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reform, whose Evangel is destruction, whose battle-cries are curses?
But if the country east of the Alleghanies fails to give satisfactory answer to this question, then go and receive it in the cabins of the West. See the glorious structure of a Christian civilisation rising upon the soil of the prairie land, and take it as an attestation of what the old preachers did for the cause of human progress. Although they were not the only labourers, without them it never could have been reared.
Have you seen that valley world in its wild luxuriance and glory, with its mountain barriers at east and west, standing as sentinels to guard it from unlawful approach, with its chain of gigantic lakes upon the north, whose wedded waves lift up their nuptial salutation to the ocean in Niagara's roar, and on the south, a tropic sea to wash its coast, traversed from north to south by a river unmatched among the streams of earth, sweeping as a royal conqueror along, receiving tribute from many a far province and distant empire? Have you seen it with its illimitable reaches of corn and cotton as they ripen to fill the mouths of the world, and keep its back from nakedness? Have you seen its inexhaustible mines of coal, iron, lead, and copper; its quarries of marble and fields of sugar? Have you seen the husbandman leading the merchant, the capitalist, and the manufacturer by the hand, bidding them possess this rich domain, and enjoy it?
Upon a noble bluff of the Ohio river did the dreamer, John Fitch, first behold the vision of steam applied to navigation. Here is the prophecy of the seer receiving its amplest fulfilment. Here is that mightiest vassal of man's mechanical genius working its sublimest results.
Here are fourteen sovereign States, with populous and
THE PIONEER'S WORK.
thriving cities, almost the product of Aladdin's Lamp, with busy hordes of growing millions, with steamboats, railroads, magazines, and warehouses unnumbered, with mineral, agricultural, and commercial wealth beyond our power to estimate.
Here is society starting on a higher plane than it has ever travelled, and man girding himself for a grander task than he has ever wrought. Woman, at home almost for the first time, the sacredness of her nature ensured by the sanctity of her position, infancy at play, childhood at school, all alike greeted by the hallowed beam of the Sabbath; and all invited to the porch and altar of prayer. These attest the glory of the land; these promise what its future shall be.
Fifteen years ago, I stood in the village of Chicago. It was a miserable, "sunken" hamlet. Ten years ago, I was there again. It had grown, yet was anything but a promising place. Six months ago, I was there again. I found a city of a hundred thousand inhabitants. Hackmen and omnibus-drivers, rascally even as New York can boast; hotels so crowded, that beds covered the floors of the parlours and all spare rooms; landlords as impudent and insulting as prosperity and vulgarity could make them; houses as pretentious in appearance, and snobbish in furniture, as any in Fifth Avenue; a population gone mad with money. I found a city which was a depôt for thirty railroads, and yet that but three years ago had not a solitary line of iron bars entering it. I saw the greatest entrepôt for grain in the world. I saw clear-headed, great-hearted men working for the mental, social, moral, and spiritual elevation of the masses. I saw a theatre for heroic ambition and god-like attributes to exercise themselves, withal such as the world has seldom had.
I saw the State of Illinois, the adopted State of my
boyhood, the scene of my early ministry, its population doubling in five years, the value of its real estate doubled in two.
And now remember, that five-and-seventy years ago the whole region west of the Alleghanies was a wilderness, battled for and held, against the combined powers of the British government, the painted savages, and the wild beasts, by scarcely a hundred armed men of the American breed. As barbarity and fate thinned their ranks, recruits were gained. Tears, blows, privations, hardships, toil, and blood, did these men pay down as the ransom for this goodly heritage. The land is ours in virtue of the price. We and the future owe the noblest domain upon which the sun now shines, to the valour, the patience, the fortitude, the zeal, and Christian love of the heroes of the rifle, axe, and saddlebags.