Detroit, Mich., January 2, 1901.
Dear Brother:—Thinking that the enclosed clippings may contain some thought of interest to the Field at large, I venture to send them, with a copy of the Mayor's letter to myself. It was he who introduced me at my lecture in November, and at its close expressed a great deal of interest in the subject. At his request, I prepared the article referred to, and it was laid away with the others to be opened a century hence, no one but the writers being aware of the contents at present time, so far as I know.
Yours in Truth,
Executive Office, Detroit, Michigan,
December 29, 1900.
Subject: "Growth of Christian Science in Detroit in the Twentieth Century."
My Dear Madam:—I am particularly desirous that those who witness the coming of the twenty-first century shall have every evidence that those who are permitted to see the opening of the twentieth century have appreciated the glorious inheritance of the century closing, and I am desirous that there should be put on record letters from men prominent in the commercial, religious, professional, and moral ongoing of the city and state. The letters so prepared will be placed in a box and sealed, to be opened a century hence. I have therefore asked ladies and gentlemen prominent in these various departments of life's work to prepare for me a paper, yours to be on the subject named above, made as concise as possible, and to be deposited as heretofore stated. I will place in the box with the papers a certificate that each paper was handed to me on the closing day of the nineteenth century, that the box was deposited in the archives of the city on the opening day of the twentieth century.
If such a box had been deposited one hundred years ago, how many facts of the history of Michigan, as well as of Detroit, would be disclosed that are now lost, and things which we now look upon as history would, from such a record, be proven to be but legend or fable.
I believe that the papers which I am seeking to put away in this form will be invaluable in the long future, and that the generation which is privileged to open the box will be grateful for what we have done for them. Please do not disappoint me, but prepare, on good paper, such an article, retrospective and prospective in character, and for the purpose for which I intend it. The paper should be in my hands Monday afternoon or evening, without fail.
Thanking you in advance for your kindly aid in this matter, I am,
Most cordially yours,
P. S. Please send your letter sealed, putting the subject and name on the outside of the envelope.
The following account of how Mayor Maybury's unique idea was successfully carried out, was published in the Detroit Evening News of January 1, 1901.
Mayor Maybury's office was crowded with the city officials, members of the various municipal commissions, prominent citizens and their wives and families, last night, to witness one of the most unique and impressive ceremonies that has ever taken place in the history of Detroit. It was nothing less than the sealing of the greetings of Detroit of the present to the Detroit, its mayor and government and people, of a hundred years from now.
Mayor Maybury read to those assembled the message to the people of that far-off time which he had prepared in his position as chief executive of the city. To those gathered in the office, it was a time of great solemnity, for the mayor referred to the fact that not one of those present would be present at the opening of the box. Before he had finished the reading the City Hall clock struck the first stroke of twelve, and the waiting crowds outside broke into tumultuous applause and cheering as a welcome to the new century.
Then the mayor finished reading his beautiful greeting, and the listeners cheered. For a few moments the crowd went out upon the front steps of the City Hall, where a flash-light picture was taken by C. M. Hayes. Then they again came within and the box, containing its many documents, was officially sealed by Benjamin Guiney to be kept unopened in the city archives until the beginning of the twenty-first century. The mayor's message to that time and generation is as follows:—
Detroit, December 31, 1900.
To his honor the mayor of Detroit in 2001 and the generation whose privilege, and, I trust, pleasure, it will be to read the contents of this box—health and greeting:—
The papers herein contained, now for the first time brought to light by you, after a retirement of one hundred years, were prepared at my request by men and women prominent in the activities of Detroit at the close of the nineteenth century. Our desire is to convey to you across the long span of the century as clear an insight as is possible, into the social, religious, moral, commercial, and political affairs of Detroit. It will be to you a testimony from living witnesses of the events which they chronicle and conditions which they describe. From testimony so transmitted you will be better able to discern what advancement you have made from the modest beginnings to which we are witnesses.
We are well aware that the century closing has been marvelous in its achievements, and we might be fairly excused for believing that the limit of possibilities has been accomplished in many ways; but on the contrary, we do not so believe, because the past has taught us that what seemed to be impossible has been already accomplished, and we would therefore not be greatly surprised at greater accomplishments in the future.
We communicate by telegraph and telephone over distances that at the opening of the nineteenth century were insurmountable. We travel at a rate not dreamed of then. The powers of electricity have been applied marvelously. and compressed air and other agencies are now undergoing promising experiment. We travel by railroad and steam power from Detroit to Chicago in less than eight hours, and to New York City by several routes in less than twenty hours. How much faster are you traveling? How much farther have you annihilated time and space, and what agencies are you employing to which we are strangers? We talk by long-distance telephone to the remotest cities in our own country, and with a fair degree of practical success. Are you talking to foreign lands and to the islands of the sea by the same method?
And so throughout all the various pathways of human progress, the papers in this box will bring to your notice a knowledge of present conditions, and possibly words somewhat prophetic of the future. How correct our prophetic of the future. How correct our prophecies may be we know not, for we write them in doubt and yet in hopefulness. We write them in the fervent belief that you will stand upon a vantage ground of experience far higher and more resplendent than our own. We ask, therefore, for those who assume to prophesy, your kindliest consideration and judgment, especially when we assure you that these prophets are not without honor, even in their own country and in their own time.
If we may judge from the history of human life and all experience, very few, if any, of the three hundred thousand souls who are now inhabitants of Detroit will exist when you have opened this box which we have so solemnly closed. And yet it may be possible that much which we accept from faith may be to you then knowledge, and possibly that that knowledge may come with consciousness that we may be witnesses and even listeners to the voices that will interpret the words we have written. Begging that you will accept for helpfulness all that tends to your information and good, and look most kindly upon these which may seem at your time to be at fault, I close this tribute.
May we be permitted to express one supreme hope — that whatever failures the coming century may have in the progress of things material, you may be conscious when the century is over that, as a nation, people, and city, you have grown in righteousness, for it is this that exalts a nation.
Respectfully and affectionately submitted,