Grover Cleveland.

The writings and speeches of Grover Cleveland; (Volume 1) online

. (page 21 of 48)
Online LibraryGrover ClevelandThe writings and speeches of Grover Cleveland; (Volume 1) → online text (page 21 of 48)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the establishment of the institution, but which presents a feature
full of gratification and congratulation. In the grant of aid
made by the general government, which did so much toward
the founding of the university, I find it provided that the institu-
tions which sought the benefit of its benefaction must " teach
such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the:
mechanic arts, in order to promote the liberal and practical
education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and
professions in life."

When we consider the relations of the State to the university,
we find the charter giving her a corporate existence upon the
same condition contained in the Federal grant. We find, too,
that the State guided in her direction the benefits of that
grant, and at the same time permitted her to extend, to addi-
tional branches of science and learning, her plan of instruction.
Nor should we overlook the fact that in her charter the State re-
quired her several departments < if si udy to be open to applicants
for admission at the lowest rate of expense consistent with
her welfare and efficiency, and without distinction as to rank,
class, previous occupation, or locality.

To my mind these things mean a great deal. They mean
that both the nation and the State deemed the instruction of the
people in agriculture and the mechanical arts as a fit subject
for governmental care. This seems natural enough when we
consider the broad area of our country, with its variety of
soil and climate, waiting the magic transformation of agricul-
ture, and when we remember that the American people sur-
pass all others in ingenuity and mechanical faculty. They
mean, too, the '•ecotrnition of the fact that the good of the


nation and the State is subserved by the education of all the
people without distinction of rank or class, thus keeping in
view the principle, upon which our institutions rest, that the
people are the rulers of the land, and that their intelligence
and education are the surest safeguards of our perpetuity,
our prosperity, and our progress. They mean, also, that our
nation and our State have made an offer of educational
facilities and have exacted from their beneficiaries a compen-
sating return of good citizenship.

These thoughts immediately suggest that those who close
with this offer and accept its benefits incur an obligation to
the nation and State which cannot be avoided or compromised.
It is an obligation to realize thoughtfully and carefully the
trust they hold as citizens, to interest themselves in public
questions and to discharge their political duties with a patriotic
intent and purpose of securing and protecting the welfare of
their entire country. No man has a right to be heedless and
listless under the responsibility he bears as an American
citizen. An educated man has certainly no excuse for indiffer-
ence ; and most of all, the man is derelict to his obligation
who calls your university his Alma Mater and yet fails to dis-
charge his full duty of citizenship. His graduation is proof
that he has worthily earned the honors which your university
can bestow ; but, wherever he may go and whatever may be
his way of life, his diploma is evidence that he owes service
to the nation.

Of this service he should at all times be proud. He is every-
where, if he is true to his duty, in the ranks of those who are
engaged in the noble work of aiding to reach its grand and
ultimate destiny, the best and freest nation the world has
ever seen. If he retains his allegiance to the Empire State of
New York, his pride should be enhanced; because, if he is
faithful to his pledge, he is striving to advance the interest of
the greatest commonwealth which the government of the
United States numbers among its jewels.

Thus in the nation and in the State he wears the badge of


his obligation to good citizenship placed upon him within the
walls of Cornell University. Happy and dutiful are her
graduates, if, for the welfare of their country, for the honor of
their university, and for the vindication of their own rectitude
and good faith they respond patriotically to this obligation.

Concerning the debt of affection due from you to the uni-
versity herself, I hardly need say, in this company, that all the
alumni of Cornell, wherever in this broad land they may be.
should love and revere their Alma Mater, beneath whose
sheltering roof they have been fitted for usefulness and
well equipped for the conflict of life. Their loyalty to her
should never fail, and when the student life of their sons makes
their fathers' names again familiar in the old university and
upon her rolls, the sons should come to her halls laden with
a father's devotion to her welfare, and they should be spurred
to their best endeavor by a father's appreciation of her bene-
fits and advantages.

Let me, in closing, leave the alumni of Cornell University
the thought that they cannot honor their Alma Mater more,
nor illustrate her value and usefulness better, than by keep-
ing alive and active at all times a sober apprehension of the
duty they owe to " the Nation, the State, and the University.


.-// a Meeting to Demand New Legislation Concerning the
Adirondack Park, New York, January 24, 1S91.

Mr. President, and Ladies and Gentlemen :

I rise to say a word in support of the resolutions that have
been read. I have come here to be instructed as to the pro-
gress that has been made in a cause to which a few years ago,
as Governor of your State, I gave considerable attention, anil
to testify to my continued interest in forest preservation.
When, as Governor, this subject was brought to my mind, I
gave it careful study, and 1 was thoroughly satisfied that the


destruction of the Adirondack forests was jeopardizing our
rivers as means of transportation, and that their preservation
was essential to the health and comfort of future generations.

It is a most important matter, worthy the attention of all.
Therefore it was that I recommended to the legislators of
the State the passage of measures calculated to prohibit the
further sale of forest lands in the possession of the State, and
that such lands as we had, together with such as should come
into our hands for the non-payment of taxes, should be pre-
served for a park. Something of that sort was done or at-
tempted through an act providing for a forest commission,
but the necessary amount of public feeling could not then be
aroused to accomplish much.

I have listened with a great deal of interest to the sugges-
tions which have been made here. To my conservative mind
many of them seem radical. I have had the same advan-
tages of observation as some of the previous speakers. I
am an Adirondacker. I go to the Adirondacks every year.
I have seen the great waste places and the desolation of
which you have heard ; but, ladies and gentlemen, I have
been on the edge of another great waste, on the margin of
another great wilderness. I refer to the Capitol at Albany.
Now, make no mistake : if you wish to preserve your forests
from waste, there must be considerable cultivation done up

But, after all, there is no reason for discouragement. A
little reminiscence of a previous struggle like this will teach
you that. There was a suggestion made when I was in
Albany that an effort should be made to have a reservation at
Niagara Falls for the purpose of preserving the great natural
beauty of the place. I must confess that that project seemed
to me a rather discouraging one to attempt. I was full of
sympathy, but not full of hope. Its warmest supporters
hardly dared to predict that their hopes would be realized,
yet they were realized, and I will tell you how.

If we had then gone to the Legislature with a bill asking


for so much money to buy so much laud around the Falls, we
certainly would have tailed. We might have gone there and
pleaded that we only wanted $1,500,000 until we were black
in the face, and we would have been answered every time that
the $1,500,000 we asked for was only an entering wedge.
Our opponents would have pointed to the Capitol Building at
Albany and shaken their heads.

What did we do? We got the Legislature to pass a law
authorizing an appraisal of the lands we wanted to preserve.
A.S good luck would have it, the appraisal amounted to
just about the amount we said the lands would cost. We had
continued to win supporters for our project. We then asked
the State to buy the lands, anil, to her credit be it said, she
did so.

Our success then was largely due to an argument we may
use here. We wanted to awaken the people's pride. I used
to say to people that Niagara Falls was a great natural
wonder by which we were known throughout the world.
When you go to Europe, you are asked about Niagara Falls.
1 have never been to Europe, but I take that for granted for
the sake of argument. When we told people that they began
to take a sort of personal pride in Niagara. So we must make
them feel that they have a personal interest in the splendid
Adirondack- region, which will make them demand its preser-
vation. L would propose that we have a committee of 12S
able-bodied citizens, each of whom shall go to Albany, take
a legislator by the ear, and show him the great import of the
work for which we ask his support.

The trouble is that the waste of our means of transporta-
tion is too remote to affect them. They will shrug their
shoulders and say that the Hudson River will continue to
flow as long as they live, and future generations — well, per-
haps future generations can get along without rivers. Tell
them that the work is essential to the preservation of health,
♦and they will answer you that they are healthy enough. These
arguments are weak to us, but to a member of the Legislature,


when linked with the question of expense, they become

We must take up the great task before us by easy stages.
Let us begin on what we already have. Let us demand that
the State shall preserve the great amount of Adirondack
lands it now owns. That will not antagonize anybody. Let
us demand that railroads shall not go in there on public lands
except upon the consent of the State and the Forest Com-
mission. That is but right and cannot antagonize anybody.
We must not ask that somebody be given a license to go into
the Adirondack region and blow up all the destructive dams,
but we can with reason ask the State to see that no clam shall
exist which is an injury to public lands and public forests.

Let us begin at once to protect what we have. That will
demonstrate to the people the value of our work. Having
done that, I believe that securing new lands and finally get-
ting such a great State Park as we need will be an easy
matter. Rome was not built in a day. A great Adirondack
Park cannot be acquired by a single act.

I believe that we must have the co-operation of those who
now own Adirondack lands. This is especially true of the
clubs which have purchased preserves there for sporting pur-
poses. Their desire to preserve the natural beauty of the
region is as strong as ours is. If we could get these clubs to
hold lands adjoining State lands, doing more or less exchang-
ing for State lands, the region under preservation would be so
much larger. I believe that it would be perfectly feasible to
frame a law, agreeable to these clubs, that would give the
State a right to protect, not a title to, private preserves ad-
joining a park,

Don't, then, let us shock our lawmakers, economical at least
on matters of this kind, by asking for too much at once.
Don't let us oppose any association, society, or individual that
is working on the same line as we are. We need all the help
we can get. Pet us get to work to do something now, for,-
although it may be but an inch of the mile we ultimately


want, we must remember that a little done now is worth a

great deal in the future. 1 move the adoption of the resolu-
tion as offered.


At the Annual Hanquet of the AV.v linyjaua Society of
Brooklyn, Decembet 21, [891.

Mr. President and Gentlemen :

As this is the first time I have attended a dinner given by a
New England Society, 1 beg to express the gratification ii
affords me to enter upon my new experience in the City of
Brooklyn and among those whom 1 have always regarded as
especially my friends.

You are by no means to suppose that my failure heretofore
to be present on occasions like this is accounted for by any
doubt I have had as to my qualifications for admission. From
the time the first immigrant of my name landed in Massachu-
setts, down to the day of my advent, all the Clevelands from
whom I claim descent were born in New England. The fact
that I first saw the light in the State of New Jersey I have
never regarded as working a forfeiture of any right 1 may
have derived from my New England lineage, nor as making
me an intruder or merely tolerated guest in an assemblage of
this kind. 1 resent, of course, with becoming spirit, the impu-
tation that my birth in New Jersey constitutes me a foreigner
and an alien ; and I have never been able to see any humor
in the suggestion that my native State is not within the Union.
To my mind the regularity with which she votes the Demo-
cratic ticket entitles her to a high rank among the States that
are really useful. At any rate, I shall always insist that New
Jersey is a good State to be born in, and I point to the fact that,
after an absence of more than fifty years, I have returned to
find a temporary home within her limits as fully demon-
strating that my very early love for her is not extinguished.


Assuming that you agree with me that my birth in New
Jersey has not stamped me with indelible ineligibility, and an-
ticipating your demand for affirmative support of my qualifi-
cation to mingle with those who celebrate Forefathers' Day
and sing the praises of the men who first settled in New
England, I can do no better than to rest my case upon the
statement that Bean Hill, in the town of Norwich and State of
Connecticut, wets the birthplace of my father. I hope that in
making this statement 1 shall not remind you of the man who
loudly boasted of his patriotic sacrifice in defense of his coun-
try on the ground that he had permitted his wife's relatives to
'join the army. At any rate, it seems to me that the claim 1
make is entirely valid, with no embarrassment connected with
it, except the admission by inference that for some purposes
and on some occasions a father's birthplace may be of more
value to a man than his own. I have nothing further to urge
on the subject of my eligibility except to mention, as some-
thing which should be credited to me upon my own account,
the fact that I have lately demonstrated my preference for
New England and my love for that section of our country
where my ancestors lived and died, by establishing a summer
home in the State of Massachusetts.

I think all of us are old enough to remember the prophetic
words put opposite certain dates in the old almanacs, " About
these days look out for snow." If almanacs were now made
up as they used to be, it would not be amiss to set opposite the
latter days of December, " About these days look out for glori-
fication of the Pilgrims." This would be notice to those con-
sulting the almanac that a time was foretold when the people
of the country would be reminded that there were Pilgrims
who came to New England, and there set in motion the forces
which created our wondrous nation.

No one will deny that the Pilgrims to New England were
well worthy of all that is done or can be done to keep them in
remembrance. But we cannot recall their history, and what
they did and established, and what they taught, without also


recalling that there have been Pilgrims from New England

who, finding their way to every pail of the land, have taken
with them those habits, opinions, and sentiments which, having
an early origin in American soil, should be best suited to
American life everywhere, and should be the best guarantees
in every situation, of the preservation, in their integrity and
purity, of American institutions.

We have heard much of abandoned lands in New England.
If farms have been abandoned there, we know that larger and
more productive farms have been developed in newer States
by the Pilgrims from New England. If the population of New
England has suffered a drain, we shall find that the vigorous
activity lost to her has built up new cities and towns on dis-
tant and unbroken soil and impressed upon these new crea-
tions the truest and best features of American civilization.

While all will admit the debt our great country owes to New
England influences, and while none of us should be unmindful
of the benefits to be reasonably expected from the maintenance
and spread of these influences, a thought is suggested which
has further relation to the mission and duty of the Pilgrims
from New England and their descendants, wherever they may
be scattered throughout the land. If they are at all true to
their teachings and their traditions, they will naturally illus-
trate, in a practical way, the value of education and moral sen-
timent in the foundations of social life and the value of indus-
try and economy as conditions of thrift and contentment.
But these Pilgrims and their descendants and all those who,
with sincere enthusiasm, celebrate Forefathers' Day, will fail
in the discharge of their highest duty if, yielding to the
temptation of any un-American tendency, they neglect to
teach persistently that in the early days there was, and that
there still ought to be, such a thing as true and distinctive
Americanism, or if they neglect to give it just interpretation.

This certainly does not mean that a spirit of narrowness or
proscription should be encouraged, nor that there should be
created or kept alive a fear concerning such additions to our


population from other lands as promise assimilation with our
conditions and co-operation in our aims and purposes. It
does, however, mean the insistence that every transfer of alle-
giance from another government to our own, should signify
the taking on at the same time of an aggressive and affirmative
devotion to the spirit of American institutions. It means that
with us, a love of our government for its own sake and for
what it is, is an essential factor of citizenship, and that it is
only made full and complete by the adoption of the ideas and
habits of thought which underlie our plan of popular rule. It
means that one fills a place in our citizenship unworthily who
regards it solely as a vantage ground where he may fill his purse
and better his condition. It means that our government is
not suited to a selfish, sordid people, and that in their hands it
is not safe.

This is a time when there is pressing need for the earnest
enforcement of these truths ; and occasions like this cannot
be better improved than by leading us to such self-examination
and self-correction as shall lit us to illustrate and teach the
lessons of true Americanism. When we here recall the land-
ing of the Pilgrims, let us remember that they not only sought
" Freedom to worship God," but they also sought to establish
the freedom and liberty of manhood. When we dwell upon
their stern ami sturdy traits, let us remember that these
nurtured the spirit which achieved American independence,
and that in such soil alone can its fruits ripen to bless our
people. When we contemplate how completely conscience
guided their lives and conduct, let us resolve that conscience
shall find a place in every phase of our citizenship ; and when
we learn of their solicitude and care for their new-found home,
let us acknowledge that unselfish love of country can alone
show us the path of political duty.

With such preparation as this — leaving no place for the
ignoble thought that our government can, without perversion,
hold out unequal rewards and encourage selfish beings — we


shall teach that this heritage of ours lias been confided from
generation to generation to the patriotic keeping and loving
care of true Americanism, and that this alone can preserve it ;
to shelter a free and happy people— protecting all, defending
all, and blessing all.



At the Manhattan Club, December 5, 1882.

It is not without considerable embarrassment that I attempt
to say a few words in response to those so well spoken, and to
express my thanks for the kindness and good will of which
this occasion is an evidence. This scene and these surround-
ings are new and strange to me, and, notwithstanding all that
is calculated to reassure and comfort me in the kindness of
your welcome, when I am reminded of the circumstances
which give rise to this reunion, a sense of grave responsi-
bility weighs upon me and tempers every other sentiment.

We stand to-night in the full glare of a grand and brilliant
manifestation of popular will, and in the light of it how vain
and small appear the tricks of politicians and the movements
of party machinery. He must be blind who cannot see that
the people well understand their power and are determined to
use it when their rights and interests are threatened. There
should be no skepticism to-night as to the strength and per-
petuity of our popular government. Partisan leaders have
learned, too, that the people will not unwittingly and blindly
follow, and that something more than unmeaning devotion to
party is necessary to secure their allegiance.

I am quite certain, too, that the late demonstration did not
spring from any pre-existing love for the party which was
called to power, nor did the people place the affairs of state in
our hands to be by them forgotten. They voted for them-
selves and in their own interests. If we retain their confidence


\vc must deseVve it, and we may be sure they will call on us to
give an account of ouv stewardship. We shall utterly fail to
read aright the signs ^\ the times if we are not fully convinced
that parties are bin the instruments through which the people
work their will, ami that when they become less or more the
people desert or destroy them. The vanquished have lately
learned these things, and the victors will act wisely if they
profit by the lesson.

1 have read and heard much of late touching the great re-
sponsibility which has been cast upon me, and it is certainly
predicated upon the fact that my majority was so large as to
indicate that many, not members of the party to which I am
proud to belong, supported me. God knows how fully I ap-
preciate the responsibility of the high office to which 1 have
been called, and how much 1 sometimes fear that I shall not
bear the burden well. It has seemed to me, however, that the
citizen who has been chosen by his fellows to discharge public
duties owes no less nor more to them, whether he was elected
by a small or a large majority. In either event, he owes to
the people who have honored him his best endeavor to protect
their rights and further their interests.

But if it is merely intended to remind me that, as a member
of a party, attached to its principles, and anxious for its
continued supremacy, my conduct should be such as to give
hope and confidence to those who are surely with us, 1 have
to say that this responsibility should be shared by all the
members of the party. An administration is only successful,
in a partisan sense, when it appears to be the outgrowth and
result of party principles and methods. You who lead and
others who follow, should all strive to commend to the people
in this, the time of our opportunity, not an administration
alone, but a party which shall appear adequate to their wants
and useful to their purposes.

The time-honored doctrines of the Democratic party arc
dear to me. If honestly applied in their purity I know the
affairs of the government would be fittingly and honestlv ad-


ministered, and I believe that all the wants of the people
would be met. They have survived all changes, and good and
patriotic men have clung to them, through all disasters, as the
hope of political salvation. Let us hold them as a sacred
trust, and let us not forget that an intelligent, reading, and

Online LibraryGrover ClevelandThe writings and speeches of Grover Cleveland; (Volume 1) → online text (page 21 of 48)