A Biographical School Reader for the Upper Grades
CHESTER M. SANFORD
Head of the Department of Expression
Illinois State Normal University
GRACE A. OWEN
Teacher of Reading
Illinois State Normal University
LAUREL BOOK COMPANY
Copyright, 1918, 1921
Laurel Book Company
"Tell us about real folks." This is the request that comes to us again and again from children in the upper grades. In response to this appeal, the authors, in preparing "Modern Americans," have attempted to give the pupils the worth-while things they like to read rather than the things adults think they ought to like.
Those who have taught reading very long agree that the old-time hero stories have always had a peculiar charm for pupils. But all the heroes did not live in olden times; they are with us today. Why, then, isn't it well to acquaint the children with present-day heroes? Young people in the upper grades are especially interested in the men and women who are actually doing things. They desire to study in school the persons they read about in the daily papers. Elihu Root recently said: "It seems sometimes as if our people were interested in nothing but personalities."
To bridge the gap between our schools and practical everyday life has become one of the chief concerns of the wide-awake teacher. Accordingly, in geography we are studying the industries about us. In English, civics, and history we are devoting an increasing amount of time to a consideration of "Current Events." All this is in the right direction; for, to create an interest in the men and women of the hour and the social activities of the day makes for an intelligent citizenship. "Acquaint the people with the great men of any period and you have taught them the history of the period," says Carlyle. Know the past, if possible; know the present by all means.
At first thought the reader may disagree with the authors in the list of characters chosen. He may think that many of America's greatest men and women have been omitted while others of less importance have been given a place. In reply permit us to say that greatness of achievement has not been the only consideration in choosing the character studies. Not all great men and women have life stories that appeal to children, and unless the stories do appeal, it is better to omit them until the children are older. Then, too, it seemed desirable to select persons in various fields of human activity, thus broadening the scope of the child's knowledge.
The reader will observe that we have placed much stress upon the childhood experiences of the men and women studied, for the reason that children are to read the stories; and since they are sure to interpret what they read in terms of their own experiences, we must, as far as possible, record experiences that are common to all, namely, childhood experiences.
It is hoped that these stories have been so brought within the experiences of the pupils that they will be led to discuss them. Many of the stories were tried out with children in the University Training School and the enthusiastic discussions that followed were both interesting and helpful.
Lastly, and most important, the authors have attempted to inspire the pupils with a purpose to make the most of themselves. The lives of great men and women are sure to be an inspiration to the young. Since great men stand for great things they are sure to embody the latest and best in science, art, government, religion, and education. By studying the lives of these representative men and women it is hoped that the pupils will be stimulated to lofty purposes.
Acknowledgement is hereby made to The Bobbs-Merrill Co., publishers of Mr. Riley's poems, for kind permission to republish "The Old Swimmin'-Hole"; and also, to the publishers of "The Story of a Pioneer"—Jordan; "The Story of My Life"—Keller; and the magazine "Success" for additional source material.
CHESTER M. SANFORD GRACE A. OWEN
1. Calvin Coolidge 9 2. Thomas A. Edison 17 3. Alexander Graham Bell 29 4. Theodore Roosevelt 37 5. John Pershing 44 6. William Howard Taft 51 7. Luther Burbank 57 8. Clara Barton 65 19. George W. Goethals 73 10. James Whitcomb Riley 81 11. Helen Keller 91 12. Wilbur and Orville Wright 99 13. Robert E. Peary 109 14. William Jennings Bryan 117 15. Henry Ford 125 16. Ben B. Lindsey 131 17. Frances Willard 139 18. Jane Addams 147 19. John Mitchell 155 20. Maude Ballington Booth 161 21. Andrew Carnegie 169 22. Anna Shaw 177 23. Ernest Thompson Seton 187 24. John Wanamaker 195 25. Woodrow Wilson 205 26. Mark Twain 213 27. Warren G. Harding 221
As I begin this story, I am seated in an old-fashioned hotel in a small village nestled amid the hills of Vermont. I have come all the way from the broad prairies of Illinois that I might catch a little of the spirit of Calvin Coolidge.
In his autobiography, Mr. Coolidge wrote: "Vermont is my birthright. Here one gets close to Nature, in the mountains and in the brooks, the waters of which hurry to the sea; in the lakes that shine like silver in their green setting; in the fields tilled, not by machinery, but by the brain and hand of man. My folks are happy and contented. They belong to themselves, live within their income, and fear no man."
Yes, and I have met the folks of whom he boasts, and in conversing with them it seems easy for my mind to go back to the time when Mr. Coolidge was a barefoot boy, roaming amid these beautiful hills. In fact, everything about this rugged New England state, with its farmhouses and barns that were built so many years ago, seems to carry one back to the early history of our country.
As I looked upon the little country schoolhouse to which Mr. Coolidge used to go, I thought of this story. One time, many years ago, there lived a schoolmaster who had this unique custom. Every time he met a boy who attended his school, he would lift his hat. When asked why he did this, he replied, "Who can tell but that one of these boys will some day become the chief ruler of the land; and inasmuch as I cannot tell which one it will be, I must lift my hat to them all."
Surely if a teacher were to slight any of the boys, it would be the one with freckles and red hair, for never before in the history of our great country have we had a red-headed president.
Let us go back then in our imagination forty-four years and visit the little red schoolhouse at Plymouth, Vermont, that was then better known as the "Notch."
To reach Plymouth is not easy, for it is eleven miles from Ludlow, which is the nearest railroad station, and the road from Ludlow is rough and hilly. When we reach Plymouth, we are likely to drive by, for the town is so small it doesn't seem possible that a future President could have been born in such an out-of-the-way place.
The first man we meet in Plymouth is John Calvin Coolidge, the father of our President. We soon learn that he keeps the village store, shoes horses, collects insurance premiums, and runs a small farm. In conversing with him, we discover that he is of staunch American stock—in fact, he reminds us that his ancestors came to America in 1630, just ten years after the Pilgrims landed. In 1880, his grandfather moved to the hill country that is now known as "Vermont," and for four generations the Coolidges have lived on the same farm.
But, we are not so much interested in the father as in the son, who, we are told, is at school. As we approach the little country school, we observe that it is recess, and the children are playing. Soon young Calvin is pointed out and we try to get acquainted with him, but he is silent and bashful. From his teacher we learn that he has few friends and no enemies. Unlike the average freckled, red-headed boy, he is rarely teased and never gets into a fight. He is so modest and minds his own business so well, that the other pupils are inclined to leave him by himself. Rarely does he play any games—not even marbles or baseball. Later in life he bought a pair of skates, but was never known to wear them but once.
Young Calvin had no brothers and only one sister, Abigail, who died when she was fifteen. His mother also died when he was a lad of twelve, but his stepmother was always very kind to him. His own mother, however, was his idol and even to this day, President Coolidge carries in one of his pockets a gun metal case that holds a picture of his mother. Calvin's father, in speaking of his son, says that he was always a great hand to work. He continues, "When Calvin was a boy on the farm, if I was going away and there was anything I wanted him to do, I would tell him; but when I came back, I never thought of going to see whether it had been done. I knew it was done."
The following incident shows that he could not bear to leave his work undone. "One night an aunt who was sleeping in the house heard a strange noise in the kitchen. Hurriedly she put on her kimona, and went downstairs to see what the commotion might be. There she found little Calvin filling the wood box, for he had forgotten to do so the night before. She tried to persuade him to wait until morning, but he would not return to bed until the job was finished, declaring that he could sleep better if the wood box were filled."
No doubt, were we to ask President Coolidge to recall some of his boyhood experiences on the farm, he would tell us how he slid off the old, white mare and broke his arm so badly that the bone stuck out through the flesh, and how long it took to bring the doctor eleven miles over the rough road from Ludlow to set it. Or, he might tell us about the wall-eyed cow that the hired man hit with a milking stool and so frightened her that he could never milk her again. Alas, for Calvin; this meant that he had to get up at five o'clock each morning to help with the milking.
After completing his work in the country school, Calvin attended the Black River Academy in Ludlow where he graduated at the age of eighteen.
One September morning, the next fall, Calvin's father hitched up the old, bay mare and drove his son to Ludlow where the boy took the train for Amherst College. At that time, the college had an enrollment of only about four hundred students.
While in college, young Coolidge lived very modestly, paying only $2.50 a week for room and board. His nickname in college was "Cooley." We were able to learn very little about his college days. From one of his professors, we learned that he never took part in athletic sports, never danced, and attended but few of the social functions of the school. We were able, however, to find the following in the Amherst Olio, the school paper:
"The class in Greek was going on, "Old Ty" a lecture read, And in the row in front there shown Fair 'Cooley's' golden head.
"His pate was bent upon the seat In front of him: his hair Old Tyler's feeble gaze did meet, With fierce and ruddy glare.
"O'ercome by mystic sense of dread "Old Ty" his talk did lull,— 'Coolidge, I wish you'd raise your head, I can't talk through your skull.'"
While in college, his favorite studies were debating, philosophy, history and the political sciences. His greatest achievement came when he was a Senior. The Sons of the American Revolution had offered a prize for the best essay on "The Principles of the American Revolution." The contest was open to all college students of America. Coolidge won first place.
After graduating from college, young Coolidge returned to the farm and worked all summer. That fall he went to Northampton, a mill town in Massachusetts, where he entered the law office of Hammond & Field. Here, under the guidance of two able lawyers, he studied so hard that within less than two years he was admitted to the Bar. As soon as he became a full-fledged lawyer, he organized the law firm of Coolidge & Hemenway.
From this point his advancement was steady and rapid. There were no jumps in his career. In 1900, we see him City Solicitor; in 1904, Clerk of Courts; in 1907-1908, a member of the State Legislature; and in 1910, Mayor of Northampton. In 1912, he was elected a member of the State Senate, and in 1914 was chosen President of the Senate. In 1916-1917-1918, he was Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, and in 1919 was chosen Governor. He has been elected to every office for which he ever ran. This seems strange when we study him, for he is not considered a good speaker, does not resort to flattery, is a poor "mixer," and is not attractive in appearance. But, possibly we are tired of the show-window type of politician, who does entirely too much talking. Those who know him best, admit that Coolidge has earned every promotion by attending strictly to the work he had in hand.
An event in 1919 made Governor Coolidge a National character. The Boston police force had organized a union and had planned to enter the American Federation of Labor. Edwin E. Curtis, Boston's Chief of Police, declared they had no right to do this. Three-fourths of the policemen immediately went on a strike. The forces of lawlessness broke loose and mob rule prevailed. Mr. Coolidge at once had nineteen leaders of the police force brought before him for trial. He held that the best interests of all the people could not tolerate any such conduct on the part of the policemen. His attitude was so sound and so firmly taken that he won the support of all law-abiding citizens. His position also met the approval of the Nation and at once he became a National figure.
While Mr. Coolidge was in Northampton, he married Grace Anna Goodhue, a teacher in the Clark School for the Deaf, at Northampton. She is a graduate of the University of Vermont. In many ways she is the exact opposite of the President; she is vivacious, attractive, tactful, and richly endowed socially. To this union have been born two sons, John and Calvin Coolidge, Jr.
When Mr. Harding was chosen President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge was elected Vice President. Upon the death of President Harding, Mr. Coolidge became President, and so faithfully did he discharge the duties of his office, that in 1924 he was chosen President by an overwhelming majority of the voters of the Nation.
The American people like President Coolidge because, like Lincoln, he belongs to the plain people. He understands and loves them; he is modest, sincere, and honorable. Even as a boy, he had a purpose, and willpower enough to carry it out. He works hard and speaks little, but when he does, the public listens to his wise counsel.
THOMAS A. EDISON
Suppose the Pilgrim fathers that landed at Plymouth Rock so many, many years ago should come back to earth, how many strange sights would greet them! No longer would they be permitted to ride in a slow, clumsy wagon, but, instead, would ride in an electric car. Furthermore, when night came, instead of the tallow candle, they would marvel at the brilliant electric lights. Wouldn't it be fun to start the phonograph and watch them stare in astonishment as "the wooden box" talked to them? But the most fun would be to take them to the moving picture show and hear what they would say.
Odd as it seems at first, all these marvelous inventions, and many others, are the result of one man's work; in fact, this man has thought out so many marvelous inventions that the whole world agrees that he is the greatest inventor that has ever lived. Should you like to hear the life story of one who is so truly great? I am sure you would, for in the best sense he is a self-made American.
But, you ask, what is a self-made American? He is one born in poverty who has had to struggle hard for everything he has ever had; one who has had to force his way to success through all sorts of obstacles.
This great inventor first saw the light of day in the humble home of a poor laboring man who lived in Milan, a small canal town in the state of Ohio. In 1854 when Thomas A. Edison, for that is his name, was seven years of age, his parents moved to Port Huron, Michigan, where most of his boyhood days were spent.
As we should naturally expect, Thomas was sent to school, but his teachers did not understand him and his progress was very poor. Finally his mother took him out of school and taught him herself. This she was able to do, for, before she married, she was a successful school teacher in Canada.
Later in life, in speaking of his mother, he said: "I was always a careless boy, and with a mother of different mental caliber I should have probably turned out badly. But her firmness, her sweetness, her goodness, were potent powers to keep me in the right path. I remember I never used to be able to get along at school. I don't know why it was, but I was always at the foot of the class. I used to feel that my teachers never sympathized with me, and that my father thought that I was stupid, and at last I almost decided that I must really be a dunce. My mother was always kind, always sympathetic, and she never misunderstood or misjudged me. My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had someone to live for, some one I must not disappoint. The memory of her will always be a blessing to me."
When young Edison was twelve years of age, he became a newsboy on the Grand Trunk Railroad. That he was a wide-awake, energetic lad is shown by the following experience as told by himself.
"At the beginning of the Civil War I was slaving late and early at selling papers; but to tell the truth I was not making a fortune. I worked on so small a margin that I had to be mighty careful not to overload myself with papers that I could not sell. On the other hand, I could not afford to carry so few that I found myself sold out long before the end of the trip. To enable myself to hit the happy mean, I found a plan which turned out admirably. I made a friend of one of the compositors of the Free Press office, and persuaded him to show me every day a galley-proof of the most important news articles. From a study of its head-lines, I soon learned to gauge the value of the day's news and its selling capacity, so that I could form a tolerably correct estimate of the number of papers I should need. As a rule I could dispose of about two hundred; but if there was any special news from the seat of war, the sale ran up to three hundred or over.
"Well, one day my compositor brought me a proof-slip of which nearly the whole was taken up with a gigantic display head. It was the first report of the battle of Pittsburgh Landing—afterward called Shiloh, you know, and it gave the number of killed and wounded as sixty thousand men.
"I grasped the situation at once. Here was a chance for enormous sales, if only the people along the line could know what had happened! If only they could see the proof-slip I was then reading! Suddenly an idea occurred to me. I rushed off to the telegraph operator and gravely made a proposition to him which he received just as gravely. He, on his part, was to wire to each of the principal stations on our route, asking the station-master to chalk up on the bulletin-board, used for announcing the time of arrival and departure of trains, the news of the great battle, with its accompanying slaughter. This he was to do at once, while I, in return, agreed to supply him with current literature for nothing during the next six months from that date.
"This bargain struck, I began to bethink me how I was to get enough papers to make the grand coup I intended. I had very little cash, and, I feared, still less credit. I went to the superintendent of the delivery department, and preferred a modest request for one thousand copies of the Free Press on trust. I was not much surprised when my request was curtly and gruffly refused. In those days, though, I was a pretty cheeky boy and I felt desperate, for I saw a small fortune in prospect if my telegraph operator had kept his word, a point on which I was still a trifle doubtful. Nerving myself for a great stroke, I marched up stairs into the office of Wilbur F. Story himself and asked to see him. I told him who I was and that I wanted fifteen hundred copies of the paper on credit. The tall, thin, dark-eyed man stared at me for a moment and then scratched a few words on a slip of paper. 'Take that down stairs,' said he, 'and you will get what you want.' And so I did. Then I felt happier than I have ever felt since.
"I took my fifteen hundred papers, got three boys to help me fold them, and mounted the train all agog to find out whether the telegraph operator had kept his word. At the town where our first stop was made I usually sold two papers. As the train swung into that station I looked ahead and thought there must be a riot going on. A big crowd filled the platform and as the train drew up I began to realize that they wanted my papers. Before we left, I had sold a hundred or two at five cents each. At the next station the place was fairly black with people. I raised the 'ante' and sold three hundred papers at ten cents each. So it went on until Port Huron was reached. Then I transferred my remaining stock to the wagon, which always waited for me there, hired a small boy to sit on the pile of papers in the back, so as to prevent any pilfering, and sold out every paper I had at a quarter of a dollar or more per copy. I remember I passed a church full of worshippers, and stopped to yell out my news. In ten seconds there was not a soul left in the meeting, all of the audience, including the parson, were clustered around me, bidding against each other for copies of the precious paper."
Though, as you will admit, Mr. Edison was a very successful newsboy, he was not satisfied merely to sell papers, so at the age of fifteen he began editing and publishing a paper of his own. To do this he purchased a small hand printing press and fitted out, as best he could, a printing office in an old freight car.
The Grand Trunk Herald, as the paper was called, consisted of a single sheet printed on both sides, and sold for eight cents a month. When the paper was at the height of its popularity he sold five hundred copies each week, and realized a profit of forty-five dollars a month.
He might have continued in editorial work had not a sad mishap overtaken him. In addition to his editorial work he performed many experiments, for his was the soul of the inventor. These experiments were performed in the baggage car of the train. One day, as he was in the midst of one of these experiments, a sudden lurch of the train upset his bottle of phosphorous, setting the baggage car on fire. The conductor, a quick-tempered man, after putting out the fire, dumped young Edison's precious printing press and apparatus out of the car and went on. This was a very sad experience for the lad, but the saddest part was the fact that, as the conductor threw Edison out he boxed his ears so severely that he was partially deaf ever after.
Now that young Edison had lost his job as newsboy, and could no longer print the Grand Trunk Herald, what was he to do? He decided, if possible, to get a position as telegraph operator. But, you ask, how did he learn to be a telegraph operator?
While yet a newsboy, he had saved the life of a child by snatching it from before a moving train. The father, a telegraph operator, was so grateful to young Edison for saving his child that he offered to teach him telegraphy. This offer the lad eagerly accepted, and devoted every spare minute to his new task. From the first his progress was rapid, and when he lost his job as newsboy he applied for a position as telegraph operator and was given a job as night operator at Stratford Junction, Canada, at a salary of twenty-five dollars a month. He was now sixteen years of age.
Within a very few years Edison became a swift and competent operator, as the following incident will show. "Edison had been promised employment in the Boston office. The weather was quite cold, and his peculiar dress, topped with a slouchy broad-brimmed hat, made something of a sensation. But Edison then cared as little for dress as he does today. So one raw, wet day a tall man with a limp, wet duster clinging to his legs, stalked into the superintendent's room and said:
"'Here I am'.
"The superintendent eyed him from head to foot, and said:
"'Who are you?'
"'And who on earth might Tom Edison be?'
"The young man explained that he had been ordered to report at the Boston office, and was finally told to sit down in the operating room, where his advent created much merriment. The operators made fun of him loudly enough for him to hear. He didn't care. A few minutes later a New York operator, noted for his swiftness, called up the Boston office. There was no one at liberty.
"'Well,' said the office chief, 'let the new man try him.'
"Edison sat down and for four hours and a half wrote out messages in his clear round hand, stuck a date and number on them, and threw them on the floor for the office boy to pick up. The time he took in numbering and dating the sheets were the only seconds he was not writing out transmitted words. Faster and faster ticked the instrument, and faster and faster went Edison's fingers, until the rapidity with which the messages came tumbling on the floor attracted the attention of the other operators, who, when their work was done, gathered around to witness the spectacle. At the close of the four and a half hours' work there flashed from New York the salutation:
"'Hello yourself!' ticked Edison.
"'Who are you?' rattled into the Boston office.
"'You are the first man in the country', ticked in the instrument, 'that could ever take me at my fastest, and the only one who could ever sit at the other end of my wire for more than two hours and a half. I'm proud to know you.'"
While employed as telegraph operator Edison's inventive mind was hard at work. Accordingly, when but seventeen years of age he invented the Duplex telegraph which made it possible "to send two messages in opposite directions on the same wire at the same time, without causing any confusion."
Though a brilliant operator, young Edison found it difficult to hold a job, as he was always neglecting his regular work to "fool with experiments," as his employers put it.
Accordingly, when twenty-one years of age, he found himself in New York City seeking work. Suppose we invite Mr. Edison to tell us of this dramatic period of his life.
"On the third day after my arrival, while sitting in the office of the Laws Gold Repeating Telegraph Company, the complicated general instrument for sending messages on all the lines suddenly came to a stop with a crash. Within two minutes over three hundred boys,—a boy from every broker in the street, rushed upstairs and crowded the long aisle and office that hardly had room for one hundred, all yelling that such and such a broker's wire was out of order and to fix it at once. It was pandemonium, and the man in charge became so excited that he lost control of all the knowledge he ever had. I went to the indicator and, having studied it thoroughly, knew where the trouble ought to be, and found it."
"One of the innumerable contact springs had broken off and had fallen down between the two gear wheels and stopped the instrument; but it was not very noticeable. As I went out to tell the man in charge what the matter was, George Laws, the inventor of the system, appeared on the scene, the most excited person I had seen. He demanded of the man the cause of the trouble, but the man was speechless. I ventured to say that I knew what the trouble was, and he said, 'Fix it! Fix it! Be quick!' I removed the spring and set the contact wheels at zero; and the line, battery, and inspecting men scattered through the financial district to set the instruments. In about two hours, things were working again. Mr. Laws came to ask my name and what I was doing. I told him and he asked me to come to his private office the following day. He asked me a great many questions about the instruments and his system, and I showed him how he could simplify things generally. He then requested that I should come next day. On arrival, he stated at once that he had decided to put me in charge of the whole plant, and that my salary would be three hundred dollars a month."
"This was such a violent jump from anything I had ever seen before, that it rather paralyzed me for a while. I thought it was too much to be lasting; but I determined to try and live up to that salary if twenty hours a day of hard work would do it."
It is needless to say that he made good in the biggest and best sense of the word.
It was at this time that Mr. Edison, now twenty-one years of age, invented an electric stock ticker for which he received forty thousand dollars.
Always desiring to devote his entire time to inventive work, he now saw that with the aid of his forty thousand dollars it was possible to do so. Accordingly, a little later we see him constructing a laboratory one hundred feet long at Menlo Park, a little station twenty-five miles from Newark, New Jersey. Here for years, in company with his assistants, he has made inventions that have revolutionized the world.
Finally, in 1886, his business had so seriously outgrown his quarters that he built his present laboratories at Orange, New Jersey. These laboratories are now housed in two beautiful, four story brick buildings each sixty feet wide by one hundred feet long. In addition to these laboratories there are Edison factories located in various sections of the country.
Though now seventy years of age, he is devoting all his time and the time of his laboratory force in solving the great problems connected with the present war.
* * * * *
"A tool is but the extension of a man's hand, and a machine is but a complete tool. And he that invents a machine augments the power of a man and the well being of mankind." —HENRY WARD BEECHER.
ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL
There is in New York City a great building seven hundred and fifty feet high. It has fifty-three stories, and provides business homes for ten thousand persons.
If you had watched it rise from story to story, you would have been amazed at the tons of cable running from the basement towards the roof. You would have exclaimed in wonder over the miles upon miles of wire that extended from room to room. Suppose you had asked the purpose of these wires and cables. Do you know what the answer would have been? You would have been told that they were placed there so a person in any room of the building could talk to some one in any other room within the towering walls; to any one outside in the great city, and even to persons far away in Chicago and St. Louis. Then you would have said, "Of course, they are telephone wires."
You use the telephone often, do you not? Probably if you were asked to say how many times you had talked over the telephone in your life, you would have to reply, "More than I can remember."
Let us think about the messages we send along the telephone wires from day to day. They are for the most part of two kinds. We have friendly talks with persons we know well, and we give brief business orders at office and shop.
But if we were gunners in the army of our country we should be told by telephone just when, where, and how we were to fire our guns. We would not see our target, but would shoot according to the directions of a commanding officer who knows what must be done and telephones his orders to us.
If we were acting with hundreds of persons in a great scene for a motion picture film, we should be told what to do by a man called the director. He could not make us all hear if we were out of doors and scattered about in groups, but he would telephone orders to his helpers. One of these would be with each large crowd of actors. Perhaps the telephones would be hanging on the side of a tree or set up in rude fashion on a box. Nevertheless, that would not interfere with their use and we should receive directions over them to do our part in the scene then being photographed.
These uses seem wonderful to us, but each year sees the telephone helping man more and more in strange and powerful ways. It is likely that we have just begun to know a little of what this great invention can do for us.
However, if we had been boys and girls in 1875 we should have known nothing about talking over a telephone, for that was the year when the public first heard that it was possible to send sounds of the human voice along a wire from one place to another.
There was a great fair in 1876. It was held in Philadelphia and was called the Centennial because it celebrated the one-hundredth birthday of our land. Persons came from foreign countries to attend the fair. Among these visitors was a famous Brazilian gentleman. He was a man of great knowledge and was interested in inventions. His name was Don Pedro, and at that time he was Emperor of Brazil. Because he was the ruler of a country, the officers of the Centennial showed him every attention, and tried to make his visit alive with interest.
Late one afternoon they took him to the room where the judges were examining objects entered for exhibits. The judges were tired and wanted to go home. They did not care to listen to a young man standing before them. This young man was telling them that he had a new invention; it was a telephone, and would carry the sounds of the human voice by electricity. The judges did not believe this, and were about to dismiss the young man without even putting the receiver to their ears and seeing if he spoke the truth. Don Pedro stood in the doorway listening. He looked at the judges; he looked at the young man, and was disgusted and angered that an invention should not receive a fair trial. He stepped forward and as he did so looked squarely at the young man. To his surprise he recognized in him an acquaintance made while visiting in Boston.
At once Don Pedro examined the new instrument and then turning to the judges asked permission to make a trial of it himself. The young inventor went to the other end of the wire, which was in another room, and spoke into the transmitter some lines from a great poem. Don Pedro heard perfectly, and his praise changed the mind of the judges. They decided to enter the invention as a "toy that might amuse the public." This toy was the Bell telephone, the young inventor was Alexander Graham Bell, and he had the satisfaction of seeing the "toy" become the greatest attraction to visitors at the Centennial. This must have brought comfort to his heart, for Mr. Bell had been trying for some time to have people see what a convenience his invention would be.
He had first thought of the telephone while searching for some way to help deaf mutes to talk. His father and grandfather had both been voice teachers in Edinburgh and London, so when young Alexander came to America to seek his fortune it was natural he should teach methods of using the voice. But his pupils were unfortunate persons who could not talk because they were unable to hear the sounds of the voice. His father had worked out a plan for teaching the deaf, that the young man improved. It was based on observation of the position of the lips and other vocal organs, while uttering each sound. One by one the pupil learned the sounds by sight. Then he learned combinations of sounds and at last came to where he could "read the lips" and tell what a person was saying by looking at his moving lips.
So you see Alexander Graham Bell knew a great deal about the way we talk. He kept studying and working in his efforts to help his pupils, and his knowledge of the human ear gave him the first idea of his remarkable invention.
He thought if the small and thin ear drum could send thrills and vibrations through heavy bones, then it should be possible for a small piece of electrified iron to make an iron ear drum vibrate. In his imagination he saw two iron ear drums far apart but connected by an electrified wire. One end of the wire was to catch the vibrations of the sound, and the other was to reproduce them. He was sure he could make an instrument of this kind, for he said, "If I can make deaf mutes talk, I can make iron talk."
One of his pupils helped him to do this by her words of sympathy and interest. She was a young girl named Mabel Hubbard. While still a baby she had lost her hearing, and consequently her speech, through an attack of scarlet fever. She was a bright, lovable girl, and had learned to talk through the teaching of Alexander Graham Bell. Her father was a man of great public spirit and the best friend Mr. Bell had in bringing the telephone before the public. Mabel Hubbard became the wife of her teacher, and encouraged him constantly to try and try again until his telephone would work.
Professor Bell made his first instrument in odd hours after he had finished teaching for the day. You may smile when you hear he used in making it an old cigar box, two hundred feet of wire, and two magnets taken from a toy fish pond. But this was because he was very poor and had scarcely any money to spend on materials for his experiments. But he kept on working, and after the Centennial he was able to found a company and put his new invention on the market. The company had little money, so Mr. Bell lectured and explained his work. By this means he not only raised money, but established his name as the inventor of the telephone. There were a number of other students who had been thinking along the same lines as Mr. Bell, but he went farther than any one else and was the first to carry the sounds of the human voice by electricity.
In the year 1877, the telephone was put into practical use for the public. It grew slowly. People did not realize how it could help them and they looked upon having a telephone as a luxury rather than a necessity. It was in the same year that the first long distance line was established. Today, when we can talk from Boston to San Francisco, it seems strange to read that the first long distance telephone reached only from Boston to Salem, a distance of sixteen miles. But then Mr. Bell thought twenty miles would be the limit at which it would be possible to send messages. So you see the Salem line was really quite long enough to satisfy the inventor, whose first instrument could convey sound only from the basement to the second story of a single building.
Before long the reward that follows struggles and trials came to Alexander Graham Bell. The telephone went around the world because so many countries adopted it. Japan was the first, but she was followed quickly by others. It went to far off Abyssinia, where it is said the monkeys use the cables for swings and the elephants use the poles for scratching posts.
Mr. Bell saw his invention enter every field of activity. It brought him riches and honor, but, more than all, it became a servant of mankind, and he could feel he had given a blessing to every class of people.
* * * * *
"And for your Country, boy, and for that Flag, never dream a dream but of serving her as she bids you, even though the service carry you through a thousand hells. No matter what happens to you, no matter who flatters you or who abuses you, never look at another flag, never let a night pass but you pray God to bless that Flag. Remember, boy, that behind officers and government, and people even, there is the Country Herself; your Country, and you belong to Her as you belong to your own mother. Stand by Her, boy, as you would stand by your mother."
—EDWARD EVERETT HALE.
A little boy lived in the greatest city of the United States. He looked out from the windows of his home and saw tall buildings rising, story upon story, until they seemed to meet the sky. He saw narrow streets that twisted and turned in the queerest manner. Through these streets crowds of people were forever hurrying.
There was no chance for this boy to run races, to play ball, to ride a horse, to row, or swim. He could not have a garden because the city lot on which his home stood was, like all the lots around it, just large enough for the house, so he had no yard.
Where could he play and exercise? He was not strong, and his loving parents wanted him to grow into a healthy, hearty boy. Can you guess what they did for him? They turned their back porch into a gymnasium. Here he could have great sport and some hard work too. Hard, because at first he was so delicate he could not do what other boys did. He tried to climb the long pole that hung from the ceiling, but would slip back and have to begin all over again. However, he did not give up, but kept on trying until one day he reached the top. How proud he was! He grew so daring that the neighbors were frightened, but his mother only said, "If the Lord hadn't taken care of Theodore Roosevelt he would have been killed long ago."
Fortunately not all his life was to be spent in the crowded city, for his parents bought a country home on Long Island overlooking Oyster Bay. Theodore went there in the summer and had a chance to live out of doors. He tramped the woods, knew all the birds, hunted coon, gathered walnuts, and fished in pools for minnows. But even with all these outdoor pastimes he was far from well. Often he had choking spells of asthma at night. Then his father would hitch a team of horses, wrap his little invalid boy up warmly, and, taking him in his arms, drive fifteen or twenty miles in the darkness. This was the only way he could get his breath.
Twice his father and mother took him to Europe in the hope of improving his health. A playmate remembers him as "a tall, thin lad with bright eyes, and legs like pipe-stems." He was not able to go to school regularly, so missed the fun of being with other boys. Most of his studying was done at home under private teachers, and in this way he prepared for college.
Theodore Roosevelt spent four years at Harvard University and was graduated in 1880. It had been his aim to develop good health and a strong body, as well as to succeed in his studies. This was a struggle, but he won the fight, and, in speaking of himself at the time of his leaving college, he says: "I determined to be strong and well and did everything to make myself so. By the time I entered Harvard, I was able to take part in whatever sports I liked. I wrestled and sparred, and I ran a great deal, and, although I never came in first, I got more out of the exercise than those who did, because I immensely enjoyed it and never injured myself."
Some time after leaving college, the frontier life of the Wild West called him. The lonely and pathless plains thrilled him, and he became a ranchman. His new home was a log house called Elkhorn Ranch in North Dakota. Here he raised his own chickens, grew his own vegetables, and got fresh meat with his gun. He bought cattle until he had thousands of head, all bearing the brand of a Maltese Cross. No fences confined these cattle, and sometimes they would wander for hundreds of miles. Twice a year it was the custom to round up all the Maltese herds for the purpose of branding the calves and "cutting out" the cattle which were fat enough to be shipped to market.
On these round-ups, Theodore Roosevelt did his share of the work. Often this meant he rode fifty miles in the morning before finding the cattle. By noon he and his cowboys would have driven many herds into one big herd moving towards a wagon that had come out from the ranch. This wagon brought food for the men, and Mr. Roosevelt has remarked, "No meals ever tasted better than those eaten out on the prairie."
Dinner over, the work of branding and selecting could be done. Sometimes Mr. Roosevelt spent twenty-four hours at a stretch in the saddle, dismounting only to get a fresh pony. He did everything that his men did, and endured the hardship as well as the pleasure of ranch life. Often during the round-up he slept in the snow, wrapped in blankets, with no tent to shield him from the freezing cold.
Although he kept Elkhorn Ranch for twelve years he gradually quit the cattle business and spent more and more time in New York City where he entered political life.
But his vacations always found him in the West where his greatest pleasure was hunting. He hunted all over his ranch and through the Rocky Mountains beyond. Frequently he would go off alone with only a slicker, some hardtack, and salt behind his saddle, and his horse and rifle as his only companions. Once he had no water to drink for twenty-four hours and then had to use some from a muddy pool. But such adventures were sport for him, and he liked to see how much exposure he could stand. Then he would return to the East, rested and refreshed.
When war between Spain and the United States was declared in 1898, Mr. Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He resigned this office, saying, "I must get into the fight myself. It is a just war and the sooner we meet it, the better. Now that it has come I have no right to ask others to do the fighting while I stay at home."
He decided to raise a regiment made up of men he had known in the West, together with adventure loving Easterners, and call them his "Rough Riders." He borrowed the name from the circus. The idea set the country aflame, and within a month the regiment was raised, equipped, and on Cuban soil. There was never a stranger group of men gathered together. Cowboys and Indians rode with eastern college boys and New York policemen. They were all ready to follow their leader, Lieutenant-Colonel Roosevelt. They were full-blooded Americans. They believed in their country, and they obeyed their leader, not because they had to do so but because it was right that they should obey.
The most important battle in which the Rough Riders engaged was that of San Juan Hill, July 1 and 2, 1898. This helped to decide the war. Roosevelt led the charge. His horse became entangled in a barb wire fence, but he jumped off, ran ahead, and still kept in front of his men. He lived up to his advice, "When in doubt, go ahead."
At the close of the war, when the Rough Riders returned to the United States, they landed on Long Island and the country rang with applause. The men could talk of no one but their commander, Colonel Roosevelt. The last night in camp was given over to a great celebration, and when goodbyes were said, he told them, "Outside of my own family I shall always feel stronger ties exist between you and me than exist between me and anyone else on earth."
After his bravery in the war, every one in the United States admired Theodore Roosevelt, and was glad to honor him. He was elected Governor of the State of New York. Two years later, when William McKinley was made president, Roosevelt was chosen as vice-president. He had held this office but three months when President McKinley was killed, and Theodore Roosevelt became president of the country he loved to serve.
In 1904 he was elected president to succeed himself, and so for seven and one-half years he gave his energies to the greatest office in our country.
When his duties in the White House ended, he went on a long hunting trip to South Africa. There he killed many strange and savage animals. These he had mounted and sent home to government museums so they could be observed and studied.
Returning to the United States as a private citizen, he spent much time in writing, for he had always liked to set down his ideas and experiences. If you look in a library catalogue, you will find Theodore Roosevelt wrote more than twenty books during his life.
He died at his Sagamore Hill home in 1920, after a life of vigorous activity to the last.
So we see he was a cowboy, a hunter, an author, a soldier, and president, but it was not for any of these achievements alone that we honor Theodore Roosevelt. It is because he was first, last, and always, an American, eager to serve our country and follow its free flag.
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"Speak softly and carry a big stick."
ROOSEVELT'S FAVORITE PROVERB.
For two long years we in America watched the progress of the great European War. Again and again, as we read the accounts of battles in which thousands of the brightest, best educated young men in Europe were cut down, we ardently prayed that we in America might escape the scourge of war. Protected by the broad Atlantic, we hoped that we might not be drawn into this vortex of destruction.
Finally, all our hopes were blasted when Germany, with her sly submarines, began sinking our ships and drowning our citizens. As this was more than any honorable nation could endure, we, too, took up arms against Germany.
No sooner had we entered the war than the task of raising a large army was earnestly begun, and within a few weeks training camps were established in every part of our country. After raising the army the next most important task was to find a general big enough to lead it. In this hour of need the nation turned to General John Pershing, and asked him to lead our boys on the bloody battle fields of Europe.
As soon as he was chosen, General Pershing, better known as "Jack" Pershing, sailed for Europe. Days before he arrived the eyes of all Europe were turned in eager expectation, and as soon as he reached there, the people gave him a joyous welcome and extended to him every possible courtesy. From the first, Europe liked General Pershing. Tall, broad shouldered, deep-chested, with frank, clear eyes, he impressed all with the fact that he was indeed a soldier.
The social life of London and Paris had small attraction for General Pershing; he was restless for the battle front that he might thoroughly learn the war game, so that he could better teach it to our American boys. For weeks, associating with French and English officers, he studied methods of modern warfare. As he was doing this a vast army of American boys landed in France, and it has now fallen to the lot of General Jack Pershing to lead these brave lads into the midst of the most deadly war of all time.
Who then is Jack Pershing? Where did he come from, and what has he done that should merit the confidence thus placed in him?
General Pershing was born in Linn County, Missouri, Sept. 13, 1860. As his parents were poor, young Jack, from very early in life, had to work hard. Able to attend school for only a few months each winter, the lad often longed for a better opportunity to get an education. Finally he was able to go for a term to the Normal School at Kirksville, Missouri. This was a proud day for him. But soon he had to quit school as his money had given out. Fortunately, he was able to pass the teacher's examination, and soon began teaching a country school. Now that he had a taste of knowledge, he resolved not to stop until he had secured a good education. Accordingly, he was soon back in the Normal School, where he was graduated at the age of twenty.
In less than a month after his graduation, he learned of a competitive examination for entrance into West Point Military Academy. With no rich or influential friends to help him, the young normal graduate had little hope of getting into West Point. So excellent, however, were his examination papers that the poor Missouri boy was readily accepted and soon became a student in this great Military Academy. How fortunate that he was a hard working student and passed that examination, otherwise America today would be without General Pershing.
Relieved of all financial burden, for the government paid all his expenses in West Point, he settled down to four years of hard work. So successful was he in this work that upon his graduation he was made senior cadet captain—the highest honor West Point can give to any student.
Immediately after graduation he was sent into New Mexico and Arizona to help settle Indian difficulties. Life among the cowboys and Indians was indeed exciting, but perhaps his most exciting experience was with an Apache Chief by the name of Geronimo. This old chief, with his group of warriors, had defied the entire United States for two years. Finally he fled into Mexico and young Pershing with his army was sent in pursuit. Odd as it may seem, the old Indian chief took almost the same route through Mexico that Villa followed some thirty years later. No doubt General Pershing in his pursuit of Villa often thought of his experiences years before when after Geronimo and his warriors.
After spending several years in the Southwest, at the age of thirty, he was made Professor of Military Tactics in the University of Nebraska. Here he remained four years during which time, in addition to his work as teacher, he completed the law course in the University. His next promotion pleased him greatly, for he was chosen a professor in his old school, West Point, where he remained but one year when the Cuban War broke out. Immediately he felt his country's call, and with the Tenth United States Cavalry sailed for Cuba.
No sooner did he land than he found himself in the thick of the war. Among the hardest battles he was in were those at San Juan Hill and Santiago de Cuba. Twice during this war he was recommended for brevet commissions "for personal gallantry, untiring energy, and faithfulness." General Baldwin, under whom he served, had this to say of him, "I have been in many fights, through the Civil War, but Captain Pershing is the coolest man under fire I ever saw."
At the close of the Cuban War he was made Commissioner of Insular Affairs with headquarters in Washington. Here he remained but a short time when again he heard his country's call and was sent to the far distant Philippine Islands.
The task assigned him was by no means easy. On Mindanao, one of the larger islands in the group, lived the Moros. So cruel and fierce were they that during all the years Spain held the Islands she had never attempted to civilize them. To Pershing was given the task of going back into the mountains and capturing these Moros. To him was assigned the most stubborn problem the Islands presented.
The best description of this Moro campaign is written by Rowland Thompson who says: "Up in the hills of western Mindanao some thirty miles from the sea, lies Lake Linao, and around it live one hundred thousand fierce, proud, uncivilized Mohammedans, a set of murderous farmers who loved a fight so well that they were willing at any time to die for the joy of combat, whose simple creed makes the killing of Christians a virtue.
"Pershing warned the hot-head of them all, the Sultan, if there were any further trouble he would destroy their stronghold. The Sultan in his fortress, with walls of earth and living bamboo forty feet thick, laughed at the warning. In two days his fortress was in ruins. So skillful was Pershing's attack that he captured the stronghold with the loss of but two men."
In a similar manner he later took stronghold after stronghold until finally all the Moros were conquered. Having subdued the Moros he was then made Governor of the Island, holding the office until he was sent to help settle the bandit difficulty on the Mexican border.
In his journey from the Philippine Islands to the Mexican border, General Pershing was called upon to fight the hardest battle of his entire life. Leaving his wife and four children at the Presidio Hotel in San Francisco, he went to El Paso, Texas, to rent a house. While in El Paso he was shocked to get a telegram stating that the Presidio had burned and that his wife and three daughters had perished in the flames. Surely this was enough to crush an ordinary man, but again he showed the superior qualities of his manhood by bearing up bravely, and continuing faithfully to perform the responsible tasks assigned him.
Though the Mexican trouble did not give General Pershing a chance to show his ability to lead men under fire, it did give him ample opportunity to convince his countrymen that he possessed remarkable skill in rounding up and developing a large army.
During the World War, General Pershing was placed in command of the entire American Army in Europe and, through his wise council and able handling of his forces, was proclaimed one of the greatest officers who took part in this great war.
* * * * *
"Lafayette, we are here!"
—GENERAL PERSHING AT LAFAYETTE'S TOMB.
WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT
Most great men have been born poor. For one in early life to struggle with poverty seems to prepare him in later years to struggle with the big problems that make men great.
To be born amid wealth too often has a softening effect. Pampered with all that money can buy, the rich lad looks to others rather than to his own efforts. Not so with William Howard Taft. Though he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, as we sometimes say, and fortune smiled upon him, he was never spoiled; but on the contrary he early developed a capacity for hard work, and a willingness to take rather than avoid hard knocks. These, as we shall see, insured his success in later life.
Born as he was in a beautiful home in the aristocratic section of Cincinnati, his boyhood surroundings were almost ideal. Not only was his home provided with every comfort, but it also was one in which culture and refinement reigned. When you are told that young William's father held the following positions, Judge of the Superior Court of Cincinnati, Secretary of War under President Grant, Attorney General, Minister to Austria and to Russia, you will readily see that the lad's home life was truly stimulating.
As you study the picture of Mr. Taft, you will observe that he is an extremely large man, weighing nearly three hundred pounds. Unlike many men, he did not become fleshy in his maturer years, but from his boyhood has been large and, as the boys say, fat. When a mere lad he was a plump, chubby, roly-poly chap who was always liked because he was so good-natured. Can you guess the nicknames the other boys gave him? Sometimes they called him "Lubber," but most of the time he was hailed simply as "Lub." Big, over-grown boys are sure to be awkward, and "Lub" was no exception. If he started to run across a field with the other boys, he was sure to fall. When they turned to gather him up, they would fairly roll with laughter, declaring that he was too fat to see where he was stepping. The fact that when he fell he was sure "to land on his head," caused the boys to call him "Lead-Head and Cotton-Body."
When he entered the Woodward High School, the boys changed his nickname from "Lub" to "Old Bill" and later to plain "Bill." In high school he was too fat to run, too slow for baseball, and didn't care for football.
At seventeen he had graduated from high school and was about to enter Yale. Can you imagine him as he enters that great University? With beardless cheeks that were as red as an apple, and able to tip the scales at two hundred thirty pounds, he seemed indeed a giant. No longer was he chubby and awkward; he was now broad shouldered, tall and sure of step. His muscles were so firm that he was a hard antagonist for anyone.
Hardly had he entered school before he got "mixed up" in one of the many college rushes of those days. In that particular rush Taft went crashing through the sophomores like a catapult. One, a man of his own weight, leaped in front of him. Then Taft let forth a joyous roar and charged! He grappled with the other Ajax, lifted him bodily, and heaved him over his head. No wonder he got the nickname of "Bull Taft."
Of course a chap capable of such a feat must join the football squad, said the fellows of the University. But Bill's father back in Cincinnati had entirely different plans for the giant freshman. He was eager to have his son win his laurels in the classroom rather than on the gridiron. The father, while in Yale, had won honors, and why shouldn't his son? Furthermore, Bill had some pride, for already his brother had carried away from Yale high honors in scholarship, and, if possible, Bill was not to be outdone by his brother. Accordingly, he settled down to four years of downright hard work, and "from day to day, lesson by lesson, he slowly made his way close to the head of the class."
That he acquired, while in college, a relish for hard work is shown by the fact that as soon as he had graduated he undertook three jobs at the same time: he studied law in his father's law office, carried the regular work of the Cincinnati Law School, and was court reporter for The Times Star of Cincinnati.
So rapid was his achievement that at the age of twenty-four he was made Internal Revenue Collector at a salary of $4500 a year. Surely this was a good salary for a man so young. But other promotions were destined to come in close succession; for, at the age of twenty-nine he was made Judge of the Superior Court of Ohio, and a year later was appointed by President Harrison Solicitor-General of the United States at a salary of $7000 a year.
After three years of service as a Solicitor-General, President Harrison made him Judge of the Federal Court of the Sixth Circuit that included Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. As judge of this court, several of the most famous cases in our history came before him, and in every case his power of analysis was so manifest, and his decision so just that the entire nation learned to look to him with confidence. Into his court came, on the one hand employers who were eager for every possible advantage, and were willing to crush labor in order to gain it; and on the other hand laborers who distrusted their employers and were morbid and resentful. To preside over a court where force was thus meeting force, where battle lines were distinctly drawn was no small task. Mr. Taft, however, since he was always fair and kind, since he possessed largeness of vision and pureness of soul, was big enough for the task.
At this time in Judge Taft's life he seems to have had but one ambition—he desired to become a Judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. But while he was eagerly looking in that direction, his nation was preparing other and greater tasks for him.
Far across the broad Pacific lie the Philippine Islands—more than three thousand of them. On these islands live eight million people. As a result of our war with Spain these islands came into our possession; but what were we to do with them? Representing as they did every stage of development from University graduates to Moro headhunters, the task of governing them was indeed difficult.
Who should be assigned this task? Where was a man big enough to bring order out of confusion and mould these widely divergent tribes into a unified colony?
President McKinley and those in authority with him finally decided that Judge Taft was the man for the place. Accordingly, he was soon seen on the broad Pacific hurrying to the task that awaited him. From island to island he and his commissioners journeyed studying conditions. Everywhere he found the people suspicious and eager to state their grievances. Naturally kind, frank and fair, he so won their confidence that he was soon able to direct their efforts. It is impossible here to tell of his remarkable work in the Islands. As Governor-General he greatly reduced the death rate by introducing sanitary conditions; he established and developed a free public school system, and, most important of all, he trained the Filipinos in the art of self government.
From Governor-General of the Philippines Mr. Taft was made Secretary of War. Fortunately, his experiences in the Islands, in a peculiar manner, fitted him for this new responsibility; for, during his entire sojourn in the Philippines he had come in closest contact with the soldiers. As they at all times were his closest companions, he learned to understand them perfectly. Able to get their viewpoint on all matters pertaining to war, he was able to secure from the start the highest possible cooperation. His greatest single task as Secretary of War was to finish building the Panama Canal, and indeed this was a task; but the Big Man kept at the big job until finally it was completed.
But the crowning event in the life of this great man was his election to the presidency of the United States. Here he was the same frank, genuine man he had always been. Had he been more of a politician he, no doubt, would have gained greater popular favor, but, after all, the approval of the multitudes is not the highest goal to be sought. Above this is fidelity to duty, and this Mr. Taft always possessed in an unusual degree.
With the completion of his term in the White House he did not withdraw from active life as so many ex-presidents have done; on the contrary, he became at once a member of the faculty of his beloved Yale University.
During the great World War, Mr. Taft was made director of the American Red Cross Association, and in 1920 he became the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
To whom does Luther Burbank belong? Massachusetts, in old New England, claims him as her son. But far to the west, proud California, kissed by the majestic Pacific, declares that he more truly belongs to her. But why argue? A man whose life has so materially blessed mankind everywhere belongs to the whole world. Recently, in far way France, when the name of Mr. Burbank was spoken in the Chamber of Deputies in Paris, every member arose to his feet as a tribute of honor.
But why do we all claim Luther Burbank? Why is his name a household word in every country? Because, without him, the world today would no doubt be hungry.
Mr. Burbank was born almost beneath the shadow of Bunker Hill Monument on the seventh day of March, 1849. When able to toddle about, his playmates were plants rather than animals. Oddly enough his first doll was a cactus plant that he carried about proudly until one day he fell and broke it.
As a boy he was not strong, and did not like the rougher sports. In school he was bashful, retiring, and serious. Though a good student he could neither recite well nor speak pieces, as he was afraid even of his own voice.
When he was just a lad he was taken out of school and put to work in a plow factory that belonged to his uncle. But he did not like the factory. Often he longed for the out of doors with its plants and flowers. So strong was this desire for the out of doors that he left the factory and began truck gardening on a small scale; and it was while caring for this truck garden that he developed the Burbank potato, thus achieving his first success. So valuable was this discovery that the United States Department of Agriculture declares that the Burbank potato has added to the wealth of this country seventeen million dollars each year since this variety was developed.
When twenty-six years of age, Mr. Burbank decided that the climate and soil of far-away California were best suited to his work. Accordingly, with ten of his best potatoes, and his small savings, he started across the continent. When his journey was ended he found himself in a fertile but unimproved valley about fifty miles north of San Francisco. On either side of this beautiful valley were spurs of the Coast Range Mountains.
His first task was to find work, but as few people at that time lived in the region, jobs were hard to get. In speaking of this period of his life, Mr. Burbank says: "One day I heard that a man was building a house. I went to him and asked him for the job of shingling it. He asked me what I would do it for. The regular price was two dollars and a half a thousand, but I was so anxious for the work that I offered to do it for one dollar and seventy-five cents. 'All right,' he said, 'come and begin tomorrow.' But I had no shingling hammer and all the cash I had in the world was seventy-five cents, which I at once expended in purchasing the necessary hammer. Next morning when I reached the job, my new hammer in hand, all ready to go to work, I was surprised and—what shall I say—dismayed, to find another man already at work, while the owner calmly came to me and said, 'I guess you'll have to let that job go, as this man here has undertaken to do it for one dollar a thousand.'
"How disappointed I was! I had spent my last cent, had a hammer that was no use to me now, and no job. But I kept a stiff upper lip and work soon came, and I've never been so hard up since."
Mr. Harwood in describing this period in the life of Mr. Burbank says: "The man who was to become the foremost figure in the world in his line of work, and who was to pave the way by his own discoveries and creations for others of all lands to follow his footsteps, was a stranger in a strange land, close to starvation, penniless, beset by disease, hard by the gates of death. But never for an instant did this heroic figure lose hope, never did he abandon confidence in himself nor did he swerve from the path he had marked out. In the midst of all he kept an unshaken faith. He accepted the trials that came, not as a matter of course, not tamely, nor with any mock heroism, but as a passing necessity. His resolution was of iron, his will of steel, his heart of gold; he was fighting in the splendid armor of a clean life."
As a result of his industry, in a few years, Mr. Burbank was able to buy four acres of land where he started a nursery. From the first this enterprise was successful. Upon this plot he built a modest home where he still resides. Here, and on a larger plot a few miles distant, all his remarkable experiments have been made.
Before we learn more about his achievements I am sure we should like to become better acquainted with the man. Suppose, then, we invite Professor Edward Wickson of the University of California, who knows him well, to tell us about him.
"Mr. Burbank is of medium stature and rather slender form; light eyes and dark hair, now rapidly running to silver. His countenance is very mobile, lighting up quickly and as quickly receding to the seriousness of earnest attention, only to rekindle with a smile or relax into a laugh, if the subject be in the lighter vein. He is exceedingly quick in apprehension, seeming to anticipate the speaker, but never intruding upon his speech. There is always a suggestion of shyness in his manner, and there is ever present a deep respectfulness. He is frank, open-hearted, and out-spoken. All his actions are artless and quiet; even the modulations of his voice follow the lower keys."
But, you ask, what marvelous things has this modest man done that should make his name a household word the world over?
All truly great people have high ideals that guide them in their work. The one ideal that guides Mr. Burbank is his love for humanity. Naturally sympathetic, he cannot endure the thought of human suffering.
Since so much human misery is due to lack of food, to hunger, he has resolved if possible to make the world produce more bread. But how can he do this? If only he can get each head of wheat to produce just one additional grain then the problem will be solved—for then the wheat crop of this country will be increased five million two hundred thousand bushels. Year after year he worked at this task until finally each head of wheat actually did produce more grains. Now that he has succeeded in increasing the yield of wheat, he has resolved not to stop until the yield of all the cereals is increased in a like manner.
By what principle, then, does he accomplish these marvelous feats? What are his methods? Eager as we are to understand them, doubtless most of us must wait until we have learned a great deal about science, for his methods are extremely scientific.
Though unable to comprehend his methods, we are able to appreciate the results of his work. So marvelous are these results that they seem like fairy tales. For example, he has developed a white blackberry; but this is not all, he has developed blackberry plants so large that a single plant produces more than a bushel of berries.
I am sure that we all like strawberries so well that sometimes we have wished that the strawberry season were not so short; and in the future it will not be, for he has produced plants that bear strawberries all summer.
Mr. Burbank, knowing that boys and girls are likely to hit their fingers cracking walnuts, has developed a walnut with a very thin shell, so thin in fact that the birds can break through it and help themselves to the meat. Now he has to thicken the shell again.
How should you like to eat a peach that had, instead of the ordinary stone, a fine almond in the center? In the future you may eat just such peaches, for Mr. Burbank has developed them.
Most of us have seen the ordinary cactus. We have been very careful, however, not to touch it as the spines are sure to prick us. It is interesting to know that the cactus is a desert plant—that, though millions of acres of arid land in the West can produce little else, they can produce enormous quantities of cactus. Unfortunately, these plants have always been useless as neither man nor beast would eat them. True, cattle liked them, but the cruel spines made the eating of them impossible.
As good pasture lands are so scarce in the West, Mr. Burbank wondered why a cactus could not be developed that had no spines. Accordingly, he began his work, and already has accomplished results far greater than he had expected. Not only has he developed spineless cactus, thus redeeming millions of acres of desert land for the use of animals, but he has also developed scores of varieties that are pleasing to the taste of man. Some taste like the cantaloupe, others like the peach, and still others like the plum or pomegranate. Fortunately, they ripen at all times during the year and can be carried to every part of the country without decaying en route. Through the efforts of Mr. Burbank the hitherto worthless cactus has become the most promising fruit of the desert.
Just as Mr. Burbank has improved the wheat, the blackberry, the strawberry, the peach, and the cactus, so he has increased the yield and improved the quality of practically every cereal, fruit, and vegetable.
True, he has not made a great fortune for himself, but a knowledge that tens of thousands who otherwise might go hungry are, because of his efforts, fed, must give him a satisfaction that is far greater than money could give. And, after all, doesn't true greatness lie in giving to others rather than in gathering to one's self?
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"And he gave it as his opinion, that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together."
In the little Maryland village of Glen Echo, a frail, gentle old lady was taking leave of this world one April day, in the year 1912. She was greatly beloved and many friends from every state in the Union sent her words of comfort and cheer. They praised her noble work and called her "The Guardian Angel" of the suffering, but the little old lady looked into the faces of those about her and said, "I know of nothing remarkable that I have done."
She was Clara Barton, the woman who brought the Red Cross to our country; but, being accustomed to working always for others, her labors did not seem great or unusual to her. Today we know she is one of the heroines of the world, for she believed in the brotherhood of man, and her aim was to relieve suffering humanity, irrespective of nationality or creed.
Her childhood was a happy, joyous one spent in the little village of North Oxford, Massachusetts. She was the youngest child of a large family, and her brothers and sisters were very proud of her because she learned so rapidly and because she was never afraid of anything. She would follow her oldest brother about the house with a slate, begging him to give her hard sums to do. Out of doors she was eager for adventure; her brother David often said, "Clara is never afraid, she can ride any colt on the farm," and often he would throw her on the bare back of a young horse and cry, "Hold fast to the mane," and away she would gallop over the fields.
Winter evenings the family would gather about the great fireplace in the living room and listen to the father tell of his experiences on the battle fields of the Revolutionary War. He had been a soldier under the dashing General Anthony Wayne, called "Mad Anthony" Wayne, because of his reckless daring. Clara was thrilled by these stories of army life, and never tired of hearing her father recount them.
When Clara was eleven years of age, her brother David had a terrible fall, and for more than two years he was a helpless invalid. At once she became his nurse and he relied upon her for all manner of service, preferring her to his older sister or even his mother. "Clara is a born nurse," said the family, as they saw the care she was giving the boy, and indeed she was. It was a joy to her to wait upon the sick, and she considered it no hardship to sacrifice herself.
When David was well, Clara went to school and prepared herself to teach. Her scholars found her an able teacher and liked her ways of instructing them. We know this to be true, because when she opened her first school she had only six pupils, but her fame spread so rapidly that when June came six hundred children had entered her classes and were much disappointed when they found she could not teach them all but had to have assistant teachers.
The strain of planning for so many pupils was too heavy for her, so she gave up teaching and took a position in the pension office at Washington. She was there at the beginning of the great war between the North and South, and at once felt it to be her duty to leave her work and minister to the wounded soldiers.
At first she busied herself in the hospitals at Washington, but she longed to go to the front and help on the battle fields. She told her father of her strong desire, and he said to her, "Go, if you feel it your duty to go! I know what soldiers are, and I know that every true soldier will respect you and your errand."
At last our government gave her permission, and she went to the front as fearless as any officer in the army. Amid the rain of shot and shell she went about on errands of mercy. Then there was no organized relief for the soldiers, no Red Cross, no Y. M. C. A., no help of any kind except what kind persons here and there over the country tried to give. This was very little, when compared to the vast amount of suffering, but Clara Barton managed to gather supplies and money so that she was able to give assistance to both the boys in blue and the boys in gray. She saved many lives, she wrote countless letters home for wounded soldiers, and she stood alone by the death-bed of many a brave fellow, speaking words of comfort and cheer. Whenever anyone suggested that she was working beyond her strength, she would say, "It is my duty," and go on regardless of her personal welfare. One of her best friends, Miss Lucy Larcom, wrote of her as follows:
"We may catch a glimpse of her at Chantilly in the darkness of the rainy midnight, bending over a dying boy who took her supporting arm and soothing voice for his sister's—or falling into a brief sleep on the wet ground in her tent, almost under the feet of flying cavalry; or riding in one of her trains of army-wagons towards another field, subduing by the way a band of mutinous teamsters into her firm friends and allies; or at the terrible battle at Antietam, where the regular army supplies did not arrive till three days afterward, furnishing from her wagons cordials and bandages for the wounded, making gruel for the fainting men from the meal in which her medicines had been packed, extracting with her own hand a bullet from the cheek of a wounded soldier, tending the fallen all day, with her throat parched and her face blackened by sulphurous smoke, and at night, when the surgeons were dismayed at finding themselves left with only one half-burnt candle, amid thousands of bleeding, dying men, illuming the field with candles and lanterns her forethought had supplied. No wonder they called her 'The Angel of the Battle Field'."
After the war, President Lincoln asked her to search for the thousands of men who were missing. She at once visited the prisons, helped the prisoners to regain their health, and get in touch with their families. Besides this, she searched the National Cemeteries and had grave stones put over many of the graves telling who were buried there. This work took four years, and at the end of it she was so broken in health that she went abroad for a long rest.
While she was in Switzerland she heard first of the Red Cross Society and attended a meeting called to establish an International Society. Twenty-four nations were represented at the meeting, but the United States was not among that number. For some years it refused to join. Miss Barton devoted herself to showing our government that in joining the International Red Cross we would not be entangling ourselves in European affairs but would be working for the good of all men. At last, in 1887, she won her victory, and the United States signed the agreement of the Red Cross Society. This is called the Treaty of Geneva.
When the first meeting was held in Geneva, Switzerland, there were persons present who found fault with the plan. They said the world should do away with warfare instead of caring for those it injured. But the Swiss President said it would take a long time for the world to learn to do without warfare. He believed the Red Cross would help to bring about the era of peace by caring for the afflicted and relieving the horror of war. The terrible struggle in Europe is showing us the truth of his words, for, when we hear about the frightful happenings, all the glory and grandeur of warfare fade away.
A man who sees far into the future, has written, "Some day the Red Cross will triumph over the cannon. The future belongs to all helpful powers, however humble, for two allies are theirs, suffering humanity and merciful God."
Clara Barton, who also could look beyond her day, saw another use for the Red Cross besides war service. She said: "It need not apply to the battle field alone, but we should help all those who need our help." So the American Red Cross passed an amendment to the effect that its work should apply to all suffering from fires, floods, famine, earthquake, and other forms of disaster. This amendment was finally adopted by all nations.
At the time of the Spanish War, Miss Barton was seventy years old, but she went to Cuba and did heroic work. When the Galveston flood occurred she was eighty, but she went to the stricken community and helped in every way. After giving up her active work, she retired to Glen Echo and spent the remainder of her days quietly, always interested in the great cause to which she had given her life.
We know what the American Red Cross does for our soldiers, and whenever we see its emblem we should think of Clara Barton, as a "Noble type of good, heroic womanhood; one who was kind, humane, and helpful to all peoples, one who longed for the time when suffering and horror should pass away."
GEORGE W. GOETHALS
The men who worked on the Panama Canal used to sing this little song of their own composing:
"See Colonel Goethals, Tell Colonel Goethals, It's the only right and proper thing to do. Just write a letter, or even better, Arrange a little Sunday interview."
Colonel George W. Goethals was the chief engineer of the canal, and when he arrived in Panama he found that many of the men were discontented. They felt they were not treated fairly. Now there were sixty-five thousand persons employed there, and Colonel Goethals knew that if they were not kept well and in good spirits the great work would never be completed. So he said he would be in his office every Sunday morning at seven o'clock. Then, any man or woman who had a complaint could come and tell him about it. He was so wise, and decided the cases with such fairness that the men came to believe in their new chief and were anxious to serve him.
It was when Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States that Colonel Goethals was sent to Panama. President Roosevelt was anxious to have our dream of a canal across the Isthmus of Panama come true, but many persons in our country as well as in other parts of the world told him it was foolish to spend money on such an uncertain undertaking. They said the great slides of gravel and sand along the sides of the canal could never be stopped. They said the locks would never work. President Roosevelt paid no attention to these comments, but selected Colonel Goethals because he was sure he could build the canal.
Colonel Goethals cared as little as President Roosevelt for the opinion that the task was impossible. In fact, he told the President: "Say nothing to such doubting persons. By and by we will answer them with the canal."
We know that he did give such an answer. He built the canal right through the red shifting hills of sand that threatened to slide down and choke his work. He cut away a jungle so the banks of the canal could be kept free and open. But best of all, he taught order to the men who worked under him, and they found out that he believed in them, he believed in the work that he was doing, and he believed in the Government of the United States. No wonder they made a song about him and praised his splendid leadership.
As his title tells us, Colonel Goethals belongs to the regular army. Until he was appointed as the chief engineer of the Panama Canal, no military man had been in charge there. The men working on the canal were performing civil duties, and in no way resembled soldiers. When they heard a regular army officer was coming down, they did not like the idea of having to obey just as if they were soldiers. Many of the foremen and officials told their men they would have to spend their time saluting Colonel Goethals and standing at attention with their little fingers against the seams of their trousers.
During the first days of his stay in Panama, a banquet was given in honor of Colonel Goethals, for the men felt they must entertain their new chief, though they were not friendly to him.
At this banquet, they cheered the former engineer, John G. Stevens, and did not applaud Colonel Goethals when he appeared. However he was exceedingly polite and did not notice their bad manners. The men had expected to see him wear a full dress uniform, and you can imagine how surprised they were when they saw him dressed in citizens' clothes. Never once while he was in Panama did Colonel Goethals appear in uniform.
After the banquet there was a program of speeches. Each speaker made cutting remarks about the new military control, but the Colonel did not seem to notice their insults. At last it was his time to speak. He said only a few words, but they changed the minds of his hearers. He told them they were all there to build the canal. They were working for their government, the United States of America. He wanted no salutes, but he wanted work. This pleased the men and they were ashamed of their impoliteness.
The Colonel's first act was to organize the workmen into three divisions, the Atlantic, the Central, and the Pacific.
He put each under a superintendent. Then he stirred up contests between these divisions. He would tell the men on the Pacific division how rapidly the men on the Atlantic division were digging or putting in concrete. Of course, each division wanted to make the best showing, and the men were always eager to get the Canal Record, a small weekly newspaper, so they could read the scores of the different divisions. These scores grew to be more exciting than those of ball games, and the men worked hard and well.
They liked Colonel Goethals and whenever he went by they saluted him; not with the army salute which they had scorned, but by waving their hands, lifting their caps, and greeting him with a smile on their lips and in their eyes.
They felt free to talk to him because they knew he was their friend. Shortly after he started his Sunday morning office hours, some of the lowest paid men told him that their bosses swore at them all day and used the worst kind of language. At once he sent the following order out all over the Canal Zone.
Culebra, C. Z. Aug. 4, 1911
Circular No. 400:
The use of profane or abusive language by foremen or others in authority, when addressing subordinates, will not be tolerated.
Geo. W. Goethals, Chairman and Chief Engineer.
Some of the foreman did not talk much for a while, they had been so used to swearing, but the Colonel's orders were obeyed.