The Outward Sign Of Inward Grace

In this excerpt from Americans: A Book of Lives, ©1946, Hermann Hagedorn describes the business environment of Theodore Roosevelt’s America:

To these men the rapid development of the country seemed a definite good in itself and became, indeed, a kind of religion, not superseding so much as fulfilling the Christian principles on which most of them had been brought up. Like the capitalists of the Old World, they had been taught that thrift was among the noblest of the Christian virtues. Financial success, which could be regarded as the effect of thrift (though actually it was more often its direct antithesis, the profit of a shrewd gamble), was therefore regarded by them as the outward sign of inward grace. If their methods were challenged, they answered that progress could not wait on fine ethical distinction, very certain that the increase of the material comforts which they promoted, was progress, and therefore of God.

I wish I could say, “What a strange and incomprehensible time!”

But I can’t.


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