Excerpts from

American Superiority at the World's Fair

American Superiority at the World's Fair serves as a kind of "scrapbook" commemorating America's participation in the Crystal Palace Exposition held in London in 1851. The book reprints accounts of the fair published by both English and American newspapers; it also transcribes speeches delivered at dinners and awards ceremonies held in conjunction with the exposition.

Americans initially felt embarrassed by the fact that only a few exhibits were sent to represent our nation. However, the success of those entries eventually produced a groundswell of national pride.

In the excerpts below, you will be able to find ample evidence of the spirit of rivalry which animated America's relationship with England, as well as of the complex attitudes Americans felt towards their mechanical triumphs.


The Colt Rifle

The London Times

American Barbarism 

The Artificial Leg

The London Times

American Ingenuity 

The Plow

The Working Farmer

American Utility

A Racing Victory

Dinner Speeches:

American Mechanic 

American Medals

Awards Speeches:

American Civilization 


From the London Times of Monday, June 9, 1851 

Crossing now to the south side of the building, let our Lancashire visitors look round the walls, dedicated to the produce of Vermont and Massachusetts. It is not much, to be sure, that they will see, but if the Americans have failed to display their manufactures, they at least exhibit themselves. Velut in speculum should be the motto of the compartment, for so numerous and life-like are the daguerreotypes, that we could gaze upon the "United States worthies" as effectually s if we had got them within the reach of Rosse's telescope. Here, then, first praying our friends to recall what they have been told about the British army and its officers, its aristocrats, its finery, as compared with the Quaker-like economy of the States, we desire them to remark that every third "worthy" is a soldier, and not only a soldier, but an officer, and not only an officer, but a general. Moreover they are all in uniform, with very big epaulettes, and if there is any truth in Physiognomy, they really "mean fighting."

If the Manchester and Liverpool visitor has still any lingering doubts respecting the reality of this martial spirit, let him go over to the stall furnished by Col. Colt for the benefit of our fancy fair. He will find the attendant particularly communicative and easy; naturally proud of his remarkable country and his distinguished employer, and ready with every information respecting the new spinning jenny, which is to work a revolution in war. The most popular and famous invention of American industry, is a pistol which will kill eight times as quick as the weapon formerly in use. It has been reported upon by committees, and sanctioned by Congress, and so keen is the national appreciation of this great discovery, that the Republican Government of Washington does not hesitate to pay about three times as much for cavalry pistols as England pays for infantry muskets.

All visitors of the Great Exhibition must have remarked a kind of oasis in the desolate prairie appropriated to the reception of the numerous consignments expected from the United States. However profound may be the adjacent solitudes, here, at least, a knot of enterprising travellers may always be seen gathered around a kind of military trophy which is affixed to the northern side of the nave. This grim display consists of numerous pistols of sufficient dimensions, symmetrically arranged in rows against the wall, or in cases upon a small counter, and constitutes the most important contribution of our Transatlantic friends to the Exhibition of the Industry of all nations. Have you a difference of opinion with a rival legislator? Would you clear your path of a troublesome competitor in the walks of art or literature?--Is it necessary to give a draft at sight for losses incurred at the gambling table?--Would you transfer your talents to the "diggins," and secure your profits against the impure rapacity of your contemporaries? Would you enroll your name among the pioneers of civilization in Texas, or join Sir Harry Smith at the Cape?- here are the means of gratifying all your desires and carrying all your enterprises to a successful issue. You stand before the counter of the American Jenner. Here you may make yourself acquainted with the new method of vaccination, as performed by the practitioners of the Far West, upon the rude tribes who yet incumber the wilderness with their presence. This, in a word, is the stand of Samuel Colt, the inventor of the six barrelled revolving pistol, an arm which in all probability will supersede the fire-arms at present carried by the cavalry of every military power, and which, by the extension of the invention, might be made equally applicable to the efficiency of the foot service. The weapon is of the simplest kind, although it is clear enough that a vast amount of pains must have been bestowed upon the attainment of what seems to be a very simple result. Two kinds of pistols have been invented by Mr. Colt--the one he terms a "holster," the other a "belt" pistol. The weight of the first is 4lb. 4 oz.; of the second, 2lb. 6oz. The arm in either case consists of a revolving cylinder, containing six charges, and one barrel.

pp. 64-65

The London Times of Sept. 19, 1851, speaks of it [Palmer's Artificial Leg] in the strongest terms, as follows:

We have to introduce to the notice of the public another triumph of American ingenuity included in that department o the Exhibition, but which in some way or other has hitherto escaped observation. The marquis of Anglesey will hear with a feeling of satisfaction, that if our cousins beat us in yacht-building, they are equally pre-eminent in the manufacture of artificial legs. In the latter branch of industry their superiority will not be grudged, and they really owe society some act of reparation for having introduced among us Colt's revolvers. The artificial leg patented by Mr. Palmer, is, in its way, a most admirable, ingenious, and philanthropic contrivance, and its invention is so remarkably characteristic of the country from whence it comes, that we cannot resist the temptation of inviting attention to it. The patentee, in some way or other, lost his leg, and, having tried the best substitutes hitherto devised for such a case, like a true American, he set himself to think whether he could not improve upon them. His study of the subject was crowned with the most striking success, and he exemplifies that success in his own person by walking about almost without any perceptible lameneness, and with an apparent ease and comfort which are truly surprising. p. 123


From the Working Farmer.


After the remarks of Professor Johnston's at Durham, in relation to our farming implements, it is rather cheering to learn that an American plow has taken the first premium. From the following extract of a letter sent us by the agent of Messrs. Prouty & Mears, at New York, it will be seen that their plow received the first premium.

We have been continually mortified at finding Americans attending the Great Exhibition, so bedazzled with the renowned Palais Royal shop windows, as to overlook the true merits of the American Department, and now, after all the abuse heaped upon us, we find that Ericson's Caloric Engine, Colt's Pistols, and Prouty & Mears' Plows, form the leading features among the new inventions. The Tubular Bridge so much extolled in the English papers, cuts but a sorry figure along-side the models of the American Bridges, none of which, like the Tubular Bridge, contain the elements of their own destruction. This bridge, so much extolled, is now actually being roofed over to prevent its being torn apart by the continuous expansion and contraction from the difference between the sun's heat at mid-day and at midnight; indeed, the cold current of air passing continually underneath, with the sun's direct heat on the upper side, cannot but cause every rivet to be abraded by the continuous expansion and contraction of the iron plates, and nothing but roofing to produce a more equable temperature, can save the bridge from self- destruction in a few years. We claim for Brother Jonathan only what he deserves, and that is, an aptitude for mechanical invention equal to that of any other country, and at the same time we freely admit that the shop windows of Broadway do not contain so great a display of extravagant luxuries as those of Paris and London, and hence in the mere ornamental portions o the Exhibition, w do not astonish the gaping crowd as much as some other nations. p. 103

An excerpt from the account of a dinner held in January 1852 in honor of "Mr. George Steers, constructor of the yacht America, that 'whipped' every thing of British mould in their own waters."

The race Steers won was held in conjunction with the Crystal Palace Exhibition in England.

As soon as the company were shown from the ante-room into the dining hall,

Mr. George Law said,--Gentlemen, I am happy to see that such an interest has been taken in a matter of so much importance to the country. The present century is one to which the peculiar excellence of naval architecture owes its fame. It has grown with the growth of the country- -all that has been so deserving of our pride, and which we have so much reason to admire, belongs to the present century. As our nation got strength, this branch of mechanical pursuits grew to its present state of practical superiority. During our struggle for independence, it is well known that the facility for bringing the means from England, which h was desirous of // trampling upon us, were but frail and imperfect; and through these imperfections on her part, we were enabled to develop our resources--we were enabled to contend with their power, and to push our conquests till our liberty was gained. Gentlemen, we owe to the mechanics a debt of gratitude--we owe to them much of that commercial greatness as a nation, which we now enjoy; for without that skill in constructing the ships in which our commerce is distributed throughout the world, we should indeed know but little of our present greatness which we now enjoy in that particular pursuit. When the World's Fair was announced--when that invitation went abroad--when very pursuit was invited to present there the fruits of its labor, and produce the results of skill and science; then it was that an occasion occurred for our mechanics in naval architecture to evince theirs; and the young man who had grown up with the growth of the upper part of our city, whose boyhood days were spent in the ship yard, where he gathered these lessons which were turned to such good account, while others probably were looking upon his attention as of no consequence--stood forward at that time. It might be well for us to look with respect and regard to those children who are now perhaps neglected, for in their minds the greatest results may yet spring up to our country. There are those standing beside me, who know well from his infancy Mr. George Steers. (Applause.) I know how his skill was acquired--it was from constructing boats, as well as from sailing, and from the practical skill which he thus acquired from both these combined. pp. 71-72






The company then sat down to dinner, and ample justice having been done to the viands,

The President gave the first toast as follows:--"The President of the United States--a name beloved by twenty-three millions of free people, and honored by uncounted millions, longing to enjoy with us the sacred and inestimable blessings--Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Free Suffrage--and all the rights of man to self-government." -- Music--"The President's March."

The toast was duly honored.

The next toast was--"The yacht America and her young designer-- her proud achievements attest his genius and entitle hi to a name, which like hers, speaks for itself." Music--"Star Spangled Banner."

Mr. Theodore E. Tomlinson replied on the part of Mr. Steers as follows:--Yes, gentlemen, "the yacht America and her young designer!" Mr. Steers, when only four years of age, came to this city--the central city of the Western World--and which is destined to be the commercial centre of all the world. His father was a shipwright--his brothers were shipwrights, so that his success was not the success attributable to chance. We need not look for its source in accident, fortune, or patronage- -it sprung from labor. He studied by nigh and dreamed by day of the "great ships which go down to the sear." When fifteen years of age, he asked his father if he might plan a boat; his father gave him his consent, and he planned a boat. Its name was Martin Van Buren, and it outstripped all its competitors. Again, he planned a row boat, and as he was moving in her over the waters, he came near the yacht of J.C. Stevens, who hailed and asked the name of his boat. HE answered and gave the name, and Mr. Stevens presented him with colors, and that rowboat won the prize. He built the Manhattan--and the Una, which, in all its races but one, won the prizes. He built the Wagstaff and the Moses H. Grinnell, and the greatest tribute to these boats is, that they were worthy of their names. (Applause.) His was the Cornelia and the Saint Mary, which did to the State so much service in the Mexican war. His too, was the Mary // Taylor, and when he built her a gentleman of the sea told him, in his discouragement, that he would be afraid to go out to sea in her; but this child of labor worked on at the craft and sent her out, and she left fear and fright behind her, and danced in triumph over the sea; and the Mary Taylor now challenges the world to compete with her for the mastery of the sea. I mention the fact to show the accomplishments of the man, and to repeat again that it is not like chance--that it is not accident which gives him a place in the nation's estimation, and I wish for him, and through him to speak to the young mechanic of the land, and tell him to work out his own destiny--to accomplish his own mission--for his destiny is in his own hands, and he is the architect of his own fortune. Is this not true in the moral as in the physical world? The hail stone--the single hail stone may break the shelter extended over the gentle plant, and the blast of the wind may chill it to death; but the tree which grows on the bare soil of the bleak mountain top will stretch out its embracing arms to wrestle with the storms. Let us pass to another scene--England, yes, Great Britain, whom I sometimes see through Ireland's wrongs and through Easter oppression, and whom I sometimes remember by the bloody track of my father's foot in revolutionary times--England, I say, with unerring sagacity, seeing the destiny of the day, proposed to build a crystal palace to labor, and invited the nations of the earth to send forth their workmen in rivalry with hers. It was natural, very natural, that the people of the United States--believing themselves equal to all the people on the face of the earth--should endeavor to hold up emulation with that nation which claims the trident of the seas. To this young mechanic--to this illiterate boy--the power and the pride of the nation applied. This gentleman on my right asked him if he could build a boat of 150- tons which could beat any boat in the world . . . and with the pride of a native American he said he could. (Renewed applause.) Then the strongest shipwrights and ship owners of our city came to him and said, "Do the work--do the work." Imagine the agony of this unlettered boy, who, like the great Kossuth held an empire in his brain; and he built a boat to beat the world. Out of the void he created something unknown to beat all things known--to beat the landsmen, and the sailors, and the captains and the admirals of the earth. It was a glorious yacht--a mighty task. The boat is launched--she has gone down to the sea. She goes to Havre, and there meets our American captains. God bless them, they are fit and worthy to uphold the flag which floats over them. They said to hi, "Stevens, we have not much credit at the great Fair; for God's sake, keep her strong and make her right; for if we are beaten, we are entirely done." Well, she goes to Cowes; there she meets seventy or eighty yachts, the pride of European labor, and the ornaments of the English aristocracy; but he glanced at them with the eye of a mechanic, and the consciousness of the strength and power of his own glorious craft. On the 21st of August, the cup of all nations was offered to be run for by every species of craft in the world. You will remember that this was the signal of the great contest between America and Great Britain. They are gone--God speed the gallant bark--the prayers, the hopes, and the pride of the great nation were concentrated in the noble craft,--better that she should go down to the depth of the sea than bring shame or defeat upon the nation. The Ambassador from our country was on board a steamer,--the Queen of England, the gentle Queen was at the Needles,--it is night--then comes up a sail, I see her walking; yes, waling in the waters, like a thing of lie,--bright eyes are cast upon the flag-- three cheers from the land--freemen man her--the victory is won--the name of the victorious craft is America, and her builder, (pointing to Mr. Steers,) stands here.

The next toast was--"The American Ship Builders--The proud specimens of their skill float upon every sea, and in the race for fame they distance all competitors, and bear away the prize." Music--"Yankee Doodle."

Mr. John Van Buren was called on by Mr. George Law, to respond . . . . He recollected that the march of England was over the mountain waves, and that her home was on the deep. He, therefore, thought it was a most hazardous experiment to contest the power with her in her own home. Never did such overwhelming joy fill his heart as upon that occasion, when he heard of the success of the little American craft in British waters. He felt that it reflected the highest credit upon the guest of the evening, and all concerned in the construction Passing on from this topic, he might be permitted to say that the result was a remarkable illustration of the high intelligence of the mechanics of the country, to whom is confided the national honor, and who are the source of our national weal;the. It was by nautical skill that we would obtain an influence in controlling the affairs of the world, and ruling the destinies of mankind. (Cheers.) It was a peculiar characteristic of the mechanic, that he relied upon his own exertions for success. He was not active in legislative efforts--he was not powerful on the stump, and, in that respect, their distinguishment was as good an illustration as they could have. The eloquence of the mechanics consisted not in what they said, but in what they did. They spoke by their works. He concluded by proposing--"The mechanics of New York--the foremost in war, the last to feel the benefit of its protection."

The next toast was--"The merchant and the mechanic--as each is necessary to the other's entire success, so may they glory in each other's triumphs and rewards." Music--"Life on the ocean wave."

Mr. Simeon Draper responded, and said he rejoiced to find merchants and mechanics mingled together on this occasion. They had always co- operated together for the advancement of the nation's glory; and the proudest feature of the American character, at hoe and abroad, was that they united in elevating the honor of the country. The merchants of New York honored the ship builders with a confidence attached to no other business under the sun, and this was long before the yacht America was built. There was no other mode of contract than this. When a merchant wanted a ship built, he sent for Brown or Simon, and said he wanted a ship built, of a certain tonnage and description. The price was fixed, and all this was done without a scrap of writing, which is more than could be carried out in any other department of life. (Applause.) HE concluded with the following toast--"The Boy of the Shipyard--May he live long, and be prosperous and happy, and still further press onward to advance the flag of his native land." (Applause.)

The Hutchinsons, who had been giving a concern overhead, here made their appearance, and sang "the Great and yankee Nation," and being encored, followed it up with "Three Crows in a Cornfield," to the great amusement of the audience.

The fifth regular toast was then given as follows:--"The Shipowners of the Commercial Emporium.--Their usual liberality has been shown in their generous contributions to George Steers, as a testimonial of respect to mechanical skill." Music--"The Light House."

Mr. HARRISON responded as follows:--When called upon to respond to the sentiment just uttered, I must own that I felt myself entirely inadequate; but wishing at this time, and in this place, to express my sentiments in regard to the subject that calls us here this evening, I decided to depart from my custom, and say a few words in honor of that distinguished mechanic who has done so much to confer honor on our country abroad. Yes, gentlemen, I can truly and emphatically say, that George Steers has not only elevated himself, but that his masterly skill in modelling and building the America has conferred honor on all; and as a merchant of New York, I take pleasure in tendering this testimonial of my appreciation of his talents. Mr. President, as I appear before you this evening as a merchant, perhaps it may not be improper for me to say that I, too, am a mechanic. Yes, gentlemen, at the age of thirteen, I was placed in a printing office in the town of Boston, where I served out my full time, and surely the apprenticeship should increase my regard for the mechanics of New York, so many of whom are present on this occasion, and for whom I entertain the most profound respect and regard. It is true, Mr. President, that the merchants of New York are entitled to the gratitude of the community for their enterprise, liberality, and public spirit; but, I ask, what should we be without the aid of the mechanic? Who is it that has modelled and built those splendid steamers and clipper ships, that are now exciting the admiration of the whole civilized world? As a merchant, I answer that question by saying, the mechanics of New York; yes, gentlemen, on the borders of the East river there is a class of men (mechanics though they were) who have conferred imperishable honor on our city; and, for one, I trust that the time will come (if it has not already arrived) when the names of Bell, Brown, Webb, Westervelt, and others, will stand before this community as they merit, and that we all shall own that it is to their skill and perseverance that the fame of our mercantile marine has been elevated above that of any other nation on the face of the earth.

The next toast was:--"The Constitution of the United States"--Like those who framed it, the mechanics and workmen of this city will hold good the pledge bequeathed them, and sacrifice their lives, if necessary, to keep that sacred pledge inviolate. Music--"The American Star."

Mr. THAYER, Public Administrators, responded, and in the course of his observations he said the Yankees went over the waves to look for Great Britain, whose home was said to be on the deep, but they could not find her at home. (Applause.)

Here a shindy was got up outside the door at the other end of the room, which attracted a large number of gentlemen, who ran out to see what it was. It turned out to be a fight between an Irishman, who was one of the attendants, and a policeman, who was fairly beaten. The negroes, both men and women, mixed in the contest, and there was a general melee. Peace being at length restored,

The seventh regular toast was given:--"The Pioneers of American Ocean Steam Navigation--may the broad stripes and bright stars ever shine to their protection." Music--"Hail Columbia."

Mr. GEORGE LAW responded--He adverted to the name of Henry Eckford on the wall, as the man who had constructed the American fleet on the lakes during the year 1812, and also to the name of Isaac Webb, as father of W. H. Webb, who had built more steamers and ships than any other man of the present age. Mr. L. then passed a eulogium on Mr. E.K. Collins, who, by days of toil, and nights of thought, had brought England within ten days of their shores. (Applause.) The smooth Pacific had done it in less than ten days. To the genius of the American // mechanic this was due. This genius was not exhausted, but the means to give it scope were exhausted. If it only got fair play it would exceed as much what it has already achieved as it now excels other nations. Canning, in reference to the war of 1812, said that it would not end till the blow the English navy received should be smothered in victory. But the war ended, and that day never came. The result of that war did more to break down the boasted superiority of England than all other nations of the globe. To whom was this due? To the mechanics, the navy officers, the sailors, and above all, to the liberty they were now enjoying. It was that liberty that raised up such men as their guest. They commenced ocean steam in 1845, and in 1851 they beat the English in every passage. This was the land of freedom, where no foreign officer could set his foot and dictate whom we shall receive or not receive. It is the home of the emigrant--the asylum of the exile. Here was the fulcrum on which rested the lever that would move the world. The boast that "Britannia rules the waves" was now idle--it was the last plank to which she clung--it was going from under her feet, and she would sink to rise no more. But their nation must give her generous support to the mechanics. If she did not, she would perhaps be beaten so far that she would never know day light again.

Mr. E. K. COLLINS said the little yacht America had done more to humble the pride of England than any thing else since the war of 1812. It was all very well to talk of intervention and non-intervention. He wanted our own country to take care of itself. Mr. Collins then adverted to the paucity of our vessels of war compared with those of France and England, and in allusion to the difficulties through which he had passed, said, Mr. Law would have acquitted himself with equal honor if he had been called upon to follow the same course.

The next toast was:--"The memory of Robert Fulton--whose genius first applied steam to practical navigation." Music--"Auld Lang Syne."

The last toast was:--"The Free Press--Beloved by the friends of liberty--dreaded by tyrants." Music--"America."

The company broke up about half past twelve o'clock. pp. 71-77

New York Agricultural Society and the World's Fair

The New York Agricultural Society, in reference to the triumphs achieved by our citizens at the World's Fair, gave a splendid example of the manner in which associated bodies should act on such occasions. It has been the custom, from time immemorial, among nations,--civilized, semi-civilized, and barbarous--to welcome home, by song and feast, and public gratulation, those among its members who returned from the battle-field crowned with victory. This excellent association, taking a judicious lesson from history and adapting it to the spirit of the age, met at the close of the Great Exhibition, and with flattering encomiums, hailed the return of their worthy members who had won distinction in the bloodless paths of peace, at that grand tournament of skill and industry. The subjoined account of their proceedings on that occasion, will be read with high interest.





GENTLEMEN--When the invitation from Britain's Queen reached our shores, to send the works of our ingenuity and industry for exhibition in London, and in competition with like works from other parts of the world, the first impression on my mind was adverse to the proposition. This impression originated probably from recollections of the state of art and science and the condition of society in that country, during a residence of several years. Aware, also, of the difficulties to be encountered, from the impractability of any well arranged system or unity of action among our several States, a faint hope only was indulged that we could return from the World's Fair either gratified or satisfied. Viewing the mighty effort, at this day--its termination and recorded awards--the wonderful display of art, of skill, and of labor--the question may be entertained, whether a preponderance of good or evil is to flow from the influence of the well intended undertaking. Honor and praise are justly due to Britain's Royal Prince, for the conception and accomplishment of the vast design; a design of benevolence and good will to the human race. It is yet too early for any decided benefits or advantages to be manifest; neither has time elapsed sufficient to develop the influences fondly entertained by many.

Two distinct characteristics seem to have stamped their features on the Industrial Exhibition. The one is UTILITY, displayed in objects designed to promote the sustenance, the comforts, and the happiness of man; the other is Ornament and Luxury, chiefly combined to stimulate and gratify the senses.

The first character Utility, was a distinctive feature in the productions contributed by the United Stars; while Luxurious Ornament highly distinguished the productions from Europe and from Asia.

If these distinctions are true, they are portentous as to the future;and we may well rejoice that our countrymen--that you, gentlemen, who are to receive an honorable distinction for talent devoted to Utility-- belong to, and are identified with the class of benefactors of the human race.
In all nations, there are persons who unhappily for themselves, disregard knowledge; who, having but little information, are content to live and labor under every disadvantage. They never rise above their fellows; for, as neither pleasure nor profit can be derived from them, thy are compelled to labor generally with strong application of physical force, but none of mind; they have no idea of the value of knowledge, and the paths it opens to honor and wealth. This remark occurs to me as I view this mass of Essex county ore. This ore has 70 per cent. of iron. It is the rich and valuable ore, taken from the mountain masses belonging to the "Adirondac Iron and Steel Company." I have somewhere met with an apt illustration of the deficiency of knowledge, and the benefits of its due application, as evidenced in the proprietors of the Adirondac Company. (The Results of Machinery.) Thus, the man who disregards knowledge "would deny stoutly the existence of a knife blade in this massive iron or; yet there it certainly is--there it lies, where no labor can draw it forth, in the present condition of this ore. Turn this mass, shape it as you will, it is neither knife nor steel, nor is it iron; it is but ore. Fashion this ore as you may, it will not cut as well as the shell of an oyster; it needs knowledge to separate the iron from the other matter; labor will not separate it more readily, than it will cause wheat to grow productively on a naked granite rock. We need to know that heat, intense heat alone, will separate the parts, and give us iron. Yet heat alone will not give up the knife blade; other substances must be added to the ore to allow the iron to run as a liquid, escaping from all impurities. Yet this iron will not give up the knife-blade; by other results of knowledge it (the iron) must become steel--steel of a peculiar property, and requiring niceties in the process which study and knowledge alone can give; it is from this steel the knife blade is derived. What an amount of thought, invention, and machinery is necessary to produce so simple a thing as a shilling knife! All the strength of all the men that ever lived, could never extract a knife blade from this mass of ore!" And when at last the knife blade is brought forth, it may be asked, with much concern, whether it is now worth the handle, seeing the cost, the wear and tear of mind, of body, and of time consumed in its production. This question is not to be solved, as is sometimes attempted, by speculative theory or forced expedients; the quantum demand, in fair, free, open competition, must decide it.

We are said to be a whittling nation; knife blades are therefore in demand. This pleasurable amusement, creating a demand for blades, has so sharpened our wits and extended our knowledge, that we now can reach the blade fitted for whittling, and blades for all cutting implements, with a comparative economy, securing to the maker a sufficient compensation. But whittling blades are luxuries, not necessaries of life, and the production may be pushed too far, like many other non-essential objects; or some clever neighbor may exceed us in knowledge, and apply a process whereby he can afford to supply blades, undermining our accustomed profits. This, however, is the result of competition; it arises from the natural, legitimate, and noble contest for the acquisition and application of knowledge, compelling us to keep pace with improvement, or to apply the share of knowledge we do possess, to such objects as from utility or ornament are in request, or to seek some other mode of life better suited to our talent.

As a farmer, these truths are always before me applicable to our calling, whether as to the making of knife blades or steam engines-- cotton goods or woolen fabrics. It is now quite apparent, that when my neighbor applies more knowledge to his soil than I do, he produces greater quantities of wheat or grass from an acre; and thus, wide awake, his profits increase, while mine may recede. So again, like the manufacturers, we may collectively produce more wheat than is demanded for a season, and the value falls below our accustomed prices and wishes; we cultivate less, and in a year find ourselves reinstated in profits; if not, we turn to other grains or other objects connected with the necessities of life, and never fail, in any series of years, to find all that our reasonable wishes may require. Repining or complaining is of no avail; any endeavor to interfere with the free action of near or distant neighbors, with a hope of forcing better results to our own mismanaged or ill-judged proceedings, is ungenerous, unjust, and unworthy--ever tending to enmity, to the benefit of the few, and the disadvantage of the many. These views naturally arise, when contemplating the successful organization of associations in our State, entering boldly into competition with the manufactures of other nations. It is a proud triumph for our industry and sagacity! Years of success have enriched our Eastern neighbors in various departments; nor are we behind our brethren in the application of industry, where circumstances demand its use, and capital finds a safe return by its investment. We have an illustration in the movement to produce steel, of unsurpassed excellence of qualities, from the mountains of iron ore within our borders. 132-134




***** [awarding of prizes]


Gentlemen--For many ages man depended ore on physical force, and less upon knowledge. They knew but little of the properties of matter or of the laws which govern motion. Industry was inculcated, force was encouraged, patience coveted, and, with these attributes, he effected his desires--desires necessarily restricted, and demanding much self-denial, because these attributes could never accomplish the frequent repetition of his wishes. In this, our day, knowledge excites to experiment, and art, springing from science, creates new wants; these wants, acting upon our inventive genius, give the means for supply; thus, like the reciprocating action of a perfect machine, the power and effect are in due proportion. Increasing or accumulating results are ever creating a necessity for power--for a greater supply to meet a greater demand.
If an opinion may be hazarded thus early as to the effects of the Industrial Exhibition, seen at this distance, it may not, as before intimated, be as favorable to the progress of man's happiness as has been fondly anticipated by many; because art ha been stimulated chiefly in the production of articles which minister to luxury, to ornament, and to the non-essentials of truth and virtue in a people; and excess of luxury has never failed to bring distress upon the earth, upon nations as well as individuals. The remark is true, that "as the mind is enlightened it becomes more dignified;" but, if the mind submit to the enervating influence of ease and luxury, its vigor fails--its powers become latent.

In connection with these observations, we may notice the character of nations, as displayed in their respective offerings at the World's Fair. True the highest effort of mind was there; the vigor of British intellect was conspicuous--European skill displayed the most surprising efforts of ingenuity--and Asiatic art secured the attention of admiring crowds. Our countrymen, in plain and simple forms, presented offerings whereby man should be sustained, and his every essential want gratified; while no unnecessary or enervating appetite or desire was kindled, or gratified. The unalloyed happiness of the human family seemed to be the aim of American effort--nearly all, possessing a magic influence, leading by their powers to wealth, fame, and honor. It may be said also that the offerings from the United States exhibited a combination of theory and practice, proving (with few exceptions) that science and experiment go hand in hand; repressing the bold presumption of mere enthusiasts, who would direct all things by their crude, abstract, and ill-digested notions.

As the "end of all science is to enrich human life with useful inventions and arts,"* [*Bacon] we have reason to rejoice in the skill of our fellow citizens, as recently displayed and rewarded in Great Britain; we have reason to rejoice in the elevation of mind derived from study, as well as from the practical operations of the factory or work shop we have reason to rejoice in the advance of knowledge in our happy and favored land. While thus rejoicing, let us not expose ourselves to the errors of self- sufficiency and arrogance; let us ever bear in mind that whatever talent we possess, whatever power or influence we wield, they are trusts committed to us--their number and importance being evidence of confidence reposed in the possessor, and of the high hopes and expectations looked for in return. We all have a duty to perform--one beyond our respective powers--for that duty is in proportion to the talent each may hold; to perform our respective duties, we have been commanded and most affectionately invited. If we neglect it, a rigid accountability awaits us; if we obey, who can recount the high reward of that obedience. p. 140-141






It must be within the recollection of many when a concert of musical instruments was rare; when song was only known by a simple ballad in sweet melody; when the attempt to execute a concerto was fatal to the character of the composer, whether it was Haydn, Mozart, or Rossini; the every attempt was barbarous, and the result was murderous The ill- proportioned harpsichord, no longer seen, the tinkling spinnett, or the imperfect, small square piano, were the instruments, with few exceptions, in the saloons of the wealthy, and in the parlors of those who aimed at the luxuries and refinements of life. They were costly luxuries; too costly to admit the application of perfected talent.

How changed our condition! Years have vanished like moments; for now, from the gilded halls of city wealth and rich refinement, to the wilderness where yet prowls the wolf, sweet sounds are heard; Europe's best talent and most gifted powers seek eagerly our shores, and find a welcome amid admiring millions--all conversant with song; many, very many, adepts in the science of sound and of harmony. In our cities, villages, and hamlets, all do honor alike to the precious gift. Again and again it has happened, as the Western traveller threaded his almost pathless track amid the forests--mile after mile adding weariness to fatigue--hour after hour, nay, whole days, wasting away without the cheer of a human voice--suddenly, when even Hope had become faint, he descried in the shadows of evening the dingy form of a rude log cabin; his ears were startled by well executed passages from pages of classic music, and the sweet cadences of perfect melody. From North to South, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the charms and delights of music are discoverable. p. 136

In all ages, man has been pleased with the bright or the strongly contrasted colored woods: the temple at Jerusalem was covered with cedar, the palaces of Europe are ornamented with strong-grained oak, the residences of our people are beautified with the maple, the walnut and the oak of our forests, as well as the mahogany, the sandal wood, the rosewood, and others of foreign climes.

A single instance of the value of wood, for man's pleasure, will not fail to obtain attention; I allude to the sale of three logs of mahogany, some years ago, to the Messrs. Broadwoods, of London. These logs were fifteen feet long, by three feet thick--to possess which, the Broadwoods paid the sum of three thousand pounds sterling, or about fifteen thousand dollars.

Well may the too rapid destruction of our forests demand more careful consideration, to arrest the seeming wanton destruction and waste of millions in amount of valuable property; the day is approaching when the waste of wood may be felt as a national concern. p. 137


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