CHRONICLE. July 2, 1919. OUR COUNTRY IS GREATEST ON EARTH. Continued. And now, having Liberty, Law, and Justice, is this not all to make a nation great? BENJAMIN FRANKLIN did not think so. Born in poverty, he won his position among our national leaders by his toil, an experience which taught him that political freedom does not lessen the necessity for individual effort, as he forcibly reminds us in these words: “The taxes are, indeed, very heavy, and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay we might the more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly; and from these taxes the Commissioners cannot ease or deliver us by allowing an abatement.”
The life of Benjamin Franklin no less than his words emphasizes the truth that Industry, Thrift and Honesty are necessary to maintain freedom. Having established our Government our forefather realized that it could not be preserved without the continued devotion of its citizens. Nowhere, perhaps, is the individual responsibility of American citizenship more strikingly set forth than in these words of DANIEL WEBSTER: “If in our case the representative system ultimately fail, popular governments must be pronounced impossible..The last hopes of mankind, therefore, rest with us, and if it should be proclaimed that our example had become an argument against the experiment, the knell of popular liberty would be sounded throughout the earth.”
At about this time men were beginning to build homes in the west and there they learned still more of the blessings of a free and law-abiding country. One of the greatest of these pioneers, HENRY CLAY, at the end of his brilliant career in the United States Senate said, “ I emigrated from Virginia to the state of Kentucky now nearly forty-five years ago; I went as an orphan boy who had not yet attained the age of majority; who had never recognized a father's smile, nor felt his warm caresses; poor, penniless, without the favor of the great, with an imperfect and neglected education, hardly sufficient for the ordinary business and common pursuits of life; but scarce had I set my foot upon her generous soil when I was embraced with parental fondness, and caressed as though I had been a favorite child.” The life of Henry Clay is a perpetual reminder of the Gratitude to which the United States is entitled from her citizens.
In the days of Webster and Clay our country was facing a great crisis and from the lowliest of all homes arose a poor and friendless boy to be our leader. Who does not know the story of the Rail Splitter and of his progress from the log cabin in which he was born to the Presidency of the United States? From this great warm heart; ABRAHAM LINCOLN still inspires us with the truest lessons of life.
In these simple words Abraham Lincoln holds out the Opportunity which the United States offers to all who are honestly striving: “Now, there is no such relation between capital and labor as is assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer...The prudent, penniless beginner in the world labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself, then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just and generous and prosperous system which opens the way to all, gives hope to all, and consequent energy and progress and improvement of condition to all.”