« PreviousContinue »
pose gives it character. That purpose enrobes it with dignity and moral grandeur. That well known purpose it is,
which causes us to look up to it with a feeling of awe. 5 It is itself the orator of this occasion. It is not from my
lips, it is not from any human lips, that that strain of eloquence is this day to flow, most competent to move and excite the vast multitudes around. The potent speaker
stands motionless before them. It is a plain shaft. It 10 bears no inscriptions, fronting to the rising sun, from
which the future antiquarian shall wipe the dust. Nor does the rising sun cause tones of music to issue from its summit. But at the rising of the sun, and at the setting
of the sun, in the blaze of noon-day, and beneath the 15 milder effulgence of lunar light, it looks, it speaks, it acts,
to the full comprehension of every American mind, and the awakening of glowing enthusiasm in every American heart. Its silent, but awful utterance; its deep pathos, as
it brings to our contemplation the 17th of June, 1775, and 20 the consequences which have resulted to us, to our coun
try, and to the world, from the events of that day, and which we know must continue to rain influence on the destinies of mankind, to the end of time; the elevation
with which it raises us high above the ordinary feelings 25 of life, surpass all that the study of the closet, or even the inspiration of genius can produce. To-day, it speaks to
Its future auditories will be through successive gen. erations of men, as they rise up before it, and gather round
it. Its speech will be of patriotism and courage; of civil 30 and religious liberty; of free government; of the moral
improvement and elevation of mankind; and of the immortal memory of those who, with heroic devotion, have sacrificed their lives for their country.
LESSON CLXXXV.APPEAL IN FAVOR OF THE UNION.
I submit to you, my fellow-citizens, these considerations, in full confidence that the good sense, which has so often marked your decisions, will allow them their due weight
and effect; and that you will never suffer difficulties, how6 ever formidable in appearance, or however fashionable
the error on which they may be founded, to drive you into the gloomy and perilous scenes, into which the advocates for disunion would conduct
Hearken not to the unnatural voice, which tells you
that the people of America, knit together, as they are, by so many cords of affection, can no longer live together, as
members of the same family; can no longer continue the 5 mutual guardians of their mutual happiness; can no lon
ger be fellow-citizens of one great, respectable and flourishing empire. Hearken not to the voice, which petulantly tells you, that the form of government, recommended
for your adoption, is a novelty in the political world ; that 10 it has never yet had a place in the theories of the wildest
projectors ; that it rashly attempts what it is impossible to accomplish. No, my countrymen ; shut your ears against this unhallowed language. 'Shut your hearts against the
poison which it conveys. The kindred blood, which flows 15 in the veins of American citizens, the mingled blood,
which they have shed in defence of their sacred rights, consecrates their union, and excites horror at the idea of their becoming aliens, rivals, enemies. And if novelties
are to be shunned, believe me, the most alarming of all 20 novelties, the most wild of all projects, the most rash of all
attempts, is that of rending us in pieces, in order to preserve our liberties, and promote our happiness.
But why is the experiment of an extended republic to be rejected, merely because it may comprise what is new? 25 Is it not the glory of the people of America, that, whilst
they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times, and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to over
rule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowl30 edge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own
experience? To this manly spirit, posterity will be indebted for the possession, and the world for the example, of the numerous innovations displayed on the American
theatre, in favor of private rights, and public happiness. 35 Had no important step been taken by the leaders of the
revolution, for which a precedent could not be discovered ; had no government been established, of which an exact model did not present itself,—the people of the United States
might, at this moment, have been numbered among the 40 melancholy victims of misguided councils ; must, at best,
have been laboring under the weight of some of those forms, which have crushed the liberties of the rest of mankind.
Happily, for America, happily, we trust, for the whole
human race, they pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution, which has no parallel in the annals of human society. They reared fabrics of
government, which have no model on the face of the globe. 5 They formed the design of a great confederacy, which it
is incumbent on their successors to improve and perpetuate. If their works betray imperfections, we wonder at the fewness of them. If they erred most in the structure
of the union, this was the work most difficult to be execu10 ted; this is the work which has been new-modelled by
the act of your convention; and it is that act, on which • you are now to deliberate and decide.
LESSON CLXXXVI.-FRANCE AND ENGLAND.-JOHN C.
The love of France, and the hatred of England, have also been assigned as the cause of the present measures. “France has not done us justice,” says the gentleman from
Virginia ; "and how can we, without partiality, resist the 5 aggressions of England ?" I know, sir, we have still cause
of complaint against France; but it is of a different character from those against England. She professes now to respect our rights, and there cannot be a reasonable doubt,
that the most objectionable parts of her decrees, as far 10 as they respect us, are repealed. We have already formally acknowledged this to be a fact.
I, however, protest against the whole of the principles on which this doctrine is founded. It is a novel doctrine,
and nowhere to be found out of this house, that you can15 not select your antagonist, without being guilty of partial
ity. Sir, when two invade your rights, you may resist both, or either, at your pleasure. It is regulated by prudence, and not by right. The stale imputation of partial
ity to France, is better calculated for the columns of a 20 newspaper, than for the walls of this house. I ask, in
this particular, of the gentleman from Virginia, but for the same measure which he claims for himself. That gentleman is at a loss to account for, what he calls, our hatred
to England. He asks, “How can we hate the country of 25 Locke, of Newton, Hampden and Chatham ; a country
having the same language and customs with ourselves, and descending from a common ancestry ?" Sir, the laws of human affections are uniform. If we have so much to
attach us to that country, powerful, indeed, must be the cause which has overpowered it.
Yes, sir, there is a cause strong enough. Not that occult, courtly affection, which he has supposed to be enter5 tained for France; but it is to be found in continued and
unprovoked insult and injury,-- a cause so manifest, that the gentleman from Virginia had to exert much ingenuity to overlook it. But, sir, here I think the gentleman, in
his eager admiration of that country, has not been suffi10 ciently guarded in his argument. Has he reflected on
the cause of that admiration? Has he examined the reasons of our high regard for her Chatham ? It is his ardent patriotism; the heroic courage of his mind, that could not
brook the least insult or injury offered to his country, but 15- thought that her interest and honor ought to be vindi
cated, at every hazard and expense. I hope, when we are called on to admire, we shall also be asked to imitate. I hope the gentleman does not wish a monopoly of those
great virtues to remain to that nation. 20 “The balance of power” has also been introduced as an
argument for submission. England is said to be a barrier against the military despotism of France. There is, sir, one great error in our legislation. We are ready enough
to protect the interests of the States, and it should seem, 25 from this argument, to watch over those of a foreign nation, while we grossly neglect our own immediate con
This argument of the balance of power, is well calculated for the British parliament, but not at all fitted
to the American congress. Tell them, that they have to 30 contend with a mighty power, and that, if they persist in
insult and injury to the American people, they will compel them to throw the whole weight of their force into the scale of their enemy. Paint the danger to them; and if
they will desist from injury, we, I answer for it, will not 35 disturb the balance. But it is absurd for us to talk of the
balance of power, while they, by their conduct, smile with contempt at our simple, good-natured policy. If, however, in the contest, it should be found, that they underrate us,
which I hope and believe, and that we can effect the bal40 ance of power, it will not be difficult for us to obtain such terms as our rights demand.
I, sir, will now conclude, by adverting to an argument of the gentleman from Virginia, used in debate on a preseding day. He asked, “Why not declare war immediate
ly?" The answer is obvious; because we are not yet prepared. But, says the gentleman, “such language, as is here held, will provoke Great Britain to commence hos
tilities.” I have no such fears. She knows well, that 5 such a course would unite all parties here; a thing,
which, above all others, she most dreads. Besides, such has been our past conduct, that she will still calculate on our patience and submission, till war is actually commenced.
LESSON CLXXXVII.--MILITARY INSUBORDINATION.
Mr. Chairman, I trust that I shall be indulged with some few reflections upon the danger of permitting the conduct, on which it has been my painful duty to animad
vert, to pass without a solemn expression of the disappro5 bation of this house. Recall to your recollection, sir, the free nations which have
before us. Where are they now ?
“Gone glimmering through the dream of things that were,
A schoolboy's tale, the wonder of an hour.” 10 And how have they lost their liberties? If we could trans
port ourselves back, sir, to the ages, when Greece and Rome flourished in their greatest prosperity, and, mingling in the throng, should ask a Grecian, if he did not fear that
some daring military chieftain, covered with glory, some 15 Philip, or Alexander, would one day overthrow the liber
ties of his country,the confident and indignant Grecian would exclaim, No! no! we have nothing to fear from our heroes; our liberties will be eternal.' If a Roman citizen
had been asked, if he did not fear that the conqueror of 20 Gaul might establish a throne upon the ruins of public
liberty, he would have instantly repelled the unjust insinuation. Yet Greece has fallen; Cæsar has passed the Rubicon; and the patriotic arm even of Brutus could not
preserve the liberties of his devoted country. 25
Sir, we are fighting a great moral battle, for the benefit, not only of our country, but of all mankind. The eyes of the whole world are in fixed attention upon us. One, and the largest portion of it, is gazing with jealousy, and
with envy; the other portion, with hope, with confidence, 30 and with affection. Everywhere, the black cloud of legit
imacy, is suspended over the world, save only one bright spot, which breaks out from the political hemisphere of