« PreviousContinue »
The American people have short memories. That is but natural. As history is measured, the United States is but a youth, and, as befits normal youth, self-sufficient and self-reliant, we have had little desire or need of dwelling upon the past. America has been busy dreaming and thinking of the morrow, with its duties and opportunities; busy exploring, settling and developing a new continent; engaged in construction rather than reflection. As a nation, we inherited no racial enmities or religious antipathies which made it natural to keep alive the memories of ancient grudges or necessary to appeal to ancient fears in order to maintain our national unity.
This was not accidental. "There is a divinity which shapes our ends" and orders the destinies of nations. It was necessary to our establishment as a nation, to the sturdy, healthy development of our institutions that we be free to work out our problems, uninfluenced and unfettered by old prejudices and hatreds. It was necessary that our fathers wholly discard the institutions and practices of European civilization, grown fetid, and model America's government along wholly new and wholesome lines.
But now we are developed physically; our frontiers have disappeared. We are developed politically; our institutions are firmly established and our national unity and solidarity tested and proved. America has reached maturity, that age when its future is served better by caution than by daring, and the interests and welfare of its citizens promoted better by holding fast to that which has proved true and enduring than by experimenting with the novel and untried.
At various times in our national life there have come testing periods when, standing at the parting of the ways, the people have been called upon to choose between keeping the faith of their fathers and following the call of visionaries and the selfseeking ambitious. America has just passed through such a crisis. It was providential that, in the hour when our citizenry were called upon to make their decision, there were stalwart Americans who fearlessly and vigorously protested against repudiating the advice of those who laid the foundations of this republic, who were neither ashamed nor afraid to preach America and Americanism first, who admonished their countrymen that American institutions could be preserved only by undivided devotion to the same