CHAPTER X

THE TESTIMONIAL DINNER

     After my resignation from the Guardian Trust Company in January, I made up my mind to take a few months' rest, and with Mrs. Stilwell went to Old Point Comfort. I afterwards returned to Kansas City to be with Dr. Woods, Mr. Rule and other friends and talk over the future. The day before I arrived I had designed the Orient Road, but told no one of it except Mrs. Stilwell and Dr. Woods. Among my friends in Kansas City was Mr. A. F. Nathan, manager of one of the large packing houses. He went to see a number of my friends, and the outcome was a banquet at the Midland Hotel, February tenth, nineteen hundred, where I was presented with a silver loving cup.

     It was after twelve when my time came to speak. There had been wonderful speeches: Father Dalton, the leading Jewish rabbi, the leading Presbyterian minister leading business men from all trades, had all told of my work for Kansas City and the upbuilding of the South; then came the loving cup. What a happy night it was for me! How it strengthened me in the determination that I would give to Kansas City one more great road. And had it not been for these financial cannibals and these respectable scoundrels, Kansas City would long ago have had that road.

     I arose, thanked the dear friends for their kind words, and told them there was no complaint from me. I had built a great terminal road and a great road south; I had lost it, but it was there for mankind; as mankind and the world had won, and as I was part of the world, I therefore had also won. "But." I said, "my friends, I brought the Gulf of Mexico one hundred and fourteen miles nearer Kansas City. Now I am going to build a new road and bring the Pacific four hundred miles nearer." They looked at me in wonder. They thought they had come to a funeral, and they found a wedding. But on the way home that night a number of my hosts, who, I am afraid, thought my great losses had affected my mind, asked how I could bring the Pacific ocean four hundred miles nearer Kansas City. A glance at the map would have explained it.

     The next day the Kansas City papers were full; the new road and the idea was the property of the world. I wish here to thank Mr. Nathan and all the dear friends at that dinner. It did a world of good for a man who had fought a fight for honor in business --a fight for the understanding that a trust was not a private snap.

 

Arthur Edward Stilwell, Visionary

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