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It was not a great life, as the world counts greatness. It might even be called a failure, a life sadly out of harmony with its environment. But it has left an indelible impression on the world, and its influence, subtle, indefinite, immaterial but pervasive, is incalculable.
If the philosopher was right who said, "If I may make the songs of a people, I care not who may make the laws," then Stephen Foster's name is worthy of remembrance. Although purists may question their right to the title "folk-songs," his melodies are truly the songs of the American people, while their appeal is so universal that the best of them, "The Old Folks at Home," "My Old Kentucky Home" and "Old Black Joe," are sung the world over.
The day of his birth, July 4th, 1826, was a notable one in the history of the United States. It marked the semi-centennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and great preparations had been made throughout the country to celebrate appropriately the fiftieth birthday of the Republic. While these celebrations were in progress, two of the nation's founders passed away: John Adams, its second President, at Quincy, Mass., and Thomas Jefferson, its third President, at Monticello, Virginia.
Sir George Otto Trevelyan, the English historian of the American Revolution, says, "There have been very famous Fourths of July; one of them, which promised to be gloomy, was brightened by the victory of Gettysburg and the capture of Vicksburg. Another was signalized by the destruction of the Spanish fleet outside the harbor of Santiago. But there is one anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the interest of which cannot be