When God would prepare Moses for emancipation, he overthrew his first steps and drove him for forty years to brood in the wilderness. When our flag came down, four years it lay brooding in darkness. It cried to the Lord, "Wherefore am I deposed?" Then arose before it a vision of its sin. It had strengthened the strong, and forgotten the weak. It proclaimed liberty, but trod upon slaves. In that seclusion it dedicated itself to liberty. Behold, to-day, it fulfills its vows! When it went down four million people had no flag. To-day it rises, and four million people cry out, "Behold our flag!" Hark! they murmur. It is the Gospel that they recite in sacred words: "It is a Gospel to the poor, it heals our broken hearts, it preaches deliverance to captives, it gives sight to the blind, it sets at liberty them that are bruised." Rise up then, glorious Gospel banner, and roll out these messages of God. Tell the air that not a spot now sullies thy whiteness. Thy red is not the blush of shame, but the flush of joy. Tell the dews that wash thee that thou art as pure as they. Say to the night that thy stars lead toward the morning; and to the morning, that a brighter day arises with healing in its wings. And then, O glowing flag, bid the sun pour light on all thy folds with double brightness while thou art bearing round and round the world the solemn joy—a race set free! a nation redeemed! The mighty hand of government, made strong in war by the favor of the God of Battles, spreads wide to-day the banner of liberty that went down in darkness, that arose in light; and there it streams, like the sun above it, neither parceled out nor monopolized, but flooding the air with light for all mankind. Ye scattered and broken, ye wounded and dying, bitten by the fiery serpents of oppression, everywhere, in all the world, look upon this sign, lifted up, and live! And ye homeless and houseless slaves, look, and ye are free! At length you, too, have part and lot in this glorious ensign that broods with impartial love over small and great, the poor and the strong, the bond and the free. In this solemn hour, let us pray for the quick coming of reconciliation and happiness under this common flag. But we must build again, from the foundations, in all these now free Southern States. No cheap exhortations "to forgetfulness of the past, to restore all things as they were," will do. God does not stretch out his hand, as he has for four dreadful years, that men may easily forget the might of his terrible acts. Restore things as they were! What, the alienations and jealousies, the discords and contentions, and the causes of them? No. In that solemn sacrifice on which a nation has offered for its sins so many precious victims, loved and lamented, let our sins and mistakes be consumed utterly and forever. No, never again shall things be restored as before the war. It is written in God's decree of events fulfilled, "Old things are passed away." That new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness, draws near. Things as they were! Who has an omnipotent hand to restore a million dead, slain in battle or wasted by sickness, or dying of grief, broken-hearted? Who has omniscience to search for the scattered ones? Who shall restore the lost to broken families? Who shall bring back the squandered treasure, the years of industry wasted, and convince you that four years of guilty rebellion and cruel war are no more than dirt upon the hand, which a moment's washing removes and leaves the hand clean as before? Such a war reaches down to the very vitals of society. Emerging from such a prolonged rebellion, he is blind who tells you that the State, by a mere amnesty and benevolence of government, can be put again, by a mere decree, in its old place. It would not be honest, it would not be kind or fraternal, for me to pretend that Southern revolution against the Union has not reacted, and wrought revolution in the Southern States themselves, and inaugurated a new dispensation. Society here is like a broken loom, and the piece which Rebellion put in, and was weaving, has been cut, and every thread broken. You must put in new warp and new woof, and weaving anew, as the fabric slowly unwinds we shall see in it no Gorgon figures, no hideous grotesques of the old barbarism, but the figures of liberty, vines, and golden grains, framing in the heads of justice, love, and liberty. The august convention of 1787 formed the Constitution with this memorable preamble: "We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain this Constitution for the United States of America." Again, in the awful convention of war, the people of the United States, for the very ends just recited, have debated, settled, and ordained certain fundamental truths, which must henceforth be accepted and obeyed. Nor is any State nor any individual wise who shall disregard them. They are to civil affairs what the natural laws are to health—indispensable conditions of peace and happiness. What are the ordinances given by the people, speaking out of fire and darkness of war, with authority inspired by that same God who gave the law from Sinai amid thunders and trumpet voices? 1. That these United States shall be one and indivisible. 2. That States have not absolute sovereignty, and have no right to dismember the Republic. 3. That universal liberty is indispensable to republican government, and that slavery shall be utterly and forever abolished.
Such are the results of war! These are the best fruits of the war. They are worth all they have cost. They are foundations of peace. They will secure benefits to all nations as well as to ours. Our highest wisdom and duty is to accept the facts as the decrees of God. We are exhorted to forget all that has happened. Yes, the wrath, the conflict, the cruelty, but not those overruling decrees of God which this war has pronounced. As solemnly as on Mount Sinai, God says, "Remember! remember!" Hear it to-day. Under this sun, tinder that bright child of the sun, our banner, with the eyes of this nation and of the world upon us, we repeat the syllables of God's providence and recite the solemn decrees: No more Disunion! No more Secession! No more Slavery! Why did this civil war begin? We do not wonder that European statesmen failed to comprehend this conflict, and that foreign philanthropists were shocked at a murderous war that seemed to have no moral origin, but, like the brutal fights of beasts of prey, to have sprung from ferocious animalism. This great nation, filling all profitable latitudes, cradled between two oceans, with inexhaustible resources, with riches increasing in an unparalleled ratio, by agriculture, by manufactures, by commerce, with schools and churches, with books and newspapers thick as leaves in our own forests, with institutions sprung from the people, and peculiarly adapted to their genius; a nation not sluggish, but active, used to excitement, practiced in political wisdom, and accustomed to self-government, and all its vast outlying parts held together by the Federal government, mild in temper, gentle in administration, and beneficent in results, seemed to have been formed for peace. All at once, in this hemisphere of happiness and hope, there came trooping clouds with fiery bolts, full of death and desolation. At a cannon shot upon this fort, all the nation, as if it had been a trained army lying on its arms, awaiting a signal, rose up and began a war which, for awfulness, rises into the front rank of bad eminence. The front of the battle, going with the sun, was twelve hundred miles long; and the depth, measured along a meridian, was a thousand miles. In this vast area more than two million men, first and last, for four years, have, in skirmish, fight, and battle, met in more than a thousand conflicts; while a coast and river line, not less than four thousand miles in length, has swarmed with fleets freighted with artillery. The very industry of the country seemed to have been touched by some infernal wand, and, with sudden wheel, changed its front from peace to war. The anvils of the land beat like drums. As out of the ooze emerge monsters, so from our mines and foundries uprose new and strange machines of war, ironclad. And so, in a nation of peaceful habits, without external provocation, there arose such a storm of war as blackened the whole horizon and hemisphere. What wonder that foreign observers stood amazed at this fanatical fury, that seemed without Divine guidance, but inspired wholly with infernal frenzy. The explosion was sudden, but the train had long been laid. We must consider the condition of Southern society, if we would understand the mystery of this iniquity. Society in the South resolves itself into three divisions, more sharply distinguished than in any other part of the nation. At the base is the laboring class, made up of slaves. Next is the middle class, made up of traders, small farmers, and poor men. The lower edge of this class touches the slave, and the upper edge reaches up to the third and ruling class. This class was a small minority in numbers, but in practical ability they had centred in their hands the whole government of the South, and had mainly governed the country. Upon this polished, cultured, exceedingly capable, and wholly unprincipled class, rests the whole burden of this war. Forced up by the bottom heat of slavery, the ruling class in all the disloyal States arrogated to themselves a superiority not compatible with republican equality, nor with just morals. They claimed a right of pre-eminence. An evil prophet arose who trained these wild and luxuriant shoots of ambition to the shapely form of a political philosophy. By its reagents they precipitated drudgery to the bottom of society, and left at the top what they thought to be a clarified fluid. In their political economy, labor was to be owned by capital; in their theory of government, the few were to rule the many. They boldly avowed, not the fact alone, that, under all forms of government, the few rule the many, but their right and duty to do so. Set free from the necessity of labor, they conceived a contempt for those who felt its wholesome regimen. Believing themselves foreordained to supremacy, they regarded the popular vote, when it failed to register their wishes, as an intrusion and a nuisance. They were born in a garden, and popular liberty, like freshets overswelling their banks, but covered their dainty walks and flowers with slime and mud—of democratic votes. When, with shrewd observation, they saw the growth of the popular element in the Northern States, they instinctively took in the inevitable events. It must be controlled or cut off from a nation governed by gentlemen! Controlled, less and less, could it be in every decade; and they prepared secretly, earnestly, and with wide conference and mutual connivance, to separate the South from the North. We are to distinguish between the pretenses and means, and the real causes of this war. To inflame and unite the great middle class of the South, who had no interest in separation and no business with war, they alleged grievances that never existed, and employed arguments which they, better than all other men, knew to be specious and false.
Slavery itself was cared for only as an instrument of power or of excitement. They had unalterably fixed their eye upon empire, and all was good which would secure that, and bad which hindered it. Thus, the ruling class of the South—an aristocracy as intense, proud, and inflexible as ever existed—not limited either by customs or institutions, not recognised and adjusted in the regular order of society, playing a reciprocal part in its machinery, but secret, disowning its own existence, baptized with ostentatious names of democracy, obsequious to the people for the sake of governing them; this nameless, lurking aristocracy, that ran in the blood of society like a rash not yet come to the skin; this political tapeworm, that produced nothing, but lay coiled in the body, feeding on its nutriment, and holding the whole structure to be but a servant set up to nourish it—this aristocracy of the plantation, with firm and deliberate resolve, brought on the war, that they might cut the land in two, and, clearing themselves from an incorrigibly free society, set up a sterner, statelier empire, where slaves worked that gentlemen might live at ease. Nor can there be any doubt that though, at first, they meant to erect the form of republican government, this was but a device, a step necessary to the securing of that power by which they should be able to change the whole economy of society. That they never dreamed of such a war, we may well believe. That they would have accepted it, though twice as bloody, if only thus they could rule, none can doubt that knows the temper of these worst men of modern society. But they miscalculated. They understood the people of the South; but they were totally incapable of understanding the character of the great working classes of the loyal States. That industry, which is the foundation of independence, and so of equity, they stigmatized as stupid drudgery, or as mean avarice. That general intelligence and independence of thought which schools for the common people and newspapers breed, they reviled as the incitement of unsettled zeal, running easily into fanaticism. They more thoroughly misunderstood the profound sentiment of loyality, the deep love of country, which pervaded the common people. If those who knew them best had never suspected the depth and power of that love of country which threw it into an agony of grief when the flag was here humbled, how should they conceive of it who were wholly disjoined from them in sympathy? The whole land rose up, you remember, when the flag came down, as if inspired unconsciously by the breath of the Almighty, and the power of omnipotence. It was as when one pierces the banks of the Mississippi for a rivulet, and the whole raging stream plunges through with headlong course. There they calculated, and miscalculated! And more than all, they miscalculated the bravery of men who have been trained under law, who are civilized and hate personal brawls, who are so protected by society as to have dismissed all thought of self-defense, the whole force of whose life is turned to peaceful pursuits. These arrogant conspirators against government, with Chinese vanity, believed that they could blow away these self-respecting citizens as chaff from the battlefield. Few of them are left alive to ponder their mistake! Here, then, are the roots of this civil war. It was not a quarrel of wild beasts, it was an inflection of the strife of ages, between power and right, between ambition and equity. An armed band of pestilent conspirators sought the nation's life. Her children rose up and fought at every door and room and hall, to thrust out the murderers and save the house and household. It was not legitimately a war between the common people of the North and South. The war was set on by the ruling class, the aristocratic conspirators of the South. They suborned the common people with lies, with sophistries, with cruel deceits and slanders, to fight for secret objects which they abhorred, and against interests as dear to them as their own lives, I charge the whole guilt of this war upon the ambitious, educated, plotting, political leaders of the South. They have shed this ocean of blood. They have desolated the South. They have poured poverty through all her towns and cities. They have bewildered the imagination of the people with phantasms, and led them to believe that they were fighting for their homes and liberty, whose homes were unthreatened, and whose liberty was in no jeopardy. These arrogant instigators of civil war have renewed the plagues of Egypt, not that the oppressed might go free, but that the free might be oppressed. A day will come when God will reveal judgment, and arraign at his bar these mighty miscreants; and then, every orphan that their bloody game has made, and every widow that sits sorrowing, and every maimed and wounded sufferer, and every bereaved heart in all the wide regions of this land, will rise up and come before the Lord to lay upon these chief culprits of modern history their awful witness. And from a thousand battlefields shall rise up armies of airy witnesses, who, with the memory of their awful sufferings, shall confront the miscreants with shrieks of fierce accusation; and every pale and starved prisoner shall raise his skinny hand in judgment. Blood shall call out for vengeance, and tears shall plead for justice, and grief shall silently beckon, and love, heart-smitten, shall wail for justice. Good men and angels will cry out: "How long, O Lord, how long, wilt thou not avenge?" And, then, these guiltiest and most remorseless traitors, these high and cultured men,—with might and wisdom, used for the destruction of their country,—the most accursed and detested of all criminals, that have drenched a continent in needless blood, and moved the foundations of their times with hideous crimes and cruelty, caught up in black clouds, full of voices of vengeance and lurid with punishment, shall be whirled aloft and plunged downwards forever and forever in an endless retribution; while God shall say, "Thus shall it be to all who betray their country"; and all in heaven and upon the earth will say "Amen!"
But for the people misled, for the multitudes drafted and driven into this civil war, let not a trace of animosity remain. The moment their willing hand drops the musket, and they return to their allegiance, then stretch out your own honest right hand to greet them. Recall to them the old days of kindness. Our hearts wait for their redemption. All the resources of a renovated nation shall be applied to rebuild their prosperity, and smooth down the furrows of war. Has this long and weary period of strife been an unmingled evil? Has nothing been gained? Yes, much. This nation has attained to its manhood. Among Indian customs is one which admits young men to the rank of warriors only after severe trials of hunger, fatigue, pain, endurance. They reach their station, not through years, but ordeals. Our nation has suffered, but now is strong. The sentiment of loyalty and patriotism, next in importance to religion, has been rooted and grounded. We have something to be proud of, and pride helps love. Never so much as now did we love our country. But four such years of education in ideas, in the knowledge of political truth, in the love of history, in the geography of our own country, almost every inch of which we have probed with the bayonet, have never passed before. There is half a hundred years' advance in four. We believed in our institutions and principles before; but now we know their power. It is one thing to look upon artillery, and be sure that it is loaded; it is another thing to prove its power in battle! We believe in the hidden power stored in our institutions; we had never before seen this nation thundering like Mount Sinai at all those that worshiped the calf at the base of the mountain. A people educated and moral are competent to all the exigencies of national life. A vote can govern better than a crown. We have proved it. A people intelligent and religious are strong in all economic elements. They are fitted for peace and competent to war. They are not easily inflamed, and, when justly incensed, not easily extinguished. They are patient in adversity, endure cheerfully needful burdens, tax themselves to meet real wants more royally than any prince would dare to tax his people. They pour forth without stint relief for the sufferings of war, and raise charity out of the realm of a dole into a munificent duty of beneficence. The habit of industry among free men prepares them to meet the exhaustion of war with increase of productiveness commensurate with the need that exists. Their habits of skill enable them at once to supply such armies as only freedom can muster, with arms and munitions such as only free industry can create. Free society is terrible in war, and afterwards repairs the mischief of war with celerity almost as great as that with which the ocean heals the seams gashed in it by the keel of ploughing ships. Free society is fruitful of military genius. It comes when called; when no longer needed, it falls back as waves do to the level of the common sea, that no wave may be greater than the undivided water. With proof of strength so great, yet in its infancy, we stand up among the nations of the world, asking no privileges, asserting no rights, but quietly assuming our place, and determined to be second to none in the race of civilization and religion. Of all nations we are the most dangerous and the least to be feared. We need not expound the perils that wait upon enemies that assault us. They are sufficiently understood! But we are not a dangerous people because we are warlike. All the arrogant attitudes of this nation, so offensive to foreign governments, were inspired by slavery, and under the administration of its minions. Our tastes, our habits, our interests, and our principles, incline us to the arts of peace. This nation was founded by the common people for the common people. We are seeking to embody in public economy more liberty, with higher justice and virtue, than have been organized before. By the necessity of our doctrines, we are put in sympathy with the masses of men in all nations. It is not our business to subdue nations, but to augment the powers of the common people. The vulgar ambition of mere domination, as it belongs to universal human nature, may tempt us; but it is withstood by the whole force of our principles, our habits, our precedents, and our legends. We acknowledge the obligation which our better political principles lay upon us, to set an example more temperate, humane, and just, than monarchical governments can. We will not suffer wrong, and still less will we inflict it upon other nations. Nor are we concerned that so many, ignorant of our conflict, for the present, misconceive the reasons of our invincible military zeal. "Why contend," say they, "for a little territory that you do not need?" Because it is ours! Because it is the interest of every citizen to save it from becoming a fortress and refuge of iniquity. This nation is our house, and our fathers' house; and accursed be the man who will not defend it to the uttermost. More territory than we need! England, that is not large enough to be our pocket, may think that it is more than we need, because it is more than it needs; but we are better judges of what we need than others are.
Shall a philanthropist say to a banker, who defends himself against a robber, "Why do you need so much money?" But we will not reason with such questions. When any foreign nation willingly will divide its territory and give it cheerfully away, we will answer the question why we are fighting for territory! At present—for I pass to the consideration of benefits that accrue to the South in distinction from the rest of the nation—the South reaps only suffering; but good seed lies buried under the furrows of war, that peace will bring to harvest, 1. Deadly doctrines have been purged away in blood. The subtle poison of secession was a perpetual threat of revolution. The sword has ended that danger. That which reason had affirmed as a philosophy, that people have settled as a fact. Theory pronounces, "There can be no permanent government where each integral particle has liberty to fly off." Who would venture upon a voyage in a ship each plank and timber of which might withdraw at its pleasure? But the people have reasoned by the logic of the sword and of the ballot, and they have declared that States are inseparable parts of the national government. They are not sovereign. State rights remain; but sovereignty is a right higher than all others; and that has been made into a common stock for the benefit of all. All further agitation is ended. This element must be cast out of political problems. Henceforth that poison will not rankle in the blood. 2. Another thing has been learned: the rights and duties of minorities. The people of the whole nation are of more authority than the people of any section. These United States are supreme over Northern, Western, and Southern States. It ought not to have required the awful chastisement of this war to teach that a minority must submit the control of the nation's government to a majority. The army and navy have been good political schoolmasters. The lesson is learned. Not for many generations will it require further illustration. 3. No other lesson will be more fruitful of peace than the dispersion of those conceits of vanity, which, on either side, have clouded the recognition of the manly courage of all Americans. If it be a sign of manhood to be able to fight, then Americans are men. The North certainly is in no doubt whatever of the soldierly qualities of Southern men. Southern soldiers have learned that all latitudes breed courage on this continent. Courage is a passport to respect. The people of all the regions of this nation are likely hereafter to cherish a generous admiration of each other's prowess. The war has bred respect, and respect will breed affection, and affection peace and unity. 4. No other event of the war can fill an intelligent Southern man, of candid nature, with more surprise than the revelation of the capacity, moral and military, of the black race. It is a revelation indeed. No people were ever less understood by those most familiar with them. They were said to be lazy, lying, impudent, and cowardly wretches, driven by the whip alone to the tasks needful to their own support and the functions of civilization. They were said to be dangerous, bloodthirsty, liable to insurrection; but four years of tumultuous distress and war have rolled across the area inhabited by them, and I have yet to hear of one authentic instance of the misconduct of a colored man. They have been patient and gentle and docile, and full of faith and hope and piety; and, when summoned to freedom, they have emerged with all the signs and tokens that freedom will be to them what it was to us, the swaddling-band that shall bring them to manhood. And after the government, honoring them as men summoned them to the field, when once they were disciplined, and had learned the arts of war, they have proved themselves to be not second to their white brethren in arms. And when the roll of men that have shed their blood is called in the other land, many and many a dusky face will rise, dark no more when the light of eternal glory shall shine upon it from the throne of God! 5. The industry of the Southern States is regenerated, and now rests upon a basis that never fails to bring prosperity. Just now industry is collapsed; but it is not dead; it sleepeth. It is vital yet. It will spring like mown grass from the roots that need but showers and heat and time to bring them forth. Though in many districts not a generation will see wanton wastes of self-invoked war repaired, and many portions may lapse again to wilderness, yet, in our lifetime, we shall see States, as a whole, raised to a prosperity, vital, wholesome, and immovable, 6. The destruction of class interests, working with a religion which tends toward true democracy, in proportion as it is pure and free, will create a new era of prosperity for the common laboring people of the South, Upon them have come the labor, the toil, and the loss of this war. They have fought blindfolded. They have fought for a class that sought their degradation, while they were made to believe that it was for their own homes and altars. Their leaders meant a supremacy which would not long have left them political liberty, save in name. But their leaders are swept away. The sword has been hungry for the ruling classes. It has sought them out with remorseless zeal. New men are to rise up; new ideas are to bud and blossom; and there will be men with different ambition and altered policy. 7, Meanwhile, the South, no longer a land of plantations, but of farms; no longer tilled by slaves, but by freedmen, will find no hindrance to the spread of education. Schools will multiply. Books and papers will spread. Churches will bless every hamlet. There is a good day coming for the South. Through darkness and tears and blood she has sought it. It has been an unconscious via dolorosa. But in the end it will be worth all that it has cost. Her institutions before were deadly. She nourished death in her bosom. The greater her secular prosperity, the more sure was her ruin. Every year of delay but made the change more terrible. Now, by an earthquake, the evil is shaken down. And her own historians, in a better day, shall write, that from the day the sword cut off the cancer, she began to find her health. What, then, shall hinder the rebuilding of the Republic? The evil spirit is cast out: why should not this nation cease to wander among tombs, cutting itself? Why should it not come, clothed and in its right mind, to "sit at the feet of Jesus"? Is it feared that the government will oppress the conquered States? What possible motive has the government to narrow the base of that pyramid on which its own permanence depends? Is it feared that the rights of the States will be withheld? The South is not more jealous of State rights than the North. State rights from the earliest colonial days have been the peculiar pride and jealousy of New England. In every stage of national formation, it was peculiarly Northern, and not Southern, statesmen that guarded State rights as we were forming the Constitution. But once united, the loyal States gave up forever that which had been delegated to the national government. And now, in the hour of victory, the loyal States do not mean to trench upon Southern State rights. They will not do it, nor suffer it to be done. There is not to be one rule for high latitudes and another for low. We take nothing from the Southern States that has not already been taken from the Northern. The South shall have just those rights that every eastern, every middle, every western State has—no more, no less. We are not seeking our own aggrandizement by impoverishing the South. Its prosperity is an indispensable element of our own.
We have shown, by all that we have suffered in war, how great is our estimate of the Southern States of this Union; and we will measure that estimate, now, in peace, by still greater exertions for their rebuilding. Will reflecting men not perceive, then, the wisdom of accepting established facts, and, with alacrity of enterprise, begin to retrieve the past? Slavery cannot come back. It is the interest, therefore, of every man to hasten its end. Do you want more war? Are you not yet weary of contest? Will you gather up the unexploded fragments of this prodigious magazine of all mischief, and heap them up for continued explosions? Does not the South need peace? And, since free labor is inevitable, will you have it in its worst forms or in its best? Shall it be ignorant, impertinent, indolent, or shall it be educated, self-respecting, moral, and self-supporting? Will you have men as drudges, or will you have them as citizens? Since they have vindicated the government, and cemented its foundation stones with their blood, may they not offer the tribute of their support to maintain its laws and its policy? It is better for religion; it is better for political integrity; it is better for industry; it is better for money—if you will have that ground motive—that you should educate the black man, and, by education, make him a citizen. They who refuse education to the black man would turn the South into a vast poorhouse, and labor into a pendulum, incessantly vibrating between poverty and indolence. From this pulpit of broken stone we speak forth our earnest greeting to all our land. We offer to the President of these United States our solemn congratulations that God has sustained his life and health under the unparalleled burdens and sufferings of four bloody years, and permitted him to behold this auspicious consummation of that national unity for which he has waited with so much patience and fortitude, and for which he has labored with such disinterested wisdom. To the members of the government associated with him in the administration of perilous affairs in critical times; to the senators and representatives of the United States, who have eagerly fashioned the instruments by which the popular will might express and enforce itself, we tender our grateful thanks. To the officers and men of the army and navy, who have so faithfully, skillfully, and gloriously upheld their country's authority, by suffering, labor, and sublime courage, we offer a heart-tribute beyond the compass of words. Upon those true and faithful citizens, men and women, who have borne up with unflinching hope in the darkest hour, and covered the land with their labor of love and charity, we invoke the divinest blessing of him whom they have so truly imitated. But chiefly to thee, God of our fathers, we render thanksgiving and praise for that wondrous Providence that has brought forth from such a harvest of war the seed of so much liberty and peace! We invoke peace upon the North. Peace be to the West! Peace be upon the South! In the name of God we lift up our banner, and dedicate it to peace, union, and liberty, now and for evermore! Amen.
EFFECT OF THE DEATH OF LINCOLN (Delivered in Brooklyn, April 16th. 1865)
Again a great leader of the people has passed through toil, sorrow, battle, and war, and come near to the promised land of peace, into which he might not pass over. Who shall recount our martyr's sufferings for this people? Since the November of 1860, his horizon has been black with storms. By day and by night, he trod a way of danger and darkness. On his shoulders rested a government dearer to him than his own life. At its integrity millions of men were striking at home. Upon this government foreign eyes lowered. It stood like a lone island in a sea full of storms, and every tide and wave seemed eager to devour it. Upon thousands of hearts great sorrows and anxieties have rested, but not on one such, and in such measure, as upon that simple, truthful, noble soul, our faithful and sainted Lincoln. Never rising to the enthusiasm of more impassioned natures in hours of hope, and never sinking with the mercurial in hours of defeat to the depths of despondency, he held on with unmovable patience and fortitude, putting caution against hope, that it might not be premature, and hope against caution, that it might not yield to dread and danger. He wrestled ceaselessly, through four black and dreadful purgatorial years, wherein God was cleansing the sin of his people as by fire.
At last, the watcher beheld the gray dawn for the country. The mountains began to give forth their forms from out the darkness, and the East came rushing toward us with arms full of joy for all our sorrows. Then it was for him to be glad exceedingly that had sorrowed immeasurably. Peace could bring to no other heart such joy, such rest, such honor, such trust, such gratitude. But he looked upon it as Moses looked upon the promised land. Then the wail of a nation proclaimed that he had gone from among us. Not thine the sorrow, but ours, sainted soul. Thou hast, indeed, entered the promised land, while we are yet on the march. To us remains the rocking of the deep, the storm upon the land, days of duty and nights of watching; but thou art sphered high above all darkness and fear, beyond all sorrow and weariness. Rest, O weary heart! Rejoice exceedingly, thou that hast enough suffered! Thou hast beheld him who invisibly led thee in this great wilderness. Thou standest among the elect. Around thee are the royal men that have ennobled human life in every age. Kingly art thou, with glory on thy brow as a diadem. And joy is upon thee for evermore. Over all this land, over all the little cloud of years that now from thine infinite horizon moves back as a speck, thou art lifted up as high as the star is above the clouds that bide us, but never reach it. In the goodly company of Mount Zion thou shalt find that rest which thou hast sorrowing sought in vain; and thy name, an everlasting name in heaven, shall flourish in fragrance and beauty as long as men shall last upon the earth, or hearts remain, to revere truth, fidelity, and goodness.
Never did two such orbs of experience meet in one hemisphere, as the joy and the sorrow of the same week in this land. The joy was as sudden as if no man had expected it, and as entrancing as if it had fallen a sphere from heaven. It rose up over sobriety, and swept business from its moorings, and ran down through the land in irresistible course. Men embraced each other in brotherhood that were strangers in the flesh. They sang, or prayed, or, deeper yet, many could only think thanksgiving and weep gladness. That peace was sure; that government was firmer than ever; that the land was cleansed of plague; that the ages were opening to our footsteps, and we were to begin a march of blessings; that blood was staunched, and scowling enmities were sinking like storms beneath the horizon; that the dear fatherland, nothing lost, much gained, was to rise up in unexampled honor among the nations of the earth—these thoughts, and that undistinguishable throng of fancies, and hopes, and desires, and yearnings, that filled the soul with tremblings like the heated air of midsummer days—all these kindled up such a surge of joy as no words may describe.
In one hour joy lay without a pulse, without a gleam or breath. A sorrow came that swept through the land as huge storms sweep through the forest and field, rolling thunder along the sky, disheveling the flowers, daunting every singer in thicket or forest, and pouring blackness and darkness across the land and up the mountains. Did ever so many hearts, in so brief a time, touch two such boundless feelings? It was the uttermost of joy; it was the uttermost of sorrow—noon and midnight, without a space between.
The blow brought not a sharp pang. It was so terrible that at first it stunned sensibility. Citizens were like men awakened at midnight by an earthquake and bewildered to find everything that they were accustomed to trust wavering and falling. The very earth was no longer solid. The first feeling was the least. Men waited to get straight to feel. They wandered in the streets as if groping after some impending dread, or undeveloped sorrow, or some one to tell them what ailed them. They met each other as if each would ask the other, "Am I awake, or do I dream?" There was a piteous helplessness. Strong men bowed down and wept. Other and common griefs belonged to some one in chief; this belonged to all. It was each and every man's. Every virtuous household in the land felt as if its firstborn were gone. Men were bereaved and walked for days as if a corpse lay unburied in their dwellings. There was nothing else to think of. They could speak of nothing but that; and yet of that they could speak only falteringly. All business was laid aside. Pleasure forgot to smile. The city for nearly a week ceased to roar. The great Leviathan lay down, and was still. Even avarice stood still, and greed was strangely moved to generous sympathy and universal sorrow. Rear to his name monuments, found charitable institutions, and write his name above their lintels; but no monument will ever equal the universal, spontaneous, and sublime sorrow that in a moment swept down lines and parties, and covered up animosities, and in an hour brought a divided people into unity of grief and indivisible fellowship of anguish. ...
This nation has dissolved—but in tears only. It stands foursquare, more solid to-day than any pyramid in Egypt. This people are neither wasted, nor daunted, nor disordered. Men hate slavery and love liberty with stronger hate and love to-day than ever before. The government is not weakened, it is made stronger. How naturally and easily were the ranks closed! Another steps forward, in the hour that the one fell, to take his place and his mantle; and I avow my belief that he will be found a man true to every instinct of liberty; true to the whole trust that is reposed in him; vigilant of the Constitution; careful of the laws; wise for liberty, in that he himself, through his life, has known what it was to suffer from the stings of slavery, and to prize liberty from bitter personal experiences.
Where could the head of government in any monarchy be smitten down by the hand of an assassin, and the funds not quiver or fall one-half of one per cent? After a long period of national disturbance, after four years of drastic war, after tremendous drafts on the resources of the country, in the height and top of our burdens, the heart of this people is such that now, when the head of government is stricken down, the public funds do not waver, but stand as the granite ribs in our mountains.
Republican institutions have been vindicated in this experience as they never were before; and the whole history of the last four years, rounded up by this cruel stroke, seems, in the providence of God, to have been clothed, now, with an illustration, with a sympathy, with an aptness, and with a significance, such as we never could have expected nor imagined. God, I think, has said, by the voice of this event, to all nations of the earth, "Republican liberty, based upon true Christianity, is firm as the foundation of the globe."
Even he who now sleeps has, by this event, been clothed with new influence. Dead, he speaks to men who now willingly hear what before they refused to listen to. Now his simple and weighty words will be gathered like those of Washington, and your children and your children's children shall be taught to ponder the simplicity and deep wisdom of utterances which, in their time, passed, in party heat, as idle words. Men will receive a new impulse of patriotism for his sake and will guard with zeal the whole country which he loved so well. I swear you, on the altar of his memory, to be more faithful to the country for which he has perished. They will, as they follow his hearse, swear a new hatred to that slavery against which he warred, and which, in vanquishing him, has made him a martyr and a conqueror. I swear you, by the memory of this martyr, to hate slavery with an unappeasable hatred. They will admire and imitate the firmness of this man, his inflexible conscience for the right, and yet his gentleness, as tender as a woman's, his moderation of spirit, which not all the heat of party could inflame, nor all the jars and disturbances of his country shake out of place. I swear you to an emulation of his justice, his moderation, and his mercy.
You I can comfort; but how can I speak to that twilight million to whom his name was as the name of an angel of God? There will be wailing in places which no minister shall be able to reach. When, in hovel and in cot, in wood and in wilderness, in the field throughout the South, the dusky children, who looked upon him as that Moses whom God sent before them to lead them out of the land of bondage, learn that he has fallen, who shall comfort them? O, thou Shepherd of Israel, that didst comfort thy people of old, to thy care we commit the helpless, the long-wronged, and grieved.
And now the martyr is moving in triumphal march, mightier than when alive. The nation rises up at every stage of his coming. Cities and States are his pallbearers, and the cannon beats the hours with solemn progression. Dead, dead, dead, he yet speaketh. Is Washington dead? Is Hampden dead? Is David dead? Is any man that ever was fit to live dead? Disenthralled of flesh, and risen in the unobstructed sphere where passion never comes, he begins his illimitable work. His life now is grafted upon the infinite, and will be fruitful as no earthly life can be. Pass on, thou that hast overcome. Your sorrows, O people, are his peace. Your bells and bands and muffled drums sound triumph in his ear. Wail and weep here; God made it echo joy and triumph there. Pass on.
Four years ago, O Illinois, we took from your midst an untried man and from among the people. We return him to you a mighty conqueror. Not thine any more, but the nation's; not ours, but the world's. Give him place, O ye prairies. In the midst of this great continent his dust shall rest, a sacred treasure to myriads who shall pilgrim to that shrine to kindle anew their zeal and patriotism. Ye winds that move over the mighty places of the West, chant his requiem. Ye people, behold a martyr whose blood, as so many articulate words, pleads for fidelity, for law, for liberty.
LORD BELHAVEN (1656-1708)
Scotland ceased to exist as a nation by the act of union, May 1st, 1707. As occasions have been so rare in the world's history when a nation has voluntarily abdicated its sovereignty and ceased to exist by its own free act, it would be too much to say that Lord Belhaven's speech against surrendering Scotch nationality was worthy of so remarkable a scene as that presented in he Scotch Parliament when, soon after its opening, November 1st, 1706, he rose to make the protest which immortalized him.
Smollet belongs more properly to another generation, but the feeling against the union was rather exaggerated than diminished between the date of its adoption and that of his poem, 'The Tears of Scotland,' into the concluding stanza of which he has condensed the passion which prompted Belhaven's protest:—
"While the warm blood bedews my veins And unimpaired remembrance reigns, Resentment of my country's fate Within my filial heart shall beat, And spite of her insulting foe, My sympathizing verse shall flow;— 'Mourn, helpless Caledonia, mourn, Thy banished peace, thy laurels torn!'"
If there is nothing in Belhaven's oration which equals this in intensity, there is power and pathos, as well as Ciceronian syntax, in the period: "Hannibal, my lord, is at our gates; Hannibal is come within our gates; Hannibal is come the length of this table; he is at the foot of this throne; if we take not notice he'll seize upon these regalia, he'll take them as our spolia opima, and whip us out of this house, never to return."
It is unfortunate for Belhaven's fame as an orator that his most effective passages are based on classical allusions intelligible at once to his audience then, but likely to appear pedantic in times when Latin has ceased to be the "vulgar tongue" of the educated, as it still was in the Scotland of Queen Anne's time.
The text of his speech here used is from 'The Parliamentary Debates,' London 1741.
A PLEA FOR THE NATIONAL LIFE OF SCOTLAND (Delivered 1706 in the Scotch Parliament)
My Lord Chancellor:—
When I consider the affair of a union betwixt the two nations, as it is expressed in the several articles thereof, and now the subject of our deliberation at this time I find my mind crowded with a variety of melancholy thoughts, and I think it my duty to disburden myself of some of them, by laying them before, and exposing them to, the serious consideration of this honorable house.
I think I see a free and independent kingdom delivering up that which all the world hath been fighting for since the days of Nimrod; yea, that for which most of all the empires, kingdoms, states, principalities, and dukedoms of Europe, are at this very time engaged in the most bloody and cruel wars that ever were, to-wit, a power to manage their own affairs by themselves, without the assistance and counsel of any other.
I think I see a national church, founded upon a rock, secured by a claim of right, hedged and fenced about by the strictest and most pointed legal sanction that sovereignty could contrive, voluntarily descending into a plain, upon an equal level with Jews, Papists, Socinians, Arminians, Anabaptists, and other sectaries, etc. I think I see the noble and honorable peerage of Scotland, whose valiant predecessors led armies against their enemies, upon their own proper charges and expenses, now divested of their followers and vassalages, and put upon such an equal foot with their vassals, that I think I see a petty English exciseman receive more homage and respect than what was paid formerly to their quondam Mackallamores.
I think I see the present peers of Scotland, whose noble ancestors conquered provinces, over-run countries, reduced and subjected towns and fortified places, exacted tribute through the greatest part of England, now walking in the court of requests like so many English attorneys, laying aside their walking swords when in company with the English peers, lest their self-defense should be found murder.
I think I see the honorable estate of barons, the bold assertors of the nation's rights and liberties in the worst of times, now setting a watch upon their lips and a guard upon their tongues, lest they be found guilty of scandalum magnatum.
I think I see the royal state of boroughs walking their desolate streets, hanging down their heads under disappointments, wormed out of all the branches of their old trade, uncertain what hand to turn to, necessitate to become 'prentices to their unkind neighbors; and yet, after all, finding their trade so fortified by companies, and secured by prescriptions, that they despair of any success therein.
I think I see our learned judges laying aside their practiques and decisions, studying the common law of England, graveled with certioraries, nisi prius's, writs of error, verdicts indovar, ejectione firmae, injunctions, demurs, etc., and frighted with appeals and avocations, because of the new regulations and rectifications they may meet with.
I think I see the valiant and gallant soldiery either sent to learn the plantation-trade abroad; or at home petitioning for a small subsistence, as the reward of their honorable exploits; while their old corps are broken, the common soldiers left to beg, and the youngest English corps kept standing.
I think I see the honest, industrious tradesman loaded with new taxes and impositions, disappointed of the equivalents, drinking water in place of ale, eating his saltless pottage, petitioning for encouragement to his manufactories, and answered by counter-petitions.
In short, I think I see the laborious plowman, with his corn spoiling upon his hands, for want of sale, cursing the day of his birth, dreading the expense of his burial, and uncertain whether to marry or do worse.
I think I see the incurable difficulties of the landed men, fettered under the golden chain of equivalents, their pretty daughters petitioning for want of husbands, and their sons for want of employment.
I think I see our mariners delivering up their ships to their Dutch partners, and what through presses and necessity, earning their bread as underlings in the royal English navy.
But above all, my lord, I think I see our ancient mother Caledonia, like Caesar, sitting in the midst of our senate, ruefully looking round about her, covering herself with her royal garment, attending the fatal blow, and breathing out her last with an Et tu quoque, mi fili.
Are not these, my lord, very afflicting thoughts? And yet they are but the least part suggested to me by these dishonorable articles. Should not the consideration of these things vivify these dry bones of ours? Should not the memory of our noble predecessors' valor and constancy rouse up our drooping spirits? Are our noble predecessors' souls got so far into the English cabbage stock and cauliflowers that we should show the least inclination that way? Are our eyes so blinded? Are our ears so deafened? Are our hearts so hardened? Are our tongues so faltered? Are our hands so fettered that in this our day, I say, my lord, that in this our day, we should not mind the things that concern the very being and well-being of our ancient kingdom, before the day be hid from our eyes?
No, my lord, God forbid! man's extremity is God's opportunity; he is a present help in time of need, and a deliverer, and that right early. Some unforeseen Providence will fall out, that may cast the balance; some Joseph or other will say, "Why do ye strive together, since ye are brethren?" None can destroy Scotland, save Scotland itself; hold your hands from the pen, you are secure. Some Judah or other will say, "Let not our hands be upon the lad, he is our brother." There will be a Jehovah-Jireh, and some ram will he caught in the thicket, when the bloody knife is at our mother's throat. Let us up then, my lord, and let our noble patriots behave themselves like men, and we know not bow soon a blessing may come.
My lord, I wish from my heart, that this my vision prove not as true as my reasons for it are probable. I design not at this time to enter into the merits of any one particular article; I intend this discourse as an introduction to what I may afterwards say upon the whole debate as it falls in before this honorable house; and therefore, in the farther prosecution of what I have to say, I shall insist upon few particulars, very necessary to be understood, before we enter into the detail of so important a matter.
I shall, therefore, in the first place, endeavor to encourage a free and full deliberation, without animosities and heats. In the next place I shall endeavor to make an inquiry into the nature and source of the unnatural and dangerous divisions that are now on foot within this isle, with some motives showing that it is our interest to lay them aside at this time. Then I shall inquire into the reasons which have induced the two nations to enter into a treaty of union at this time, with some considerations and meditations with relation to the behavior of the lord's commissioners of the two kingdoms in the management of this great concern. And lastly, I shall propose a method, by which we shall most distinctly, and without confusion, go through the several articles of this treaty, without unnecessary repetitions or loss of time. And all this with all deference, and under the correction of this honorable house.
My lord chancellor, the greatest honor that was done unto a Roman was to allow him the glory of a triumph; the greatest and most dishonorable punishment was that of parricide. He that was guilty of parricide was beaten with rods upon his naked body till the blood gushed out of all the veins of his body; then he was sewed up in a leathern sack, called a culeus with a cock, a viper, and an ape, and thrown headlong into the sea.
My lord, patricide is a greater crime than parricide, all the world over.
In a triumph, my lord, when the conqueror was riding in his triumphal chariot, crowned with laurels, adorned with trophies, and applauded with huzzas, there was a monitor appointed to stand behind him, to warn him not to be high-minded, not puffed up with overweening thoughts of himself; and to his chariot were tied a whip and a bell, to mind him that for all his glory and grandeur he was accountable to the people for his administration, and would be punished as other men, if found guilty.
The greatest honor amongst us, my lord, is to represent the sovereign's sacred person in Parliament; and in one particular it appears to be greater than that of a triumph, because the whole legislative power seems to be wholly intrusted with him. If he give the royal assent to an act of the estates, it becomes a law obligatory upon the subject, though contrary or without any instructions from the sovereign. If he refuse the royal assent to a vote in Parliament, it cannot be a law, though he has the Sovereign's particular and positive instructions for it.
His Grace, the Duke of Queensbury, who now presents her Majesty in this session of Parliament, hath had the honor of that great trust, as often, if not more, than any Scotchman ever had. He hath been the favorite of two successive sovereigns; and I cannot but commend his constancy and perseverance, that notwithstanding his former difficulties and unsuccessful attempts, and maugre some other specialties not yet determined, that his Grace has yet had the resolution to undertake the most unpopular measures last. If his Grace succeed in this affair of a union, and that it prove for the happiness and welfare of the nation, then he justly merits to have a statue of gold erected for himself; but if it shall tend to the entire destruction and abolition of our nation, and that we the nation's trustees will go into it, then I must say that a whip and a bell, a cock and a viper and an ape, are but too small punishments for any such bold, unnatural undertaking and complaisance.
That I may pave a way, my lord, to a full, calm, and free reasoning upon this affair, which is of the last consequence unto this nation, I shall mind this honorable house, that we are the successors of our noble predecessors, who founded our monarchy, framed our laws, amended, altered, and corrected them from time to time, as the affairs and circumstances of the nation did require, without the assistance or advice of any foreign power or potentate, and who, during the time of 2,000 years, have handed them down to us, a free independent nation, with the hazard of their lives and fortunes. Shall not we then argue for that which our progenitors have purchased for us at so dear a rate, and with so much immortal honor and glory? God forbid. Shall the hazard of a father unbind the ligaments of a dumb son's tongue; and shall we hold our peace, when our patria is in danger? I speak this, my lord, that I may encourage every individual member of this house to speak his mind freely. There are many wise and prudent men amongst us, who think it not worth their while to open their mouths; there are others, who can speak very well, and to good purpose, who shelter themselves under the shameful cloak of silence, from a fear of the frowns of great men and parties. I have observed, my lord, by my experience, the greatest number of speakers in the most trivial affairs; and it will always prove so, while we come not to the right understanding of the oath de fideli, whereby we are bound not only to give our vote, but our faithful advice in Parliament, as we should answer to God; and in our ancient laws, the representatives of the honorable barons and the royal boroughs are termed spokesmen. It lies upon your lordships, therefore, particularly to take notice of such whose modesty makes them bashful to speak. Therefore, I shall leave it upon you, and conclude this point with a very memorable saying of an honest private gentleman to a great queen, upon occasion of a State project, contrived by an able statesman, and the favorite to a great king, against a peaceable, obedient people, because of the diversity of their laws and constitutions: "If at this time thou hold thy peace, salvation shall come to the people from another place, but thou and thy house shall perish." I leave the application to each particular member of this house.
My lord, I come now to consider our divisions. We are under the happy reign (blessed be God) of the best of queens, who has no evil design against the meanest of her subjects, who loves all her people, and is equally beloved by them again; and yet that under the happy influence of our most excellent Queen there should be such divisions and factions more dangerous and threatening to her dominions than if we were under an arbitrary government, is most strange and unaccountable. Under an arbitrary prince all are willing to serve because all are under a necessity to obey, whether they will or not. He chooses therefore whom he will, without respect to either parties or factions; and if he think fit to take the advices of his councils or parliaments, every man speaks his mind freely, and the prince receives the faithful advice of his people without the mixture of self-designs. If he prove a good prince, the government is easy; if bad, either death or a revolution brings a deliverance. Whereas here, my lord, there appears no end of our misery, if not prevented in time; factions are now become independent, and have got footing in councils, in parliaments, in treaties, armies, in incorporations, in families, among kindred, yea, man and wife are not free from their political jars.
It remains therefore, my lord, that I inquire into the nature of these things; and since the names give us not the right idea of the thing, I am afraid I shall have difficulty to make myself well understood.
The names generally used to denote the factions are Whig and Tory, as obscure as that of Guelfs and Gibelins. Yea, my lord, they have different significations, as they are applied to factions in each kingdom; a Whig in England is a heterogeneous creature, in Scotland he is all of a piece; a Tory in England is all of a piece, and a statesman in Scotland, he is quite otherways, an anti-courtier and anti-statesman.
A Whig in England appears to be somewhat like Nebuchadnezzar's image, of different metals, different classes, different principles, and different designs; yet take the Whigs all together, they are like a piece of fine mixed drugget of different threads, some finer, some coarser, which, after all, make a comely appearance and an agreeable suit. Tory is like a piece of loyal-made English cloth, the true staple of the nation, all of a thread; yet, if we look narrowly into it, we shall perceive diversity of colors, which, according to the various situations and positions, make various appearances. Sometimes Tory is like the moon in its full, as appeared in the affair of the bill of occasional conformity; upon other occasions it appears to be under a cloud, and as if it were eclipsed by a greater body, as it did in the design of calling over the illustrious Princess Sophia. However, by this we may see their designs are to outshoot Whig in his own bow.
Whig in Scotland is a true blue Presbyterian, who, without considering time or power, will venture their all for the Kirk, but something less for the State. The greatest difficulty is how to describe a Scots Tory. Of old, when I knew them first, Tory was an honest-hearted comradish fellow, who, provided he was maintained and protected in his benefices, titles, and dignities by the State, was the less anxious who had the government and management of the Church. But now what he is since jure divino came in fashion, and that Christianity, and, by consequence, salvation comes to depend upon episcopal ordination, I profess I know not what to make of him; only this I must say for him, that he endeavors to do by opposition that which his brother in England endeavors by a more prudent and less scrupulous method.
Now, my lord, from these divisions there has got up a kind of aristocracy something like the famous triumvirate at Rome; they are a kind of undertakers and pragmatic statesmen, who, finding their power and strength great, and answerable to their designs, will make bargains with our gracious sovereign; they will serve her faithfully, but upon their own terms; they must have their own instruments, their own measures; this man must be turned out, and that man put in, and then they will make her the most glorious queen in Europe.
Where will this end, my lord? Is not her Majesty in danger by such a method? Is not the monarchy in danger? Is not the nation's peace and tranquillity in danger? Will a change of parties make the nation more happy? No, my lord, the seed is sown that is like to afford us a perpetual increase; it is not an annual herb, it takes deep root; it seeds and breeds; and, if not timely prevented by her Majesty's royal endeavors, will split the whole island in two.
My lord, I think, considering our present circumstances at this time, the Almighty God has reserved this great work for us. We may bruise this Hydra of division, and crush this Cockatrice's egg. Our neighbors in England are not yet fitted for any such thing; they are not under the afflicting hand of Providence, as we are; their circumstances are great and glorious; their treaties are prudently managed, both at home and abroad; their generals brave and valorous; their armies successful and victorious; their trophies and laurels memorable and surprising; their enemies subdued and routed; their strongholds besieged and taken, sieges relieved, marshals killed and taken prisoners; provinces and kingdoms are the results of their victories; their royal navy is the terror of Europe; their trade and commerce extended through the universe, encircling the whole habitable world and rendering their own capital city the emporium for the whole inhabitants of the earth. And, which is yet more than all these things, the subjects freely bestow their treasure upon their sovereign! And, above all, these vast riches, the sinews of war, and without which all the glorious success had proved abortive —these treasures are managed with such faithfulness and nicety, that they answer seasonably all their demands, though at never so great a distance. Upon these considerations, my lord, how hard and difficult a thing will it prove to persuade our neighbors to a self-denying bill.
'Tis quite otherwise with us, my lord; we are an obscure poor people, though formerly of better account, removed to a remote corner of the world, without name, and without alliances, our posts mean and precarious, so that I profess I don't think any one post of the kingdom worth the briguing after, save that of being commissioner to a long session of a factious Scotch Parliament, with an antedated commission, and that yet renders the rest of the ministers more miserable. What hinders us then, my lord, to lay aside our divisions, to unite cordially and heartily together in our present circumstances, when our all is at stake? Hannibal, my lord, is at our gates; Hannibal is come within our gates Hannibal is come the length of this table; he is at the foot of this throne; he will demolish this throne; if we take not notice, he'll seize upon these regalia, he'll take them as our spolia opima, and whip us out of this house, never to return again.
For the love of God then, my lord, for the safety and welfare of our ancient kingdom, whose sad circumstances, I hope, we shall yet convert into prosperity and happiness, we want no means, if we unite. God blessed the peacemakers; we want neither men, nor sufficiency of all manner of things necessary, to make a nation happy; all depends upon management, Concordia res parvae crescunt. I fear not these articles, though they were ten times worse than they are, if we once cordially forgive one another, and that, according to our proverb, bygones be bygones, and fair play for time to come. For my part, in the sight of God, and in the presence of this honorable house, I heartily forgive every man, and beg that they may do the same to me; and I do most humbly propose that his grace, my lord commissioner, may appoint an Agape, may order a love feast for this honorable house, that we may lay aside all self-designs, and after our fasts and humiliations may have a day of rejoicing and thankfulness, may eat our meat with gladness, and our bread with a merry heart; then shall we sit each man under his own fig-tree, and the voice of the turtle shall be heard in our land, a bird famous for constancy and fidelity.
My lord, I shall make a pause here, and stop going on further in my discourse, till I see further, if his grace, my lord commissioner, receive any humble proposals for removing misunderstandings among us, and putting an end to our fatal divisions; upon honor, I have no other design, and I am content to beg the favor upon my bended knees. (No answer.) My lord chancellor, I am sorry that I must pursue the thread of my sad and melancholy story. What remains, I am afraid may prove as afflicting as what I have said; I shall therefore consider the motives which have engaged the two nations to enter upon a treaty of union at this time. In general, my lord, I think both of them had in their view to better themselves by the treaty; but before I enter upon the particular motives of each nation, I must inform this honorable house that since I can remember, the two nations have altered their sentiments upon that affair, even almost to downright contradiction—they have changed headbands, as we say; for the English, till of late, never thought it worth their pains of treating with us; the good bargain they made at the beginning they resolve to keep, and that which we call an incorporating union was not so much as in their thoughts. The first notice they seemed to take of us was in our affair of Caledonia, when they had most effectually broken off that design in a manner very well known to the world, and unnecessary to be repeated here; they kept themselves quiet during the time of our complaints upon that head. In which time our sovereign, to satisfy the nation, and allay their heats, did condescend to give us some good laws, and amongst others that of personal liberties; but they having declared their succession, and extended their entail, without ever taking notice of us, our gracious sovereign Queen Anne was graciously pleased to give the royal assent to our act of security, to that of peace and war after the decease of her Majesty, and the heirs of her body, and to give us a hedge to all our sacred and civil interests, by declaring it high treason to endeavor the alteration of them, as they were then established. Thereupon did follow the threatening and minatory laws against us by the Parliament of England, and the unjust and unequal character of what her Majesty had so graciously condescended to in our favors. Now, my lord, whether the desire they had to have us engaged in the same succession with them, or whether they found us like a free and independent people, breathing after more liberty than what formerly was looked after, or whether they were afraid of our act of security, in case of her Majesty's decease; which of all these motives has induced them to a treaty I leave it to themselves. This I must say only, they have made a good bargain this time also.
For the particular motives that induced us, I think they are obvious to be known, we found by sad experience, that every man hath advanced in power and riches, as they have done in trade, and at the same time considering that nowhere through the world slaves are found to be rich, though they should be adorned with chains of gold, we thereupon changed our notion of an incorporating union to that of a federal one; and being resolved to take this opportunity to make demands upon them, before we enter into the succession, we were content to empower her Majesty to authorize and appoint commissioners to treat with the commissioners of England, with as ample powers as the lords commissioners from England had from their constituents, that we might not appear to have less confidence in her Majesty, nor more narrow-heartedness in our act, than our neighbors of England. And thereupon last Parliament, after her Majesty's gracious letter was read, desiring us to declare the succession in the first place, and afterwards to appoint commissioners to treat, we found it necessary to renew our former resolve, which I shall read to this honorable house. The resolve presented by the Duke of Hamilton last session of Parliament:—
"That this Parliament will not proceed to the nomination of a successor till we have had a previous treaty with England, in relation to our commerce, and other concerns with that nation. And further, it is resolved that this Parliament will proceed to make such limitations and conditions of government, for the rectification of our constitution, as may secure the liberty, religion, and independency of this kingdom, before they proceed to the said nomination."
Now, my lord, the last session of Parliament having, before they would enter into any treaty with England, by a vote of the house, passed both an act for limitations and an act for rectification of our constitution, what mortal man has reason to doubt the design of this treaty was only federal?
My lord chancellor, it remains now, that we consider the behavior of the lords commissioners at the opening of this treaty. And before I enter upon that, allow me to make this meditation, that if our posterity, after we are all dead and gone, shall find themselves under an ill-made bargain, and shall have recourse unto our records, and see who have been the managers of that treaty, by which they have suffered so much; when they read the names, they will certainly conclude, and say, Ah! our nation has been reduced to the last extremity, at the time of this treaty; all our great chieftains, all our great peers and considerable men, who used formerly to defend the rights and liberties of the nation, have been all killed and dead in the bed of honor, before ever the nation was necessitated to condescend to such mean and contemptible terms. Where are the names of the chief men, of the noble families of Stuarts, Hamiltons, Grahams, Campbels, Gordons, Johnstons, Humes, Murrays, Kers? Where are the two great officers of the crown, the constables and marshals of Scotland? They have certainly all been extinguished, and now we are slaves forever.
Whereas the English records will make their posterity reverence the memory of the honorable names who have brought under their fierce, warlike, and troublesome neighbors, who had struggled so long for independence, shed the best blood of their nation and reduced a considerable part of their country to become waste and desolate.
I am informed, my lord, that our commissioners did indeed frankly tell the lords commissioners for England that the inclinations of the people of Scotland were much altered of late, in relation to an incorporating union; and that, therefore, since the entail was to end with her Majesty's life (whom God long preserve), it was proper to begin the treaty upon the foot of the treaty of 1604, year of God, the time when we came first under one sovereign; but this the English commissioners would not agree to, and our commissioners, that they might not seem obstinate, were willing to treat and conclude in the terms laid before this honorable house and subjected to their determination. If the lords commissioners for England had been as civil and complaisant, they should certainly have finished a federal treaty likewise, that both nations might have the choice which of them to have gone into as they thought fit; but they would hear of nothing but an entire and complete union, a name which comprehends a union, either by incorporation, surrender, or conquest, whereas our commissioners thought of nothing but a fair, equal, incorporating union. Whether this be so or not I leave it to every man's judgment; but as for myself I must beg liberty to think it no such thing; for I take an incorporating union to be, where there is a change both in the material and formal points of government, as if two pieces of metal were melted down into one mass, it can neither be said to retain its former form or substance as it did before the mixture. But now, when I consider this treaty, as it hath been explained and spoke to before us this three weeks by past, I see the English constitution remaining firm, the same two houses of Parliament, the same taxes, the same customs, the same excises, the same trading companies, the same municipal laws and courts of judicature; and all ours either subject to regulations or annihilations, only we have the honor to pay their old debts and to have some few persons present for witnesses to the validity of the deed when they are pleased to contract more.
Good God! What, is this an entire surrender!
My lord, I find my heart so full of grief and indignation that I must beg pardon not to finish the last part of my discourse, that I may drop a tear as the prelude to so sad a story.
JOHN BELL (1797-1869)
John Bell, of Tennessee, who was a candidate with Edward Everett on the "Constitutional Union" ticket of 1860, when Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee gave him their thirty-nine electoral votes in favor of a hopeless peace, will always seem one of the most respectable figures in the politics of a time when calmness and conservatism, such as characterized him and his coadjutor., Mr. Everett, of Massachusetts, had ceased to be desired by men who wished immediate success in public life. He was one of the founders of the Whig party, and by demonstrating himself to be one of the very few men who could win against Andrew Jackson's opposition in Tennessee, he acquired, under Jackson and Van Buren, a great influence with the Whigs of the country at large. He was a member of Congress from Tennessee for fourteen years dating from 1827, when he won by a single vote against Felix Grundy, one of the strongest men in Tennessee and a special favorite with General Jackson. Disagreeing with Jackson on the removal of the deposits, Bell was elected Speaker of the House over Jackson's protege, James K. Polk, in 1834, and in 1841 he entered the Whig cabinet as Secretary of War under Harrison who had defeated another of Jackson's proteges, Van Buren. In 1847 and again in 1853, he was elected United States Senator from Tennessee and he did his best to prevent secession. He had opposed Calhoun's theories of the right of a State to nullify a Federal act if unconstitutional, and in March 1858, in the debate over the Lecompton constitution, he opposed Toombs in a speech which probably made him the candidate of the Constitutional Unionists two years later. Another notable speech, of even more far-reaching importance, he had delivered in 1853 in favor of opening up the West by building the Pacific Railroad, a position in which he was supported by Jefferson Davis.
Mr. Bell was for the Union in 1861, denying the right of secession, but he opposed the coercion of the Southern States, and when the fighting actually began he sided with Tennessee, and took little or no part in public affairs thereafter. He died in 1869.
AGAINST EXTREMISTS NORTH AND SOUTH (From a Speech in the Senate, March 18th, 1858. on the Lecompton Constitution)
The honorable Senator from Georgia, Mr. Toombs, announced some great truths to-day. He said that mankind made a long step, a great stride, when they declared that minorities should not rule; and that a still higher and nobler advance had been made when it was decided that majorities could only rule through regular and legal forms. He asserted this general doctrine with reference to the construction he proposed to give to the Lecompton constitution; and to say that the people of Kansas, unless they spoke through regular forms, cannot speak at all. He will allow me to say, however, that the forms through which a majority speaks must be provided and established by competent authority, and his doctrine can have no application to the Lecompton constitution, unless he can first show that the legislature of Kansas was vested with legal authority to provide for the formation of a State constitution; for, until that can be shown, there could be no regular and legal forms through which the majority could speak. But how does that Senator reconcile his doctrine with that avowed by the President, as to the futility of attempting, by constitutional provisions, to fetter the power of the people in changing their constitution at pleasure? In no States of the Union so much as in some of the slaveholding States would such a doctrine as that be so apt to be abused by incendiary demagogues, disappointed and desperate politicians, in stirring up the people to assemble voluntarily in convention—disregarding all the restrictions in their constitution—and strike at the property of the slaveholder.
The honorable Senator from Kentucky inquired what, under this new doctrine, would prevent the majority of the people of the States of the Union from changing the present Federal Constitution, and abrogating all existing guarantees for the protection of the small States, and any peculiar or particular interest confined to a minority of the States of the Union. The analogy, I admit, is not complete between the Federal Constitution and a constitution of a State; but the promulgation of the general principle, that a majority of the people are fettered by no constitutional restrictions in the exercise of their right to change their form of government, is dangerous. That is quite enough for the purposes of demagogues and incendiary agitators. When I read the special message of the President, I said to some friends that the message, taking it altogether, was replete with more dangerous heresies than any paper I had ever seen emanating, not from a President of the United States, but from any political club in the country, and calculated to do more injury. I consider it in effect, and in its tendencies, as organizing anarchy.
We are told that if we shall admit Kansas with the Lecompton constitution, this whole difficulty will soon be settled by the people of Kansas. How? By disregarding the mode and forms prescribed by the constitution for amending it? No. I am not sure that the President, after all the lofty generalities announced in his message, in regard to the inalienable rights of the people, intended to sanction the idea that all the provisions of the Lecompton constitution in respect to the mode and form of amending it should be set aside. He says the legislature now elected may, at its first meeting, call a convention to amend the constitution; and in another passage of his message he says that this inalienable power of the majority must be exercised in a lawful manner. This is perplexing. Can there be any lawful enactment of the legislature in relation to the call of a convention, unless it be in conformity with the provisions of the constitution? They require that two-thirds of the members of the legislature shall concur in passing an act to take the sense of the people upon the call of a convention, and that the vote shall be taken at the next regular election, which cannot be held until two years afterwards. How can this difficulty be got over? The truth is, that unless all constitutional impediments in respect to forms be set aside, and the people take it in hand to amend the constitution on revolutionary principles, there can be no end of agitation on this subject in less than three years. I long since ventured the prediction that there would be no settlement of the difficulties in Kansas until the next presidential election. To continue the agitation is too important to the interests of both the great parties of the country to dispense with it, as long as any pretext can be found for prolonging it. In the closing debate on the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, I told its supporters that they could do nothing more certain to disturb the composure of the two Senators who sat on the opposite side of the chamber, the one from Massachusetts [Mr. Sumner] and the other from Ohio [Mr. Chase], than to reject that bill. Its passage was the only thing in the range of possible events by which their political fortunes could be resuscitated, so completely had the Free-Soil movement at the North been paralyzed by the compromise measures of 1850. I say now to the advocates of this measure, if they want to strengthen the Republican party, and give the reins of government into their hands, pass this bill. If they desire to weaken the power of that party, and arrest the progress of slavery agitation, reject it. And if it is their policy to put an end to the agitation connected with Kansas affairs at the earliest day practicable, as they say it is, then let them remit this constitution back to the people of Kansas, for their ratification or rejection. In that way the whole difficulty will be settled before the adjournment of the present session of Congress, without the violation of any sound principle, or the sacrifice of the rights of either section of the Union.
But the President informs us that threatening and ominous clouds impend over the country; and he fears that if Kansas is not admitted under the Lecompton constitution, slavery agitation will be revived in a more dangerous form than it has ever yet assumed. There may be grounds for that opinion, for aught I know; but it seems to me that if any of the States of the South have taken any position on this question which endangers the peace of the country, they could not have been informed of the true condition of affairs in Kansas, and of the strong objections which may be urged on principle against the acceptance by Congress of the Lecompton constitution. And I have such confidence in the intelligence of the people of the whole South, that when the history and character of this instrument shall be known, even those who would be glad to find some plausible pretext for dissolving the Union will see that its rejection by Congress would not furnish them with such a one as they could make available for their purposes.
When the Kansas-Nebraska Bill was under discussion, in 1854, in looking to all the consequences which might follow the adoption of that measure, I could not overlook the fact that a sentiment of hostility to the Union was widely diffused in certain States of the South; and that that sentiment was only prevented from assuming an organized form of resistance to the authority of the Federal government, at least in one of the States, in 1851, by the earnest remonstrance of a sister State, that was supposed to sympathize with her in the project of establishing a southern republic. Nor could I fail to remember that the project—I speak of the convention held in South Carolina, in pursuance of an act of the legislature—was then postponed, not dropped. The argument was successfully urged that an enterprise of such magnitude ought not to be entered upon without the co-operation of a greater number of States than they could then certainly count upon. It was urged that all the cotton-planting States would, before a great while, be prepared to unite in the movement, and that they, by the force of circumstances, would bring in all the slaveholding States. The ground was openly taken, that separation was an inevitable necessity. It was only a question of time. It was said that no new aggression was necessary on the part of the North to justify such a step. It was said that the operation of this government from its foundation had been adverse to southern interests; and that the admission of California as a free State, and the attempt to exclude the citizens of the South, with their property, from all the territory acquired from Mexico, was a sufficient justification for disunion. It was not a mere menace to deter the North from further aggressions. These circumstances made a deep impression on my mind at the time, and from a period long anterior to that I had known that it was a maxim with the most skillful tacticians among those who desire separation, that the slaveholding States must be united—consolidated into one party. That object once effected, disunion, it was supposed, would follow without difficulty.
I had my fears that the Kansas-Nebraska Bill was expected to consolidate the South, and to pave the way for the accomplishment of ulterior plans by some of the most active supporters of that measure from the South; and these fears I indicated in the closing debate on that subject. Some of the supporters of that measure, I fear, are reluctant now to abandon the chances of finding some pretext for agitating the subject of separation in the South in the existing complications of the Kansas embroilment.
To what extent the idea of disunion is entertained in some of the Southern States, and what importance is attached to the policy of uniting the whole South in one party as a preliminary step, may be inferred from a speech delivered before the Southern convention lately held in Knoxville, Tenn., by Mr. De Bow, the president of the convention, and the editor of a popular Southern review. I will only refer now to the fate to which the author resigns those who dare to break the ranks of that solid phalanx in which he thinks the South should be combined—that is, to be "held up to public scorn and public punishment as traitors and Tories, more steeped in guilt than those of the Revolution itself."
The honorable Senator from New York further announced to us in exultant tones, that "at last there was a North side of this Chamber, a North side of the Chamber of the House of Representatives, and a North side of the Union, as well as a South side of all these"; and he admonished us that the time was at hand when freedom would assert its influence in the regulation of the domestic and foreign policy of the country.
When was there a time in the history of the government that there was no North side of this Chamber and of the other? When was there a time that there was not a proud array of Northern men in both Chambers, distinguished by their genius and ability, devoted to the interests of the North, and successful in maintaining them?
Though it may be true that Southern men have filled the executive chair for much the larger portion of the time that has elapsed since the organization of the government, yet when, in what instance was it, that a Southerner has been elevated to that high station without the support of a majority of the freemen of the North?
Do you of the North complain that the policy of the government, under the long-continued influence of Southern Presidents, has been injurious or fatal to your interests? Has it paralyzed your industry? Has it crippled your resources? Has it impaired your energies? Has it checked your progress in any one department of human effort? Let your powerful mercantile marine, your ships whitening every sea—the fruit of wise commercial regulations and navigation laws; let your flourishing agriculture, your astonishing progress in manufacturing skill, your great canals, your thousands of miles of railroads, your vast trade, internal and external, your proud cities, and your accumulated millions of moneyed capital, ready to be invested in profitable enterprises in any part of the world, answer that question. Do you complain of a narrow and jealous policy under Southern rule, in extending and opening new fields of enterprise to your hardy sons in the great West, along the line of the great chain of American lakes, even to the head waters of the Father of Rivers, and over the rich and fertile plains stretching southward from the lake shores? Let the teeming populations—let the hundreds of millions of annual products that have succeeded to the but recent dreary and unproductive haunts of the red man—answer that question. That very preponderance of free States which the Senator from New York contemplates with such satisfaction, and which has moved him exultingly to exclaim that there is at last a North side of this Chamber, has been hastened by the liberal policy of Southern Presidents and Southern statesmen; and has it become the ambition of that Senator to unite and combine all this great, rich, and powerful North in the policy of crippling the resources and repressing the power of the South? Is this to be the one idea which is to mold the policy of the government, when that gentleman and his friends shall control it? If it be, then I appeal to the better feelings and the better judgment of his followers to arrest him in his mad career. Sir, let us have some brief interval of repose at least from this eternal agitation of the slavery question. Let power go into whatever hands it may, let us save the Union!
I have all the confidence other gentlemen can have in the extent to which this Union is intrenched in the hearts of the great mass of the people of the North and South; but when I reflect upon and consider the desperate and dangerous extremes to which ambitious party leaders are often prepared to go, without meaning to do the country any mischief, in the struggle for the imperial power, the crown of the American presidency, I sometimes tremble for its fate.
Two great parties are now dividing the Union on this question. It is evident to every man of sense, who examines it, that practically, in respect to slavery, the result will be the same both to North and South; Kansas will be a free State, no matter what may be the decision on this question. But how that decision may affect the fortunes of those parties, is not certain; and there is the chief difficulty. But the greatest question of all is, How will that decision affect the country as a whole?
Two adverse yet concurrent and mighty forces are driving the vessel of State towards the rocks upon which she must split, unless she receives timely aid—a paradox, yet expressive of a momentous and perhaps a fatal truth.
There is no hope of rescue unless the sober-minded men, both of the North and South, shall, by some sufficient influence, be brought to adopt the wise maxims and sage counsels of the great founders of our government.
TRANS-CONTINENTAL RAILROADS (Delivered in the United States Senate, February 17th, 1858. in Support of the Pacific Railroad Bill)
An objection made to this bill is, the gigantic scale of the projected enterprise. A grand idea it is. A continent of three thousand miles in extent from east to west, reaching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, is to be connected by a railway! Honorable Senators will remember, that over one thousand miles—one-third of this whole expanse of the continent—the work is already accomplished, and that chiefly by private enterprise. I may, as a safe estimate, say, that a thousand miles of this railroad leading from the Atlantic to the West, upon the line of the lakes, and nearly as much upon a line further south, are either completed, or nearly so. We have two thousand miles yet to compass, in the execution of a work which it is said has no parallel in the history of the world. No, sir; it has no parallel in the history of the world, ancient or modern, either as to its extent and magnitude, or to its consequences, beneficent and benignant in all its bearings on the interests of all mankind. It is in these aspects, and in the contemplation of these consequences, that it has no parallel in the history of the world—changing the course of the commerce of the world—bringing the West almost in contact, by reversing the ancient line of communication, with the gorgeous East, and all its riches, the stories of which, in our earlier days we regarded as fabulous; but now, sir, what was held to be merely fictions of the brain in former times, in regard to the riches of Eastern Asia, is almost realized on our own western shores. Sir, these are some of the inducements to the construction of this great road, besides its importance to the military defenses of the country, and its mail communications. Sir, it is a magnificent and splendid project in every aspect in which you can view it. One-third of this great railway connection is accomplished; two-thirds remain to be. Shall we hesitate to go forward with the work?
Now, with regard to the means provided for the construction of the road. It is said, here is an enormous expenditure of the public money proposed. We propose to give twenty millions of dollars in the bonds of the government, bearing five per cent. interest, and fifteen millions of acres of land, supposed to be worth as much more, on the part of the government. This is said to be enormous, and we are reminded that we ought to look at what the people will say, and how they will feel when they come to the knowledge that twenty millions in money and twenty millions in land have been given for the construction of a railway! Some doubtless there are in this chamber who are ready to contend that we had better give these fifteen millions of acres of land to become homesteads for the landless and homeless. What is this twenty millions in money, and how is it to be paid? It is supposed that the road cannot be constructed in less than five years. In that event, bonds of the government to the amount of four millions of dollars will issue annually. Probably the road will not be built in less than ten years, and that will require an issue of bonds amounting to two millions a year; and possibly the road may not be finished in less than twenty years, which would limit the annual issue of bonds to one million. The interest upon these bonds, at five per cent, will of course have to be paid out of the treasury, a treasury in which there is now a surplus of twelve or fourteen millions of dollars. When the road is completed and the whole amount of twenty millions in lands is paid, making the whole sum advanced by the government forty millions, the annual interest upon them will only be two millions. And what is that? Why, sir, the donations and benevolences, the allowances of claims upon flimsy and untenable grounds, and other extravagant and unnecessary expenditures that are granted by Congress and the executive departments, while you have an overflowing treasury, will amount to the half of that sum annually. The enormous sum of two millions is proposed to be paid out of the treasury annually, when this great road shall be completed! It is a tremendous undertaking, truly! What a scheme! What extravagance! I understand the cost of the New York and Erie road alone, constructed principally by private enterprise, has been not less than thirty millions—between thirty and thirty-three millions of dollars. That work was constructed by a single State giving aid occasionally to a company, which supplied the balance of the cost. I understand that the road from Baltimore to Wheeling, when it shall have been finished, and its furniture placed upon it, will have cost at least thirty millions. What madness, what extravagance, then, is it for the government of the United States to undertake to expend forty millions for a road from the Mississippi to the Pacific.