Publication information
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Source: Inlander
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “An Ideal American”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 12
Issue number: 1
Pagination: 31-32

“An Ideal American.” Inlander Oct. 1901 v12n1: pp. 31-32.
full text
William McKinley (death: personal response); William McKinley (personal character); society (criticism).
Named persons
William McKinley.
Full title of source: The Inlander: A Literary Magazine by the Students of Michigan University.


An Ideal American

     The death of a President of the United States at a time of unparalleled material prosperity, has caused men whose minds were being engrossed in the pursuit of wealth to pause in admiration of the noble qualities manifested in the life of an ideal American. In the contented contemplation of satisfactory balances and commercial reports, the nation had almost forgotten that value could be expressed in other units than the dollar. With the luxuries that wealth brought had come [31][32] a feeling of indifference towards the manly virtues. Cultured and widely-traveled Americans were beginning to forget the homely virtues in a shallow and too tolerant cosmopolitan spirit. Perhaps nothing but the President’s untimely death could have turned the nation from its materialistic tendencies to a contemplation of the beautiful in character.
     On every hand the late President’s successful career is ascribed, not to favoring circumstances, college training or intellectual attainments, but to his purity and devotion in private life, and his faithfulness in public office. President McKinley was not a college man. In fact, our greatest presidents, those whom we are proud to regard as typical Americans, were not college men. Whatever importance we may attach to education—and its importance is usually exaggerated by college men—it of itself contributes but a small part to the making of the man. It is apt to develop the intellect, paying less attention to the cultivation of the manly virtues. In fact, through the contact which it affords with the varying ideals of different peoples and times, it tends toward a shallow tolerance which forgets the virtues which must be cherished in the citizens of the republic. The presence of American students in foreign universities and the presence here of a large number of men trained in the traditions of foreign schools, is leading to the introduction into our universities of new ideals of college life. Whether these ideals are worthy is doubtful; certain it is that they are not suited to develop the class of men in our colleges upon which American society must depend. For every American student is a citizen, and unless college tends to develop a high class of citizenship it fails in its duty to the country. While admiring the character of our late President, we may well ask ourselves whether there may not be ground for the fears recently expressed by another distinguished American, that university students are apt to forget the qualities which made McKinley the first American of his day.



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