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Page 143 text:
that have impelled men to lay down life for religion, to place death in the balance against any semblance of slavery, and to give up friends, home, and country in order that their children and their children ' s children might have greater freedom and a purer worship. It was this regard for future generations that caused these early coiners to place education within the grasp of all. And here in Massachu- setts, side by side with the church for which they had struggled and suffered, was erected that buhvark of American liberties, the public school, without which de- mocracy would be a farce and representative republics would be but the idle dreams of social reformers. For a century and a half the influences of popular education in Massachu- setts were at work, stimulating the minds of her people to higher and nobler thought ; and from her " rocks and rills, " her " woods and templed hills, " they were gathering a love for country which in time was to supplant the love which they bore to England with her hedges and vine-clad cottages. Not long could minds reared among such surroundings as these see tyranny exist, and stand idly by while the bonds which held them were being made stronger and stronger, and see the fetters forged which were to crush them beneath their weight. It was the quarrel of Massachusetts which set the wheels of the Revolution in motion ; and only as it was in the cause of right, of liberty, and a common country, did the other colonies join her. It was the spirit of Samuel Adams, " the father of the Revolution, " of James Otis and John Hancock, together with that of patriots of other States, which made it possible for a country without a name, without an army or navy, to conquer the greatest power of Europe. And it was such men as these, who could unite into a common country States which appeared to have different aims and clashing interests. But memories shall ever cluster around the names of Lexington, of Concord and Bunker Hill. .What an educating in- fluence they exerted when first heralded in every hamlet from the rock-girt coast of Maine to the malarial swamps of Florida ! But influences then set in motion have stirred a country to its greatest depths ; and wherever an American exists, the thought of our Revolutionary heroes and battle grounds will incite to higher sen- timent and nobler action. " All life that lives to thrive Must sever from its birthplace and its rest ; Steel must the sapling lop E ' er sunk in earth its fibres fresh will root ; Must from the oak tree drop Ere forest monarchs from the seed can shoot. " 127
Page 142 text:
Glass Oration. MASSACHUSETTS AS AN EDUCATOR. BY J. E. GIFFORD. Ladies and Gentlemen : From small beginnings emanate influences which turn the thought of a world. It is not the mighty throng coming with the blare of trumpets and the glitter of arms that is sure to carry all before it. On the plains of Marathon a small army of ten thousand Greeks could scatter the count- less throng which was gathered in the plains before them. Among the hills of Pal- estine, in a rude manger, beneath the star of Bethlehem, was born the child whose influence has turned the entire thought of millions in the past and will continue to bless untold multitudes of the future until the whole world is won for the cause of Christ. Occupying a small part of Italy is a city, which as a maker of laws has never had an equal, and whose codes form the basis of the laws of the greatest nations of to-day. Covering but a small part of the territory of the mightiest nation which the world has ever seen is a State which as an educator has been the most powerful factor in the national growth ; and the influence of Massachusetts has been spread abroad throughout the length and breadth of the land, sending its subtle power into every root and fibre of that growth which we call America. It is to the thought of Massachusetts as an educator, to Massachusetts as a power in shaping the national development, that I wish to call your attention. Deep purposes swaying the hearts, the minds, and the motives of men can alone stand the storms which beat against every life, can alone stand up in the face of every danger, and looking death calmly in the face say, " God ' s will be done. " It was with such men as these, men who believed implicitly in the fos- tering care of an all-wise Father, men who made their religion a part of their every-day lives, men whose purposes were so deeply impressed in their souls that neither the dangers of the sea, the hardships of a New England winter, nor the fear of the Indian could turn from their course, that Massachusetts was set- tled. In the Pilgrim and the Puritan were the elements which were to shape the growing State and, through her, to mould the character of a nation. And to-day, to know the men who stood at the helm in those early days , to know the thoughts 126
Page 144 text:
With the steel of the sword had we been severed from the mother country, with the blood of her children had our fields been fertilized ; and deep in the soul was implanted a new organism, a conscious growth, which was to stretch from ocean to ocean. From the schools and colleges, which had sprung up with mar- velous rapidity, the sons of Massachusetts, with the same restless, eager, brave, and enduring spirit which had characterized their fathers, were pushing out into the unknown paths of the West ; and on the shores of the Great Lakes, along the course of the Ohio and the Mississippi, was heard the shout of the school-boy ; and there arose again the spires of New England, bringing all their associations and endearing ties. Who can measure the influence of Massachusetts in those years before the Civil War? Who but God can measure the influence of great minds and noble souls ? The influence of Webster, potent as it was in his own day, has moved as many people since his death as before. As Adams and Hancock and Otis had spurred the people on in the clays preceding the Revolution, so Garrison and Phillips and Sumner aroused the people to the wrongs of slavery. They pictured with colors too true to suit the slave-holders the misery and wretchedness of those under the yoke of bondage, under the lash of the master. And because of their teachings it was Massachusetts who sent the first soldiers in response to Lincoln ' s call, and on the streets of Baltimore gave the first blood in atonement for a sin which had blotted our history for nearly two centuries and a half. Rome gave but one of her sons to close up the opening which threatened the city ; but the sons of Massachusetts, the sons of North and South, were sent to fill the gulf which had opened, and not until filled with the blood of their children could it be closed. Not until innumerable homes North and South had felt the cold hand of death was the atonement complete. And in the years that have followed, the money and the teachers of Massachusetts have been at work ; throughout the South and the West the influence of the Pilgrim is felt to-day, and through the efforts of their children, North and South, East and West, have been bound to- gether with rails of steel, have been united by an electric force which can bring the whole world into unity. Was it of Massachusetts that I was speaking ? Proud may she be of her deeds and her sons, but she cannot hold them. They have passed on, and have become not the property of a State, but the inspiration and the hope of a country, — yes, of a world. Her educating influences are hers no longer, but have been ab- sorbed by one greater and more powerful than she ; and as a bride cometh to the 128
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