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Reunion Address

Robert Green Ingersoll

                        21 page printout

    Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

                          ****     ****

          Contents of this file                            page

     1895 REUNION ADDRESS.                                   1
     OUR NEW POSSESSIONS.                                   15
     POLITICAL MORALITY.                                    20

                          ****     ****

          This file, its printout, or copies of either
          are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold.

          Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201

                The Works of ROBERT G. INGERSOLL

                          ****    ****

                      1895 REUNION ADDRESS.

                              1895.

     LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, FELLOW-CITIZENS, OLD FRIENDS AND
COMRADES:

     It gives me the greatest pleasure to meet again those with
whom I became acquainted in the morning of my life. It is now
afternoon. The sun of life is slowly sinking in the west, and, as
the evening comes, nothing can be more delightful than to see again
the faces that I knew in youth.

     When first I knew you the hair was brown; it is now white. The
lines were not quite so deep, and the eyes were not quite so dim.
Mingled with this pleasure is sadness, -- sadness for those who
have passed away -- for the dead.

     And yet I am not sure that we ought to mourn for the dead. I
do not know which is better -- life or death. It may be that death
is the greatest gift that ever came from nature's open hands. We do
not know.

     There is one thing of which I am certain, and that is, that if
we could live forever here, we would care nothing for each other.
The fact that we must die, the fact that the feast must end, brings
our souls together, and treads the weeds from out the paths between
our hearts.

     And so it may be, after all, that love is a little flower that
grows on the crumbling edge of the grave. So it may be, that were
it not for death there would be no love, and without love all life
would be a curse.

     I say it gives me great pleasure to meet you once again; great
pleasure to congratulate you on your good fortune -- the good
fortune of being a citizen of the first and grandest republic ever
established upon the face of the earth.

                         Bank of Wisdom
                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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                      1895 REUNION ADDRESS.

     That is a royal fortune. To be an heir of all the great and
brave men of this land, of all the good, loving and patient women;
to be in possession of the blessings that they have given, should
make every healthy citizen of the United States feel like a
millionaire.

     This, to-day, is the most prosperous country on the globe; and
it is something to be a citizen of this country.

     It is well, too, whenever we meet, to draw attention to what
has been done by our ancestors. It is well to think of them and to
thank them for all their work, for all their courage, for all their
toil.

     Three hundred years ago our country was a vast wilderness,
inhabited by a few savages. Three hundred years ago -- how short a
time; hardly a tick of the great clock of eternity -- three hundred
years; not a second in the life even of this planet -- three
hundred years ago, a wilderness; three hundred years ago, inhabited
by a few savages; three hundred years ago a few men in the Old
World, dissatisfied, brave and adventurous, trusted their lives to
the sea and came to this land.

     In 1776 there were only three millions of people all told.
These men settled on the shores of the sea. These men, by
experience, learned to govern themselves. These men, by experience,
found that a man should be respected in the proportion that he was
useful. They found, by experience, that titles were of no
importance; that the real thing was the man, and that the real
things in the man were heart and brain. They found, by experience,
how to govern themselves, because there was nobody else here when
they came. The gentlemen who had been in the habit of governing
their fellow-men staid at home, and the men who had been in the
habit of being governed came here, and, consequently, they had to
govern themselves.

     And finally, educated by experience, by the rivers and
forests, by the grandeur and splendor of nature. they began to
think that this continent should not belong to any other; that it
was great enough to count one, and that they had the intelligence
and manhood to lay the foundations of a nation.

     It would be impossible to pay too great and splendid a tribute
to the great and magnificent souls of that day. They saw the
future. They saw this country as it is now, and they endeavored to
lay the foundation deep; they endeavored to reach the bed-rock of
human rights, the bed-rock of justice. And thereupon they declared
that all men were born equal; that all the children of nature had
at birth the same rights, and that all men had the right to pursue
the only good, -- happiness.

     And what did they say? They said that men should govern men;
that the power to govern should come from the consent of the
governed, not from the clouds, not from some winged phantom of the
air, not from the aristocracy of ether. They said that this power
should come from men; that the men living in this world should
govern it, and that the gentlemen who were dead should keep still.

                         Bank of Wisdom
                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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                      1895 REUNION ADDRESS.

     They took another step, and said that church and state should
forever be divorced. That is no harm to real religion. It never
was, because real religion means the doing of justice; real
religion means the giving to others every right you claim for
yourself real religion consists in duties of man to man, in feeding
the hungry, in clothing the naked, in defending the innocent, and
in saying what you believe to be true.

     Our fathers had enough sense to say that, and a man to do that
in 1776 had to be a pretty big fellow. It is not so much to say it
now, because they set the example; and, upon these principles of
which I have spoken, they fought the war of the Revolution.

     At no time, probably, were the majority of our forefathers in
favor of independence, but enough of them were on the right side,
and they finally won a victory. And after the victory, those that
had not been even in favor of independence became, under the
majority rule, more powerful than the heroes of the Revolution.

     Then it was that our fathers made a mistake. We have got to
praise them for what they did that was good, and we will mention
what they did that was wrong.

     They forgot the principles for which they fought. They forgot
the sacredness of human liberty, and, in the name of freedom, they
made a mistake and put chains on the limbs of others.

     That was their error; that was the poison that entered the
American blood; that was the corrupting influence that demoralized
presidents and priests; that was the influence that corrupted the
United States of America.

     That mistake, of course, had to be paid for, as all mistakes
in nature have to be paid for. And not only do you pay for your
mistake itself, but you pay at least ten per cent. compound
interest. Whenever you do wrong, and nobody finds it out, do not
imagine you have gotten over it; you have not. Nature knows it.

     The consequences of every bad act are the invisible police
that no prayers can soften, and no gold can bribe.

     Recollect that. Recollect, that for every bad act, there will
be laid upon your shoulder the arresting hand of the consequences;
and it is precisely the same with a nation as it is with an
individual. You have got to pay for all of your mistakes, and you
have got to pay to the uttermost forthing. That is the only
forgiveness known in nature. Nature never settles unless she can
give a receipt in full.

     I know a great many men differ with me, and have all sorts of
bankruptcy systems, but Nature is not built that way.

     Finally, slavery took possession of the Government. Every man
who wanted an office had to be willing to step between a fugitive
slave and his liberty.

                         Bank of Wisdom
                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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                      1895 REUNION ADDRESS.

     Slavery corrupted the courts, and made judges decide that the
child born in the State of Pennsylvania, whose mother had been a
slave, could not be free.

     That was as infamous a decision as was ever rendered, and yet
the people, in the name of the law, did this thing, and the Supreme
Court of the United States did not know right from wrong.

     These dignified gentlemen thought that labor could be paid by
lashes on the back -- which was a kind of legal tender -- and
finally an effort was made to subject the new territory -- the
Nation -- to the institution of slavery.

     Then we had a war with Mexico, in which we got a good deal of
glory and one million square miles of land, but little honor. I
will admit that we got but little honor out of that war. That
territory they wanted to give to the slaveholder.

     In 1803 we purchased from Napoleon the Great, one million
square miles of land, and then, in 1821, we bought Florida from
Spain. So that, when the war came, we had about three million
square miles of new land. The object was to subject all this
territory to slavery.

     The idea was to go on and sell the babes from their mothers
until time should be no more. The idea was to go on with the
branding-iron and the whip. The idea was to make it a crime to
teach men, human beings, to read and write; to make every Northern
man believe that he was a bulldog, a bloodhound to track down men
and women, who, with the light of the North Star in their eyes,
were seeking the free soil of Great Britain.

     Yes, in these times we had lots of mean folks. Let us remember
that.

     And all at once, under the forms of law, under the forms of
our government, the greatest man under the flag was elected
President. That man was Abraham Lincoln. And then it was that those
gentlemen of the South said: "We will not be governed by the
majority; we will be a law unto ourselves."

     And let me tell you here to-day -- I am somewhat older than I
used to be; I have a little philosophy now that I had not at the
nine o'clock in the morning portion of my life -- and I do not
blame anybody. I do not blame the South; I do not blame the
Confederate soldier.

     She -- the South -- was the fruit of conditions. She was born
to circumstances stronger than herself; and do you know, according
to my philosophy, (which is not quite orthodox), every man and
woman in the whole world are what conditions have made them.

     So let us have some sense. The South said, "We will not
submit; this is not a nation, but a partnership of States." I am
willing to go so far as to admit that the South expressed the
original idea of the Government.

                         Bank of Wisdom
                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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                      1895 REUNION ADDRESS.

     But now the question was, to whom did the newly acquired
property belong? New States had been carved out of that territory;
the soil of these States had been purchased with the money of the
Republic, and had the South the right to take these States out of
the Republic? That was the question.

     The great West had another interest, and that was that no
enemy, no other nation, should control the mouth of the
Mississippi. I regard the Mississippi River as Nature's protest
against secession. The old Mississippi River says, and swears to
it, that this country shall be one, now and forever.

     What was to be done? The South said, "We will never remain,"
and the North said, "You shall not go." It was a little slow about
saying it, it is true. Some of the best Republicans in the North
said, "Let it go." But the second, sober thought of the great North
said, "No, this is our country and we are going to keep it on the
map of the world."

     And some who had been Democrats wheeled into line, and
hundreds and thousands said, "This is our country," and finally,
when the Government called for volunteers, hundreds and thousands
came forward to offer their services. Nothing more sublime was ever
seen in the history of this world.

     I congratulate you to-day that you live in a country that
furnished the greatest army that ever fought for human liberty in
any country round the world. I want you to know that. I want you to
know that the North, East and West furnished the greatest army that
ever fought for human liberty. I want you to know that Gen. Grant
commanded more men, men fighting for the right, not for conquest,
than any other general who ever marshaled the hosts of war.

     Let us remember that, and let us be proud of it. The millions
who poured from the North for the defence of the flag -- the story
of their heroism has been told to you again and again. I have told
it myself many times. It is known to every intelligent man and
woman in the world. Everybody knows how much we suffered. Everybody
knows how we poured out money like water; how we spent it like
leaves of the forest. Everybody knows how the brave blood was shed.
Everybody knows the story of the great, the heroic struggle, and
everybody knows that at last victory came to our side, and how the
last sword of the Rebellion was handed to Gen. Grant. There is no
need to tell that story again.

     But the question now, as we look back, is, was this country
worth saving? Was the blood shed in vain? Were the lives given for
naught? That is the question.

     This country, according to my idea, is the one success of the
world. Men here have more to eat, more to wear, better houses, and,
on the average, a better education than those of any other nation
now living, or any that has passed away.

     Was the country worth saving?

     See what we have done in this country since 1860. We were not
much of a people then, to be honor bright about it. We were

                         Bank of Wisdom
                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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                      1895 REUNION ADDRESS.

carrying, in the great race of national life, the weight of
slavery, and it poisoned us; it paralyzed our best energies; it
took from our politics the best minds; it kept from the bench the
greatest brains.

     But what have we done since 1860, since we really became a
free people, since we came to our senses, since we have been
willing to allow a man to express his honest thoughts on every
subject?

     Do you know how much good we did? The war brought men together
from every part of the country and gave them an opportunity to
compare their foolishness. It gave them an opportunity to throw
away their prejudices, to find that a man who differed with them on
every subject might be the very best of fellows. That is what the
war did. We have been broadening ever since.

     I sometimes have thought it did men good to make the trip to
California in 1849. As they went over the plains they dropped their
prejudices on the way. I think they did, and that's what killed the
grass.

     But to come back to my question, what have we done since 1860?

     From 1860 to 1880, in spite of the waste of war, in spite of
all the property destroyed by flame, in spite of all the waste, our
profits were one billion three hundred and seventy-four million
dollars. Think of it! From 1860 to 1880! That is a vast sum.

     From 1880 to 1890 our profits were two billion one hundred and
thirty-nine million dollars.

     Men may talk against wealth as much as they please; they may
talk about money being the root of all evil, but there is little
real happiness in this world without some of it. It is very handy
when staying at home and it is almost indispensable when you travel
abroad. Money is a good thing. It makes others happy; it makes
those happy whom you love, and if a man can get a little together,
when the night of death drops the curtain upon him, he is satisfied
that he has left a little to keep the wolf from the door of those
who, in life, were dear to him. Yes, money is a good thing,
especially since special providence has gone out of business.

     I can see to-day something beyond the wildest dream of any
patriot who lived fifty years ago. The United States to-day is the
richest nation on the face of the earth. The old nations of the
world, Egypt, India, Greece, Rome, every one of them, when compared
with this great Republic, must be regarded as paupers.

     How much do you suppose this Nation is worth to-day? I am
talking about land and cattle, products, manufactured articles and
railways. Over seventy thousand million dollars. just think of it.

     Take a thousand dollars and then take nine hundred and ninety-
nine thousand; so you will have one thousand piles of one thousand
each. That makes only a million, and yet the United States today is
worth seventy thousand millions. This is thirty-five per cent. more
than Great Britain is worth.

                         Bank of Wisdom
                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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                      1895 REUNION ADDRESS.

     We are a great Nation. We have got the land. This land was
being made for many millions of years. Its soil was being made by
the great lakes and rivers, and being brought down from the
mountains for countless ages.

     This continent was standing like a vast pan of milk, with the
cream rising for millions of years, and we were the chaps that got
there when the skimming commenced.

     We are rich, and we ought to be rich. It is our own fault if
we are not. In every department of human endeavor, along every path
and highway, the progress of the Republic has been marvelous,
beyond the power of language to express.

     Let me show you: In 1860 the horse-power of all the engines,
the locomotives and the steamboats that traversed the lakes and
rivers -- the entire power -- was three million five hundred
thousand. In 1890 the horse-power of engines and locomotives and
steamboats was over seventeen million.

     Think of that and what it means! Think of the forces at work
for the benefit of the United States, the machines doing the work
of thousands and millions of men!

     And remember that every engine that puffs is puffing for you;
every road that runs is running for you. I want you to know that
the average man and woman in the United States to-day has more of
the conveniences of life than kings and queens had one hundred
years ago.

     Yes, we are getting along.

     In 1860 we used one billion eight hundred million dollars
worth of products, of things manufactured and grown, and we sent to
other countries two hundred and fifty million dollars worth.

     In 1893 we used three billion eighty-nine million dollars
worth, and we sent to other countries six hundred and fifty-four
million dollars worth.

     You see, these vast sums are almost inconceivable. There is
not a man to-day with brains large enough to understand these
figures; to understand how many cars this money put upon the
tracks, how much coal was devoured by the locomotives, how many men
plowed and worked in the fields, how many sails were given to the
wind, how many ships crossed the sea.

     I tell you, there is no man able to think of the ships that
were built, the cars that were made. the mines that were opened,
the trees that were felled - no man has imagination enough to grasp
the meaning of it all. No man has any conception of the sea till he
crosses it. I knew nothing of how broad this country is until I
went over it in a slow train.

     Since 1860 the productive power of the United States has more
than trebled.

                         Bank of Wisdom
                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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                      1895 REUNION ADDRESS.

     I like to talk about these things, because they mean good
houses, carpets on the floors, pictures on the walls, some books on
the shelves. They mean children going to school with their stomachs
full of good food, prosperous men and proud mothers.

     All my life I have taken a much deeper interest in what men
produce than in what nature does. I would rather see the prairies,
with the oats and the wheat and the waving corn, and the
schoolhouse, and hear the thrushing amid the happy homes of
prosperous men and women -- I would rather see these things than
any range of mountains in the world. Take it as you will, a
mountain is of no great value.

     In 1860 our land was worth four billion five hundred million
dollars; in 1890 it was worth fourteen billion dollars.

     In 1860 all the railroads in the United States were worth four
hundred million dollars, now they are worth a little less than ten
thousand million dollars.

I want you to understand what these figures mean.

     For thirty years we spent, on an average, one million dollars
a day in building railroads. -- I want you to think what that
means. All that money had to be dug out of the ground. It had to be
made by raising something or manufacturing something. We did not
get it by writing essays on finance, or discussing the silver
question. It had to be made with the ax, the plow, the reaper, the
mower; in every form of industry; all to produce these splendid
results.

     We have railroads enough now to make seven tracks around the
great globe, and enough left for side tracks. That is what we have
done here, in what the European nations are pleased to can the new
world."

     I am telling you these things because you may not know them,
and I did not know them myself until a few days ago. I am anxious
to give away information, for it is only by giving it away that you
can keep it. When you have told it, you remember it. It is with
information as it is with liberty, the only way to be dead sure of
it is to give it to other people.

     In 1860 the houses in the United states, the cabins on the
frontier, the buildings in the cities, were worth six thousand
million dollars. Now they are worth over twenty-two thousand
million dollars. To talk about figures like these is enough to make
a man dizzy.

     In 1860 our animals of all kinds, including the Illinois deer
-- commonly called swine -- the oxen and horses, and all others,
were worth about one thousand million dollars; now they are worth
about four thousand million dollars.

     Are we not getting rich? Our national debt to-day is nothing.
It is like a man who owes a cent and has a dollar.

                         Bank of Wisdom
                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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                      1895 REUNION ADDRESS.

     Since 1860 we have been industrious. We have created two
million five hundred thousand new farms. Since 1860 we have done a
good deal of plowing; there have been a good many tired legs I have
been that way myself. Since 1860 we have put in cultivation two
hundred million acres of land Illinois, the best State in the
Union, has thirty-five million acres of land, and yet, since 1860,
we have put in cultivation enough land to make six States of the
size of Illinois. That will give you some idea of the quantity of
work we have done. I will admit I have not done much of it myself,
but I am proud of it.

     In 1860 we had four million five hundred and sixty-five
thousand farmers in this country, whose land and implements were
worth over sixteen thousand million dollars. The farmers of this
country, on an average, are worth five thousand dollars, and the
peasants of the Old World, who cultivate the soil, are not worth,
on an average, ten dollars beyond the wants of the moment. The
farmers of our country produce, on an average, about one million
four hundred thousand dollars worth of stuff a day.

     What else? Have we in other directions kept pace with our
physical development? Have we developed the mind? Have we
endeavored to develop the brain? Have we endeavored to civilize the
heart? I think we have.

     We spend more for schools per head than any nation in the
world. And the common school is the breath of life.

     Great Britain spends one dollar and thirty cents per head on
the common schools; France spends eighty cents; Austria, thirty
cents; Germany, fifty cents; Italy, twenty-five cents, and the
United States over two dollars and fifty cents.

     I tell you the schoolhouse is the fortress of liberty. Every
schoolhouse is an arsenal, filled with weapons and ammunition to
destroy the monsters of ignorance and fear.

     As I have said ten thousand times, the schoolhouse is my
cathedral. The teacher is my preacher.

     Eighty-seven per cent. of all the people of the United States,
over ten years of age, can read and write. There is no parallel for
this in the history of the wide world.

     Over forty-two millions of educated citizens, to whom are
opened all the treasures of literature! Forty-two millions of
people, able to read and write! I say, there is no parallel for
this. The nations of antiquity were very ignorant when compared
with this great Republic of ours. There is no other nation in the
world that can show a record like ours. We ought to be proud of it.
We ought to build more schools, and build them better. Our teachers
ought to be paid more, and everything ought to be taught in the
public school that is worth knowing.

     I believe that the children of the Republic, no matter whether
their fathers are rich or poor, ought to be allowed to drink at the
fountain of education, and it does not cost more to teach

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                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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                      1895 REUNION ADDRESS.

everything in the free schools than it does teaching reading and
writing and ciphering.

     Have we kept up in other ways? The post office tells a
wonderful story. In Switzerland, going through the post office in
each year, are letters, etc., in the proportion of seventy-four to
each inhabitant. In England the number is sixty; in Germany, fifty-
three; in France, thirty-nine; in Austria, twenty-four; in Italy,
sixteen, and in the United States, our own home, one hundred and
ten. Think of it. In Italy only twenty-five cents paid per head for
the support of the public schools and only sixteen letters. And
this is the place where God's agent lives. I would rather have one
good school-master than two such agents.

     There is another thing. A great deal has been said, from time
to time, about the workingman. I have as much sympathy with the
workingman as anybody on the earth -- who does not work. There has
always been a desire in this world to let somebody else do the
work, nearly everybody having the modesty to stand back whenever
there is anything to be done. In savage countries they make the
women do the work, so that the weak people have always the bulk of
the burdens. In civilized communities the poor are the ones, of
course, that Work, and probably they are never fully paid. It is
pretty hard for a manufacturer to tell how much he can pay until he
sells the stuff which he manufactures. Every man who manufactures
is not rich. I know plenty of poor corporations; I know tramp
railroads that have not a dollar. And you will find some of them as
anarchistic as you will find their men. What a man can pay, depends
upon how much he can get for what he has produced. What the farmer
can pay his help depends upon the price he receives for his stock,
his corn and his wheat.

     But wages in this country are getting better day by day. We
are getting a little nearer to being civilized day by day, and when
I want to make up my mind on a subject I try to get a broad view of
it, and not decide it on one case.

     In 1860 the average wages of the workingman were, per year,
two hundred and eighty-nine dollars. In 1890 the average was four
hundred and eighty-five. Thus the average has almost doubled in
thirty years. The necessaries of life are far cheaper thin they
were in 1860. Now, to my mind, that is a hopeful sign. And when I
am asked how can the dispute between employer and employe be
settled, I answer, it will be settled when both parties become
civilized.

     It takes a long time to educate a man up to the point where he
does not want something for nothing. Yet, when a man is civilized.
he does not. He wants for a thing just what it is worth; he wants
to give labor its legitimate reward, and when he has something to
sell he never wants more than it is worth. I do not claim to be
civilized myself; but all these questions between capital and labor
will be settled by civilization.

     We are to-day accumulating wealth at the rate of more than
seven million dollars a day. Is not this perfectly splendid?

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                      1895 REUNION ADDRESS.

     And in the midst of prosperity let us never forget the men who
helped to save our country, the men whose heroism gave us the
prosperity we now enjoy.

     We have one-seventh of the good land of this world. You see
there is a great deal of poor land in the world. I know the first
time I went to California, I went to the Sink of the Humboldt, and
what a forsaken look it had. There was nothing there but mines of
brimstone. On the train, going over, there was a fellow who got
into a dispute with a minister about the first chapter of Genesis.
And when they got along to the Sink of the Humboldt the fellow says
to the minister:

     "Do you tell me that God made the world in six days, and then
rested on the seventh?

     He said, "I do."

     "Well," said the fellow, "don't you think he could have put in
another day here to devilish good advantage?

     But, as I have said, we have got about one-seventh of the good
land of the world. I often hear people say that we have too many
folks here; that we ought to stop immigration; that we have no more
room. The people who say this know nothing of their country. They
are ignorant of their native land. I tell you that the valley of
the Mississippi and the valleys of its tributaries can support a
population of five hundred millions of men, women, and children.
Don't talk of our being overpopulated; we have only just started.

     Here, in this land of ours, five hundred million men and women
and children can be supported and educated without trouble. We can
afford to double two or three times more. But what have we got to
do? We have got to educate them when they come. That is to say, we
have got to educate their children, and in a few generations we
will have them splendid American citizens, proud of the Republic.

     We have no more patriotic men under the flag than the men who
came from other lands, the hundreds and thousands of those who
fought to preserve this country. And I think just as much of them
as I would if they had been born on American soil. What matters it
where a man was born? It is what is inside of him you have to look
at -- what kind of a heart he has, and what kind of a head. I do
not care where he was born; I simply ask, Is he a man? Is he
willing to give to others what he claims for himself? That is the
supreme test.

     Now, I have got a hobby. I do not suppose any of you have
heard of it. I think the greatest thing for a country is for all of
its citizens to have a home. I think it is around the fireside of
home that the virtues grow, including patriotism. We want homes.

     Until a few years ago it was the custom to put men in prison
for debt. The authorities threw a man into jail when he owed
something which he could not pay, and by throwing him into jail
they deprived him of an opportunity to earn what would pay it.
After a little time they got sense enough to know that they could
not collect a debt in this way, and that it was better to give him

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                      1895 REUNION ADDRESS.

his freedom and allow him to earn something, if he could.
Therefore, imprisonment for debt was done away with.

     At another time, when a man owed anything, if he was a
carpenter, a blacksmith or a shoemaker, and not able to pay it,
they took his tools, on a writ of sale and execution, and thus
incapacitated him so that he could do nothing. Finally they got
sense enough to abolish that law, to leave the mechanic his tools
and the farmer his plows, horses and wagons, and after this, debts
were paid better than ever they were before.

     Then we thought of protecting the home-builder, and we said:
"We will have a homestead exemption. We will put a roof over wife
and child, which shall be exempt from execution and sale," and so
we preserved hundreds of thousands and millions of homes, while
debts were paid just as well as ever they were paid before.

     Now, I want to take a step further. I want the rich people of
this country to support it. I want the people who are well off to
pay the taxes. I want the law to exempt a homestead of a certain
value, say from two thousand dollars to two thousand five hundred,
and to exempt it, not only from sale on judgment and execution, but
to exempt it from taxes of all sorts and kinds. I want to keep the
roof over the heads of children when the man himself is Prone. I
want that homestead to belong not only to the man, but to wife and
children. I would like to live to see a roof over the heads of all
the families of the Republic. I tell you, it does a man good to
have a home. You are in partnership with nature when you plant a
hill of corn. When you set out a tree you have a new interest in
this world. When you own a little tract of land you feel as if you
and the earth were partners. All these things dignify human nature.

     Bad as I am, I have another hobby. There are thousands and
thousands of criminals in our country. I told you a little while
ago I did not blame the South, because of the conditions which
prevailed in the South. The people of the South did as they must.
I am the same about the criminal. He does as he must.

     If you want to stop crime you must treat it properly. The
conditions of society must not be such as to produce criminals.

     When a man steals and is sent to the penitentiary he ought to
be sent there to be reformed and not to be brutalized; to be made
a better man, not to be robbed.

     I am in favor, when you put a man in the penitentiary, of
making him work, and I am in favor of paying him what his work is
worth, so that in five years, when he leaves the prison cell, he
will have from two hundred dollars to three hundred dollars as a
breastwork between him and temptation, and something for a
foundation upon which to build a nobler life.

     Now he is turned out and before long he is driven back. Nobody
will employ him, nobody will take him, and, the night following the
day of his release he is without a roof over his head and goes back
to his old ways. I would allow him to change his name, to go to
another State with a few hundred dollars in his pocket and begin
the world again.

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                      1895 REUNION ADDRESS.

     We must recollect that it is the misfortune of a man to become
a criminal.

     I have hobbies and plenty of them.

     I want to see five hundred millions of people living here in
peace. If we want them to live in peace we must develop the brain,
civilize the heart, and above all things, must not forget
education. Nothing should be taught in the school that somebody
does not know.

     When I look about me to-day, when I think of the advance of my
country, then I think of the work that has been done.

     Think of the millions who crossed the mysterious sea, of the
thousands and thousands of ships with their brave prows towards the
West.

     Think of the little settlements on the shores of the ocean, on
the banks of rivers, on the edges of forests.

     Think of the countless conflicts with savages -- of the
midnight attacks -- of the cabin floors wet with the blood of dead
fathers, mothers and babes.

     Think of the winters of want, of the days of toil, of the
rights of fear, of the hunger and hope.

     Think of the courage, the sufferings and hard ships.

     Think of the homesickness, the disease and death.

     Think of the labor; of the millions and millions of trees that
were felled, while the aisles of the great forests were filled with
the echoes of the ax; of the many millions of miles of furrows
turned by the plow; of the millions of miles of fences built; of
the countless logs chanced to lumber by the saw -- of the millions
of huts, cabins and houses.

     Think of the work. Listen, and you will hear the hum of
wheels, the wheels with which our mothers spun the flax and wool.
Listen, and you will hear the looms and flying shuttles with which
they wove the cloth.

     Think of the thousands still pressing toward the West, of the
roads they made, of the bridges they built; of the homes, where the
sunlight fell, where the bees hummed, the birds sang, and the
children laughed; of the little towns with mill and shop, with inn
and schoolhouse; of the old stages, of the crack of the whips and
the drivers' horns; of the canals they dug.

     Think of the many thousands still pressing toward the West,
passing over the Alleghanies to the shores of the Ohio and the
great lakes -- still onward to the Mississippi -- the Missouri.

     See the endless processions of covered wagons drawn by horses,
by oxen, -- men and boys and girls on foot, mothers and babes

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                      1895 REUNION ADDRESS.

inside. See the glimmering camp fires at night; see the thousands
up with the sun and away, leaving the perfume of coffee on the
morning air, and sometimes leaving the new-made grave of wife or
child. Listen, and you will hear the cry of "Gold!" and you will
see many thousands crossing the great plains, climbing the
mountains and pressing on to the Pacific.

     Think of the toil, the courage it has taken to possess this
land!

     Think of the ore that was dug, the furnaces that lit the
nights with flame; of the factories and mills by the rushing
streams.

     Think of the inventions that went hand in hand with the work;
of the flails that were changed to threshers; of the sickles that
became cradles, and the cradles that were changed to reapers and
headers -- of the wooden plows that became iron and steel; of the
spinning wheel that became the jennie, and the old looms
transformed to machines that almost think -- of the steamboats that
traversed the rivers, making the towns that were far apart
neighbors and friends; of the stages that became cars, of the
horses changed to locomotives with breath of flame, and the roads
of dust and mud to highways of steel, of the rivers spanned and the
mountains tunneled.

     Think of the inventions, the improvements that changed the hut
to the cabin, the cabin to the house, the house to the palace, the
earthen floors and bare walls to carpets and pictures -- that
changed famine to feast -- toil to happy labor and poverty to
wealth.

     Think of the cost.

     Think of the separation of families -- of boys and girls
leaving the old home -- taking with them the blessings and kisses
of fathers and mothers. Think of the homesickness, of the tears
shed by the mothers left by the daughters gone. Think of the
millions of brave men deformed by labor now sleeping in their
honored graves.

     Think of all that has been wrought, endured and accomplished
for our good, and let us remember with gratitude, with love and
tears the brave men, the patient loving women who subdued this land
for us.

     Then think of the heroes who served this country; who gave us
this glorious present and hope of a still more glorious future;
think of the men who really made us free, who secured the blessings
of liberty, not only to us, but to billions yet unborn.

     This country will be covered with happy homes and free men and
free women.

     To-day we remember the heroic dead, those whose blood reddens
the paths and highways of honor; those who died upon the field, in
the charge, in prison-pens, or in famine's clutch; those who gave

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                      1895 REUNION ADDRESS.

their lives that liberty should not perish from the earth. And
to-day we remember the great leaders who have passed to the realm
of silence, to the land of shadow. Thomas, the rock of Chickamauga,
self-poised, firm, brave, faithful; Sherman, the reckless, the
daring, the prudent and the victorious; Sheridan. a soldier fit to
have stood by Julius Caesar and to have uttered the words of
command; and Grant, the silent, the invincible, the unconquered;
and rising above them all, Lincoln, the wise, the patient, the
merciful, the grandest figure in the Western world. We remember
them all to-day and hundreds of thousands who are not mentioned,
but who are equally worthy, hundreds of thousands of privates,
deserving of equal honor with the plumed leaders of the host.

     And what shall I say to you, survivors of the death-filled
days? To you, my comrades, to you whom I have known in the great
days, in the lime when the heart beat fast and the blood flowed
strong; in the days of high hope -- what shall I say? All I can say
is that my heart goes out to you, one and all. To you who bared
your bosoms to the storms of war; to you who left loved ones to
die, if need be, for the sacred cause. May you live long in the
land you helped to save; may the winter of your age be as green as
spring, as full of blossoms as summer, as generous as autumn, and
may you, surrounded by plenty, with your wives at your side, and
your grandchildren on your knees, live long. And when at last the
fires of life burn low; where you enter the deepening dusk of the.
last of many, many happy days; when your brave hearts beat weak and
slow, may the memory of your splendid deeds; deeds that freed your
fellow-men; deeds that kept your country on the map of the world;
deeds that kept the flag of the Republic in the air -- may the
memory of these deeds fill your souls with peace and perfect joy.
Let it console you to know that you are not to be forgotten.
Centuries hence your story will be told in art and song, and upon
your honored graves flowers will be lovingly laid by millions of
men and women now unborn.

     Again expressing the joy that I feel in having met you, and
again saying farewell to one and all, and wishing you all the
blessings of life, I bid you good-bye.

                               END

Bank of Wisdom

The Bank of Wisdom is run by Emmett Fields out of his home in Kentucky. He painstakingly scanned in these works and put them on disks for others to have available. Mr. Fields makes these disks available for only the cost of the media.

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Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

Bank of WisdomThe Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended --

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Bank of Wisdom
Box 926
Louisville, KY 40201

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