Page images

other among the many causes which, in our American life, tell for religious toleration is due the impossibility of persecution of a particular creed. When in their earliest and most impressionable years Protestants, Catholics, and Jews go to the same schools, learn the same lessons, play the same games, and are forced, in the rough-and-ready democracy of boy life, to take each at his true worth, it is impossible later to make the disciples of one creed persecute those of another. From the evils of religious persecution America is safe.

From the evils of sectional hostility we are, at any rate, far safer than we were. The war with Spain was the most absolutely righteous foreign war in which any nation has engaged during the nineteenth century, and not the least of its many good features was the unity it brought about between the sons of the men who wore the blue and of those who wore the gray. This necessarily meant the dying out of the old antipathy. Of course embers smoulder here and there; but the country at large is growing more and more to take pride in the valor, the self-devotion, the loyalty to an ideal, displayed alike by the soldiers of both sides in the Civil War. We are all united now. We are all glad that the Union was restored, and are one in our loyalty to it; and hand in hand with this general recognition of the all-importance of preserving the Union has gone the recognition of the fact that at the outbreak of the Civil War men could not cut loose from the ingrained habits and traditions of generations, and that the man from the North and the man from the South each was loyal to his highest ideal of duty when he drew sword or shouldered rifle to fight to the death for what he believed to be right.

Nor is it only the North and the South that have struck hands. The East and the West are fundamentally closer together than ever before. Using the word “West” in the old sense, as meaning the country west of the Alleghanies, it is of course perfectly obvious that it is the West which will shape the destinies of this nation. The great group of wealthy and powerful States about the Upper Mississippi, the Ohio, the Missouri, and their tributaries, will have far more weight than any other section in deciding the fate of the Republic in the centuries that are opening. This is not in the least to be regretted by the East, for the simple and excellent reason that the interests of the West and the East are one. The West will shape our destinies because she will have more people and a greater territory, and because the whole development of the Western country is such as to make it peculiarly the exponent of all that is most vigorously and characteristically American in our national life.

So it is with the Pacific Slope, and the giant young States that are there growing by leaps and bounds. The greater the share they have in directing the national life, the better it will be for all of us.

I do not for a moment mean that mistakes will not be committed in every section of the country; they certainly will be, and in whatever section they are committed it will be our duty to protest against them, and to try to overthrow those who are responsible for them: but I do mean to say that in the long run each section is going to find that its welfare, instead of being antagonistic to, is indissolubly bound up in, the welfare of other sections; and the growth of means of communication, the growth of education in its highest and finest sense, means the growth in the sense of solidarity throughout the country, in the feeling of patriotic pride of each American in the deeds of all other Americans-of pride in the past history and present and future greatness of the whole country.

Nobody is interested in the fact that Dewey comes from Vermont, Hobson from Alabama, or Funston from Kansas. If all three came from the same county it would make no difference to us. They are Americans, and every American has an equal right to challenge his share of glory in their deeds. As we read of the famous feats of our army in the Philippines, it matters nothing to us whether the regiments come from Oregon, Idaho, California, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, or Tennessee. What does matter is that these splendid soldiers are all Americans; that they are our heroes; that our blood runs in their veins; that the flag under which we live is the flag for which they have fought, for which some of them have died.

Danger from religious antipathy is dead, and from sectional antipathy dying; but there are at. times very ugly manifestations of antipathy between class and class. It seems a pity to have to use the word “class,” because there are really no classes in our American life in the sense in which the word “class” is used in Europe. Our social and political systems do not admit of them in theory, and in practice they exist only in a very fluid state. In most European countries classes are separated by rigid boundaries, which can be crossed but rarely, and with the utmost difficulty and peril. Here the boundaries can not properly be said to exist, and are certainly so fluctuating and evasive, so indistinctly marked, that they can not be appreciated when seen near by. Any American family which lasts a few generations will be apt to have representatives in all the different classes. The great business men, even the great professional men, and especially the great statesmen and sailors and soldiers, are very apt to spring from among the farmers or wageworkers, and their kinsfolk remain near the old

home or at the old trade. If ever there existed in the world a community where the identity of interest, of habit, of principle, and of ideals should be felt as a living force, ours is the one. Speaking generally, it really is felt to a degree quite unknown in other countries of our size. There are, doubtless, portions of Norway and Switzerland where the social and political ideals, and their nearness to realization, are not materially different from those of the most essentially American portions of our own land; but this is not true of any European country of considerable size. It is only in American communities that we see the farmer, the hired man, the lawyer, and the merchant, and possibly even the officer of the army or the navy, all kinsmen, and all accepting their relations as perfectly natural and simple. This is eminently healthy. This is just as it should be in our Republic. It represents the ideal toward which it would be a good thing to approximate everywhere. In the great industrial centres, with their highly complex, highly specialized conditions, it is of course merely an ideal. There are parts even of our oldest States, as, for example, New York, where this ideal is actually realized; there are other parts, particularly the great cities, where the life is so wholly different that the attempt to live up precisely to the country conditions would be artificial and impossible. Nevertheless, the fact re

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »