This anniversary animates and gladdens and unites all American hearts. On other days of the year we may be party men, indulging in controversies, more or less important to the public good; we may have likes and dislikes, and we may maintain our political differences, often with warm, and sometimes with angry feelings. But to-day we are Americans all; and all nothing but Americans.—Daniel Webster: Address on July 4, 1851.
The assumption is that the cure for the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.
—Jane Addams: Democracy and Social Ethics, 1902.
The readers of the Atlantic may remember that in the January number there was something said about the Cheerful and the Cheerless Reader. Under a harmless fiction which enabled him to speak as the Toastmaster of the Monthly dinner, the editor of the magazine commented upon some of the articles which were to make up the bill of fare for the ensuing year. And July is here already; the year is half over; and the monthly feasts have been duly spread. No doubt they might have been more skillfully served. The Atlantic's modest mahogany tree might have been garnished in a more costly manner. But there has been wholesome fare each month, and good company, and new voices to mingle pleasantly with the more familiar ones. Saying grace has nowadays gone somewhat out of fashion, but among the Atlantic's circle there has been at least a grateful disposition to return thanks. It is the Cheerful Reader who has been mainly in evidence since January. Perhaps the Cheerless Readers are suffering from writer's cramp.
Or are they grimly sharpening their pens for some future onslaught? At any rate they have kept strangely, perhaps ominously silent. It has been the turn of the gayer souls to be voluble. The Toastmaster has been assured that even the business communications to the magazine, such as renewals of subscriptions and directions for summer addresses, have frequently been signed "Yours Cheerfully." It is true that this access of gayety may prove to be but temporary. In that case there is some comfort in the shrewd advice of a seasoned man of letters, who writes to the editor: "My theory is that every periodical should contain in every number something to make somebody 'cuss.' It is certainly the next best thing to making them delighted." Very possibly that is just what the unlucky Toastmaster is now proceeding to do, in offering, by way of introduction to the contents of the present number, some considerations On Keeping the Fourth of July.