thing is to get the idea to work. Usually, to tell the truth, the idea was not original with me…” (and as previously quoted, from Mr. Howden).
Thus someone “steered” Mr. House, who steered Mr. Wilson, to the conclusion that a body of men in the Talmudic areas of
At that period (1913) an event occurred which seemed of little importance then but needs recording here because of its later, large consequence. In
With the accession of Mr. Wilson and the group behind his presidential chair, the stage was set for the war about to begin. The function of
Thus the story now recrosses the Atlantic to
From 1914 to 1916, then, the story becomes that of the struggle to displace these men in