GERMAN DAY CELEBRATION
Address by Chari,es W. Fairbanks.
Qass F 5 35
Book . ^^ r?
CHARLES W. FAIRBANKS
GERMAN DAY CELEBRATION
Indianapolis, September 3, 1899.
WASHINGTON, D. C. :
Gibson Bros., Printers and BooKBiNDERb.
18 D '00
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen :
I wish in the first place to thank Captain Bieler and those
associated with him for the magnificent success of to-day.
I never have seen a celebration more perfect in all its
appointments. My profound congratulations are extended
to these gentlemen.
You do well to celebrate German Day — the day when the
first German emigrants landed on American soil. It was
an event of great historical significance ; of importance to
the emigrants themselves and of no less importance to the
country ; and while gratitude (which is among the sweetest
of human virtues) presides in our hearts, we should not
cease to remember or fittingly to commemorate it.
By celebrating it you do not thereby become less Ameri-
cans ; for as much as you love the German fatherland, you
nevertheless love the United States before and above all
else, and cherish her beneficent institutions.
This is indeed a fit occasion upon which to acknowledge
the supremacy of American institutions and proclaim anew
our undying pride and glory in American citizenship.
Great and splendid it is to be a German citizen, but greater
and still more splendid it is to be an American citizen.
No matter whether you are from Germany or from Ireland
or from England or from France ; no matter from what
country you may come, your proudest boast is that you are
an American citizen, and that you are enamoured of the
institutions of the great republic.
The celebration of this day serves to exalt our love for
America rather than to diminish it.
America ! The sublimest word in the human tongue !
What limitless opportunities are here. The way to place
and power is alike open to the lowest and the highest ; to
native and foreign-born alike. But one avenue of civic
distinction is closed to those of alien birth, and that is the
chief magistracy of the United States.
Who can measure the beneficent influence of those of
German blood in American life? No power short of
Omnipotence can do this. There are in the United States
eight million people who speak the German language.
More citizens here trace their lineage to German parentage
than the combined populations of the brave little republic
of Switzerland and the Netherlands, which had such
tremendous influence upon our institutions and political
ideas ; or than the total populations of Norway and Sweden,
whence have come some of our sturdiest and best citizens.
There are in New York city, that great commercial
metropolis of the Western continent, five hundred and
eighty thousand Germans, or nearly one-third as many
Germans as there are in the great capital of the German
empire ; and almost as many as there are, all told, in the
city of Hamburg.
The principal German emigration to the port of New
York occurred between 182 1 and July, 1899. During this
period of seventy-eight years, the number of arrivals was
5,010,880 souls. They came upon no temporary mission ;
they came with no divided allegiance ; they came to become
home builders ; they came to become republic builders.
They brought here their attachment to country ; their de-
votion to law ; their love of liberty, and their passion for
music. The historian cannot write the history of our
matchless and marvelous development and leave out the
sturdy immigrants from all countries, and more especially
from the German, the British, and the Scandinavian coun-
tries. Here upon this Western continent, the best blood
of the nations of the earth has met and fused into the
American citizen. The transmutation has challenged the
surprise and excited the admiration of the world. There
has been no blood richer or more welcome than that which
flows in German veins.
Who takes more pride in our country than those of Ger-
man birth who have given to it their allegiance? The
Germans naturally loved independence and liberty, and
came instinctively to love the flag. Thousands of the
flower of German youth came here after the revolution of
1848 in search of that liberty which was denied them in
the fatherland. Brave, intelligent, loving liberty as the
very air, they added to the great and honorable figures in
We have needed their plain, practical and conservative
habits. In business they have been laborious and indus-
trious ; they have succeeded in the face of great obstacles
and serious discouragements. They have educated their
children — it has been a part of the German creed to edu-
cate — herein lies the secret of their power. The German
policy has been to lay up something against the rainy day ;
to provide against old age and its inevitable infirmities.
The helpfulness of the Germans toward each other has
been one of the splendid lessons they have taught. Fidelity
is always an admirable trait. The fidelity of Germans
toward each other has been to me always one of their strik-
ing and admirable characteristics.
The Germans are found in every avenue of usefulness —
doing their full duty as loyal American citizens. They
have taken a conspicuous place at the bar ; they preside in
our courts of justice ; they participate in politics ; they
have contributed some of the foremost statesmen in the
history of the Government ; they fill chairs in our great
universities ; they occupy the pulpit ; they have increased
the power of the press ; they have added to our literature ;
they have helped to fell the forest and reclaim the waste
places ; they have been upon the frontier line of civiliza-
tion, and. in brief, they are found in every branch of in-
tellectual and commercial activity. Whenever the call to
arms has come, they have marched down to the battlefields
of the republic, and shown the world how patriots can do
We have been engaged in no war in which those of Ger-
man ancestry have not borne their full share of the burden.
They have never failed to respond to the first call to arms.
They won the gratitude of Washington and the country in
the war of the Revolution. Their spirit was personified by
the intrepid patriot, the young German minister, Peter G.
Muhlenberg, who exchanged the dress of his high and holy
calling for a colonel's uniform, and for his bravery became
a major-general in the Continental army. You have well
recalled his services to his country to-day. No monument
can be too imposing for him ; no tribute too lofty. And
there were Baron de Kalb and Baron von Steuben — whose
names will ever be gratefully remembered as among the
most illustrious of our Revolutionary heroes.
The war of 1812 witnessed the heroic allegiance of those
of German parentage. In 1846 they marched with our vic-
torious armies into Mexico.
The muster rolls of the civil war contain the names of a
mighty army of German extraction. About one hundred
and eighty-seven thousand offered their services to their
country in the field, and many of them gave the last full
measure of their devotion in support of the cause of the
Union in every heroic charge from Bull Run to Appomattox.
When the war with Spain came, there were no more
stalwart supporters of the Government than our German
fellovz-citizens. They knew that the issues of the war were
not party issues. They knew that the President had sought,
by every means consistent with the national honor, to effect
a peaceful settlement of the troubles in Cuba, and when noth-
ing was left but war, they offered their services. All of their
hopes, all of their prayers were for the triumph of our arms.
As one of the results of the war, our flag was carried into
the Philippines. It went upon no mission of vengeance
against the Filipinos. It v/ent to overthrow Spanish au-
thority, which had been maintained for upward of three
hundred years. Our flag went as the symbol of the power
and authority of the Government. It is there lawfully in
pursuance of the cession of the treaty of peace. The treaty
of peace was ratified by the Senate of the United States, after
full debate, after deliberate consideration, and by virtue of
its ratification and exchange the possession of the islands
passed to the jurisdiction of the United States.
While the treaty of peace was under consideration, and
before its ratification, Aguinaldo and his deluded followers
fired upon our soldiers, and undertook to drive them from
the islands. They fired upon the flag, which meant to them
deliverance from Spanish tyranny, all of which was in direct
and positive rebellion against the authority of the Govern-
ment. No course, therefore, was left open to the President
but to subdue the rebellion and compel recognition of the
authority and jurisdiction of the United States. This pre-
sents no party question. It is a question that is far above and
beyond party. It is purely and simply a question as to
whether or not the United States shall maintain its right and
supremacy in the territory which has been lawfully com-
mitted to its authority and keeping.
No one need have fear that the Government will not deal
justly and honorably with the Filipinos or that it will not
give to them the fullest and amplest measure of self-govern-
ment, consistent with their ability to enjoy it, and with
honor and the utmost good faith.
I think I correctly interpret the sentiments of our breth-
ren of German blood when I say that they are willing to sup-
port and uphold the Government of the United States in its
duty and determination to compel every one in revolt against
its authority to lay down his arms, and acknowledge the
sovereignty, the power and the justice of the great re-
Since the occurrence of the great events of the last few
months we have come to be recognized as one of the great
powers of the earth. We have international responsibilities
of vast moment. We have been moving forward in the
extension of our commerce with foreign countries in a
manner and to a degree unexcelled in all our past history.
It is, therefore, the part of wisdom, it is a part of good
business policy, to put it upon no higher ground, to culti-
vate cordial relations with all countries with which we are
engaged in commerce. Trade and traffic will be stimulated
between friendly powers much more readily and more to
the advantage of both, than is possible where friction and
enmity exist between them.
We have a large commerce with Germany, which good
relations will tend to promote ; but beyond this, and above
this, we are bound together by thousands of ties of kinship
and association which should stimulate relations of endur-
I have no sort of sympathy with those who for some
occult reason are attempting to foment discord between the
United States and the German empire. There is no reason
why these two great nations should not continue to exist
upon terms of amity. We should cultivate friendly rela-
tions not only with Germany, but with all the other great
powers of the earth. We can never forget — at least we
never should forget — that Frederick the Great was the first
to recognize the birth of the republic out of the throes of
the Revolution ; and that during the great civil war we
had little to encourage us among many of the European
powers, but Germany never ceased to manifest her belief
in the eternal justice, and her faith in the ultimate triumph
of our cause.
The Germans are usually found on the side of good gov-
ernment. They carry into the service of the state the
same wholesome, practical ideas of economy and loyalty to
trust which they practice in their domestic affairs. They
hold public officials to a high accountability, and this is
well. Official place is a trust of the highest moment, and
should be executed not for the exploitation of personal
selfish ends, or for personal aggrandizement, but for the
advancement and promotion of the interests of the entire
body politic, and for the glory of the state. Breach of
public trust should rank among the unpardonable sins.
An official who will win the public confidence and basely
betray it, is unworthy to enjoy the priceless boon of Amer-
ican citizenship, and should be whipped out of place and
We hear much in these latter days of the tendency toward
materialism. There is no doubt much foundation for this.
The Germans have taught us, perhaps, as much, or more,
than any one else, that there is much beyond that which
is essentially materialistic.
Though two hundred and sixteen years have passed since
the landing of the first German immigrants, our country is
but yet in its infancy ; its possibilities are yet unexplored ;
a sublime destiny lies before us. Let us inculcate prin-
ciples of justice and charity for each other, and an un-
quenchable love of liberty, if we would attain to the
highest possible progress.
I trust that we shall retire from the interesting and im-
pressive events of this holy day with a greater respect for
all our countrymen, a greater love for the republic, and
with a determination to preserve, unimpaired, its honor
An incident of the day was a serenade by Director
Ehrgott and the singing societies. Responding to the
compliment, Mr. Fairbanks said :
Gentlemen of the singing societies, I thank you from the
depths of a grateful heart for this splendid serenade ; was
there ever sweeter music ? I have wondered often why the
Almighty, in His infinite and beneficent providence, dow-
ered the Germans above all others with musical gifts —
with the passion of music. If I have no voice such as
yours, still I have an ear to hear and a heart to understand
your inspiring music. Again I thank you.