I confess that there is no very reason for writing this book. Thousands of American men and women have made valuable contributions to the progress of mankind without feeling called upon to "tell the tale". This is not an autobiography. It is a small sheaf of memories, prepared first for the edification of the immediate members of my own family. Second, for those among my thousands of students who feel that I may have been to them a real source of inspiration. The majority of Ferris students who have achieved success have traveled essentially the same road I have traveled.
They, like myself, crave no measure of sympathy. We are to be congratulated on having attended the University of Hard Knocks. Today even those who have been graduated from this university hesitate to recommend it. The mania for "short cuts" occupies the field of human effort.
Until recently I labored under the delusion that every man is the architect of his own fortune. Before leaving home on November twenty-eight for Washington, I gave to my fellow townsmen two reminiscent addresses. A careful examination of my career convinced me that I had bestowed upon myself too much credit.
No man can see very far into the future. Day by day his perspective changes. He is
only one of a great army trying to fulfill life's destiny. Frequently he is unmindful
of just what the Commander expects or desires. Forty years ago, I did not so much as dream of ever holding an elective office at the hands of my fellow citizens. It is not implied in this that I was working blindly without an objective. Others were working with me whose wishes and demands modified and enriched my objective. There is no such thing as a self-made man. Robinson Crusoe, had he failed to discover Friday and had remained alone on the island, might have become a self-made creature, not a man. Man is a social being. In the pages that follow I recognize this truth.
I hope the few who read these memories will be baptized in the old faith that in social co-operation lies the possibility of self-realization.