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NICHOLAS MURRAY BUTLER
HERBERT B. ADAMS
Professor of American and Institutional History in the Johns Hopkins
University, Baltimore, Maryland
THIS MONOGRAPH IS CONTRIBUTED TO THE UNITED STATES EDUCATIONAL EXHIBIT BY THE
STATE OF NEW YORK
SUMMER SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITY EXTENSION
CHAUTAUQUA SYSTEM OF POPULAR EDUCATION The place — In America the name “Chautauqua” stands for a place, an institution, and an idea. The place is a summer town on Lake Chautauqua, in southwestern New York. It is a popular educational resort, during the months of July and August, for several thousand people, who go there from all parts of the country to hear lectures and music, to attend class courses of instruction, to enjoy college life and open air. Chautauqua is a well-nigh deserted village during nine months in the year, but in the summer season it has a cottage and hotel population ranging from 3,000 to 10,000 people.
It is a kind of educational Bayreuth for the people; indeed it has become a center of musical and social-economic training of no mean order. It is a vast summer encampment or cantonnement, 165 acres in territorial extent, on the upland terraces of a beautiful lake 18 miles long and from i to 3 'miles wide, the highest navigable water on the continent, 730 feet higher than Lake Erie and 1,400 feet above the sea level. Chautauqua was the Indian name for this lake, the shores of which are a natural “divide " between waters which flow northeastward with the St. Lawrence from the great lake district and waters which flow southwestward to the Mississippi river and the Gulf of Mexico. Chautauqua is one of the highlands of New York, although it lies in the lowly southwest corner of the state, 70 miles south of Buffalo, 200 miles north of Pittsburg, and 450 miles west from New York city. Chautauqua is connected with the Lake Shore route to Chicago and easily reached by railroads from the east.
Von Holst on Chautauqua When Von Holst, the German historian of the United States, was asked what are the
most characteristic American sights, he replied: “Go to Niagara Falls and then around the corner [of New York state) to see Chautauqua.” It is certainly a better thing to see than the stock yards and pig-sticking of Chicago. Chautauqua is beautiful for education but not remarkable architecturally. The academic village has some useful school buildings; a few hundred decent cottages in the woods; a fair hotel called “ The Athenæum ;" a few shops or “stores;" a plain college building on a hilltop, with a beautiful lakeenvironment; a so-called “hall of philosophy,” which is a wooden temple with supporting pillars, open to the summer breeze and seating three or four hundred people; and a vast amphitheatre, like a Greek theatre dug out of a hillside, bụt well roofed, well lighted by electricity, and capable of seating five or six thousand people. It is an inspiring sight to see a large Chautauqua audience in the afternoon or evening
The Chautauqua salute - When the presiding officer wishes to show special honor to some foreign visitor or distinguished lecturer, the audience is requested to give the so-called “Chautauqua salute.” Immediately thousands of white handkerchiefs are waved in the air and suddenly the vast amphitheatre seems full of life and motion. The effect is picturesque in the extreme. It appeals only to the eye, but it surpasses any noisy applause. The custom had a natural origin, which is thus explained by Chancellor Vincent: In the early days of the Chautauqua lake assembly, Professor Green, a deaf-mute from Canada, was giving a lecture in pantomime, illustrating certain incidents in the life of Christ. The performance was so good that the audience applauded vigorously by clapping their hands. Chancellor Vincent, realizing that the professor could not hear the applause, suggested that the people wave their handkerchiefs, which was done amid great enthusiasm. This “Chautauqua salute” is now given at many Chautauqua gatherings in various local assemblies, but the honor is reserved at the central Chautauqua for very rare occasions. Governor Roosevelt at Chautauqua —At a recent visit (August 19, 1899) of the warrior, statesman and historian, Governor Roosevelt, of New York, to Chautauqua, where he has long been known as a public historical lecturer, he was welcomed by the Chautauqua salute in the presence of 10,000 people assembled in the vast amphitheatre. In response he said from the platform that he came to preach the gospel of intelligent work. It is good for everybody, for parent and child. He appealed to the presiding genius of Chautauqua: Bishop Vincent, nothing has interested me more in reading the history of the growth of the west than to read what Peter Cartwright and other Methodist clergymen did to tame the shaggy wilderness and instill a love of the higher spiritual life into the minds and heads of the tamers of that wilderness. They worked hard. They had no easy life. We should emulate them. Look back at your own career. Do you not take the greatest pride in that portion of your life when you manfully labored with all your might? This Chautauqua did not come by chance. It is the result, obviously, of years of work. * You here have had to work long and hard, and now there is no institution more fraught with good to the nation than this one at Chautauqua.
I am going to speak soon at the Catholic Chautauqua [at Plattsburg] and hope next year to speak at the Jewish Chautauqua. Recognize the good qualities of any man, south or north, Jew or Gentile, provided he is a good American.”— New York Tribune, August 20, 1899.
This is certainly the spirit of Chautauqua, which is something more than a New York local institution. It is national and even international in its influence. Governor Roosevelt emphasized at Chautauqua the gospel of work, which is as old as the motto of the Benedictine monk who said “ora et labore." Andrew Carnegie once told the students of Union college “An honest day's work well performed is not a bad sort of prayer."
Andrew Carnegie's college lectures : “Wealth and its uses ;” “Business ;” “How I served my apprenticeship." New York: F. Tennyson Neely, publisher, 114 Fifth avenue.