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Another portion has not been admitted to statehood, although a century has elapsed—although doubtless it soon will be. In each case we showed the practical gov. ernmental genius of our race by devising methods suitable to meet the actual existing needs; not by insisting upon the application of some abstract shibboleth to all our new possessions alike, no matter how incongruous this application might sometimes be.
Over by far the major part of the territory, however, our people spread in such numbers during the course of the nineteenth century that we were able to build up State after State, each with exactly the same complete local independence in all matters affecting purely its own domestic interests as in any of the original thirteen States -each owing the same absolute fealty to the Union of all the States which each of the original thirteen States also owes, -and finally each having the same proportional right to its share in shaping and directing the common policy of the Union which is possessed by any other State, whether of the original thirteen or not.
This process now seems to us part of the natural order of things, but it was wholly unknown until our own people devised it. It seems to us a mere matter of course, a matter of elementary right and justice, that in the deliberations of the national representative bodies the representatives of a State which came into the Union but yesterday stand on a footing of exact and entire equality with those of the Commonwealths whose sons once signed the Declaration of Independence. But this way of looking at the matter is purely modern, and in its origin purely American. When Washington during his Presidency saw new States come into the Union on a footing of complete equality with the old, every European nation which had colonies still administered them as dependencies, and every other mother country treated the colonist not as a self-governing equal but as a subject.
The process which we began has since been followed by all the great peoples who were capable both of expansion and of self-government, and now the world accepts it as the natural process, as the rule; but a century and a quarter ago it was not merely exceptional, it was unknown.
This, then, is the great historic significance of the movement of continental expansion in which the Louisiana Purchase was the most striking single achievement. It stands out in marked relief even among the feats of a nation of pioneers, a nation whose people have from the beginning been picked out by a process of natural selection from among the most enterprising individuals of the nations of western Europe. The acquisition of the territory is a credit to the broad and far-sighted statesmanship of the great statesmen to whom it was immediately due, and above all to the aggressive and masterful character of the hardy pioneer folk to whose restless energy these statesmen gave expression and direction, whom they fol. lowed rather than led. The history of the land comprised within the limits of the Purchase is an epitome of the entire history of our people. Within these limits we have gradually built up State after State until now they many times over-surpass in wealth, in population, and in many-sided development the original thirteen States as they were when their delegates met in the Continental Congress. The people of these States have shown themselves mighty in war with their fellow-man, and mighty in strength to tame the rugged wilderness. They could not thus have conquered the forest and the prairie, the mountain and the desert, had they not possessed the great fighting virtues, the qualities which enable a people to overcome the forces of hostile men and hostile nature. On the other hand, they could not have used aright their conquest had they not in addition possessed the qualities of self-mastery and self-restraint, the power of acting in
combination with their fellows, the power of yielding obedience to the law and of building up an orderly civilization. Courage and hardihood are indispensable virtues in a people; but the people which possesses no others can never rise high in the scale either of power or of culture. Great peoples must have in addition the governmental capacity which comes only when individuals fully recognize their duties to one another and to the whole body politic, and are able to join together in feats of constructive statesmanship and of honest and effective administration.
The old pioneer days are gone, with their roughness and their hardship, their incredible toil and their wild half-savage romance. But the need for the pioneer virtues remains the same as ever. The peculiar frontier conditions have vanished; but the manliness and stalwart hardihood of the frontiersmen can be given even freer scope under the conditions surrounding the complex industrialism of the present day. In this great region acquired for our people under the Presidency of Jefferson, this region stretching from the Gulf to the Canadian border, from the Mississippi to the Rockies, the material and social progress has been so vast that alike for weal and for woe its people now share the opportunities and bear the burdens common to the entire civilized world. The problems before us are fundamentally the same east and west of the Mississippi, in the new States and in the old, and exactly the same qualities are required for their successful solution.
We meet here to-day to commemorate a great event, an event which marks an era in statesmanship no less than in pioneering. It is fitting that we should pay our homage in words; but we must in honor make our words good by deeds. We have every right to take a just pride in the great deeds of our forefathers; but we show ourselves unworthy to be their descendants if we make what
they did an excuse for our lying supine instead of an incentive to the effort to show ourselves by our acts worthy of them. In the administration of City, State, and Nation, in the management of our home life and the conduct of our business and social relations, we are bound to show certain high and fine qualities of character under penalty of seeing the whole heart of our civilization eaten out while the body still lives.
We justly pride ourselves on our marvellous material prosperity, and such prosperity must exist in order to establish a foundation upon which a higher life can be built; but unless we do in very fact build this higher life thereon, the material prosperity itself will go for but very little. Now, in 1903, in the altered conditions, we must meet the changed and changing problems with the spirit shown by the men who in 1803 and in the subsequent years gained, explored, conquered, and settled this vast territory, then a desert, now filled with thriving and populous States.
The old days were great because the men who lived in them had mighty qualities; and we must make the new days great by showing these same qualities. We must insist upon courage and resolution, upon hardihood, tenacity, and fertility in resource; we must insist upon the strong virile virtues; and we must insist no less upon the virtues of self-restraint, self-mastery, regard for the rights of others; we must show our abhorrence of cruelty, brutality, and corruption, in public and in private life alike. If we come short in any of these qualities we shall measurably fail; and if, as I believe we surely shall, we develop these qualities in the future to an even greater degree than in the past, then in the century now beginning we shall make of this Republic the freest and most orderly, the most just and most mighty, nation which has ever come forth from the womb of time,
AT TOPEKA, KANSAS, MAY 1, 1903
Colonel McCook, gentlemen, and ladies :
It needed no urging to get me to accept your invitation. I hailed the chance of speaking a few words to you on this occasion, because it seems to me that the railroad branch of the Young Men's Christian Association exemplifies in practice just exactly what I like to preach--that is, the combination of efficiency with decent living and high ideals.
In our present advanced civilization we have to pay certain penalties for what we have obtained. Among the penalties is the fact that in very many occupations there is so little demand upon nerve, hardihood, and endurance, that there is a tendency to unhealthy softening of fibre and relaxation of fibre; and such being the case I think it is a fortunate thing for our people as a whole that there should be certain occupations, prominent among them railroading, in which the man has to show the very qualities of courage, of hardihood, of willingness to face danger, the cultivation of the power of instantaneous decision under difficulties, and the other qualities which go to make up the virile side of a man's character—the qualities, Colonel McCook, which you and those like you showed when as boys, as young men, they fought to a finish the great Civil War.
So much for the manliness, so much for the strength, so much for the courage developed by your profession,