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LIBRARY STATE COLLEGE OF WASHINGTON
An attempt has been made to gather here a body of selections which shall interpret the Spirit of America from the time Captain John Smith put his adventurous foot upon western soil down to the present vivid moment when soldiers of America are pouring into France. The volume is intended, first of all, to go into the hands of boys and girls, who are naturally interested in knowing what their fellow Americans have thought, and now think, about their country-its people, its actions, its ideals, and its purposes.
“Territory is but the body of a nation,” as Garfield said; "the people who inhabit its hills and valleys are its soul, its spirit, its life.” The spirit, the soul, of a people reveals itself in its deeds and in its written and spoken words.
The Spirit of America manifests itself in many ways. We honor the soldier because his lot is a denial of self, and because he offers his life instantly at the word of command. In all ages he has held the passes and borders and beaten down the spoiler — or died in the attempt. He has opened the way into wild and strange lands, and civilization has followed. From the days of Pharaoh he has worn many uniforms, spoken many languages, fought with many kinds of weapons, but our ideal of him has changed but little since the world began.
The dazzling figure of the soldier, however, is not all. The patient, far-seeing men of state, the surgeons and nurses and chaplains, the men of science and of letters, the wives and mothers who toil and suffer and send their men into the nation's service, and the vast army of men and women who labor to provide ways and means — these, too, are patriots. Whoever does anything — over and above what he is obliged to do — whoever does or says or feels or dreams anything which enriches the life of his country and makes it a better place for men and women and children to live in, is
also a patriot. So is he, most of all, who goes out of his way to do his country a service. The breaking of the box of alabaster over the feet of the Master was not a necessity. It was prompted by the heart of devotion. It had in it “that little touch of the superfluous” that often lifts and adds glory to the common affairs of life. The heart of devotion does not count the cost in time, labor, money, or even life. It is surely worth while to spread before the eyes of youth a record of the words and deeds of Americans who did not always reckon the cost when they wrought with tongue, pen, or good right arm, to build and keep a government that is more free and generous than anything ever yet seen in the world. It is well worth while to fasten upon the minds of the young certain things that they must know, and which they must not forget. They must learn, first of all, that the priceless inheritance which we now enjoy did not fall from heaven like manna. If they fully realize the great cost, the great value, of our heritage — its great opportunities and possibilities — they will willingly, even joyously, square their own shoulders and carry the weight over the crest of the next hill.
The arrangement of authors in each part is, in the main, chronological. Parts I and IV, however, are exceptions. Part I is meant to be broadly introductory, while Part IV deals with a great theme which calls for compactness of treatment. In both of these parts the purpose has been to emphasize the order of thought without regard to the chronological position of the authors. A few other selections have also been placed out of their chronological position for the same reason. Brief biographies and introductory notes have been added to supply needful information in compact form. It is hoped they will be found to contain much of the pith and marrow of American history.
Permission to reprint copyright material has been courteously granted by the following: The Century Company, Charles Scribner's Sons, Mitchell Kennerley, G. P. Putnam's Sons, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, J. B. Lippincott Company, Little, Brown, and Company, Henry Holt and Company, D. Appleton and Company, Fleming H. Revell Company, Yale University Press, Harvard Graduates’ Maga