100 years ago on this day in 1919, the “Spirit of Pessimism” was laid to rest under a bronze plaque on the corner of the Stark County Courthouse. Today the plaque, which is known as “It Can’t Be Done” is laid outside of the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum garden on the right side of the main entrance.
Donated by the Timken Detroit Axle Company, the plaque states:
“It Can’t Be Done”
Killed in 5th Liberty Loan
April 30, 1919
Buried July 4, 1919
By Liberty Loan Organization
May He Long Be Dead
In 1914, World War I began and by 1917, America became involved and had to come up with ways to pay for the war. This need was met by the “War Bond,” which sought to gain capital during the war. Through Liberty Loans, war bonds were made to invoke patriotism and to purchase one would often be seen as a civic duty to the country as a citizen. These bonds were not received well by the public and fear began to rise as the war continued. In the end though, the war efforts and the help of the American people proved to be successful.
This plaque was preceded by the support of World War I and the fear of many Americans who believed that money would not be raised fast enough or not at all. This was a trying time for all Americans who were suffering and in a state of despair as the war ended. However, in the end, victory broke through the negative perspective of the time. The spirit of pessimism dropped as the spirits of the people who grew in determination to knock down the naysayers of the day. Raising money for the national defense was met with the phrase, “It can’t be done!” Unafraid and full of hope, the American believers marched through the negativity to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
From our own, Executive Director Kim Kenney’s book “Canton: A Journey Through Time,” she writes “It was said that “Can’t” was killed by the Liberty Loan Organization, murdered by a city who out sold its quota in war bonds. A mock funeral service was held in Public Square.”
The service was conducted by Attorney George H. Clark, who gave a speech that brought smiles to the people who were gathered around:
With the declaration of war, It Can’t Be Done saw the opportunity to justify for all time the existence of the doctrine of failure. We had to raise an army. It Can’t Be Done snarled at our heels. We had to raise money for national defense. It Can’t Be Done yelped discord and growled failure.
But, the people grew in thought, in spirit, in resolve, in spirituality. They wearied not of well doing. They joined shoulder to shoulder in mighty effort. They kicked out of the way the snappers and the yelpers. They chastised the big growlers and they interred the vicious and the malicious.
And so undeterred, unafraid and determined, they marched forward to glorious victory, and starved to death for lack of friends It Can’t Be Done in this community. It died, and we are met to bury it deep for all time.
It was a day of determination and the rewards of perseverance brought from the war.
It is a testament of its time and to this day, it is a symbol of determination and perseverance that withstood the negativity.
In memory of this plaque, remember these words by Attorney George H. Clark:
“In this community, “It Can’t Be Done” is dead and by these ceremonies buried. Peace to its ashes!”