Address by Dr. Theodore L. Cuyler

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Dr. Theodore L. Cuyler. Good friends, I have been asked to add a few words of parting before we turn our faces homeward, and they must be words of hearty congratulation on the splendid success of this conference. My deafness has prevented me from drinking in your streams of eloquence, but my very much better half has quick ears to hear, and she has told me that your speeches have been a perpetual feast, and that all the proceedings have been on the highest plane of effectiveness and usefulness. If I have not ears to hear, I have eyes to see the noble company of men and honorable women, not a few, who have been gathered during these few days. Let me tell you what a source of sorrow it has been to have come here and missed two of the most conspicuous figures that have been in times past the joy and glory of your conference. I had hoped to look into the honest face and grasp the honest hand of Massachusetts grand old Christian statesman, Henry L. Dawes. Thank God the grand old man is with us in spirit. Let us hope that we may hear him in meetings yet to come.

And that other most conspicuous figure the handsome and the holy-hearted bishop of Minnesota never will enter this hall again. He has been translated into the innumerable company of the white robed and the crowned conquerors in glory. Permit me, ere we close, to offer a word or two of personal tribute to my beloved old friend.

Bishop Whipple and myself were almost exactly the same age, born only a few days apart, not far from the interior of this State. His native place was Adams. During the last forty years the Episcopal Church has not produced, nor has the ministry, a more picturesque and powerful personality. I do not wonder they loved him and lionized him over yonder in Britain. I do not wonder that the Queen had him come and pay her a visit, and gave him a book as a keepsake. I do not wonder that in the Isle of Wight they had him pronounce the memorial address on the poet Tennyson. But wherever he went he was the same fearless, Abraham-Lincoln-like man in the ministry. An illustration I can give you shows the point and pith and plainess of speech the grand old man possessed. He was visiting a family of rank in England, and when he went to the station he was accompanied by a young nobleman of high rank, who had also been a guest. When they got to the station this young nobleman vented a most horrible amount of oaths at his valet, because he had done something to displease him. When he discovered that the Bishop had heard him, he said, “I beg your pardon, but the fact is I have always called a spade a spade.” “Indeed,” said the Bishop, “I rather think that instead of a spade you have called it a damned old shovel.” In a few days that young nobleman sent a letter to the Bishop, saying that he had always been profane, but promising that he would never swear again. That was Bishop Whipple, every inch of him. The honors from royalty and nobility never for an hour let him forget that peculiar service to which his Master had called him, being the friend and helper of the poor red man. And the glory of Bishop Whipple is this that since the days of John Eliot he stood out as the most impressive, effective, holy-hearted, and successful apostle to the Indians in all our American history. Let the red men put up a tablet to him, and write on it the name of old “Straight Talk.”

Then let them write under that the name of Armstrong, founder of the Hampton Institute; and under that the name of grand old Senator Dawes, who for so many years, in a different connection, has been serving the highest interest of the Indian. But if they want to make that tablet complete they must add another name to the names of these benefactors of the wronged and the wretched and the downtrodden brothers and sisters; beneath their names let the Indians write the good, honest name of Albert K. Smiley. Out of his big, warm heart was born this conference, which has become one of the established institutions of our land. I do not exaggerate when I say that, outside of the Capitol in Washington and the White House and the Government departments, there is nowhere in this land a scene of such far reaching influence and power on the destiny of the Indian as within this annual conference, to which we come up with joy and gladness. From this lighthouse of Mohonk have flashed bright rays that have gladdened the face of the vast West, and lightened the destiny of the wronged and neglected Indian.

And then, too, our brother has done it all with such wonderful adaptation to the instincts of human nature. He has made it so delightful and attractive. I had occasion to say in one of the earlier conferences that he had wrought a great revolution in the line of benevolence. In former years a reformer was a persecuted man. The philanthropist was often the butt of jeers and ridicule, and sometimes the victim of mob violence. My dear Brother Smiley has changed all that. Up here at Mohonk, for the first time, philanthropy is fed on peaches and cream, and rides out every afternoon in a coach and four. Who need wonder that 200 men and women rejoice every year to be philanthropists? So let us thank our dear friend for the privilege of coining and serving the Master in such an exceedingly delightful way; meeting and mingling our salutations and our prayers, then going yonder to Sky top to take in all this magnificent general assembly of the mountains that the Almighty has painted so gloriously; gathering here to sing hymns of praise, to clasp each others hands, and then go home, as we shall on the* morrow, the better and stronger, and carrying away in our heart of hearts the names of these two brothers. God bless them. If all the people in our broad land that know and love Albert and Daniel Smiley could travel up yonder hill and gather on that lake shore, you would see such a mighty assembly as you have seldom seen, and you would hear uprising shouts of thanksgiving to God that he had put it into their hearts to establish this institution, and permit us to come together and be his guests. And so I am going to take your hearts into my own, beloved friends, and say God bless you on and on; with long life satisfy you, until your eyes shall behold the splendors of the full salvation.

Mr. A. K. Smiley was the last speaker. He said that he had tried to persuade the committee to omit these resolutions of thanks, but they would not do it. He thanked the speakers for all their kind words, and assured his guests that the two most blessed times of the year were when the conference on arbitration met and when the Indian conference was in session. He closed in the following words:

“I have made up my mind that this work shall go on. My brother, Daniel Smiley, who will take entire charge of this place hereafter, shares in this purpose. If the Indian problem be solved (and I hope it will be soon), the agencies abolished, the Board of Indian Commissioners dismissed, the Indian Bureau a thing of the past, and the Indian taken into the body politic as a citizen, there will be no Indians as a race, but all will be American citizens. If all that comes to pass then there will be something else needing discussion the Philippines, Porto Rico, Cuba, Hawaii, and perhaps the Danish Islands. It is only a question of time when all these matters will come up. So this hilltop I hope will be a sort of Mecca for philanthropists for a hundred years to come; a place to discuss problems of national interest.

We have had a good conference, exceedingly gratifying to me, and I thank you most heartily for coming. We have had a fine executive committee, an excellent presiding officer, good secretaries, a faithful treasurer; and I am going to put them together, and ask you to give them and Mrs. Hector Hall, for her music, a vote of thanks.

The vote of thanks was passed, and the conference was closed by singing God be with us till we meet again.”



MLA Source Citation:

Board Of Indian Commissioners. Thirty-Third Annual Report Of The Board Of Indian Commissioners. Government Printing Office. 1901. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 22 July 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/address-by-dr-theodore-l-cuyler.htm - Last updated on Aug 9th, 2013


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