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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

FUTURE OF NATION IS IN HANDS OF LEGION SAYS THOMAS N. PAGE

DECLARES HARVARD'S HISTORY HAS BEEN A GLORIOUS ONE

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Departing freely from his chosen subject, "The Relation of Idealism to the Phi Beta Kappa Society and of that Society to American Life," the Honorable Thomas Nelson Page, former American ambassador to Great Britain, at the annual literary exercises of the society in Sanders Theatre yesterday, outlined the struggle in this country between idealism and commercialism, stressed the revolution through which the world is passing, and placed his confidence for the future in the American Legion. Citing famous examples of the practical lifted into the sphere of idealism. Mr. Page began with the early history of the United States, of Virginia and of the Plymouth colony, showing the importance of religion in the colonial days, and commenting on history:

"It was the recognition of the principles of religion, of patriotism, of idealism which formed the character of those who founded both Virginia and Massachusetts to which we owe the best that we have, the best that we are, the best that we can be today. I only purpose to give a brief outline of our history. To write history as it should be written demands of the historian breadth of mind and passion for truth, scholarship, idealism and infinite patience. Also an independence of mind bent on truth."

Sketching the writing of history in this country, Mr. Page divided it into three periods, one, covering the early history through the Revolution, honest and earnest; the second, more and more divergent and polemical, as different factions arose in the nation; and the last, a return to the earlier method of truth first, and a wider horizon.

Harvard Glory of Commonwealth

"One of the chief glories of the old Commonwealth of Massachusetts is this ancient college of Harvard, which from a small beginning as it were a mustard seed, has grown until it has become one of the greatest of all plants. In all the honored record of this country there is nothing more honorable than the history of this institution. As in Virginia, so in Massachusetts, the college was indeed the inspiration and nurse of idealism. Take the signers of the Declaration of Independence from Massachusetts--all five were graduates of Harvard.

"Let us take another period of our national life--that which came down to the Civil War. You will find volumes--libraries of dissension touching its causes and development. The cannon shot at Sumter blew away all but the idealism. It was after that high exhibition of idealism in our Civil War that those who saw in it only a war of rebellion saw also an opportunity for the exploitation of the commercial advantages offered by the succeeding conditions. Small wonder that other nations became established in their conviction that we were a commercial and soulless people worshipping the dollar and given over wholly to the material! But then came the War, and the call to the idealism of the American people, and the instant response.

At the Parting of the Ways

"And now we stand once more at the parting of the ways. We are as much in the midst of the deluge as was Noah and his family when the first rain ceased to fall and the waters to rise. We are passing through the greatest revolution that the world has ever known. We have to deal with a new world. Are we to lapse back into commercialism or are we to follow the light of idealism?

"A profound cause for solicitude lies in the position being assumed by the new soldier's organization known as the Legion. In a way, the color of the thought of our people lies in the hands of this organization and even the fate of the country may be said to do so for the next generation. Including the great body of our young men, it is the incarnation of the patriotism and the power of idealism and realism of the American people."

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