The Making of a Nation eBook

Charles Foster Kent
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 151 pages of information about The Making of a Nation.

It is natural and inevitable that the various social classes of each succeeding generation should define their standards of success concretely, that is, by the lives and achievements of those who have done great things.  In certain social groups the world’s champion prize fighter is the beau ideal of success.  Among the Camorrists of Italy that ideal is the successful blackmailer.  In many sections of our great cities the powerful ward boss, whatever be his methods, is regarded as the embodiment of success.  Too often in America to-day, both in the public press and in the public mind, the multi-millionaire is regarded as the pre-eminently successful man.  Although the power to amass wealth is evidence of marked ability, the homage paid to it is one of the most sinister tendencies in American life.  Ordinarily it means that the ambitions and achievements of a Jacob, rather than those of a Joseph, are set before the youth as the supreme goal for which to strive.  A most hopeful element in the present situation is that many of the world’s wealthiest men are proclaiming their sense of responsibility to society in ways both practical and impressive.  Far more significant than their actual gifts is this public declaration that each man is indeed his brother’s keeper, and that no man has a right to use his wealth simply for his own pleasure.

Leonidas and his fearless patriotic followers at Thermopylae left an impress upon Greek life and character that did not fade for centuries.  The spirit of Robert Bruce still lingers among the crags and heather-clad hills of Scotland.  The patriotic devotion of Garibaldi has imparted a new character to the Italian race.  Two hundred million of the world’s inhabitants still bear the imprint of the fiery faith and fanaticism of Mahomet.

America is rich in its memories of the achievements of such as Washington, Lincoln, Morse, Beecher and Emerson.  What characters in all history seem to you the best examples of real success?  What men and women in the present generation?  How can the great majority of the boys and girls and the men and women of to-day be led to accept those higher ideals of success which are the lodestones drawing on the race to higher achievement?



The story is told of the late President Garfield that in the heat of a political campaign one of his lieutenants suggested that he adopt an exceedingly questionable policy.  When Mr. Garfield objected, his lieutenant replied, “No one will know it.”  “But I shall know,” was the quick reply.

  —­“To thine own self be true,
  And it must follow, as the night the day,
  Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
    —­Hamlet, Act I, Sc. 3.

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The Making of a Nation from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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