Love your country and obey its laws.--Noah Porter

The sum of individual character makes national character.--E. C. Mann

The true defense of a nation lies in the moral qualities of its

people.--Edwin C. Mason

Everything learned should be flavored with a genuine love of

country.--E. Edwards

Noble ideas of citizenship a
d its duties strengthen the will of all

patriots.--Merrill E. Gates

We are accustomed to say that our American government is "a government

of the people, by the people, for the people." It is largely in this,

its broad, comprehensive, and democratic character, that we so often

venture to hold it up to view as a model which might be copied by the

surrounding nations to their very great advantage. And certainly no

thinking person will deny that we have much to be justly proud of in

this respect; for our nation has neither parallel nor equal upon the

face of the green earth.

But in a land like this, where the government is formed by its citizens,

it can only be maintained by its citizens. Offices thus created must be

filled, and the ship of state must be manned, and manned with a careful,

honest, and patriotic crew, or it will be in danger of total wreck. In

our times of peril we have been quick to see and to acknowledge this;

and, more than once or twice, the nation has been saved by the prompt

and patriotic action of the people. But it is not so easy a matter to

keep our patriotism up to its noblest and its best when there is an

absence of unusual or exciting causes to call it into play. We must

therefore glance briefly at both these aspects of the case.

It is a requirement of long standing that, in case of war, every

able-bodied citizen must go forth as a soldier, if the government shall

so demand. He must, if really needful, help to save the state, even at

the risk, or at the positive loss, of his own life. Such calls have been

made by our government; and the manner in which our people have

responded has been the glory of our nation and the wonder of the world.

The citizen must share the risks of his country, as well as its

benefits. He must be willing to give protection to the rights and

interests of his fellows, or he cannot rightly expect protection for his

own. In this we are all so far agreed as to render anything like an

argument entirely unnecessary; and we do not hesitate to brand all

who fail us, under such circumstances, as unpatriotic and unworthy of

the sympathy and esteem to which faithful citizenship entitles men.

Now look at the other aspect of the case. The public service is not only

for times of war and tumult, but also for times of prosperity and peace;

and the claims of the nation are no more to be slighted or shirked in

the latter case than in the former. The ship of state must be manned, we

say, and the public offices necessary to prosperity and progress must be

filled. Many of these suffer unless filled by able and patriotic men;

and the interests, for the preservation and forwarding of which these

offices have been created, cannot be properly served.

The crying need of to-day is for men of public spirit; for men who will

seek the highest welfare of their fellow-citizens in general; men of

broad and generous views; men who look out upon life with an absence of

that littleness and near-sightedness which cannot distinguish between

public good and private interest.

Those men who will take no position in the service of their country,

unless it is accompanied with a monetary compensation, are after all,

very closely akin to the men who waited until bounties were offered

before they would take service in connection with the Civil War; while,

on the other hand, the men who are truly public-spirited, take pleasure

in serving the public and are liberal beyond the requirement of the law.

It has been well said that "A public office is a sacred trust." Whoever

engages in any duties of a public nature, is under the most solemn

obligation to do those duties honestly and well. There are some public

officials who, because they aid in the making of the laws, appear to

think themselves higher than the law, and therefore at liberty to obey

or to neglect its requirements, according as their personal inclinations

shall direct. But this is not so; and it should be made clear to all

such persons that they are in error.

The legislator is but a citizen, after all; and, as a citizen, he stands

in precisely the same relation to the law as does his brother of the

rank and file. Of all men, he should be obedient, and should labor to

surround the law with every possible safeguard; for it is among the most

precious and sacred of our earthly possessions. It is the charter of all

true freedom. It is a power before whose awful majesty every man must

bow, irrespective of outward position or personal influence. It must be

reverenced, honored, and obeyed by all.

Now the facts show that there is a strange ignorance, or else a strange

lack of conscience, in this matter, and that this is so wide-spread as

to be almost universal. It seems to be a common opinion that there is no

particular harm in cheating the government. If a politician secures a

high government position, or a business man is fortunate enough to

secure a large government contract, it seems to be expected that he will

secure from these sources larger profits than would be possible anywhere

else. In other words, it seems to be expected that the government will

pay more for any service than can be obtained from an individual or from

a private corporation, and that men will charge prices, and use

deception and fraud when they work for the country, which if practiced

upon private parties, would send them to prison and brand them with

lifelong disgrace.

Respecting that purification and elevation of the ballot-box, for which

so many of our thoughtful citizens are now pleading with more than

usual earnestness, our own thought is that it can best be accomplished

by the establishment and strict enforcement of an educational

qualification for voters, and by a residence in the United States of at

least ten years, before the voting privilege shall be bestowed. No man

should be allowed to vote until he can read and write. No man should be

allowed to put his hand upon the management of our public affairs until

he can read and understand our Constitution in the language in which it

is written.

One of the most ominous signs of the times is, that good men stand aloof

from politics. They do this either because they do not fully appreciate

the importance of their influence, or from the false conviction that

their votes will do no good, or, in many other instances, because they

consider their private business to be of more importance than the

matters of the state. But, in point of fact, the uplifting of the moral

tone of our country is a service of the most importance; and, even if we

consider ourselves alone, it is still true that we cannot afford to pass

it lightly by.

As citizens of the United States we stand possessed of a most wondrous

heritage; and what the civil authorities require of us, within their

own proper sphere, should be considered in the light of a binding duty.

As Professor Dole has pointed out, "We have seen magnificent cities

rising on the borders of the streams, and pleasant villages dotting the

hills; a flourishing commerce whitens the ripples of the lakes; the

laugh of happy children comes up to us from the cornfields; and as the

glow of the evening sun tinges the distant plains, a radiant and

kindling vision floats upon its beams, of myriads of men escaped from

the tyrannies of the Old World and gathered here in worshiping circles

to pour out their grateful hearts to God for a redeemed and teeming


Surely all that is worth preserving. Surely we will not allow so rich a

heritage to run waste. Surely we will support a nation whose past is

bright with glorious achievements, and whose future glows with the light

of a promise so radiantly beautiful. We need only remind you, therefore,

that the truest and most useful citizens of our country are those who

invigorate and elevate their nation by doing their duty truthfully and

manfully; who live honest, sober, and upright lives, making the best of

the opportunities for improvement that our land affords; who cherish the

memory and example of the fathers of our country, and strive to make and

keep it just what they intended it to be.