previous next

[251] money is required of a people, is there any need of this organization, and is its work a work that must be done?

I answer both questions in the affirmative for reasons that I will briefly submit. The first is that the history of every historic people should be fully written, and nothing must be withheld which contributes to that end. The scholarly youth, when he encounters in his academic course the study of history, is appalled by its magnitude. With the map of the world spread before him, he asks, in dismay, is a lifetime sufficient to compass the history of all these lands and of the peoples who have lived and wrought upon them for 6,000 years? He is soon reassured, however, when he learns that but a very small portion of the earth's surface and few of its nations are historic. You may, for example, throw all Africa overboard, except its Mediterranean coast and a small portion that lies upon the delta of the Nile. In like manner, nearly the whole of the massive and monotonous continent of Asia may be discounted.

Even Europe, a larger portion of its territory is just emerging into history, in the only representative of the Slavonic race which has never yet fulfilled its part in history. We who have dwelt on this continent for the last 300 or 400 years are the descendants of nations that are historic, and the United States has a history which must be written.

But if it is to be written as a whole it must be written in all its parts, and the first draught must come from the actors by whom the history has been made. They can but set forth the motives of their conduct, and the principles by which they were actuated. These earlier chronicles are the original sources from which a more elaborate and philosophic record may be constructed.

For example, I was interested the other day in the argument used by La Salle with the Governor of Canada, when he suggested to him the plan of connecting the St. Lawrence with the Mississippi by a chain of forts. “I think,” said he, “that the Mississippi draws its source somewhere in the vicinity of the Celestial Empire, and that France will be not only the mistress of all the territory between the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi, but will command the trade of China flowing down through the new and mighty channel which I shall open to the Gulf of Mexico.”

We smile at the geographical mistake of the explorer — only to wonder how near he comes to the truth after the lapse of two hundred years--in that stream of Asiatic commerce, which we expect to flow from our California coast and empty itself by rail into our city upon the Gulf. That we may contribute our part to the history of the

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (1)
La Salle, Ill. (Illinois, United States) (1)
Gulf of Mexico (1)
France (France) (1)
Europe (1)
China (China) (1)
Canada (Canada) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: