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Nationalism and Americanism (1920)

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In this speech, Warren Harding defined the term Americanism as a special quality rooted in the nation’s revolutionary heritage and its representative democracy. He went on to argue that this house of liberty must be defended against international alliances and schemes, as well as against radical disruption by Bolsheviks.


Senator Warren G. Harding. "Americanism really began when it was robed in nationality... In the spirit of Americanism, we proclaim America, we acclaim America

Sound quality of recording is poor

Reverse side of disc is a music selection, not reproduced

Believed to be take 1

Inscribed under label: 1-A-14

This recording has been reproduced distributed by the Library of Congress through the generosity of the family of Guy Golterman, and with the cooperation of CBS-Sony Records and the Recording Industry Association of America

MEDIUM 1 sound disc : analog, 78 rpm ; 12 in

TEXT

"Americanism"

My countrymen, the first claiming source of Americanism was writed in framing the Federal Constitution in 1787. The pilgrims signed their simple and suggested covenant a whole century and a half before, and set aflame their beacon of liberty on the coast of Massachusetts. Other pioneers of New World’s freedom were rearing their new standards of liberty from Jamestown to Plymouth for five generations before Lexington and Concord heralded the new era. It is all American in the best and result, yet all of it lacks the soul of nationality.

In simple truth, there was no thought of nationality in the revolution for America’s independence. The colonists were resisting a wrong, and freedom was their solace. Once it was achieved, nationality was the only agency suited to its preservation. Americanism really began when robed in nationality. The American Republic began the blazed trail of representative, popular government. Representative democracy was proclaimed the safe agency of highest human freedom. America headed the forward procession of civil, human, and religious liberty which ultimately will affect the liberation of all mankind. The Federal Constitution is the very base of all Americanism, the ark of the covenant of American liberty, the very temple of equal rights. The Constitution does abide and ever will, so long as the Republic survives.

Let us hesitate before we surrender the nationality which is the very soul of highest Americanism. This republic has never failed humanity, nor endangered civilization. We have been tardy sometimes -- like when we were proclaiming democracy and neutrality, and yet ignored our national rights -- but the ultimate and helpful part we played in the Great War will be the pride of Americans so long as the world recites the story. We do not mean to hold aloof, we choose no [isolation], we shun no duty. I like to rejoice in an American conscience, and in a big conception of our obligation to liberty, justice, and civilization -- aye, and more. I like to think of Columbia’s helping hand to new republics which are seeking the blessings portrayed in our example. But I have a confidence in our America that requires no council of foreign powers to point the way of American duty. We wish to counsel, cooperate, and contribute, but we arrogate to ourselves the keeping of the American conscience, and every concept of our moral obligation.

It’s time to idealize, but it’s very practical to make sure our own house is in perfect order before we attempt the miracle of Old World stabilization. Call it the selfishness of nationality if you will. I think it’s an inspiration to patriotic devotion to safeguard America first, to stabilize America first, to prosper America first, to think of America first, to exalt America first, to live for and revere America first. Let the internationalist dream, and the Bolshevist destroy. God pity him for whom no [minstrel raptures dwell.] In the spirit of the Republic we proclaim Americanism and acclaim America.

Woody Guthrie, "Two Good Men" (1935)

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In 1935, folk singer Woody Guthrie performed this song about Nicola Sacco and Bartolemeo Vanzetti, two Italian immigrant anarchists who were arrested on slight evidence in 1920 and executed seven years later. As their trials dragged on, radicals and progressives began to perceive the two men as symbols of the repressiveness of American business and mainstream culture. In the 1930s, radicals once again celebrated the wisdom of the American folk. Their new definition of "folk" included not only old-stock Protestants, but also as immigrants like Sacco and Vanzetti.

Two Good Men (exceprt)

Judge Thayer told his friends around
That he had cut the radicals down.
"Anarchist bastard" was the name
Judge Thayer called these two good men.
I'll tell you the prosecutor's name,
Katzman, Adams, Williams, Kane.
The Judge and lawyers strutted down,
They done more tricks than circus clowns.

Two good men a long time gone,
Two good men a long time gone,
Two good men a long time gone,
Left me here to sing this song.


"Two Good Men" by Woody Guthrie from the recording entitled Hard Travelin': The Asch Recordings, Vol. 3, SF40102 provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. (p) © 1998. Used by Permission.

Woody Guthrie, "Mean Talkin’ Blues" (1935)

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During the 1930s, folk singer Woody Guthrie traveled back and forth across the country collecting and singing songs about the economic suffering of Americans. In this song, he described the role of unions in the terrible economic conflict between ordinary poor Americans and American businesses.

Mean Talkin' Blues (excerpt)

Well, if I can get the fat to hatin' the lean
That'd tickle me more than anything I've seen,
Then I'd get the colors to fightin' one another,
Friend against friend, and sister against brother,
That'll be it, the striped against the polka dots,
That'll be just it,
Everybody's brains a-boilin' in turpentine,
And their teeth fallin' out all up and down the sidewalks,
That'll just suit me -
I ain't no union man,.
Because I hate everything that's organized and planned,
I love to hate and I hate to love!
I'm mean....


"Mean Talking Blues" by Woody Guthrie from the recording entitled Hard Travelin': The Asch Recordings, Vol. 3, SF40102 provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. (p) © 1998. Used by Permission.

From Andre Siegfried, The Gulf Between, Atlantic Monthly (March 1928)

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Never has Europe more eagerly observed, studied, discussed America; and never . . . have the two continents been wider apart in their aspirations and ideals. . . . Europe, after all, is not very different from what it was a generation ago; but there has been born since then a new America. . . . In the last twenty-five or thirty years America has produced a new civilization. . . . From a moral point of view, it is obvious that Americans have come to consider their standard of living as a somewhat sacred acquisition, which they will defend at any price. This means that they would be ready to make many an intellectual or even moral concession in order to maintain that standard. From a political point of view, it seems that the notion of efficiency of production is on the way to taking [precedence over] the very notion of liberty. In the name of efficiency, one can obtain, from the American, all sorts of sacrifices in relation to his personal and even to certain of his political liberties. . . . Mass production and mass civilization, its natural consequence, are the true characteristics of the new American society. . . . Lincoln, with his Bible and classical tradition, was easier for Europe to understand than Ford, with his total absence of tradition and his proud creation of new methods and new standards, especially conceived for a world entirely different from our own.


Andre Siegfried, "The Gulf Between," March 1928. Copyright 1928, The Atlantic Media Co. as published in The Atlantic. Distributed by Tribune Media Services. Reprinted with permission.