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As educated men and women, in your hands lies the future of the State. It is for you and such as you to work out the problems of democracy. This is my justification in speaking to you of the present crisis. a great world crisis is on us, and this year of 1898 may mark one of the three great epochs in our history,
Twice before in our national life have we stood in the presence of a great crisis. Twice before have we come to the parting of the ways, and twice has our choice been controlled by wise counsel.
The first crisis followed the War of the Revolution. Its question was this: What relation shall the emancipated colonies bear to one another? The answer was the American Constitution, the federation of self-governing and United States.
*“An address to the Members of the Graduating Class of 1898. in Leland Stanford Junior University; delivered May 25, 1898,
The second crisis came through the growth of slavery. The union of the States “could not endure, half slave, half free.” The emancipation proclamation of Abraham Lincoln marked our decision that the Union should endure; and. that all that made for division should be Swept away::::
The third great crisis is on us now. The war with :Spain is only a part of it. The question is not : Can we capture Manila, Havana, Porto Rico or the Canaries? It is not what we can take or what we can hold. The American navy and the American army can accomplish all we ask of them with time and patience.
Battles are fought to-day through engineering and technical skill, not through physical dash. The great cannon speaks the language of science, and individual courage is helpless before it. The standing of our naval officers in matters of engineering is beyond question. There are a hundred nameless lieutenants in our warships who, if opportunity offered, could write their names beside those of Grenville and Nelson and Farragut and Dewey. The glory of Manila is not dim beside that of Mobile or Trafalgar. The cool strength and soberness of Yankee courage, added to the power of naval engineering, could meet any foe on earth on equal terms, and here the terms are not equal. Personal fearlessness our adversaries possess, and that is all they have. That we have, too, in like measure. Everything else is ours. We train our guns against the empty shell of a mediæval monarchy, broken, distracted, corrupt.
The war with Spain marks in itself no crisis. The end is seen from the beginning. It was known to Spain as clearly as to us. But her government had no re
course. They had come to the end of diplomacy, and
Was it inevitable? Was it wise? Was it righteous? We need not ask these questions, because the answers will not help us. We may have our doubts as to one or all of these, but all doubts we must keep to ourselves. We are in the midst of battle, and must fight to the end. The “rough-riders” are in the saddle. “What though the soldier knew some one had blundered ?" The swifter, fiercer, more glorious our attacks, the sooner and more lasting our peace. There is no possible justification for the war unless we are strong enough and swift enough to bring it to a speedy end. If America is to be the knight-errant of the nations she must be pure of heart and swift of foot, every inch a knight.
The crisis.comes when the war is over. What then? Our question is not what we shall do with Cuba, Porto Rico and the Philippines. It is what these prizes will do to us.
Can we let go of them in honor or in safety? if not, what if we hold them? What will be the reflex effect of great victories, suddenly realized strength, the patronizing applause, the ill-concealed envy of great nations, the conquest of strange territories, the raising of our flag beyond the seas? All this is new to us. It is un-American; it is contrary to our traditions ; it is delicious; it is intoxicating.
For this is the fact before us. We have come to our