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The Study Of American History

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It is one of the great benefits of the Centennial year that it will stimulate the study of American history, and by refreshing the memory of the patriotic devotion of the fathers and that of their ancestors will inspire a noble emulation. To most oultivated Americans the history of England has a charra which our ora has not. "Why is it?" asked a distinguished judge, "that the story of English politics is so interesting, and that of our own so dull and dry ?" There is, in reply, the constant charm of distance to be considered, and the scenery and events which a great literature has illustrated, and the fascinatiou of a long extending multitude of men of genius of our own race devoting their powers to our welfare. England itself is touched with poetic association, while America is as yet, and with great exceptions, bare of that interest. But the more closely our story is studied, the more heroic and Batisfactory it will be. We are still too near the early epoch f or tradition to resolve itself into legend. We eau not have an American cycle. Our Cecrops and Oadmus, and Bomulus and Eemus are too near the eye. Our antiquity encounters the modern time of England, and our history, therefore, lacks that vague and vast setting of mystery and remoteness which the imagiuation lovea. Then, colonial annals are always reflective. The last century in this country was not so interesting in its Indian and French wars as in the details of uneventful life, in the routine of towns, and the romance of settlement. The governor was a little shadow of a king, and his council of a parliament. But the moment the great debate of the Bevolution begins, the interest in our history ia commanding. We had, indeed, and unfortunately, no men so eonspicuous for gonins as many Englishmen, no oratorical figure, for instance, so snperb as Burke, whose single splendor filis his time with light. Patrick Henry and James Otis were electric speakers, who fired an assembly and kindled a people. But they have left nothing which is a part of the treasures of our literature, and over which the poet, the statesman, and the student all hang with delight. Jefferson said of Henry that it was the inspiration of hearing him which was his great gift. He could not remember what he said. Lord Chatham was correct in saying that the Continental Congress was an assembly of sages as illustrious and dignified as any of Greece or Kome. But it was weight of character, purity of purpose, heroism, patriotism, good sense, and intelligence which distinguished them. There was no Pym, no Strafford, no Falkland, no Oromwell. Yet, when all this is conceded, there remains the fact of the unobserved growth of a nation upon this continent, the deyelopment, under most favorable conditiona, of many of the most characteristic instiutior.8 of the race from which England and her colonies sprung, and the masterly management of one of the greatest international debates in history, conduoted by men of the clearest insight and the utmost intrepidity, and f remarkable ability. It is the setting, ie scène, -which is wanting to the imagnative reader ; but it is little more ; for ur f athers' cause -was that of England ïerself, and their attitude and devotion were the qualities that had made the glory of similar great epochs ia Engand. It is time that there was a more careul study of American history in chools and colleges, and the Centennial vear will quicken an interest in it


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