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It is proposed in the Common Council of New York to erect a monument to Fulton, who first successfully applied steam to navigation. If ever a public benefactor deserved such an honor, this was the man. But it is wrong to speak of it as an honor to him. It is a dishonor to his countrymen that his name has never been commemorated by such a memorial, and more disgraceful still that his family have been permitted to remain in poverty. What cities, States, empires, has his genius enriched, and yet his descendants have wandered, penniless, amongst the almost fabulous treasures their ancestor brought to light! Perhaps the best tribute that could be paid to him would be a return to his descendants of some of the boundless wealth that his invention conferred upon his country. New York, the Empire State, owes her greatness principally to two men--Fulton and Clinton. They were neither of them politicians. The politicians are a disputatious, pestiferous and unproductive race, who never do any good to mankind. They often succeed in destroying the products of creative genius and practical minds, but never substitute anything in their place. They live in and for themselves, make a great noise and attract much attention, but they are like clouds which promise rain, and turn out nothing but wind, disappointing the thirsty earth and blowing dust in people's eyes. De Witt Clinton, it is true, was a public man, but a public man in the best sense — advancing the civilization, power, influence and credit of his native State by works of public and practical utility. On his Atlantean shoulders he bore New York from infancy to empire. The great canal with which his name is indelibly associated is his best monument. But he was no politician. He did not court popularity, but popularity followed him, and was chained to his triumphal car. All that Clinton accomplished was the dust of the balance compared to the fruits of Fulton's triumph. Clinton labored for a State, Fulton for the world, and wherever the hot breath of steam pants over the waters, it tells the story of his fame. It is strange how little consideration the world bestows upon its greatest benefactors, whilst it never tires of admiring those who do it most injury, such as selfish politicians and ambitious soldiers.
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