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Six Speeches (Classic Reprint)

Six Speeches (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Six Speeches

["Welcome evermore to gods and men," says Emerson, "is the self-helping man. For him all doors arc flung wide; him all tongues greet, all honors crown, all eyes follow with desire."

He who shows that he can do without our help, is exactly the man whose help we cannot do without. The self-helper helps all the rest, because he shows them of what they are capable. When the virgin soil of Kansas was given over to the foul embrace of slavery, and they who might have saved it desponded when they should have done nothing but labor, one man, with no public record hitherto, applied his quick brain to the problem, and his stout heart to the work, - and straightway the thing despaired of was done! That man was Eli Thayer, of Massachusetts. The struggle between free and slave labor was protracted far beyond the necessary limit, and was likely, at last, to be decided in favor of slavery. Not that the latter really possessed larger power, but it happened that it was already on the ground, was familiar with the field, could cope successfully with frontier obstacles, and enjoyed the strong prestige of never yet having been beaten in such an encounter. It bade fair, at that time, to worry Freedom out, and the field had already been virtually abandoned by the friends of the latter, who were retiring in a sullen and angry mood from the conflict. All that was needed, at that particular crisis, was organization. The Free-State men were secretly conscious of their superior strength, yet knew not how to wield it. The right elements were to be had, but the master spirit was wanting, who should skilfully combine them. And, just at the right moment, that spirit stepped forth, - a new man to the masses, but himself thoroughly conscious of the power he held in his hand.

That man was Eli Thayer, of Massachusetts, and his secret was Organized Emigration. Nobody, apparently, had thought of it, - the simplest thing in the world. And yet it was like a new discovery in the social development of the century, whose influence is to work until the whole earth is colonized, and the dreams of universal brotherhood are finally made real. For by this single agency all uninhabited quarters of the globe are capable of smiling with the presence of a dense population. The work of the lonely pioneer has come to an end. We shall call on no more solitary hunters, like Daniel Boone, to wander forth from the extreme verge of civilized life and lose himself in the yellow sunset, for a whole town, county, and State may be transported as by magic; the surplus of a dense population, by this simple machinery, being planted in the heart of wildernesses almost by the sheer force and play of the single will that sets the machinery in operation.

It is conceded that Eli Thayer, whatever else he may receive credit for, has earned the name of the originator of Organized Emigration: a system whose wonderful effects will be felt years after he is dead, and for which future generations will bless his name.

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