Appendix F. Speeches For Study And Practise
John Morley - Founder's Day Address (Abridged)
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pa., November 3, 1904. What is so hard as a just estimate of the events of our own time? It is only now, a century and a half later, that we really perceive that a writer has something to say for himself when he calls Wolfe's exploit at Quebec the turning point in modern history. And to-day it is hard to imagine any rational standard that would not make the American Revolution - an insurrection of thirteen little colonies, with a population of 3,000,000 scattered in a distant wilderness among savages - a mightier event in many of its aspects than the volcanic convulsion in France. Again, the upbuilding of your great West on this continent is reckoned by some the most important world movement of the last hundred years. But is it more important than the amazing, imposing, and perhaps disquieting apparition of Japan? One authority insists that when Russia descended into the Par East and pushed her frontier on the Pacific to the forty-third degree of latitude, that was one of the most far-reaching facts of modern history, tho it almost escaped the eyes of Europe - all her perceptions then monopolized by affairs in the Levant. Who can say? Many courses of the sun were needed before men could take the full historic measures of Luther, Calvin, Knox; the measure of Loyola, the Council of Trent, and all the counter-reformation. The center of gravity is forever shifting, the political axis of the world perpetually changing. But we are now far enough off to discern how stupendous a thing was done when, after two cycles of bitter war, one foreign, the other civil and intestine, Pitt and Washington, within a span of less than a score of years, planted the foundations of the American Republic.
What Forbes's stockade at Fort Pitt has grown to be you know better than I. The huge triumphs of Pittsburg in material production - iron, steel, coke, glass, and all the rest of it - can only be told in colossal figures that are almost as hard to realize in our minds as the figures of astronomical distance or geologic time. It is not quite clear that all the founders of the Commonwealth would have surveyed the wonderful scene with the same exultation as their descendants. Some of them would have denied that these great centers of industrial democracy either in the Old World or in the New always stand for progress. Jefferson said, " I view great cities as pestilential to the morals, the health, and the liberties of man. I consider the class of artificers," he went on, "as the panders of vice, and the instrument by which the liberties of a country are generally overthrown." In England they reckon 70 per cent. of our population as dwellers in towns. With you, I read that only 25 per cent. of the population live in groups so large as 4,000 persons. If Jefferson was right our outlook would be dark. Let us hope that he was wrong, and in fact toward the end of his time qualified his early view. Franklin, at any rate, would, I feel sure, have reveled in it all.
That great man - a name in the forefront among the practical intelligences of human history - once told a friend that when he dwelt upon the rapid progress that mankind was making in politics, morals, and the arts of living, and when he considered that each one improvement always begets another, he felt assured that the future progress of the race was likely to be quicker than it had ever been. He was never wearied of foretelling inventions yet to come, and he wished he could revisit the earth at the end of a century to see how mankind was getting on. With all my heart I share his wish. Of all the men who have built up great
States, I do believe there is not one whose alacrity of sound sense and single-eyed beneficence of aim could be more safely trusted than Franklin to draw light from the clouds and pierce the economic and political confusions of our time. We can imagine the amazement and complacency of that shrewd benignant mind if he could watch all the giant marvels of your mills and furnaces, and all the apparatus devised by the wondrous inventive faculties of man; if he could have foreseen that his experiments with the kite in his garden at Philadelphia, his tubes, his Leyden jars would end m the electric appliances of to-day - the largest electric plant in all the world on the site of Port Duquesne; if he could have heard of 5,000,000,000 of passengers carried in the United States by electric motor power m a year; if he could have realized all the rest of the magician's tale of our time.
Still more would he have been astounded and elated could he have foreseen, beyond all advances in material production, the unbroken strength of that political structure which he had so grand a share in rearing. Into this very region where we are this afternoon, swept wave after wave of immigration; English from Virginia flowed over the border, bringing English traits, literature, habits of mind; Scots, or Scoto-Irish, originally from Ulster, flowed in from Central Pennsylvania; Catholics from Southern Ireland; new hosts from Southern and East Central Europe. This is not the Fourth of July. But people of every school would agree that it is no exuberance of rhetoric, it is only sober truth to say that the persevering absorption and incorporation of all this ceaseless torrent of heterogenous elements into one united, stable, industrious, and pacific State is an achievement that neither the Roman Empire nor the Roman Church, neither Byzantine Empire nor Russian, not Charles the Great nor Charles the Fifth nor Napoleon ever rivaled or approached.
We are usually apt to excuse the slower rate of liberal progress in our Old World by contrasting the obstructive barriers of prejudice, survival, solecism, anachronism, convention, institution, all so obstinately rooted, even when the branches seem bare and broken, in an old world, with the open and disengaged ground of the new. Yet in fact your difficulties were at least as formidable as those of the older civilizations into whose fruitful heritage you have entered. Unique was the necessity of this gigantic task of incorporation, the assimilation of people of divers faiths and race. A second difficulty was more formidable still - how to erect and work a powerful and wealthy State on such a system as to combine the centralized concert of a federal system with local independence, and to unite collective energy with the encouragement of individual freedom.