This is "the home of freedom," and "the asylum of the oppressed;"
our population is yet sparse, our public domain yet wide; we are the
greatest of food producers, yet even here there are beggars, tramps,
paupers, men torn by anxiety for the support of their families, women
who know not which way to turn, little children growing up in such
poverty and squalor that only a miracle can keep them pure. "Always
with you," even here. What is the week or the day of the week that
our papers do not tell of man or woman who, to escape the tortures of
want, has stepped out of life unbidden? What is this but famine? ...
We have here abolished all hereditary privileges and legal
distinctions of class. Monarchy, aristocracy, prelacy, we have swept
them all away. We have carried mere political democracy to its
ultimate. Every child born in the United States may aspire to be
President. Every man, even though he be a tramp or a pauper, has a
vote, and one man's vote counts for as much as any other man's vote.
Before the law all citizens are absolutely equal. In the name of the
people all laws run. They are the source of all power, the fountain
of all honor. In their name and by their will all government is
carried on; the highest officials are but their servants.
Primogeniture and entail we have abolished wherever they existed. We
have and have had free trade in land. We started with something
infinitely better than any scheme of peasant proprietorship which it
is possible to carry into effect in Great Britain. We have had for
our public domain the best part of an immense continent. We have had
the preemption law and the homestead law. It has been our boast that
here every one who wished it could have a farm. We have had full
liberty of speech and of the press. We have not merely common
schools, but high schools and universities, open to all who may
choose to attend. Yet here the same social difficulties apparent on
the other side of the Atlantic are beginning to appear. It is already
clear that our democracy is a vain pretense, our make-believe of
equality a sham and a fraud.
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