The Place Of America In The World To-Day -- By: Thomas W. Graham
BSac 78:310 (April 1921) p. 141
The Place Of America In The World To-Day1
I rejoice in the signal honor which you have conferred on me by asking me to voice your sentiments this day. We could spend a delightful hour in reviewing the life of Washington, in calling attention to the qualities of his manhood, in rehearsing his very human experiences in home, in school, in boyish love affair, in the profession of his young manhood years. I believe, however, there will be more value in leaving aside all that, and discussing with the utmost frankness the heritage he left us, and the use to which we are putting it to-day.
Some of us are apt to think that in Washington and his associates a new conception of the individual man and his ideal organization in politics had its birth. As a matter of fact these ideas had a rebirth in him. But, just as it is more significant that a man be born again than that he be born, the rebirth of ideas, first faintly held, gives to them significance that is real and enduring.
Government by representation and consultation and not by arbitrary personal dictation, government that observes the full values of the individual man, was in the world long before the war of the Revolution. They had it among the Teuton tribes of Germany. It developed in Anglo-Saxon
BSac 78:310 (April 1921) p. 142
England, marking its growth by a Magna Charta, a Habeas Corpus, and a Bill of Eights. Men struggled, fought, died, that it might not perish from the earth.
But this Democracy in government came to its own in America. Here it justified itself to the modern world. Here that which had been born in “an age-long struggle from servitude to self-government” was permanently shaped into a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” — a government that recognized the fundamental rights of every individual “born free and equal before the law.”
This has been America’s lordliest contribution to mankind. More significant than anything we have done in literature, art, science, commerce, or invention, more significant than the tremendous material contributions which have come from America to the world’s life, is this perfected ideal of government.
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