It is, therefore, perhaps only natural that I should be proud of the part my State has had in the creation and building of this Nation and that I should find in its history a source of never-ending inspiration and interest.
Yet it would be difficult to discuss, even briefly, any phase of American history, and particularly that part which has to do with the foundation and growth of the Nation, without, at the outset, recognizing the contributions of Virginia and Massachusetts to this process. The distinguished rôles assumed and almost continuously sustained by these great commonwealths form a golden thread of achievement in the solid fabric of our country's history. The beginnings of these colonies were the beginnings of America. Within a few miles of this spot the first settlers landed. In Massachusetts, the movement for independence found its wisest leadership and came to its fullest fruition.
Notwithstanding a popular belief that Virginia and Massachusetts are and always have been among the most conservative states of the Union, I feel that they are among the most wisely progressive. I like to think of them as inhabited by a happy race of frontiersmen, ever restless, ever moving forward and blazing new trails in the wilderness of social and political problems which are inseparable from the birth and growth of a nation. Their campfires are the outposts of American progress and civilization and their spiritual trails of yesterday are today a part of the common heritage and tradition of our race.
There is surprisingly little of the spectacular, or even dramatic, in the story of North Carolina's contribution to the national life. Its most significant and enduring achievements have been arrived at through well-considered coöperation in the promotion, or restraint, of general movements, and its glory consists in the fidelity with which it has adhered to the ideal of a free and independent nation of self-governing states.