Primer for America

Primer for America

Primer for America

Primer for America

Excerpt

I was sitting in the exact center of the population of this country, in the Hoosier State. And I was also sitting in the middle of this War. Those two things sort of started me off, I guess. I began taking stock of America at large. I began reckoning up the things we have over here--besides the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, of course--worth saving. Our "way of life." It's different from Europe's. It always has been. For twenty years smart intellectuals have been debunking us and running America down as a place without soul, distinction, or folk lore, when, all the time, we had colors on us like a young rainbow and about the richest mythology that ever sprang from men with dirt on their hands from planting seeds in the wilderness. Call the roll! The demigods with one foot on a ship or in a corn-patch and the other on the rising sun are thick as our lightning-bugs: Henry Hudson, Ponce de Leon, De Soto, John Smith, Raleigh, Champlain, Johnny Appleseed, Wayne, Putnam, Stark, Greene, Molly Pitcher, Franklin, Dan'l Boone, Davy Crockett, Mike Fink, Sam Houston, Dan'l Webster, Abe Lincoln, Kit Carson, Custer, Bill Nye, Paul Bunyan, John Henry, Carrie Nation, Barnum, and Buffalo Bill!

What do we have that is uniquely ours, for keeps?--God's plenty! Cut-plug, for one thing. Boys' jack-knives, for another. Saturday baked beans, the Saturday night bath. Overalls, for instance, the universal American uniform, North, South, East, West. No boys in the world have ever made living in the water so much of a religion as our boys have. We used to name our sons out of the Old Testament, and we still do name them out of the White House. There's the red-brick schoolhouse. There are my family whales, which fed the lamps of America. There was my father, a pioneer Down East when most pioneers had gone west of the Sierras. There's the belly-shaking American laughter, for one thing more. Yes, and the New World thunderhead. There are the ears of our American corn. There are our Negroes, children in civilization, living on song. There are our bonfires of religion--Mormonism and teetotalism. Our lust for lectures and culture. Our weather, which keys . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.