By Gen. James M. Ruggles
History is but the footprints upon the sands of time, by which we trace the growth, development and advancement of the people constituting a nation. It takes note of the humblest tiller of the soil as well as of the scholar, the statesman, the soldier, and the great and good men and women who build the imperishable monuments of a country's greatness.|
Tradition tells us of the glories of the Garden of Eden, and the purity and happiness of the first pair, and also of their transgression and fall from their high and happy estate. Of the men and things that existed in the world during the many dark centuries that precede the historic period, we know nothing, except through rude hieroglyphics and vague traditions, handed down through the beclouded minds of unlettered and superstitious people.
Beginning with the age of letters and improvements in the languages of the world, followed by the modern inventions of printing types and presses, and the immense institution of the daily newspaper and telegraph minute and reliable records of the world's daily doings are chronicled, and out of these veritable history is formulated.
The multiplicity of inventions and discoveries, resulting from a rapid growth of intelligence, during the last half-century, has produced the necessary conditions for the production of a more perfected type of the genus homo, by whom the world is peopled, and through whom history of a still higher order will be furnished for those who may live in the hereafter.
The events that make up the annals of a new and growing country will always be of interest to the seeker after knowledge, who may in them learn who has lived and what has been done in the past ages of the world. The time is approaching when ignorance of the world's historic past will be a reproach, however it may be as to a lack of knowledge of the future!
America constitutes a great nation of people, made up from the populations of many other nations, and Illinois is one of the greatest and most highly favored by nature of all the thirty-eight States; extending as it does over a range of five and a half degrees of latitude, causing a more varied climate than any other State, and for its fertility of soil is unsurpassed in the world; thus making Illinois the jeweled crown in our glorious Union.