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United States - Expo Liege 1905

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There are two souls of people who are most opposed by the violence of their contrasts, the flagrant antithesis of their differences, the marked personality of their characters, and yet who keep in their depths the same proud faith, the same exaltation of vanity, the same confidence in themselves.

It is the Japanese soul, complicated, hermetic, impenetrable, inexplicable, it is the American soul, clean, sharp, expeditious and frank.

The psychology of the latter is readily available, and Mr. Roosevelt analysed and exposed it in a speech to the Hamilton Club in Chicago on April 10, 1899, on "The Intense Life". We admire the man who embodies the victorious effort, the man who never harms his fellow man, who has the manly qualities necessary to win.
We admire the man who embodies the victorious effort, the man who never harms his fellow man, who has the manly qualities necessary to prevail in the severe struggle of life today.

It is hard to fail, but it is worse to have never tried to succeed. In this life we get nowhere except by effort. To be free from effort in the present simply means that there has been effort amassed in the past.

A man can only be freed from the necessity of working by the mere fact that he or his fathers have worked before him with fruit. If the freedom thus acquired is well used and if the man still does present work, though of a different kind, he shows that he deserves his good fortune. But if he treats this period of freedom from the necessity of present labour as a period not of preparation, but of mere enjoyment, he shows that he is merely an encumbrance on the face of the earth, and he surely renders himself incapable of taking his place among his fellows, should the need to do so arise again.

A mere life of ease is not in the end a truly satisfying life and, above all, it is a life which ultimately renders those who lead it incapable of serious work in the world.

As on a dissecting table, the American soul spreads out its patterns and motives, its desires and reasons, its wills and hopes, as we see it again in Mr. Carnegie's "Democracy Triumphant".

Here, we hardly find it, we have to look for it, run after it, almost dig it out from under the mailings which, if not American, could be English. It's a question of playing with labels.

It huddles at the back of the halls, hidden by a jumble of displays. It is the museum organised by the American Institute of Social Service, where the facts and experiences of social improvement are accumulated, where the laws of labour are recorded. It is a centre of research and investigation and a distributor of the results obtained.

Many have passed by this cellar, suspecting it a little, perhaps ignoring it, without suspecting that the economic and social life of the United States was there, locked up in these cupboards which are rarely opened, in these compartments which are hardly opened. There are notes, charts, panels, photographs, which constitute the formidable record of a nation that draws from the individual initiative of its citizens the elements of a unique
of its citizens the elements of an incomparable moral and material development.

American factories make it a point of honour to work for the upliftment of the working class, they establish pleasure rooms, meeting houses, bathing-houses, create classes of all kinds, greatly improve everything that brings a little comfort, joy, health and safety into life, endeavouring to raise man above his condition by teaching him to govern and improve himself. The Heinze Food Factory, Pittsburg, the establishment of the National Cash Register Company, and so many others are giving beneficial lessons to old Europe.
lessons to old Europe.

The religious sects which are there free and independent, free from all State influence, are co-operating with all their strength in this movement. They are spreading their variety of practical institutions over the American territory, calling towards them the multitude of believers because they know that they are condemned to death if they do not succeed in retaining their faithful within the framework of an effective protection made up of all the works of charity and law which ensure, defend and soften
human life, a miserable wreck that misfortune and pain toss and tear.

Have we mocked, ridiculed and ridiculed enough this Salvation Army that landed one day in Europe, pursuing its mission of proselytism? Have we mocked cruelly enough those poor girls who, sacrificing their youth, wandered through the streets, clad in a blue dress without luxury, nor even coquetry, a petty pilgrim's coat thrown over their shoulders, their head imprisoned in that straw hat whose wings were flapped?
straw hat, the wings of which are folded over the face and secured by a cord of some sort tied devilishly under the chin.

Well, the Salvation Army is fighting interesting battles against misery. It has founded orphanages, old age and relief homes, employment offices and shelters in 52 cities.

Doesn't it make one's laughter suddenly freeze at this simple enumeration and feel punished with some remorse to think of our thoughtless cruelty, our impudent slander with the bad excuse that we didn't know.

Our age is merciless," said La Fontaine. And this trait more than any other reveals to us an America that we hardly know, that passers-by or travellers believe they possess, because they have jumped from an ocean liner into a sleeping car and carried away in their memories the cinematographic views of a vibrant, ebullient, hectic people, thrown headlong into the whirlpool of business, fascinated by gain, hynoptized by figures, and that we judge them only in the impressions, however well taken, of a writer like Paul Bourget who gives us "Outre-Mer", of a reporter like Jules Huret who brings us his "From New York to New Orleans" from there.

It is not to be seen in that large squadron of counting and writing machines, etc, It is not to be seen in the large squadron of time-saving counting, writing and other machines, in the desks, pigeon-holes and filing cabinets so cleverly designed, in the beverages and bewildering drinks where all the alcoholic beverages are mixed together, in the tins of food which she endlessly churns out, in the spectacles and nose-clips whose excellence the merchants extol, it is to be sought in the social museum where she stands silent and valiant, where she generously pays the humanitarian tribute that her public fortune, which makes other nations' pale, owes exclusively to the constancy in energy, to the virility in effort, to the recklessness in initiative of a race that is constantly moving forward, resolutely, imperiously, rushing forward in pursuit of a goal whose proud ambition is always pushing back the limit.

©Livre d'Or de l'Exposition Universelle de Liège 1905