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_Thanksgiving Sermon_


Rev. John P. Newman, D.D., LL.D.,









Ten Cents per Copy. Fifteen Copies for One Dollar.

* * * * *

WASHINGTON, D. C., _Nov. 26th, 1886_.


DEAR SIR: The universal approval by every loyal, liberty-loving
American citizen who listened to your Thanksgiving sermon yesterday,
together with the philosophic and fearless manner with which the great
themes therein discussed were treated, prompts a desire to extend its
influence by a wider circulation than even that large congregation can
give. We would, therefore, to meet the wishes of the congregation as
expressed by their unanimous vote at the close of the discourse,
request that you furnish us with a copy for publication.

Very respectfully,


* * * * *

WASHINGTON, D. C., _Nov. 30th, 1886_.

DEAR FRIENDS: The sermon has excited a public interest beyond any
thought of mine. I herewith send you the stenographic report of the
discourse, made by Messrs. Dawson and Tasker. The wisdom of your
request is confirmed by many letters from eminent citizens here and
abroad, commending the sentiment and demanding the publication. I
would like to print some of these letters, indicative of the deep
feeling on this great subject. As stated in the sermon, intelligent
foreigners approve my course. The Germans of Wisconsin have sent me a
copy of their memorial to Congress, asking for such a modification of
our naturalization laws as will protect our free institutions from
selfish and ignorant immigrants. The intelligent foreigners have taken
the initiative. Your Pastor,



"I have set thee on high above all the nations of the
earth." - Deut. xxviii., 1.

By the voice of magisterial authority this secular day has been hushed
into the sacred quiet of a national Sabbath. From savannahs and
prairies, from valleys and mountains, from the Atlantic to the
Pacific, more than fifty millions of freemen have been invited to
gather around the altars of the God of our fathers, and pour forth the
libation of their gratitude to Him who is the giver of every good and
perfect gift. If in all the past, nations have made public recognition
of the divinities which have presided over their destiny, according to
their faith and practice, it is but reasonable and highly appropriate
that we, as a Christian people, enlightened as no other people,
favored as no other nation, should once in the twelve months
consecrate a day to the recognition of Him whose throne is on the
circle of the heavens, who is the benefactor of the husbandman, the
genius of the artisan, the inspiration of the merchant, and from whom
comes all those personal, domestic, social, and national benedictions
which render us a happy people and this day memorable in the annals of

If the year that ends to-day has been marked with severity it has also
been distinguished by goodness. If chastisements have come to us as
individuals, families, communities, and as a nation; if the
earthquake, and the tornado, and the conflagration, have combined to
teach us our dependence on the Supreme Being - all these should be
esteemed as ministers of the Highest to teach us that we are
pensioners upon the infinite bounty of the Almighty; that in our
prosperity we should remember His mercies; in our adversity we should
deplore our transgressions.

It is evident to the most casual observer that the past year has been
significant in the manifestations of divine guidance and goodness.
To-day peace reigns throughout our vast domain. No foreign foe invades
our shores. How superior our condition by way of contrast with our
neighbors on this side of the globe. In contrast with Central and
South America, the home of turbulence and misrule, where ignorance,
combined with a perverted Christianity, has darkened and enslaved;
where the wheels of industry have been impeded and the march to a
higher civilization obstructed - how bold the contrast between these
two sections of our continent - a contrast that must be suggestive to
every thoughtful mind and awaken the question whether this is due to
what some call the fortuities of national life or whether it is the
result of a genius of government that is sublime and a religion that
is divine. And if we turn our eyes over the great deep to the most
favored nations beyond the Atlantic, the contrast inspires grateful
emotions, and we are equally led to contemplate the causes which have
brought about a condition so favorable to us. The most venerable
nations in Europe, countries that have lived through more than a
millennium, are to-day shaken by internal disturbance. Those
institutions which have come down from the hoary past, which have been
considered pre-eminent in the affections and faith of mankind, now
topple to their fall. "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,"
whether man or woman; and no government in Europe is in a state of
peaceful security. Alarm dwells in the palace. Fear, like a bloody
phantom, haunts the throne, and the vast nations of Europe, with all
their agriculture and commerce and manufacture, and all their majesty
of law and ordinances of religion, are maintained in a questionable
peace by not less than three millions of men armed to the teeth; while
in this country, so vast in its domain, so complicated in its
population, from North to South, from East to West, preserved in
peace, not by standing armies or floating navies, but by a moral
sense, a quickened conscience, the guardian of our homes, our altars,
and our nation.

Certainly the farmer stands nearest to God. Agriculture underlies all
national wealth. The farmer ministers to the wants of king and
prince, of president and senator; the farmer must be esteemed as the
direct medium of blessing through whom God manifests his goodness to
the nation. We have been accustomed to such phenomenal crops that it
almost goes without saying that the past year has been phenomenal in
its agricultural productions. Indeed there has been a wealth in the
soil, a wealth in the mines, a wealth in the seas, which awakens
astonishment and admiration in the minds of those beyond the deep - for
it is a statistical fact that our agricultural products for the year
just closing is not less than three and a half thousand millions of
dollars in valuation. How difficult to appreciate the fact! One
thousand seven hundred million bushels of corn, valued at five hundred
and eighty millions of dollars; four hundred and fifty million bushels
of wheat, valued at three hundred and fifty-five millions of dollars;
six and a half million bales of cotton, estimated in valuation at two
hundred and fifty millions of dollars. And including all the other
agricultural products, the statistician of the Government estimates
the value at three and a half thousand millions of dollars. And this
is but a repetition of other years. No! It exceeds other years! It is
a great fact that one and a half millions of square miles of
cultivated land in this country now subject to the plow could feed a
thousand millions of persons, and then we could have five thousand
millions of bushels of grain for exportation.

In ten years, from 1870 to 1880, we produced over seven hundred
millions of dollars of precious metals, and the last year the
valuation is estimated at seventy-five millions in gold and silver;
and rising above these colossal and phenomenal figures, our great
manufacturing people during the past year have produced not less than
five thousand millions of dollars in valuation. The mind staggers in
the presence of these tremendous facts.

Then our national wealth is as phenomenal as are the annual products
of soil, and mine, and skill, and commerce. In 1880 our national
wealth was estimated at forty-four thousand millions of dollars,
which would buy all Russia, Turkey, Italy, South Africa, and South
America - possessions inhabited by not less than one hundred and
seventy-seven millions of people. This enormous national wealth
exceeds the wealth of Great Britain by two hundred and seventy-six
millions of dollars. England's wealth is the growth of centuries,
while our wealth, at the most, can be said to be the growth of one
century. Nay, the fact is that most of ours has been created in the
last twenty years. In 1860 our national wealth was estimated at
sixteen thousand millions of dollars. But from 1860 to 1880 our wealth
increased twenty-eight thousand millions of dollars - ten thousand
millions more than the entire wealth of the Empire of Russia. From
1870 to 1880, ten years, the increase was twenty thousand millions.
This is without a parallel. Surely these great facts call upon the
President of the United States to convoke the freemen of this country
around their religious altars to offer their gratitude and praise to
Him from whom cometh all these blessings; for in His hand are the
resources of national wealth. With him are the ministers of good and
the ministers of evil. He can marshal the insect. He can excite the
malaria. He can call forth the tornado. He can put down his foot and
wreck the earth with earthquake throes. The ministers of evil are with
Him, and stand with closed eyes and folded wings around His throne,
but not with deaf ears, waiting to hear His summons, "Go forth." So
also around His throne stand the angels of plenty, in whose footfalls
rise the golden harvest; who quicken human genius on the land, on the
ocean, the artificer, the artisan, the scholar, the philanthropist,
and the patriot. It is by these resources of good and evil, forever
the ministers of the great God, we learn our dependence on Him; it is
with the utmost propriety that this Christian nation recognize Him as
God over all and blessed forevermore.

It is eminently proper on a national day like this, standing in the
presence of these phenomenal mercies, these crowning plenties, that
we differentiate ourselves from the nations of our own continent and
from the most favored nations beyond the sea.

It is proper for us to inquire the divine purpose in placing us among
the nations of the earth, and what is our great mission. There are
certain facts which prophesy - for facts are as eloquent in prophetic
announcement as are the lips of prophet or seer. We should remember
that our location is everything to us as a national power, of
intelligence and wealth, and that this location is in the wake of
national prosperity and greatness. It may have escaped your notice
that around this globe is a narrow zone, between the thirtieth and
sixtieth parallels of north latitude, and within that narrow zone is
our home. Within that belt of power have existed all the great nations
of the past, and in it exist all the great nations of the present.
What is there in this charmed circle, in this favored zone, that
brings national power? We may contract this zone by ten degrees and
the same thing is true. It is true that north of this zone there have
been nations of wealth, of luxury, and of influence. South of this
zone are Egypt and Arabia and India, and other nations that have lived
in splendor. But the peoples that have given direction to the thought
of mankind, that have created the philosophy for the race, that have
given jurisprudence and history and oratory, and poetry and art and
science, and government, to mankind, have been crowded, as it were,
within this zone of supremacy, within this magical belt of national
prosperity. Examine your globe, and there is Greece, that gave letters
to the world; Rome, that gave jurisprudence to mankind; Palestine,
that gave religion to our race. And to-day there is Germany, that gave
a Luther to the church and a Gutenberg to science, and there is
England swaying her mighty sceptre over land and sea. Our location is
in this wake of power - within this magical zone. Surely there must be
a destiny foretold by this great fact, and it is but wise for us as
intelligent freemen on this national day to consider the significance
of the prophecy. Our national home is not amid the polar snows of
Northern Russia nor the burning sands of Central Africa, but sweeping
over the lovely regions of the temperate zone, it lies too far south
to be bound in perpetual chains of frost, and too far north to sink
under the enervating influences of a tropical sun. Although on the
side of the equator destined to be the great receptacle of human life,
yet it is too far from the belligerent powers of the old world to fall
a victim to their corruption or to the weight of their combined
forces. With a shore line equalling the circuit of the globe, and with
a river navigation duplicating that vast measurement, our
national domain is only one-sixth less than that of the sixty
states - republics, kingdoms, and empires - of Europe. Indeed, it is
equal to old Rome's vast domain, which extended from the river
Euphrates to the Western ocean and from the walls of Antoninus to the
Mountains of the Moon.

Our location is for a purpose. For if you and I believe in the mission
of individuals who accomplish the purposes of Providence, we must
believe in the mission of nations for the elevation of mankind to a
better future.

And, my countrymen, it is equally significant that we stand above all
nations in our origin. We started where other nations left off.
Unrivalled for luxury and oriental splendor, the Assyrians sprung from
a band of hunters. Grand in her pyramids, and obelisks, and sphinxes,
Egypt rose from that race despised by mankind. Great in her
jurisprudence, giving law to the world, the Romans came from a band of
freebooters on the seven hills that have been made immortal by martial
genius; and that very nation, whose poets we copy, whose orators we
seek to imitate, whose artistic genius is the pride of the race, came
from barbarians, cannibals; and that proud nation beyond the sea, that
sways her sceptre over land and ocean, sprang from painted
barbarians - for such were the aborigines of proud Albion's Isle when
Cæsar invaded those shores.

Our forefathers stood upon the very summit of humanity. Recall our
constitutional convention. Perhaps no such convention had ever
assembled in the halls of a nation. That convention, composed of
fifty-five men, and such men! They were giants in intellect, in moral
character; all occupying a high social position; twenty-nine were
university men, and those that were not collegiates were men of
imperial intellects and of commanding common sense. In such a
gathering were Franklin, the venerable philosopher; Washington, who is
ever to be revered as patriot and philanthropist; and Madison, and
Hamilton, two of the most profound thinkers of that or of any other
age. It is one of those marvels that we should recall of which we have
a right to be proud; but in our pride we should not fail to ascertain
why the Almighty should start us as a nation at the very acme of
humanity - redeemed, educated, and made grand by the influences of a
divine Christianity. Those men were not mere colonists, nor were they
limited in their patriotism. "No pent-up Utica" could confine their
patriotism, for those men grasped the fundamental principle of human
rights. Nay, they declared the ultimate truth of humanity, leaving
nothing to added since, though a century has passed. Great
modifications have come to the governments of Europe. Some changes
have taken place in our national life. Yet I appeal to your
intelligent memory, to your calm judgments, if anything has been added
to our declaration of rights, those declarations founded upon the
constitution of nature. These men voiced the brotherhood of the race.
All other declarations prior to this were but for dynasties, or were
ethnic at most. But those men swept the horizon of humanity. These men
called forth, as it were, the oncoming centuries of time, and in their
presence declared that all men are created free and equal.

They not only declared the ultimate truth of human rights, but they
exhausted the right of revolution. They created a constitution founded
upon the will of the people, based upon our great declaration of
rights, embracing man's inalienable right to life, liberty, and
happiness. The instrument which their genius created was left
amendable by the oncoming wants of time, modified in subordinate
relations which might be suggested by emergencies and the unfolding of
our race. Here then are the great fingers of prophecy pointing to our

And we have been equally favored in our population, whether we take
the Puritans who landed in New England, the Dutch who landed in New
York, or the English who crowded Maryland and Virginia. They were
first-class families. Especially do we trace back with pride that
glorious genius for liberty, for intelligence, for devotion manifested
by those heroic men and women who, amid the desolations of a terrific
winter landed on a barren rock to transform a vast wilderness, through
which the wild man roamed, into a garden wherein should grow the
flowers and the fruits of freedom.

We sometimes deprecate the cosmopolitan character of our population.
It is a fact, however, that the best blood of the old world came to us
until within ten years - not the decrepit, not the maimed, not the
aged; for over fifty per cent. of those who came were between fifteen
and thirty, and have grown up to be honorable citizens in the
composition of our constitutional society. They came not as paupers.
Many of them came, each bringing seventy dollars, some $180 dollars,
and in the aggregate they brought millions of dollars.

There has been, however, a change, a manifest change, in the character
of those from foreign shores within the last decade. The time was when
we welcomed everybody that might immigrate to this country; when we
threw our gates wide open; when in our Fourth of July orations, we
proclaimed this to be the asylum of the oppressed, the home of the
down-trodden. But in the process of time this great opportunity
afforded the nations of the old world came to be abused, and to-day is
the largest source of our national danger. We are now bound to call a
halt all along the line of immigration; to say to those peoples of the
old world that this is not a new Africa, nor a new Ireland, nor a new
Germany, nor a new Italy, nor a new England, nor a new Russia; that
this is not a brothel for the Mormon, a fetich for the negro, a
country for the ticket-of-leave-men; not a place for the criminals and
paupers of Europe; but this country is for man - man in his
intelligence, man in his morality, man in his love of liberty, man,
whosoever he is, whencesoever he cometh. [Cries of amen, followed by

The time has come for us to call a halt all along the line, and if we
do not close the gates we should place them ajar. We should do two
things: First, declare that this country is for Americans. [Applause.]
It is not for Germans, nor for Irishmen, nor for Englishmen, nor for
Spaniards, nor for the Chinese, nor for the Japanese, but it is for
Americans. [Cries of amen and applause.] I am not to-day reviving the
Know-Nothing cry, for I am glad to say that I am not a know-nothing in
any sense. [Laughter.] Nor am I reviving what may be called the old
Native American cry, for we have outlived that. But I am simply
declaring that America is for Typical Americans. In other words, that
we are determined by all that is honorable in law, by all that is
energetic in religion, by all that is dear to our altars and our
firesides, that this country shall not become un-American.

Let us to-day proclaim to the world that he is an American, whether
native-born or foreign-born, who accepts seven great ideas which shall
differentiate him from all other peoples on the face of the globe. I
am bound to say, and you will agree with me, that in proportion there
are as many intelligent foreigners (that is, foreign-born) in this
congregation, in our city and in our country, who are in full accord
with this utterance as there are of those to the manor born. In other
words could I call the roll, I would find as many intelligent
foreigners who came here, not for selfishness, but for liberty and for
America's sake, who would be in accord with me in declaring that
America is for the Typical American. [Applause.]

I speak without prejudice; I know that there are those here of foreign
birth who are ornaments in every department of society. They minister
to the sick as learned physicians. They plead in all our courts of
justice. They are the eloquent exponents of divine truth. They are in
our halls of legislation. They beautify private life in all the
immunities and refinements thereof. They have added to the wealth of
the nation. But while I make this concession, and I do it cheerfully
and proudly, yet I must affirm that there are three classes of
Americans: the native-born, the foreign-born and the typical American.
The native American has the advantage of birth, out of which flows one
supreme advantage - he may be the President of the United States. This
is a wise provision, as nativity is a primary source of patriotism,
and time is necessary to appreciation. But the native may be a
worthless citizen. He should be the typical American, but he has too
often failed to be. The Tweeds, the Wards, their like, are no honor
whatever to the native stock. Some of the worst scoundrels who have
scandalized our nation have been born to the soil.

Then there is the foreign-born American, who is such by
naturalization. He may be worthy of our free institutions, as many
are; he may be unworthy, as many have proved themselves to be. But,
rising above these, is the typical American, without regard to place
of birth. He is the possessor of the seven great attributes, which, in
my humble judgment, constitute the true American:

I. That our civil and political rights are not grants from superiors
to inferiors, but flow out of the order and constitution of nature.

II. That the force to maintain these rights is not physical, but

III. That the safeguard of such rights is individual culture and

IV. That secular education is provided by the State, and is forever
free from sectarian control.

V. That there is no alliance of State and Church; the Government
non-religious, but not irreligious.

VI. That the Sabbath is a day of rest from ordinary care and toil.

VII. That Christianity, in its ethics and charities, is the religion
of this land.

It was a bold venture for the fathers of this Republic to declare
personal liberty foremost, without regard to birth or education or
civilization. This has elevated our nation above all nations. It was
sublime courage for those grand men to declare that our civil and
political rights are not grants from superiors to inferiors, but that
they flow out of the order and the constitution of nature. It is this,
my countrymen, that differentiates us, that distinguishes us from
Englishmen, and Frenchmen, and Russians. What are the two great
declarations of which England is proud? Take the _Magna Charta
Libertatum_. The historians say that this is the bulwark of English
freedom. Yes, Englishmen, you do right to so esteem it. But then you
should remember that the _Magna Charta Libertatum_ was a concession
from King John - a concession from a superior to inferiors, and the men
who wrung that concession from that English king did not esteem
themselves his equals, but permitted themselves to be treated as
inferiors. Then take what is known in English parliamentary history as
A Petition of Rights. It secured a concession from King Charles I - a


Online LibraryJohn Philip Newman'America for Americans!' → online text (page 1 of 2)