These characters have been chosen from various countries and from varied professions, that the youth who read this book may see that poverty is no barrier to success. It usually develops ambition, and nerves people to action. Life at best has much of struggle, and we need to be cheered and stimulated by the careers of those who have overcome obstacles.
If Lincoln and Garfield, both farmer-boys, could come to the Presidency, then there is a chance for other farmer-boys. If Ezra Cornell, a mechanic, could become the president of great telegraph companies, and leave millions to a university, then other mechanics can come to fame. If Sir Titus Salt, working and sorting wool in a factory at nineteen, could build one of the model towns of the world for his thousands of workingmen, then there is[vi] encouragement and inspiration for other toilers in factories. These lives show that without WORK and WILL no great things are achieved.
I have selected several characters because they were the centres of important historical epochs. With Garibaldi is necessarily told the story of Italian unity; with Garrison and Greeley, the fall of slavery; and with Lincoln and Sheridan, the battles of our Civil War.
S. K. B.