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Marching Men

CHAPTER IV.1
Chicago is a vast city and millions of people live within the limits of its influence. It
stands at the heart of America almost within sound of the creaking green leaves
of the corn in the vast corn fields of the Mississippi Valley. It is inhabited by
hordes of men of all nations who have come across the seas or out of western
corn--shipping towns to make their fortunes. On all sides men are busy making
fortunes.
In little Polish villages the word has been whispered about, "In America one gets
much money," and adventurous souls have set forth only to land at last, a little
perplexed and disconcerted, in narrow ill--smelling rooms in Halstead Street in
Chicago.
In American villages the tale has been told. Here it has not been whispered but
shouted. Magazines and newspapers have done the job. The word regarding the
making of money runs over the land like a wind among the corn. The young men
listen and run away to Chicago. They have vigour and youth but in them has
been builded no dream no tradition of devotion to anything but gain.
Chicago is one vast gulf of disorder. Here is the passion for gain, the very spirit of
the bourgeoise gone drunk with desire. The result is something terrible. Chicago
is leaderless, purposeless, slovenly, down at the heels.
And back of Chicago lie the long corn fields that are not disorderly. There is hope
in the corn. Spring comes and the corn is green. It shoots up out of the black land
and stands up in orderly rows. The corn grows and thinks of nothing but growth.
Fruition comes to the corn and it is cut down and disappears. Barns are filled to
bursting with the yellow fruit of the corn.
And Chicago has forgotten the lesson of the corn. All men have forgotten. It has
never been told to the young men who come out of the corn fields to live in the
city.
Once and once only in modern times the soul of America was stirred. The Civil
War swept like a purifying fire through the land. Men marched together and knew
the feel of shoulder to shoulder action. Brown stout bearded figures returned
after the war to the villages. The beginning of a literature of strength and virility
arose.
And then the time of sorrow and of stirring effort passed and prosperity returned.
Only the aged are now cemented together by the sorrow of that time and there
has been no new national sorrow.
 
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