Jesse Halsey | Thanksgiving 1936
It is a good old New England custom that comes with Thanksgiving to take stock, to consider the assets and liabilities of our social and national life and at the same time that we express gratitude for our privileges to assume the new obligations that entail upon us.
One of the most remarkable things on the world horizon to my notion is the recent election. I am not thinking of the outcome of the election but rather of the process itself. Fifty million people voting for a population of one hundred and twenty million registered their choices without let or hindrance in a peaceful fashion, and this after a campaign marked with considerable heat and vehemence. Nowhere the country over was police or military interference needed. The Republic can take pride in this achievement. Look at Spain, Germany, Italy, or Russia by way of contrast if you need to heighten the impression.
There are recurring waves of popular prejudice that seem to sweep across the public mind at different times. Twenty years ago the railroads were under fire due to a real or supposed attitude on their part expressed in classic form by Commodore Vanderbilt in his reference to the public. More lately, it is the public utilities due to abuse of privilege. Since the Depression, economists and bankers have come in for their share of criticisms—just and unjust. The engineer has had his day both in public favor and out of it. Lately, there has been a new distrust of the scholar. Periodically, the clergyman comes in for his share of current disapproval, either he is too much interested in public affairs and is too practical, or else he is too “other worldly.” There are some who think that our pioneer traditions make great masses of the population resentful of the higher education. This I very much doubt, but at any rate, we are divided into all sorts of groups with differing interests. It is a marvelous thing to me that we manage to get on together so well as we do.
At this Thanksgiving season every right-minded American citizen ought to “highly resolve” as in the presence of his God, that he individually will do all that he can to heal the wounds of the body politic, that no prejudiced word of criticism will escape his lips, that he will be not only tolerant of but generous toward men and women of other faiths and conditions.
The only way that our ship of State can come successfully on her voyage between the Scylla and Charybdis of Fascism and Bolshevism is for all our people, committed to the great ideals of our common heritage, to compose their internal and minor differences with common sense and mutual trust; to put country above party, and faith in God above our denominational differences.