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Angell's Dinner Speech

James Burrill Angell
The Michigan Alumnus 471-472

Dinner in Detroit to Honor Dr Angell

Angell’s Speech

Dr. Angell said: 

"Any man might wish to be worthy of
 the smallest fraction of the good things 
that you have said about me tonight. I 
thank you with all my heart for this honor. 
I trust that the sincere fullness of my gratitude is equaled only by the humbleness 
which I feel on this occasion.

"Mr. Kirchner has made kind allusion 
to my dear wife. A large part of whatever
 success I have had in my administration
 of the University is due to her.

"Various speakers have referred to events 
in my life to which I may make brief al
lusion without impropriety. I might speak 
of one or two particulars never made pub
lic which I do not speak of because I de
sire them to be made public on my account, 
 but because they are of particular interest 
in the diplomatic life of the country. 

"I might have remained in the diplomatic 
service if I had felt that there was a perma
nent diplomatic service in this country, but
 I knew what the change of administrations
 would mean and so I preferred to return 
to my permanent university work.

"One treaty there is to which I have always attached great importance, though it 
is little known. That is the treaty prohibit
ing American citizens from engaging in the
 opium trade in China. This marked the 
beginning of the prohibition of the opium 
trade and of governmental reforms in
 China itself prohibiting the using and the 
growing of opium.

"I did go to Turkey in the hope of set
tling our differences there. But the Spanish war broke out and interrupted the 
course of things of that kind in the east. 
Of course, the sentiment of all but the English in Constantinople was opposed to us 
in that war. It was my duty to keep the 
people of Constantinople in touch with the 
real situation. This I managed to do with
 the aid of a French newspaper whose edi
tor was my friend. I soon found that the
 middle-class Turks were on our side. How 
did that happen? I couldn't guess. I asked
 a friend to find out. The Turk said to me: 
'Don't you remember 300 years ago when 
those infernal Spaniards drove the Mohammedans out of Spain? Allah is great and 
he is now taking his vengeance.'

"My chief relation has been to the Uni
versity. When I first came there, I saw
 factors of great promise. It had had teach
ers of extraordinary ability. It had had the 
help of that great man, the stateliest figure 
ever seen on the University Campus, Dr.
 Tappan. We had the greatest law faculty 
that ever founded a law school in the Uni
ted States. These were the father of our 
toastmaster, Judge Campbell; Walker, of 
Detroit, who was succeeded by Judge Kent
 and Judge Thomas M. Cooley.

"The consequence was that students pour
ed in on us from all over the United States. 
 There was in the literary department a
 group of men whom it would be difficult 
to duplicate in these days. Nowadays we 
are filling up this country with teachers
 educated in Germany, who may be said to
 know a great deal about a few things, but
 not much of many things. Then we had 
men who knew a great deal about many 
things. I saw in them a group destined to
 make a great university if we were given 
the proper resources.

"I have been asked how a country town
 like Ann Arbor became the home of such 
a great university. I reply that the students 
knew what they wanted when they came, 
 and they buckled down and got it. They
 didn't come because they were sent—they
 came for some definite purpose in life—to 
become a doctor, teacher, lawyer, and merchant. 
 When they went into the world they were
 men who went out to do things, and it is 
because our graduates from the Atlantic to 
the Pacific are like you, men who do things, 
 that the University has achieved such a
 great reputation. Our best and only advertisements are our graduates. I may have helped in steering the uni
versity ship, but when I think of those who
 were with me and hear the kind things you 
have said about me tonight, I think that 
my success was due in great measure to 
the old ship itself.

"Every man in Michigan should realize 
that he is a stockholder in the University, 
 and that it is for the sake of his boy or girl 
that it should be administered. It has been
 my object to keep the university in the closest touch with the public school system, 
even down to the kindergarten. The way 
should be kept open from the little red
 schoolhouse all the way up to the university, with a company of the student's friends
 beckoning and leading him all the way. That's what we have been trying to make 
the relation of the University of Michigan 
to the state. 

"Some allusion has been made to my age. Some have made the complimentary re
mark that I am not so old as I ought to be. 
The secret of my youth, I feel, is that all
 my life I have had the companionship of 
young folks, and have looked into bright 
faces and seen their point of view. A 
teacher ought not to grow old. I should 
like to be spared to see the university 50
 years from now. It has quadrupled since 
I have known it; it may quadruple again. 

"I believe that the old university will go 
on forever fresh in eternal youth, just as
 Michigan itself will go on, increasing in 
strength and glory to the last syllable of 
recorded time."