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other instances where the accusation has not got beyond the elusive condition of loose talk. In that most noble poem, the “Commemoration Ode,” Mr. Lowell speaks of Lincoln as “the first American.” The poet's winged words fly far, and find a resting-place in many minds. This idea has become widespread, and has recently found fuller expression in Mr. Clarence King's prefatory note to the great life of Lincoln by Hay and Nicolay." Mr. King says: “Abraham Lincoln was the first American to reach the lonely height of immortal fame. Before him, within the narrow compass of our history, were but two preeminent names, – Columbus the discoverer, and Washington the founder; the one an Italian seer, the other an English country gentleman. In a narrow sense, of course, Washington was an American. . . . For all that, he was English in his nature, habits, moral standards, and social theories; in short, in all points which, aside from mere geographical position, make up a man, he was as thorough-going a British colonial gentleman as one could find anywhere beneath the Union Jack. The genuine American of Lincoln's type came later. . . . George Washington, an English commoner, vanquished George, an English king.” In order to point his sentence and prove his first 1 Mr. Matthew Arnold, and more recently Professor Goldwin Smith, have both spoken of Washington as an Englishman. I do not mention this to discredit the statements of Mr. Lowell or Mr.
King, but merely to indicate how far this mistaken idea has travelled.
postulate, Mr. King is obliged not only to dispose of Washington, but to introduce Columbus, who never was imagined in the wildest fantasy to be an American, and to omit Franklin. The omission of itself is fatal to Mr. King's case. Franklin has certainly a “preeminent name.” He has, too, “immortal fame,” although of course of a widely different character from that of either Washington or Lincoln, but he was a great man in the broad sense of a world-wide reputation. Yet no one has ever ventured to call Benjamin Franklin an Englishman. He was a colonial American, of course, but he was as intensely an American as any man who has lived on this continent before or since. A man of the people, he was American by the character of his genius, by his versatility, the vivacity of his intellect, and his mental dexterity. In his abilities, his virtues, and his defects he was an American, and so plainly one as to be beyond the reach of doubt or question. There were others of that period, too, who were as genuine Americans as Franklin or Lincoln. Such were Jonathan Edwards, the peculiar product of New England Calvinism; Patrick Henry, who first broke down colonial lines to declare himself an American ; Samuel Adams, the great forerunner of the race of American politicians; Thomas Jefferson, the idol of American democracy. These and many others Mr. King might exclude on the ground that they did not reach the lonely height of immortal fame. But Franklin is enough. Unless one is prepared to set Franklin down as an Englishman, which would be as reasonable as to say that Daniel Webster was a fine example of the Slavic race, it must be admitted that it was possible for the thirteen colonies to produce in the eighteenth century a genuine American who won immortal fame. If they could produce one of one type, they could produce a second of another type, and there was, therefore, nothing inherently impossible in existing conditions to prevent Washington from being an American. Lincoln was undoubtedly the first great American of his type, but that is not the only type of American. It is one which, as bodied forth in Abraham Lincoln, commands the love and veneration of the people of the United States, and the admiration of the world wherever his name is known. To the noble and towering greatness of his mind and character it does not add one hair's breadth to say that he was the first American, or that he was of a common or uncommon type. Greatness like Lincoln's is far beyond such qualifications, and least of all is it necessary to his fame to push Washington from his birthright. To say that George Washington, an English commoner, vanquished George, an English king, is clever and picturesque, but like many other pleasing antitheses it is painfully inaccurate. Allegiance does not make race or nationality. The Hindoos are subjects of Victoria, but they are not Englishmen. Franklin shows that it was possible to produce a most genuine American of unquestioned greatness in the eighteenth century, and with all possible deference to Mr. Lowell and Mr. King, I venture the assertion that George Washington was as genuine an American as Lincoln or Franklin. He was an American of the eighteenth and not of the nineteenth century, but he was none the less an American. I will go further. Washington was not only an American of a pure and noble type, but he was the first thorough American in the broad, national sense, as distinct from the colonial American of his time. After all, what is it to be an American 7 Surely it does not consist in the number of generations merely which separate the individual from his forefathers who first settled here. Washington was fourth in descent from the first American of his name, while Lincoln was in the sixth generation. This difference certainly constitutes no real distinction. There are people to-day, not many luckily, whose families have been here for two hundred and fifty years, and who are as utterly un-American as it is possible to be, while there are others, whose fathers were immigrants, who are as intensely American as any one can desire or imagine. In a new country, peopled in two hundred and fifty years by immigrants from the old world and their decendants, the process of Americanization is not limited by any hard and fast rules as to time and generations, but is altogether a matter of individual and race temperament. The production of the welldefined American types and of the fixed national characteristics which now exist has been going on during all that period, but in any special instance the type to which a given man belongs must be settled by special study and examination. Washington belonged to the English-speaking race. So did Lincoln. Both sprang from the splendid stock which was formed during centuries from a mixture of the Celtic, Teutonic, Scandinavian, and Norman peoples, and which is known to the world as English. Both, so far as we can tell, had nothing but English blood, as it would be commonly called, in their veins, and both were of that part of the English race which emigrated to America, where it has been the principal factor in the development of the new, people called Americans. They were men of English race, modified and changed in the fourth and sixth generations by the new country, the new conditions, and the new life, and by the contact and admixture of other races. Lincoln, a very great man, one who has reached “immortal fame,” was clearly an American of a type that the old world cannot show, or at least has not produced. The idea of many persons in regard to Washington seems to be, that he was a great man of a type which the old world, or, to be more exact, which England, had produced. One hears it often said that Washington was simply an American Hampden. Such a comparison is an easy method of description, nothing more. Hampden is memorable among men, not for his abilities, which there is no reason to suppose were very ex