August 3, 1869

Exposition of Textile Fabrics

Pike’s Music Hall

Cincinnati, Ohio

The managers of this, the second Exposition of Textile Fabrics manufactured in the North-west, have assigned to me the very agreeable duty of offering a few words which shall speak, on behalf of the people of Ohio, a welcome to the citizens of other States, who, by their presence with us today, contribute so much to the interest of the occasion which has assembled this large audience. It will gratify those who hear me, I am sure, to know that in performing this duty, I am not expected to detain you with the discussion of any of the important topics relating to the growing of wool, or to the manufacturing of wool; and still less am I expected to enter upon an investigation of any of the mooted questions of political economy, which are suggested by the important interest which it is believed this Exposition will largely promote.

I understand that the leading purpose of this occasion is to show what can be done in the States of the North-west, by an exhibition of what has already been done in the special industry whose friends are here assembled. You will excuse the anachronism of calling these now Central States of the nation the Northwest. No facility in changing local designations can keep pace with our country’s marvelous progress.

Where fuel and food, and land and building materials, and minerals are abundant and cheap; where the climate is healthful and friendly to labor; where the raw material can be produced without limit; where the consumption of the manufactured article is large; where the best facilities are afforded for transporting both raw material and the fabric, by land and by water, to and from the great markets of the world, it would seem that the only remaining elements essential to the successful establishment of any desired manufacture are capital and labor; and that with the conditions here supposed, both capital and labor are bound to appear at the command of intelligence, enterprise, and will. Now, I need not pause to marshal facts and figures to prove that in the States, represented by the gentlemen whom we are glad to welcome today, are land, and fuel, and food, and materials for building; and mineral wealth; a climate healthful, and in which it is good for man to work; roads, canals, rivers, lakes, railways-for easy and rapid transportation to and from all the earth. All these things, if we would see them, we have but to open our eyes, and look around us. The wise farmer, traveling through a new country, looking for good land, knows when he has reached it by the forest which covers it. The soil is known by its trees. Judge this favored region, which we still call the North-west, by the farmer’s rule. Behold what has grown upon this land during the few years since civilized men first began to possess it! Louisville, Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Pittsburg, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and the host of smaller cities, towns, and villages which are dotted all over it, and the roots of whose growth and prosperity are in its matchless soil, decide for the intelligent observer every question as to its fitness to be the home of that varied industry which is always found with the highest civilization. The possessors of a country like this have only themselves to blame if they fail to complete the circle of diversified pursuits, without which a general diffusion of knowledge and culture is impossible.

Now, perhaps, the best way-certainly it is the American way-to spread information, to awaken interest, to influence the opinions and actions of men, is to assemble together and form associations of those who are ready to devote time, and means, and effort to the advancement of the common purpose.

The friends of the special industry which we have assembled to promote, have done the State of Ohio the honor to hold their second Exposition in the city of Cincinnati. The success of the Exposition depends largely upon the number and character of the gentlemen from other States who give it their influence and assistance. It is, therefore, with good reason that we heartily welcome to Ohio this large body of intelligent citizens of our sister States, and thank them for their presence, and especially for their successful assistance in collecting here such a vast number and variety of valuable and beautiful specimens of the work of the manufacturers of the North-west.

We meet at a most auspicious period in our country’s history. Our greeting and welcome to citizens of other States are “without any mental reservation whatever.” It is plain that we are entering upon an era of good feeling, not known before in the lifetime of the present generation. For almost half a century the great sectional bitterness which is now so rapidly and so happily disappearing, and which we know can never be revived, carried discord, division, and weakness into every enterprise requiring the united efforts of citizens of different States. Now the causes of strife have been swept away, and their last vestiges will soon be buried out of sight. Good men will no longer waste their strength in mutual crimination or recrimination about the past. The people of different sections of our country will hereafter be able to act, not merely with intelligence and energy, but with entire harmony and unity in any enterprise which promises an increase of human welfare and human happiness.

This Association, then, is working in perfect accord with the spirit of the times. The development of new resources, the opening of new paths to skill and labor, the discovery of new methods, the invention of new machinery and implements, and the employment of capital in new and useful pursuits-these are the objects which associations like this aim to accomplish. All who encourage these things, and who desire to aid in such achievements, deserve a hearty welcome wherever they may go, and will, I assure you, always find it, as you do now, in the State of Ohio.

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