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   The first session of the thirty-first annual meeting was held in the Temple Theatre at half-past seven o'clock in the evening, President George L. Miller in the chair. President Miller in presenting the first speaker said:

   Ladies and Gentlemen: It gives me great pleasure to meet you. I give you cordial greeting. You did not come here to hear an address from me but I want to thank Mr. Bryan in advance for his presence here tonight. This illustrious citizen of our country when he speaks to the American people always has a hearing. Here in his home city, of which he is the pride and to which he does so much honor, I need not say more than that it gives me great pleasure and the greatest gratification now to present to you the Hon. William Jennings Bryan, who will address you on the subject of "History," of which he himself has made a great deal within the past few years, whether he mentions it or not. (Applause.)

   MR. BRYAN. I appreciate the generous words of my old friend, Dr. Miller. There are a great many ways of winning distinction. I was in Congress at one time, for a short period, and during that period I had occasion to attend a meeting where, before the meeting began, a man

   1 The minutes of the thirty-first annual meeting appear in Proceedings and Collections Nebraska State Historical Society, series 2, volume X (volume XV of publications), page 281.--ED.




sold photographs of John L. Sullivan. He announced to the mortification of several congressmen present that he was selling the picture of the "best known man in the world." (Laughter.) That was one way of gaining notoriety. There are other ways.
   If you have a member of this Society whose duty it is to make a record of unimportant facts, there is one unimportant fact that can be recorded in connection with myself, and that is, that I have made more speeches without preparation than any other man who ever spoke in Nebraska. I do not mean to say that this is a matter to be proud of, but history, to be impartial, states many facts that are not eulogistic. I am afraid that one of the things known of me will be that I have been importuned to accept more invitations to make speeches than I could possibly prepare myself to make with credit either to the subject or to myself.
   But my reason for being here is not that I think I can add anything of material value to your deliberations, but it is because I wanted to manifest, in the only way I could, my deep interest in the purposes of this Society and in the subjects with which it has to deal.
   History is of vital importance to those who follow us. I believe it was Wendell Phillips who said that "the people make history, and the scholars write it"---part true and part colored by their prejudices. It is one of the duties of this association to make a record of important events at the time when there is full knowledge in regard to those events; and I am glad that at your meetings you have papers presented by different persons dealing with events and with persons who were important enough to have made their impress upon the time in which they lived. For instance, tonight you are to have a paper upon the life of a really important citizen of Ne-



braska; and you have chosen one who is able to do justice to the subject, for Mr. Metcalfe has not only the ability to present the facts in connection with the life of Mr. Kitchen, but he is preëminently the man to speak of him because of his close personal acquaintance with him and because of his deep admiration for the high character of the man. It is fortunate that from time to time you are thus able to put into lasting form some history of the lives of the people who are making Nebraska what it is.
   Some one has said that history is but a record of the lives of great men. That was said some time ago. If a person were to express himself upon that subject today he would include women as well as men; for in this day and age woman is exerting a larger influence and filling a larger place than formerly in the making of history. To present from time to time the lives of men and women who are rendering a large service to this state, to the nation and to the world, is a part of the work of this Historical Society. But there is another thing that this Society can well do, and that is to take up the various ideas that have either originated in Nebraska or have been developed in Nebraska, and trace the growth of those ideas.
   For instance, a few months ago I visited Beatrice in order to take part in an anniversary there, which was a celebration of a government entry or location of the first land under the homestead act. Unless you have already done so, it would be a matter of very great interest for some one to take up the idea of the homestead, and find out where it originated, who first suggested it, how long did it take for the idea to take root. Then, tracing the growth of the idea, show how many homesteads have been entered; show whether other nations I have adopted the thought that first came into existence



here, if it did originate here; or, if it originated elsewhere, trace the source that we may know to what country and to what person the credit for it belongs.
   In going from Constantinople to Vienna about a year and a half ago, or a little more, I stopped off at Belgrade. I went to the hotel, but did not find anyone there, except the clerk, who could speak English. When I went into breakfast I sat at the table alone, the others near me not being able to speak the only language with which I am familiar. While I was at the table, however, a man came and took a seat near me. I asked him if he could speak English and he replied in English. I found out that he had been a cabinet minister in an adjoining country, and in the course of the conversation at the table he told me that as minister he had introduced into his country the homestead law that he had found written among the statutes of the United States.
   It interested me to find that in southeastern Europe, among a people with whom we are not familiar, who speak an entirely different language, there had been introduced this beneficent idea. And this man spoke with pride of the fact that he had been able to carry to his country the blessings of a great thought that had been advanced by some one to the United States. To take up an idea like that and trace it back to its source for the benefit of future historians, is a part of the work of this Society.
   I mention this idea because it was brought to my attention only recently. Let me suggest another. I do not know of any one thing that I have advocated since I have been in politics or interested in public affairs that has spread as rapidly as the idea which is known as the guaranty of deposits. It is not my idea. It was suggested to me thirteen or fourteen years ago, and I can speak of



it, therefore, without any egotism, or without laying myself open to the charge of presenting my own thought.
   You remember that in this city a while ago we had a bank failure; not one but several. It was after that bank failure that some one who had suffered by it came to me and suggested that there ought to be some way to protect depositors of banks. He called my attention to the fact that there had been much suffering and that people who had trusted the bank, as naturally people do trust banks, had in some cases lost their all.
   I embodied this idea in a bill and presented it in Congress but I could not get a report from the committee on it. It was a new idea and was not acceptable to those who were influential in controlling the action of the committee. I came back to Nebraska and introduced a guaranty bill, or had it introduced, in our state legislature, hoping that in this state we might secure the benefit of it even if it could not be secured in the nation. But again the influences against it were so strong that it did not become a law in the state. The people at that time had not had the experience that was necessary.
   Now that idea is a growing one. It has already been put into operation in the state of Oklahoma. On the seventeenth day of next month the banking system of that new state of Oklahoma becomes a guaranteed banking system, and the banking board is empowered to collect a tax of one per cent. from all the state banks and such national banks as desire to avail themselves of the privilege of joining the system. And then the banking board is authorized to assess without a limit, so that assets of all the banks are put behind every bank and therefore there can be no failure that will result in a loss to depositors.
   But that is not all. This idea has now been intro-



duced into the legislature of Illinois which is in session, and it has been introduced in the legislature of Ohio, which is also in session. The governor of Kansas has called a special session of the legislature, and the main thing to be considered is the securing of bank deposits. The governor of Texas is urged to call a special session of the legislature of that state for the express purpose of giving this security to depositors of banks. The legislature of Kentucky is in session, and that body will have this subject under consideration. The governor of Rhode Island has suggested it in his message. The state of Mississippi has a legislature in session, and there the subject will be presented. The legislature of the state of Louisiana meets, and there the subject will be presented. Not only that, but in Congress a number of bills have already been offered having this end in view. One was offered the other day by Senator Culbertson, of Texas, the leader of the minority in the senate; and a bill proposed by the chairman of the committee on currency in the house embodies this idea of securing of deposits.
   I speak of this to show you how rapidly this idea has spread. I do not know that the idea originated in Nebraska. I know it did not originate with me, for, as I have stated, I received it by suggestion from some one else. Lately I have noticed in the newspapers that the idea was suggested earlier by Mr. Mosher, who was connected with one of the banks that failed and unfortunately connected with it. If this idea spreads, as it seems likely to spread, if as a result of the development of this thought the banks of all the states and the banks of the nation take up this system of guaranteeing deposits so that when a man puts his money in a bank it is as safe as if he invested in a government bond--if this idea spreads until the whole country secures the benefit of it,



I think it will be worth while to find out who really was the originator of the thought.
   I mention these as only two ideas. You will think of others that have developed, partly at least, through the influence of our state.
   As I understand it, the duty of the Historical Society is the gathering of materials that will show the origin and the growth or development of those things that are of value connected with the state and nation: this, I say, is one of the duties; but it is also important that we shall have, as you will have tonight, a record of the lives of those who have largely impressed their generation.
   But there is another thought that I desire to leave with you, and in attempting to leave more than one I may violate one of the rules of public speaking. Some one has laid it down as a rule that a speech ought to contain just one idea and that with one thought or idea presented the speech ought to end. But I do not know when I will have another chance to speak to you, and I am not willing to let this chance pass without presenting another thought.
   You are interested in a public building that shall be the home of your Society. I am interested in that also. I am very anxious that this Society shall succeed in securing a site for a public building, and I desire to offer a word of caution. A proper building must include the future as well as the present, and I have great hopes in the future of Nebraska. Your building should be a building in keeping with the state's promise, with the state's future, and I trust you will not be content to locate your building on any small piece of ground. The building ought to be upon a piece of ground that will be suitable for such a building as we ought to have for this Society.



I pledge any assistance I can in the securing, first, of a suitable site and, second, of a suitable appropriation to give Nebraska such a building as Nebraska's history will deserve.
   Just one other suggestion--and it is only a suggestion; I would like to see this building not only sufficient in size for the future needs of such a building, but I would like to see this building perpetuate some great monument in history. I would like to see this building patterned after some building that will enable those who visit Lincoln to obtain, in viewing it, something of the advantages that those have who are able to visit the buildings of the old world. For instance, if we could take the plan of the Parthenon and reduce it in size to suit our needs. To present such a building here would be, to all who visited this city, a reminder of the best that ancient Greece produced. Or, if it was preferred, we might take the Taj Mahal as a model and present here a building that would not only lend itself to the accomplishment of our purpose, but would also present what. many have regarded as the highest perfection that architecture has yet attained to. We ought to have, in the first place, ample ground, well situated, and on the ground that we do obtain we ought to have a building that will reflect credit upon this state's past, this state's present and this state's future. (Applause.)1

   PRESIDENT MILLER. There is another gentleman I wish to present to you this evening, one of our own citizens in whom more than the people of Lincoln have a proprietary interest. He is an author; he is a writer; he is a man of wide range of intellect, and profoundly great in
  1 This impromptu speech was edited from the stenographic report.--ED.



his rich experience of sympathy for his fellow-men, Richard L. Metcalfe, who will now address you upon The Life and Character of the late James B. Kitchen.
   MR. METCALFE. Manifestly kind words are of no service to those who have solved "the secret of nature." But when on occasions like this we undertake to do simple justice to a friend we render service to society, not alone by giving emphasis to the value of good deeds, but by "being to one's virtues ever kind and to one's fault a little blind"--a form of consideration all too seldom observed in our flesh-and-blood intercourse with one another.
   I am aware that obituary tributes have largely fallen into disrepute because of the exaggeration employed; and I know that there are instances where costly floral wreaths are laid upon the tombs of men by those who, during all the lifetime of their neighbor, never thought to ease the burden of his life, never thought to give a word of cheer or scatter above the thorns in his pathway the forget-me-nots of the angels, those "little nameless acts of kindness and love" that have been called "the best remembered portion of a good man's life." If while our neighbor is struggling with his burden, which is in most cases heavier than we suspect, we would show him one tenth the consideration we do in public in the presence of his bier, this would be a merrier world.
   It is as idle to tell an untruth about anyone, and in the discharge of the task assigned me it would be particularly out of place, for the reason that James Butler Kitchen detested shams: and the vigor with which he cultivated this form of aversion led many of his neighbors to misunderstand him. For the benefit of the state of which he was a good citizen, it is proper that some of the facts concerning his active career be recorded in the ar-



chives of this Society; and in justice to history it is well that one important fact connected with his death and burial be given to the world, thus correcting what I conceive to have been a serious, although I must say a dutiful, mistake made by some of his faithful friends.
   In a supplemental paper to be filed with your secretary I have given some of the details of Mr. Kitchen's career. At this time it is sufficient to say that the Kitchens are of English ancestry; that the parents of James B. Kitchen were Virginians who, in 1829, located at Manchester, St. Louis county, Missouri, where, on May 25, 1832, Mr. Kitchen was born; and that he first located in Omaha in 1878.
   Mr. Kitchen was devoted to his political principles, yet he was tolerant of the views of others. He was not a popular man as the term is commonly understood, yet those who were able to peer beneath the mask found readily a kind-hearted man, who perhaps often misunderstood himself even as he was misunderstood by the world. His opportunities for study during the earlier years were evidently not large, but later in life he became a great reader. It may be that in the education by men he overlooked the lessons which nature so bountifully provides. Where his books may have led him to doubt, the heavens might have led him to truth; where he was mystified by the efforts of philosophers who strained themselves to justify the infinite purpose with the human point of view, he might have been enlightened by the love light of the little child--faith in love, faith in men, faith in God. Whatever the cause, it is true that he built up out of his own mind a straw man which he labeled "Christianity," and toward this he directed his criticism. Full of this doctrine he prepared, prior to his last illness, a statement of his views. He left instructions that this statement

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