By Edmund Wilson
The respected American author and journalist contemplates faith, conflict, Europe, Russia, the Jews, schooling, technological know-how, intercourse, and being 60.
My greater pdf of Gimley's experiment, now unmarried web page, b/w history, OCR'd, bookmarked, cropped borders.
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Additional info for A Piece of My Mind: Reflections at Sixty
Years afterwards, when I worked on this paper, I once had a conversation with its editor-in-chief, for whom I had much respect, on the subject of his policy at the time of the war. " This argument did not seem to me serious, and I ascribed it to his own British origins. Both his parents-though his mother was Irish-had been born on the other side, and I had noted that, helpful to labor though our policy was supposed to be, he had winced with as much em· barrassment at the lower-<:lass manners and accents of visiting British labor men as if he had been born there himself.
The first quotation given in the Dictionary of Americanisms published by Chicago University is from a letter of Jefferson's of 1797: ''The parties here in debate continually charged each other . . " In Jefferson's time, of course, it meant the interests of the revolted colonists. But by the fifties of the following century, the word Americanism was to take on a new political meaning. It was used by the American or Know Nothing party to designate its own policy-already mentioned above-of combating the Roman Catholicism of German and Irish immigrants and of debarring persons of foreign birth from exercizing political rights till they had lived here twenty-one years.
I do not, therefore, mean to imply that it is necessarily more desirable, from the point of view of human achievement, to he Lincoln or Justice Holmes or either of the Roosevelts than to be Henry James or Santayana or any of the technical experts who may do their best work abroad-or, for that matter, here at home-without worrying about the Republic. I simply want to show this distinction and to suggest that it ought to be borne in mind. It may, for the foreigner, provide a key to some of the conspicuous paradoxes that seem puzzling in American life.