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Emerson. “American Scholar” Address

Posted by sethrd23 on November 24, 2009

In his address Emerson discusses some of the hurdles and responsibilities invovled in an American’s life, while facing some of the politcal and moral issues of the decade.

“American Scholar” Address (1837)

Ralph Waldo Emerson

From: American Voices, Significant Speeches in American History, 1640-1945, p. 155-167

Cambridge, Massachusetts
August 31, 1837

Mr. President and gentlemen,–I greet you on the recommencement of our literary year. Our anniversary is one of hope, and perhaps not enough of labor. We do not meet for games of strength or skill, for the recitation of histories, tragedies, and odes, like the ancient Greeks; for parliaments of love and poesy, like the Troubadours; nor for the advancement of science, like our contemporaries in the British and European capitals. Thus far our holiday has been simply a friendly sign of the survival of the love of letters amongst a people too busy to give to letters any more. As such it is precious as the sign of an indestructible instinct. Perhaps the time has already come when it ought to be and will be something else; when the sluggard intellect of this continent will look from under its iron lids and fill the postponed expectation of the world with something better than the exertions of mechanical skill. Our day of dependence, our long apprenticeship to the learning of other lands, draws to a close. The millions that around us are rushing into life cannot always be fed on the sere remains of foreign harvests. Events, actions arise, that must be sung, that will sing themselves. Who can doubt that poetry will revive and lead in a new age, as the star in the constellation Harp, which now flames in our zenith, astronomers announce, shall one day be the pole-star for a thousand years?

In this hope I accept the topic which not only usage, but the nature of our association, seem to prescribe to this day–the American Scholar. Year by year we come up hither to read one more chapter of his biography. Let us inquire what light new days and events have thrown on his character and his hopes.

It is one of those fables which, out of an unknown antiquity, convey an unlooked-for-wisdom, that the gods in the beginning divided Man into men, that he might be more helpful to himself; just as the hand was divided into fingers, the better to answer its end.

The old fable covers a doctrine ever new and sublime; that there is One Man–present to all particular men only partially, or through one faculty; and that you must take the whole society to find the whole man. Man is not a farmer, or professor, or an engineer, but he is all. Man is priest, and scholar, and statesman, and producer, and soldier. In the divided or social state these functions are parcelled out to individuals, each of whom aims to do his stint of the joint work, whilst each other performs his. The fable implies, that the individual to possess himself must sometimes return from his own labor to embrace all the other laborers. But unfortunately, this original unit, this fountain of power, has been so distributed to multitudes, has been so minutely subdivided and peddled out, that it is spilled into drops, and cannot be gathered. The state of society is one in which the members have suffered amputation from the trunk, and strut about, so many walking monsters–a good finger, a neck, a stomach, an elbow, but never a man.

Man is thus metamorphosed into a thing, into many things. The planter, who is Man sent out into the field to gather food, is seldom cheered by any idea of the true dignity of his ministry. He sees his bushel and his cart, and nothing beyond, and sinks into the farmer, instead of Man on the farm. The tradesman scarcely ever gives an ideal worth to his work, but is ridden by the routine of his craft and the soul is subject to dollars. The priest becomes a form; the attorney, a statute book; the mechanic, a machine; the sailor, a rope of a ship.

In this distribution of functions the scholar is the delegated intellect. In the right state he is Man Thinking. In the degenerate state, when the victim of society, he tends to become a mere thinker, or, still worse, the parrot of other men’s thinking.

In this view of him, as Man Thinking, the theory of his office is contained. Him nature solicits with all her placid, all her monitory pictures; him the past instructs; him the future invites. Is not, indeed, every man a student, and do not all things exist for the student’s behoof? And finally is not the true scholar the only true master? But the old oracle said, “All things have two handles: beware of the wrong one.” In life too often the scholar errs with mankind and forfeits his privilege. Let us see him in his school and consider him in reference to the main influences he receives.

I. The first in time and the first in importance of the influences upon the mind is that of nature. Every day, the sun; and after sunset, night and her stars. Ever the winds blow; ever the grass grows. Every day men and women conversing, beholding and beholden. The scholar is he of all men whom this spectacle most engages. He must settle its value in his mind. What is nature to him? There is never a beginning, there is never an end to the inexplicable continuity of this web of God, but always circular power returning into itself. Therein it resembles his own spirit, whose beginning, whose ending, he never can find–so entire, so boundless. Far, too, as her splendors shine, system on system shooting like rays, upward, downward, without centre, without circumference–in the mass and in the particle nature hastens to render account of herself to the mind. Classification begins. To the young mind everything is individual, stands by itself. By and by it finds how to join two things and see in them one nature, then three, then three thousand; and so, tyrannized over by its own unifying instinct, it goes on tying things together, diminishing anomalies, discovering roots, running under ground, whereby contrary and remote things cohere and flower out from on stem. It presently learns that since the dawn of history there has been a constant accumulation and classifying of facts. But what is classification but the perceiving that these objects are not chaotic and are not foreign, but have a law which is also a law of the human mind? The astronomer discovers that geometry, a pure abstraction of the human mind, is the measure of planetary motion. The chemist finds proportions and intelligible method throughout matter; and science is nothing but the finding of analogy, identity, in the most remote parts. The ambitious soul sits down before each refractory fact; one after another, reduces all strange constitutions, all new powers, to their class and their law, and goes on forever to animate the last fibre of organization, the outskirts of nature, by insight.

Thus to him, to this school-boy under the bending dome of day, is suggested that he and it proceed from one root; one is leaf and one is flower; relation, sympathy, stirring in every vein. And what is that Root? Is not that the soul of his soul?–a thought too bold,–a dream too wild. Yet when this spiritual light shall have revealed the law of more earthly natures,–when he has learned to worship the soul, and to see that the natural philosophy that now is, is only the first gropings of its gigantic hand, he shall look forward to an ever expanding knowledge as to a becoming creator. He shall see that nature is the opposite of the soul, answering to it part for part. One is seal and one is print. Its beauty is the beauty of his own mind. Its laws are the laws of his own mind. Nature then becomes to him the measure of his attainments. So much of nature as he is ignorant of, so much of his own mind does he not yet possess. And in fine the ancient precept, “Know thyself,” and the modern precept, “Study nature,” become at last one maxim.

II. The next great influence into the spirit of the scholar is the mind of the Past,–in whatever form, whether of literature, of art, of institutions, that mind is inscribed. Books are the best type of the influence of the pasts, and perhaps we shall get at the truth,–learn the amount of this influence more conveniently,–by considering their value alone.

The theory of books is noble. The scholar of the first age received into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind and uttered it again. It came into him, life; it went out from him, truth. It came to him, short-lived actions; it went out from him, immortal thoughts. It came to him, business; it went from him, poetry. It was dead fact; now, it is quick thought. It can stand and it can go. It now endures, it now flies, it now inspires. Precisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing.

Or, I might say, it depends on how far the process had gone, of transmuting life into truth. In proportion to the completeness of the distillation, so will the purity and imperishableness of the product be. But none is quite perfect. As no air-pump can by any means make a perfect vacuum, so neither can any artist entirely exclude the conventional, the local, the perishable from his book, or write a book of pure thought, that shall be as efficient, in all respects, to a remote posterity, as to contemporaries, or rather to the second age. Each age, it is found, must write its own books; or rather, each generation for the next succeeding. The books of an older period will not fit this.

Yet hence arises a grave mischief. The sacredness which attaches to the act of creation,–the act of thought,–is transferred to the record. The poet chanting, was felt to be a divine man: henceforth the chant is divine also. The writer was a just and wise spirit: henceforward it is settled, the book is perfect; as love of the hero corrupts into worship of his statue. Instantly the book becomes noxious: the guide is a tyrant. The sluggish and perverted mind of the multitude, slow to open to the incursions of Reason, having once so opened, having once received this book, stands upon it and makes an outcry if it is disparaged. Colleges are built on it. Books are written on it by thinkers, not by Man Thinking; by men of talent, that is, who start wrong, who set out from accepted dogmas, not from their own sight of principles. Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon have given, forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were only young men in libraries when they wrote these books.

Hence, instead of Man Thinking, we have the bookworm. Hence, the booklearned class who value books, as such; not as related to nature and the human constitution, but as making a sort of Third Estate with the world and the soul. Hence, the restorers of readings, the emendators, the bibliomaniacs of all degrees.

Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst. What is the right use! What is the one end, which all means go to effect? They are for nothing but to inspire. I had better never see a book than to be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit and made a satellite instead of a system. The one thing in the world of value is the active soul. This every man is entitled to; this every man contains within him although, in almost all men, obstructed, and as yet unborn. The soul active sees absolute truth; and utters truth, or creates. In this action, it is genius; not the privilege of here and there a favorite, but the sound estate of every man. In its essence, it is progressive. The book, the college, the school of art, the institution of any kind, stop with some past utterance of genius. This is good, say they,–let us hold by this. They pin me down. They look backward and not forward. But genius looks forward: the eyes of man are set in his forehead, not in his hindhead; man hopes, genius creates. Whatever talents may be, if the man create not, the pure efflux of the Deity is not his; cinders and smoke there maybe, but not yet flame. There are creative manners, there are creative actions, and creative words; manners, actions, words, that is, indicative of no custom or authority, but springing spontaneous from the mind’s own sense of good and fair.

On the other part, instead of being its own seer, let it receive from another mind its truth, though it were in torrents of light, without periods of solitude, inquest, and self-recovery, and a fatal disservice is done. Genius is always sufficiently the enemy of genius by over-influence. The literature of every nation bear me witness. The English dramatic poets have Shakspearized now for two hundred years.

Undoubtedly there is a right way of reading, so it be sternly subordinated. Man Thinking must not be subdued by his instruments. Books are for the scholar’s idle times. When he can read God directly, the hour is too precious to be wasted in other men’s transcripts of their readings. But when the intervals of darkness come, as come they must,–when the sun is hid, and the stars withdraw their shining,–we repair to the lamps which were kindled by their ray, to guide our steps to the East again, where the dawn is. We hear, that we may speak. The Arabian proverb says, “A fig-tree, looking on a fig-tree, becomes fruitful.”

It is remarkable, the character of the pleasure we derive from the best books. They impress us with the conviction, that one nature wrote and the same reads. We read the verses of one of the great English poets, of Chaucer, of Marvell, of Dryden, with the most modern joy,–with a pleasure, I mean, which is in great part caused by the abstraction of all time from their verses. There is some awe mixed with the joy of our surprise, when this poet, who lived in some past world, two or three hundred years ago, says that which lies close to my own soul, that which I also had wellnigh thought and said. But for the evidence thence afforded to the philosophical doctrine of the identity of all minds, we should suppose some pre-established harmony, some foresight of souls that were to be, and some preparation of stores for their future wants, like the fact observed in insects, who lay up food before death for the young grub they shall never see.

I would not be hurried by any love of system, by any exaggeration of instincts, to underrate the Book. We all know that, as the human body can be nourished on any food, though it were boiled grass and the broth of shoes, so the human mind can be fed by any knowledge. And great and heroic men have existed who had almost no other information than by the printed page. I only would say, that it needs a strong head to bear that diet. One must be an inventor to read well. As the proverb says, “He that would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry out the wealth of the Indies.” There is, then, creative reading as well as creative writing. When the mind is braced by labor and invention, the page of whatever book we read becomes luminous with manifold allusion. Every sentence is doubly significant, and the sense of our author is as broad as the world. We then see, what is always true, that, as the seer’s hour of vision is short and rare among heavy days and months, so is its record, perchance, the least part of his volume. The discerning will read, in his Plato or Shakespeare, only that least part,–only the authentic utterances of the oracle; all the rest he rejects, were it never so many times Plato’s and Shakespeare’s.

Of course there is a portion of reading quite indispensable to a wise man. History and exact science he must learn by laborious reading. Colleges, in like manner, have their indispensable office,–to teach elements. But they can only highly serve us when they aim not to drill, but to create; when they gather from far every ray of various genius to their hospitable halls, and, by the concentrated fires, set the hearts of their youth on flame. Thought and knowledge are natures in which apparatus and pretension avail nothing. Gowns and pecuniary foundations, though of towns of gold, can never countervail the least sentence or syllable of wit. Forget this, and our American colleges will recede in their public importance, whilst they grow richer every year.

III. There goes in the world a notion that the scholar should be a recluse, a valetudinarian,–as unfit for any handiwork or public labor as a penknife for an axe. The so-called “practical men” sneer at speculative men as if, because they speculate or see, they could do nothing. I have heard it said that the clergy,–who are always, more universally than any other class, the scholars of their day,–are addressed as women; that the rough, spontaneous conversation of men they do not hear, but only a mincing and diluted speech. They are often virtually disfrancised; and, indeed, there are advocates for their celibacy. As far as this is true of the studious classes, it is not just and wise. Action is with the scholar subordinate, but it is essential. Without it, he is not yet man. Without it, thought can never ripen into truth. Whilst the world hangs before the eye as a cloud of beauty, we cannot even see its beauty. Inaction is cowardice, but there can be no scholar without the heroic mind. The preamble of thought, the transition through which it passes from the unconscious to the conscious, is action. Only so much do I know as I have lived. Instantly, we know whose words are loaded with life, and whose not.

The world,–this shadow of the soul, or other me, lies wide around. Its attractions are the keys which unlock my thoughts and make me acquainted with myself. I run eagerly into this resounding tumult. I grasp the hands of those next me, and take my place in the ring to suffer and to work, taught by an instinct, that so shall the dumb abyss be vocal with speech. I pierce its order; I dissipate its fear; I dispose of it within the circuit of my expanding life. So much only of life as I know by experience, so much of the wilderness have I vanquished and planted, or so far have I extended by being, my dominion. I do not see how any man can afford, for the sake of his nerves and his nap, to spare any action in which he can partake. It is pearls and rubies to his discourse. Drudgery, calamity, exasperation, want, are instructors in eloquence and wisdom. The true scholar grudges every opportunity of action past by as a loss of power.

It is the raw material out of which the intellect moulds her splendid products. A strange process too, this, by which experience is converted into thought, as a mulberry leaf is converted into stain. The manufacture goes forward at all hours.

The actions and events of our childhood and youth are now matters of calmest observation. They lie like fair pictures in the air. Not so with our recent actions,–with the business which we now have in hand. On this we are quite unable to speculate. Our affections as yet circulate through it. We no more feel or know it than we feel the feet or the hand or the brain of our body. The new deed is yet a part of life,–remains for a time immersed in our unconscious life. In some contemplative hour, it detaches itself from the life like a ripe fruit, to become a thought of the mind. Instantly, it is raised, transfigured; the corruptible has put on incorruption. Henceforth it is an object of beauty, however base its origin and neighborhood. Observe, too, the impossibility of antedating this act. In its grub state it cannot fly, it cannot shine, it is a dull grub. But suddenly, without observation, the selfsame thing unfurls beautiful wings and is an angel of wisdom. So is there no fact, no event in our private history, which shall not, sooner or later, lose its adhesive, inert form, and astonish us by soaring from our body into the empyrean. Cradle and infancy, school and playground, the fear of boys, and dogs, and ferules, the love of little maids and berries, and many another fact that once filled the whole sky, are gone already; friend and relative, profession and party, town and country, nation and world, must also soar and sing.

Of course he who has put forth his total strength in fit actions has the richest return of wisdom. I will not shut myself out of this globe of action and transplant an oak into a flower-pot, there to hunger and pine; nor trust the revenue of some single faculty, and exhaust one vein of thought, much like those Savoyards, who, getting their livelihood by carving shepherds, shepherdesses, and smoking Dutchmen, for all Europe, went out one day to the mountain to find stock and discovered that they had whittled up the last of their pine-trees. Authors we have in numbers who have written out their vein, and who, moved by a commendable prudence, sail for Greece or Palestine, follow the trapper into the prairie, or ramble around Algiers, to replenish their merchantable stock.

If it were only for a vocabulary, the scholar would be covetous of action. Life is our dictionary. Years are well spent in country labors; in town, in the insight into trades and manufactures; in frank intercourse with many men and women; in science; in art; to the one end of mastering in all their facts a language by which to illustrate and embody our perceptions. I learn immediately from any speaker how much he has already lived, through the poverty or the splendor of his speech. Life lies behind us as the quarry from whence we get titles and cope-stones for the masonry of to-day. This is the way to learn grammar. Colleges and books only copy the language which the field and the workyard made.

But the final value of action, like that of books, and better than books, is, that it is a resource. That great principle of Undulation in nature that shows itself in the inspiring and expiring of the breath; in desire and satiety; in the ebb and flow of the sea; in day and night; in heat and cold; and as yet more deeply ingrained in every atom and every fluid, is known to us under the name of Polarity,–these “fits of easy transmission and reflection,” as Newton called them, are the law of nature because they are the law of spirit.

The mind now thinks; now acts; and each fit reproduces the other. When the artist has exhausted his materials, when the fancy no longer paints, when thoughts are no longer apprehended, and books are a weariness,–he has always the resource to live. Character is higher than intellect. Thinking is the function. Living is the functionary. The stream retreats to its source. A great soul will be strong to live, as well as strong to think. Does he lack organ or medium to impart his truths? He can still fall back on this elemental force of living them. This is a total act. Thinking is a partial act. Let the grandeur of justice shine in his affairs. Let the beauty of affection cheer his lowly roof. Those “far from fame,” who dwell and act with him, will feel the force of his constitution in the doings and passages of the day better than it can be measured by any public and designed display. Time shall teach him that the scholar loses no hour which the man lives. Herein he unfolds the sacred germ of his instinct, screened from influence. What is lost in seemliness is gained in strength. Not out of those on whom systems of education have exhausted their culture comes the helpful giant to destroy the old or to build the new, but out of unhandselled savage nature, out of terrible Druids and berserkirs, come at last Alfred and Shakespeare.

I hear, therefore, with joy whatever is beginning to be said of the dignity and necessity of labor to every citizen. There is virtue yet in the hoe and the spade, for learned as well as for unlearned hands. And labor is everywhere welcome; always we are invited to work; only be this limitation observed, that a man shall not for the sake of wider activity sacrifice any opinion of the popular judgments and modes of action.

I have now spoken of the education of the scholar by nature, by books, and by action. It remains to say somewhat of his duties.

They are such as become Man Thinking. They may all be comprised in self-trust. The Office of the scholar is to cheer, to raise, and to guide men by showing them facts amidst appearances. He plies the slow, unhonored, and unpaid task of observation. Flamsteed and Herschel, in their glazed observatories, may catalogue the stars with the praise of all men, and, the results being splendid and useful, honor is sure. But he, in his private observatory, cataloguing obscure and nebulous stars of the human mind, which as yet no man has thought of as such,–watching days and months, sometimes, for a few facts; correcting still his old records;–must relinquish display and immediate fame. In the long period of his preparation he must betray often an ignorance and shiftlessness in popular arts, incurring the disdain of the able who shoulder him aside. Long he must stammer in his speech; often forego the living for the dead. Worse yet, he must accept,–how often! poverty and solitude. For the ease and pleasure of treading the old road, accepting the fashions, the education, the religion of society, he takes the cross of making his own, and, of course, the self-accusation, the faint heart, the frequent uncertainty and loss of time, which are the nettles and tangling vines in the way of the self-relying and self-directed; and the state of virtual hostility in which he seems to stand to society, and especially to educated society. For all this loss and scorn, what offset? He is to find consolation in exercising the highest functions of human nature. He is one who raises himself from private considerations, and breathes and lives on public and illustrious thoughts. He is the world’s eye. He is the world’s heart. He is to resist the vulgar prosperity that retrogrades ever to barbarism, by preserving and communicating heroic sentiments, noble biographies, melodious verse, and the conclusions of history. Whatsoever oracles the human heart, in all emergencies, in all solemn hours, has uttered as its commentary on the world of actions,–these he shall receive and impart. And whatsoever new verdict Reason from her inviolable seat pronounces on the passing men and events of to-day,–this he shall hear and promulgate.

These being his functions, it becomes him to feel all confidence in himself, and to defer never to the popular cry. He and he only knows the world. The world of any moment is the merest appearance. Some great decorum, some fetish of a government, some ephemeral trade, or war, or man, is cried up by half mankind and cried down by the other half, as if all depended on this particular up and down. The odds are that the whole question is not worth the poorest thought which the scholar has lost in listening to the controversy. Let him not quit his belief that a popgun is a popgun, though the ancient and honorable of the earth affirm it to be the crack of doom. In silence, in steadiness, in severe abstraction, let him hold by himself; add observation to observation, patient of neglect, patient of reproach; and bide his own time,–happy enough, if he can satisfy himself alone, that this day he has seen something truly. Success treads on every right step. For the instinct is sure that prompts him to tell his brother what he thinks. He then learns that in going down into the streets of his own mind, he has descended into the secrets of all minds. He learns that he who has mastered any law in his private thoughts is master to that extent of all men whose language he speaks and of all into whose language his own can be translated. The poet, in utter solitude remembering his spontaneous thoughts and recording them, is found to have recorded that which men in crowded cities find true for them also. The orator distrusts at first the fitness of his frank confessions,–his want of knowledge of the persons he addresses,–until he finds that he is the complement of his hearers; that they drink his words because he fulfils for them their own nature; the deeper he dives into his privatest, secretest presentiment, to his wonder he finds this is the most acceptable, most public, and universally true. The people delight in it; the better part of every man feels, This is my music; this is myself.

In self-trust all the virtues are comprehended. Free should the scholar be,–free and brave. Free even to the definition of freedom, “without any hindrance that does not arise out of his own constitution.” Brave; for fear is a thing which a scholar by his very function puts behind him. Fear always springs from ignorance. It is a shame to him if his tranquillity, amid dangerous times, arise from the presumption that, like children and women, his is a protected class; or if he seek a temporary peace by the diversion of his thoughts from politics or vexed questions, hiding his head like an ostrich in the flowering bushes, peeping into microscopes, and turning rhymes, as a boy whistles to keep his courage up. So is the danger a danger still; so is the fear worse. Manlike let him turn and face it. Let him look into its eye and search its nature, inspect its origin,–see the whelping of this lion, which lies no great way back; he will then find in himself a perfect comprehension of its nature and extent; he will have made his hands meet on the other side, and can henceforth defy it and pass on superior. The world is his who can see through its pretension. What deafness, what stone-blind custom, what overgrown error you behold is there only by sufferance,–by your sufferance. See it to be a lie, and you have already dealt it its mortal blow.

Yes, we are the cowed,–we the trustless. It is a mischievous notion that we are come late into nature; that the world was finished a long time ago. As the world was plastic and fluid in the hands of God, so it is ever to so much of his attributes as we bring to it. To ignorance and sin, it is flint. They adapt themselves to it as they may; but in proportion as man has anything in him divine, the firmament flows before him and takes his signet and form. Not he is great who can alter matter, but he who can alter my state of mind. They are the kings of the world who give the color of their present thought to all nature and all art, and persuade men by the cheerful serenity of their carrying the matter, that this thing which they do is the apple which the ages have desired to pluck, now at last ripe, and inviting nations to the harvest. The great man makes the great thing. Wherever Macdonald sits, there is the head of the table. Linnaeus makes botany the most alluring of studies, and wins it from the farmer and the herb-woman; Davy, chemistry; and Cuvier, fossils. The day is always his who works in it with serenity and great aims. The unstable estimates of men crowd to him whose mind is filled with a truth, as the heaped waves of the Atlantic follow the moon.

For this self-trust, the reason is deeper than can be fathomed,–darker than can be enlightened. I might not carry with me the feeling of my audience in stating my own belief. But I have already shown the ground of my hope, in adverting to the doctrine that man is one. I believe man has been wronged; he has wronged himself. He has almost lost the light that can lead him back to his prerogatives. Men are become of no account. Men in history, men in the world of to-day are bugs, are spawn, and are called “the mass” and “the herd.” In a century, in a millennium, one or two men; that is to say,–one or two approximations to the right state of every man. All the rest behold in the hero or the poet their own green and crude being,–ripened; yes, and are content to be less, so that may attain to its full stature. What a testimony,–full of grandeur, full of pity, is borne to the demands of his own nature, by the poor clansman, the poor partisan, who rejoices in the glory of his chief. The poor and the low find some amends to their immense moral capacity, for their acquiescence in a political and social inferiority. They are content to be brushed like flies from the path of a great person, so that justice shall be done by him to that common nature which is the dearest desire of all to see enlarged and glorified. They sun themselves in the great man’s light, and feel it to be their own element. They cast the dignity of man from their downtrod selves upon the shoulders of a hero, and will perish to add one drop of blood to make that great heart beat, those giant sinews combat and conquer. He lives for us, and we live in him.

Men such as they are, very naturally, seek money or power; and power because it is as good as money,–the “spoils,” so called, “of office.” And why not? for they aspire to the highest, and this, in their sleep-walking, they dream is highest. Wake them, and they shall quit the false good and leap to the true, and leave governments to clerks and desks. This revolution is to be wrought by the gradual domestication of the idea of Culture. The main enterprise of the world for splendor, for extent, is the upbuilding of a man. Here are the materials strown along the ground. The private life of one man shall be a more illustrious monarchy,–more formidable to its enemy, more sweet and serene in its influence to its friend, than any kingdom in history. For a man, rightly viewed, comprehendeth the particular natures of all men. Each philosopher, each bard, each actor, has only done for me, as by a delegate, what one day I can do for myself. The books which once we valued more than the apple of the eye we have quite exhausted. What is that but saying that we have come up with the point of view which the universal mind took through the eyes of one scribe; we have been that man, and have passed on. First, one; then, another; we drain all cisterns, and, waxing greater by all these supplies, we crave a better and more abundant food. The man has never lived that can feed us ever. The human mind cannot be enshrined in a person, who shall set a barrier on any one side to this unbounded, unboundable empire. It is one central fire, which, flaming now out of the lips of Etna, lightens the capes of Sicily; and, now out of the throat of Vesuvius, illuminates the towers and vineyards of Naples. It is one light which beams out of a thousand stars. It is one soul which animates all men.

But I have dwelt perhaps tediously upon this abstraction of the Scholar. I ought not to delay longer to add what I have to say, of nearer reference to the time and to this country.

Historically, there is thought to be a difference in the ideas which predominate over successive epochs, and there are data for marking the genius of the Classic, of the Romantic, and now of the Reflective or Philosophical age. With the views I have intimated of the oneness or the identity of the mind through all individuals, I do not much dwell on these differences. In fact, I believe each individual passes through all three. The boy is a Greek; the youth, romantic; the adult, reflective. I deny not, however, that a revolution in the leading idea may be distinctly enough traced.

Our age is bewailed as the age of Introversion. Must that needs be evil? We, it seems, are critical; we are embarrassed with second thoughts; we cannot enjoy anything for hankering to know whereof the pleasure consists; we are lined with eyes; we see with our feet; the time is infected with Hamlet’s unhappiness–

Sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.

Is it so bad then? Sight is the last thing to be pitied. Would we be blind? Do we fear lest we should outsee nature and God, and drink truth dry? I look upon the discontent of the literary class as a mere announcement of the fact that they find themselves not in the state of mind of their fathers, and regret the coming state as untried, as a boy dreads the water before he has learned that he can swim. If there is any period one would desire to be born in, is it not the age of Revolution; when the old and the new stand side by side, and admit of being compared; when the energies of all men are searched by fear and by hope; when the historic glories of the old can be compensated by the rich possibilities of the new era? This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.

I read with joy some of the auspicious signs of the coming days, as they glimmer already through poetry and art, through philosophy and science, through church and state.

One of these signs is the fact that the same movement which effected the elevation of what was called the lowest class in the state assumed in literature a very marked and as benign an aspect. Instead of the sublime and beautiful, the near, the low, the common, was explored and poetized. That which had been negligently trodden under foot by those who were harnessing and provisioning themselves for long journeys into far countries is suddenly found to be richer than all foreign parts. The literature of the poor, the feelings of the child, the philosophy of the street, the meaning of household life, are the topics of the time. It is a great stride. It is a sign, is it not? of new vigor when the extremities are made active, when currents of warm life run into the hands and the feet. I ask not for the great, the remote, the romantic, what is doing in Italy or Arabia, what is Greek art or Provencal minstrelsy; I embrace the common; I explore and sit at the feet of the familiar, the low. Give me insight into to-day, and you may have the antique and future worlds. What would we really know the meaning of? The meal in the firkin, the milk in the pan, the ballad in the street, the news of the boat, the glance of the eye, the form and the gait of the body; show me the ultimate reason of these matters; show me the sublime presence of the highest spiritual cause lurking, as always it does lurk, in these suburbs and extremities of nature; let me see every trifle bristling with the polarity that ranges it instantly on an eternal law; and the shop, the plough, and the ledger, referred to the like cause by which light undulates and poets sing–and the world lies no longer a dull miscellany and lumber-room, but has form and order; there is no trifle; there is no puzzle; but one design unites and animates the farthest pinnacle and the lowest trench.

This idea has inspired the genius of Goldsmith, Burns, Cowper, and, in a newer time, of Goethe, Wordsworth, and Carlyle. This idea they have differently followed and with various success. In contrast with their writing, the style of Pope, of Johnson, of Gibbon, looks cold and pedantic. This writing is blood- warm. Man is surprised to find that things near are not less beautiful and wondrous than things remote. The near explains the far. The drop is a small ocean. A man is related to all nature. This perception of the worth of the vulgar is fruitful in discoveries. Goethe, in this very thing the most modern of the moderns, has shown us, as none ever did, the genius of the ancients.

There is one man of genius who has done much for this philosophy of life, whose literary value has never yet been rightly estimated; I mean Emanuel Swedenborg. The most imaginative of men, yet writing with the precision of a mathematician, he endeavored to engraft a purely philosophical Ethics on the popular Christianity of his time. Such an attempt, of course, must have difficulty which no genius could surmount. But he saw and showed the connection between nature and the affections of the soul. He pierced the emblematic or spiritual character of the visible, audible, tangible world. Especially did his shade-loving muse hover over and interpret the lower parts of nature; he showed the mysterious bond that allies moral evil to the foul material forms, and has given in epical parables a theory of insanity, of beasts, of unclean and fearful things.

Another sign of our times, also marked by an analogous political movement, is the new importance given to the single person. Everything that tends to insulate the individual–to surround him with barriers of natural respect, so that each man shall feel the world in his, and man shall treat with man as a sovereign State with a sovereign State–tends to true union as well as greatness. “I learned,” said the melancholy Pestalozzi, “that no man in God’s wide earth is either willing or able to help any other man.” Help must come from the bosom alone. The scholar is that man who must take up into himself all the ability of the time, all the contributions of the past, all the hopes of the future. He must be an university of knowledges. If there be one lesson more than another which should pierce his ear, it is, The world is nothing, the man is all; in yourself is the law of all nature, and you know not yet how a globule of sap ascends; in yourself slumbers the whole of Reason; it is for you to know all, it is for you to dare all. Mr. President and gentlemen, this confidence in the unsearched might of man belongs, by all motives, by all prophecy, by all preparation, to the American Scholar. We have listened too long to the courtly muses of Europe. The spirit of the American freeman is already suspected to be timid, imitative, tame. Public and private avarice make the air we breathe thick and fat. The scholar is decent, indolent, complaisant. See already the tragic consequence. The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself. There is no work for any but the decorous and the complaisant. Young men of the fairest promise, who begin life upon our shores, inflated by the mountain winds, shined upon by all the stars of God, find the earth below not in unison with these, but are hindered from action by the disgust which the principles on which business is managed inspire, and turn drudges, or die of disgust–some of them suicides. What is the remedy? They did not yet see, and thousands of young men as hopeful now crowding to the barriers for the career, do not yet see that if the single man plant himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abide, the huge world will come round to him. Patience–patience; with the shades of all the good and great for company; and for solace, the perspective of your own infinite life; and for work, the study and the communication of principles, the making those instincts prevalent, the conversion of the world. Is it not the chief disgrace in the world not to be an unit; not to be reckoned one character; not to yield that peculiar fruit which each man was created to bear, but to be reckoned in the gross, in the hundred, or the thousand, of the party, the section, to which we belong; and our opinion predicted geographically, as the north, or the south! Not so, brothers and friends; please God ours shall not be so! We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds. The study of letters shall be no longer a name for pity, for doubt, and for sensual indulgence. The dread of man and the love of man shall be a wall of defence and a wreath of joy around all. A nation of men will for the first time exist, because each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul, which also inspires all men.

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Response to Account of Life in Jamestown

Posted by jwilhelm21 on September 29, 2009

I found the passage about the toils of living in Jamestown very facinating.  It is amazing to think that these colonists could live on such meager and unsanitary food rations.  The idea of eating grain that is infested with worms is revolting.  The account furthers what we’ve established about the lives of the Powhatan compared to the lives of the English.  Although it was the English who referred to the Powhatan as savages, it is evident that the quality of life in the Jamestown colony was far inferior to their native counterparts.

-Joe Wilhelm

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Response to Pictures of Native Lodging/Lifestyle

Posted by jwilhelm21 on September 29, 2009

The link that showed the impressions of the natives and their lifestyle served to support much off what it is depicted in “The New World.”  For example, the structure of the canoes and the number of people manning the crafts is very similar to several scenes in the movie, including the scene where John Smith is led to speak with Powhatan.  Furthermore, structure of the Powhatan homes appear non-permanant yet well suited for the Virginia climate.  As helpful as written documents can be, it is very refreshing to see visual evidence of what I’ve read about Powhatan civilization.


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Reverened Symonds sermon in 1609

Posted by creyes24 on September 29, 2009

William Symonds, “Virginia:  A Sermon Preached at White Chapel” (1609)



            Since the reign of Henry VIII, the crown had controlled the Church of England (also known as the Established or “Anglican” Church).  King James, like Queen Elizabeth before him, used the church to build popular support for his programs.  When the colony at Jamestown, Virginia faltered in 1609 for lack of money and settlers, the King ordered the Church’s ministers to encourage emigration and investment in the colonies.  The sermon that the Reverend William Symonds delivered at White Chapel in London, 25 April 1609, did just that.  It so impressed the King and “The Adventurers and Planters for Virginia” (the company that owned the colony) that they published and distributed it widely.

            Symonds argues that the English, as God’s chosen people, had a right and an obligation to colonize the New World.  He promises them the same bright future in Virginia that God promised Abraham in the land of Canaan.  Symonds attacked everyone who opposed England’s colonial endeavors:  Spain, France, Catholics, Indians, pacifists, and Baptists.  England alone had a sacred mission to spread the Gospel and to inhabit the world and make it fruitful.

            Symonds ministered to a congregation of merchants and artisans in London.  He was, like many of his parishoners, a Puritan, but King James, who hated Puritans, ordered Symonds in 1606 to conform to the non-Puritan beliefs and practices of the Established Church.  Symonds did.  Symonds left London in 1614 for Lincolnshire, a remote county where he could follow his conscience and avoid official scrutiny.  Note, however, that many Puritan ministers refused to conform in 1606 to the dictates of the Anglican church.  Those ministers lost their posts and risked fines, imprisonment, and exile.  Symonds did not want to run those risks.  His sermon may have been an effort to curry favor with the King.





            To the Right Noble and Worthie Advancers of The Standard of Christ, among the Gentiles, The Adventurers for the Plantation of Virginia, W[illiam] S[ymonds] prayeth that Nations may blesse them, and be blessed by them.

            Right Noble and Worthy, such as do prayse the worthies do cloth them with the robes of others that have gone before them in vertues of like nature.  A thing which I cannot doe of your Plantation, seeing neither Testment (that I can find) dooth afford us a Parallel in men of like qualities. . . .

            This land was of Old time offered to Our Kings.  Our late Soveraigne Q.  Elizabeth (whose storie hath no peere among Princes of her sexe) being a pure Virgin, found it, set foot in it, and called it Virginia.  Our most sacred Soveraigne, in whom is the spirit of his great Ancestor, Constantine the pacifier of the World, and planter of the Gospell in places most remote, desireth to present this land a pure Virgine to Christ.  Such as do manage the expedition, are carefull to carry thither no traitors, nor Papists that depend on the Great Whore.  Lord finish this Good work thou hast begun; and marry this land, a pure Virgine to thy Kingly son Christ Jesus; so shall thy name be magnified; and we shall have a Virgin or Maiden Britaine a confortable addition to our Great Britaine.

            And now Right Worthy, if any aske an account of my vocation, to write and Preach thus much; I answere:  that although I could not satisfie their request that would have me goe; yet I could not omit to shewe my zeale to the glory of God. . . .




            For the Lord had said unto Abram, get thee out of thy Countrey, and from thy Kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the Land that I will shew thee.

            And I will make thee a great nation, and will blesse thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing.

            I will blesse them also that blesse thee, and curse them that curse thee, and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed (Genesis

            This Book of Genesis containeth the story of the Creation and Plantation of heaven and earth with convenient inhabitants.  The heaven hath Angels, the skie starres, the aire fowles, the water fishes, the earth (furnished with plants and herbes and beasts) was provided for man a while to inhabite, who after was to be received into Glory, like unto the Angels (Matth. 22.30.)  Hereupon the Lord. . . did make man both male and female, After his owne image, that is Jesus Christ (2. Cor. 4.4.), and gave them this blessing, Bring forth fruit and multiplie, and fill the earth, and subdue it, &c. (Gen.  And howsoever this precept might seeme to find interruption by the sinne of man, that had incurred the curse to die the death (Gen. 2.17 & 3.3): yet we see that God would not, for any thing, alter his oath and word, that was gone out of his mouth (Isai. 45.23.): for unto Noah he revived this precept after the flood. . .

            Now if it be demaunded how Abraham was called, to go into another Countrey: the answer is, both ordinarily and extraordinarily.  It was a knowne rule of the word of God, concluded, and pronounced before the Creation, and often repeated afterwards, that man should spread abroad &c. and inhabite the earth, and fill it (Gen. 9.12.).  Hith- his Countrey by a generall calling, the same doth binde all his sonnes, according to the faith, to go likewise abroad, when God doth not otherwise call them to some special affaires. . .: Go teach (saith he) all nations, and baptize them in the name of the Father the Sonne and the holy Ghost (Matth. 28.19.).  Gave he this Commandment to his Apostles only? have not also the labours of godly Preachers, which they have spread over the face of the whole earth, been bestowed by the power of this Commandment?  And though the words, as they lie, do bind the Ministers of the Word, to endeavour the propagation of the Gospell, with all their power; yet not only them: For we reade, that poor Tentmakers and others have done much good in spreading the Gospell, according to their vocations (Acts 19.3.26.); they also satisfying thus much of Christ’s precept.  Neither can there be any doubt, but that the Lord that called Abraham into another Countrey doeth also by the same holy hand call you to go and carry the Gospell to a Nation that never heard of Christ.  The prophet Zachary, speaking of the days of the Gospell, doth shew, that it is a good Vocation for men to go abroad when the number of the Children of God do exceede. . . . Unto whom agreeth the Prophet Isaiah: The children of thy barrennesse shall say againe, in thine eares, the place is too strait for me, give me place, that I may dwell (Isai. 49.20.).  Wherefore seeing that, thanks be to God, we are thronged with multitudes; the Lord of hostes himselfe hath given us the calling of his children to seeke for roome, and place to dwell in.

            And heer might we have proceeded to the next point were if not for one scruple which some that think themselves to be very wise do cast in our way; which is this in effect.  The countrey, they say, is possessed by owners, that rule, and governe it in their own right; then with what conscience, and equitie can we offer to thrust them, by violence out of their inheritances?

            For answer to this objection: first it unto belongeth that, which God said: Let us make man in our image, and let them rule over the Fish of the Sea, and over the Fowles of Heaven, and over the Beastes, and over ALL the earth (Gen. 1.26.).  Then must he replenish the earth, else can he not rule over ALL.  To the same effect is that spoken of Adam, after his fall, that God sent him forth of the Garden of Eden to till the earth (Gen. 3.23.): so that the fall of Adam did not, in the least thing, cause the Lord to alter his first decree.  So to Noah after the flood; Bring forth fruite, and multiply, grow plentifully in the earth, and encrease therein, and replenish the earth (Gen. 9.2.7.).  By all this it doth appeare, that God did call Abraham abroade, by a general Vocation.  But when he is called to a certaine place, and under certaine conditions, it is also plaine he had a special and extradordinary calling. . . .  Yet still we must remember that this special calling was subject to the general law of replenishing the earth.  For although God called him to one land; yet to upholde the general rule.  God often laide a necessitie upon him to spread further:. . .

            The reason why God will have his to fill the earth is, because the Lord would have his workers to be knowne. . . .  When David saith, All thy workers praise thee, O God, and thy Saints blesse thee; they shew the glory of thy kingdome, and speake of thy power (Psal. 145.10.12.): the implication is manifest, that his Saints must be witnesses of all his workes, in all Climates; for else they cannot blesse him in all his workes.  Another reason is, that one that hath the knowledge of the feare of God, should communicate it to others. . . . Marke this, that he biddeth us to pray, God be mercifull unto us; The meanes how, is this: That they may know thy way upon earth, and thy saving health among all nations (Psal. 67.2.); whereby he doth imply, that God hath with-held some mercy from us, till all nations have the means of salvation. . . .

            Then here must we know that what inducement Abraham had to go out of is plain, that the objector supposeth it not lawfull to invade the territories of other princes, by force of sword. . . .  Come forth ye great Princes and Monarches of Assyria, Persia, Media, Greece and Rome with your gravest counsellours, and answer for your facts in conquering and subduing nations.  For your stories, that were wont to be read with singular admiration of your fortitude, your wisdom, your magnificence, and your great justice, are now araigned and must bee found guiltie, that through your sides an action of truer honour than ever you attempted may bee wounded.  Your strong title of the sword, heretofore magnified by Historians, Politicians, and Civilians, is to our objector, but a spiders web, or the hatching of a Cockatrice his egge.  But whatsoever the rest can say for their own defence, the Lord himself doth say thus much for Cyrus: Thus sath the Lord unto Cyrus, his anointed: whose right hand I have holden to subdue nations before him: therefore will I weaken the lynes of Kings, and open the doores before him, and the gates shall not be shut: I will give thee the treasures of darkenesse, and the things hid in secret places; that thou maist know, that I am the Lord, which call thee by thy name, even the God of Israell . . . (Isai,  Then who can blame Cyrus, and keep himself from blaspheming the almightie.

            Nay, that which is more to be trembled at, we must also to summon up and call to the bar the most holy worthies of the Scripture: and see if man, or God, hath any thing to be said for them, why they should not be condemned as injust, cruell, and bloudy.  O Jacob,  thy blessed bow and sword, with the fruit whereof thou blessedest thy son Joseph, the staff of thy gray head and feeble knees must be broken and burnt: and thou must be condemned for thy unlawful conquest (Gen. 48.22.).  Worthy Joshuah, & most worthy David with thy cloud of worthies, who hanged up so many shields in the house of God, and who sweetly singeth that God was his fortitude and buckler (Psal. 18.2; Josh. 10.14.) must incuree the note of injustice. . . .  Nay thou glory of men and true type of Christ, King Solomon, whose wisdome was like unto the wisedome of God: teach us to say somewhat in thy defence. . . .  Give an account of his innocence that said unto thee: Girde thee with thy sworde upon thy thigh, O thou most mightie,–Thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things,–The people shall fall under thee (Psal.  Thy father, the son of Ishai, made a sinfull prayer for thee (as our objectors blaspheme) when he said, thou shouldest so enlarge thy borders, that Thy dominion should be from sea to sea and from the river to the end of the land.  He would have thee too rigid when he saith, That thine enemies should lick the dust. . . .

            I know that the divell himselfe, with allhis distinctions that ever he made, which are recorded in Sceipture, or which he left in hell, in his cabinet of Abstruse Studies, (locked safe till he found out the Jesuits, his trustie secretaries, to keepe them) I say none of them all can arm a subject against his prince without sin.  But he that will set open his school . . . and take upon him to nurture princes as petties telling them that they must not make offensive warres, if it were to gaine the whole world to Christ, shall never be bidders of guests to the marriage of the kings sonne (Matth. 22.2), who are required to compell them to come in (Luke 14.23.).  And if I might be so bold, I would faine aske one question of these objectors, that come dropping out of some Anabaptist Spicery: whether (if it be unlawfull to conquer) the crowne sit well on the head of our most sacred soveraigne?  For by this objection they shew, that had they power to untwist that, which in so many ages hath been well spun, they would write him crownless, as far as he hath his title from, the conqueror.

            O but God forbid, saith the objector, that wee should doe any wrong at all, no not to the divell . . . But to the point:  our objector would not whip a child to teach him learning and vertue, fore feare of doing wrong.  What wrong, I pray you, did the Apostles in going about to alter the lawes of nations, even against the expresse commandement of the princes, and to set up the throne of Christ.  If your mouth be so foul to charge them with wrong, as the Gentiles did, we have more need to provide you a medicine for a cankred mouth, and a stincking breath, then to make you any answer at all.

            O but, in entering of other countries, there must needs be much lamentable effusion of bloud.  Certainly our objector was hatched of some popish egge; & it may be in a JESUITS vault, where they feed themselves fat with tormenting innocents. . . .  And if these objectors had any braines in their head but those which are sick, they could easily finde a difference between a bloudy invasion and the planting of a peaceable Colony in a waste country where the people do live but like Deer in herds and have not as yet attained unto the first modestic that was in Adam, that knew he was naked, where they know no God but the divell, nor sacrifice, but to offer their men and children unto Moloch. . . . Is onely now the ancient planting of Colonies, so highly praised among the Romans, and all other nations, so vile and odious among us, that what is, and hath bene a vertue in all others, must be sinne in us?  And if our objecter bee descended of the Noble Saxons bloud, Let him take heede lest while he cast a stone at us, he wounds his father, that first brought him in his loynes from forreigne parts into this happie Isle. . . .

            The children of Israel that were in the wilderness, readie to perish if God withdrew his miraculous hand, like a stiffnecked people as they were, refused to goe, fell into a mutiny, and made a commotion, upon the newes that the Land had fenced cities, and walled townes exceeding great.  And because there were the sonnes of Anak (Num. 13:29.):  mightie Giants that were armed in Brasse, & their speare like a Weavers cloth beam.  For they forget the God that brought them out of Egypt, and that made the raging waves of the sea to stand in heaps and take the office of strong walls, that they might easily march through upon drie land.  They forget that God was the creator of the mountains, whereof one of the least is stronger than all the sons of Anak.  They forget that God putteth away all the ungodly of the earth like drosse.  But we should be worse than mad to be discouraged by any such imaginations of this place.  There are but poore Arbors for Castles, base and homely sheds for walled townes.  A Mat is their strongest Portcullis, a naked brest their strongest Portcullis, a naked brest their Target of best proofe, an arrow of reade, on which is no iron, their most fearful weapon of offence, here is no feare of nine hundred iron chariots. . . .Wherefore, seeing we are contented when the King doth press us out to war, to go we know not whither, nor under whom, and can propose no thing unto us but to fight with a mightie enemie: Let us be cheerfull to go to the place that God will shew us to possess in peace and plentie, a Land more like the Garden of Eden, which the Lord planted, then any part else of all the earth.

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Posted by sierralapoint on September 29, 2009

you’re right.  that video does deserve more than six views.  At least they called out John Smith for being a liar.  What I want to know is: how did that second pocahontas feel (or rather, the shorter, stockier girl that played her)?

ps. was there some other way for me to have commented on this?

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The March on Washington by jessica mcelrath

Posted by amissi on March 31, 2009


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Jacob A. Riis obituary

Posted by mpodmolik on March 8, 2009


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Jacksons Second Annual Message

Posted by footballfan08 on December 30, 2008

It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the Government, steadily pursued for nearly thirty years, in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consummation. Two important tribes have accepted the provision made for their removal at the last session of Congress, and it is believed that their example will induce the remaining tribes also to seek the same obvious advantages.

The consequences of a speedy removal will be important to the United States, to individual States, and to the Indians themselves. The pecuniary advantages which it promises to the Government are the least of its recommendations. It puts an end to all possible danger of collision between the authorities of the General and State Governments on account of the Indians. It will place a dense and civilized population in large tracts of country now occupied by a few savage hunters. By opening the whole territory between Tennessee on the north and Louisiana on the south to the settlement of the whites it will incalculably strengthen the southwestern frontier and render the adjacent States strong enough to repel future invasions without remote aid. It will relieve the whole State of Mississippi and the western part of Alabama of Indian occupancy, and enable those States to advance rapidly in population, wealth, and power. It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; free them from the power of the States; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the Government and through the influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community.

What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or industry execute, occupied by more than 12,000,000 happy people, and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization and religion?

The present policy of the Government is but a continuation of the same progressive change by a milder process. The tribes which occupied the countries now constituting the Eastern States were annihilated or have melted away to make room for the whites. The waves of population and civilization are rolling to the westward, and we now propose to acquire the countries occupied by the red men of the South and West by a fair exchange, and, at the expense of the United States, to send them to land where their existence may be prolonged and perhaps made perpetual. Doubtless it will be painful to leave the graves of their fathers; but what do they more than our ancestors did or than our children are now doing? To better their condition in an unknown land our forefathers left all that was dear in earthly objects. Our children by thousands yearly leave the land of their birth to seek new homes in distant regions. Does Humanity weep at these painful separations from everything, animate and inanimate, with which the young heart has become entwined? Far from it. It is rather a source of joy that our country affords scope where our young population may range unconstrained in body or in mind, developing the power and facilities of man in their highest perfection. These remove hundreds and almost thousands of miles at their own expense, purchase the lands they occupy, and support themselves at their new homes from the moment of their arrival. Can it be cruel in this Government when, by events which it can not control, the Indian is made discontented in his ancient home to purchase his lands, to give him a new and extensive territory, to pay the expense of his removal, and support him a year in his new abode? How many thousands of our own people would gladly embrace the opportunity of removing to the West on such conditions! If the offers made to the Indians were extended to them, they would be hailed with gratitude and joy.

And is it supposed that the wandering savage has a stronger attachment to his home than the settled, civilized Christian? Is it more afflicting to him to leave the graves of his fathers than it is to our brothers and children? Rightly considered, the policy of the General Government toward the red man is not only liberal, but generous. He is unwilling to submit to the laws of the States and mingle with their population. To save him from this alternative, or perhaps utter annihilation, the General Government kindly offers him a new home, and proposes to pay the whole expense of his removal and settlement.

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Henry Cabot Lodge on the League of Nations, 12 August 1919

Posted by meluleki on December 30, 2008

There is every reason to celebrate and be proud of the achievements that America has undergone. In this case Henry Cabot makes a proud statement that shows how much he admires America, despite the wrong that she has done in the past. He makes it clear that he is aware of the name calling of America by other nations and addresses the issue in a way that is not that decent at all, he suggests, “You may call me selfish if you will, conservative or reactionary, or use any other harsh adjective you see fit to apply, but an American I was born, an American I have remained all my life. I can never be anything else but an American, and I must think of the United States first, and when I think of the United States first in an arrangement like this I am thinking of what is best for the world, for if the United States fails, the best hopes of mankind fail with it.”This a very direct and broad statement that anyone could make to udermine other nations as if they do not exist only America does. Basically he is making a point that America is a representative of the world and if it fails the world goes down too. I believe its a good thing to be patriotic but its another to undermine other nations as if we do not need them at all. A close example is the issue of oil, America does not produce enough oil to supply the whole nation , of which the rest hash to be imported. This is a distinction between just rhetoric and facts. It is very crucial to watch our tone especially when dealing with issues partaining to foreign relations. It is a field that need expects to rally on , not anyone who has something to say. He also goes back to praisng America, ” Our first ideal is our country, and we see her in the future, as in the past, giving service to all her people and to the world. Our ideal of the future is that she should continue to render that service of her own free will. She has great problems of her own to solve, very grim and perilous problems, and a right solution, if we can attain to it, would largely benefit mankind”, i do not even gather why Mr Cabot should undermine other nations and later want to give a service to them. This is a typical politician who would say anything to make people happy and do the other.

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Federalist Papers- Federalist No. 1

Posted by footballfan08 on December 30, 2008

To the People of the State of New York:

AFTER an unequivocal experience of the inefficiency of the subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on a new Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world. It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.

This idea will add the inducements of philanthropy to those of patriotism, to heighten the solicitude which all considerate and good men must feel for the event. Happy will it be if our choice should be directed by a judicious estimate of our true interests, unperplexed and unbiased by considerations not connected with the public good. But this is a thing more ardently to be wished than seriously to be expected. The plan offered to our deliberations affects too many particular interests, innovates upon too many local institutions, not to involve in its discussion a variety of objects foreign to its merits, and of views, passions and prejudices little favorable to the discovery of truth.

Among the most formidable of the obstacles which the new Constitution will have to encounter may readily be distinguished the obvious interest of a certain class of men in every State to resist all changes which may hazard a diminution of the power, emolument, and consequence of the offices they hold under the State establishments; and the perverted ambition of another class of men, who will either hope to aggrandize themselves by the confusions of their country, or will flatter themselves with fairer prospects of elevation from the subdivision of the empire into several partial confederacies than from its union under one government.

It is not, however, my design to dwell upon observations of this nature. I am well aware that it would be disingenuous to resolve indiscriminately the opposition of any set of men (merely because their situations might subject them to suspicion) into interested or ambitious views. Candor will oblige us to admit that even such men may be actuated by upright intentions; and it cannot be doubted that much of the opposition which has made its appearance, or may hereafter make its appearance, will spring from sources, blameless at least, if not respectable–the honest errors of minds led astray by preconceived jealousies and fears. So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy. And a further reason for caution, in this respect, might be drawn from the reflection that we are not always sure that those who advocate the truth are influenced by purer principles than their antagonists. Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a question. Were there not even these inducements to moderation, nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties. For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.

And yet, however just these sentiments will be allowed to be, we have already sufficient indications that it will happen in this as in all former cases of great national discussion. A torrent of angry and malignant passions will be let loose. To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives. An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty. An over-scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good. It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust. On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.

In the course of the preceding observations, I have had an eye, my fellow-citizens, to putting you upon your guard against all attempts, from whatever quarter, to influence your decision in a matter of the utmost moment to your welfare, by any impressions other than those which may result from the evidence of truth. You will, no doubt, at the same time, have collected from the general scope of them, that they proceed from a source not unfriendly to the new Constitution. Yes, my countrymen, I own to you that, after having given it an attentive consideration, I am clearly of opinion it is your interest to adopt it. I am convinced that this is the safest course for your liberty, your dignity, and your happiness. I affect not reserves which I do not feel. I will not amuse you with an appearance of deliberation when I have decided. I frankly acknowledge to you my convictions, and I will freely lay before you the reasons on which they are founded. The consciousness of good intentions disdains ambiguity. I shall not, however, multiply professions on this head. My motives must remain in the depository of my own breast. My arguments will be open to all, and may be judged of by all. They shall at least be offered in a spirit which will not disgrace the cause of truth.

I propose, in a series of papers, to discuss the following interesting particulars:


In the progress of this discussion I shall endeavor to give a satisfactory answer to all the objections which shall have made their appearance, that may seem to have any claim to your attention.

It may perhaps be thought superfluous to offer arguments to prove the utility of the UNION, a point, no doubt, deeply engraved on the hearts of the great body of the people in every State, and one, which it may be imagined, has no adversaries. But the fact is, that we already hear it whispered in the private circles of those who oppose the new Constitution, that the thirteen States are of too great extent for any general system, and that we must of necessity resort to separate confederacies of distinct portions of the whole.1 This doctrine will, in all probability, be gradually propagated, till it has votaries enough to countenance an open avowal of it. For nothing can be more evident, to those who are able to take an enlarged view of the subject, than the alternative of an adoption of the new Constitution or a dismemberment of the Union. It will therefore be of use to begin by examining the advantages of that Union, the certain evils, and the probable dangers, to which every State will be exposed from its dissolution. This shall accordingly constitute the subject of my next address.

–I thought that Hamilton was very bold/brave to critize the government so openly, but I do admire what he did. I like how he states what he wants to talk about and just seeing the topics I know that he is very serious and wants to address everything and not just hide everything. I love when Hamiliton says ,”It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force”. I think this is such a deep and meaningful thing he is saying and that it is true. When he says the part about political constitutions on accident and force, I was in awe that he so blantanly said that, but it does show that our country was free.

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