« PreviousContinue »
Lincoln and soldiers like Grant, and accordingly as it does or does not back them in their efforts. We do not need men of unsteady brilliancy or erratic power-unbalanced men. The men we need are the men of strong, earnest, solid character—the men who possess the homely virtues, and who to these virtues add rugged courage, rugged honesty, and high resolve. Grant, with his self-poise, his selfcommand, his self-mastery; Grant, who loved peace and did not fear war, who would not draw the sword if he could honorably keep it sheathed, but who, when once he had drawn it, would not return it to the sheath until the weary years had brought the blood-won victory; Grant, who had no thought after the fight was won save of leading the life led by other Americans, and who aspired to the Presidency only as Zachary Taylor or Andrew Jackson had aspired to it—Grant was of a type upon which the men of to-day can well afford to model themselves.
As I have already said, our first duty, our most important work, is setting our own house in order. We must be true to ourselves, or else, in the long run, we shall be false to all others. The Republic can not stand if honesty and decency do not prevail alike in public and private life; if we do not set ourselves seriously at work to solve the tremendous social problems forced upon us by the far-sweeping industrial changes of the last two generations.
But in considering the life of Grant it is peculiarly appropriate to remember that, besides the regeneration in political and social life within our own borders, we must also face what has come upon us from without. No friendliness with other nations, no good will for them or by them, can take the place of national self-reliance. No alliance, no inoffensive conduct on our part, would supply, in time of need, the failure in ability to hold our own with the strong hand. We must work out our own destiny by our own strength. A vigorous young nation like ours does not always stand still. Now and then there comes a time when it is sure either to shrink or to expand. Grant saw to it that we did not shrink, and therefore we had to expand when the inevitable moment came.
Great duties face us in the islands where the Stars and Stripes now float in place of the arrogant flag of Spain. As we perform those duties well or ill, so will we, in large part, determine our right to a place among the great nations of the earth. We have got to meet them in the very spirit of Grant. If we are frightened at the task, above all, if we are cowed or disheartened by any check, or by the clamor of the sensation-monger, we shall show ourselves weaklings unfit to invoke the memories of the stalwart men who fought to a finish the great Civil War. If we do not rule wisely, and if our rule is not in the interest of the peoples who have come under our guardianship, then we had best never to have begun the effort at all. As a nation we shall have to choose our representatives in these islands as carefully as Grant chose the generals who were to serve at the vital points under him. Fortunately, so far the choice has been most wise. No nation has ever sent a better man than we sent to Cuba when President McKinley appointed as governor-general of that island Leonard Wood; and now, in sending Judge Taft at the head of the Commission to the Philippines, the President has again chosen the very best man to be found in all the United States for the purpose in view. .
Part of Grant's great strength lay in the fact that he faced facts as they were, and not as he wished they might be. He was not originally an abolitionist, and he probably could not originally have defined his views as to State sovereignty; but when the Civil War was on, he saw that the only thing to do was to fight it to a finish and establish by force of arms the Constitutional right to put down rebellion. It is just the same thing nowadays with expansion. It has come, and it has come to stay, whether we wish it or not. Certain duties have fallen to us as a legacy of the war with Spain, and we can not avoid performing them. All we can decide is whether we will perform them well or ill. We can not leave the Philippines. We have got to stay there, establish order, and then give the inhabitants as much self-government as they show they can use to advantage. We can not run away if we would. We have got to see the work through, because we are not a nation of weaklings. We are strong men, and we intend to do our duty.
To do our duty—that is the sum and substance of the whole matter. We are not trying to win glory. We are not trying to do anything especially brilliant or unusual. We are setting ourselves vigorously at each task as the task arises, and we are trying to face each difficulty as Grant faced innumerable and infinitely greater difficulties. The sure way to succeed is to set about our work in the spirit that marked the great soldier whose life we this day celebrate: the spirit of devotion to duty, of determination to deal fairly, justly, and fearlessly with all men, and of iron resolution never to abandon any task once begun until it has been brought to a successful and triumphant conclusion.
THE TWO AMERICAS
SPEECH AT THE FORMAL OPENING OF THE PAN
AMERICAN EXPOSITION, BUFFALO, MAY 20, 1901
TO-DAY we formally open this great exposition
1 by the shores of the mighty inland seas of the North, where all the peoples of the Western Hemisphere have joined to show what they have done in art, science, and industrial invention, what they have been able to accomplish with their manifold resources and their infinitely varied individual and national qualities. Such an exposition, held at the opening of this new century, inevitably suggests two trains of thought. It should make us think seriously and solemnly of our several duties to one another as citizens of the different nations of this Western Hemisphere, and also of our duties each to the nation to which he personally belongs.
The century upon which we have just entered must inevitably be one of tremendous triumph or of tremendous failure for the whole human race, because, to an infinitely greater extent than ever before, humanity is knit together in all its parts, for weal or woe. All about us there are innumerable tendencies that tell for good, and innumerable ten