Courtesy Reuters

"The Open Door at Home"

THE OPEN DOOR AT HOME. By CHARLES A. BEARD. New York: Macmillan, 1934, 331 p.

GREAT history quite properly dwells in the high hills, and if amid the colorful mists which surround those hills there are any such things as green blotters they must be very dull and insignificant objects. But when the historian sends forth his book to exert influence in the lower contemporary world, and it arrives, for reading and for rest, upon one of these green blotters -- of the standard size and color supplied to all Government desks -- the proportions are reversed. Even opened wide it covers only a quarter of the green oblong; and the fresh and smooth surface of its hill-born generalizations are in striking contrast with the blotter's worn and detail-scarred face. What would become of the fresh and smooth surface if it should stay in the world of blotters? This is the thought that comes naturally to anyone living in that world.

I shall heed the prompting and restrictions of time and circumstance, choose the reflections which arise most naturally out of the last working day, and limit myself to one (and not the most effective) element of Professor Beard's analysis. I shall deal with its economic element and even more narrowly with the peacetime aspects of that, though I recognize that to do so ignores a vital part of his presentation.

A white moon peers over the White House lawn. The lights are still burning in the Executive Offices, and the ornamented and lighted dome of the Capitol can be seen at the other end of town. In the morning Congress will meet again and over the doorsteps of those seats of authority will hurry Government officials, reporters, state governors, businessmen, bankers, farm leaders, foreign diplomats and officers of the D.A.R. The reality resulting from the application of any conceptual policy, I remind myself, will be shaped by the views, the impulses, and the compromises of interest of that throng.


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