Angels Camp Third Annual Gold Rush Day
Angels Camp, California
October 18, 2014
The history of Angels Camp is the history of California and the history of westward expansion.
We don’t celebrate westward expansion these days as we did a generation ago, but we ought to.
It was the pioneers who took Horace Greeley’s advice to go west and grow with the nation; who braved unimaginable perils to answer that call; who built towns like Angels Camp; created enterprises like the Angels Foundry; who cultivated the land, harvested the resources and carried American Constitution to the Pacific Ocean – it was these pioneers of the 19th Century who grew the American nation to become the guardian of world freedom and justice in the 20th Century and who have now brought us here to this place and time in the 21st Century.
The history of California Electric Steel – the Angels Foundry – is our history in microcosm.
160 years ago, Andy Gardinier and J.M. Wooster came here as blacksmiths. Wooster soon created the Altaville Foundry to forge implements in desperate demand in the mines. In 1915, this enterprise, created from nothing on the frontier, installed an electric arc furnace – one of the first in the country.
Today, that same foundry, started as an afterthought to a blacksmith’s shop, ships specialized, state-of-the-art products not only across the United States, but throughout the world.
It is the entrepreneurial vision and zeal of the founders and their successors – made possible by free enterprise – that built this foundry and built this nation – and created the prosperity we grew to take for granted.
The great question for us to consider today on this occasion is this: Will we will continue the path to greatness that the pioneers we celebrate today set us upon, rediscover those uniquely American principles of individual liberty, constitutionally limited government and personal responsibility that made America the happiest and most prosperous society in the history of mankind, put freedom back to work, and deliver to our sons and daughters the legacy we celebrate today.
Or will we will abandon those principles and thereby surrender the freedom and prosperity which we inherited from our forbearers like Andy Gardinier and J.M. Wooster.
Writing to John Adams late in life, Thomas Jefferson reflected on the blessings of liberty their generation had secured for their posterity. He said, “Yes, we did create a near perfect union, but will THEY keep it, or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom. Material abundance is the surest path to destruction.”
Our generation’s answer can be found right here today. As long as Americans like all of you come to events like this today, in celebration of the principles that built our nation, I have no doubt that when this chapter of our history has been written, it will be recorded that just when it appeared these principles would be lost and the American nation would slowly fade away – this generation rediscovered them, revived them, and passed them on hearty and inviolate to the generations that followed.
And if we do that on this 160th anniversary of the Angels Foundry – imagine what our descendants will have to celebrate 160 years from now.
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