Page images
PDF
EPUB

make the smaller men who under such conditions would rent, actual proprietors. We want to shape our policy so that these men themselves shall be the land owners, the makers of homes, the keepers of homes.

Certain of our land laws, however beneficent their purposes, have been twisted into an improper use, so that there have grown up abuses under them by which they tend to create a class of men who under one color and another obtain large tracts of soil for speculative purposes, but to rent out to others; and there should be now a thorough scrutiny of our land laws with the object of so amending them as to do away with the possibility of such abuses. If it were not for the national irrigation act we would be about past the time when Uncle Sam could give every man a farm. (You know that has been a saying for a long time in our nation, but if it were not for the passage by the Federal Congress of the national irrigation act we would be well toward the end of the time when that saying would any longer be true.) Comparatively little of our land is left which is adapted to farming without irrigation. The home maker on the public land must hereafter in the great majority of cases have water for irrigation, or the making of his home will fail. Let us keep that fact before our minds. Do not misunderstand me when I have spoken of the defects of our land laws. Our land laws have served a noble purpose in the past and have become the models for other governments. The homestead law has been a notable instrument for good. To establish a family permanently upon a quarter section of land, or of course upon a less quantity if it is irrigated land, is the best use to which it can be put. The first need of any nation is intelligent and honest citizens. Such can come only from honest and intelligent homes, and to get the good citizenship we must get the good homes. It is absolutely necessary that the remainder of our public land should be reserved

for the home maker, and it is necessary, in my judgment, that there should be a revision of the land laws and a cutting out of such provisions from them as in actual practice under present conditions tend to make possible the acquisition of large tracts for speculative purposes or for the purpose of leasing to others.

Citizenship is the prime test in the welfare of the nation, but we need good laws, and above all we need good land laws throughout the West. We want to see the free farmer own his home. The best of the public lands are already in private hands, and yet the rate of their disposal is steadily increasing. More than six million acres were patented during the first three months of the present year.

It is time for us to see that our remaining public lands are saved for the home maker to the utmost limit of his possible use. I say this to you of this university because we have a right to expect that the best trained, the best educated men on the Pacific slope, the Rocky Mountains, and great plains States will take the lead in the preservation and right use of the forests, in securing the right use of the waters, and in seeing to it that our land policy is not twisted from its original purpose, but is perpetuated by amendment, by change when such change is necessary in the line of that purpose, the purpose being to turn the public domain into farms each to be the property of the man who actually tills it and makes his home on it.

Infinite are the possibilities for usefulness that lie before such a body as that I am addressing. Work? Of course you will have to work. I should be sorry for you if you did not have to work. Of course you will have to work, and I envy you the fact that before you, before the graduates of this university, lies the chance of lives to be spent in hard labor for great and glorious and useful causes, hard labor for the uplifting of your States, of the Union, of all mankind.

XXVIII

AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKE

LEY, CALIFORNIA, MAY 14, 1903

President Wheeler, fellow-members of the University :

Last night, in speaking to one of my new friends in California, he told me that he thought enough had been said to me about the fruits and flowers; that enough had been said to me about California being an Eden, and that he wished I would pay some attention to Adam as well. Much though I have been interested in the wonderful physical beauty of this wonderful State, I have been infinitely more interested in its citizenship, and perhaps most in its citizenship, in the making.

When I come to the University of California and am greeted by its President I am greeted by an old and valued friend, a friend whom I have not merely known socially but upon whom, while I was Governor of New York, I leaned often for advice and assistance in the problems with which I had to deal. When he accepted your offer I grudged him to you. And it was not until I came here, not until I have seen you, that I have been fully reconciled to the loss. But now I am, for I can conceive of no happier life for any man to lead to whom life means what it should mean, than the life of the President of this great university.

This same friend last night suggested to me a thought that I intend to work out in speaking to you to-day. We were talking over the University of California, and

from that we spoke of the general educational system of our country. Facts tend to become commonplace, and we tend to lose sight of their importance when once they are ingrained into the life of the nation. Although we talk a good deal about what the widespread education of this country means, I question if many of us deeply consider its meaning. From the lowest grade of the public school to the highest form of university training, education in this country is at the disposal of every man, every woman, who chooses to work for and obtain it. The State has done very much; witness this university. Private benefaction has done much, very much; witness also this university. And each one of us who has obtained an education has obtained something for which he or she has not personally paid. No matter what the school, what the university, every American who has a school training, a university training, has obtained something given to him outright by the State, or given to him by those dead or those living who were able to make provision for that training because of the protection of the State, because of existence within its borders. Each one of us then who has an education, school or college, has obtained something from the community at large for which he or she has not paid, and no self-respecting man or woman is content to rest permanently under such an obligation. Where the State has bestowed education the man who accepts it must be content to accept it merely as a charity unless he returns it to the State in full, in the shape of good citizenship. I do not ask of you, men and women here to-day, good citizenship as a favor to the State. I demand it of you as a right, and hold you recreant to your duty if you fail to give it.

Here you are in this university, in this State with its wonderful climate, which is permitting people of a Northern stock for the first time in the history of that Northern stock to gain education in physical surround

ings, somewhat akin to those which surrounded the early Greeks. Here you have all those advantages, and you are not to be excused if you do not show in tangible fashion your appreciation of them and your power to give practical effect to that appreciation. From all our citizens we have a right to expect good citizenship; but most of all from those who have received most; most of all from those who have had the training of body, of mind, of soul, which comes from association in and with a great university. From those to whom much has been given we have Biblical authority to expect and demand much in return; and the most that can be given to any man is education.

I expect and demand in the name of the nation much more from you who have had training of the mind than from those of mere wealth. To the man of means much has been given, too, and much will be expected from him, and ought to be, but not as much as from you, because your possession is more valuable than his. If you envy him I think poorly of you. Envy is merely the meanest form of admiration, and a man who envies another admits thereby his own inferiority. We have a right to expect from the collegebred man, the college-bred woman, a proper sense of proportion, a proper sense of perspective, which will enable him or her to see things in their right relation one to another, and when thus seen while wealth will have a proper place, a just place, as an instrument for achieving happiness and power, for conferring happiness and power, it will not stand as high as much else in our national life. I ask you to take that not as a conventional statement from the university platform, but to test it by thinking of the men whom you admire in our past history and seeing what are the qualities which have made you admire them, what are the services they have rendered. For, as President Wheeler said to-day, it is true now as it ever has been true that the greatest good-fortune, the greatest

« PreviousContinue »