“For San Francisco,” he said, as he turned toward the door.
“What name?” asked the teller.
“Put it down to ‘cash,’” he answered, as he vanished.
Rapidly the fund accumulated. A few days brought it up to the $5,000,000 mark. Then it grew to $10,000,000. Within ten days’ time the relief fund was estimated at $18,000,000, and the good work was still going on—in less profusion, it is true, but still the spirit was alive.
The generous impulse was not confined to the United States. From all countries came offers of aid. Canada was promptly in the field, and the chief nations of Europe were quick to follow, while Japan made a generous offer, and in far Australia funds were started at the various cities for the sufferers. No doubt a large sum from foreign lands would have been available had not President Roosevelt declined to accept contributions from abroad, as not needed in view of America’s abundant response. To the Hamburg-Line which offered $25,000, the following letter was sent:
“The President deeply appreciates your message of sympathy, and desires me to thank you heartily for the kind offer of outside aid. Although declining, the President earnestly wishes you to understand how much he appreciates your cordial and generous sympathy.”
All other offerings from abroad were in the same thankful spirit declined, even those from our immediate neighbors, Canada and Mexico. Some feeling was aroused by this, especially in the relief committee at San Francisco, which felt that the need of that city was so great and urgent that no offer of relief should have been declined. In response the President explained that he only spoke for the government, in his official capacity, and that San Francisco was in no sense debarred from accepting any contributions made directly to it.
It may justly be said for the people of this country that their spontaneous generosity in the presence of a great calamity, either at home or abroad, is always magnificent. It never waits for solicitation. It does not delay even until the necessity is demonstrated, but it assumes that where there is great destruction of property and homes are swept away there must be distress which calls for immediate relief.
There is one ray of light in the gloom caused by the calamity at San Francisco. A truly splendid display of brotherly love and sympathy has been shown by the people of this country, and a similar display was ready to be shown by the people of the civilized world had it been felt that the occasion demanded it and that the exigency surpassed the power of our people to meet it.
In the face of an appalling and death-dealing disaster, rendering an entire community dependent for the bare necessities of life and putting it in imminent danger of greater horrors, the nation has been stirred as it has rarely been before, and there have been awakened those deeper feelings of brotherhood which are referred to in the oft-quoted passage that “one touch of nature makes the whole world akin.”