Wyoming Statehood Celebration Speeches - C.D. Clark
The following is abridged and compiled from both the Cheyenne Daily Sun and Wyoming Commonwealth newspapers.
"And now came the orator of the day, the Hon. Clarence D. Clark, of Evanston, who was presented by Governor Warren, and made the following oration, which was listened to with marked attention and frequently applauded by the large audience," (Cheyenne Daily Sun July 24, 1890, p. 5 and Wyoming Commonwealth July 27, 1890, p. 8).
"It shall be no part of my duty today to attempt in any measure to fill the part of that eminent gentleman from our sister state who was to have addressed you and whose absence is most deplored by those who at other times have been almost entranced at the magic of his word. Such an attempt on my part would be not only the height of presumption, but could only result in chagrin to the speaker and disappointment to the hearer. In his absence, however, I am deeply sensible of the honor conferred knowing that it came, not because of any personal fitness, but bestowed perhaps as upon one who might be a representative however unworthy of that outlying portion of our state, that district whose strength does and shall consist, not in the production of orators and carpet knights, but in that union of muscle, energy and honest sense that shall contribute in the highest degree to the future prosperity, happiness and stability of the commonwealth whose establishment we celebrate today.
"It seems to me eminently proper that the admission of a people into the full rights and duties of citizens of a sovereign state of the great republic should be marked by exercises and ceremonies of a character to remind that people of their privileges and of their obligations; of their privileges in the present and of their opportunities and duties in the future. Such I take it is the object of the present celebration, making as a red letter day in the history of Wyoming that day whose dawning found her a mere ward of the Nation, but whose closing light left her sons and daughters erect in the full stature of American citizenship; that day whose rising sun brought the morning light to her people depending upon the lottery chance of political action for their prosperity, her public offices and trusts distributed without her consent expressed at the ballot and her material advancement often times retarded by the whims and caprices of a National administration. But a day whose setting sun threw its cheering and beautiful colors over a people secure in their future and filled with honest pride at being not only citizens of the finest and best government on the face of the earth, but citizens as well of a State whose fundamental law shows it to be the State granting the largest privileges to its people and having the greatest confidence in the integrity and intelligence of its citizens.
"It might perhaps be well and profitable to inquire a moment regarding the change that has come about. What are the privileges and opportunities and duties asked and received by Wyoming? What of the present and what of the future. We must be deeply impressed with the magnitude of the task before us all, we must be deeply impressed by the possibilities of the future. Shall we gain or lose by the transition of our people from a territorial form of government? To my mind there can be but one answer to that question, but within our borders to-day are found those of unquestioned ability and undoubted capacity, far-seeing men moved by no political considerations, who sincerely doubt the expediency of becoming a state; to such we say go somewhere and find the fountain of youth, in Wyoming it is to be found if anywhere, drink deep and renew your blood, pitch your tents to day among the living, get yourselves buoyancy and youth and vigor, put your shoulder to the wheel with that determination that brooks no denial and within the next decade your eyes will be gladdened and your hearts cheered by such material advancement and prosperity among this people as a quarter of a century of territorial conditions could not bring.
"The privileges and rights that we have gained are those to the accomplishment of which the American patriots of a hundred years ago pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Politically and in a truer sense than ever we are become a component part of that nation which in peace and war has shown to the world the true merit and stability of a government based alone on the will and consent of the governed. The people of Wyoming with no uncertain voice have gone further in the theory of equality in all political matters than has been before attempted; they have gone into this union of state with a full determination to make practical test of the theory that all are created equal. They have made essentially a new departure and have made worth alone and neither sex nor other condition the test of citizenship. Since the earliest poet woman has been the theme of minstrelsy and her perfections have been sung under every sky and in every tongue, but wonderful to us, our infant state, the only true republic has been the first to say that citizenship shall mean the practical recognition of her intelligence and that our mothers, wives and sweethearts shall share with us in equal part the benefits to be derived from citizenship.
Every step taken in the direction of personal and national honor and integrity is a step toward the perpetuity of our institutions, and just as true is it that every relaxation from the strict code of personal and national morality is a step in the direction of the ultimate failure of our republic. As Americans indeed we have reason to congratulate ourselves and our country on past success, but let us not shut our eyes to the fact that in our greatest security may lie our greatest danger. It has often been said that fancied security has always within it the seeds of dissolusion; that we must not be over confident. A hundred years is but the measure of the infancy of a nation, and our republic is as yet but little more than an experiment. There is no danger from external violence, but I firmly believe that there is danger from internal dissensions, from individual and national corruption, and from a lax code of morals, both public and private.
"The duty we owe to our new state then is plain, we must make good citizens of ourselves and above all look to the education of those who are to follow after us. We can hear the sound of the coming feet, the hundreds of thousands who are to be the directing power of this great commonwealth must be given the means of becoming thoroughly impressed with the beneficence of our state government, and with that patriotism so essential to the maintenance of free republican institutions. There may be a tendency to consider patriotism a mere sentiment and something intangible that must not interfere with the reality of our active business life, but if it be a sentiment it is one that has controlled men from the foundation of our government, it is a sentiment that has found its reality in half a million patriot graves and in the bleeding hearts and desolated homes of a whole nation, a sentiment for which no sacrifice has been too great and no privation too dear.
"Let our children then be impressed and inspired with the love of state and love of country; let them feel that they are parts of this great nation and sovereigns therein; may they feel that they stand in the light of her great names and that the lustre is reflected upon them that the future of this land depends in part upon their integrity and virtue, and with these teachings broadened and deepened year by year there will be no danger from the future, and thus shall survive and be perpetuated the state and the nation. 'Strong in the hearts and love of its people, with its foundations laid broad and deep in the principles of eternal justice and equal rights, it shall survive all the storms of the years, and rising in strength and beauty and hope prove to the world the durability of institutions growing out of the reason and affection of the people.'"