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J PUBLIC LIBRARY
ASTOR LENOX AND
ROBERT O. LAW COMPANY
EDITION BOOK MANUFACTURERS
It is the purpose of this volume to provide certain important documents of abiding value which will help students in secondary schools and colleges to understand the situation in which the country finds itself today, and which will serve also to clarify their ideas on the purposes and significance of America.
The consciousness of any fixed, national purpose has never been strong in the minds and hearts of Americans. Our first impulse is angrily and emphatically to deny this, for we have never admitted that we were lacking in anything, even in ideals. What other nations possessed which was good, we too wished to have,—and on a "bigger" scale. Yet this deficiency in our national psychology has forcibly impressed foreigners. To them we are only too often a people of adventurers with no set goal, at best active and intrepid, making and breaking our own ideals. We impressed the stranger as Hannibal impressed the Roman historian. To us there is nihil sancti, nothing sacred: So Kipling found us: We shake the iron hand of fate And match with destiny for beers.
Such an attitude as is attributed to us would pretty surely tend to make us overlook or minimize one main question that we, like all nations, must face. Of this question H. G. Wells in The Future of America writes: "The problem in America, save in its scale
and freedom, is no different from the problem of Great Britain, of Europe, of all humanity; it is one chiefly moral and intellectual; it is to resolve a confusion of purposes, traditions, habits, into a common, ordered intention.''
That this problem should have received so little attention in America at large is due not to any absence of great leaders, or to any failure on the part of our leaders beginning with Washington to set before us such an "ordered intention." It has been due to the fact that we have been feverishly engaged in other problems; the exploitation of our natural resources, the development of industry, and the attempt to assimilate a vast immigrant population. It was due also to the further fact that living in a continent with no powerful or aggressive neighbors, we felt wrongly that we could, for the present at least, pursue a policy of isolation unmolested. We have lived in a provincialism of soul of which we were not conscious and which it has taken a worldcatastrophe to shatter.
Yet around one fundamental ideal we have all and always rallied. No matter from what part of the earth we or our forefathers came, America is a democracy. Democracy and republicanism are often used interchangeably, though the latter refers rather to the form of government and the former to its spirit. That we are a republic is one of the fortunate accidents of history, for the men of '76 did not go to war for the purpose of electing a president of their own, but because they refused tc