„I have generally made it a rule to parry the inquiries and comparisons which the Americans are so apt to thrust at an Englishman. On one or two occasions, when the party has been numerous and worth powder and shot, I have, however, on being hard pressed, and finding my British blood up, found the only mode of allaying their inordinate vanity to be by resorting to this mode of argument:—"I admit all that you or any other person can, could, may, or might advance in praise of the past career of the people of America. Nay, more, I will myself assert that no nation ever did, and in my opinion none ever will, achieve such a title to respect, wonder, and gratitude in so short a period; and further still, I venture to allege that the imagination of statesmen never dreamed of a country that should in half a century make such prodigious advances in civilization and real greatness as yours has done. And now I must add, and I am sure you, as intelligent, reasonable men, will go with me, that fifty years are too short a period in the existence of nations to entitle them to the palm of history. No, wait the ordeal of wars, distresses, and prosperity (the most dangerous of all), which centuries of duration are sure to bring to your country. These are the test, and if, many ages hence, your descendants shall be able only to say of their country as much as I am entitled to say of mine now, that for seven hundred years we have existed as a nation constantly advancing in liberty, wealth, and refinement; holding out the lights of philosophy and true religion to all the world; presenting mankind with the greatest of human institutions in the trial by jury; and that we are the only modern people that for so long a time withstood the attacks of enemies so heroically that a foreign foe never put foot in our capital except as a prisoner (this last is a poser);—if many centuries hence your descendants will be entitled to say something equivalent to this, then, and not till then, will you be entitled to that crown of fame which the historian of centuries is entitled to award."“
— Richard Cobden
Letter to F. Cobden (5 July 1835) during his visit to the United States, quoted in John Morley, The Life of Richard Cobden (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1905), pp. 33-34.