History in the making is a very uncertain thing. It might be better to wait till the South American republic has got through withits twenty-fifth revolution before reading much about it. When it is over, some one whose business it is, will be sure to give you in a digested form all that it concerns you to know, and save you trouble, confusion, and time. If you will follow this plan, you will be surprised to find how new and fresh your interest in what you read will become.
For more than 220 years - from the 1620s to the 1840s - most American schooling was independent of government control, subsidy, and influence. From this educational freedom the American Republic was born.
The American Republic and American business are Siamese twins; they came out of the same womb at the same time; they are born in the same principles and when American business dies, the American Republic will die, and when the American Republic dies, American business will die.
The United States, or the American Republic, has a mission, and is chosen of God for the realization of a great idea. It has been chosen not only to continue the work assigned to Greece and Rome, but to accomplish a greater work than was assigned to either. In art, it will prove false to its mission if it do not rival Greece; and in science and philosophy, if it do not surpass it. In the State, in law, in jurisprudence, it must continue and surpass Rome.
But the origin of the American Republic is distinguished by peculiar circumstances. Other nations have been driven together by fear and necessity-the governments have generally been the result of a single man's observations; or the offspring of particular interests. In the formation of our constitution, the wisdom of all ages is collected-the legislators of antiquity are consulted-as well as the opinions and interests of the millions who are concerned. In short, it is an empire of reason.
Of all the potential perils to the new American republic, the prospect of concentrated power . . . troubled the intellectual leaders of the Revolutionary generation. Familiar as the founders were with old Europe . . . they understood why the accumulation of inherited wealth led to inequities and imbalances that inevitably corrupted any system of government.
The Senator from Wisconsin cannot frighten me by exclaiming, My country, right or wrong. In one sense I say so too. My country; and my country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.
In the years since then, those four freedoms - freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear - have stood as a summary of our aspirations for the American Republic and for the world.