Into the chilled
October night, four figures cut through the darkness. Over the railroad tracks,
down an unpaved street, past the stately homes and silent shops, they quietly
made their way to a group of gray, wooden buildings.
The short, elderly man in the middle seemed to be the focus of their concerns
as the group ascended the stairs to the second floor of the long building
in the center of the complex. One man held his arm in respectful assistance.
At the top of the stairs another helped him out of his coat. The third led
him to a seat at the end of a long workbench.
In front of his chair a plank of wood about six feet high and six inches
across had been erected. On the wood plank were tubes and wires, running
from the top, down to the floor. The old man paused for a moment, brushed
a lock of white hair from his eyes and began to work. One of the men assisted
while the others watched. The work went on for a few minutes. Finally, the
newly created device began to glow. Moments later, to the sounds of cheering,
the entire village outside the window was bathed in light.
It was October 21, 1929. The place was Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan,
specifically at the newly reconstructed Menlo Park laboratory compound. The
two observers were President Herbert Hoover and auto producer Henry Ford.
The elderly gentleman was renowned inventor Thomas Edison and the fourth
was Francis Jehl, a former Edison assistant and renowned scientist in his
own right. The event was the Golden Anniversary of the invention of electric
light. Edison was there to reenact that historic night fifty years before
when he had started man on the road to the future.
Fifty years before, in this very Menlo Park, New Jersey laboratory, now relocated
to Greenfield Village by Henry Ford, Edison had filed patents for more than
1,000 inventions including the electric light, phonograph, motion picture
projector and even major developments of the telephone. Here in this old
wooden building, resembling more a barn than a laboratory, Thomas A. Edison
created the beginnings of our modern world.
During the Chicago Exposition of 1893, the question was asked: “What American
now living will be the most honored in the 1990’s?” The overwhelming choice
was Thomas Edison.
Americans of the 1890’s could never conceive that modern movements would
actually advocate eliminating technology from our lives – or that such mindless
brutes would actually have credibility with government leaders. Earlier Americans
would never have taken seriously advocates opposed to ideas that could make
life easier, more fulfilling or less dangerous. They had never heard of the
National Education Association and the Federal Department of Education or
of earth-worshipping, luddite environmentalists, and UN globalists. Now,
one hundred years later, how ironic it is that the very man they thought
would be the most honored by us is now dropped from mere mention in America’s
history books. Such a fact speaks volumes about our own era’s place in the
history of man’s progress.
Without Thomas Edison, American living standards would still be at the level
of much of today’s modern China, where vast regions exist with candlelight
and plow horses. There would be no computers, no central heating and no space
exploration. Hollywood mouthpieces like Barbra Streisand who hate America’s
free enterprise system that spawned Thomas Edison should take note that without
his vision and the freedom to pursue it, there would be no movie stars and
no recording industry. Edison invented those, too.
In the new socially engineered “dark ages” now descending over our modern
American society, Thomas Edison’s accomplishments are irrelevant, perhaps
even threatening to those authors of the new standards now controlling the
current version of American history.
Those responsible for today’s restructured education system which emphasizes
menial job training over education, knew exactly what they were doing in
leaving out the great leaders of our nation, including Edison, Ford, Thomas
Jefferson and most of the founding fathers. Today’s reinvented schools
represent the core of the anti-development, anti-technology leviathan, fueled
by new age superstition and pagan earth worship rather than scientific fact
and human progress. Is it any wonder that the accomplishments of Thomas Edison
would stand as a threat to their worldview of a renewed society of cave dwellers?
Americans of the 1890’s knew there was a better life in Thomas Edison’s inventions.
Before his accomplishments, life had been harsh. Children died at early ages.
Mothers toiled from dawn till dusk. Fathers tilled their fields by hand or
with the help of slow, overburdened animals. Leisure time was a little known
luxury. However, in their primitive world, children in the classrooms learned
how to read and write, add and subtract. And they learned of the great feats
of their forefathers and the incredible history of their homeland.
Because of the free, inventive minds of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, the Wright
Brothers and many more, America created a society that became the envy of
That’s why, on the night Edison sat down to recreate his invention of the
light bulb, some four hundred dignitaries gathered to honor him. They waited
in the great hall of the Henry Ford Museum as Edison, Ford, Hoover and Jehl
recreated that historic feat in the old laboratory. When it was finished,
the generators were turned on and Greenfield Village and the great hall were
flooded in light.
When he completed the task, Thomas Edison pushed back his chair, breathed
deeply, stood up and left the building, never to return. Henry Ford, understanding
the significance of the moment on future generations, had the chair nailed
to the floor where Edison left it.
Henry Ford understood Thomas Edison’s greatness and his unmatchable contribution
to human progress but today’s children, blocked from learning about him in
modern classrooms may never know of the man who brought us from darkness.
Tom DeWeese is publisher and editor of The DeWeese Report and president of the American Policy Center, a grassroots, activist think tank headquartered in Warrenton, VA.