Page images

who endeavors to rise by committing that worst of crimes against our people—the crime of inflaming brother against brother, one American against his fellow-Americans.

My fellow-countrymen, bad laws are evil things, good laws are necessary; and a clean, fearless, common-sense administration of the laws is even more necessary; but what we need most of all is to look to our own selves to see that our consciences as individuals, that our collective national conscience, may respond instantly to every appeal for high action, for lofty and generous endeavor. There must and shall be no falling off in the national traits of hardihood and manliness; and we must keep ever bright the love of justice, the spirit of strong brotherly friendship for one's fellows, which we hope and believe will hereafter stand as typical of the men who make up this, the mightiest Republic upon which the sun has ever shone.



THIS anniversary, which marks the completion by-
Colorado of her first quarter-century of State-
hood, is of interest not only to her sisters, the States
of the Rocky Mountain region, but to our whole
country. With the exception of the admission to
Statehood of California, no other event emphasized
in such dramatic fashion the full meaning of the
growth of our country as did the incoming of Colo-

It is a law of our intellectual development that the greatest and most important truths, when once we have become thoroughly familiar with them, often because of that very familiarity grow dim in our minds. The westward spread of our people across this continent has been so rapid, and so great has been their success in taming the rugged wilderness, turning the gray desert into green fertility, and filling the waste and lonely places with the eager, thronging, crowded life of our industrial civilization, that we have begun to accept it all as part of


the order of Nature. Moreover, it now seems to us equally a matter of course that when a sufficient number of the citizens of our common country have thus entered into and taken possession of some great tract of empty wilderness, they should be permitted to enter the Union as a State on an absolute equality with the older States, having the same right both to manage their own local affairs as they deem best, and to exercise their full share of control over all the affairs of whatever kind or sort in which the nation is interested as a whole. The youngest and the oldest States stand on an exact level in one indissoluble and perpetual Union.

To us nowadays these processes seem so natural that it is only by a mental wrench that we conceive of any other as possible. Yet they are really wholly modern and of purely American development. When, a century before Colorado became a State, the original thirteen States began the great experiment of a free and independent Republic on this continent, the processes which we now accept in such matter-of-course fashion were looked upon as abnormal and revolutionary. It is our own success here in America that has brought about the complete alteration in feeling. The chief factor in producing the Revolution, and later in producing the War of 1812, was the inability of the mother country to understand that the freemen who went forth to conquer


a continent should be encouraged in that work, and could not and ought not to be expected to toil only for the profit or glory of others. When the first Continental Congress assembled, the British Government, like every other government of Europe at that time, simply did not know how to look upon the general question of the progress of the colonies save from the standpoint of the people who had stayed at home. The spread of the hardy, venturesome backwoodsmen was to most of the statesmen of London a matter of anxiety rather than of pride, and the famous Quebec Act of 1774 was in part designed with the purpose of keeping the English-speaking settlements permanently east of the Alleghanies, and preserving the mighty and beautiful valley of the Ohio as a hunting-ground for savages, a preserve for the great fur-trading companies; and as late as 1812 this project was partially revived.

More extraordinary still, even after independence was achieved, and a firm Union accomplished under that wonderful document, the Constitution adopted in 1789, we still see traces of the same feeling lingering here and there in our own country. There were plenty of men in the seaboard States who looked with what seems to us ludicrous apprehension at the steady westward growth of our people. Grave Senators and Representatives expressed dire foreboding as to the ruin which would result from admitting the communities growing up along the Ohio to a full equality with the older States; and when Louisiana was given Statehood, they insisted that that very fact dissolved the Union. When our people had begun to settle in the Mississippi Valley, Jefferson himself accepted with equanimity the view that probably it would not be possible to keep regions so infinitely remote as the Mississippi and the Atlantic Coast in the same Union. Later even such a stanch Union man and firm believer in Western growth as fearless old Tom Benton of Missouri thought that it would be folly to try to extend the national limits westward of the Rocky Mountains. In 1830 our then best-known man of letters and historian, Washington Irving, prophesied that for ages to come the country upon which we now stand would be inhabited simply by roving tribes of nomads.

The mental attitude of all these good people need not surprise anybody. There was nothing in the past by which to judge either the task before this country, or the way in which that task was to be done. As Lowell finely said, on this continent we have made new States as Old World men pitch tents. Even the most far-seeing statesmen, those most gifted with the imagination needed by really great statesmen, could not at first grasp what the process really meant. Slowly and with incredible labor the backwoodsmen of the old colonies hewed their way

« PreviousContinue »