AIM HIGH! An Address by President Benjamin Harrison 1893

Benjamin_Harrison_by_Eastman_Johnson_(1895)Extract from Address before the graduating class of the Peirce School of Business and Shorthand, Philadelphia, Penn., December 20th, 1893.

You are about to go into business. That is a very broad word in the dictionary, but narrowed in its present use. In the street it has only to do with transactions that can be represented in figures. Addition, subtraction, and division are its elements, and the successful man is he who works all his problems by addition, and leaves subtraction and division to his competitors.

But the word has a wider meaning. “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” This was spoken of mighty concerns; but not such as can be expressed in shekels or talents. The first qualification is character. A good character for integrity, for truthfulness, for fairness, is the strongest lifting power that any young man can carry into and through his business life. I do not mean to say that dishonesty and lying and trickery never lead to wealth. They do! The Psalmist found that out, and our observation is larger than his. But the natural and ordinary fruit of vice and fraud is failure, even by the money test. The criminal is not always revealed before the fact, or caught after it, but the pawnbroker gets the stolen jewels, and the thief becomes a fearsome fugitive. If you want to get the full use of your money, the comfort of it, then be careful that no tainted dollar gets into your till. There is more good in a moderate accumulation than in great riches, more time for good thoughts and good company, for wife and child and neighbors, and for God.

The highest places are peaks. Men are not made happy or prosperous in the mass, but singly. There is a duty to one’s self, to one’s family, as well as to society. You do not injure any man if, in the competitions of life, by fair methods, by greater skill or thrift, you go to the front. There is nothing more wholesome, more helpful to the striving, than the illustrations which every community affords of the triumphs of pluck and thrift over hard and discouraging conditions. The presence of a man on the peak, who was but lately in the gorge, is conclusive evidence of a path, and it is much wiser to give our strength to climbing than to stone-throwing. He should send his “Hail, brother!” down, and we should send ours up. His elevation should not chill his human sympathy, nor excite our envy. He can be, he will be, if he is a true man, more helpful to us up there than down here.


Let fidelity be your watchword! However simple the task, let it be done with scrupulous faithfulness. However small the trust, let there be no default. Settle it now, as an inflexible purpose, that you will never, for a moment, use for your own purposes one cent of another’s money in your keeping, without his consent, however desperate your need. The temptation to use for a little while, and then return, is full of subtilty and danger, and ” many there be that go in thereat.” A cheerful face and spirit has a large commercial estimation. The man who mumbles protests over his work will not survive the first reduction of the force.

To make one’s self the most valuable man in the shop, the store, or office, is the best assurance of advancement. If you have a way to make in life, the place to begin is where you stand. If it happen to be rock excavation there, do not run forward to find a soft place. It is a waste of time! Life is not like a railroad that can be surveyed from end to end before construction begins. What is not within your reach, is clearly not this day’s work for you. Aim high, but have regard to the range of your gun. And, above all, do not forget that the man whose plans take account of every hour of life, except the supreme hour, is unspeakably foolish!

Benjamin Harrison 1833-1901.

AIM AT PERFECTION. Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable; however, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer to it than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable. Lord Chesterfield

Aim at Heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.  C.S. Lewis

See also: The Doctrine of Fascism, Fascism Defined by Benito Mussolini
THE MIGHTY WORD “NO.” by Theodore L. Cuyler, 1822-1909
A GOOD NAME by Joel Hawes 1789-1867
SCORN TO BE SLAVES by Dr. Joseph Warren 1741-1775
NO SLAVE BENEATH THE FLAG by George Lansing Taylor 1835-1903
Corruption In Politics and Society: Corrupters Of America! by John Hancock 1770
THE FLOWER OF LIBERTY by Oliver Wendell Holmes 1841-1935