Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 1.djvu/192

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1800.
181
AMERICAN IDEALS.

system was proving itself to be rich in results. The average American was more intelligent than the aver­age European, and was becoming every year still more active-minded as the new movement of society caught him up and swept him through a life of more va­ried experiences. On all sides the national mind responded to its stimulants. Deficient as the Ameri­can was in the machinery of higher instruction; re­mote, poor; unable by any exertion to acquire the training, the capital, or even the elementary text­books he needed for a fair development of his natu­ral powers,—his native energy and ambition already responded to the spur applied to them. Some of his triumphs were famous throughout the world; for Benjamin Franklin had raised high the reputation of American printers, and the actual President of the United States, who signed with Franklin the treaty of peace with Great Britain, was the son of a small farmer, and had himself kept a school in his youth. In both these cases social recognition followed suc­cess; but the later triumphs of the American mind were becoming more and more popular. John Fitch was not only one of the poorest, but one of the least-­educated Yankees who ever made a name; he could never spell with tolerable correctness, and his life ended as it began,—in the lowest social obscurity. Eli Whitney was better educated than Fitch, but had neither wealth, social influence, nor patron to back his ingenuity. In the year 1800 Eli Terry, another Connecticut Yankee of the same class, took into his