Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Introduction to the American

Patriots and Statesmen

By THE EDITOR

To gather into one set a vital selection of American patriotic utterances is like trying to combine into one sound the notes of the birds of the forest. Each orator and seer has his own method of appealing to his countrymen. Yet there is a spirit of American nationality, a type of American prophecy, which can be brought out clearly by such a set as this.

The opportunity to make such a selection became more attractive as the wealth of material was revealed. Twenty volumes could be made as easily as five. The difficulty of the task has been to make such a choice as would give voice not only to the notable speakers and writers, but to some of the less known but equally ardent men of America.

A perplexing question much in the minds of the publishers and editors has been the choice of a proper title. “AMERICAN PATRIOTS AND STATESMEN” seemed to suggest that there might be statesmen who were not patriotic. But the title fairly includes statesmen, public orators, and men and women of every sort who knew how to inspire love of country.

The editor, in his selections, has sought to make the five volumes truly representative of America. Writers of every class have been included-statesmen, sages, men of affairs, state officials, congressmen, senators, presidents, judges; ministers, doctors, and lawyers; educators, novelists, essayists, and travelers; poets and orators. Writers have been chosen from every section-New England, Middle Colonies and States, South and West. A few foreigners have been admitted because they have understood the United States and have foreseen its future.

The flow of patriotism in this work has been checked with the year 1861. The reason is that so many later patriotic utterances are bound up with political and social controversies which are still unsettled. To preserve the non-sectional and non-partisan character of the work, it is brought to a close with the outbreak of the Civil War.

In the last three decades covered by the set the two questions which most fired the heart of orators were State rights and slavery. Both these issues, as then presented, have happily gone by. It is interesting to see how men like Calhoun, champion of nullification, and Seward, champion of the higher law, alike appealed to a sentiment of national patriotism. From beginning to end of the set the term

.

Introduction "American" includes not only those born on the soil, or of parents born on the soil, but also the immigrant and the child of the immigrant. Many extracts bring out the hope of the settler, from the earliest period of colonization all the way down. Such distinguished immigrants as John Winthrop, Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, Francis Lieber, Carl Schurz, and John Boyle O'Reilly have their turn in the rostrum. The volumes abound in patriotic words to immigrants and by immigrants.

No apology is needed for admitting some criticisms into this galaxy of American patriots. From John Smith and John Winthrop, through Washington, Jefferson, Jackson and Webster to Lincoln, some of the noblest words have been words of warning and expostulation.

This work also brings into relief the somewhat surprising truth that the themes of orators nowadays are often the same as they were a century ago. Controversies over the army, the navy, war, conquest, administration of conquered territory, world power, and preparedness are as old as the Republic. Extracts on these subjects find place here because they record the efforts of the most eloquent and farsighted men of their time to aid their countrymen to wise decisions. They spoke and wrote without having posterity in mind. When Franklin asked where the infant republic was to find the military munitions without which it would perish, he was thinking only of the Revolutionary War. Washington's complaints of inefficient preparation and raw militia were directed only at the Continental Congress. John Randolph's diatribes against naval war were based on the experience of American neutral trade during the Napoleonic wars. Buchanan's expansion policy and Calhoun's opposition to expansion had in mind the Mexico of 1846 and not that of 1916.

To the general principle that the set shall close with the breaking out of the Civil War in 1861 there is one exception which needs to be stated but not to be justified. Of the brief public life of Abraham Lincoln, the greater part came after 1860. While president, from time to time he fashioned jewels of pure English, whose noble spirit made lofty appeal to the patriotism of all Americans. A selection of American patriotism which should leave out the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural would be incomplete. The set, therefore, comes up to its climax in some of the splendid utterances of that magnificent man, born a Southerner, living a Northerner, dying "The First American."

The editor has been much advantaged - by special facilities granted by the Harvard College Library, and by the expert aid of Mr. Edwin Dorman Lewis.

ALBERT BUSHNELL HART.

What Is an American?

By CHARLES WILLIAM ELIOT

In the first place the American is the product of certain moral inheritances. He is usually the descendant of an immigrant or an immigrant himself. That immigrant, in many cases, was escaping from some sort of religious, political, social, or economic oppression. He was some kind of nonconformist, and he was dissatisfied with his surroundings and wished to better them. Therefore he must have had an unusual amount of imagination, ambition, and venturesomeness. This is as true of the late comers to America as of the earlier comers. The English Pilgrims and Puritans, the French Huguenots, the Scotch Covenanters, the Moravians, the Quakers, the Russian Jews, the Armenians, and the Syrian Christians all fled from religious hostilities or restrictions, and meant to secure, or expected to find, in the New World freedom to worship God each in his own way. They found that liberty and ultimately established in the United States a régime of absolute religious toleration. After 1848 a large German immigration took refuge here from political oppression. Millions of

« AnteriorContinuar »