President Grant's Philadelphia Speech
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Opening the Centennial Exhibition.
—On May 10, 1876, he formally opened the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia with the following speech:
My Countrymen,—It has been thought appropriate, upon this centennial occasion, to bring together in Philadelphia, for popular inspection, specimens of our attainments in the industrial and fine arts, and in literature, science, and philosophy, as well as in the great business of agriculture and of commerce.
That we may the more thoroughly appreciate the excellences and deficiencies of our achievements, and also give emphatic expression to our earnest desire to cultivate the friendship of our fellow-members of this great family of nations, the enlightened agricultural, commercial, and manufacturing people of the world have been invited to send hither corresponding specimens of their skill to exhibit on equal terms in friendly competition with our own. To this invitation they have generously responded; for so doing we tender them our hearty thanks.
The beauty and utility of the contributions will this day be submitted to your inspection by the managers of this exhibition. We are glad to know that a view of specimens of the skill of all nations will afford you unalloyed pleasure, as well as yield to you a valuable practical knowledge of so many of the remarkable results of the wonderful skill existing in enlightened communities.
One hundred years ago our country was new
and but partially settled. Our necessities have compelled us to chiefly
expend our means and time in felling forests, subduing prairies,
building dwellings, factories, ships, docks, warehouses, roads, canals,
machinery, etc., etc. Most of our schools, churches, libraries, and
asylums have been established within a hundred years. Burdened by these
great primal works of necessity, which could not be delayed, we yet have
done what this exhibition will show, in the direction of rivalling older
and more advanced nations in law, medicine, and theology; in science,
literature, philosophy and the fine arts. While proud of what we have
done, we regret that we have not done more. Our achievements have been
great enough however, to make it easy for our people to acknowledge
superior merit wherever found.
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