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Title: Daniel Webster for Young Americans - Comprising the greatest speeches of the defender of the Constitution
Author: Webster, Daniel, 1782-1852
Language: English
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Speeches by Daniel Webster

  [Illustration: DANIEL WEBSTER.
  _From a daguerreotype by T. D. Jones. Copyright, 1901, by Dartmouth






  School Edition


  _Copyright, 1903, 1906,_

  _All rights reserved_

  The Eastern Press Co.


  DANIEL WEBSTER, CHRONOLOGY                      ix
  THE BUNKER HILL MONUMENT                        30
  ADAMS AND JEFFERSON                             67
  THE REPLY TO HAYNE                             115
  THE CHARACTER OF WASHINGTON                    175
  THE CONSTITUTION AND THE UNION                 194
  THE ADDITION TO THE CAPITOL                    200
  INDEX                                          213


  Daniel Webster                                          _Frontispiece_
      From a daguerreotype by T. D. Jones, in the
      possession of Dartmouth College

  Daniel Webster                                             _Page_  vii
      From the crayon drawing by John Martin, in the
      possession of Mrs. Richard W. Grinnell

  Birthplace of Daniel Webster, Franklin (formerly
  Salisbury), N. H.                                             "   viii

  The Embarkation of the Pilgrims from Delfthaven     _Facing page_   14

  The Landing of the Pilgrims                            "      "     16

  The Battle of Bunker Hill                              "      "     30

  Joseph Warren                                              _Page_   37

  Marquis de Lafayette                                          "     40

  Bunker Hill Monument                                          "     50

  John Tyler                                                    "     54

  Faneuil Hall                                                  "     68

  John Adams                                                    "     74

  James Otis                                                    "     77

  Independence Hall, Philadelphia                               "     80

  Thomas Jefferson                                              "     82

  The Declaration of Independence                     _Facing page_   84

  John Hancock                                               _Page_   91

  Samuel Adams                                                  "     97

  Patrick Henry                                                 "    101

  Benjamin Franklin                                             "    102

  The Reply to Hayne                                  _Facing page_  118

  Thomas H. Benton                                           _Page_  120

  John Quincy Adams                                             "    123

  Robert Y. Hayne                                               "    135

  The Battle of Lexington                             _Facing page_  144

  George Washington                                          _Page_  175

  The Resignation of Washington                       _Facing page_  178

  Henry Clay                                                 _Page_  195

  The Capitol at Washington                                     "    200

  Washington Monument                                           "    208

  Millard Fillmore                                              "    211




  Born at Salisbury, now Franklin, New Hampshire        January 18, 1782

  Graduated at Dartmouth College                                    1801

  Admitted to the bar                                               1805

  Practised law in Boscawen, New Hampshire                        1805-7

  Removed to Portsmouth, New Hampshire                              1807

  Member of the United States House of Representatives from
  New Hampshire                                                   1813-7

  Removed to Boston                                                 1816

  Dartmouth College case, United States Supreme Court               1818

  Member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention           1820-1

  Oration at Plymouth, Massachusetts                                1820

  Member of the United States House of Representatives from
  Massachusetts                                                   1823-7

  Gibbons _versus_ Ogden case                                       1823

  Oration at the laying of the corner-stone of Bunker Hill
  Monument                                                          1825

  Eulogy on Adams and Jefferson                                     1826

  Senator from Massachusetts                                     1827-41

  Reply to Hayne                                                    1830

  Argument in White murder case, Salem, Massachusetts               1830

  Reply to Calhoun: The Constitution not a Compact between
  Sovereign States                                                  1833

  Secretary of State under Presidents Harrison and Tyler          1841-3

  Webster-Ashburton Treaty between the United States and England    1842

  Oration on the completion of Bunker Hill Monument                 1843

  Senator from Massachusetts                                     1845-50

  Seventh of March Speech for compromise between Northern and
  Southern States                                                   1850

  Secretary of State under President Fillmore                     1850-2

  Died at Marshfield, Massachusetts                     October 24, 1852





  [In 1820 the "Pilgrim Society" was formed by the citizens of
  Plymouth, Massachusetts, and the descendants of the Pilgrims in
  other places, desirous of uniting "to commemorate the landing, and
  to honor the memory of the intrepid men who first set foot on
  Plymouth Rock." The foundation of this society gave a new impulse to
  the anniversary celebrations of the two hundredth anniversary of the
  landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Mr. Webster was requested to
  deliver the public address on the 22d of December of that year, and
  the following discourse was pronounced by him, in the presence of a
  great gathering of people.]

[Sidenote: Beginning of the third century of New England history.]

Let us rejoice that we behold this day. Let us be thankful that we have
lived to see the bright and happy breaking of the auspicious morn which
commences the third century of the history of New England. Auspicious,
indeed,--bringing a happiness beyond the common allotment of Providence
to men,--full of present joy, and gilding with bright beams the prospect
of futurity, is the dawn that awakens us to the commemoration of the
landing of the Pilgrims.

Living at an epoch which naturally marks the progress of the history of
our native land, we have come hither to celebrate the great event with
which that history commenced. Forever honored be this, the place of our
fathers' refuge! Forever remembered the day which saw them, weary and
distressed, broken in everything but spirit, poor in all but faith and
courage, at last secure from the dangers of wintry seas, and impressing
this shore with the first footsteps of civilized man!

[Sidenote: New England's ancestors.]

It is a noble faculty of our nature which enables us to connect our
thoughts, our sympathies, and our happiness with what is distant in
place or time; and, looking before and after, to hold communion at once
with our ancestors and our posterity. Human and mortal although we are,
we are nevertheless not mere insulated beings, without relation to the
past or the future. Neither the point of time, nor the spot of earth, in
which we physically live, bounds our rational and intellectual
enjoyments. We live in the past by a knowledge of its history; and in
the future, by hope and anticipation. By ascending to an association
with our ancestors, by contemplating their example and studying their
character, by partaking their sentiments and imbibing their spirit, by
accompanying them in their toils, by sympathizing in their sufferings,
and rejoicing in their successes and their triumphs, we seem to belong
to their age and to mingle our own existence with theirs. We become
their contemporaries, live the lives which they lived, endure what they
endured, and partake in the rewards which they enjoyed. And in like
manner, by running along the line of future time, by contemplating the
probable fortunes of those who are coming after us, by attempting
something which may promote their happiness and leave some not
dishonorable memorial of ourselves for their regard when we shall sleep
with the fathers, we protract our own earthly being, and seem to crowd
whatever is future, as well as all that is past, into the narrow compass
of our earthly existence. As it is not a vain and false, but an exalted
and religious imagination which leads us to raise our thoughts from the
orb which, amidst this universe of worlds, the Creator has given us to
inhabit, and to send them with something of the feeling which nature
prompts, and teaches to be proper among children of the same Eternal
Parent, to the contemplation of the myriads of fellow-beings with which
his goodness has peopled the infinite of space; so neither is it false
or vain to consider ourselves as interested and connected with our whole
race, through all time; allied to our ancestors; allied to our
posterity; closely compacted on all sides with others; ourselves being
but links in the great chain of being, which begins with the origin of
our race, runs onward through its successive generations, binding
together the past, the present, and the future, and terminating at last,
with the consummation of all things earthly, at the throne of God.

[Sidenote: The Pilgrim Fathers.]

We have come to this Rock, to record here our homage for our Pilgrim
Fathers;[1] our sympathy in their sufferings; our gratitude for their
labors; our admiration of their virtues; our veneration for their piety;
and our attachment to those principles of civil and religious liberty
which they encountered the dangers of the ocean, the storms of heaven,
the violence of savages, disease, exile, and famine, to enjoy and to
establish. And we would leave here, also, for the generations which are
rising up rapidly to fill our places, some proof that we have endeavored
to transmit the great inheritance unimpaired; that in our estimate of
public principles and private virtue, in our veneration of religion and
piety, in our devotion to civil and religious liberty, in our regard for
whatever advances human knowledge or improves human happiness, we are
not altogether unworthy of our origin.

[Sidenote: The genius of the place.]

[Sidenote: Plymouth Rock.]

There is a local feeling connected with this occasion, too strong to be
resisted; a sort of genius of the place, which inspires and awes us. We
feel that we are on the spot where the first scene of our history was
laid; where the hearths and altars of New England were first placed;
where Christianity and civilization and letters made their first
lodgment, in a vast extent of country, covered with a wilderness, and
peopled by roving barbarians. We are here at the season of the year at
which the event took place. The imagination irresistibly and rapidly
draws around us the principal features and the leading characters in the
original scene. We cast our eyes abroad on the ocean, and we see where
the little bark, with the interesting group upon its deck, made its slow
progress to the shore. We look around us, and behold the hills and
promontories where the anxious eyes of our fathers first saw the places
of habitation and of rest. We feel the cold which benumbed, and listen
to the winds which pierced them. Beneath us is the Rock on which New
England received the feet of the Pilgrims. We seem even to behold them
as they struggle with the elements, and with toilsome efforts gain the
shore. We listen to the chiefs in council; we see the unexampled
exhibition of female fortitude and resignation; we hear the whisperings
of youthful impatience; and we see what a painter of our own has also
represented by his pencil,[2] chilled and shivering childhood, houseless
but for a mother's arms, couchless but for a mother's breast, till our
own blood almost freezes. The mild dignity of Carver and of Bradford;
the decisive and soldier-like air and manner of Standish; the devout
Brewster; the enterprising Allerton; the general firmness and
thoughtfulness of the whole band; their conscious joy for dangers
escaped; their deep solicitude about dangers to come; their trust in
Heaven; their high religious faith, full of confidence and
anticipation,--all of these seem to belong to this place, and to be
present upon this occasion, to fill us with reverence and admiration.

[Sidenote: Importance of the landing at Plymouth as an historical

The settlement of New England by the colony which landed here on the
twenty-second[3] of December, 1620, although not the first European
establishment in what now constitutes the United States, was yet so
peculiar in its causes and character, and has been followed and must
still be followed by such consequences, as to give it a high claim to
lasting commemoration. On these causes and consequences, more than on
its immediately attendant circumstances, its importance as an historical
event depends. Great actions and striking occurrences, having excited a
temporary admiration, often pass away and are forgotten, because they
leave no lasting results affecting the prosperity and happiness of
communities. Such is frequently the fortune of the most brilliant
military achievements. Of the ten thousand battles which have been
fought, of all the fields fertilized with carnage, of the banners which
have been bathed in blood, of the warriors who have hoped that they had
risen from the field of conquest to a glory as bright and as durable as
the stars, how few that continue long to interest mankind! The victory
of yesterday is reversed by the defeat of to-day; the star of military
glory, rising like a meteor, like a meteor has fallen; disgrace and
disaster hang on the heels of conquest and renown; victor and vanquished
presently pass away to oblivion, and the world goes on in its course,
with the loss only of so many lives and so much treasure.

[Sidenote: The Battle of Marathon.]

But if this be frequently, or generally, the fortune of military
achievements, it is not always so. There are enterprises, military as
well as civil, which sometimes check the current of events, give a new
turn to human affairs, and transmit their consequences through ages. We
see their importance in their results, and call them great, because
great things follow. There have been battles which have fixed the fate
of nations. These come down to us in history with a solid and permanent
interest, not created by a display of glittering armor, the rush of
adverse battalions, the sinking and rising of pennons, the flight, the
pursuit, and the victory; but by their effect in advancing or retarding
human knowledge, in overthrowing or establishing despotism, in extending
or destroying human happiness. When the traveller pauses on the plain of
Marathon,[4] what are the emotions which most strongly agitate his
breast? What is that glorious recollection which thrills through his
frame, and suffuses his eyes? Not, I imagine, that Grecian skill and
Grecian valor were here most signally displayed; but that Greece herself
was saved. It is because to this spot, and to the event which has
rendered it immortal, he refers all the succeeding glories of the
republic. It is because, if that day had gone otherwise, Greece had
perished. It is because he perceives that her philosophers and orators,
her poets and painters, her sculptors and architects, her governments
and free institutions, point backward to Marathon, and that their future
existence seems to have been suspended on the contingency whether the
Persian or the Grecian banner should wave victorious in the beams of
that day's setting sun. And, as his imagination kindles at the
retrospect, he is transported back to the interesting moment; he counts
the fearful odds of the contending hosts; his interest for the result
overwhelms him; he trembles, as if it were still uncertain, and seems to
doubt whether he may consider Socrates and Plato, Demosthenes,
Sophocles, and Phidias, as secure yet to himself and to the world.

[Sidenote: The high purpose of the Pilgrim Fathers.]

"If we conquer," said the Athenian commander on the approach of that
decisive day, "if we conquer, we shall make Athens the greatest city of
Greece." A prophecy how well fulfilled! "If God prosper us," might have
been the more appropriate language of our fathers, when they landed upon
this Rock, "if God prosper us, we shall here begin a work which shall
last for ages; we shall plant here a new society, in the principles of
the fullest liberty and the purest religion; we shall subdue this
wilderness which is before us; we shall fill this region of the great
continent, which stretches almost from pole to pole, with civilization
and Christianity; the temples of the true God shall rise where now
ascends the smoke of idolatrous sacrifice; fields and gardens, the
flowers of summer, and the waving and golden harvest of autumn, shall
spread over a thousand hills and stretch along a thousand valleys, never
yet, since the creation, reclaimed to the use of civilized man. We shall
whiten this coast with the canvas of a prosperous commerce; we shall
stud the long and winding shore with a hundred cities. That which we sow
in weakness shall be raised in strength. From our sincere but houseless
worship there shall spring splendid temples to record God's goodness;
from the simplicity of our social union there shall arise wise and
politic constitutions of government, full of the liberty which we
ourselves bring and breathe; from our zeal for learning, institutions
shall spring which shall scatter the light of knowledge throughout the
land, and in time, paying back where they have borrowed, shall
contribute their part to the great aggregate of human knowledge; and our
descendants, through all generations, shall look back to this spot and
to this hour with unabated affection and regard.

[Sidenote: Love of religious liberty the motive for the settlement of
New England.]

Of the motives which influenced the first settlers to a voluntary exile,
induced them to relinquish their native country, and to seek an asylum
in this then unexplored wilderness, the first and principal, no doubt,
were connected with religion. They sought to enjoy a higher degree of
religious freedom, and what they esteemed a purer form of religious
worship, than was allowed to their choice, or presented to their
imitation, in the Old World. The love of religious liberty is a stronger
sentiment, when fully excited, than an attachment to civil or political
freedom. That freedom which the conscience demands, and which men feel
bound by their hope of salvation to contend for, can hardly fail to be
attained. Conscience, in the cause of religion and the worship of the
Deity, prepares the mind to act and to suffer beyond almost all other
causes. It sometimes gives an impulse so irresistible that no fetters of
power or of opinion can withstand it. History instructs us that this
love of religious liberty, a compound sentiment in the breast of man,
made up of the clearest sense of right and the highest conviction of
duty, is able to look the sternest despotism in the face, and, with
means apparently most inadequate, to shake principalities and powers.
There is a boldness, a spirit of daring, in religious reformers, not to
be measured by the general rules which control men's purposes and
actions. If the hand of power be laid upon it, this only seems to
augment its force and its elasticity, and to cause its action to be more
formidable and violent. Human invention has devised nothing, human power
has compassed nothing, that can forcibly restrain it when it breaks
forth. Nothing can stop it, but to give way to it; nothing can check it,
but indulgence. It loses its power only when it has gained its object.
The principle of toleration, to which the world has come so slowly, is
at once the most just and the most wise of all principles. Even when
religious feeling takes a character of extravagance and enthusiasm, and
seems to threaten the order of society and shake the columns of the
social edifice, its principal danger is in its restraint. If it be
allowed indulgence and expansion, like the elemental fires, it only
agitates, and perhaps purifies, the atmosphere; while its efforts to
throw off restraint would burst the world asunder.

[Sidenote: Religious persecutions in England.]

It is certain, that, although many of them were republicans in
principle, we have no evidence that our New England ancestors would have
emigrated, as they did, from their own native country, would have become
wanderers in Europe, and finally would have undertaken the establishment
of a colony here, merely from their dislike of the political systems of
Europe. They fled not so much from the civil government as from the
hierarchy, and the laws which enforced conformity to the church
establishment. Mr. Robinson[5] had left England as early as 1608, on
account of the persecutions for non-conformity, and had retired to
Holland. He left England from no disappointed ambition in affairs of
state, from no regrets at the want of preferment in the church, nor from
any motive of distinction or of gain. Uniformity in matters of religion
was pressed with such extreme rigor that a voluntary exile seemed the
most eligible mode of escaping from the penalties of non-compliance. The
accession of Elizabeth had, it is true, quenched the fires of
Smithfield,[6] and put an end to the easy acquisition of the crown of
martyrdom. Her long reign had established the Reformation, but
toleration was a virtue beyond her conception and beyond the age. She
left no example of it to her successor; and he was not of a character
which rendered it probable that a sentiment either so wise or so liberal
would originate with him. At the present period it seems incredible that
the learned, accomplished, unassuming, and inoffensive Robinson should
neither be tolerated in his peaceable mode of worship in his own
country, nor suffered quietly to depart from it. Yet such was the fact.
He left his country by stealth, that he might elsewhere enjoy those
rights which ought to belong to men in all countries. The departure of
the Pilgrims for Holland is deeply interesting, from its circumstances,
and also as it marks the character of the times, independently of its
connection with names now incorporated with the history of empire. The
embarkation was intended to be made in such a manner that it might
escape the notice of the officers of government. Great pains had been
taken to secure boats which should come undiscovered to the shore and
receive the fugitives; and frequent disappointments had been experienced
in this respect.

[Sidenote: The embarkation from Lincolnshire.]

[Sidenote: The stormy voyage to Holland.]

At length the appointed time came, bringing with it unusual severity of
cold and rain. An unfrequented and barren heath, on the shores of
Lincolnshire, was the selected spot where the feet of the Pilgrims were
to tread for the last time the land of their fathers. The vessel which
was to receive them did not come until the next day, and in the mean
time the little band was collected, and men and women and children and
baggage were crowded together, in melancholy and distressed confusion.
The sea was rough, and the women and children were already sick, from
their passage down the river to the place of embarkation on the sea. At
length the wished-for boat silently and fearfully approaches the shore,
and men and women and children, shaking with fear and with cold, as many
as the small vessel could bear, venture off on a dangerous sea.
Immediately the advance of horses is heard from behind, armed men
appear, and those not yet embarked are seized and taken into custody. In
the hurry of the moment, the first parties had been sent on board
without any attempt to keep members of the same family together; and on
account of the appearance of the horsemen, the boat never returned for
the residue. Those who had got away, and those who had not, were in
equal distress. A storm, of great violence and long duration, arose at
sea, which not only protracted the voyage, rendered distressing by the
want of all those accommodations which the interruption of the
embarkation had occasioned, but also forced the vessel out of her
course, and menaced immediate shipwreck; while those on shore, when they
were dismissed from the custody of the officers of justice, having no
longer homes or houses to retire to, and their friends and protectors
being already gone, became objects of necessary charity as well as of
deep commiseration.


As this scene passes before us, we can hardly forbear asking whether
this be a band of malefactors and felons flying from justice. What are
their crimes, that they hide themselves in darkness? To what punishment
are they exposed, that, to avoid it, men and women and children thus
encounter the surf of the North Sea and the terrors of a night storm?
What induces this armed pursuit and this arrest of fugitives, of all
ages and both sexes? Truth does not allow us to answer these
inquiries in a manner that does credit to the wisdom or the justice of
the times. This was not the flight of guilt, but of virtue. It was an
humble and peaceable religion, flying from causeless oppression. It was
conscience, attempting to escape from the arbitrary rule of the Stuarts.
It was Robinson and Brewster, leading off their little band from their
native soil, at first to find shelter on the shore of the neighboring
continent, but ultimately to come hither; and having surmounted all
difficulties and braved a thousand dangers, to find here a place of
refuge and of rest. Thanks be to God, that this spot was honored as the
asylum of religious liberty! May its standard, reared here, remain
forever! May it rise up as high as heaven, till its banner shall fan the
air of both continents, and wave as a glorious ensign of peace and
security to the nations!


[Sidenote: The Pilgrims sought a home, not a place of exile.]

They came hither to a land from which they were never to return. Hither
they had brought, and here they were to fix, their hopes, their
attachments, and their objects in life. Some natural tears they shed, as
they left the pleasant abodes of their fathers, and some emotions they
suppressed, when the white cliffs of their native country, now seen for
the last time, grew dim to their sight. They were acting, however, upon
a resolution not to be daunted. With whatever stifled regrets, with
whatever occasional hesitation, with whatever appalling apprehensions,
which might sometimes arise with force to shake the firmest purpose,
they had yet committed themselves to Heaven and the elements; and a
thousand leagues of water soon interposed to separate them forever from
the region which gave them birth. A new existence awaited them here;
and when, they saw these shores, rough, cold, barbarous, and barren, as
then they were, they beheld their country. That mixed and strong feeling
which we call love of country, and which is, in general, never
extinguished in the heart of man, grasped and embraced its proper object
here. Whatever constitutes country, except the earth and the sun, all
the moral causes of affection and attachment which operate upon the
heart, they had brought with them to their new abode. Here were now
their families and friends, their homes and their property. Before they
reached the shore, they had established the elements of a social system,
and at a much earlier period had settled their forms of religious
worship. At the moment of their landing, therefore, they possessed
institutions of government and institutions of religion; and friends and
families, and social and religious institutions, framed by consent,
founded on choice and preference, how nearly do these fill up our whole
idea of country! The morning that beamed on the first night of their
repose saw the Pilgrims already at home in their country. There were
political institutions, and civil liberty, and religious worship. Poetry
has fancied nothing, in the wanderings of heroes, so distinct and
characteristic. Here was man, indeed, unprotected, and unprovided for,
on the shore of a rude and fearful wilderness; but it was politic,
intelligent, and educated man. Everything was civilized but the physical
world. Institutions, containing in substance all that ages had done for
human government, were organized in a forest. Cultivated mind was to act
on uncultivated nature; and, more than all, a government and a country
were to commence, with the very first foundations laid under the divine
light of the Christian religion. Happy auspices of a happy futurity!
Who would wish that his country's existence had otherwise begun? Who
would desire the power of going back to the ages of fable? Who would
wish for an origin obscured in the darkness of antiquity? Who would wish
for other emblazoning of his country's heraldry, or other ornaments of
her genealogy, than to be able to say, that her first existence was with
intelligence, her first breath the inspiration of liberty, her first
principle the truth of divine religion?

Local attachments and sympathies would erelong spring up in the breasts
of our ancestors, endearing to them the place of their refuge. Whatever
natural objects are associated with interesting scenes and high efforts
obtain a hold on human feeling, and demand from the heart a sort of
recognition and regard. This Rock soon became hallowed in the esteem of
the Pilgrims, and these hills grateful to their sight. Neither they nor
their children were again to till the soil of England, nor again to
traverse the seas which surround her. But here was a new sea, now open
to their enterprise, and a new soil, which had not failed to respond
gratefully to their laborious industry, and which was already assuming a
robe of verdure. Hardly had they provided shelter for the living, ere
they were summoned to erect sepulchres for the dead. The ground had
become sacred, by enclosing the remains of some of their companions and
connections. A parent, a child, a husband, or a wife had gone the way of
all flesh, and mingled with the dust of New England. We naturally look
with strong emotions to the spot, though it be a wilderness, where the
ashes of those we have loved repose. Where the heart has laid down what
it loved most, there it is desirous of laying itself down. No sculptured
marble, no enduring monument, no honorable inscription, no ever-burning
taper that would drive away the darkness of the tomb, can soften our
sense of the reality of death, and hallow to our feelings the ground
which is to cover us, like the consciousness that we shall sleep, dust
to dust, with the objects of our affections.

[Sidenote: Their chosen land.]

In a short time other causes sprung up to bind the Pilgrims with new
cords to their chosen land. Children were born, and the hopes of future
generations arose, in the spot of their new habitation. The second
generation found this the land of their nativity, and saw that they were
bound to its fortunes. They beheld their fathers' graves around them,
and while they read the memorials of their toils and labors, they
rejoiced in the inheritance which they found bequeathed to them.

[Sidenote: Popular government in America.]

The nature and constitution of society and government in this country
are interesting topics, to which I would devote what remains of the time
allowed to this occasion. Of our system of government the first thing to
be said is, that it is really and practically a free system. It
originates entirely with the people, and rests on no other foundation
than their assent. To judge of its actual operation, it is not enough to
look merely at the form of its construction. The practical character of
government depends often on a variety of considerations, besides the
abstract frame of its constitutional organization. Among these are the
condition and tenure of property; the laws regulating its alienation and
descent; the presence or absence of a military power; an armed or
unarmed yeomanry; the spirit of the age, and the degree of general
intelligence. In these respects it cannot be denied that the
circumstances of this country are most favorable to the hope of
maintaining the government of a great nation on principles entirely
popular. In the absence of military power, the nature of government must
essentially depend on the manner in which property is holden and
distributed. There is a natural influence belonging to property, whether
it exists in many hands or few; and it is on the rights of property that
both despotism and unrestrained popular violence ordinarily commence
their attacks. Our ancestors began their system of government here under
a condition of comparative equality in regard to wealth, and their early
laws were of a nature to favor and continue this equality.

[Sidenote: The distribution of property in New England.]

A republican form of government rests not more on political
constitutions than on those laws which regulate the descent and
transmission of property. Governments like ours could not have been
maintained where property was holden according to the principles of the
feudal system; nor, on the other hand, could the feudal constitution
possibly exist with us. Our New England ancestors brought hither no
great capitals from Europe; and if they had, there was nothing
productive in which they could have been invested. They left behind them
the whole feudal policy of the other continent. They broke away at once
from the system of military service established in the Dark Ages, and
which continues, down even to the present time, more or less to affect
the condition of property all over Europe. They came to a new country.
There were, as yet, no lands yielding rent, and no tenants rendering
service. The whole soil was unreclaimed from barbarism. They were
themselves, either from their original condition or from the necessity
of their common interest, nearly on a general level in respect to
property. Their situation demanded a parcelling out and division of the
lands, and it may be fairly said, that this necessary act fixed the
future frame and form of their government. The character of their
political institutions was determined by the fundamental laws respecting

The laws rendered estates divisible among sons and daughters. The right
of primogeniture, at first limited and curtailed, was afterwards
abolished. The property was all freehold. The entailment of estates,
long trusts, and the other processes for fettering and tying up
inheritances, were not applicable to the condition of society, and
seldom made use of. On the contrary, alienation of the land was every
way facilitated, even to the subjecting of it to every species of debt.
The establishment of public registries, and the simplicity of our forms
of conveyance, have greatly facilitated the change of real estate from
one proprietor to another. The consequence of all these causes has been
a great subdivision of the soil, and a great equality of condition; the
true basis, most certainly, of a popular government. "If the people,"
says Harrington, "hold three parts in four of the territory, it is plain
there can neither be any single person nor nobility able to dispute the
government with them; in this case, therefore, except force be
interposed, they govern themselves."

[Sidenote: The American system of government.]

[Sidenote: The Roman commonwealth.]

The division of governments into departments, and the division, again,
of the legislative department into two chambers, are essential
provisions in our system. This last, although not new in itself, yet
seems to be new in its application to governments wholly popular. The
Grecian republics, it is plain, knew nothing of it; and in Rome, the
check and balance of legislative power, such as it was, lay between the
people and the senate. Indeed, few things are more difficult than to
ascertain accurately the true nature and construction of the Roman
commonwealth. The relative power of the senate and the people, of the
consuls and the tribunes, appears not to have been at all times the
same, nor at any time accurately defined or strictly observed. Cicero,
indeed, describes to us an admirable arrangement of political power, and
a balance of the constitution, in that beautiful passage in which he
compares the democracies of Greece with the Roman commonwealth.

But at what time this wise system existed in this perfection at Rome, no
proofs remain to show. Her constitution, originally framed for a
monarchy, never seemed to be adjusted in its several parts after the
expulsion of the kings. Liberty there was, but it was a disputatious, an
uncertain, an ill-secured liberty. The patrician and plebeian orders,
instead of being matched and joined, each in its just place and
proportion, to sustain the fabric of the state, were rather like hostile
powers, in perpetual conflict. With us, an attempt has been made, and so
far not without success, to divide representation into chambers, and, by
difference of age, character, qualification, or mode of election, to
establish salutary checks, in governments altogether elective.

[Sidenote: Education in New England.]

Having detained you so long with these observations, I must yet advert
to another most interesting topic,--the Free Schools. In this particular
New England may be allowed to claim, I think, a merit of a peculiar
character. She early adopted, and has constantly maintained, the
principle that it is the undoubted right and the bounden duty of
government to provide for the instruction of all youth. That which is
elsewhere left to chance or to charity, we secure by law. For the
purpose of public instruction, we hold every man subject to taxation in
proportion to his property, and we look not to the question, whether he
himself have, or have not, children to be benefited by the education for
which he pays. We regard it as a wise and liberal system of police, by
which property, and life, and the peace of society are secured. We seek
to prevent in some measure the extension of the penal code, by inspiring
a salutary and conservative principle of virtue and of knowledge in an
early age. We strive to excite a feeling of respectability, and a sense
of character, by enlarging the capacity and increasing the sphere of
intellectual enjoyment. By general instruction, we seek, as far as
possible, to purify the whole moral atmosphere; to keep good sentiments
uppermost, and to turn the strong current of feeling and opinion, as
well as the censures of the law and the denunciations of religion,
against immorality and crime. We hope for a security beyond the law, and
above the law, in the prevalence of an enlightened and well-principled
moral sentiment. We hope to continue and prolong the time when, in the
villages and farm-houses of New England, there may be undisturbed sleep
within unbarred doors. And knowing that our government rests directly on
the public will, in order that we may preserve it we endeavor to give a
safe and proper direction to that public will. We do not, indeed, expect
all men to be philosophers or statesmen; but we confidently trust, and
our expectation of the duration of our system of government rests on
that trust, that, by the diffusion of general knowledge and good and
virtuous sentiments, the political fabric may be secure, as well against
open violence and overthrow as against the slow, but sure, undermining
of licentiousness.

A conviction of the importance of public instruction was one of the
earliest sentiments of our ancestors. No lawgiver of ancient or modern
times has expressed more just opinions, or adopted wiser measures, than
the early records of the Colony of Plymouth show to have prevailed here.
Assembled on this very spot, a hundred and fifty-three years ago, the
legislature of this Colony declared, "Forasmuch as the maintenance of
good literature doth much tend to the advancement of the weal and
flourishing state of societies and republics, this Court doth therefore
order, that in whatever township in this government, consisting of fifty
families or upwards, any meet man shall be obtained to teach a grammar
school, such township shall allow at least twelve pounds, to be raised
by rate on all the inhabitants."

[Sidenote: Harvard College.]

Having provided that all youth should be instructed in the elements of
learning by the institution of free schools, our ancestors had yet
another duty to perform. Men were to be educated for the professions and
the public. For this purpose they founded the university, and with
incredible zeal and perseverance they cherished and supported it,
through all trials and discouragements. On the subject of the
university, it is not possible for a son of New England to think without
pleasure, or to speak without emotion. Nothing confers more honor on the
state where it is established, or more utility on the country at large.
A respectable university is an establishment which must be the work of
time. If pecuniary means were not wanting, no new institution could
possess character and respectability at once. We owe deep obligation to
our ancestors, who began, almost on the moment of their arrival, the
work of building up this institution.

[Illustration: _A View of Harvard College._]

Although established in a different government, the Colony of Plymouth
manifested warm friendship for Harvard College. At an early period, its
government took measures to promote a general subscription throughout
all the towns in this Colony, in aid of its small funds. Other colleges
were subsequently founded and endowed, in other places, as the ability
of the people allowed; and we may flatter ourselves that the means of
education at present enjoyed in New England are not only adequate to the
diffusion of the elements of knowledge among all classes, but sufficient
also for respectable attainments in literature and the sciences.

[Sidenote: Religious influences.]

Lastly, our ancestors established their system of government on morality
and religious sentiment. Moral habits, they believed, cannot safely be
trusted on any other foundation than religious principle, nor any
government be secure which is not supported by moral habits. Living
under the heavenly light of revelation, they hoped to find all the
social dispositions, all the duties which men owe to each other and to
society, enforced and performed. Whatever makes men good Christians,
makes them good citizens. Our fathers came here to enjoy their religion
free and unmolested; and, at the end of two centuries, there is nothing
upon which we can pronounce more confidently, nothing of which we can
express a more deep and earnest conviction, than of the inestimable
importance of that religion to man, both in regard to this life and that
which is to come.

[Sidenote: The duty of the descendants of the Pilgrims.]

If the blessings of our political and social condition have not been too
highly estimated, we cannot well overrate the responsibility and duty
which they impose upon us. We hold these institutions of government,
religion, and learning to be transmitted as well as enjoyed. We are in
the lines of conveyance, through which whatever has been obtained by the
spirit and efforts of our ancestors is to be communicated to our

[Sidenote: American constitutional history.]

We are bound not only to maintain the general principles of public
liberty, but to support also those existing forms of government which
have so well secured its enjoyment, and so highly promoted the public
prosperity. It is now more than thirty years that these States have been
united under the Federal Constitution, and whatever fortune may await
them hereafter, it is impossible that this period of their history
should not be regarded as distinguished by signal prosperity and
success. They must be sanguine, indeed, who can hope for benefit from
change. Whatever division of the public judgment may have existed in
relation to particular measures of the government, all must agree, one
should think, in the opinion that in its general course it has been
eminently productive of public happiness. Its most ardent friends could
not well have hoped from it more than it has accomplished; and those who
disbelieved or doubted ought to feel less concern about predictions
which the event has not verified than pleasure in the good which has
been obtained. Whoever shall hereafter write this part of our history,
although he may see occasional errors or defects, will be able to record
no great failure in the ends and objects of government. Still less will
he be able to record any series of lawless and despotic acts, or any
successful usurpation. His page will contain no exhibition of provinces
depopulated, of civil authority habitually trampled down by military
power, or of a community crushed by the burden of taxation. He will
speak, rather, of public liberty protected, and public happiness
advanced; of increased revenue, and population augmented beyond all
example; of the growth of commerce, manufactures, and the arts; and of
that happy condition in which the restraint and coercion of government
are almost invisible and imperceptible, and its influence felt only in
the benefits which it confers. We can entertain no better wish for our
country than that this government may be preserved; nor have a clearer
duty than to maintain and support it in the full exercise of all its
just constitutional powers.

[Sidenote: American literature.]

The cause of science and literature also imposes upon us an important
and delicate trust. The wealth and population of the country are now so
far advanced as to authorize the expectation of a correct literature and
a well-formed taste, as well as respectable progress in the abstruse
sciences. The country has risen from a state of colonial subjection; it
has established an independent government, and is now in the
undisturbed enjoyment of peace and political security. The elements of
knowledge are universally diffused, and the reading portion of the
community is large. Let us hope that the present may be an auspicious
era of literature. If, almost on the day of their landing, our ancestors
founded schools and endowed colleges, what obligations do not rest upon
us, living under circumstances so much more favorable both for providing
and for using the means of education? Literature becomes free
institutions. It is the graceful ornament of civil liberty, and a happy
restraint on the asperities which political controversies sometimes
occasion. Just taste is not only an embellishment of society, but it
rises almost to the rank of the virtues, and diffuses positive good
throughout the whole extent of its influence. There is a connection
between right feeling and right principles, and truth in taste is allied
with truth in morality. With nothing in our past history to discourage
us, and with something in our present condition and prospects to animate
us, let us hope that, as it is our fortune to live in an age when we may
behold a wonderful advancement of the country in all its other great
interests, we may see also equal progress and success attend the cause
of letters.

[Sidenote: The influence of religion.]

Finally, let us not forget the religious character of our origin. Our
fathers were brought hither by their high veneration for the Christian
religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They
sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society,
and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil,
political, or literary. Let us cherish these sentiments, and extend this
influence still more widely, in the full conviction that that is the
happiest society which partakes in the highest degree of the mild and
peaceful spirit of Christianity.

[Sidenote: The future progress of New England.]

The hours of this day are rapidly flying, and this occasion will soon be
passed. Neither we nor our children can expect to behold its return.
They are in the distant regions of futurity, they exist only in the
all-creating power of God, who shall stand here a hundred years hence,
to trace, through us, their descent from the Pilgrims, and to survey, as
we have now surveyed, the progress of their country during the lapse of
a century. We would anticipate their concurrence with us in our
sentiments of deep regard for our common ancestors. We would anticipate
and partake the pleasure with which they will then recount the steps of
New England's advancement. On the morning of that day, although it will
not disturb us in our repose, the voice of acclamation and gratitude,
commencing on the Rock of Plymouth, shall be transmitted through
millions of the sons of the Pilgrims, till it lose itself in the murmurs
of the Pacific seas.

We would leave, for the consideration of those who shall then occupy our
places, some proof that we hold the blessings transmitted from our
fathers in just estimation; some proof of our attachment to the cause of
good government, and of civil and religious liberty; some proof of a
sincere and ardent desire to promote everything which may enlarge the
understandings and improve the hearts of men. And when, from the long
distance of a hundred years, they shall look back upon us, they shall
know, at least, that we possessed affections which, running backward and
warming with gratitude for what our ancestors have done for our
happiness, run forward also to our posterity, and meet them with cordial
salutation, ere yet they have arrived on the shore of being.

Advance, then, ye future generations! We would hail you, as you rise in
your long succession, to fill the places which we now fill, and to taste
the blessings of existence where we are passing, and soon shall have
passed, our own human duration. We bid you welcome to this pleasant land
of the fathers. We bid you welcome to the healthful skies and the
verdant fields of New England. We greet your accession to the great
inheritance which we have enjoyed. We welcome you to the blessings of
good government and religious liberty. We welcome you to the treasures
of science and the delights of learning. We welcome you to the
transcendent sweets of domestic life, to the happiness of kindred and
parents and children. We welcome you to the immeasurable blessings of
rational existence, the immortal hope of Christianity, and the light of
everlasting truth!



This uncounted multitude before me and around me proves the feeling
which the occasion has excited. These thousands of human faces, glowing
with sympathy and joy, and from the impulses of a common gratitude
turned reverently to heaven in this spacious temple of the firmament,
proclaim that the day, the place, and the purpose of our assembling have
made a deep impression on our hearts.


[Sidenote: The Battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775.]

If, indeed, there be anything in local association fit to affect the
mind of man, we need not strive to repress the emotions which agitate us
here. We are among the sepulchres of our fathers. We are on ground
distinguished by their valor, their constancy, and the shedding of their
blood. We are here, not to fix an uncertain date in our annals, nor to
draw into notice an obscure and unknown spot. If our humble purpose had
never been conceived, if we ourselves had never been born, the 17th
of June, 1775, would have been a day on which all subsequent history
would have poured its light, and the eminence where we stand a point of
attraction to the eyes of successive generations. But we are Americans.
We live in what may be called the early age of this great continent; and
we know that our posterity, through all time, are here to enjoy and
suffer the allotments of humanity. We see before us a probable train of
great events; we know that our own fortunes have been happily cast; and
it is natural, therefore, that we should be moved by the contemplation
of occurrences which have guided our destiny before many of us were
born, and settled the condition in which we should pass that portion of
our existence which God allows to men on earth.

[Sidenote: The discovery of America.]

We do not read even of the discovery of this continent, without feeling
something of a personal interest in the event; without being reminded
how much it has affected our own fortunes and our own existence. It
would be still more unnatural for us, therefore, than for others, to
contemplate with unaffected minds that interesting, I may say that most
touching and pathetic scene, when the great discoverer of America stood
on the deck of his shattered bark, the shades of night falling on the
sea, yet no man sleeping; tossed on the billows of an unknown ocean, yet
the stronger billows of alternate hope and despair tossing his own
troubled thoughts; extending forward his harassed frame, straining
westward his anxious and eager eyes, till Heaven at last granted him a
moment of rapture and ecstasy, in blessing his vision with the sight of
the unknown world.

[Sidenote: The first settlement of New England.]

Nearer to our times, more closely connected with our fates, and
therefore still more interesting to our feelings and affections, is the
settlement of our own country by colonists from England. We cherish
every memorial of these worthy ancestors; we celebrate their patience
and fortitude; we admire their daring enterprise; we teach our children
to venerate their piety; and we are justly proud of being descended from
men who have set the world an example of founding civil institutions on
the great and united principles of human freedom and human knowledge. To
us, their children, the story of their labors and sufferings can never
be without its interest. We shall not stand unmoved on the shore of
Plymouth, while the sea continues to wash it; nor will our brethren in
another early and ancient colony forget the place of its first
establishment, till their river shall cease to flow by it.[8] No vigor
of youth, no maturity of manhood, will lead the nation to forget the
spots where its infancy was cradled and defended.

[Sidenote: The American Revolution.]

But the great event in the history of the continent, which we are now
met here to commemorate, that prodigy of modern times, at once the
wonder and the blessing of the world, is the American Revolution. In a
day of extraordinary prosperity and happiness, of high national honor,
distinction, and power, we are brought together, in this place, by our
love of country, by our admiration of exalted character, by our
gratitude for signal services and patriotic devotion.

[Sidenote: The object of the monument.]

The Society whose organ I am was formed for the purpose of rearing some
honorable and durable monument to the memory of the early friends of
American Independence. They have thought that for this object no time
could be more propitious than the present prosperous and peaceful
period, that no place could claim preference over this memorable spot,
and that no day could be more auspicious to the undertaking than the
anniversary of the battle which was here fought. The foundation of that
monument we have now laid. With solemnities suited to the occasion, with
prayers to Almighty God for his blessing, and in the midst of this cloud
of witnesses, we have begun the work. We trust it will be prosecuted,
and that, springing from a broad foundation, rising high in massive
solidity and unadorned grandeur, it may remain as long as Heaven permits
the works of man to last, a fit emblem, both of the events in memory of
which it is raised, and of the gratitude of those who have reared it.

We know, indeed, that the record of illustrious actions is most safely
deposited in the universal remembrance of mankind. We know that if we
could cause this structure to ascend, not only till it reached the
skies, but till it pierced them, its broad surfaces could still contain
but part of that which, in an age of knowledge, hath already been spread
over the earth, and which history charges itself with making known to
all future times. We know that no inscription on entablatures less broad
than the earth itself can carry information of the events we commemorate
where it has not already gone; and that no structure which shall not
outlive the duration of letters and knowledge among men can prolong the
memorial. But our object is, by this edifice, to show our own deep sense
of the value and importance of the achievements of our ancestors; and,
by presenting this work of gratitude to the eye, to keep alive similar
sentiments, and to foster a constant regard for the principles of the
Revolution. Human beings are composed, not of reason only, but of
imagination also, and sentiment; and that is neither wasted nor
misapplied which is appropriated to the purpose of giving right
direction to sentiments, and opening proper springs of feeling in the

[Sidenote: Importance of the site.]

Let it not be supposed that our object is to perpetuate national
hostility, or even to cherish a mere military spirit. It is higher,
purer, nobler. We consecrate our work to the spirit of national
independence, and we wish that the light of peace may rest upon it
forever. We rear a memorial of our conviction of that unmeasured benefit
which has been conferred on our own land, and of the happy influences
which have been produced, by the same events, on the general interests
of mankind. We come, as Americans, to mark a spot which must forever be
dear to us and our posterity. We wish that whosoever, in all coming
time, shall turn his eye hither, may behold that the place is not
undistinguished where the first great battle of the Revolution was
fought. We wish that this structure may proclaim the magnitude and
importance of that event to every class and every age. We wish that
infancy may learn the purpose of its erection from maternal lips, and
that weary and withered age may behold it, and be solaced by the
recollections which it suggests. We wish that labor may look up here,
and be proud in the midst of its toil. We wish that, in those days of
disaster which, as they come upon all nations, must be expected to come
upon us also, desponding patriotism may turn its eyes hitherward, and be
assured that the foundations of our national power are still strong. We
wish that this column, rising towards heaven among the pointed spires of
so many temples dedicated to God, may contribute also to produce, in all
minds, a pious feeling of dependence and gratitude. We wish, finally,
that the last object to the sight of him who leaves his native shore,
and the first to gladden his who revisits it, may be something which
shall remind him of the liberty and the glory of his country. Let it
rise! let it rise, till it meet the sun in his coming; let the earliest
light of the morning gild it, and parting day linger and play on its

[Sidenote: The survivors of 1775.]

We still have among us some of those who were active agents in the
scenes of 1775, and who are now here, from every quarter of New England,
to visit once more, and under circumstances so affecting, I had almost
said so overwhelming, this renowned theatre of their courage and

Venerable men! you have come down to us from a former generation. Heaven
has bounteously lengthened out your lives, that you might behold this
joyous day. You are now where you stood fifty years ago, this very hour,
with your brothers and your neighbors, shoulder to shoulder, in the
strife for your country. Behold, how altered! The same heavens are
indeed over your heads; the same ocean rolls at your feet; but all else
how changed! You hear now no roar of hostile cannon, you see no mixed
volumes of smoke and flame rising from burning Charlestown. The ground
strewed with the dead and the dying; the impetuous charge; the steady
and successful repulse; the loud call to repeated assault; the summoning
of all that is manly to repeated resistance; a thousand bosoms freely
and fearlessly bared in an instant to whatever of terror there may be in
war and death,--all these you have witnessed, but you witness them no
more. All is peace. The heights of yonder metropolis, its towers and
roofs, which you then saw filled with wives and children and countrymen
in distress and terror, and looking with unutterable emotions for the
issue of the combat, have presented you to-day with the sight of its
whole happy population, come out to welcome and greet you with a
universal jubilee. Yonder proud ships, by a felicity of position
appropriately lying at the foot of this mount, and seeming fondly to
cling around it, are not means of annoyance to you, but your country's
own means of distinction and defence. All is peace; and God has granted
you this sight of your country's happiness, ere you slumber in the
grave. He has allowed you to behold and to partake the reward of your
patriotic toils; and he has allowed us, your sons and countrymen, to
meet you here, and in the name of the present generation, in the name of
your country, in the name of liberty, to thank you!

[Sidenote: The dead patriots.]

But, alas! you are not all here! Time and the sword have thinned your
ranks. Prescott, Putnam, Stark, Brooks, Read, Pomeroy, Bridge! our eyes
seek for you in vain amid this broken band. You are gathered to your
fathers, and live only to your country in her grateful remembrance and
your own bright example. But let us not too much grieve that you have
met the common fate of men. You lived at least long enough to know that
your work had been nobly and successfully accomplished. You lived to see
your country's independence established, and to sheathe your swords from
war. On the light of Liberty you saw arise the light of Peace, like

        "another morn,
  Risen on mid-noon;"

and the sky on which you closed your eyes was cloudless.

[Illustration: _Joseph Warren._]

But ah! Him![9] the first great martyr in this great cause! Him! The
premature victim of his own self-devoting heart! Him! the lead of our
civil councils, and the destined leader of our military bands, whom
nothing brought hither but the unquenchable fire of his own spirit! Him!
cut off by Providence in the hour of overwhelming anxiety and thick
gloom; falling ere he saw the star of his country rise; pouring out his
generous blood like water, before he knew whether it would fertilize a
land of freedom or of bondage!--how shall I struggle with the emotions
that stifle the utterance of thy name! Our poor work may perish; but
thine shall endure! This monument may moulder away; the soil ground it
rests upon may sink down to a level with the sea; but thy memory shall
not fail! Wheresoever among men a heart shall be found that beats to the
transports of patriotism and liberty, its aspirations shall be to claim
kindred with thy spirit!

But the scene amidst which we stand does not permit us to confine our
thoughts or our sympathies to those fearless spirits who hazarded or
lost their lives on this consecrated spot. We have the happiness to
rejoice here in the presence of a most worthy representation of the
survivors of the whole Revolutionary army.

[Sidenote: The veterans of the Revolution.]

Veterans! you are the remnant of many a well-fought field. You bring
with you marks of honor from Trenton and Monmouth, from Yorktown,
Camden, Bennington, and Saratoga. Veterans of half a century! when in
your youthful days you put everything at hazard in your country's cause,
good as that cause was, and sanguine as youth is, still your fondest
hopes did not stretch onward to an hour like this! At a period to which
you could not reasonably have expected to arrive, at a moment of
national prosperity such as you could never have foreseen, you are now
met here to enjoy the fellowship of old soldiers, and to receive the
overflowings of a universal gratitude.

But your agitated countenances and your heaving breasts inform me that
even this is not an unmixed joy. I perceive that a tumult of contending
feelings rushes upon you. The images of the dead, as well as the persons
of the living, present themselves before you. The scene overwhelms you,
and I turn from it. May the Father of all mercies smile upon your
declining years, and bless them! And when you shall here have exchanged
your embraces, when you shall once more have pressed the hands which
have been so often extended to give succor in adversity, or grasped in
the exultation of victory, then look abroad upon this lovely land which
your young valor defended, and mark the happiness with which it is
filled; yea, look abroad upon the whole earth, and see what a name you
have contributed to give to your country, and what a praise you have
added to freedom, and then rejoice in the sympathy and gratitude which
beam upon your last days from the improved condition of mankind!

[Sidenote: Tribute to Lafayette.]

Sir, we are assembled to commemorate the establishment of great public
principles of liberty, and to do honor to the distinguished dead. The
occasion is too severe for eulogy of the living. But, Sir, your
interesting relation to this country, the peculiar circumstances which
surround you and surround us, call on me to express the happiness which
we derive from your presence and aid in this solemn commemoration.[10]

Fortunate, fortunate man! with what measure of devotion will you not
thank God for the circumstances of your extraordinary life! You are
connected with both hemispheres and with two generations. Heaven saw
fit to ordain that the electric spark of liberty should be conducted,
through you, from the New World to the Old; and we, who are now here to
perform this duty of patriotism, have all of us long ago received it in
charge from our fathers to cherish your name and your virtues. You will
account it an instance of your good fortune, Sir, that you crossed the
seas to visit us at a time which enables you to be present at this
solemnity. You now behold the field, the renown of which reached you in
the heart of France, and caused a thrill in your ardent bosom. You see
the lines of the little redoubt thrown up by the incredible diligence of
Prescott; defended, to the last extremity, by his lion-hearted valor;
and within which the corner-stone of our monument has now taken its
position. You see where Warren fell, and where Parker, Gardner,
McCleary, Moore, and other early patriots, fell with him. Those who
survived that day, and whose lives have been prolonged to the present
hour, are now around you. Some of them you have known in the trying
scenes of the war. Behold! they now stretch forth their feeble arms to
embrace you. Behold! they raise their trembling voices to invoke the
blessing of God on you and yours forever.

[Illustration: _Marquis de Lafayette._]

Sir, you have assisted us in laying the foundation of this structure.
You have heard us rehearse, with our feeble commendation, the names of
departed patriots. Monuments and eulogy belong to the dead. We give them
this day to Warren and his associates. On other occasions they have been
given to your more immediate companions in arms, to Washington, to
Greene, to Gates, to Sullivan, and to Lincoln. We have become reluctant
to grant these, our highest and last honors, further. We would gladly
hold them yet back from the little remnant of that immortal band. _Serus
in coelum redeas._[11] Illustrious as are your merits, yet far, oh,
very far distant be the day when any inscription shall bear your name,
or any tongue pronounce its eulogy!

[Sidenote: The common progress of nations.]

The leading reflection to which this occasion seems to invite us
respects the great changes which have happened in the fifty years since
the battle of Bunker Hill was fought. And it peculiarly marks the
character of the present age, that, in looking at these changes, and in
estimating their effect on our condition, we are obliged to consider,
not what has been done in our own country only, but in others also. In
these interesting times, while nations are making separate and
individual advances in improvement, they make, too, a common progress;
like vessels on a common tide, propelled by the gales at different
rates, according to their several structure and management, but all
moved forward by one mighty current, strong enough to bear onward
whatever does not sink beneath it.

A chief distinction of the present day is a community of opinions and
knowledge amongst men in different nations, existing in a degree
heretofore unknown. Knowledge has, in our time, triumphed, and is
triumphing, over distance, over difference of languages, over diversity
of habits, over prejudice, and over bigotry. The civilized and Christian
world is fast learning the great lesson, that difference of nation does
not imply necessary hostility, and that all contact need not be war. The
whole world is becoming a common field for intellect to act in. Energy
of mind, genius, power, wheresoever it exists, may speak out in any
tongue, and the world will hear it. A great chord of sentiment and
feeling runs through two continents, and vibrates over both. Every
breeze wafts intelligence from country to country; every wave rolls it;
all give it forth, and all in turn receive it. There is a vast commerce
of ideas; there are marts and exchanges for intellectual discoveries,
and a wonderful fellowship of those individual intelligences which make
up the mind and opinion of the age. Mind is the great lever of all
things; human thought is the process by which human ends are ultimately
answered; and the diffusion of knowledge, so astonishing in the last
half-century, has rendered innumerable minds, variously gifted by
nature, competent to be competitors or fellow-workers on the theatre of
intellectual operation.

[Sidenote: Influence of the American Revolution upon Europe.]

The great wheel of political revolution began to move in America. Here
its rotation was guarded, regular, and safe. Transferred to the other
continent, from unfortunate but natural causes, it received an irregular
and violent impulse; it whirled along with a fearful celerity; till at
length, like the chariot-wheels in the races of antiquity, it took fire
from the rapidity of its own motion, and blazed onward, spreading
conflagration and terror around.

We learn from the result of this experiment, how fortunate was our own
condition, and how admirably the character of our people was calculated
for setting the great example of popular governments. The possession of
power did not turn the heads of the American people, for they had long
been in the habit of exercising a great degree of self-control. Although
the paramount authority of the parent state existed over them, yet a
large field of legislation had always been open to our Colonial
assemblies. They were accustomed to representative bodies and the forms
of free government; they understood the doctrine of the division of
power among different branches, and the necessity of checks on each. The
character of our countrymen, moreover, was sober, moral, and religious;
and there was little in the change to shock their feelings of justice
and humanity, or even to disturb an honest prejudice. We had no domestic
throne to overturn, no privileged orders to cast down, no violent
changes of property to encounter. In the American Revolution, no man
sought or wished for more than to defend and enjoy his own. None hoped
for plunder or for spoil. Rapacity was unknown to it; the axe was not
among the instruments of its accomplishment; and we all know that it
could not have lived a single day under any well-founded imputation of
possessing a tendency adverse to the Christian religion.

It need not surprise us, that, under circumstances less auspicious,
political revolutions elsewhere, even when well intended, have
terminated differently. It is, indeed, a great achievement, it is the
master-work of the world, to establish governments entirely popular on
lasting foundations; nor is it easy, indeed, to introduce the popular
principle at all into governments to which it has been altogether a
stranger. It cannot be doubted, however, that Europe has come out of
the contest, in which she has been so long engaged, with greatly
superior knowledge, and, in many respects, in a highly improved
condition. Whatever benefit has been acquired is likely to be retained,
for it consists mainly in the acquisition of more enlightened ideas. And
although kingdoms and provinces may be wrested from the hands that hold
them, in the same manner they were obtained; although ordinary and
vulgar power may, in human affairs, be lost as it has been won; yet it
is the glorious prerogative of the empire of knowledge, that what it
gains it never loses. On the contrary, it increases by the multiple of
its power; all its ends become means; all its attainments, helps to new
conquests. Its whole abundant harvest is but so much seed wheat, and
nothing has limited, and nothing can limit the amount of ultimate

[Sidenote: The representative system of government.]

Under the influence of this rapidly increasing knowledge, the people
have begun, in all forms of government, to think and to reason on
affairs of state. Regarding government as an institution for the public
good, they demand a knowledge of its operations, and a participation in
its exercise. A call for the representative system, wherever it is not
enjoyed, and where there is already intelligence enough to estimate its
value, is perseveringly made. Where men may speak out, they demand it;
where the bayonet is at their throats, they pray for it.

[Sidenote: Respect for the judgment of the world.]

We may hope that the growing influence of enlightened sentiment will
promote the permanent peace of the world. Wars to maintain family
alliances, to uphold or to cast down dynasties, and to regulate
successions to thrones, which have occupied so much room in the history
of modern times, if not less likely to happen at all, will be less
likely to become general and involve many nations, as the great
principle shall be more and more established, that the interest of the
world is peace, and its first great statute that every nation possesses
the power of establishing a government for itself. But public opinion
has attained also an influence over governments which do not admit the
popular principle into their organization. A necessary respect for the
judgment of the world operates, in some measure, as a control over the
most unlimited forms of authority. It is owing, perhaps, to this truth,
that the interesting struggle of the Greeks has been suffered to go on
so long, without a direct interference, either to wrest that country
from its present masters, or to execute the system of pacification by
force, and, with united strength, lay the neck of Christian and
civilized Greek at the foot of the barbarian Turk. Let us thank God that
we live in an age when something has influence besides the bayonet, and
when the sternest authority does not venture to encounter the scorching
power of public reproach. Any attempt of the kind I have mentioned
should be met by one universal burst of indignation; the air of the
civilized world ought to be made too warm to be comfortably breathed by
any one who would hazard it.

[Sidenote: The Greek struggle for independence.]

It is, indeed, a touching reflection, that, while, in the fulness of our
country's happiness, we rear this monument to her honor, we look for
instruction in our undertaking to a country which is now in fearful
contest, not for works of art or memorials of glory, but for her own
existence.[12] Let her be assured that she is not forgotten in the
world; that her efforts are applauded, and that constant prayers ascend
for her success. And let us cherish a confident hope for her final
triumph. If the true spark of religious and civil liberty be kindled, it
will burn. Human agency cannot extinguish it. Like the earth's central
fire, it may be smothered for a time; the ocean may overwhelm it;
mountains may press it down; but its inherent and unconquerable force
will heave both the ocean and the land, and at some time or other, in
some place or other, the volcano will break out and flame up to heaven.

[Sidenote: South American liberty.]

When the battle of Bunker Hill was fought, the existence of South
America was scarcely felt in the civilized world. The thirteen little
Colonies of North America habitually called themselves the "Continent."
Borne down by Colonial subjugation, monopoly, and bigotry, these vast
regions of the South were hardly visible above the horizon. But in our
day there has been, as it were, a new creation. The southern hemisphere
emerges from the sea. Its lofty mountains begin to lift themselves into
the light of heaven; its broad and fertile plains stretch out, in
beauty, to the eye of civilized man, and at the mighty bidding of the
voice of political liberty the waters of darkness retire.

[Sidenote: The example of the republic of the United States.]

And, now, let us indulge an honest exultation in the conviction of the
benefit which the example of our country has produced, and is likely to
produce, on human freedom and human happiness. Let us endeavor to
comprehend in all its magnitude, and to feel in all its importance, the
part assigned to us in the great drama of human affairs. We are placed
at the head of the system of representative and popular governments.
Thus far our example shows that such governments are compatible not only
with respectability and power, but with repose, with peace, with
security of personal rights, with good laws, and a just administration.

We are not propagandists. Wherever other systems are preferred, either
as being thought better in themselves, or as better suited to existing
condition, we leave the preference to be enjoyed. Our history hitherto
proves, however, that the popular form is practicable, and that with
wisdom and knowledge men may govern themselves; and the duty incumbent
on us is to preserve the consistency of this cheering example, and take
care that nothing may weaken its authority with the world. If, in our
case, the representative system ultimately fail, popular governments
must be pronounced impossible. No combination of circumstances more
favorable to the experiment can ever be expected to occur. The last
hopes of mankind, therefore, rest with us; and if it should be
proclaimed that our example had become an argument against the
experiment, the knell of popular liberty would be sounded throughout the

These are excitements to duty; but they are not suggestions of doubt.
Our history and our condition, all that is gone before us, and all that
surrounds us, authorize the belief that popular governments, though
subject to occasional variations, in form perhaps not always for the
better, may yet, in their general character, be as durable and permanent
as other systems. We know, indeed, that in our country any other is
impossible. The _principle_ of free governments adheres to the American
soil. It is bedded in it, immovable as its mountains.

[Sidenote: The obligations of Americans.]

And let the sacred obligations which have devolved on this generation,
and on us, sink deep into our hearts. Those who established our liberty
and our government are daily dropping from among us. The great trust now
descends to new hands. Let us apply ourselves to that which is presented
to us, as our appropriate object. We can win no laurels in a war for
independence. Earlier and worthier hands have gathered them all. Nor are
there places for us by the side of Solon, and Alfred, and other founders
of states. Our fathers have filled them. But there remains to us a great
duty of defence and preservation; and there is open to us, also, a noble
pursuit, to which the spirit of the times strongly invites us. Our
proper business is improvement. Let our age be the age of improvement.
In a day of peace, let us advance the arts of peace and the works of
peace. Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers,
build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see
whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something
worthy to be remembered. Let us cultivate a true spirit of union and
harmony. In pursuing the great objects which our condition points out
to us, let us act under a settled conviction, and an habitual feeling,
that these twenty-four States are one country. Let our conceptions be
enlarged to the circle of our duties. Let us extend our ideas over the
whole of the vast field in which we are called to act. Let our object
the blessing of God, may that country itself become a vast and splendid
monument, not of oppression and terror, but of Wisdom, of Peace, and of
Liberty, upon which the world may gaze with admiration forever!



  [It was determined by the directors of the Bunker Hill Monument
  Association, that the completion of the work should be celebrated
  in a manner not less imposing than that in which the laying of the
  corner-stone had been celebrated, seventeen years before. The
  co-operation of Mr. Webster was again invited, and, notwithstanding
  the pressure of his engagements as Secretary of State at
  Washington, was again patriotically yielded. The President of the
  United States and his Cabinet had accepted invitations to be
  present; and delegations of the descendants of New England attended
  from all parts of the Union, including one hundred and eight
  surviving veterans of the Revolution, among whom were some who were
  in the battle of Bunker Hill. According to the estimate of Richard
  Frothingham, one hundred thousand persons were gathered, and nearly
  half that number are supposed to have been within the reach of the
  orator's voice. The ground rises slightly between the platform and
  the Monument Square, so that the whole of this concourse, compactly
  crowded together, was within the full view of the speaker. When,
  after saying, "It is not from my lips, it could not be from any
  human lips, that that strain of eloquence is this day to flow most
  competent to move and excite the vast multitudes around me,--the
  powerful speaker stands motionless before us," Mr. Webster paused,
  and pointed to the monument, the audience burst into long and loud
  applause. It was some moments before he could go on with his

A duty has been performed. A work of gratitude and patriotism is
completed. This structure, having its foundations in soil which drank
deep of early Revolutionary blood, has at length reached its destined
height, and now lifts its summit to the skies.

[Illustration: _Bunker Hill Monument._]

[Sidenote: The changes of eighteen years.]

Time and nature have had their course in diminishing the number of those
whom we met here on the 17th of June, 1825. Most of the Revolutionary
characters then present have since deceased; and Lafayette sleeps in his
native land. Yet the name and blood of Warren are with us; the kindred
of Putnam are also here; and near me, universally beloved for his
character and his virtues, and now venerable for his years, sits the son
of the noble-hearted and daring Prescott.

[Sidenote: The purpose of the monument.]

The Bunker Hill Monument is finished. Here it stands.[13] Fortunate in
the high natural eminence on which it is placed, higher, infinitely
higher in its objects and purpose, it rises over the land and over the
sea; and visible at their homes to three hundred thousand of the people
of Massachusetts, it stands a memorial of the last, and a monitor to the
present, and to all succeeding generations. I have spoken of the
loftiness of its purpose. If it had been without any other design than
the creation of a work of art, the granite of which it is composed would
have slept in its native bed. It has a purpose, and that purpose gives
it its 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. It is itself the orator of this occasion. It is
not from my lips, it could not be from any human lips, that that strain
of eloquence is this day to flow most competent to move and excite the
vast multitudes around me. The powerful speaker stands motionless before
us. It is a plain shaft. It bears no inscriptions, fronting to the
rising sun, from which the future antiquary 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
noonday, and beneath the 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 the consequences which have resulted to us,
to our country, 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 of life,--surpass all that the study of the closet,
or even the inspiration of genius, can produce. To-day it speaks to us.
Its future auditories will be the successive generations of men, as they
rise up before it and gather around it. Its speech will be of patriotism
and courage; of civil 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.

[Sidenote: The monuments of the past.]

In the older world, numerous fabrics still exist, reared by human hands,
but whose object has been lost in the darkness of ages. They are now
monuments of nothing but the labor and skill which constructed them.

The mighty pyramid itself, half buried in the sands of Africa, has
nothing to bring down and report to us but the power of kings and the
servitude of the people. If it had any purpose beyond that of a
mausoleum, such purpose has perished from history and from tradition. If
asked for its moral object, its admonition, its sentiment, its
instruction to mankind, or any high end in its erection, it is silent;
silent as the millions which lie in the dust at its base, and in the
catacombs which surround it. Without a just moral object, therefore,
made known to man, though raised against the skies, it excites only
conviction of power, mixed with strange wonder. But if the civilization
of the present race of men, founded, as it is, in solid science, the
true knowledge of nature, and vast discoveries in art, and which is
elevated and purified by moral sentiment and by the truths of
Christianity, be not destined to destruction before the final
termination of human existence on earth, the object and purpose of this
edifice will be known till that hour shall come. And even if
civilization should be subverted, and the truths of the Christian
religion obscured by a new deluge of barbarism, the memory of Bunker
Hill and the American Revolution will still be elements and parts of the
knowledge which shall be possessed by the last man to whom the light of
civilization and Christianity shall be extended.

[Illustration: _John Tyler._]

[Sidenote: President Tyler.]

This celebration is honored by the presence of the chief executive
magistrate of the Union. An occasion so national in its object and
character, and so much connected with that Revolution from which the
government sprang at the head of which he is placed, may well receive
from him this mark of attention and respect. Well acquainted with
Yorktown, the scene of the last great military struggle of the
Revolution, his eye now surveys the field of Bunker Hill, the theatre of
the first of those important conflicts. He sees where Warren fell, where
Putnam, and Prescott, and Stark, and Knowlton, and Brooks fought. He
beholds the spot where a thousand trained soldiers of England were
smitten to the earth, in the first effort of revolutionary war, by the
arm of a bold and determined yeomanry, contending for liberty and their

[Sidenote: Visitors present at the dedication.]

Banners and badges, processions and flags, announce to us, that amidst
this uncounted throng are thousands of natives of New England now
residents in other States. Welcome, ye kindred names, with kindred
blood! From the broad savannas of the South, from the newer regions of
the West, from amidst the hundreds of thousands of men of Eastern origin
who cultivate the rich valley of the Genesee or live along the chain of
the lakes, from the mountains of Pennsylvania, and from the thronged
cities of the coast, welcome, welcome! Wherever else you may be
strangers, here you are all at home. You assemble at this shrine of
liberty, near the family altars at which your earliest devotions were
paid to Heaven, near to the temples of worship first entered by you, and
near to the schools and colleges in which your education was received.
You come hither with a glorious ancestry of liberty. You bring names
which are on the rolls of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. You come,
some of you, once more to be embraced by an aged Revolutionary father,
or to receive another, perhaps a last, blessing, bestowed in love and
tears by a mother yet surviving to witness and to enjoy your prosperity
and happiness.

But if family associations and the recollections of the past bring you
hither with greater alacrity, and mingle with your greeting much of
local attachment and private affection, greeting also be given, free and
hearty greeting, to every American citizen who treads this sacred soil
with patriotic feeling, and respires with pleasure in an atmosphere
perfumed with the recollections of 1775! This occasion is respectable,
nay, it is grand, it is sublime, by the nationality of its sentiment.
Among the seventeen millions of happy people who form the American
community there is not one who has not an interest in this monument, as
there is not one that has not a deep and abiding interest in that which
it commemorates.

[Sidenote: The American Union.]

Woe betide the man who brings to this day's worship feeling less than
wholly American! Woe betide the man who can stand here with the fires of
local resentments burning, or the purpose of fomenting local jealousies
and the strifes of local interests festering and rankling in his heart!
Union, established in justice, in patriotism, and the most plain and
obvious common interest,--union, founded on the same love of liberty,
cemented by blood shed in the same common cause,--union has been the
source of all our glory and greatness thus far, and is the ground of all
our highest hopes. This column stands on Union. I know not that it might
not keep its position, if the American Union, in the mad conflict of
human passions, and in the strife of parties and factions, should be
broken up and destroyed. I know not that it would totter and fall to the
earth, and mingle its fragments with the fragments of Liberty and the
Constitution, when state should be separated from state, and faction and
dismemberment obliterate forever all the hopes of the founders of our
republic, and the great inheritance of their children. It might stand.
But who, from beneath the weight of mortification and shame that would
oppress him, could look up to behold it? Whose eyeballs would not be
seared by such a spectacle? For my part, should I live to such a time, I
shall avert my eyes from it forever.

[Sidenote: Importance of the battle of Bunker Hill.]

It is not as a mere military encounter of hostile armies that the battle
of Bunker Hill presents its principal claim to attention. Yet even as a
mere battle there were circumstances attending it extraordinary in
character, and entitling it to peculiar distinction. It was fought on
this eminence; in the neighborhood of yonder city; in the presence of
many more spectators than there were combatants in the conflict. Men,
women, and children, from every commanding position, were gazing at the
battle, and looking for its results with all the eagerness natural to
those who knew that the issue was fraught with the deepest consequences
to themselves, personally, as well as to their country. Yet, on the 16th
of June, 1775, there was nothing around this hill but verdure and
culture. There was, indeed, the note of awful preparation in Boston.
There was the Provincial army at Cambridge, with its right flank resting
on Dorchester, and its left on Chelsea. But here all was peace.
Tranquillity reigned around. On the 17th, everything was changed. On
this eminence had arisen, in the night, a redoubt, built by Prescott,
and in which he held command. Perceived by the enemy at dawn, it was
immediately cannonaded from the floating batteries in the river, and
from the opposite shore. And then ensued the hurried movement in Boston,
and soon the troops of Britain embarked in the attempt to dislodge the
Colonists. In an hour everything indicated an immediate and bloody
conflict. Love of liberty on one side, proud defiance of rebellion on
the other, hopes and fears, and courage and daring, on both sides,
animated the hearts of the combatants as they hung on the edge of

[Sidenote: The motive for the engagement.]

I suppose it would be difficult, in a military point of view, to ascribe
to the leaders on either side any just motive for the engagement which
followed. On the one hand, it could not have been very important to the
Americans to attempt to hem the British within the town, by advancing
one single post a quarter of a mile; while, on the other hand, if the
British found it essential to dislodge the American troops, they had it
in their power at no expense of life. By moving up their ships and
batteries, they could have completely cut off all communication with the
mainland over the Neck, and the forces in the redoubt would have been
reduced to a state of famine in forty-eight hours.

But that was not the day for any such consideration on either side! Both
parties were anxious to try the strength of their arms. The pride of
England would not permit the rebels, as she termed them, to defy her to
the teeth; and, without for a moment calculating the cost, the British
general determined to destroy the fort immediately. On the other side,
Prescott and his gallant followers longed and thirsted for a decisive
trial of strength and of courage. They wished a battle, and wished it at
once. And this is the true secret of the movements on this hill.

I will not attempt to describe that battle. The cannonading; the landing
of the British; their advance; the coolness with which the charge was
met; the repulse; the second attack; the second repulse; the burning of
Charlestown; and, finally, the closing assault, and the slow retreat of
the Americans,--the history of all these is familiar.

[Sidenote: The consequences of the battle.]

But the consequences of the battle of Bunker Hill were greater than
those of any ordinary conflict, although between armies of far greater
force, and terminating with more immediate advantage on the one side or
the other. It was the first great battle of the Revolution; and not only
the first blow, but the blow which determined the contest. It did not,
indeed, put an end to the war, but in the then existing hostile state
of feeling, the difficulties could only be referred to the arbitration
of the sword. And one thing is certain: that after the New England
troops had shown themselves able to face and repulse the regulars, it
was decided that peace never could be established, but upon the basis of
the independence of the Colonies. When the sun of that day went down,
the event of Independence was no longer doubtful. In a few days
Washington heard of the battle, and he inquired if the militia had stood
the fire of the regulars. When told that they had not only stood that
fire, but reserved their own till the enemy was within eight rods, and
then poured it in with tremendous effect, "Then," exclaimed he, "the
liberties of the country are safe!"

[Sidenote: The purposes of the Pilgrims of Plymouth.]

The Mayflower sought our shores under no high-wrought spirit of
commercial adventure, no love of gold, no mixture of purpose warlike or
hostile to any human being. Like the dove from the ark she had put forth
only to find rest. Solemn supplications on the shore of the sea, in
Holland, had invoked for her, at her departure, the blessings of
Providence. The stars which guided her were the unobscured
constellations of civil and religious liberty. Her deck was the altar of
the living God. Fervent prayers on bended knees mingled, morning and
evening, with the voices of ocean, and the sighing of the wind in her
shrouds. Every prosperous breeze which, gently swelling her sails,
helped the Pilgrims onward in their course, awoke new anthems of praise;
and when the elements were wrought into fury, neither the tempest,
tossing their fragile bark like a feather, nor the darkness and howling
of the midnight storm, ever disturbed, in man or woman, the firm and
settled purpose of their souls, to undergo all, and to do all, that the
meekest patience, the boldest resolution, and the highest trust in God
could enable human beings to suffer or to perform.

[Sidenote: English liberty and Spanish greed.]

The Colonists of English America were of the people, and a people
already free. They were of the middle, industrious, and already
prosperous class, the inhabitants of commercial and manufacturing
cities, among whom liberty first revived and respired, after a sleep of
a thousand years in the bosom of the Dark Ages. Spain descended on the
New World in the armed and terrible image of her monarchy and her
soldiery; England approached it in the winning and popular garb of
personal rights, public protection, and civil freedom. England
transplanted liberty to America; Spain transplanted power. England,
through the agency of private companies and the efforts of individuals,
colonized this part of North America by industrious individuals, making
their own way in the wilderness, defending themselves against the
savages, recognizing their right to the soil, and with a general honest
purpose of introducing knowledge as well as Christianity among them.
Spain stooped on South America like a vulture on its prey. Everything
was force. Territories were acquired by fire and sword. Cities were
destroyed by fire and sword. Hundreds of thousands of human beings fell
by fire and sword. Even conversion to Christianity was attempted by fire
and sword.

[Sidenote: The consequences of the two principles.]

Behold, then, fellow-citizens, the difference resulting from the
operation of the two principles! Here, to-day, on the summit of Bunker
Hill, and at the foot of this monument, behold the difference! I would
that the fifty thousand voices present could proclaim it with a shout
which should be heard over the globe. Our inheritance was of liberty,
secured and regulated by law, and enlightened by religion and knowledge;
that of South America was of power, stern, unrelenting, tyrannical,
military power. And now look to the consequences of the two principles
on the general and aggregate happiness of the human race. Behold the
results in all the regions conquered by Cortéz and Pizarro, and the
contrasted results here. I suppose the territory of the United States
may amount to one-eighth, or one-tenth, of that colonized by Spain on
this continent; and yet in all that vast region there are but between
one and two millions of people of European color and European blood,
while in the United States there are fourteen millions who rejoice in
their descent from the people of the more northern part of Europe.

[Sidenote: The seeds of government sown by the Colonists.]

The great elements of the American system of government, originally
introduced by the Colonists, and which were early in operation, and
ready to be developed, more and more, as the progress of events should
justify or demand, were,--

Escape from the existing political systems of Europe, including its
religious hierarchies, but the continued possession and enjoyment of its
science and arts, its literature, and its manners;

Home government, or the power of making in the Colony the municipal laws
which were to govern it;

Equality of rights;

Representative assemblies, or forms of government founded on popular

[Sidenote: American institutions.]

Few topics are more inviting, or more fit for philosophical discussion,
than the effect on the happiness of mankind of institutions founded upon
these principles; or, in other words, the influence of the New World
upon the Old.

Her obligations to Europe for science and art, laws, literature, and
manners, America acknowledges, as she ought, with respect and gratitude.
The people of the United States, descendants of the English stock,
grateful for the treasures of knowledge derived from their English
ancestors, admit also, with thanks and filial regard, that among those
ancestors, under the culture of Hampden and Sydney and other assiduous
friends, that seed of popular liberty first germinated which on our soil
has shot up to its full height, until its branches overshadow all the

[Sidenote: America's contributions to European welfare.]

But America has not failed to make returns. If she has not wholly
cancelled the obligation, or equalled it by others of like weight, she
has, at least, made respectable advances towards repaying the debt. And
she admits that, standing in the midst of civilized nations, and in a
civilized age, a nation among nations, there is a high part which she is
expected to act, for the general advancement of human interests and
human welfare.

American mines have filled the mints of Europe with the precious metals.
The productions of the American soil and climate have poured out their
abundance of luxuries for the tables of the rich, and of necessaries for
the sustenance of the poor. Birds and animals of beauty and value have
been added to the European stocks; and transplantations from the
unequalled riches of our forests have mingled themselves profusely with
the elms, and ashes, and Druidical oaks of England.

America has made contributions to Europe far more important. Who can
estimate the amount, or the value, of the augmentation of the commerce
of the world that has resulted from America? Who can imagine to himself
what would now be the shock to the Eastern Continent, if the Atlantic
were no longer traversable, or if there were no longer American
productions or American markets?

[Sidenote: The American example.]

But America exercises influences, or holds out examples, for the
consideration of the Old World, of a much higher, because they are of a
moral and political character.

America has furnished to Europe proof of the fact that popular
institutions, founded on equality and the principle of representation,
are capable of maintaining governments able to secure the rights of
person, property, and reputation.

America has proved that it is practicable to elevate the mass of
mankind,--that portion which in Europe is called the laboring, or lower
class;--to raise them to self-respect, to make them competent to act a
part in the great right and great duty of self-government; and she has
proved that this may be done by education and the diffusion of
knowledge. She holds out an example, a thousand times more encouraging
than ever was presented before, to those nine-tenths of the human race
who are born without hereditary fortune or hereditary rank.

[Sidenote: The character of Washington.]

America has furnished to the world the character of Washington! And if
our American institutions had done nothing else, that alone would have
entitled them to the respect of mankind.

Washington! "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of
his countrymen!" Washington is all our own! The enthusiastic veneration
and regard in which the people of the United States hold him, prove them
to be worthy of such a countryman; while his reputation abroad reflects
the highest honor on his country. I would cheerfully put the question
to-day to the intelligence of Europe and the world, what character of
the century, upon the whole, stands out, in the relief of history, most
pure, most respectable, most sublime; and I doubt not that, by a
suffrage approaching to unanimity, the answer would be Washington!

The structure now standing before us, by its uprightness, its solidity,
its durability, is no unfit emblem of his character. His public virtues
and public principles were as firm as the earth on which it stands; his
personal motives as pure as the serene heaven in which its summit is
lost. But, indeed, though a fit, it is an inadequate emblem. Towering
high above the column which our hands have builded; beheld, not by the
inhabitants of a single city or a single State, but by all the families
of man, ascends the colossal grandeur of the character and life of
Washington. In all the constituents of the one, in all the acts of the
other, in all its titles to immortal love, admiration, and renown, it is
an American production. It is the embodiment and vindication of our
transatlantic liberty. Born upon our soil, of parents also born upon it;
never for a moment having had sight of the Old World; instructed,
according to the modes of his time, only in the spare, plain, but
wholesome elementary knowledge which our institutions provide for the
children of the people; growing up beneath, and penetrated by, the
genuine influences of American society; living from infancy to manhood
and age amidst our expanding but not luxurious civilization; partaking
in our great destiny of labor, our long contest with unreclaimed nature
and uncivilized man, our agony of glory, the war of Independence, our
great victory of peace, the formation of the Union, and the
establishment of the Constitution,--he is all, all our own! Washington
is ours. That crowded and glorious life,--

  "Where multitudes of virtues passed along,
  Each pressing foremost, in the mighty throng
  Ambitious to be seen, then making room
  For greater multitudes that were to come,"--

that life was the life of an American citizen.

I claim him for America. In all the perils, in every darkened moment of
the state, in the midst of the reproaches of enemies and the misgiving
of friends, I turn to that transcendent name for courage and for
consolation. To him who denies or doubts whether our fervid liberty can
be combined with law, with order, with the security of property, with
the pursuits and advancement of happiness; to him who denies that our
forms of government are capable of producing exaltation of soul, and the
passion of true glory; to him who denies that we have contributed
anything to the stock of great lessons and great examples;--to all these
I reply by pointing to Washington!

And now, friends and fellow-citizens, it is time to bring this discourse
to a close.

[Sidenote: The obligations of Americans.]

We have indulged in gratifying recollections of the past, in the
prosperity and pleasures of the present, and in high hopes for the
future. But let us remember that we have duties and obligations to
perform, corresponding to the blessings which we enjoy. Let us remember
the trust, the sacred trust, attaching to the rich inheritance which we
have received from our fathers. Let us feel our personal
responsibility, to the full extent of our power and influence, for the
preservation of the principles of civil and religious liberty. And let
us remember that it is only religion, and morals, and knowledge, that
can make men respectable and happy, under any form of government. Let us
hold fast the great truth, that communities are responsible, as well as
individuals; that no government is respectable which is not just; that
without unspotted purity of public faith, without sacred public
principle, fidelity, and honor, no mere forms of government, no
machinery of laws, can give dignity to political society. In our day and
generation let us seek to raise and improve the moral sentiment, so that
we may look not for a degraded, but for an elevated and improved future.
And when both we and our children shall have been consigned to the house
appointed for all living, may love of country and pride of country glow
with equal fervor among those to whom our names and our blood shall have
descended! And then, when honored and decrepit age shall lean against
the base of this monument, and troops of ingenuous youth shall be
gathered round it, and when the one shall speak to the other of its
objects, the purposes of its construction, and the great and glorious
events with which it is connected, there shall rise from every youthful
breast the ejaculation, "Thank God, I--I also--AM AN AMERICAN!"



  [Since the death of Washington, on the 14th of December, 1799, the
  public mind had never been so powerfully affected by any similar
  event as by the death of John Adams, on the 4th of July, 1826. The
  news reached Boston in the evening of that day. It acquired a
  singular interest from the year and the day on which it took
  place;--the 4th of July of the year completing the half-century
  from the Declaration of Independence, a measure in which Mr. Adams
  himself had taken so distinguished a part. The emotions of the
  public were greatly increased by the indications given by Mr. Adams
  in his last hours, that he was fully aware that the day was the
  anniversary of Independence, and by his dying allusion to the
  supposed fact that his colleague, Jefferson, survived him. When, in
  the course of a few days, the news arrived from Virginia, that
  Jefferson also had died on the same day and a few hours before Mr.
  Adams, the patriotic emotions of the country at large were touched
  beyond all example. The occurrence was justly deemed without a
  parallel in history. The various circumstances of association and
  coincidence which marked the characters and careers of these great
  men, and especially their simultaneous decease on the 4th of July,
  were dwelt upon with deep interest. The circles of private life,
  the press, public bodies, and the pulpit, were for some time almost
  engrossed with the topic; and exercises of commemoration were held
  throughout the country.]

This is an unaccustomed spectacle. For the first time, fellow-citizens,
badges of mourning shroud the columns and overhang the arches of this
hall. These walls, which were consecrated, so long ago, to the cause of
American liberty, which witnessed her infant struggles, and rung with
the shouts of her earliest victories, proclaim, now, that distinguished
friends and champions of that great cause have fallen. It is right that
it should be thus. The tears which flow, and the honors that are paid,
when the founders of the republic die, give hope that the republic
itself may be immortal. It is fit that, by public assembly and solemn
observance, by anthem and by eulogy, we commemorate the services of
national benefactors, extol their virtues, and render thanks to God for
eminent blessings, early given and long continued, through their agency,
to our favored country.

[Illustration: _Faneuil Hall._]

Adams and Jefferson are no more; and we are assembled, fellow-citizens,
the aged, the middle-aged, and the young, by the spontaneous impulse of
all, under the authority of the municipal government, with the presence
of the chief magistrate of the Commonwealth, and others its official
representatives, the University, and the learned societies, to bear our
part in those manifestations of respect and gratitude which pervade the
whole land. Adams and Jefferson are no more. On our fiftieth
anniversary, the great day of national jubilee, in the very hour of
public rejoicing, in the midst of echoing and re-echoing voices of
thanksgiving, while their own names were on all tongues, they took their
flight together to the world of spirits.

[Sidenote: An epic consummation.]

If it be true that no one can safely be pronounced happy while he lives,
if that event which terminates life can alone crown its honors and its
glory, what felicity is here! The great epic of their lives, how happily
concluded! Poetry itself has hardly terminated illustrious lives, and
finished the career of earthly renown, by such a consummation. If we had
the power, we could not wish to reverse this dispensation of the Divine
Providence. The great objects of life were accomplished, the drama was
ready to be closed. It has closed; our patriots have fallen; but so
fallen, at such age, with such coincidence, on such a day, that we
cannot rationally lament that the end has come which we knew could not
be long deferred.

Neither of these great men, fellow-citizens, could have died, at any
time, without leaving an immense void in our American society. They have
been so intimately, and for so long a time, blended with the history of
the country, and especially so united, in our thoughts and
recollections, with the events of the Revolution, that the death of
either would have touched the chords of public sympathy. We should have
felt that one great link connecting us with former times was broken;
that we had lost something more, as it were, of the presence of the
Revolution itself, and of the act of independence, and were driven on,
by another great remove from the days of our country's early
distinction, to meet posterity, and to mix with the future. Like the
mariner, whom the currents of the ocean and the winds carry along, till
he sees the stars which have directed his course and lighted his
pathless way descend, one by one, beneath the rising horizon, we should
have felt that the stream of time had borne us onward till another great
luminary, whose light had cheered us and whose guidance we had
followed, had sunk away from our sight.

[Sidenote: The remarkable similarity between Adams and Jefferson in
their lives and in their deaths.]

But the concurrence of their death on the anniversary of Independence
has naturally awakened stronger emotions. Both had been Presidents, both
had lived to great age, both were early patriots, and both were
distinguished and ever honored by their immediate agency in the act of
independence. It cannot but seem striking and extraordinary that these
two should live to see the fiftieth year from the date of that act; that
they should complete that year; and that then, on the day which had fast
linked forever their own fame with their country's glory, the heavens
should open to receive them both at once. As their lives themselves were
the gifts of Providence, who is not willing to recognize in their happy
termination, as well as in their long continuance, proofs that our
country and its benefactors are objects of His care?

[Sidenote: Their example.]

Adams and Jefferson, I have said, are no more. As human beings, indeed,
they are no more. They are no more, as in 1776, bold and fearless
advocates of independence; no more, as at subsequent periods, the head
of the government; no more, as we have recently seen them, aged and
venerable objects of admiration and regard. They are no more. They are
dead. But how little is there of the great and good which can die! To
their country they yet live, and live forever. They live in all that
perpetuates the remembrance of men on earth; in the recorded proofs of
their own great actions, in the offspring of their intellect, in the
deep-engraved lines of public gratitude, and in the respect and homage
of mankind. They live in their example; and they live, emphatically, and
will live, in the influence which their lives and efforts, their
principles and opinions, now exercise, and will continue to exercise, on
the affairs of men, not only in their own country, but throughout the
civilized world. A superior and commanding human intellect, a truly
great man, when Heaven vouchsafes so rare a gift, is not a temporary
flame, burning brightly for a while, and then giving place to returning
darkness. It is rather a spark of fervent heat, as well as radiant
light, with power to enkindle the common mass of human mind; so that
when it glimmers in its own decay, and finally goes out in death, no
night follows; but it leaves the world all light, all on fire, from the
potent contact of its own spirit. Bacon died; but the human
understanding, roused by the touch of his miraculous wand to a
perception of the true philosophy and the just mode of inquiring after
truth, has kept on its course successfully and gloriously. Newton died;
yet the courses of the spheres are still known, and they yet move on by
the laws which he discovered, and in the orbits which he saw, and
described for them, in the infinity of space.

[Sidenote: Their work.]

No two men now live, fellow-citizens, perhaps it may be doubted whether
any two men have ever lived in one age, who, more than those we now
commemorate, have impressed on mankind their own sentiments in regard to
politics and government, infused their own opinions more deeply into the
opinions of others, or given a more lasting direction to the current of
human thought. Their work doth not perish with them. The tree which they
assisted to plant will flourish, although they water it and protect it
no longer; for it has struck its roots deep, it has sent them to the
very centre; no storm, not of force to burst the orb, can overturn it;
its branches spread wide; they stretch their protecting arms broader and
broader, and its top is destined to reach the heavens. We are not
deceived. There is no delusion here. No age will come in which the
American Revolution will appear less than it is, one of the greatest
events in human history. No age will come in which it shall cease to be
seen and felt, on either continent, that a mighty step, a great advance,
not only in American affairs, but in human affairs, was made on the 4th
of July, 1776. And no age will come, we trust, so ignorant or so unjust
as not to see and acknowledge the efficient agency of those we now honor
in producing that momentous event.

We are not assembled, therefore, fellow-citizens, as men overwhelmed
with calamity by the sudden disruption of the ties of friendship or
affection, or as in despair for the republic by the untimely blighting
of its hopes. Death has not surprised us by an unseasonable blow. We
have, indeed, seen the tomb close, but it has closed only over mature
years, over long-protracted public service, over the weakness of age,
and over life itself only when the ends of living had been fulfilled.
These suns, as they rose slowly and steadily, amidst clouds and storms,
in their ascendant, so they have not rushed from their meridian to sink
suddenly in the west. Like the mildness, the serenity, the continuing
benignity of a summer's day, they have gone down with slow-descending,
grateful, long-lingering light; and now that they are beyond the visible
margin of the world, good omens cheer us from "the bright track of their
fiery car"!

[Sidenote: Their public services.]

The occasion, fellow-citizens, requires some account of the lives and
services of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. This duty must necessarily
be performed with great brevity, and in the discharge of it I shall be
obliged to confine myself, principally, to those parts of their history
and character which belonged to them as public men.

[Sidenote: Adams the chief advocate of the Declaration of Independence.]

[Sidenote: His education.]

John Adams was born at Quincy, then part of the ancient town of
Braintree, on the nineteenth day of October (Old Style), 1735.[14] He
was a descendant of the Puritans, his ancestors having early emigrated
from England, and settled in Massachusetts. Discovering in childhood a
strong love of reading and of knowledge, together with marks of great
strength and activity of mind, proper care was taken by his worthy
father to provide for his education. He pursued his youthful studies in
Braintree, under Mr. Marsh, a teacher whose fortune it was that Josiah
Quincy, Jr., as well as the subject of these remarks, should receive
from him his instruction in the rudiments of classical literature.
Having been admitted, in 1751, a member of Harvard College, Mr. Adams
was graduated, in course, in 1755; and on the catalogue of that
institution, his name, at the time of his death, was second among the
living Alumni, being preceded only by that of the venerable Holyoke.
With what degree of reputation he left the University is not now
precisely known. We know only that he was distinguished in a class
which numbered Locke and Hemmenway among its members.

[Illustration: _John Adams._]

[Sidenote: Studies law.]

Choosing the law for his profession, he commenced and prosecuted its
studies at Worcester, under the direction of Samuel Putnam, a gentleman
whom he has himself described as an acute man, an able and learned
lawyer, and as being in large professional practice at that time. In
1758 he was admitted to the bar, and entered upon the practice of the
law in Braintree. He is understood to have made his first considerable
effort, or to have attained his first signal success, at Plymouth, on
one of those occasions which furnish the earliest opportunity for
distinction to many young men of the profession, a jury trial, and a
criminal cause. His business naturally grew with his reputation, and his
residence in the vicinity afforded the opportunity, as his growing
eminence gave the power, of entering on a larger field of practice in
the capital. In 1766 he removed his residence to Boston, still
continuing his attendance on the neighboring circuits, and not
unfrequently called to remote parts of the Province. In 1770 his
professional firmness was brought to a test of some severity, on the
application of the British officers and soldiers to undertake their
defence, on the trial of the indictments found against them on account
of the transactions of the memorable 5th of March.[15] He seems to have
thought, on this occasion, that a man can no more abandon the proper
duties of his profession, than he can abandon other duties. The event
proved that as he judged well for his own reputation, so, too, he judged
well for the interest and permanent fame of his country. The result of
that trial proved that notwithstanding the high degree of excitement
then existing in consequence of the measures of the British government,
a jury of Massachusetts would not deprive the most reckless enemies,
even the officers of that standing army quartered among them, which they
so perfectly abhorred, of any part of that protection which the law, in
its mildest and most indulgent interpretation, affords to persons
accused of crimes.

[Sidenote: An early prophecy.]

Without following Mr. Adams's professional course further, suffice it to
say, that on the first establishment of the judicial tribunals under the
authority of the State, in 1776, he received an offer of the high and
responsible station of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of
Massachusetts. But he was destined for another and a different career.
From early life the bent of his mind was toward politics; a propensity
which the state of the times, if it did not create, doubtless very much
strengthened. Public subjects must have occupied the thoughts and filled
up the conversation in the circles in which he then moved; and the
interesting questions at that time just arising could not but seize on a
mind like his, ardent, sanguine, and patriotic. A letter, fortunately
preserved, written by him at Worcester, so early as the 12th of October,
1755, is a proof of very comprehensive views, and uncommon depth of
reflection, in a young man not yet quite twenty. In this letter he
predicted the transfer of power, and the establishment of a new seat of
empire in America; he predicted, also, the increase of population in the
Colonies; and anticipated their naval distinction, and foretold that all
Europe combined could not subdue them. All this is said, not on a public
occasion or for effect, but in the style of sober and friendly
correspondence, as the result of his own thoughts. "I sometimes retire,"
said he, at the close of the letter, "and, laying things together, form
some reflections pleasing to myself. The produce of one of these
reveries you have read above." This prognostication so early in his own
life, so early in the history of the country, of independence, of vast
increase of numbers, of naval force, of such augmented power as might
defy all Europe, is remarkable. It is more remarkable that its author
should live to see fulfilled to the letter what could have seemed to
others, at the time, but the extravagance of youthful fancy. His
earliest political feelings were thus strongly American, and from this
ardent attachment to his native soil he never departed.

[Sidenote: James Otis.]

While still living at Quincy, and at the age of twenty-four, Mr. Adams
was present, in this town, at the argument before the Supreme Court
respecting Writs of Assistance,[16] and heard the celebrated and
patriotic speech of James Otis. Unquestionably, that was a masterly
performance. No flighty declamation about liberty, no superficial
discussion of popular topics, it was a learned, penetrating, convincing,
constitutional argument, expressed in a strain of high and resolute
patriotism. He grasped the question then pending between England and her
Colonies with the strength of a lion; and if he sometimes sported, it
was only because the lion himself is sometimes playful. Its success
appears to have been as great as its merits, and its impression was
widely felt. Mr. Adams himself seems never to have lost the feeling it
produced, and to have entertained constantly the fullest conviction of
its important effects. "I do say," he observes, "in the most solemn
manner, that Mr. Otis's Oration against Writs of Assistance breathed
into this nation the breath of life."

[Illustration: _James Otis._]

In 1765 Mr. Adams laid before the public, anonymously, a series of
essays, afterwards collected in a volume in London, under the title of
"A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law." The object of this work
was to show that our New England ancestors, in consenting to exile
themselves from their native land, were actuated mainly by the desire of
delivering themselves from the power of the hierarchy, and from the
monarchical and aristocratical systems of the other continent; and to
make this truth bear with effect on the politics of the times. Its tone
is uncommonly bold and animated for that period. He calls on the people,
not only to defend, but to study and understand, their rights and
privileges; urges earnestly the necessity of diffusing general
knowledge; invokes the clergy and the bar, the colleges and academies,
and all others who have the ability and the means to expose the
insidious designs of arbitrary power, to resist its approaches, and to
be persuaded that there is a settled design on foot to enslave all
America. "Be it remembered," says the author, "that liberty must, at all
hazards, be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker.
But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the
expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.
And liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the
people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge,
as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them
understandings and a desire to know. But, besides this, they have a
right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right, to that
most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the characters and
conduct of their rulers. Rulers are no more than attorneys, agents, and
trustees for the people; and if the cause, the interest and trust, is
insidiously betrayed, or wantonly trifled away, the people have a right
to revoke the authority that they themselves have deputed, and to
constitute abler and better agents, attorneys, and trustees."

[Sidenote: Adams first public office.]

The citizens of this town conferred on Mr. Adams his first political
distinction, and clothed him with his first political trust, by electing
him one of their representatives, in 1770. Before this time he had
become extensively known throughout the Province, as well by the part he
had acted in relation to public affairs, as by the exercise of his
professional ability. He was among those who took the deepest interest
in the controversy with England, and, whether in or out of the
legislature, his time and talents were alike devoted to the cause. In
the years 1773 and 1774 he was chosen a Councillor by the members of the
General Court, but rejected by Governor Hutchinson in the former of
those years, and by Governor Gage in the latter.

[Illustration: _Independence Hall, Philadelphia._]

[Sidenote: Election to the Congress of Delegates.]

The time was now at hand, however, when the affairs of the Colonies
urgently demanded united counsels throughout the country. An open
rupture with the parent state appeared inevitable, and it was but the
dictate of prudence that those who were united by a common interest and
a common danger should protect that interest and guard against that
danger by united efforts. A general Congress of Delegates from all the
Colonies having been proposed and agreed to, the House of
Representatives, on the 17th of June, 1774, elected James Bowdoin,
Thomas Cushing, Samuel Adams, John Adams, and Robert Treat Paine
delegates from Massachusetts. This appointment was made at Salem, where
the General Court had been convened by Governor Gage, in the last hour
of the existence of a House of Representatives under the Provincial
Charter. While engaged in this important business, the Governor, having
been informed of what was passing, sent his secretary with a message
dissolving the General Court. The secretary, finding the door locked,
directed the messenger to go in and inform the Speaker that the
secretary was at the door with a message from the Governor. The
messenger returned, and informed the secretary that the orders of the
House were that the doors should be kept fast; whereupon the secretary
soon after read upon the stairs a proclamation dissolving the General
Court. Thus terminated, forever, the actual exercise of the political
power of England in or over Massachusetts. The four last-named delegates
accepted their appointments, and took their seats in Congress the first
day of its meeting, the 5th of September, 1774, in Philadelphia.

[Sidenote: The First Continental Congress.]

The proceedings of the first Congress are well known, and have been
universally admired. It is in vain that we would look for superior
proofs of wisdom, talent, and patriotism. Lord Chatham said that, for
himself, he must declare that he had studied and admired the free states
of antiquity, the master states of the world, but that for solidity of
reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion, no body of men
could stand in preference to this Congress. It is hardly inferior praise
to say that no production of that great man himself can be pronounced
superior to several of the papers published as the proceedings of this
most able, most firm, most patriotic assembly. There is, indeed, nothing
superior to them in the range of political disquisition. They not only
embrace, illustrate, and enforce everything which political philosophy,
the love of liberty, and the spirit of free inquiry had antecedently
produced, but they add new and striking views of their own, and apply
the whole, with irresistible force, in support of the cause which had
drawn them together.

Mr. Adams was a constant attendant on the deliberations of this body,
and bore an active part in its important measures. He was of the
committee to state the rights of the Colonies, and of that also which
reported the Address to the King.

[Sidenote: The author of the Declaration of Independence.]

THOMAS JEFFERSON, descended from ancestors who had been settled in
Virginia for some generations, was born near the spot on which he died,
in the county of Albemarle, on the 2d of April (Old Style), 1743. His
youthful studies were pursued in the neighborhood of his father's
residence until he was removed to the College of William and Mary, the
highest honors of which he in due time received. Having left the college
with reputation, he applied himself to the study of the law under the
tuition of George Wythe, one of the highest judicial names of which that
State can boast. At an early age he was elected a member of the
legislature, in which he had no sooner appeared than he distinguished
himself by knowledge, capacity, and promptitude.

[Illustration: _Thomas Jefferson._]

Mr. Jefferson appears to have been imbued with an early love of letters
and science, and to have cherished a strong disposition to pursue these
objects. To the physical sciences, especially, and to ancient classic
literature, he is understood to have had a warm attachment, and never
entirely to have lost sight of them in the midst of the busiest
occupations. But the times were times for action rather than for
contemplation. The country was to be defended and to be saved, before it
could be enjoyed. Philosophic leisure and literary pursuits, and even
the objects of professional attention, were all necessarily postponed to
the urgent calls of the public service. The exigency of the country
made the same demand on Mr. Jefferson that it made on others who had the
ability and the disposition to serve it; and he obeyed the call.

Entering with all his heart into the cause of liberty, his ability,
patriotism, and power with the pen naturally drew upon him a large
participation in the most important concerns. Wherever he was, there was
found a soul devoted to the cause, power to defend and maintain it, and
willingness to incur all its hazards. In 1774 he published a "Summary
View of the Rights of British America," a valuable production among
those intended to show the dangers which threatened the liberties of the
country, and to encourage the people in their defence. In June, 1775, he
was elected a member of the Continental Congress, as successor to Peyton
Randolph, who had resigned his place on account of ill health, and took
his seat in that body on the 21st of the same month.

[Sidenote: The Declaration of Independence.]

And now, fellow-citizens, without pursuing the biography of these
illustrious men further, for the present, let us turn our attention to
the most prominent act of their lives, their participation in the
Declaration of Independence.

Preparatory to the introduction of that important measure, a committee,
at the head of which was Mr. Adams, had reported a resolution, which
Congress adopted on the 10th of May, recommending, in substance, to all
the Colonies which had not already established governments suited to the
exigencies of their affairs, _to adopt such government as would, in the
opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the
happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in

This significant vote was soon followed by the direct proposition which
Richard Henry Lee had the honor to submit to Congress, by resolution,
on the seventh day of June. The published journal does not expressly
state it, but there is no doubt, I suppose, that this resolution was in
the same words, when originally submitted by Mr. Lee, as when finally
passed. Having been discussed on Saturday, the 8th, and Monday, the 10th
of June, this resolution was on the last-mentioned day postponed for
further consideration to the first day of July; and at the same time it
was voted, that a committee be appointed to prepare a Declaration to the
effect of the resolution. This committee was elected by ballot, on the
following day, and consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin
Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston.


[Sidenote: The original draft.]

It is usual, when committees are elected by ballot, that their members
should be arranged in order, according to the number of votes which each
has received. Mr. Jefferson, therefore, had received the highest, and
Mr. Adams the next highest number of votes. The difference is said to
have been but of a single vote. Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams, standing
thus at the head of the committee, were requested by the other members
to act as a subcommittee to prepare the draft; and Mr. Jefferson drew up
the paper. The original draft, as brought by him from his study, and
submitted to the other members of the committee, with interlineations in
the handwriting of Dr. Franklin, and others in that of Mr. Adams, was in
Mr. Jefferson's possession at the time of his death. The merit of this
paper is Mr. Jefferson's. Some changes were made in it at the suggestion
of other members of the committee, and others by Congress while it was
under discussion. But none of them altered the tone, the frame, the
arrangement, or the general character of the instrument. As a
composition, the Declaration is Mr. Jefferson's. It is the production of
his mind, and the high honor of it belongs to him, clearly and

It has sometimes been said, as if it were a derogation from the merits
of this paper, that it contains nothing new; that it only states grounds
of proceeding, and presses topics of argument, which had often been
stated and pressed before. But it was not the object of the Declaration
to produce anything new. It was not to invent reasons for independence,
but to state those which governed the Congress. For great and sufficient
causes, it was proposed to declare independence; and the proper business
of the paper to be drawn was to set forth those causes, and justify the
authors of the measure, in any event of fortune, to the country and to
posterity. The cause of American independence, moreover, was now to be
presented to the world in such manner, if it might so be, as to engage
its sympathy, to command its respect, to attract its admiration; and in
an assembly of most able and distinguished men, Thomas Jefferson had the
high honor of being the selected advocate of this cause. To say that he
performed his great work well, would be doing him injustice. To say that
he did excellently well, admirably well, would be inadequate and halting
praise. Let us rather say, that he so discharged the duty assigned him,
that all Americans may well rejoice that the work of drawing the
title-deed of their liberties devolved upon him.

[Sidenote: The debate on the Declaration.]

The Declaration having been reported to Congress by the committee, the
resolution itself was taken up and debated on the first day of July, and
again on the 2d, on which last day it was agreed to and adopted, in
these words:--

"_Resolved_, That these united Colonies are, and of right ought to be,
free and independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance
to the British crown, and that all political connection between them and
the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."

[Sidenote: July 4, 1776.]

Having thus passed the main resolution, Congress proceeded to consider
the reported draft of the Declaration. It was discussed on the second
and third and fourth days of the month in committee of the whole; and on
the last of those days, being reported from that committee, it received
the final approbation and sanction of Congress. It was ordered, at the
same time, that copies be sent to the several States, and that it be
proclaimed at the head of the army. The Declaration thus published did
not bear the names of the members, for as yet it had not been signed by
them. It was authenticated, like other papers of the Congress, by the
signatures of the President and Secretary. On the 19th of July, as
appears by the secret journal, Congress "_Resolved_, That the
Declaration, passed on the fourth, be fairly engrossed on parchment,
with the title and style of 'The unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen
United States of America;' and that the same, when engrossed, be signed
by every member of Congress." And on the second day of August following,
"the Declaration, being engrossed and compared at the table, was signed
by the members." So that it happens, fellow-citizens, that we pay these
honors to their memory on the anniversary of that day (2d of August) on
which these great men actually signed their names to the Declaration.
The Declaration was thus made, that is, it passed and was adopted as an
act of Congress, on the 4th of July; it was then signed, and certified
by the President and Secretary like other acts. The Fourth of July,
therefore, is the anniversary of the Declaration. But the signatures of
the members present were made to it, being then engrossed on parchment,
on the second day of August. Absent members afterwards signed, as they
came in; and indeed it bears the names of some who were not chosen
members of Congress until after the 4th of July. The interest belonging
to the subject will be sufficient, I hope, to justify these details.

The Congress of the Revolution, fellow-citizens, sat with closed doors,
and no report of its debates was ever made. The discussion, therefore,
which accompanied this great measure, has never been preserved, except
in memory and by tradition. But it is, I believe, doing no injustice to
others to say, that the general opinion was, and uniformly has been,
that in debate, on the side of independence, John Adams had no equal.
The great author of the Declaration himself has expressed that opinion
uniformly and strongly. "John Adams," said he, in the hearing of him who
has now the honor to address you, "John Adams was our colossus on the
floor. Not graceful, not elegant, not always fluent, in his public
addresses, he yet came out with a power, both of thought and of
expression, which moved us from our seats."

For the part which he was here to perform, Mr. Adams doubtless was
eminently fitted. He possessed a bold spirit, which disregarded danger,
and a sanguine reliance on the goodness of the cause, and the virtues of
the people, which led him to overlook all obstacles. His character, too,
had been formed in troubled times. He had been rocked in the early
storms of the controversy, and had acquired a decision and a hardihood
proportioned to the severity of the discipline which he had undergone.

He not only loved the American cause devoutly, but had studied and
understood it. It was all familiar to him. He had tried his powers on
the questions which it involved, often and in various ways; and had
brought to their consideration whatever of argument or illustration the
history of his own country, the history of England, or the stores of
ancient or of legal learning could furnish. Every grievance enumerated
in the long catalogue of the Declaration had been the subject of his
discussion, and the object of his remonstrance and reprobation. From
1760 the Colonies, the rights of the Colonies, the liberties of the
Colonies, and the wrongs inflicted on the Colonies, had engaged his
constant attention; and it has surprised those who have had the
opportunity of witnessing it, with what full remembrance and with what
prompt recollection he could refer, in his extreme old age, to every act
of Parliament affecting the Colonies, distinguishing and stating their
respective titles, sections, and provisions; and to all the colonial
memorials, remonstrances, and petitions, with whatever else belonged to
the intimate and exact history of the times from that year to 1775. It
was, in his own judgment, between these years that the American people
came to a full understanding and thorough knowledge of their rights, and
to a fixed resolution of maintaining them; and bearing himself an active
part in all important transactions,--the controversy with England being
then in effect the business of his life,--facts, dates, and particulars
made an impression which was never effaced. He was prepared, therefore,
by education and discipline, as well as by natural talent and natural
temperament, for the part which he was now to act.

[Sidenote: The nature of true eloquence.]

The eloquence of Mr. Adams resembled his general character, and formed,
indeed, a part of it. It was bold, manly, and energetic; and such the
crisis required. When public bodies are to be addressed on momentous
occasions, when great interests are at stake, and strong passions
excited, nothing is valuable in speech farther than as it is connected
with high intellectual and moral endowments. Clearness, force, and
earnestness are the qualities which produce conviction. True eloquence,
indeed, does not consist in speech. It cannot be brought from far. Labor
and learning may toil for it, but they will toil in vain. Words and
phrases may be marshalled in every way, but they cannot compass it. It
must exist in the man, in the subject, and in the occasion. Affected
passion, intense expression, the pomp of declamation, all may aspire to
it; they cannot reach it. It comes, if it come at all, like the
outbreaking of a fountain from the earth, or the bursting forth of
volcanic fires, with spontaneous, original, native force. The graces
taught in the schools, the costly ornaments and studied contrivances of
speech, shock and disgust men, when their own lives, and the fate of
their wives, their children, and their country, hang on the decision of
the hour. Then words have lost their power, rhetoric is vain, and all
elaborate oratory contemptible. Even genius itself then feels rebuked
and subdued, as in the presence of higher qualities. Then patriotism is
eloquent; then self-devotion is eloquent. The clear conception,
outrunning the deductions of logic, the high purpose, the firm resolve,
the dauntless spirit, speaking on the tongue, beaming from the eye,
informing every feature, and urging the whole man onward, right onward
to his object,--this, this is eloquence; or rather, it is something
greater and higher than all eloquence,--it is action, noble, sublime,
godlike action.

In July, 1776, the controversy had passed the stage of argument. An
appeal had been made to force, and opposing armies were in the field.
Congress, then, was to decide whether the tie which had so long bound us
to the parent state was to be severed at once, and severed forever. All
the Colonies had signified their resolution to abide by this decision,
and the people looked for it with the most intense anxiety. And surely,
fellow-citizens, never, never were men called to a more important
political deliberation. If we contemplate it from the point where they
then stood, no question could be more full of interest; if we look at it
now, and judge of its importance by its effects, it appears of still
greater magnitude.

Let us, then, bring before us the assembly which was about to decide a
question thus big with the fate of empire. Let us open their doors and
look in upon their deliberations. Let us survey the anxious and careworn
countenances, let us hear the firm-toned voices, of this band of

Hancock presides over the solemn sitting; and one of those not yet
prepared to pronounce for absolute independence is on the floor, and is
urging his reasons for dissenting from the Declaration.

[Illustration: _John Hancock._]

[Sidenote: An imaginary speech in opposition to the Declaration.]

"Let us pause! This step, once taken, cannot be retraced. This
resolution, once passed, will cut off all hope of reconciliation. If
success attend the arms of England, we shall then be no longer Colonies
with charters and with privileges; these will all be forfeited by this
act; and we shall be in the condition of other conquered people, at the
mercy of the conquerors. For ourselves, we may be ready to run the
hazard; but are we ready to carry the country to that length? Is success
so probable as to justify it? Where is the military, where the naval
power, by which we are to resist the whole strength of the arm of
England,--for she will exert that strength to the utmost? Can we rely on
the constancy and perseverance of the people? or will they not act as
the people of other countries have acted, and, wearied with a long war,
submit, in the end, to a worse oppression? While we stand on our old
ground, and insist on redress of grievances, we know we are right, and
are not answerable for consequences. Nothing, then, can be imputed to
us. But if we now change our object, carry our pretensions farther, and
set up for absolute independence, we shall lose the sympathy of mankind.
We shall no longer be defending what we possess, but struggling for
something which we never did possess, and which we have solemnly and
uniformly disclaimed all intention of pursuing, from the very outset of
the troubles. Abandoning thus our old ground of resistance only to
arbitrary acts of oppression, the nations will believe the whole to have
been mere pretence, and they will look on us, not as injured, but as
ambitious subjects. I shudder before this responsibility. It will be on
us, if, relinquishing the ground on which we have stood so long, and
stood so safely, we now proclaim independence, and carry on the war for
that object, while these cities burn, these pleasant fields whiten and
bleach with the bones of their owners, and these streams run blood. It
will be upon us, it will be upon us, if, failing to maintain this
unseasonable and ill-judged declaration, a sterner despotism, maintained
by military power, shall be established over our posterity, when we
ourselves, given up by an exhausted, a harassed, a misled people, shall
have expiated our rashness and atoned for our presumption on the

It was for Mr. Adams to reply to arguments like these. We know his
opinions, and we know his character. He would commence with his
accustomed directness and earnestness.

[Sidenote: Supposed speech of John Adams in favor of the Declaration.]

"Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my hand and my
heart to this vote. It is true, indeed, that in the beginning we aimed
not at independence. But there's a divinity which shapes our ends. The
injustice of England has driven us to arms; and, blinded to her own
interest for our good, she has obstinately persisted, till independence
is now within our grasp. We have but to reach forth to it, and it is
ours. Why, then, should we defer the Declaration? Is any man so weak as
now to hope for a reconciliation with England which shall leave either
safety to the country and its liberties, or safety to his own life and
his own honor? Are not you, Sir, who sit in that chair,--is not he, our
venerable colleague near you,--are you not both already the proscribed
and predestined objects of punishment and of vengeance? Cut off from
all hope of royal clemency, what are you, what can you be, while the
power of England remains, but outlaws? If we postpone independence, do
we mean to carry on, or to give up, the war? Do we mean to submit to the
measures of Parliament, Boston Port Bill[17] and all? Do we mean to
submit, and consent that we ourselves shall be ground to powder, and our
country and its rights trodden down in the dust? I know we do not mean
to submit. We never shall submit. Do we intend to violate that most
solemn obligation ever entered into by men, that plighting, before God,
of our sacred honor to Washington, when, putting him forth to incur the
dangers of war, as well as the political hazards of the times, we
promised to adhere to him, in every extremity, with our fortunes and our
lives? I know there is not a man here who would not rather see a general
conflagration sweep over the land, or an earthquake sink it, than one
jot or tittle of that plighted faith fall to the ground. For myself,
having, twelve months ago, in this place, moved you that George
Washington be appointed commander of the forces raised, or to be raised,
for defence of American liberty, may my right hand forget her cunning,
and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I hesitate or waver in
the support I give him.

"The war, then, must go on. We must fight it through. And if the war
must go on, why put off longer the Declaration of Independence? That
measure will strengthen us. It will give us character abroad. The
nations will then treat with us, which they never can do while we
acknowledge ourselves subjects, in arms against our sovereign. Nay, I
maintain that England herself will sooner treat for peace with us on the
footing of independence, than consent, by repealing her acts, to
acknowledge that her whole conduct towards us has been a course of
injustice and oppression. Her pride will be less wounded by submitting
to that course of things which now predestinates our independence, than
by yielding the points in controversy to her rebellious subjects. The
former she would regard as the result of fortune; the latter she would
feel as her own deep disgrace. Why then, why then, Sir, do we not as
soon as possible change this from a civil to a national war? And since
we must fight it through, why not put ourselves in a state to enjoy all
the benefits of victory, if we gain the victory?

"If we fail, it can be no worse for us. But we shall not fail. The cause
will raise up armies; the cause will create navies. The people, the
people, if we are true to them, will carry us, and will carry
themselves, gloriously through this struggle. I care not how fickle
other people have been found. I know the people of these Colonies, and I
know that resistance to British aggression is deep and settled in their
hearts and cannot be eradicated. Every Colony, indeed, has expressed its
willingness to follow, if we but take the lead. Sir, the Declaration
will inspire the people with increased courage. Instead of a long and
bloody war for the restoration of privileges, for redress of grievances,
for chartered immunities, held under a British king, set before them the
glorious object of entire independence and it will breathe into them
anew the breath of life. Read this Declaration at the head of the army;
every sword will be drawn from its scabbard, and the solemn vow
uttered, to maintain it, or to perish on the bed of honor. Publish it
from the pulpit; religion will approve it, and the love of religious
liberty will cling round it, resolved to stand with it or fall with it.
Send it to the public halls; proclaim it there; let them hear it who
heard the first roar of the enemy's cannon; let them see it who saw
their brothers and their sons fall on the field of Bunker Hill, and in
the streets of Lexington and Concord, and the very walls will cry out in
its support.

"Sir, I know the uncertainty of human affairs, but I see, I see clearly,
through this day's business. You and I, indeed, may rue it. We may not
live to the time when this Declaration shall be made good. We may die;
die colonists; die slaves; die, it may be, ignominiously and on the
scaffold. Be it so. Be it so. If it be the pleasure of Heaven that my
country shall require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be
ready, at the appointed hour of sacrifice, come when that hour may. But
while I do live, let me have a country, or at least the hope of a
country, and that a free country.

"But whatever may be our fate, be assured, be assured that this
Declaration will stand. It may cost treasure, and it may cost blood; but
it will stand, and it will richly compensate for both. Through the thick
gloom of the present, I see the brightness of the future, as the sun in
heaven. We shall make this a glorious, an immortal day. When we are in
our graves, our children will honor it. They will celebrate it with
thanksgiving, with festivity, with bonfires, and illuminations. On its
annual return they will shed tears, copious, gushing tears, not of
subjection and slavery, not of agony and distress, but of exultation, of
gratitude, and of joy. Sir, before God, I believe the hour is come. My
judgment approves this measure, and my whole heart is in it. All that I
have, and all that I am, and all that I hope, in this life, I am now
ready here to stake upon it; and I leave off as I begun, that live or
die, survive or perish, I am for the Declaration. It is my living
sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment,
Independence _now_, and Independence forever."

And so that day shall be honored, illustrious prophet and patriot! so
that day shall be honored, and as often as it returns, thy renown shall
come along with it, and the glory of thy life, like the day of thy
death, shall not fail from the remembrance of men.

[Illustration: _Samuel Adams._]

[Sidenote: Tributes to John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Robert Treat

It would be unjust, fellow-citizens, on this occasion, while we express
our veneration for him who is the immediate subject of these remarks,
were we to omit a most respectful, affectionate, and grateful mention of
those other great men, his colleagues, who stood with him, and with the
same spirit, the same devotion, took part in the interesting
transaction. Hancock, the proscribed Hancock, exiled from his home by a
military governor, cut off by proclamation from the mercy of the
crown,--Heaven reserved for him the distinguished honor of putting this
great question to the vote, and of writing his own name first, and most
conspicuously, on that parchment which spoke defiance to the power of
the crown of England. There, too, is the name of that other proscribed
patriot, Samuel Adams, a man who hungered and thirsted for the
independence of his country, who thought the Declaration halted and
lingered, being himself not only ready, but eager for it, long before it
was proposed; a man of the deepest sagacity, the clearest foresight,
and the profoundest judgment in men. And there is Gerry, himself among
the earliest and the foremost of the patriots, found when the battle of
Lexington summoned them to common counsels, by the side of Warren; a man
who lived to serve his country at home and abroad, and to die in the
second place in the government. There, too, is the inflexible, the
upright, the Spartan character, Robert Treat Paine. He also lived to
serve his country through the struggle, and then withdrew from her
councils, only that he might give his labors and his life to his native
State, in another relation. These names, fellow-citizens, are the
treasures of the Commonwealth; and they are treasures which grow
brighter by time.

It is now necessary to resume the narrative, and to finish with great
brevity the notice of the lives of those whose virtues and services we
have met to commemorate.

[Sidenote: Adams appointed Minister to France.]

Mr. Adams remained in Congress from its first meeting till November,
1777, when he was appointed Minister to France. He proceeded on that
service in the February following, embarking in the frigate "Boston,"
from the shore of his native town, at the foot of Mount Wollaston. The
year following, he was appointed commissioner to treat of peace with
England. Returning to the United States, he was a delegate from
Braintree in the Convention for framing the Constitution of this
Commonwealth, in 1780. At the latter end of the same year, he again went
abroad in the diplomatic service of the country, and was employed at
various courts, and occupied with various negotiations, until 1788. The
particulars of these interesting and important services this occasion
does not allow time to relate. In 1782 he concluded our first treaty
with Holland. His negotiations with that republic, his efforts to
persuade the States-General[18] to recognize our independence, his
incessant and indefatigable exertions to represent the American cause
favorably on the Continent, and to counteract the designs of its
enemies, open and secret, and his successful undertaking to obtain loans
on the credit of a nation yet new and unknown, are among his most
arduous, most useful, most honorable services. It was his fortune to
bear a part in the negotiation for peace with England, and in something
more than six years from the Declaration which he had so strenuously
supported, he had the satisfaction of seeing the minister
plenipotentiary of the crown subscribe his name to the instrument which
declared that his "Britannic Majesty acknowledged the United States to
be free, sovereign, and independent." In these important transactions,
Mr. Adams's conduct received the marked approbation of Congress and of
the country.

[Sidenote: Vice-President, 1789-1797; President, 1797-1801.]

Returning to the United States in 1788, he found the new government
about going into operation, and was himself elected the first
Vice-President,[19] a situation which he filled with reputation for
eight years, at the expiration of which he was raised to the
Presidential chair, as immediate successor to the immortal Washington.
In this high station he was succeeded by Mr. Jefferson, after a
memorable controversy between their respective friends, in 1801; and
from that period his manner of life has been known to all who hear me.
He has lived, for five-and-twenty years, with every enjoyment that could
render old age happy. Not inattentive to the occurrences of the times,
political cares have yet not materially, or for any long time, disturbed
his repose. In 1820 he acted as Elector of President and Vice-President,
and in the same year we saw him, then at the age of eighty-five, a
member of the Convention of this Commonwealth called to revise the
Constitution. Forty years before, he had been one of those who formed
that Constitution; and he had now the pleasure of witnessing that there
was little which the people desired to change. Possessing all his
faculties to the end of his long life, with an unabated love of reading
and contemplation, in the centre of interesting circles of friendship
and affection, he was blessed in his retirement with whatever of repose
and felicity the condition of man allows. He had, also, other
enjoyments. He saw around him that prosperity and general happiness
which had been the object of his public cares and labors. No man ever
beheld more clearly, and for a longer time, the great and beneficial
effects of the services rendered by himself to his country. That liberty
which he so early defended, that independence of which he was so able an
advocate and supporter, he saw, we trust, firmly and securely
established. The population of the country thickened around him faster,
and extended wider, than his own sanguine predictions had anticipated;
and the wealth, respectability, and power of the nation sprang up to a
magnitude which it is quite impossible he could have expected to witness
in his day. He lived also to behold those principles of civil freedom
which had been developed, established, and practically applied in
America, attract attention, command respect, and awaken imitation, in
other regions of the globe; and well might, and well did, he exclaim,
"Where will the consequences of the American Revolution end?"

If anything yet remain to fill this cup of happiness, let it be added,
that he lived to see a great and intelligent people bestow the highest
honor in their gift where he had bestowed his own kindest parental
affections and lodged his fondest hopes.[20] Thus honored in life, thus
happy at death, he saw the jubilee,[21] and he died; and with the last
prayers which trembled on his lips was the fervent supplication for his
country, "Independence forever!"

[Illustration: _Patrick Henry._]

[Illustration: _Benjamin Franklin._]

[Sidenote: Jefferson elected Governor of Virginia.]

[Sidenote: Minister to France.]

[Sidenote: Is made Secretary of State by Washington.]

Mr. Jefferson, having been occupied in the years 1778 and 1779 in the
important service of revising the laws of Virginia, was elected Governor
of that State, as successor to Patrick Henry, and held the situation
when the State was invaded by the British arms. In 1781 he published his
"Notes on Virginia," a work which attracted attention in Europe as well
as America, dispelled many misconceptions respecting this continent,
and gave its author a place among men distinguished for science. In
November, 1783, he again took his seat in the Continental Congress, but
in the May following was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary, to act
abroad, in the negotiation of commercial treaties, with Dr. Franklin and
Mr. Adams. He proceeded to France, in execution of this mission,
embarking at Boston; and that was the only occasion on which he ever
visited this place. In 1785 he was appointed Minister to France, the
duties of which situation he continued to perform until October, 1789,
when he obtained leave to retire, just on the eve of that tremendous
revolution which has so much agitated the world in our times. Mr.
Jefferson's discharge of his diplomatic duties was marked by great
ability, diligence, and patriotism; and while he resided at Paris, in
one of the most interesting periods, his character for intelligence, his
love of knowledge and of the society of learned men, distinguished him
in the highest circles of the French capital. No court in Europe had at
that time in Paris a representative commanding or enjoying higher
regard, for political knowledge or for general attainments, than the
minister of this then infant republic. Immediately on his return to his
native country, at the organization of the government under the present
Constitution, his talents and experience recommended him to President
Washington for the first office in his gift. He was placed at the head
of the Department of State. In this situation, also, he manifested
conspicuous ability. His correspondence with the ministers of other
powers residing here, and his instructions to our own diplomatic agents
abroad, are among our ablest state papers. A thorough knowledge of the
laws and usages of nations, perfect acquaintance with the immediate
subject before him, great felicity, and still greater facility, in
writing, show themselves in whatever effort his official situation
called on him to make. It is believed by competent judges, that the
diplomatic intercourse of the government of the United States, from the
first meeting of the Continental Congress in 1774 to the present time,
taken together, would not suffer, in respect to the talent with which it
has been conducted, by comparison with anything which other and older
governments can produce; and to the attainment of this respectability
and distinction Mr. Jefferson has contributed his full part.

[Sidenote: Vice-President, 1797-1801; President, 1801-1809.]

On the retirement of General Washington from the Presidency, and the
election of Mr. Adams to that office in 1797, he was chosen
Vice-President. While presiding in this capacity over the deliberations
of the Senate, he compiled and published a Manual of Parliamentary
Practice, a work of more labor and more merit than is indicated by its
size. It is now received as the general standard by which proceedings
are regulated, not only in both Houses of Congress, but in most of the
other legislative bodies in the country. In 1801 he was elected
President, in opposition to Mr. Adams, and re-elected in 1805, by a vote
approaching towards unanimity.

From the time of his final retirement from public life, in 1809, Mr.
Jefferson lived as became a wise man. Surrounded by affectionate
friends, his ardor in the pursuit of knowledge undiminished, with
uncommon health and unbroken spirits, he was able to enjoy largely the
rational pleasures of life, and to partake in that public prosperity
which he had so much contributed to produce. His kindness and
hospitality, the charm of his conversation, the ease of his manners, the
extent of his acquirements, and, especially, the full store of
Revolutionary incidents which he had treasured in his memory, and which
he knew when and how to dispense, rendered his abode in a high degree
attractive to his admiring countrymen, while his high public and
scientific character drew towards him every intelligent and educated
traveller from abroad. Both Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson had the pleasure
of knowing that the respect which they so largely received was not paid
to their official stations. They were not men made great by office; but
great men, on whom the country for its own benefit had conferred
office. There was that in them which office did not give, and which the
relinquishment of office did not, and could not, take away. In their
retirement, in the midst of their fellow-citizens, themselves private
citizens, they enjoyed as high regard and esteem as when filling the
most important places of public trust.

[Sidenote: Establishes the University of Virginia.]

There remained to Mr. Jefferson yet one other work of patriotism and
beneficence, the establishment of a university in his native State. To
this object he devoted years of incessant and anxious attention, and by
the enlightened liberality of the Legislature of Virginia, and the
co-operation of other able and zealous friends, he lived to see it
accomplished. May all success attend this infant seminary; and may those
who enjoy its advantages, as often as their eyes shall rest on the
neighboring height, recollect what they owe to their disinterested and
indefatigable benefactor; and may letters honor him who thus labored in
the cause of letters![22]

Thus useful, and thus respected, passed the old age of Thomas Jefferson.
But time was on its ever-ceaseless wing, and was now bringing the last
hour of this illustrious man. He saw its approach with undisturbed
serenity. He counted the moments as they passed, and beheld that his
last sands were falling. That day, too, was at hand which he had helped
to make immortal. One wish, one hope, if it were not presumptuous, beat
in his fainting breast. Could it be so, might it please God, he would
desire once more to see the sun, once more to look abroad on the scene
around him, on the great day of liberty. Heaven, in its mercy, fulfilled
that prayer. He saw that sun; he enjoyed its sacred light; he thanked
God for this mercy, and bowed his aged head to the grave. "Felix, non
vitæ tantum claritate, sed etiam opportunitate mortis."[23]

The last public labor of Mr. Jefferson naturally suggests the expression
of the high praise which is due, both to him and to Mr. Adams, for their
uniform and zealous attachment to learning, and to the cause of general
knowledge. Of the advantages of learning, indeed, and of literary
accomplishments, their own characters were striking recommendations and
illustrations. They were scholars, ripe and good scholars; widely
acquainted with ancient as well as modern literature, and not altogether
uninstructed in the deeper sciences. Their acquirements, doubtless, were
different, and so were the particular objects of their literary
pursuits; as their tastes and characters, in these respects, differed
like those of other men. Being, also, men of busy lives, with great
objects requiring action constantly before them, their attainments in
letters did not become showy or obtrusive. Yet I would hazard the
opinion that if we could now ascertain all the causes which gave them
eminence and distinction in the midst of the great men with whom they
acted, we should find not among the least their early acquisitions in
literature, the resources which it furnished, the promptitude and
facility which it communicated, and the wide field it opened for analogy
and illustration; giving them thus, on every subject, a larger view and
a broader range, as well for discussion as for the government of their
own conduct.

Fellow-citizens, I will detain you no longer by this faint and feeble
tribute to the memory of the illustrious dead. Even in other hands
adequate justice could not be done to them, within the limits of this
occasion. Their highest, their best praise is your deep conviction of
their merits, your affectionate gratitude for their labors and their
services. It is not my voice, it is this cessation of ordinary pursuits,
this arresting of all attention, these solemn ceremonies, and this
crowded house, which speak their eulogy. Their fame, indeed, is safe.
That is now treasured up beyond the reach of accident. Although no
sculptured marble should rise to their memory, nor engraved stone bear
record of their deeds, yet will their remembrance be as lasting as the
land they honored. Marble columns may, indeed, moulder into dust; time
may erase all impress from the crumbling stone; but their fame remains;
for with American Liberty it rose, and with American Liberty only can it
perish. It was the last swelling peal of yonder choir: "Their bodies are
buried in peace, but their name liveth evermore." I catch that solemn
song, I echo that lofty strain of funeral triumph, "Their name liveth

[Sidenote: Charles Carroll, in 1826 the last of the signers of the

Of the illustrious signers of the Declaration of Independence there now
remains only Charles Carroll. He seems an aged oak, standing alone on
the plain, which time has spared a little longer after all its
contemporaries have been levelled with the dust. Venerable object! we
delight to gather round its trunk, while yet it stands, and to dwell
beneath its shadow. Sole survivor of an assembly of as great men as the
world has witnessed, in a transaction one of the most important that
history records, what thoughts, what interesting reflections, must fill
his elevated and devout soul! If he dwell on the past, how touching its
recollections; if he survey the present, how happy, how joyous, how full
of the fruition of that hope which his ardent patriotism indulged; if he
glance at the future, how does the prospect of his country's advancement
almost bewilder his weakened conception! Fortunate, distinguished
patriot! Interesting relic of the past! Let him know that, while we
honor the dead, we do not forget the living; and that there is not a
heart here which does not fervently pray that Heaven may keep him yet
back from the society of his companions.

[Sidenote: America's debt to the fathers.]

And now, fellow-citizens, let us not retire from this occasion without a
deep and solemn conviction of the duties which have devolved upon us.
This lovely land, this glorious liberty, these benign institutions, the
dear purchase of our fathers, are ours; ours to enjoy, ours to preserve,
ours to transmit. Generations past and generations to come hold us
responsible for this sacred trust. Our fathers, from behind, admonish
us, with their anxious paternal voices; posterity calls out to us, from
the bosom of the future; the world turns hither its solicitous eyes;
all, all conjure us to act wisely, and faithfully, in the relation which
we sustain. We can never, indeed, pay the debt which is upon us; but by
virtue, by morality, by religion, by the cultivation of every good
principle and every good habit, we may hope to enjoy the blessing,
through our day, and to leave it unimpaired to our children. Let us feel
deeply how much of what we are and of what we possess we owe to this
liberty, and to these institutions of government. Nature has, indeed,
given us a soil which yields bounteously to the hand of industry; the
mighty and fruitful ocean is before us; and the skies over our heads
shed health and vigor. But what are lands, and seas, and skies to
civilized man, without society, without knowledge, without morals,
without religious culture; and how can these be enjoyed, in all their
extent and all their excellence, but under the protection of wise
institutions and a free government? Fellow-citizens, there is not one of
us, there is not one of us here present, who does not, at this moment,
and at every moment, experience, in his own condition, and in the
condition of those most near and dear to him, the influence and the
benefits of this liberty and these institutions. Let us then acknowledge
the blessing, let us feel it deeply and powerfully, let us cherish a
strong affection for it, and resolve to maintain and perpetuate it. The
blood of our fathers, let it not have been shed in vain; the great hope
of posterity, let it not be blasted.

The striking attitude, too, in which we stand to the world around us, a
topic to which, I fear, I advert too often and dwell on too long, cannot
be altogether omitted here. Neither individuals nor nations can perform
their part well until they understand and feel its importance, and
comprehend and justly appreciate all the duties belonging to it. It is
not to inflate national vanity, nor to swell a light and empty feeling
of self-importance, but it is that we may judge justly of our situation,
and of our own duties, that I earnestly urge upon you this consideration
of our position and our character among the nations of the earth. It
cannot be denied, but by those who would dispute against the sun, that
with America, and in America, a new era commences in human affairs.
This era is distinguished by free representative governments, by entire
religious liberty, by improved systems of national intercourse, by a
newly awakened and an unconquerable spirit of free inquiry, and by a
diffusion of knowledge through the community, such as has been before
altogether unknown and unheard of. America, America, our country,
fellow-citizens, our own dear and native land, is inseparably connected,
fast bound up, in fortune and by fate, with these great interests. If
they fall, we fall with them; if they stand, it will be because we have
maintained them. Let us contemplate, then, this connection, which binds
the prosperity of others to our own; and let us manfully discharge all
the duties which it imposes. If we cherish the virtues and the
principles of our fathers, Heaven will assist us to carry on the work of
human liberty and human happiness. Auspicious omens cheer us. Great
examples are before us. Our own firmament now shines brightly upon our
path. Washington is in the clear, upper sky. These other stars have now
joined the American constellation; they circle round their centre, and
the heavens beam with new light. Beneath this illumination let us walk
the course of life, and at its close devoutly commend our beloved
country, the common parent of us all, to the Divine Benignity.[24]



Gentlemen, it is a most extraordinary case. In some respects, it has
hardly a precedent anywhere; certainly none in our New England history.
This bloody drama exhibited no suddenly excited, ungovernable rage. The
actors in it were not surprised by any lion-like temptation springing
upon their virtue, and overcoming it, before resistance could begin. Nor
did they do the deed to glut savage vengeance, or satiate long-settled
and deadly hate. It was a cool, calculating, money-making murder. It was
all "hire and salary, not revenge." It was the weighing of money against
life; the counting out of so many pieces of silver against so many
ounces of blood.

An aged man, without an enemy in the world, in his own house, and in his
own bed, is made the victim of a butcherly murder, for mere pay. Truly,
here is a new lesson for painters and poets. Whoever shall hereafter
draw the portrait of murder, if he will show it as it has been
exhibited, where such example was last to have been looked for, in the
very bosom of our New England society, let him not give it the grim
visage of Moloch, the brow knitted by revenge, the face black with
settled hate, and the bloodshot eye emitting livid fires of malice. Let
him draw, rather, a decorous, smooth-faced, bloodless demon; a picture
in repose, rather than in action; not so much an example of human nature
in its depravity, and in its paroxysms of crime, as an infernal being, a
fiend, in the ordinary display and development of his character.

The deed was executed with a degree of self-possession and steadiness
equal to the wickedness with which it was planned. The circumstances now
clearly in evidence spread out the whole scene before us. Deep sleep had
fallen on the destined victim, and on all beneath his roof. A healthful
old man, to whom sleep was sweet, the first sound slumbers of the night
held him in their soft but strong embrace. The assassin enters, through
the window already prepared, into an unoccupied apartment. With
noiseless foot he paces the lonely hall, half lighted by the moon; he
winds up the ascent of the stairs, and reaches the door of the chamber.
Of this, he moves the lock, by soft and continued pressure, till it
turns on its hinges without noise; and he enters, and beholds his victim
before him. The room is uncommonly open to the admission of light. The
face of the innocent sleeper is turned from the murderer, and the beams
of the moon, resting on the gray locks of his aged temple, show him
where to strike. The fatal blow is given! and the victim passes, without
a struggle or a motion, from the repose of sleep to the repose of death!
It is the assassin's purpose to make sure work; and he plies the dagger,
though it is obvious that life has been destroyed by the blow of the
bludgeon. He even raises the aged arm, that he may not fail in his aim
at the heart, and replaces it again over the wounds of the poniard! To
finish the picture, he explores the wrist for the pulse! He feels for
it, and ascertains that it beats no longer! It is accomplished. The deed
is done. He retreats, retraces his steps to the window, passes out
through it as he came in, and escapes. He has done the murder. No eye
has seen him, no ear has heard him. The secret is his own, and it is

[Sidenote: "Murder will out."]

Ah! gentlemen, that was a dreadful mistake. Such a secret can be safe
nowhere. The whole creation of God has neither nook nor corner where the
guilty can bestow it, and say it is safe. Not to speak of that eye which
pierces through all disguises, and beholds everything as in the splendor
of noon, such secrets of guilt are never safe from detection, even by
men. True it is, generally speaking, that "murder will out." True it is,
that Providence hath so ordained, and doth so govern things, that those
who break the great law of Heaven by shedding man's blood seldom succeed
in avoiding discovery. Especially, in a case exciting so much attention
as this, discovery must come, and will come, sooner or later. A
thousand eyes turn at once to explore every man, every thing, every
circumstance, connected with the time and place; a thousand ears catch
every whisper; a thousand excited minds intensely dwell on the scene,
shedding all their light, and ready to kindle the slightest circumstance
into a blaze of discovery. Meantime the guilty soul cannot keep its own
secret. It is false to itself; or, rather, it feels an irresistible
impulse of conscience to be true to itself. It labors under its guilty
possession, and knows not what to do with it. The human heart was not
made for the residence of such an inhabitant. It finds itself preyed on
by a torment, which it dares not acknowledge to God or man. A vulture is
devouring it, and it can ask no sympathy or assistance, either from
heaven or earth. The secret which the murderer possesses soon comes to
possess him; and, like the evil spirits of which we read, it overcomes
him, and leads him whithersoever it will. He feels it beating at his
heart, rising to his throat, and demanding disclosure. He thinks the
whole world sees it in his face, reads it in his eyes, and almost hears
its workings in the very silence of his thoughts. It has become his
master. It betrays his discretion, it breaks down his courage, it
conquers his prudence. When suspicions from without begin to embarrass
him, and the net of circumstance to entangle him, the fatal secret
struggles with still greater violence to burst forth. It must be
confessed, it will be confessed; there is no refuge from confession but
suicide, and suicide is confession.


THE UNITED STATES, JAN. 26 AND 27, 1830[26]

MR. PRESIDENT,--When the mariner has been tossed for many days in thick
weather, and on an unknown sea, he naturally avails himself of the first
pause in the storm, the earliest glance of the sun, to take his
latitude, and ascertain how far the elements have driven him from his
true course. Let us imitate this prudence, and, before we float farther
on the waves of this debate, refer to the point from which we departed,
that we may at least be able to conjecture where we now are. I ask for
the reading of the resolution before the Senate.

[Sidenote: The resolution which caused the debate]

[The Secretary read the resolution, as follows:--

"_Resolved_, That the Committee on Public Lands be instructed to inquire
and report the quantity of public lands remaining unsold within each
State and Territory, and whether it be expedient to limit for a certain
period the sales of the public lands to such lands only as have
heretofore been offered for sale, and are now subject to entry at the
minimum price. And, also, whether the office of Surveyor-General, and
some of the land offices, may not be abolished without detriment to the
public interest; or whether it be expedient to adopt measures to hasten
the sales and extend more rapidly the surveys of the public lands."]

We have thus heard, Sir, what the resolution is which is actually before
us for consideration; and it will readily occur to every one, that it is
almost the only subject about which something has not been said in the
speech, running through two days, by which the Senate has been
entertained by the gentleman from South Carolina. Every topic in the
wide range of our public affairs, whether past or present,--everything,
general or local, whether belonging to national politics or party
politics,--seems to have attracted more or less of the honorable
member's attention, save only the resolution before the Senate. He has
spoken of everything but the public lands; they have escaped his notice.
To that subject, in all his excursions, he has not paid even the cold
respect of a passing glance.

[Sidenote: Hayne's "return-shot."]

When this debate, Sir, was to be resumed, on Thursday morning, it so
happened that it would have been convenient for me to be elsewhere. The
honorable member, however, did not incline to put off the discussion to
another day. He had a shot, he said, to return, and he wished to
discharge it. That shot, Sir, which he thus kindly informed us was
coming, that we might stand out of the way, or prepare ourselves to fall
by it and die with decency, has now been received. Under all advantages,
and with expectation awakened by the tone which preceded it, it has been
discharged, and has spent its force. It may become me to say no more of
its effect than that, if nobody is found, after all, either killed or
wounded, it is not the first time, in the history of human affairs, that
the vigor and success of the war have not quite come up to the lofty and
sounding phrase of the manifesto.

The gentleman, Sir, in declining to postpone the debate, told the
Senate, with the emphasis of his hand upon his heart, that there was
something rankling _here_, which he wished to relieve. [Mr. Hayne rose,
and disclaimed having used the word _rankling_.] It would not, Mr.
President, be safe for the honorable member to appeal to those around
him, upon the question whether he did in fact make use of that word. But
he may have been unconscious of it. At any rate, it is enough that he
disclaims it. But still, with or without the use of that particular
word, he had yet something _here_, he said, of which he wished to rid
himself by an immediate reply. In this respect, Sir, I have a great
advantage over the honorable gentleman. There is nothing _here_, Sir,
which gives me the slightest uneasiness; neither fear, nor anger, nor
that which is sometimes more troublesome than either, the consciousness
of having been in the wrong. There is nothing, either originating
_here_, or now received _here_ by the gentleman's shot. Nothing
originating here, for I had not the slightest feeling of unkindness
towards the honorable member. Some passages, it is true, had occurred
since our acquaintance in this body, which I could have wished might
have been otherwise; but I had used philosophy and forgotten them. I
paid the honorable member the attention of listening with respect to his
first speech; and when he sat down, though surprised, and I must even
say astonished, at some of his opinions, nothing was farther from my
intention than to commence any personal warfare. Through the whole of
the few remarks I made in answer, I avoided, studiously and carefully,
everything which I thought possible to be construed into disrespect.
And, Sir, while there is thus nothing originating _here_ which I have
wished at any time, or now wish, to discharge, I must repeat, also, that
nothing has been received _here_ which _rankles_, or in any way gives me
annoyance. I will not accuse the honorable member of violating the rules
of civilized war; I will not say that he poisoned his arrows. But
whether his shafts were or were not dipped in that which would have
caused rankling if they had reached their destination, there was not, as
it happened, quite strength enough in the bow to bring them to their
mark. If he wishes now to gather up those shafts, he must look for them
elsewhere; they will not be found fixed and quivering in the object at
which they were aimed.

[Illustration: THE REPLY TO HAYNE]

The honorable member complained that I had slept on his speech. I must
have slept on it, or not slept at all. The moment the honorable member
sat down, his friend from Missouri rose, and, with much honeyed
commendation of the speech, suggested that the impressions which it had
produced were too charming and delightful to be disturbed by other
sentiments or other sounds, and proposed that the Senate should adjourn.
Would it have been quite amiable in me, Sir, to interrupt this excellent
good feeling? Must I not have been absolutely malicious, if I could have
thrust myself forward, to destroy sensations thus pleasing? Was it not
much better and kinder, both to sleep upon them myself, and to allow
others also the pleasure of sleeping upon them? But if it be meant, by
sleeping upon his speech, that I took time to prepare a reply to it, it
is quite a mistake. Owing to other engagements, I could not employ even
the interval between the adjournment of the Senate and its meeting the
next morning, in attention to the subject of this debate. Nevertheless,
Sir, the mere matter of fact is undoubtedly true. I did sleep on the
gentleman's speech, and slept soundly. And I slept equally well on his
speech of yesterday, to which I am now replying. It is quite possible
that in this respect, also, I possess some advantage over the honorable
member, attributable, doubtless, to a cooler temperament on my part;
for, in truth, I slept upon his speeches remarkably well.

[Illustration: _Thomas H. Benton._]

[Sidenote: Thomas H. Benton's part in the debate.]

But the gentleman inquires why _he_ was made the object of such a reply.
Why was _he_ singled out? If an attack has been made on the East, he, he
assures us, did not begin it; it was made by the gentleman from
Missouri. Sir, I answered the gentleman's speech because I happened to
hear it; and because, also, I chose to give an answer to that speech,
which, if unanswered, I thought most likely to produce injurious
impressions. I did not stop to inquire who was the original drawer of
the bill. I found a responsible indorser before me, and it was my
purpose to hold him liable, and to bring him to his just responsibility,
without delay. But, Sir, this interrogatory of the honorable member was
only introductory to another. He proceeded to ask me whether I had
turned upon him, in this debate, from the consciousness that I should
find an overmatch, if I ventured on a contest with his friend from
Missouri. If, Sir, the honorable member, _modestiæ gratia_, had chosen
thus to defer to his friend, and to pay him a compliment, without
intentional disparagement to others, it would have been quite according
to the friendly courtesies of debate, and not at all ungrateful to my
own feelings. I am not one of those, Sir, who esteem any tribute of
regard, whether light and occasional, or more serious and deliberate,
which may be bestowed on others, as so much unjustly withholden from
themselves. But the tone and manner of the gentleman's question forbid
me thus to interpret it. I am not at liberty to consider it as nothing
more than a civility to his friend. It had an air of taunt and
disparagement, something of the loftiness of asserted superiority, which
does not allow me to pass it over without notice. It was put as a
question for me to answer, and so put as if it were difficult for me to
answer, whether I deemed the member from Missouri an overmatch for
myself in debate here. It seems to me, Sir, that this is extraordinary
language, and an extraordinary tone, for the discussions of this body.

[Sidenote: A Senate of equals.]

Matches and overmatches! Those terms are more applicable elsewhere than
here, and fitter for other assemblies than this. Sir, the gentleman
seems to forget where and what we are. This is a Senate, a Senate of
equals, of men of individual honor and personal character, and of
absolute independence. We know no masters, we acknowledge no dictators.
This is a hall for mutual consultation and discussion; not an arena for
the exhibition of champions. I offer myself, Sir, as a match for no man;
I throw the challenge of debate at no man's feet. But then, Sir, since
the honorable member has put the question in a manner that calls for an
answer, I will give him an answer; and I tell him, that, holding myself
to be the humblest of the members here, I yet know nothing in the arm of
his friend from Missouri, either alone or when aided by the arm of _his_
friend from South Carolina, that need deter even me from espousing
whatever opinions I may choose to espouse, from debating whenever I may
choose to debate, or from speaking whatever I may see fit to say, on the
floor of the Senate. Sir, when uttered as matter of commendation or
compliment, I should dissent from nothing which the honorable member
might say of his friend. Still less do I put forth any pretensions of my
own. But when put to me as matter of taunt, I throw it back, and say to
the gentleman that he could possibly say nothing less likely than such a
comparison to wound my pride of personal character. The anger of its
tone rescued the remark from intentional irony, which otherwise,
probably, would have been its general acceptation. But, Sir, if it be
imagined that, by this mutual quotation and commendation; if it be
supposed that, by casting the characters of the drama, assigning to each
his part,--to one the attack, to another the cry of onset; or if it be
thought that, by a loud and empty vaunt of anticipated victory, any
laurels are to be won here; if it be imagined, especially, that any or
all these things will shake any purpose of mine, I can tell the
honorable member, once for all, that he is greatly mistaken, and that he
is dealing with one of whose temper and character he has yet much to
learn. Sir, I shall not allow myself, on this occasion, I hope on no
occasion, to be betrayed into any loss of temper; but if provoked, as I
trust I never shall be, into crimination and recrimination, the
honorable member may perhaps find, that, in that contest, there will be
blows to take as well as blows to give; that others can state
comparisons as significant, at least, as his own; and that his impunity
may possibly demand of him whatever powers of taunt and sarcasm he may
possess. I commend him to a prudent husbandry of his resources.

[Illustration: _John Quincy Adams._]

[Sidenote: The "Coalition".]

But, Sir, the Coalition![27] The Coalition! Ay, "the murdered
Coalition!" The gentleman asks if I were led or frighted into this
debate by the spectre of the Coalition. "Was it the ghost of the
murdered Coalition," he exclaims, "which haunted the member from
Massachusetts; and which, like the ghost of Banquo, would never down?"
"The murdered Coalition!" Sir, this charge of a coalition, in reference
to the late administration, is not original with the honorable member.
It did not spring up in the Senate. Whether as a fact, as an argument,
or as an embellishment, it is all borrowed. He adopts it, indeed, from a
very low origin, and a still lower present condition. It is one of the
thousand calumnies with which the press teemed, during an excited
political canvass. It was a charge, of which there was not only no proof
or probability, but which was in itself wholly impossible to be true. No
man of common information ever believed a syllable of it. Yet it was of
that class of falsehoods which, by continued repetition, through all the
organs of detraction and abuse, are capable of misleading those who are
already far misled, and of further fanning passion already kindling into
flame. Doubtless it served in its day, and in greater or less degree,
the end designed by it. Having done that, it has sunk into the general
mass of stale and loathed calumnies. It is the very cast-off slough of
a polluted and shameless press. Incapable of further mischief, it lies
in the sewer, lifeless and despised. It is not now, Sir, in the power of
the honorable member to give it dignity or decency, by attempting to
elevate it, and to introduce it into the Senate. He cannot change it
from what it is, an object of general disgust and scorn. On the
contrary, the contact, if he choose to touch it, is more likely to drag
him down, down, to the place where it lies itself.

[Sidenote: An infelicitous allusion by Hayne.]

But, Sir, the honorable member was not, for other reasons, entirely
happy in his allusion to the story of Banquo's murder and Banquo's
ghost. It was not, I think, the friends, but the enemies of the murdered
Banquo, at whose bidding his spirit would not down. The honorable
gentleman is fresh in his reading of the English classics, and can put
me right if I am wrong; but, according to my poor recollection, it was
at those who had begun with caresses and ended with foul and treacherous
murder that the gory locks were shaken. The ghost of Banquo, like that
of Hamlet, was an honest ghost. It disturbed no innocent man. It knew
where its appearance would strike terror, and who would cry out, A
ghost! It made itself visible in the right quarter, and compelled the
guilty and the conscience-smitten, and none others, to start, with,

  "Prithee, see there! behold! look! lo!
  If I stand here, I saw him!"[28]

Their eyeballs were seared (was it not so, Sir?) who had thought to
shield themselves by concealing their own hand, and laying the
imputation of the crime on a low and hireling agency in wickedness; who
had vainly attempted to stifle the workings of their own coward
consciences by ejaculating through white lips and chattering teeth,
"Thou canst not say I did it!" I have misread the great poet if those
who had no way partaken in the deed of the death, either found that they
were, or feared that they should be, pushed from their stools by the
ghost of the slain, or exclaimed to a spectre created by their own fears
and their own remorse, "Avaunt! and quit our sight!"

There is another particular, Sir, in which the honorable member's quick
perception of resemblances might, I should think, have seen something in
the story of Banquo, making it not altogether a subject of the most
pleasant contemplation. Those who murdered Banquo, what did they win by
it? Substantial good? Permanent power? Or disappointment, rather, and
sore mortification,--dust and ashes, the common fate of vaulting
ambition overleaping itself? Did not evenhanded justice ere-long commend
the poisoned chalice to their own lips? Did they not soon find that for
another they had "filed their mind"? that their ambition, though
apparently for the moment successful, had but put a barren sceptre in
their grasp? Ay, Sir,

        "a barren sceptre in their gripe,
  _Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand,
  No son of theirs succeeding_."

Sir, I need pursue the allusion no farther. I leave the honorable
gentleman to run it out at his leisure, and to derive from it all the
gratification it is calculated to administer. If he finds himself
pleased with the associations, and prepared to be quite satisfied,
though the parallel should be entirely completed, I had almost said, I
am satisfied also; but that I shall think of. Yes, Sir, I will think of

[Sidenote: The Ordinance of 1787.]

[Sidenote: What Webster said, and did not say, about slavery.]

I spoke, Sir, of the Ordinance of 1787,[29] which prohibits slavery, in
all future times, northwest of the Ohio, as a measure of great wisdom
and foresight, and one which had been attended with highly beneficial
and permanent consequences. I supposed that on this point no two
gentlemen in the Senate could entertain different opinions. But the
simple expression of this sentiment has led the gentleman not only into
a labored defence of slavery, in the abstract, and on principle, but
also into a warm accusation against me, as having attacked the system of
domestic slavery now existing in the Southern States. For all this,
there was not the slightest foundation in anything said or intimated by
me. I did not utter a single word which any ingenuity could torture into
an attack on the slavery of the South. I said, only, that it was highly
wise and useful, in legislating for the Northwestern country while it
was yet a wilderness, to prohibit the introduction of slaves; and I
added that I presumed there was no reflecting and intelligent person, in
the neighboring State of Kentucky, who would doubt that, if the same
prohibition had been extended, at the same early period, over that
commonwealth, her strength and population would, at this day, have been
far greater than they are. If these opinions be thought doubtful, they
are nevertheless, I trust, neither extraordinary nor disrespectful. They
attack nobody and menace nobody. And yet, Sir, the gentleman's optics
have discovered, even in the mere expression of this sentiment, what he
calls the very spirit of the Missouri question! He represents me as
making an onset on the whole South, and manifesting a spirit which would
interfere with, and disturb, their domestic condition!

[Sidenote: Slavery a matter of domestic policy, left with the States.]

[Sidenote: But a great evil.]

Sir, this injustice no otherwise surprises me, than as it is committed
here, and committed without the slightest pretence of ground for it. I
say it only surprises me as being done here; for I know full well that
it is, and has been, the settled policy of some persons in the South,
for years, to represent the people of the North as disposed to interfere
with them in their own exclusive and peculiar concerns. This is a
delicate and sensitive point in Southern feeling; and of late years it
has always been touched, and generally with effect, whenever the object
has been to unite the whole South against Northern men or Northern
measures. This feeling, always carefully kept alive, and maintained at
too intense a heat to admit discrimination or reflection, is a lever of
great power in our political machine. It moves vast bodies, and gives
to them one and the same direction. But it is without adequate cause,
and the suspicion which exists is wholly groundless. There is not, and
never has been, a disposition in the North to interfere with these
interests of the South. Such interference has never been supposed to be
within the power of government; nor has it been in any way attempted.
The slavery of the South has always been regarded as a matter of
domestic policy, left with the States themselves, and with which the
Federal government had nothing to do. Certainly, Sir, I am, and ever
have been, of that opinion. The gentleman, indeed, argues that slavery,
in the abstract, is no evil. Most assuredly I need not say I differ with
him, altogether and most widely, on that point. I regard domestic
slavery as one of the greatest evils, both moral and political. But
whether it be a malady, and whether it be curable, and if so, by what
means; or, on the other hand, whether it be the _vulnus immedicabile_ of
the social system, I leave it to those whose right and duty it is to
inquire and to decide. And this I believe, Sir, is, and uniformly has
been, the sentiment of the North.

[Sidenote: The public lands.]

[Sidenote: Webster's broad view of national relations to internal

[Sidenote: Public works are bonds of union.]

We approach, at length, Sir, to a more important part of the honorable
gentleman's observations. Since it does not accord with my views of
justice and policy to give away the public lands altogether, as a mere
matter of gratuity, I am asked by the honorable gentleman on what ground
it is that I consent to vote them away in particular instances. How, he
inquires, do I reconcile with these professed sentiments, my support of
measures appropriating portions of the lands to particular roads,
particular canals, particular rivers, and particular institutions of
education in the West? This leads, Sir, to the real and wide difference
in political opinion between the honorable gentleman and myself. On my
part, I look upon all these objects as connected with the common good,
fairly embraced in its object and its terms; he, on the contrary, deems
them all, if good at all, only local good. This is our difference. The
interrogatory which he proceeded to put at once explains this
difference. "What interest," asks he, "has South Carolina in a canal in
Ohio?" Sir, this very question is full of significance. It develops the
gentleman's whole political system; and its answer expounds mine. Here
we differ. I look upon a road over the Alleghanies, a canal round the
falls of the Ohio, or a canal or railway from the Atlantic to the
Western waters, as being an object large and extensive enough to be
fairly said to be for the common benefit. The gentleman thinks
otherwise, and this is the key to his construction of the powers of the
government. He may well ask what interest has South Carolina in a canal
in Ohio. On his system, it is true, she has no interest. On that system,
Ohio and Carolina are different governments, and different countries;
connected here, it is true, by some slight and ill-defined bond of
union, but in all main respects separate and diverse. On that system,
Carolina has no more interest in a canal in Ohio than in Mexico. The
gentleman, therefore, only follows out his own principles; he does no
more than arrive at the natural conclusions of his own doctrines; he
only announces the true results of that creed which he has adopted
himself, and would persuade others to adopt, when he thus declares that
South Carolina has no interest in a public work in Ohio.

[Sidenote: The States are one.]

Sir, we narrow-minded people of New England do not reason thus. Our
notion of things is entirely different. We look upon the States, not as
separated, but as united. We love to dwell on that union, and on the
mutual happiness which it has so much promoted, and the common renown
which it has so greatly contributed to acquire. In our contemplation,
Carolina and Ohio are parts of the same country; States, united under
the same general government, having interests common, associated,
intermingled. In whatever is within the proper sphere of the
constitutional power of this government, we look upon the States as one.
We do not impose geographical limits to our patriotic feeling or regard;
we do not follow rivers and mountains, and lines of latitude, to find
boundaries, beyond which public improvements do not benefit us. We who
come here, as agents and representatives of these narrow-minded and
selfish men of New England, consider ourselves as bound to regard with
an equal eye the good of the whole, in whatever is within our powers of
legislation. Sir, if a railroad or canal, beginning in South Carolina
and ending in South Carolina, appeared to me to be of national
importance and national magnitude, believing, as I do, that the power of
government extends to the encouragement of works of that description, if
I were to stand up here and ask, What interest has Massachusetts in a
railroad in South Carolina? I should not be willing to face my
constituents. These same narrow-minded men would tell me that they had
sent me to act for the whole country, and that one who possessed too
little comprehension, either of intellect or feeling, one who was not
large enough, both in mind and in heart, to embrace the whole, was not
fit to be intrusted with the interest of any part.

[Sidenote: The powers of the government to be used for the general
benefit of the whole.]

[Sidenote: One in war, in peace, and in commerce.]

Sir, I do not desire to enlarge the powers of the government by
unjustifiable construction, nor to exercise any not within a fair
interpretation. But when it is believed that a power does exist, then it
is, in my judgment, to be exercised for the general benefit of the
whole. So far as respects the exercise of such a power, the States are
one. It was the very object of the Constitution to create unity of
interests to the extent of the powers of the general government. In war
and peace we are one; in commerce, one; because the authority of the
general government reaches to war and peace, and to the regulation of
commerce. I have never seen any more difficulty in erecting light-houses
on the lakes than on the ocean; in improving the harbors of inland seas,
than if they were within the ebb and flow of the tide; or in removing
obstructions in the vast streams of the West, more than in any work to
facilitate commerce on the Atlantic coast. If there be any power for
one, there is power also for the other; and they are all and equally for
the common good of the country.

[Sidenote: The government a great untaxed proprietor.]

There are other objects, apparently more local, or the benefit of which
is less general, towards which, nevertheless, I have concurred with
others to give aid by donations of land. It is proposed to construct a
road, in or through one of the new States, in which this government
possesses large quantities of land. Have the United States no right, or,
as a great and untaxed proprietor, are they under no obligation to
contribute to an object thus calculated to promote the common good of
all the proprietors, themselves included? And even with respect to
education, which is the extreme case, let the question be considered. In
the first place, as we have seen, it was made matter of compact with
these States, that they should do their part to promote education. In
the next place, our whole system of land laws proceeds on the idea that
education is for the common good; because in every division a certain
portion is uniformly reserved and appropriated for the use of schools.
And, finally, have not these new States singularly strong claims,
founded on the ground already stated, that the government is a great
untaxed proprietor, in the ownership of the soil? It is a consideration
of great importance, that probably there is in no part of the country,
or of the world, so great call for the means of education, as in these
new States, owing to the vast numbers of persons within those ages in
which education and instruction are usually received, if received at
all. This is the natural consequence of recency of settlement and rapid
increase. The census of these States shows how great a proportion of the
whole population occupies the classes between infancy and manhood. These
are the wide fields, and here is the deep and quick soil for the seeds
of knowledge and virtue; and this is the favored season, the very
spring-time for sowing them. Let them be disseminated without stint. Let
them be scattered with a bountiful hand, broadcast. Whatever the
government can fairly do towards these objects, in my opinion, ought to
be done.

These, Sir, are the grounds, succinctly stated, on which my votes for
grants of lands for particular objects rest; while I maintain, at the
same time, that it is all a common fund, for the common benefit. And
reasons like these, I presume, have influenced the votes of other
gentlemen from New England. Those who have a different view of the
powers of the government, of course, come to different conclusions, on
these, as on other questions. I observed, when speaking on this subject
before, that if we looked to any measure, whether for a road, a canal,
or anything else, intended for the improvement of the West, it would be
found that if the New England _ayes_ were struck out of the lists of
votes, the Southern _noes_ would always have rejected the measure. The
truth of this has not been denied, and cannot be denied. In stating
this, I thought it just to ascribe it to the constitutional scruples of
the South, rather than to any other less favorable or less charitable
cause. But no sooner had I done this, than the honorable gentleman asks
if I reproach him and his friends with their constitutional scruples.
Sir, I reproach nobody. I stated a fact, and gave the most respectful
reason for it that occurred to me. The gentleman cannot deny the fact;
he may, if he choose, disclaim the reason. It is not long since I had
occasion, in presenting a petition from his own State, to account for
its being intrusted to my hands, by saying that the constitutional
opinions of the gentleman and his worthy colleague prevented them from
supporting it. Sir, did I state this as matter of reproach? Far from it.
Did I attempt to find any other cause than an honest one for these
scruples? Sir, I did not. It did not become me to doubt or to insinuate
that the gentleman had either changed his sentiments, or that he had
made up a set of constitutional opinions accommodated to any particular
combination of political occurrences. Had I done so, I should have felt
that, while I was entitled to little credit in thus questioning other
people's motives, I justified the whole world in suspecting my own. But
how has the gentleman returned this respect for others' opinions? His
own candor and justice, how have they been exhibited towards the motives
of others, while he has been at so much pains to maintain, what nobody
has disputed, the purity of his own? Why, Sir, he has asked _when_, and
_how_, and _why_ New England votes were found going for measures
favorable to the West. He has demanded to be informed whether all this
did not begin in 1825, and while the election of President was still

[Sidenote: New England's aid to Western improvements.]

Sir, to these questions retort would be justified; and it is both cogent
and at hand. Nevertheless, I will answer the inquiry, not by retort, but
by facts. I will tell the gentleman _when_, and _how_, and _why_ New
England has supported measures favorable to the West. I have already
referred to the early history of the government, to the first
acquisition of the lands, to the original laws for disposing of them,
and for governing the territories where they lie; and have shown the
influence of New England men and New England principles in all these
leading measures. I should not be pardoned were I to go over that ground
again. Coming to more recent times, and to measures of a less general
character, I have endeavored to prove that everything of this kind,
designed for Western improvement, has depended on the votes of New
England; all this is true beyond the power of contradiction. And now,
Sir, there are two measures to which I will refer, not so ancient as to
belong to the early history of the public lands, and not so recent as to
be on this side of the period when the gentleman charitably imagines a
new direction may have been given to New England feeling and New England
votes. These measures, and the New England votes in support of them, may
be taken as samples and specimens of all the rest.

[Illustration: _Robert Y. Hayne._]

In 1820 (observe, Mr. President, in 1820) the people of the West
besought Congress for a reduction in the price of lands. In favor of
that reduction, New England, with a delegation of forty members in the
other house, gave thirty-three votes, and one only against it. The four
Southern States, with more than fifty members, gave thirty-two votes for
it, and seven against it. Again, in 1821 (observe again, Sir, the time),
the law passed for the relief of the purchasers of the public lands.
This was a measure of vital importance to the West, and more especially
to the Southwest. It authorized the relinquishment of contracts for
lands which had been entered into at high prices, and a reduction in
other cases of not less than thirty-seven and a half per cent on the
purchase-money. Many millions of dollars, six or seven, I believe,
probably much more, were relinquished by this law. On this bill, New
England, with her forty members, gave more affirmative votes than the
four Southern States, with their fifty-two or fifty-three members. These
two are far the most important general measures respecting the public
lands which have been adopted within the last twenty years. They took
place in 1820 and 1821. That is the time _when_.

As to the manner _how_, the gentleman already sees that it was by voting
in solid column for the required relief; and, lastly, as to the cause
_why_, I tell the gentleman it was because the members from New England
thought the measures just and salutary; because they entertained towards
the West neither envy, hatred, nor malice; because they deemed it
becoming them, as just and enlightened public men, to meet the exigency
which had arisen in the West with the appropriate measure of relief;
because they felt it due to their own characters, and the characters of
their New England predecessors in this government, to act towards the
new States in the spirit of a liberal, patronizing, magnanimous policy.
So much, Sir, for the cause _why_; and I hope that by this time, Sir,
the honorable gentleman is satisfied; if not, I do not know _when_, or
_how_, or _why_ he ever will be.

[Sidenote: Hayne's attack on New England.]

Professing to be provoked by what he chose to consider a charge made by
me against South Carolina, the honorable member, Mr. President, has
taken up a new crusade against New England. Leaving altogether the
subject of the public lands, in which his success, perhaps, had been
neither distinguished nor satisfactory, and letting go, also, of the
topic of the tariff, he sallied forth in a general assault on the
opinions, politics, and parties of New England, as they have been
exhibited in the last thirty years. This is natural. The "narrow
policy" of the public lands had proved a legal settlement in South
Carolina, and was not to be removed. The "accursed policy" of the
tariff, also, had established the fact of its birth and parentage in the
same State. No wonder, therefore, the gentleman wished to carry the war,
as he expressed it, into the enemy's country. Prudently willing to quit
these subjects, he was, doubtless, desirous of fastening on others,
which could not be transferred south of Mason and Dixon's line.[30] The
politics of New England became his theme; and it was in this part of his
speech, I think, that he menaced me with such sore discomfiture.
Discomfiture! Why, Sir, when he attacks anything which I maintain, and
overthrows it, when he turns the right or left of any position which I
take up, when he drives me from any ground I choose to occupy, he may
then talk of discomfiture, but not till that distant day. What has he
done? Has he maintained his own charges? Has he proved what he alleged?
Has he sustained himself in his attack on the government, and on the
history of the North, in the matter of the public lands? Has he
disproved a fact, refuted a proposition, weakened an argument,
maintained by me? Has he come within beat of drum of any position of
mine? Oh, no; but he has "carried the war into the enemy's country"!
Carried the war into the enemy's country! Yes, Sir, and what sort of a
war has he made of it? Why, Sir, he has stretched a drag-net over the
whole surface of perished pamphlets, indiscreet sermons, frothy
paragraphs, and fuming popular addresses,--over whatever the pulpit in
its moments of alarm, the press in its heats, and parties in their
extravagance, have severally thrown off in times of general excitement
and violence. He has thus swept together a mass of such things as, but
that they are now old and cold, the public health would have required
him rather to leave in their state of dispersion. For a good long hour
or two we had the unbroken pleasure of listening to the honorable member
while he recited with his usual grace and spirit, and with evident high
gusto, speeches, pamphlets, addresses, and all the _et cæteras_ of the
political press, such as warm heads produce in warm times; and such as
it would be "discomfiture" indeed for any one, whose taste did not
delight in that sort of reading, to be obliged to peruse. This is his
war. This it is to carry war into the enemy's country. It is in an
invasion of this sort that he flatters himself with the expectation of
gaining laurels fit to adorn a Senator's brow!

[Sidenote: Party contests under the Constitution.]

[Sidenote: Political attacks upon Washington.]

Mr. President, I shall not--it will not, I trust, be expected that I
should--either now or at any time, separate this farrago into parts, and
answer and examine its components. I shall barely bestow upon it all a
general remark or two. In the run of forty years, Sir, under this
Constitution, we have experienced sundry successive violent party
contests. Party arose, indeed, with the Constitution itself, and, in
some form or other, has attended it through the greater part of its
history. Whether any other constitution than the old Articles of
Confederation was desirable, was itself a question on which parties
divided; if a new constitution were framed, what powers should be given
to it was another question; and when it had been formed, what was, in
fact, the just extent of the powers actually conferred was a third.
Parties, as we know, existed under the first administration, as
distinctly marked as those which have manifested themselves at any
subsequent period. The contest immediately preceding the political
change in 1801, and that, again, which existed at the commencement of
the late war, are other instances of party excitement of something more
than usual strength and intensity. In all these conflicts there was, no
doubt, much of violence on both and all sides. It would be impossible,
if one had a fancy for such employment, to adjust the relative _quantum_
of violence between these contending parties. There was enough in each,
as must always be expected in popular governments. With a great deal of
popular and decorous discussion, there was mingled a great deal, also,
of declamation, virulence, crimination, and abuse. In regard to any
party, probably, at one of the leading epochs in the history of parties,
enough may be found to make out another inflamed exhibition, not unlike
that with which the honorable member has edified us. For myself, Sir, I
shall not rake among the rubbish of bygone times to see what I can find,
or whether I cannot find something by which I can fix a blot on the
escutcheon of any State, any party, or any part of the country. General
Washington's administration was steadily and zealously maintained, as we
all know, by New England. It was violently opposed elsewhere. We know in
what quarter he had the most earnest, constant, and persevering support,
in all his great and leading measures. We know where his private and
personal character was held in the highest degree of attachment and
veneration; and we know, too, where his measures were opposed, his
services slighted, and his character vilified. We know, or we might
know, if we turned to the journals, who expressed respect, gratitude,
and regret, when he retired from the chief magistracy, and who refused
to express either respect, gratitude, or regret. I shall not open those
journals. Publications more abusive or scurrilous never saw the light,
than were sent forth against Washington and all his leading measures,
from presses south of New England. But I shall not look them up. I
employ no scavengers; no one is in attendance on me, furnishing such
means of retaliation; and if there were, with an ass's load of them,
with a bulk as huge as that which the gentleman himself has produced, I
would not touch one of them. I see enough of the violence of our own
times, to be no way anxious to rescue from forgetfulness the
extravagances of times past.

Besides, what is all this to the present purpose? It has nothing to do
with the public lands, in regard to which the attack was begun; and it
has nothing to do with those sentiments and opinions which, I have
thought, tend to disunion, and all of which the honorable member seems
to have adopted himself, and undertaken to defend. New England has, at
times, so argues the gentleman, held opinions as dangerous as those
which he now holds. Suppose this were so; why should _he_ therefore
abuse New England? If he finds himself countenanced by acts of hers, how
is it that, while he relies on these acts, he covers, or seeks to cover,
their authors with reproach? But, Sir, if, in the course of forty years,
there have been undue effervescences of party in New England, has the
same thing happened nowhere else? Party animosity and party outrage, not
in New England, but elsewhere, denounced President Washington, not only
as a Federalist, but as a Tory, a British agent, a man who, in his high
office, sanctioned corruption. But does the honorable member suppose,
if I had a tender here who should put such an effusion of wickedness and
folly into my hand, that I would stand up and read it against the South?
Parties ran into great heats again in 1799 and 1800. What was said, Sir,
or rather what was not said, in those years, against John Adams, one of
the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence, and its
admitted ablest defender on the floor of Congress? If the gentleman
wishes to increase his stores of party abuse and frothy violence, if he
has a determined proclivity to such pursuits, there are treasures of
that sort south of the Potomac, much to his taste, yet untouched. I
shall not touch them.

[Sidenote: Political parties in 1812.]

The parties which divided the country at the commencement of the late
war were violent. But then there was violence on both sides, and
violence in every State. Minorities and majorities were equally violent.
There was no more violence against the war in New England than in other
States; nor any more appearance of violence, except that, owing to a
dense population, greater facility of assembling, and more presses,
there may have been more in quantity spoken and printed there than in
some other places. In the article of sermons, too, New England is
somewhat more abundant than South Carolina; and for that reason the
chance of finding here and there an exceptionable one may be greater. I
hope, too, there are more good ones. Opposition may have been more
formidable in New England, as it embraced a larger portion of the whole
population; but it was no more unrestrained in principle, or violent in
manner. The minorities dealt quite as harshly with their own State
governments as the majorities dealt with the administration here. There
were presses on both sides, popular meetings on both sides, ay, and
pulpits on both sides also. The gentleman's purveyors have only catered
for him among the productions of one side. I certainly shall not supply
the deficiency by furnishing samples of the other. I leave to him, and
to them, the whole concern.

It is enough for me to say that if, in any part of this their grateful
occupation, if, in all their researches, they find anything in the
history of Massachusetts, or New England, or in the proceedings of any
legislative or other public body, disloyal to the Union, speaking
slightingly of its value, proposing to break it up, or recommending
non-intercourse with neighboring States, on account of difference of
political opinion, then, Sir, I give them all up to the honorable
gentleman's unrestrained rebuke; expecting, however, that he will extend
his buffetings in like manner _to all similar proceedings, wherever else

[Sidenote: Tribute to South Carolina.]

The eulogium pronounced by the honorable gentleman on the character of
the State of South Carolina, for her Revolutionary and other merits,
meets my hearty concurrence. I shall not acknowledge that the honorable
member goes before me in regard for whatever of distinguished talent, or
distinguished character, South Carolina has produced. I claim part of
the honor, I partake in the pride, of her great names. I claim them for
countrymen, one and all, the Laurenses, the Rutledges, the Pinckneys,
the Sumpters, the Marions, Americans all, whose fame is no more to be
hemmed in by State lines, than their talents and patriotism were capable
of being circumscribed within the same narrow limits. In their day and
generation they served and honored the country, and the whole country;
and their renown is of the treasures of the whole country. Him whose
honored name the gentleman himself bears,--does he esteem me less
capable of gratitude for his patriotism, or sympathy for his sufferings,
than if his eyes had first opened upon the light of Massachusetts,
instead of South Carolina? Sir, does he suppose it in his power to
exhibit a Carolina name so bright as to produce envy in my bosom? No,
Sir, increased gratification and delight, rather. I thank God that, if I
am gifted with little of the spirit which is able to raise mortals to
the skies, I have yet none, as I trust, of that other spirit, which
would drag angels down. When I shall be found, Sir, in my place here in
the Senate, or elsewhere, to sneer at public merit, because it happens
to spring up beyond the little limits of my own State or neighborhood;
when I refuse, for any such cause or for any cause, the homage due to
American talent, to elevated patriotism, to sincere devotion to liberty
and the country; or, if I see an uncommon endowment of Heaven, if I see
extraordinary capacity and virtue, in any son of the South, and if,
moved by local prejudice or gangrened by State jealousy, I get up here
to abate the tithe of a hair from his just character and just fame, may
my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!

[Sidenote: Massachusetts and South Carolina in the Revolution.]

Sir, let me recur to pleasing recollections; let me indulge in
refreshing remembrance of the past; let me remind you that, in early
times, no States cherished greater harmony, both of principle and
feeling, than Massachusetts and South Carolina. Would to God that
harmony might again return! Shoulder to shoulder they went through the
Revolution, hand in hand they stood round the administration of
Washington, and felt his own great arm lean on them for support. Unkind
feeling, if it exist, alienation, and distrust are the growth, unnatural
to such soils, of false principles since sown. They are weeds, the seeds
of which that same great arm never scattered.

[Sidenote: Defence of Massachusetts.]

Mr. President, I shall enter on no encomium upon Massachusetts; she
needs none. There she is. Behold her, and judge for yourselves. There is
her history; the world knows it by heart. The past, at least, is secure.
There is Boston, and Concord, and Lexington, and Bunker Hill; and there
they will remain forever. The bones of her sons, falling in the great
struggle for Independence, now lie mingled with the soil of every State
from New England to Georgia; and there they will lie forever. And, Sir,
where American Liberty raised its first voice, and where its youth was
nurtured and sustained, there it still lives, in the strength of its
manhood and full of its original spirit. If discord and disunion shall
wound it, if party strife and blind ambition shall hawk at and tear it,
if folly and madness, if uneasiness under salutary and necessary
restraint, shall succeed in separating it from that Union by which alone
its existence is made sure, it will stand, in the end, by the side of
that cradle in which its infancy was rocked; it will stretch forth its
arm with whatever of vigor it may still retain over the friends who
gather round it; and it will fall at last, if fall it must, amidst the
proudest monuments of its own glory, and on the very spot of its origin.

_From an engraving. By permission of Mr. O. G. Seeley_]

[Sidenote: The true principles of the Constitution.]

There yet remains to be performed, Mr. President, by far the most grave
and important duty which I feel to be devolved on me by this occasion.
It is to state, and to defend, what I conceive to be the true principles
of the Constitution under which we are here assembled. I might well
have desired that so weighty a task should have fallen into other and
abler hands. I could have wished that it should have been executed by
those whose character and experience give weight and influence to their
opinions, such as cannot possibly belong to mine. But, Sir, I have met
the occasion, not sought it; and I shall proceed to state my own
sentiments, without challenging for them any particular regard; with
studied plainness, and as much precision as possible.

[Sidenote: May State legislatures arrest national laws?]

I understand the honorable gentleman from South Carolina to maintain
that it is a right of the State legislatures to interfere, whenever, in
their judgment, this government transcends its constitutional limits,
and to arrest the operation of its laws.

I understand him to maintain this right, as a right existing _under_ the
Constitution, not as a right to overthrow it on the ground of extreme
necessity, such as would justify violent revolution.

I understand him to maintain an authority, on the part of the States,
thus to interfere, for the purpose of correcting the exercise of power
by the general government, of checking it, and of compelling it to
conform to their opinion of the extent of its powers.

[Sidenote: Are the States the final judges of the acts of the general

I understand him to maintain, that the ultimate power of judging of the
constitutional extent of its own authority is not lodged exclusively in
the general government, or any branch of it; but that, on the contrary,
the States may lawfully decide for themselves, and each State for
itself, whether, in a given case, the act of the general government
transcends its power.

I understand him to insist that if the exigency of the case, in the
opinion of any State government, require it, such State government may,
by its own sovereign authority, annul an act of the general government
which it deems plainly and palpably unconstitutional.

[Sidenote: The South Carolina doctrine.]

This is the sum of what I understand from him to be the South Carolina
doctrine, and the doctrine which he maintains. I propose to consider it,
and compare it with the Constitution. Allow me to say, as a preliminary
remark, that I call this the South Carolina doctrine only because the
gentleman himself has so denominated it. I do not feel at liberty to say
that South Carolina, as a State, has ever advanced these sentiments. I
hope she has not, and never may. That a great majority of her people are
opposed to the tariff laws, is doubtless true. That a majority, somewhat
less than that just mentioned, conscientiously believe these laws
unconstitutional, may probably also be true. But that any majority holds
to the right of direct State interference at State discretion, the right
of nullifying acts of Congress by acts of State legislation, is more
than I know, and what I shall be slow to believe.

That there are individuals besides the honorable gentleman who do
maintain these opinions is quite certain. I recollect the recent
expression of a sentiment which circumstances attending its utterance
and publication justify us in supposing was not unpremeditated: "The
sovereignty of the State,--never to be controlled, construed, or decided
on, but by her own feelings of honorable justice."

[Mr. Hayne here rose and said that for the purpose of being clearly
understood, he would state that his proposition was in the words of the
Virginia resolution, as follows:--

"That this assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it
views the powers of the Federal government as resulting from the compact
to which the States are parties, as limited by the plain sense and
intention of the instrument constituting that compact, as no farther
valid than they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact;
and that, in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of
other powers not granted by the said compact, the States who are parties
thereto have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose, for
arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their
respective limits the authorities, rights, and liberties appertaining to

Mr. Webster resumed:--]

[Sidenote: Webster admits the right of revolution.]

I am quite aware, Mr. President, of the existence of the resolution
which the gentleman read, and has now repeated, and that he relies on it
as his authority. I know the source, too, from which it is understood to
have proceeded. I need not say that I have much respect for the
constitutional opinions of Mr. Madison; they would weigh greatly with me
always. But before the authority of his opinion be vouched for the
gentleman's proposition, it will be proper to consider what is the fair
interpretation of that resolution, to which Mr. Madison is understood to
have given his sanction. As the gentleman construes it, it is an
authority for him. Possibly he may not have adopted the right
construction. That resolution declares that _in the case of the
dangerous exercise of powers not granted by the general government, the
States may interpose to arrest the progress of the evil_. But how
interpose, and what does this declaration purport? Does it mean no more
than that there may be extreme cases, in which the people, in any mode
of assembling, may resist usurpation, and relieve themselves from a
tyrannical government? No one will deny this. Such resistance is not
only acknowledged to be just in America, but in England also Blackstone
admits as much, in the theory, and practice, too, of the English
constitution. We, Sir, who oppose the Carolina doctrine, do not deny
that the people may, if they choose, throw off any government when it
becomes oppressive and intolerable, and erect a better in its stead. We
all know that civil institutions are established for the public benefit,
and that when they cease to answer the ends of their existence they may
be changed. But I do not understand the doctrine now contended for to be
that which, for the sake of distinction, we may call the right of
revolution. I understand the gentleman to maintain that without
revolution, without civil commotion, without rebellion, a remedy for
supposed abuse and transgression of the powers of the general government
lies in a direct appeal to the interference of the State governments.

[Mr. Hayne here rose and said that he did not contend for the mere right
of revolution, but for the right of constitutional resistance. What he
maintained was, that in case of a plain, palpable violation of the
Constitution by the general government, a State may interpose; and that
this interposition is constitutional.

Mr. Webster resumed:--]

[Sidenote: No middle course between revolution and submission to
constitutional laws.]

[Sidenote: A concise statement of Webster's whole argument.]

So, Sir, I understood the gentleman, and am happy to find that I did not
misunderstand him. What he contends for is that it is constitutional to
interrupt the administration of the Constitution itself, in the hands of
those who are chosen and sworn to administer it, by the direct
interference, in form of law, of the States, in virtue of their
sovereign capacity. The inherent right in the people to reform their
government I do not deny; and they have another right, and that is to
resist unconstitutional laws, without overturning the government. It is
no doctrine of mine that unconstitutional laws bind the people. The
great question is, Whose prerogative is it to decide on the
constitutionality or unconstitutionality of the laws? On that the main
debate hinges. The proposition that, in case of a supposed violation of
the Constitution by Congress, the States have a constitutional right to
interfere and annul the law of Congress, is the proposition of the
gentleman. I do not admit it. If the gentleman had intended no more than
to assert the right of revolution for justifiable cause, he would have
said only what all agree to. But I cannot conceive that there can be a
middle course, between submission to the laws, when regularly pronounced
constitutional, on the one hand, and open resistance, which is
revolution or rebellion, on the other. I say the right of a State to
annul a law of Congress cannot be maintained, but on the ground of the
inalienable right of man to resist oppression; that is to say, upon the
ground of revolution. I admit that there is an ultimate violent remedy,
above the Constitution and in defiance of the Constitution, which may
be resorted to when a revolution is to be justified. But I do not admit
that, under the Constitution and in conformity with it, there is any
mode in which a State government, as a member of the Union, can
interfere and stop the progress of the general government, by force of
her own laws, under any circumstances whatever.

[Sidenote: The source of the power of the government of the United

[Sidenote: The people's government.]

[Sidenote: The Constitution declared by the people to be the supreme

[Sidenote: The general government and the State governments derive their
authority from the people.]

[Sidenote: General powers as over against State powers.]

This leads us to inquire into the origin of this government and the
source of its power. Whose agent is it? Is it the creature of the State
legislatures, or the creature of the people? If the government of the
United States be the agent of the State governments, then they may
control it, provided they can agree in the manner of controlling it; if
it be the agent of the people, then the people alone can control it,
restrain it, modify, or reform it. It is observable enough that the
doctrine for which the honorable gentleman contends leads him to the
necessity of maintaining, not only that this general government is the
creature of the States, but that it is the creature of each of the
States severally, so that each may assert the power for itself of
determining whether it acts within the limits of its authority. It is
the servant of four-and-twenty masters, of different wills and different
purposes, and yet bound to obey all. This absurdity (for it seems no
less) arises from a misconception as to the origin of this government
and its true character. It is, Sir, the people's Constitution, the
people's government, made for the people, made by the people, and
answerable to the people. The people of the United States have declared
that this Constitution shall be the supreme law. We must either admit
the proposition, or dispute their authority. The States are,
unquestionably, sovereign, so far as their sovereignty is not affected
by this supreme law. But the State legislatures, as political bodies,
however sovereign, are yet not sovereign over the people. So far as the
people have given power to the general government, so far the grant is
unquestionably good, and the government holds of the people, and not of
the State governments. We are all agents of the same supreme power, the
people. The general government and the State governments derive their
authority from the same source. Neither can, in relation to the other,
be called primary, though one is definite and restricted, and the other
general and residuary. The national government possesses those powers
which it can be shown the people have conferred on it, and no more. All
the rest belongs to the State governments, or to the people themselves.
So far as the people have restrained State sovereignty, by the
expression of their will, in the Constitution of the United States, so
far, it must be admitted, State sovereignty is effectually controlled. I
do not contend that it is, or ought to be, controlled farther. The
sentiment to which I have referred propounds that State sovereignty is
only to be controlled by its own "feeling of justice"; that is to say,
it is not to be controlled at all, for one who is to follow his own
feelings is under no legal control. Now, however men may think this
ought to be, the fact is, that the people of the United States have
chosen to impose control on State sovereignties. There are those,
doubtless, who wish they had been left without restraint; but the
Constitution has ordered the matter differently. To make war, for
instance, is an exercise of sovereignty; but the Constitution declares
that no State shall make war. To coin money is another exercise of
sovereign power; but no State is at liberty to coin money. Again, the
Constitution says that no sovereign State shall be so sovereign as to
make a treaty. These prohibitions, it must be confessed, are a control
on the State sovereignty of South Carolina, as as well as of the other
States, which does not arise "from her own feelings of honorable
justice." The opinion referred to, therefore, is in defiance of the
plainest provisions of the Constitution.

[Sidenote: The "sovereign" States.]

There are other proceedings of public bodies which have already been
alluded to, and to which I refer again for the purpose of ascertaining
more fully what is the length and breadth of that doctrine, denominated
the Carolina doctrine, which the honorable member has now stood up on
this floor to maintain. In one of them I find it resolved, that "the
tariff of 1828, and every other tariff designed to promote one branch of
industry at the expense of others, is contrary to the meaning and
intention of the Federal compact; and such a dangerous, palpable, and
deliberate usurpation of power, by a determined majority, wielding the
general government beyond the limits of its delegated powers, as calls
upon the States which compose the suffering minority, in their sovereign
capacity, to exercise the powers which, as sovereigns, necessarily
devolve upon them, when their compact is violated."

[Sidenote: Are protective tariffs unconstitutional usurpations?]

Observe, Sir, that this resolution holds the tariff of 1828, and every
other tariff designed to promote one branch of industry at the expense
of another, to be such a dangerous, palpable, and deliberate usurpation
of power, as calls upon the States, in their sovereign capacity, to
interfere by their own authority. This denunciation, Mr. President, you
will please to observe, includes our old tariff of 1816, as well as all
others; because that was established to promote the interest of the
manufacturers of cotton, to the manifest and admitted injury of the
Calcutta cotton trade. Observe, again, that all the qualifications are
here rehearsed and charged upon the tariff, which are necessary to bring
the case within the gentleman's proposition. The tariff is a usurpation;
it is a dangerous usurpation; it is a palpable usurpation; it is a
deliberate usurpation. It is such a usurpation, therefore, as calls upon
the States to exercise their right of interference. Here is a case,
then, within the gentleman's principles, and all his qualifications of
his principles. It is a case for action. The Constitution is plainly,
dangerously, palpably, and deliberately violated; and the States must
interpose their own authority to arrest the law. Let us suppose the
State of South Carolina to express this same opinion, by the voice of
her legislature. That would be very imposing; but what then? Is the
voice of one State conclusive? It so happens that, at the very moment
when South Carolina resolves that the tariff laws are unconstitutional,
Pennsylvania and Kentucky resolve exactly the reverse. _They_ hold those
laws to be both highly proper and strictly constitutional. And now, Sir,
how does the honorable member propose to deal with this case? How does
he relieve us from this difficulty, upon any principle of his? His
construction gets us into it; how does he propose to get us out?

[Sidenote: Nullification would make uniform laws impossible.]

In Carolina, the tariff is a palpable, deliberate usurpation; Carolina,
therefore, may nullify it, and refuse to pay the duties. In
Pennsylvania, it is both clearly constitutional and highly expedient;
and there the duties are to be paid. And yet we live under a government
of uniform laws, and under a Constitution too, which contains an express
provision, as it happens, that all duties shall be equal in all the
States. Does not this approach absurdity?

If there be no power to settle such questions, independent of either of
the States, is not the whole Union a rope of sand? Are we not thrown
back again, precisely, upon the old Confederation?

[Sidenote: The Union, with nullification, a mere connection during

It is too plain to be argued. Four-and-twenty interpreters of
constitutional law, each with a power to decide for itself, and none
with authority to bind anybody else, and this constitutional law the
only bond of their union! What is such a state of things but a mere
connection during pleasure, or, to use the phraseology of the times,
_during feeling_? And that feeling, too, not the feeling of the people,
who established the Constitution, but the feeling of the State

[Sidenote: New England rejects the South Carolina doctrine.]

The gentleman has found no case, he can find none, to support his own
opinions by New England authority. New England has studied the
Constitution in other schools and under other teachers. She looks upon
it with other regards, and deems more highly and reverently both of its
just authority and its utility and excellence. The history of her
legislative proceedings may be traced. The ephemeral effusions of
temporary bodies, called together by the excitement of the occasion, may
be hunted up; they have been hunted up. The opinions and votes of her
public men, in and out of Congress, may be explored. It will all be in
vain. The Carolina doctrine can derive from her neither countenance nor
support. She rejects it now; she always did reject it; and till she
loses her senses, she always will reject it. The honorable member has
referred to expressions on the subject of the embargo law, made in this
place, by an honorable and venerable gentleman,[32] now favoring us with
his presence. He quotes that distinguished Senator as saying that, in
his judgment, the embargo law was unconstitutional, and that therefore,
in his opinion, the people were not bound to obey it. That, Sir, is
perfectly constitutional language. An unconstitutional law is not
binding; _but then it does not rest with a resolution or a law of a
State legislature to decide whether an act of Congress be or be not
constitutional_. An unconstitutional act of Congress would not bind the
people of this District, although they have no legislature to interfere
in their behalf;[33] and, on the other hand, a constitutional law of
Congress does bind the citizens of every State, although all their
legislatures should undertake to annul it by act or resolution. The
venerable Connecticut Senator is a constitutional lawyer, of sound
principles and enlarged knowledge; a statesman practised and
experienced, bred in the company of Washington, and holding just views
upon the nature of our governments. He believed the embargo
unconstitutional, and so did others; but what then? Who did he suppose
was to decide that question? The State legislatures? Certainly not. No
such sentiment ever escaped his lips.

Let us follow up, Sir, this New England opposition to the embargo laws;
let us trace it, till we discern the principle which controlled and
governed New England throughout the whole course of that opposition. We
shall then see what similarity there is between the New England school
of constitutional opinions and this modern Carolina school. The
gentleman, I think, read a petition from some single individual
addressed to the legislature of Massachusetts, asserting the Carolina
doctrine, that is, the right of State interference to arrest the laws of
the Union. The fate of that petition shows the sentiment of the
legislature. It met no favor. The opinions of Massachusetts were very
different. They had been expressed in 1798, in answer to the resolutions
of Virginia, and she did not depart from them, nor bend them to the
times. Misgoverned, wronged, oppressed, as she felt herself to be, she
still held fast her integrity to the Union. The gentleman may find in
her proceedings much evidence of dissatisfaction with the measures of
government, and great and deep dislike to the embargo; all this makes
the case so much the stronger for her; for, notwithstanding all this
dissatisfaction and dislike, she still claimed no right to sever the
bonds of the Union. There was heat, and there was anger in her political
feeling. Be it so; but neither her heat nor her anger betrayed her into
infidelity to the government. The gentleman labors to prove that she
disliked the embargo[34] as much as South Carolina dislikes the tariff,
and expressed her dislike as strongly. Be it so; but did she propose the
Carolina remedy? did she threaten to interfere, by State authority, to
annul the laws of the Union? That is the question for the gentleman's

[Sidenote: New England attitude toward the embargo of 1807.]

[Sidenote: The government has power of deciding ultimately on the just
extent of its own authority.]

No doubt, Sir, a great majority of the people of New England
conscientiously believed the embargo law of 1807 unconstitutional; as
conscientiously, certainly, as the people of South Carolina hold that
opinion of the tariff. They reasoned thus: Congress has power to
regulate commerce; but here is a law, they said, stopping all commerce,
and stopping it indefinitely. The law is perpetual; that is, it is not
limited in point of time, and must of course continue until it shall be
repealed by some other law. It is as perpetual, therefore, as the law
against treason or murder. Now, is this regulating commerce, or
destroying it? Is it guiding, controlling, giving the rule to commerce,
as a subsisting thing, or is it putting an end to it altogether? Nothing
is more certain than that a majority in New England deemed this law a
violation of the Constitution. The very case required by the gentleman
to justify State interference had then arisen. Massachusetts believed
this law to be "a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of a
power not granted by the Constitution." Deliberate it was, for it was
long continued; palpable she thought it, as no words in the Constitution
gave the power, and only a construction, in her opinion most violent,
raised it; dangerous it was, since it threatened utter ruin to her most
important interests. Here, then, was a Carolina case. How did
Massachusetts deal with it? It was, as she thought, a plain, manifest,
palpable violation of the Constitution, and it brought ruin to her
doors. Thousands of families, and hundreds of thousands of individuals,
were beggared by it. While she saw and felt all this, she saw and felt
also, that, as a measure of national policy, it was perfectly futile;
that the country was no way benefited by that which caused so much
individual distress; that it was efficient only for the production of
evil, and all that evil inflicted on ourselves. In such a case, under
such circumstances, how did Massachusetts demean herself? Sir, she
remonstrated, she memorialized, she addressed herself to the general
government, not exactly "with the concentrated energy of passion," but
with her own strong sense, and the energy of sober conviction. But she
did not interpose the arm of her own power to arrest the law, and break
the embargo. Far from it. Her principles bound her to two things; and
she followed her principles, lead where they might. First, to submit to
every constitutional law of Congress; and secondly, if the
constitutional validity of the law be doubted, to refer that question to
the decision of the proper tribunals. The first principle is vain and
ineffectual without the second. A majority of us in New England believed
the embargo law unconstitutional; but the great question was, and always
will be in such cases, Who is to decide this? Who is to judge between
the people and the government? And, Sir, it is quite plain that the
Constitution of the United States confers on the government itself, to
be exercised by its appropriate department, and under its own
responsibility to the people, this power of deciding ultimately and
conclusively upon the just extent of its own authority. If this had not
been done, we should not have advanced a single step beyond the old

[Sidenote: The vexed question of the tariff.]

[Sidenote: The laws of the Union beyond the control of the States.]

Sir, the human mind is so constituted that the merits of both sides of a
controversy appear very clear, and very palpable, to those who
respectively espouse them; and both sides usually grow clearer as the
controversy advances. South Carolina sees unconstitutionality in the
tariff; she sees oppression there also, and she sees danger.
Pennsylvania, with a vision not less sharp, looks at the same tariff,
and sees no such thing in it; she sees it all constitutional, all
useful, all safe. The faith of South Carolina is strengthened by
opposition, and she now not only sees, but _resolves_, that the tariff
is palpably unconstitutional, oppressive, and dangerous; but
Pennsylvania, not to be behind her neighbors, and equally willing to
strengthen her own faith by a confident asseveration, _resolves_, also,
and gives to every warm affirmative of South Carolina, a plain,
downright, Pennsylvania negative. South Carolina, to show the strength
and unity of her opinion, brings her assembly to a unanimity, within
seven voices; Pennsylvania, not to be outdone in this respect any more
than in others, reduces her dissentient fraction to a single vote. Now,
Sir, again I ask the gentleman, What is to be done? Are these States
both right? Is he bound to consider them both right? If not, which is in
the wrong? or rather, which has the best right to decide? And if he, and
if I, are not to know what the Constitution means, and what it is, till
those two State legislatures, and the twenty-two others, shall agree in
its construction, what have we sworn to, when we have sworn to maintain
it? I was forcibly struck, Sir, with one reflection, as the gentleman
went on in his speech. He quoted Mr. Madison's resolutions, to prove
that a State may interfere, in a case of deliberate, palpable, and
dangerous exercise of a power not granted. The honorable member supposes
the tariff law to be such an exercise of power; and that consequently a
case has arisen in which the State may, if it see fit, interfere by its
own law. Now, it so happens, nevertheless, that Mr. Madison deems this
same tariff law quite constitutional. Instead of a clear and palpable
violation, it is, in his judgment, no violation at all. So that, while
they use his authority for a hypothetical case, they reject it in the
very case before them. All this, Sir, shows the inherent futility, I had
almost used a stronger word, of conceding this power of interference to
the State, and then attempting to secure it from abuse by imposing
qualifications of which the States themselves are to judge. One of two
things is true: either the laws of the Union are beyond the discretion
and beyond the control of the States; or else we have no constitution of
general government, and are thrust back again to the days of the

I must now beg to ask, Sir, Whence is this supposed right of the States
derived? Where do they find the power to interfere with the laws of the
Union? Sir, the opinion which the honorable gentleman maintains is a
notion founded in a total misapprehension, in my judgment, of the origin
of this government, and of the foundation on which it stands. I hold it
to be a popular government, erected by the people; those who administer
it responsible to the people; and itself capable of being amended and
modified, just as the people may choose it should be. It is as popular,
just as truly emanating from the people, as the State governments. It is
created for one purpose; the State governments for another. It has its
own powers; they have theirs. There is no more authority with them to
arrest the operation of a law of Congress, than with Congress to arrest
the operation of their laws. We are here to administer a Constitution
emanating immediately from the people, and trusted by them to our
administration. It is not the creature of the State governments. It is
of no moment to the argument, that certain acts of the State
legislatures are necessary to fill our seats in this body. That is not
one of their original State powers, a part of the sovereignty of the
State. It is a duty which the people, by the Constitution itself, have
imposed on the State legislatures; and which they might have left to be
performed elsewhere, if they had seen fit. So they have left the choice
of President with electors; but all this does not affect the proposition
that this whole government, President, Senate, and House of
Representatives, is a popular government. It leaves it still all its
popular character. The governor of a State (in some of the States) is
chosen, not directly by the people, but by those who are chosen by the
people, for the purpose of performing, among other duties, that of
electing a governor. Is the government of the State, on that account,
not a popular government? This government, Sir, is the independent
offspring of the popular will. It is not the creature of State
legislatures; nay, more, if the whole truth must be told, the people
brought it into existence, established it, and have hitherto supported
it, for the very purpose, amongst others, of imposing certain salutary
restraints on State sovereignties. The States cannot now make war; they
cannot contract alliances; they cannot make, each for itself, separate
regulations of commerce; they cannot lay imposts; they cannot coin
money. If this Constitution, Sir, be the creature of State legislatures,
it must be admitted that it has obtained a strange control over the
volitions of its creators.

[Sidenote: The people erected the government.]

[Sidenote: A constitution with enumerated powers.]

[Sidenote: The main design of the Constitution to free the government
from State agency.]

[Sidenote: The failure of the Confederation the cause of the

The people, then, Sir, erected this government. They gave it a
Constitution, and in that Constitution they have enumerated the powers
which they bestow on it. They have made it a limited government. They
have defined its authority. They have restrained it to the exercise of
such powers as are granted; and all others, they declare, are reserved
to the States or the people. But, Sir, they have not stopped here. If
they had, they would have accomplished but half their work. No
definition can be so clear as to avoid possibility of doubt; no
limitation so precise as to exclude all uncertainty. Who, then, shall
construe this grant of the people? Who shall interpret their will, where
it may be supposed they have left it doubtful? With whom do they repose
this ultimate right of deciding on the powers of the government? Sir,
they have settled all this in the fullest manner. They have left it with
the government itself, in its appropriate branches. Sir, the very chief
end, the main design, for which the whole Constitution was framed and
adopted, was to establish a government that should not be obliged to act
through State agency, or depend on State opinion and State discretion.
The people had had quite enough of that kind of government under the
Confederation. Under that system, the legal action, the application of
law to individuals, belonged exclusively to the States. Congress could
only recommend; their acts were not of binding force till the States had
adopted and sanctioned them. Are we in that condition still? Are we yet
at the mercy of State discretion and State construction? Sir, if we are,
then vain will be our attempt to maintain the Constitution under which
we sit.

But, Sir, the people have wisely provided, in the Constitution itself, a
proper, suitable mode and tribunal for settling questions of
constitutional law. There are in the Constitution grants of powers to
Congress, and restrictions on these powers. There are, also,
prohibitions on the States. Some authority must, therefore, necessarily
exist, having the ultimate jurisdiction to fix and ascertain the
interpretation of these grants, restrictions, and prohibitions. The
Constitution has itself pointed out, ordained, and established that
authority. How has it accomplished this great and essential end? By
declaring, Sir, that "_the Constitution, and the laws of the United
States, made in pursuance thereof, shall be the supreme law of the land,
any thing in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary

[Sidenote: The supremacy of the Constitution.]

[Sidenote: The final decision of the Supreme Court.]

This, Sir, was the first great step. By this the supremacy of the
Constitution and laws of the United States is declared. The people so
will it. No State law is to be valid which comes in conflict with the
Constitution, or any law of the United States passed in pursuance of it.
But who shall decide this question of interference? To whom lies the
last appeal? This, Sir, the Constitution itself decides also, by
declaring, "_that the judicial power shall extend to all cases arising
under the Constitution and laws of the United States_." These two
provisions cover the whole ground. They are, in truth, the keystone of
the arch! With these it is a government; without them it is a
confederation. In pursuance of these clear and express provisions,
Congress established, at its very first session, in the judicial act, a
mode for carrying them into full effect, and for bringing all questions
of constitutional power to the final decision of the Supreme Court. It
then, Sir, became a government. It then had the means of
self-protection; and but for this, it would, in all probability, have
been now among things which are past. Having constituted the government,
and declared its powers, the people have further said, that, since
somebody must decide on the extent of these powers, the government shall
itself decide; subject, always, like other popular governments, to its
responsibility to the people. And now, Sir, I repeat, how it is that a
State legislature acquires any power to interfere? Who, or what, gives
them the right to say to the people, "We, who are your agents and
servants for one purpose, will undertake to decide that your other
agents and servants, appointed by you for another purpose, have
transcended the authority you gave them!" The reply would be, I think,
not impertinent, "Who made you a judge over another's servants? To their
own masters they stand or fall."

[Sidenote: Revolution a law to itself.]

[Sidenote: The people have reposed power in the general government.]

Sir, I deny this power of State legislatures altogether. It cannot stand
the test of examination. Gentlemen may say that in an extreme case a
State government might protect the people from intolerable oppression.
Sir, in such a case the people might protect themselves without the aid
of the State governments. Such a case warrants revolution. It must make,
when it comes, a law for itself. A nullifying act of a State legislature
cannot alter the case, nor make resistance any more lawful. In
maintaining these sentiments, Sir, I am but asserting the rights of the
people. I state what they have declared, and insist on their right to
declare it. They have chosen to repose this power in the general
government, and I think it my duty to support it, like other
constitutional powers.

For myself, Sir, I do not admit the competency of South Carolina, or any
other State, to prescribe my constitutional duty; or to settle, between
me and the people, the validity of laws of Congress for which I have
voted. I decline her umpirage. I have not sworn to support the
Constitution according to her construction of its clauses. I have not
stipulated, by my oath of office or otherwise, to come under any
responsibility, except to the people, and those whom they have appointed
to pass upon the question, whether laws, supported by my votes, conform
to the Constitution of the country. And, Sir, if we look to the general
nature of the case, could anything have been more preposterous than to
make a government for the whole Union, and yet leave its powers subject,
not to one interpretation, but to thirteen or twenty-four
interpretations? Instead of one tribunal, established by all,
responsible to all, with power to decide for all, shall constitutional
questions be left to four-and-twenty popular bodies, each at liberty to
decide for itself, and none bound to respect the decisions of
others,--and each at liberty, too, to give a new construction on every
new election of its own members? Would anything, with such a principle
in it, or rather with such a destitution of all principle, be fit to be
called a government? No, Sir. It should not be denominated a
Constitution. It should be called, rather, a collection of topics for
everlasting controversy; heads of debate for a disputatious people. It
would not be a government. It would not be adequate to any practical
good, or fit for any country to live under.

To avoid all possibility of being misunderstood, allow me to repeat
again, in the fullest manner, that I claim no powers for the government
by forced or unfair construction. I admit that it is a government of
strictly limited powers; of enumerated, specified, and particularized
powers; and that whatsoever is not granted, is withheld. But
notwithstanding all this, and however the grant of powers may be
expressed, its limit and extent may yet, in some cases, admit of doubt;
and the general government would be good for nothing, it would be
incapable of long existing, if some mode had not been provided in which
those doubts, as they should arise, might be peaceably, but
authoritatively, solved.

And now, Mr. President, let me run the honorable gentleman's doctrine a
little into its practical application. Let us look at his probable
_modus operandi_. If a thing can be done, an ingenious man can tell how
it is to be done, and I wish to be informed how this State interference
is to be put in practice, without violence, bloodshed, and rebellion.

We will take the existing case of the tariff law. South Carolina is said
to have made up her opinion upon it. If we do not repeal it, (as we
probably shall not,) she will then apply to the case the remedy of her
doctrine. She will, we must suppose, pass a law of her legislature,
declaring the several acts of Congress usually called the tariff laws
null and void, so far as they respect South Carolina, or the citizens
thereof. So far, all is a paper transaction, and easy enough. But the
collector at Charleston is collecting the duties imposed by these tariff
laws. He, therefore, must be stopped. The collector will seize the goods
if the tariff duties are not paid. The State authorities will undertake
their rescue, the marshal, with his posse, will come to the collector's
aid, and here the contest begins. The militia of the State will be
called out to sustain the Nullifying Act. They will march, Sir, under a
very gallant leader; for I believe the honorable member himself commands
the militia of that part of the State. He will raise the Nullifying Act
on his standard, and spread it out as his banner! It will have a
preamble, setting forth that the tariff laws are palpable, deliberate,
and dangerous violations of the Constitution! He will proceed, with this
banner flying, to the custom-house in Charleston,

                                 "All the while
  Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds."

Arrived at the custom-house, he will tell the collector that he must
collect no more duties under any of the tariff laws. This he will be
somewhat puzzled to say, by the way, with a grave countenance,
considering what hand South Carolina herself had in that of 1816. But,
Sir, the collector would not probably desist, at his bidding. He would
show him the law of Congress, the treasury instruction, and his own oath
of office. He would say, he should perform his duty, come what come

Here would ensue a pause; for they say that a certain stillness precedes
the tempest. The trumpeter would hold his breath awhile, and before all
this military array should fall on the custom-house, collector, clerks,
and all, it is very probable some of those composing it would request of
their gallant commander-in-chief to be informed a little upon the point
of law; for they have, doubtless, a just respect for his opinions as a
lawyer, as well as for his bravery as a soldier. They know he has read
Blackstone[35] and the Constitution, as well as Turenne[36] and
Vauban.[37] They would ask him, therefore, something concerning their
rights in this matter. They would inquire whether it was not somewhat
dangerous to resist a law of the United States. What would be the nature
of their offence, they would wish to learn, if they, by military force
and array, resisted the execution in Carolina of a law of the United
States, and it should turn out, after all, that the law _was
constitutional?_ He would answer, of course, Treason. No lawyer could
give any other answer. John Fries,[38] he would tell them, had learned
that, some years ago. How, then, they would ask, do you propose to
defend us? We are not afraid of bullets, but treason has a way of taking
people off that we do not much relish. How do you propose to defend us?
"Look at my floating banner," he would reply; "see there the _nullifying
law_!" Is it your opinion, gallant commander, they would then say, that,
if we should be indicted for treason, that same floating banner of yours
would make a good plea in bar? "South Carolina is a sovereign State," he
would reply. That is true; but would the judge admit our plea? "These
tariff laws," he would repeat, "are unconstitutional, palpably,
deliberately, dangerously." That may all be so; but if the tribunal
should not happen to be of that opinion, shall we swing for it? We are
ready to die for our country, but it is rather an awkward business, this
dying without touching the ground! After all, that is a sort of hemp tax
worse than any part of the tariff.

Mr. President, the honorable gentleman would be in a dilemma, like that
of another great general. He would have a knot before him which he could
not untie. He must cut it with his sword. He must say to his followers,
"Defend yourselves with your bayonets;" and this is war,--civil war.

[Sidenote: Nullification leads to disunion.]

Direct collision, therefore, between force and force, is the unavoidable
result of that remedy for the revision of unconstitutional laws which
the gentleman contends for. It must happen in the very first case to
which it is applied. Is not this the plain result? To resist by force
the execution of a law, generally, is treason. Can the courts of the
United States take notice of the indulgence of a State to commit
treason? The common saying that a State cannot commit treason herself,
is nothing to the purpose. Can she authorize others to do it? If John
Fries had produced an act of Pennsylvania, annulling the law of
Congress, would it have helped his case? Talk about it as we will, these
doctrines go the length of revolution. They are incompatible with any
peaceable administration of the government. They lead directly to
disunion and civil commotion; and therefore it is, that at their
commencement, when they are first found to be maintained by respectable
men, and in a tangible form, I enter my public protest against them all.

The honorable gentleman argues, that, if this government be the sole
judge of the extent of its own powers, whether that right of judging be
in Congress or the Supreme Court, it equally subverts State sovereignty.
This the gentleman sees, or thinks he sees, although he cannot perceive
how the right of judging in this matter, if left to the exercise of
State legislatures, has any tendency to subvert the government of the
Union. The gentleman's opinion may be that the right _ought not_ to have
been lodged with the general government; he may like better such a
constitution as we should have under the right of State interference;
but I ask him to meet me on the plain matter of fact. I ask him to meet
me on the Constitution itself. I ask him if the power is not found
there, clearly and visibly found there?

[Sidenote: The Constitution alterable by the people, not by the States.]

But, Sir, what is this danger, and what are the grounds of it? Let it be
remembered that the Constitution of the United States is not
unalterable. It is to continue in its present form no longer than the
people who established it shall choose to continue it. If they shall
become convinced that they have made an injudicious or inexpedient
partition and distribution of power between the State governments and
the general government, they can alter that distribution at will.

But, Sir, although there are fears, there are hopes also. The people
have preserved this, their own chosen Constitution, for forty years, and
have seen their happiness, prosperity, and renown grow with its growth,
and strengthen with its strength. They are now, generally, strongly
attached to it. Overthrown by direct assault it cannot be; evaded,
undermined, _nullified_, it will not be, if we and those who shall
succeed us here, as agents and representatives of the people, shall
conscientiously and vigilantly discharge the two great branches of our
public trust, faithfully to preserve, and wisely to administer it.

[Sidenote: The preservation of the Union.]

Mr. President, I have thus stated the reasons of my dissent to the
doctrines which have been advanced and maintained. I am conscious of
having detained you and the Senate much too long. I was drawn into the
debate with no previous deliberation, such as is suited to the
discussion of so grave and important a subject. But it is a subject of
which my heart is full, and I have not been willing to suppress the
utterance of its spontaneous sentiments. I cannot, even now, persuade
myself to relinquish it, without expressing once more my deep
conviction, that, since it respects nothing less than the Union of the
States, it is of most vital and essential importance to the public
happiness. I profess, Sir, in my career hitherto, to have kept steadily
in view the prosperity and honor of the whole country, and the
preservation of our Federal Union. It is to that Union we owe our safety
at home, and our consideration and dignity abroad. It is to that Union
that we are chiefly indebted for whatever makes us most proud of our
country. That Union we reached only by the discipline of our virtues in
the severe school of adversity. It had its origin in the necessities of
disordered finance, prostrate commerce, and ruined credit. Under its
benign influences, these great interests immediately awoke, as from the
dead, and sprang forth with newness of life. Every year of its duration
has teemed with fresh proofs of its utility and its blessings; and
although our territory has stretched out wider and wider, and our
population spread farther and farther, they have not outrun its
protection or its benefits. It has been to us all a copious fountain of
national, social, and personal happiness.

[Sidenote: Webster's final prayer.]

I have not allowed myself, Sir, to look beyond the Union, to see what
might lie hidden in the dark recess behind. I have not coolly weighed
the chances of preserving liberty when the bonds that unite us together
shall be broken asunder. I have not accustomed myself to hang over the
precipice of disunion, to see whether, with my short sight, I can fathom
the depth of the abyss below; nor could I regard him as a safe
counsellor in the affairs of this government, whose thoughts should be
mainly bent on considering, not how the Union may be best preserved, but
how tolerable might be the condition of the people when it should be
broken up and destroyed. While the Union lasts, we have high, exciting,
gratifying prospects spread out before us, for us and our children.
Beyond that I seek not to penetrate the veil. God grant that, in my day,
at least, that curtain may not rise! God grant that on my vision never
may be opened what lies behind! When my eyes shall be turned to behold
for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the
broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on States
dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or
drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood! Let their last feeble and
lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the republic, now
known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its
arms and trophies streaming in their original lustre, not a stripe
erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured, bearing for its motto no
such miserable interrogatory as "What is all this worth?" nor those
other words of delusion and folly, "Liberty first and Union afterwards";
but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing
on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land,
and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to
every true American heart,--Liberty _and_ Union, now and forever, one
and inseparable![39]



The same party selfishness which drives good men out of office will push
bad men in. Political proscription leads necessarily to the filling of
offices with incompetent persons, and to a consequent mal-execution of
official duties. And in my opinion, Sir, this principle of claiming a
monopoly of office by the right of conquest, unless the public shall
effectually rebuke and restrain it, will entirely change the character
of our government. It elevates party above country; it forgets the
common weal in the pursuit of personal emolument; it tends to form, it
does form, we see that it has formed, a political combination, united by
no common principles or opinions among its members, either upon the
powers of the government, or the true policy of the country; but held
together simply as an association, under the charm of a popular head;
seeking to maintain possession of the government by a vigorous exercise
of its patronage; and for this purpose agitating, and alarming, and
distressing social life by the exercise of a tyrannical party
proscription. Sir, if this course of things cannot be checked, good men
will grow tired of the exercise of political privileges. They will have
nothing to do with popular elections. They will see that such elections
are but a mere selfish contest for office; and they will abandon the
government to the scramble of the bold, the daring, and the desperate.



[Sidenote: The power of the name of Washington.]

We are met to testify our regard for him whose name is intimately
blended with whatever belongs most essentially to the prosperity, the
liberty, the free institutions, and the renown of our country. That name
was of power to rally a nation, in the hour of thick-thronging public
disasters and calamities; that name shone, amid the storm of war, a
beacon light, to cheer and guide the country's friends; it flamed, too,
like a meteor, to repel her foes. That name, in the days of peace, was a
loadstone, attracting to itself a whole people's confidence, a whole
people's love, and the whole world's respect. That name, descending with
all time, spreading over the whole earth, and uttered in all the
languages belonging to the tribes and races of men, will forever be
pronounced with affectionate gratitude by every one in whose breast
there shall arise an aspiration for human rights and human liberty.

[Illustration: _George Washington._]

We perform this grateful duty, Gentlemen, at the expiration of a hundred
years from his birth, near the place, so cherished and beloved by him,
where his dust now reposes, and in the capital which bears his own
immortal name.

All experience evinces that human sentiments are strongly influenced by
associations. The recurrence of anniversaries, or of longer periods of
time, naturally freshens the recollection, and deepens the impression,
of events with which they are historically connected. Renowned places,
also, have a power to awaken feeling, which all acknowledge. No American
can pass by the fields of Bunker Hill, Monmouth, and Camden, as if they
were ordinary spots on the earth's surface. Whoever visits them feels
the sentiment of love of country kindling anew, as if the spirit that
belonged to the transactions which have rendered these places
distinguished still hovered round, with power to move and excite all who
in future time may approach them.

[Sidenote: Washington's great moral example to the youth of America.]

But neither of these sources of emotion equals the power with which
great moral examples affect the mind. When sublime virtues cease to be
abstractions, when they become embodied in human character, and
exemplified in human conduct, we should be false to our own nature if we
did not indulge in the spontaneous effusions of our gratitude and our
admiration. A true lover of the virtue of patriotism delights to
contemplate its purest models; and that love of country may be well
suspected which affects to soar so high into the regions of sentiment as
to be lost and absorbed in the abstract feeling, and becomes too
elevated or too refined to glow with fervor in the commendation or the
love of individual benefactors. All this is unnatural. It is as if one
should be so enthusiastic a lover of poetry as to care nothing for Homer
or Milton; so passionately attached to eloquence as to be indifferent to
Tully[40] and Chatham; or such a devotee to the arts, in such an ecstasy
with the elements of beauty, proportion, and expression, as to regard
the masterpieces of Raphael and Michael Angelo with coldness or
contempt. We may be assured, Gentlemen, that he who really loves the
thing itself; loves its finest exhibitions. A true friend of his country
loves her friends and benefactors, and thinks it no degradation to
commend and commemorate them. The voluntary outpouring of the public
feeling, made to-day, from the north to the south, and from the east to
the west, proves this sentiment to be both just and natural. In the
cities and in the villages, in the public temples and in the family
circles, among all ages and sexes, gladdened voices to-day bespeak
grateful hearts and a freshened recollection of the virtues of the
Father of his Country. And it will be so, in all time to come, so long
as public virtue is itself an object of regard. The ingenuous youth of
America will hold up to themselves the bright model of Washington's
example, and study to be what they behold; they will contemplate his
character till all its virtues spread out and display themselves to
their delighted vision; as the earliest astronomers, the shepherds on
the plains of Babylon, gazed at the stars till they saw them form into
clusters and constellations, overpowering at length the eyes of the
beholders with the united blaze of a thousand lights.

[Sidenote: A wonderful age and country.]

Gentlemen, we are at a point of a century from the birth of Washington;
and what a century it has been! During its course, the human mind has
seemed to proceed with a sort of geometric velocity, accomplishing for
human intelligence and human freedom more than had been done in fives or
tens of centuries preceding. Washington stands at the commencement of a
new era, as well as at the head of the New World. A century from the
birth of Washington has changed the world. The country of Washington has
been the theatre on which a great part of that change has been wrought,
and Washington himself a principal agent by which it has been
accomplished. His age and his country are equally full of wonders; and
of both he is the chief.

If the poetical prediction, uttered a few years before his birth, be
true; if indeed it be designed by Providence that the grandest
exhibition of human character and human affairs shall be made on this
theatre of the Western world; if it be true that,

  "The four first acts already past,
  A fifth shall close the drama with the day;
  Time's noblest offspring is the last";[41]

how could this imposing, swelling, final scene be appropriately opened,
how could its intense interest be adequately sustained, but by the
introduction of just such a character as our Washington?


[Sidenote: The spirit of human freedom.]

Washington had attained his manhood when that spark of liberty was
struck out in his own country which has since kindled into a flame and
shot its beams over the earth. In the flow of a century from his birth,
the world has changed in science, in arts, in the extent of commerce,
in the improvement of navigation, and in all that relates to the
civilization of man. But it is the spirit of human freedom, the new
elevation of individual man, in his moral, social, and political
character, leading the whole long train of other improvements, which has
most remarkably distinguished the era. Society, in this century, has not
made its progress, like Chinese skill, by a greater acuteness of
ingenuity in trifles; it has not merely lashed itself to an increased
speed round the old circles of thought and action; but it has assumed a
new character; it has raised itself from _beneath_ governments to a
participation _in_ governments; it has mixed moral and political objects
with the daily pursuits of individual men; and, with a freedom and
strength before altogether unknown, it has applied to these objects the
whole power of the human understanding. It has been the era, in short,
when the social principle has triumphed over the feudal principle; when
society has maintained its rights against military power, and
established, on foundations never hereafter to be shaken, its competency
to govern itself.

[Sidenote: A new governmental experiment.]

It was the extraordinary fortune of Washington, that, having been
intrusted, in revolutionary times, with the supreme military command,
and having fulfilled that trust with equal renown for wisdom and for
valor, he should be placed at the head of the first government in which
an attempt was to be made on a large scale to rear the fabric of social
order on the basis of a written constitution and of a pure
representative principle. A government was to be established, without a
throne, without an aristocracy, without castes, orders, or privileges;
and this government, instead of being a democracy existing and acting
within the walls of a single city, was to be extended over a vast
country of different climates, interests, and habits, and of various
communions of our common Christian faith. The experiment certainly was
entirely new. A popular government of this extent, it was evident, could
be framed only by carrying into full effect the principle of
representation or of delegated power; and the world was to see whether
society could, by the strength of this principle, maintain its own peace
and good government, carry forward its own great interests, and conduct
itself to political renown and glory. By the benignity of Providence,
this experiment, so full of interest to us and to our posterity forever,
so full of interest, indeed, to the world in its present generation and
in all its generations to come, was suffered to commence under the
guidance of Washington. Destined for this high career, he was fitted for
it by wisdom, by virtue, by patriotism, by discretion, by whatever can
inspire confidence in man toward man. In entering on the untried scenes,
early disappointment and the premature extinction of all hope of success
would have been certain, had it not been that there did exist throughout
the country, in a most extraordinary degree, an unwavering trust in him
who stood at the helm.

[Sidenote: The world interested in the experiment.]

I remarked, Gentlemen, that the whole world was and is interested in the
result of this experiment. And is it not so? Do we deceive ourselves, or
is it true that at this moment the career which this government is
running is among the most attractive objects to the civilized world? Do
we deceive ourselves, or is it true that at this moment that love of
liberty and that understanding of its true principles which are flying
over the whole earth, as on the wings of all the winds, are really and
truly of American origin?

[Sidenote: Importance of the English Revolution of 1688.]

At the period of the birth of Washington there existed in Europe no
political liberty in large communities, except in the provinces of
Holland, and except that England herself had set a great example, so far
as it went, by her glorious Revolution of 1688. Everywhere else,
despotic power was predominant, and the feudal or military principle
held the mass of mankind in hopeless bondage. One-half of Europe was
crushed beneath the Bourbon sceptre, and no conception of political
liberty, no hope even of religious toleration, existed among that nation
which was America's first ally. The king was the state, the king was the
country, the king was all. There was one king, with power not derived
from his people, and too high to be questioned; and the rest were all
subjects, with no political right but obedience. All above was
intangible power, all below quiet subjection. A recent occurrence in the
French chamber shows us how public opinion on these subjects is changed.
A minister had spoken of the "king's subjects." "There are no subjects,"
exclaimed hundreds of voices at once, "in a country where the people
make the king!"

Gentlemen, the spirit of human liberty and of free government, nurtured
and grown into strength and beauty in America, has stretched its course
into the midst of the nations. Like an emanation from Heaven, it has
gone forth, and it will not return void. It must change, it is fast
changing, the face of the earth. Our great, our high duty is to show, in
our own example, that this spirit is a spirit of health as well as a
spirit of power; that its benignity is as great as its strength; that
its efficiency to secure individual rights, social relations, and moral
order, is equal to the irresistible force with which it prostrates
principalities and powers. The world, at this moment, is regarding us
with a willing, but something of a fearful admiration. Its deep and
awful anxiety is to learn whether free States may be stable, as well as
free; whether popular power may be trusted, as well as feared; in short,
whether wise, regular, and virtuous self-government is a vision for the
contemplation of theorists, or a truth established, illustrated, and
brought into practice in the country of Washington.

[Sidenote: The United States a Western Sun.]

Gentlemen, for the earth which we inhabit, and the whole circle of the
sun, for all the unborn races of mankind, we seem to hold in our hands,
for their weal or woe, the fate of this experiment. If we fail, who
shall venture the repetition? If our example shall prove to be one not
of encouragement, but of terror, not fit to be imitated, but fit only to
be shunned, where else shall the world look for free models? If this
great _Western Sun_ be struck out of the firmament, at what other
fountain shall the lamp of liberty hereafter be lighted? What other orb
shall emit a ray to glimmer, even, on the darkness of the world?

There is no danger of our overrating or overstating the important part
which we are now acting in human affairs. It should not flatter our
personal self-respect, but it should reanimate our patriotic virtues,
and inspire us with a deeper and more solemn sense both of our
privileges and of our duties. We cannot wish better for our country, nor
for the world, than that the same spirit which influenced Washington may
influence all who succeed him; and that the same blessing from above,
which attended his efforts, may also attend theirs.

[Sidenote: Washington's Farewell Address.]

The principles of Washington's administration are not left doubtful.
They are to be found in the Constitution itself, in the great measures
recommended and approved by him, in his speeches to Congress, and in
that most interesting paper, his Farewell Address to the people of the
United States. The success of the government under his administration is
the highest proof of the soundness of these principles. And, after an
experience of thirty-five years, what is there which an enemy could
condemn? What is there which either his friends, or the friends of the
country, could wish to have been otherwise? I speak, of course, of great
measures and leading principles.

In the first place, all his measures were right in their intent. He
stated the whole basis of his own great character, when he told the
country, in the homely phrase of the proverb, that honesty is the best
policy. One of the most striking things ever said of him is, that "_he
changed mankind's ideas of political greatness_."[42] To commanding
talents, and to success, the common elements of such greatness, he added
a disregard of self, a spotlessness of motive, a steady submission to
every public and private duty, which threw far into the shade the whole
crowd of vulgar great. The object of his regard was the whole country.
No part of it was enough to fill his enlarged patriotism. His love of
glory, so far as that may be supposed to have influenced him at all,
spurned everything short of general approbation. It would have been
nothing to him that his partisans or his favorites outnumbered, or
outvoted, or outmanaged, or outclamored, those of other leaders. He had
no favorites; he rejected all partisanship; and, acting honestly for the
universal good, he deserved, what he has so richly enjoyed, the
universal love.

His principle it was to act right, and to trust the people for support;
his principle it was not to follow the lead of sinister and selfish
ends, nor to rely on the little arts of party delusion to obtain public
sanction for such a course. Born for his country and for the world, he
did not give up to party what was meant for mankind. The consequence is,
that his fame is as durable as his principles, as lasting as truth and
virtue themselves. While the hundreds whom party excitement, and
temporary circumstances, and casual combinations, have raised into
transient notoriety, sink again, like thin bubbles, bursting and
dissolving into the great ocean, Washington's fame is like the rock
which bounds that ocean, and at whose feet its billows are destined to
break harmlessly forever.

[Sidenote: His conduct of America's foreign relations.]

The maxims upon which Washington conducted our foreign relations were
few and simple. The first was an entire and indisputable impartiality
towards foreign States.[43] He adhered to this rule of public conduct,
against very strong inducements to depart from it, and when the
popularity of the moment seemed to favor such a departure. In the next
place, he maintained true dignity and unsullied honor in all
communications with foreign States. It was among the high duties
devolved upon him to introduce our new government into the circle of
civilized States and powerful nations. Not arrogant or assuming, with no
unbecoming or supercilious bearing, he yet exacted for it from all
others entire and punctilious respect. He demanded, and he obtained at
once, a standing of perfect equality for his country in the society of
nations; nor was there a prince or potentate of his day, whose personal
character carried with it, into the intercourse of other States, a
greater degree of respect and veneration.

He regarded other nations only as they stood in political relations to
us. With their internal affairs, their political parties and
dissensions, he scrupulously abstained from all interference; and, on
the other hand, he repelled with spirit all such interference by others
with us or our concerns. His sternest rebuke, the most indignant measure
of his whole administration, was aimed against such an attempted
interference. He felt it as an attempt to wound the national honor, and
resented it accordingly.

[Sidenote: Foreign influence a foe of republican government.]

The reiterated admonitions in his Farewell Address show his deep fears
that foreign influence would insinuate itself into our counsels through
the channels of domestic dissension, and obtain a sympathy with our own
temporary parties. Against all such dangers he most earnestly entreats
the country to guard itself. He appeals to its patriotism, to its
self-respect, to its own honor, to every consideration connected with
its welfare and happiness, to resist, at the very beginning, all
tendencies towards such connection of foreign interests with our own
affairs. With a tone of earnestness nowhere else found, even in his last
affectionate farewell advice to his countrymen, he says, "Against the
insidious wiles of foreign influence, (I conjure you to believe me,
fellow-citizens,) the jealousy of a free people ought to be _constantly_
awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one
of the most baneful foes of republican government."

[Sidenote: The advantages of American isolation.]

Lastly, on the subject of foreign relations, Washington never forgot
that we had interests peculiar to ourselves. The primary political
concerns of Europe, he saw, did not affect us. We had nothing to do with
her balance of power, her family compacts, or her successions to
thrones. We were placed in a condition favorable to neutrality during
European wars, and to the enjoyment of all the great advantages of that
relation. "Why, then," he asks us, "why forego the advantages of so
peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground?
Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe,
entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition,
rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?"

Indeed, Gentlemen, Washington's Farewell Address is full of truths
important at all times, and particularly deserving consideration at the
present. With a sagacity which brought the future before him, and made
it like the present, he saw and pointed out the dangers that even at
this moment most imminently threaten us. I hardly know how a greater
service of that kind could now be done to the community, than by a
renewed and wide diffusion of that admirable paper, and an earnest
invitation to every man in the country to reperuse and consider it. Its
political maxims are invaluable; its exhortations to love of country and
to brotherly affection among citizens, touching; and the solemnity with
which it urges the observance of moral duties, and impresses the power
of religious obligation, gives to it the highest character of truly
disinterested, sincere, parental advice.

[Sidenote: Washington's domestic policy.]

The domestic policy of Washington found its pole-star in the avowed
objects of the Constitution itself. He sought so to administer that
Constitution as to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure
domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the
general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty. These were objects
interesting, in the highest degree, to the whole country, and his policy
embraced the whole country.

Among his earliest and most important duties was the organization of the
government itself, the choice of his confidential advisers, and the
various appointments to office. This duty, so important and delicate,
when a whole government was to be organized, and all its offices for the
first time filled, was yet not difficult to him, for he had no sinister
ends to accomplish, no clamorous partisans to gratify, no pledges to
redeem, no object to be regarded but simply the public good. It was a
plain, straightforward matter, a mere honest choice of good men for the
public service.

[Sidenote: His first cabinet.]

His own singleness of purpose, his disinterested patriotism, were
evinced by the selection of his first cabinet, and by the manner in
which he filled the seats of justice, and other places of high trust. He
sought for men fit for offices; not for offices which might suit men.
Above personal considerations, above local considerations, above party
considerations, he felt that he could only discharge the sacred trust
which the country had placed in his hands, by a diligent inquiry after
real merit, and a conscientious preference of virtue and talent. The
whole country was the field of his selection. He explored that whole
field, looking only for whatever it contained most worthy and
distinguished. He was, indeed, most successful, and he deserved success
for the purity of his motives, the liberality of his sentiments, and his
enlarged and manly policy.

[Sidenote: Important measures of his administration.]

Washington's administration established the national credit, made
provision for the public debt, and for that patriotic army whose
interests and welfare were always so dear to him; and, by laws wisely
framed, and of admirable effect, raised the commerce and navigation of
the country, almost at once, from depression and ruin to a state of
prosperity. Nor were his eyes open to these interests alone. He viewed
with equal concern its agriculture and manufactures, and, so far as they
came within the regular exercise of the powers of this government, they
experienced regard and favor.

It should not be omitted, even in this slight reference to the general
measures and general principles of the first President, that he saw and
felt the full value and importance of the judicial department of the
government. An upright and able administration of the laws he held to be
alike indispensable to private happiness and public liberty. The temple
of justice, in his opinion, was a sacred place, and he would profane and
pollute it who should call any to minister in it, not spotless in
character, not incorruptible in integrity, not competent by talent and
learning, not a fit object of unhesitating trust.

[Sidenote: His opinion of the dangers of party spirit.]

Among other admonitions, Washington has left us, in his last
communication to his country, an exhortation against the excesses of
party spirit. A fire not to be quenched, he yet conjures us not to fan
and feed the flame. Undoubtedly, Gentlemen, it is the greatest danger of
our system and of our time. Undoubtedly, if that system should be
overthrown, it will be the work of excessive party spirit, acting on the
government, which is dangerous enough, or acting in the government,
which is a thousand times more dangerous; for government then becomes
nothing but organized party, and, in the strange vicissitudes of human
affairs, it may come at last, perhaps, to exhibit the singular paradox
of government itself being in opposition to its own powers, at war with
the very elements of its own existence. Such cases are hopeless. As men
may be protected against murder, but cannot be guarded against suicide,
so government may be shielded from the assaults of external foes, but
nothing can save it when it chooses to lay violent hands on itself.

[Sidenote: His love of the Union.]

Finally, Gentlemen, there was in the breast of Washington one sentiment
so deeply felt, so constantly uppermost, that no proper occasion escaped
without its utterance. From the letter which he signed in behalf of the
Convention when the Constitution was sent out to the people, to the
moment when he put his hand to that last paper in which he addressed his
countrymen, the Union,--the Union was the great object of his thoughts.
In that first letter he tells them that to him and his brethren of the
Convention, union appears to be the greatest interest of every true
American; and in that last paper he conjures them to regard that unity
of government which constitutes them one people as the very palladium of
their prosperity and safety, and the security of liberty itself. He
regarded the union of these States less as one of our blessings, than as
the great treasure-house which contained them all. Here, in his
judgment, was the great magazine of all our means of prosperity; here,
as he thought, and as every true American still thinks, are deposited
all our animating prospects, all our solid hopes for future greatness.
He has taught us to maintain this union, not by seeking to enlarge the
powers of the government, on the one hand, nor by surrendering them, on
the other; but by an administration of them at once firm and moderate,
pursuing objects truly national, and carried on in a spirit of justice
and equity.

[Sidenote: The American nation unique.]

The extreme solicitude for the preservation of the Union, at all times
manifested by him, shows not only the opinion he entertained of its
importance, but his clear perception of those causes which were likely
to spring up to endanger it, and which, if once they should overthrow
the present system, would leave little hope of any future beneficial
reunion. Of all the presumptions indulged by presumptuous man, that is
one of the rashest which looks for repeated and favorable opportunities
for the deliberate establishment of a united government over distinct
and widely extended communities. Such a thing has happened once in human
affairs, and but once; the event stands out as a prominent exception to
all ordinary history; and unless we suppose ourselves running into an
age of miracles, we may not expect its repetition.

Washington, therefore, could regard, and did regard, nothing as of
paramount political interest but the integrity of the Union itself. With
a united government, well administered, he saw that we had nothing to
fear; and without it, nothing to hope. The sentiment is just, and its
momentous truth should solemnly impress the whole country. If we might
regard our country as personated in the spirit of Washington, if we
might consider him as representing her, in her past renown, her present
prosperity, and her future career, and as in that character demanding of
us all to account for our conduct, as political men or as private
citizens, how should he answer him who has ventured to talk of disunion
and dismemberment? Or how should he answer him who dwells perpetually on
local interests, and fans every kindling flame of local prejudice? How
should he answer him who would array State against State, interest
against interest, and party against party, careless of the continuance
of that unity of government which constitutes us one people?

The political prosperity which this country has attained, and which it
now enjoys, has been acquired mainly through the instrumentality of the
present government. While this agent continues, the capacity of
attaining to still higher degrees of prosperity exists also. We have,
while this lasts, a political life capable of beneficial exertion, with
power to resist or overcome misfortunes, to sustain us against the
ordinary accidents of human affairs, and to promote, by active efforts,
every public interest. But dismemberment strikes at the very being which
preserves these faculties. It would lay its rude and ruthless hand on
this great agent itself. It would sweep away, not only what we possess,
but all power of regaining lost, or acquiring new possessions. It would
leave the country not only bereft of its prosperity and happiness, but
without limbs, or organs, or faculties, by which to exert itself
hereafter in the pursuit of that prosperity and happiness.

[Sidenote: Dismemberment of the United States the greatest of evils.]

Other misfortunes may be borne, or their effects overcome. If disastrous
war should sweep our commerce from the ocean, another generation may
renew it; if it exhaust our treasury, future industry may replenish it;
if it desolate and lay waste our fields, still, under a new cultivation,
they will grow green again, and ripen to future harvests. It were but a
trifle even if the walls of yonder Capitol were to crumble, if its lofty
pillars should fall, and its gorgeous decorations be all covered by the
dust of the valley. All these might be rebuilt. But who shall
reconstruct the fabric of demolished government? Who shall rear again
the well-proportioned columns of constitutional liberty? Who shall frame
together the skilful architecture which unites national sovereignty with
State rights, individual security, and public prosperity? No, if these
columns fall, they will be raised not again. Like the Coliseum and the
Parthenon, they will be destined to a mournful, a melancholy
immortality. Bitterer tears, however, will flow over them than were ever
shed over the monuments of Roman or Grecian art; for they will be the
remnants of a more glorious edifice than Greece or Rome ever saw, the
edifice of constitutional American liberty.

But let us hope for better things. Let us trust in that gracious Being
who has hitherto held our country as in the hollow of his hand. Let us
trust to the virtue and the intelligence of the people, and to the
efficacy of religious obligation. Let us trust to the influence of
Washington's example. Let us hope that that fear of Heaven which expels
all other fear, and that regard to duty which transcends all other
regard, may influence public men and private citizens, and lead our
country still onward in her happy career. Full of these gratifying
anticipations and hopes, let us look forward to the end of that century
which is now commenced. A hundred years hence, other disciples of
Washington will celebrate his birth, with no less of sincere admiration
than we now commemorate it. When they shall meet, as we now meet, to do
themselves and him that honor, so surely as they shall see the blue
summits of his native mountains rise in the horizon, so surely as they
shall behold the river on whose banks he lived, and on whose banks he
rests, still flowing on toward the sea, so surely may they see, as we
now see, the flag of the Union floating on the top of the Capitol; and
then, as now, may the sun in his course visit no land more free, more
happy, more lovely, than this our own country!



[Sidenote: For the preservation of the Union.]

Mr. President,--I wish to speak to-day, not as a Massachusetts man, nor
as a Northern man, but as an American, and a member of the Senate of the
United States. It is fortunate that there is a Senate of the United
States; a body not yet moved from its propriety, not lost to a just
sense of its own dignity and its own high responsibilities, and a body
to which the country looks, with confidence, for wise, moderate,
patriotic, and healing counsels. It is not to be denied that we live in
the midst of strong agitations, and are surrounded by very considerable
dangers to our institutions and government. The imprisoned winds are let
loose. The East, the North, and the stormy South combine to throw the
whole sea into commotion, to toss its billows to the skies, and disclose
its profoundest depths. I do not affect to regard myself, Mr. President,
as holding, or as fit to hold, the helm in this combat with the
political elements; but I have a duty to perform, and I mean to perform
it with fidelity, not without a sense of existing dangers, but not
without hope. I have a part to act, not for my own security or safety,
for I am looking out for no fragment upon which to float away from the
wreck, if wreck there must be, but for the good of the whole, and the
preservation of all; and there is that which will keep me to my duty
during this struggle, whether the sun and the stars shall appear, or
shall not appear, for many days. I speak to-day for the preservation of
the Union. "Hear me for my cause." I speak to-day, out of a solicitous
and anxious heart, for the restoration to the country of that quiet and
that harmony which make the blessings of this Union so rich, and so dear
to us all. These are the topics that I propose to myself to discuss;
these are the motives, and the sole motives, that influence me in the
wish to communicate my opinions to the Senate and the country; and if I
can do anything, however little, for the promotion of these ends, I
shall have accomplished all that I expect.

[Illustration: _Henry Clay._]

[Sidenote: Peaceable secession impossible.]

Mr. President, I should much prefer to have heard from every member on
this floor declarations of opinion that this Union could never be
dissolved, than the declaration of opinion by anybody that, in any case,
under the pressure of any circumstances, such a dissolution was
possible. I hear with distress and anguish the word "secession,"
especially when it falls from the lips of those who are patriotic, and
known to the country, and known all over the world, for their political
services. Secession! Peaceable secession! Sir, your eyes and mine are
never destined to see that miracle. The dismemberment of this vast
country without convulsion! The breaking up of the fountains of the
great deep without ruffling the surface! Who is so foolish--I beg
everybody's pardon--as to expect to see any such thing? Sir, he who sees
these States now revolving in harmony around a common centre, and
expects to see them quit their places and fly off without convulsion,
may look the next hour to see the heavenly bodies rush from their
spheres, and jostle against each other in the realms of space, without
causing the wreck of the universe. There can be no such thing as a
peaceable secession. Peaceable secession is an utter impossibility. Is
the great Constitution under which we live, covering this whole
country,--is it to be thawed and melted away by secession, as the snows
on the mountain melt under the influence of a vernal sun, disappear
almost unobserved, and run off? No, Sir! No, Sir! I will not state what
might produce the disruption of the Union; but, Sir, I see as plainly as
I see the sun in heaven what that disruption itself must produce; I see
that it must produce war, and such a war as I will not describe, in its
twofold character.

Peaceable secession! Peaceable secession! The concurrent agreement of
all the members of this great republic to separate? A voluntary
separation, with alimony on one side and on the other! Why, what would
be the result? Where is the line to be drawn? What States are to secede?
What is to remain American? What am I to be? An American no longer? Am I
to become a sectional man, a local man, a separatist, with no country
in common with the gentlemen who sit around me here, or who fill the
other house of Congress? Heaven forbid! Where is the flag of the
republic to remain? Where is the eagle still to tower? or is he to
cower, and shrink, and fall to the ground? Why, Sir, our ancestors, our
fathers and our grandfathers, those of them that are yet living amongst
us with prolonged lives, would rebuke and reproach us; and our children
and our grandchildren would cry out shame upon us, if we of this
generation should dishonor these ensigns of the power of the government
and the harmony of that Union which is every day felt among us with so
much joy and gratitude. What is to become of the army? What is to become
of the navy? What is to become of the public lands? How is each of the
thirty States to defend itself?

[Sidenote: The idea of a Southern Confederacy.]

I know, although the idea has not been stated distinctly, there is to
be, or it is supposed possible that there will be, a Southern
Confederacy. I do not mean, when I allude to this statement, that any
one seriously contemplates such a state of things. I do not mean to say
that it is true, but I have heard it suggested elsewhere that the idea
has been entertained, that, after the dissolution of this Union, a
Southern Confederacy might be formed. I am sorry, Sir, that it has ever
been thought of, talked of, or dreamed of, in the wildest flights of
human imagination. But the idea, so far as it exists, must be of a
separation assigning the slave States to one side and the free States to
the other. Sir, I may express myself too strongly, perhaps, but there
are impossibilities in the natural as well as in the physical world, and
I hold the idea of a separation of these States, those that are free to
form one government, and those that are slave-holding to form another,
as such an impossibility. We could not separate the States by any such
line, if we were to draw it. We could not sit down here to-day and draw
a line of separation that would satisfy any five men in the country.
There are natural causes that would keep and tie us together, and there
are social and domestic relations which we could not break if we would,
and which we should not if we could.

[Sidenote: Liberty and Union.]

Instead of speaking of the possibility or utility of secession, instead
of dwelling in those caverns of darkness, instead of groping with those
ideas so full of all that is horrid and horrible, let us come out into
the light of day; let us enjoy the fresh air of Liberty and Union; let
us cherish those hopes which belong to us; let us devote ourselves to
those great objects that are fit for our consideration and our action;
let us raise our conceptions to the magnitude and the importance of the
duties that devolve upon us; let our comprehension be as broad as the
country for which we act, our aspirations as high as its certain
destiny; let us not be pygmies in a case that calls for men. Never did
there devolve on any generation of men higher trusts than now devolve
upon us, for the preservation of this Constitution and the harmony and
peace of all who are destined to live under it. Let us make our
generation one of the strongest and brightest links in that golden chain
which is destined, I fondly believe, to grapple the people of all the
States to this Constitution for ages to come. We have a great popular,
constitutional government, guarded by law and by judicature, and
defended by the affections of the whole people. No monarchical throne
presses these States together, no iron chain of military power encircles
them; they live and stand under a government popular in its form,
representative in its character, founded upon principles of equality,
and so constructed, we hope, as to last forever. In all its history it
has been beneficent; it has trodden down no man's liberty; it has
crushed no State. Its daily respiration is liberty and patriotism; its
yet youthful veins are full of enterprise, courage, and honorable love
of glory and renown. Large before, the country has now, by recent
events, become vastly larger. This republic now extends, with a vast
breadth, across the whole continent. The two great seas of the world
wash the one and the other shore. We realize, on a mighty scale, the
beautiful description of the ornamental border of the buckler of

  "Now, the broad shield complete, the artist crowned
  With his last hand, and poured the ocean round;
  In living silver seemed the waves to roll,
  And beat the buckler's verge, and bound the whole."[45]



Fellow-Citizens,--I greet you well; I give you joy on the return of this
anniversary; and I felicitate you, also, on the more particular purpose
of which this ever-memorable day has been chosen to witness the
fulfilment. Hail! all hail! I see before and around me a mass of faces
glowing with cheerfulness and patriotic pride. I see thousands of eyes
turned towards other eyes, all sparkling with gratification and delight.
This is the New World! This is America! This is Washington! and this the
Capitol of the United States! And where else, among the nations, can
the seat of government be surrounded, on any day of any year, by those
who have more reason to rejoice in the blessings which they possess?
Nowhere, fellow-citizens! assuredly, nowhere! Let us, then, meet this
rising sun with joy and thanksgiving!

[Illustration: _The Capitol at Washington._]

This is that day of the year which announced to mankind the great fact
of American Independence. This fresh and brilliant morning blesses our
vision with another beholding of the birthday of our nation; and we see
that nation, of recent origin, now among the most considerable and
powerful, and spreading over the continent from sea to sea.

Among the first colonists from Europe to this part of America there were
some, doubtless, who contemplated the distant consequences of their
undertaking, and who saw a great futurity. But, in general, their hopes
were limited to the enjoyment of a safe asylum from tyranny, religious
and civil, and to respectable subsistence by industry and toil. A thick
veil hid our times from their view. But the progress of America, however
slow, could not but at length awaken genius, and attract the attention
of mankind.

[Sidenote: Bishop Berkeley's prophecy.]

In the early part of the second century of our history, Bishop Berkeley,
who, it will be remembered, had resided for some time in Newport, in
Rhode Island, wrote his well-known "Verses on the Prospect of Planting
Arts and Learning in America." The last stanza of this little poem seems
to have been produced by a high poetical inspiration:--

  "Westward the course of empire takes its way;
    The four first acts already past,
  A fifth shall close the drama with the day:
    Time's noblest offspring is the last."

This extraordinary prophecy may be considered only as the result of long
foresight and uncommon sagacity; of a foresight and sagacity stimulated,
nevertheless, by excited feeling and high enthusiasm. So clear a vision
of what America would become was not founded on square miles, or on
existing numbers, or on any common laws of statistics. It was an
intuitive glance into futurity; it was a grand conception, strong,
ardent, glowing, embracing all time since the creation of the world, and
all regions of which that world is composed, and judging of the future
by just analogy with the past. And the inimitable imagery and beauty
with which the thought is expressed, joined to the conception itself,
render it one of the most striking passages in our language.

[Sidenote: Independence Day.]

On the day of the Declaration of Independence our illustrious fathers
performed the first scene in the last great act of this drama; one in
real importance infinitely exceeding that for which the great English
poet invokes

        "--a muse of fire,...
  A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,
  And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!"[46]

The Muse inspiring our fathers was the Genius of Liberty, all on fire
with a sense of oppression, and a resolution to throw it off; the whole
world was the stage, and higher characters than princes trod it; and,
instead of monarchs, countries and nations and the age beheld the
swelling scene. How well the characters were cast, and how well each
acted his part, and what emotions the whole performance excited, let
history, now and hereafter, tell.

On the 4th of July, 1776, the Representatives of the United States of
America, in Congress assembled, declared that these United Colonies are,
and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES.

This Declaration, made by most patriotic and resolute men, trusting in
the justice of their cause and the protection of Heaven, and yet made
not without deep solicitude and anxiety, has now stood for seventy-five
years, and still stands. It was sealed in blood. It has met dangers, and
overcome them; it has had enemies, and conquered them; it has had
detractors, and abashed them all; it has had doubting friends, but it
has cleared all doubts away; and now, to-day, raising its august form
higher than the clouds, twenty millions of people contemplate it with
hallowed love, and the world beholds it, and the consequences which have
followed from it, with profound admiration.

[Sidenote: Liberty the inheritance of every American.]

This anniversary animates and gladdens and unites all American hearts.
On other days of the year we may be party men, indulging in
controversies more or less important to the public good; we may have
likes and dislikes, and we may maintain our political differences, often
with warm, and sometimes with angry, feelings. But to-day we are
Americans all; and all nothing but Americans. As the great luminary over
our heads, dissipating mists and fogs, now cheers the whole hemisphere,
so do the associations connected with this day disperse all cloudy and
sullen weather in the minds and hearts of true Americans. Every man's
heart swells within him; every man's port and bearing become somewhat
more proud and lofty, as he remembers that seventy-five years have
rolled away, and that the great inheritance of liberty is still his:
his, undiminished and unimpaired; his in all its original glory; his to
enjoy, his to protect, and his to transmit to future generations.

Fellow-citizens, this inheritance which we enjoy to-day is not only an
inheritance of liberty, but of our own peculiar American liberty.
Liberty has existed in other times, in other countries, and in other
forms. There has been a Grecian liberty, bold and powerful, full of
spirit, eloquence, and fire; a liberty which produced multitudes of
great men, and has transmitted one immortal name, the name of
Demosthenes, to posterity. But still it was a liberty of disconnected
States, sometimes united, indeed, by temporary leagues and
confederacies, but often involved in wars between themselves. The sword
of Sparta turned its sharpest edge against Athens, enslaved her, and
devastated Greece; and, in her turn, Sparta was compelled to bend before
the power of Thebes. And let it ever be remembered, especially let the
truth sink deep into all American minds, that it was the _want of union_
among her several States which finally gave the mastery of all Greece to
Philip of Macedon.

[Sidenote: The Corner-stone of the original Capitol laid by Washington.]

Fellow-citizens, fifty-eight years ago Washington stood on this spot to
execute a duty like that which has now been performed. He then laid the
corner-stone of the original Capitol. He was at the head of the
government, at that time weak in resources, burdened with debt, just
struggling into political existence and respectability, and agitated by
the heaving waves which were overturning European thrones. But even
then, in many important respects, the government was strong. It was
strong in Washington's own great character; it was strong in the wisdom
and patriotism of other eminent public men, his political associates
and fellow-laborers; and it was strong in the affections of the people.

Since that time astonishing changes have been wrought in the condition
and prospects of the American people; and a degree of progress witnessed
with which the world can furnish no parallel. As we review the course of
that progress, wonder and amazement arrest our attention at every step.
The present occasion, although allowing of no lengthened remarks, may
yet, perhaps, admit of a short comparative statement of important
subjects of national interest as they existed at that day, and as they
now exist. I have adopted for this purpose the tabular form of
statement, as being the most brief and significant.[47]


                              Year 1793.    Year 1851.       Year 1900.

  Number of States                    15            31               45
  Representatives and
    Senators in Congress             135           295              476
  Population of the United
    States                     3,929,328    23,267,498       76,303,387[48]
  Population of Boston            18,038       136,871          560,892
  Population of Baltimore         13,503       169,054          508,957
  Population of Philadelphia      42,520       409,045        1,293,697
  Population of New York (city)   33,121       515,507        3,437,202
  Population of Washington         ...          40,075          278,718
  Population of Richmond           4,000        27,582           85,050
  Population of Charleston        16,359        42,983           55,807
  Amount of receipts into
    the Treasury              $5,720,624   $52,312,980     $669,595,431
  Amount of expenditures      $7,529,575   $48,005,879     $590,068,371
  Amount of imports          $31,000,000  $215,725,995     $849,941,184
  Amount of exports          $26,109,000  $217,517,130   $1,370,763,571
  Amount of tonnage (tons)       520,764     3,772,440        5,164,839
  Area of the United States
    in square miles              805,461     3,314,365        3,616,484[49]
  Rank and file of the army        5,120        10,000           67,587
  Militia (enrolled)               ...       2,006,456       10,149,184[50]
  Navy of the United States
   (vessels)                     (None.)            76              140
  Navy armament (ordnance)         ...           2,012            ...
  Treaties and conventions
    with foreign powers                9            90            ...
  Light-houses and light-boats        12           372              843[51]
  Expenditures for ditto         $12,061      $529,265            ...
  Area of the Capitol          1/2 acre.  4-1/3 acres.     3-1/2 acres.[52]
  Number of miles of
    railroad in operation          ...          10,287          190,833[53]
  Cost of ditto                    ...    $306,607,954  $11,692,817,066[54]
  Number of miles in course
    of construction                ...          10,092            1,329
  Lines of electric telegraph,
    in miles                       ...          15,000          210,000[55]
  Number of post-offices             209        21,551           76,945
  Number of miles of post-route    5,642       196,290          511,808
  Amount of revenue from
    post-offices                $104,747    $6,727,867     $111,631,193
  Amount of expenditures
    of Post-office Department    $72,040    $6,024,567     $115,554,920
  Number of miles of mail
    transportation                 ...      52,465,724            ...
  Number of colleges                  19           121              484
  Public libraries                    35           694            5,383[56]
  Volumes in ditto                75,000     2,201,632       44,591,851
  School libraries                 ...          10,000            ...
  Volumes in ditto                 ...       2,000,000            ...
  Emigrants from Europe
    to the United States          10,000       299,610          448,572[57]
  Coinage at the Mint             $9,664   $52,019,465     $141,351,960

[Sidenote: The City of Washington.]

Who does not feel that, when President Washington laid his hand on the
foundation of the first Capitol, he performed a great work of
perpetuation of the Union and the Constitution? Who does not feel that
this seat of the general government, healthful in its situation, central
in its position, near the mountains whence gush springs of wonderful
virtue, teeming with Nature's richest products, and yet not far from the
bays and the great estuaries of the sea, easily accessible and generally
agreeable in climate and association, does give strength to the union of
these States? that this city, bearing an immortal name, with its broad
streets and avenues, its public squares and magnificent edifices of the
general government, erected for the purpose of carrying on within them
the important business of the several departments, for the reception of
wonderful and curious inventions, for the preservation of the records of
American learning and genius, of extensive collections of the products
of nature and art, brought hither for study and comparison from all
parts of the world; adorned with numerous churches, and sprinkled over,
I am happy to say, with many public schools, where all the children of
the city, without distinction, have the means of obtaining a good
education, and with academies and colleges, professional schools and
public libraries,--should continue to receive, as it has heretofore
received, the fostering care of Congress, and should be regarded as the
permanent seat of the national government?

With each succeeding year new interest is added to the spot; it becomes
connected with all the historical associations of our country, with her
statesmen and her orators; and, alas! its cemetery is annually enriched
by the ashes of her chosen sons.

[Sidenote: Its associations.]

Before us is the broad and beautiful river, separating two of the
original thirteen States, which a late President, a man of determined
purpose and inflexible will, but patriotic heart, desired to span with
arches of ever-enduring granite, symbolical of the firmly cemented union
of the North and the South. That President was General Jackson.

On its banks repose the ashes of the Father of his Country; and at our
side, by a singular felicity of position, overlooking the city which he
designed, and which bears his name, rises to his memory the marble
column, sublime in its simple grandeur, and fitly intended to reach a
loftier height than any similar structure on the surface of the whole

[Illustration: _Washington Monument._]

Let the votive offerings of his grateful countrymen be freely
contributed to carry this monument higher and still higher. May I say,
as on another occasion, "Let it rise; let it rise till it meet the sun
in his coming; let the earliest light of the morning gild it, and
parting day linger and play on its summit!"[59]

Fellow-citizens, what contemplations are awakened in our minds as we
assemble here to re-enact a scene like that performed by Washington!
Methinks I see his venerable form now before me, as presented in the
glorious statue by Houdon, now in the Capitol of Virginia. He is
dignified and grave; but concern and anxiety seem to soften the
lineaments of his countenance. The government over which he presides is
yet in the crisis of experiment. Not free from troubles at home, he sees
the world in commotion and in arms all around him. He sees that imposing
foreign powers are half disposed to try the strength of the recently
established American government. We perceive that mighty thoughts,
mingled with fears as well as with hopes, are struggling within him. He
heads a short procession over these then naked fields; he crosses yonder
stream on a fallen tree; he ascends to the top of this eminence, whose
original oaks of the forest stand as thick around him as if the spot had
been devoted to Druidical worship, and here he performs the appointed
duty of the day.

[Sidenote: George Washington's monition.]

And now, fellow-citizens, if this vision were a reality; if Washington
actually were now amongst us, and if he could draw around him the shades
of the great public men of his own day, patriots and warriors, orators
and statesmen, and were to address us in their presence, would he not
say to us: "Ye men of this generation, I rejoice and thank God for being
able to see that our labors and toils and sacrifices were not in vain.
You are prosperous, you are happy, you are grateful: the fire of liberty
burns brightly and steadily in your hearts, while _duty_ and the _law_
restrain it from bursting forth in wild and destructive conflagration.
Cherish liberty, as you love it; cherish its securities, as you wish to
preserve it. Maintain the Constitution which we labored so painfully to
establish, and which has been to you such a source of inestimable
blessings. Preserve the union of the States, cemented as it was by our
prayers, our tears and our blood. Be true to God, to your country, and
to your duty. So shall the whole Eastern world follow the morning sun to
contemplate you as a nation; so shall all generations honor you, as they
honor us; and so shall that Almighty Power which so graciously protected
us, and which now protects you, shower its everlasting blessings upon
you and your posterity."

[Sidenote: The sacred trust of Americans.]

Great Father of your Country! we heed your words; we feel their force as
if you now uttered them with lips of flesh and blood. Your example
teaches us, your affectionate addresses teach us, your public life
teaches us your sense of the value of the blessings of the Union. Those
blessings our fathers have tasted, and we have tasted, and still taste.
Nor do we intend that those who come after us shall be denied the same
high fruition. Our honor as well as our happiness is concerned. We
cannot, we dare not, we will not, betray our sacred trust. We will not
filch from posterity the treasure placed in our hands to be transmitted
to other generations. The bow that gilds the clouds in the heavens, the
pillars that uphold the firmament, may disappear and fall away in the
hour appointed by the will of God; but until that day comes, or so long
as our lives may last, no ruthless hand shall undermine that bright arch
of Union and Liberty which spans the continent from Washington to
California. Fellow-citizens, we must sometimes be tolerant to folly, and
patient at the sight of the extreme waywardness of men; but I confess
that, when I reflect on the renown of our past history, on our present
prosperity and greatness, and on what the future hath yet to unfold, and
when I see that there are men who can find in all this nothing good,
nothing valuable, nothing truly glorious, I feel that all their reason
has fled away from them, and left the entire control over their judgment
and their actions to insanity and fanaticism; and more than all,
fellow-citizens, if the purposes of fanatics and disunionists should be
accomplished, the patriotic and intelligent of our generation would seek
to hide themselves from the scorn of the world, and go about to find
dishonorable graves.

[Illustration: _Millard Fillmore._]

[Sidenote: The preservation of the Union foretold.]

Fellow-citizens, take courage; be of good cheer. We shall come to no
such ignoble end. We shall live, and not die. During the period allotted
to our several lives we shall continue to rejoice in the return of this
anniversary. The ill-omened sounds of fanaticism will be hushed; the
ghastly spectres of Secession and Disunion will disappear; and the
enemies of united constitutional liberty, if their hatred cannot be
appeased, may prepare to have their eyeballs seared as they behold the
steady flight of the American eagle, on his burnished wings, for years
and years to come.

President Fillmore, it is your singularly good fortune to perform an act
such as that which the earliest of your predecessors performed
fifty-eight years ago. You stand where he stood; you lay your hand on
the corner-stone of a building designed greatly to extend that whose
corner-stone he laid. Changed, changed is everything around. The same
sun, indeed, shone upon his head which now shines upon yours. The same
broad river rolled at his feet, and bathes his last resting-place, that
now rolls at yours. But the site of this city was then mainly an open
field. Streets and avenues have since been laid out and completed,
squares and public grounds enclosed and ornamented, until the city which
bears his name, although comparatively inconsiderable in numbers and
wealth, has became quite fit to be the seat of government of a great and
united people.

And now, fellow-citizens, with hearts void of hatred, envy, and malice
towards our own countrymen, or any of them, or towards the subjects or
citizens of other governments, or towards any member of the great family
of man; but exulting, nevertheless, in our own peace, security, and
happiness, in the grateful remembrance of the past, and the glorious
hopes of the future, let us return to our homes, and with all humility
and devotion offer our thanks to the Father of all our mercies,
political, social, and religious.


  Achilles, 327.

  ADAMS AND JEFFERSON: A Discourse in Commemoration of the Lives and
      Services of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, delivered in Faneuil
      Hall, Boston, Aug. 2, 1826, 67.

  Adams, John, 84, 87-90, 92-97, 101, 104;
    similarity to Jefferson, 70;
    example of, 70;
    work of, 70;
    services of, 73;
    career of, 73-81, 97-100;
    portrait of, 74.

  Adams, John Quincy, 100 and note, 122 note;
    portrait of, 123.

  Adams, Samuel, 80, 96;
    portrait of, 97.

  Alfred, 48.

  Allerton, Isaac, 7.

  Amendment, Thirteenth, to the Constitution, 126 note.

  America, popular government in, 18, 20;
    constitutional history of, 25;
    literature of, 26;
    discovery of, 31;
    Revolution in, 32;
    obligations of, 48, 65;
    contributions of, to Europe, 62;
    example of, 63.

  Americans, sacred trust of, 210.

  American Union, the, 56.

  Ames, Fisher, 183 and note.

  Angelo, Michael, 177.

  Athens, 204.

  Bacon, Francis, 71.

  Bennington, Vt., 38.

  Benton, Thomas Hart, 119-121;
    portrait of, 120.

  Berkeley, George, 178 and note, 201.

  Blackstone, Sir William, 167 and note.

  Boston, Mass., Massacre, 75 note;
    Port Bill, 93 and note;
    "Tea-Party," 93 note;
    speeches of Webster at, 67.

  Bradford, William, 7.

  Brewster, William, 7, 15.

  Bunker Hill, battle of, 96;
    importance of, 57;
    motive for, 58;
    consequences of, 59.

  BUNKER HILL MONUMENT, THE: An Address delivered at the Laying of the
      Corner-stone at Charlestown, Mass. June 17, 1825, 30;
    and see 208 and note.

      June 17, 1843, 50.

  Byron, Lord, 9 note.

  Camden, N. J., 38.


  Capitol, United States, in 1851, view of, 200.

  Carroll, Charles, 107.

  Carver, John, 7.

  Charlestown, Mass., 58;
    speeches of Webster at, 30, 50.

  Chatham, Earl of, 177.

  Cicero, 21, 177 and note.

  Clay, Henry, 122 note, 194 note;
    portrait of, 195.

  "Coalition," the, 122 and note.

  Concord, Mass., 55, 96.

  Congress, Continental, First, 81.


  Constitution of the United States, true principles of, 145;
    declared by people to be supreme law, 150, 163;
    enumerated powers of, 162;
    main design of, 162;
    failure of Confederation the cause of, 162;
    alterable by the people, not the States, 170.

  Cortéz, Hernando, 61.


  Demosthenes, 9, 204.

  District of Columbia, 155.

  Electors, Presidential, in the United States, 98 note.

  Elizabeth, Queen, 12.

  Eloquence, nature of, 89.

  Embargo Bill of 1807, 156 and note.

  England, religious persecutions in, 12;
    idea of liberty in, 60.


  Faneuil Hall, Boston, view of, 68;
    speeches of Webster in, 67.

  Federalist party, 122 note.

  Fillmore, Millard, 211;
    portrait of, 211.

  Foot, Samuel Augustus, 115 note;
    Resolution of, 116.

  Foreign influence a foe of republican government, 185.

  Franklin, Benjamin, 84, 101;
    portrait of, 102.

  Freedom, spirit of, 179.

  Fries, John, 168 and note.

  Gage, Thomas, 79.

  Gates, Horatio, 41.

  Government, representative system of, 44;
    principles of, as held by English colonists in America, 61, 62;
    powers of, to be used for the general benefit, 131;
    a great untaxed proprietor, 132;
    republican, foreign influence a foe of, 185.

  Government, United States, source of powers of, 150, 162, 164;
    powers of, as related to powers of States, 152, 158, 160, 162;
    a new experiment, 180.

  "Great Debate," The, 115 note.

  Greece, Revolution in (1824), 45 and note.

  Greene, Nathanael, 41.

  Hancock, John, 90, 96;
    portrait of, 91.

  Harrington, James, 20.

  Harvard College, 23;
    view of, 24.

  Hayne, Robert Young, 115 note, 117-122;
    portrait of, 135.

  HAYNE, THE REPLY TO: From the Second Speech on Foot's Resolution,
      delivered in the Senate of the United States, Jan. 26 and 27,
      1830, 115;
    first version of, 173 note;
    and see 115 note.

  Henry, Patrick, 100;
    portrait of, 101.

  Hillhouse, James, 155 and note.

  Holland, Pilgrims in, 14.

  Homer, 177.

  Independence, American, 201-204.

  Independence, Declaration of, 83-87.

  Independence Hall, Philadelphia, view of, 80.

  Internal improvements, Webster's opinions concerning, 129.

  Jackson, Andrew, 115 note.

  Jamestown, Va., 32 and note.

  Jefferson, Thomas, 184 note;
    similarity to Adams, 70;
    example of, 70;
    work of, 70;
    services of, 73;
    career of, 81-85, 99, 100-106;
    portrait of, 82.

  Kentucky resolutions of 1798, 147 note.

  Lafayette, Marquis de, 39 and note;
    portrait of, 40.

  Lee, Richard Henry, 83.

  Legislatures, State, in relation to national laws, 145.

  Lexington, Mass., 55, 96.

  Liberty the inheritance of every American, 203.

  Lincoln, Benjamin, 41.

  Lincolnshire, England, 13.

  Livingston, Robert R., 84.

  Marathon, 8 and note.

  Mason and Dixon's line, 137 and note.

  Massachusetts, in the Revolution, 143;
    defence of, 144.

  Milton, John, 177.

  Missouri question, 126-127, 126 note.

  Monmouth, N. J., 38.

  Monuments of the past, 53.

  National Republican party, 122 note, 174.

  Nations, progress of, 41.

  Newton, Isaac, 71.

  NEW ENGLAND, THE FIRST SETTLEMENT OF: A Discourse delivered at
      Plymouth, Mass. Dec. 22, 1820, 3.

  New England, third century of history of, 3;
    ancestors of, 41;
    religious liberty in, 11;
    distribution of property in, 19;
    education in, 21;
    future progress of, 28;
    settlement of, 3, 32;
    relation of, to Western improvements, 133-134;
    Hayne's attack on, 136;
    relation of, to South Carolina doctrine of nullification, 155;
    to the embargo of 1807, 157.

  Northwest Territory, 126 note.

  Nullification, 116, 154, 165-169;
    leads to disunion, 169.

  Ohio, 126 note.

  "Old Style" of reckoning time, 73 note.

  Ordinance of 1787, the, 126 and note.

  Otis, James, 76;
    portrait of, 77.

  Paine, Robert Treat, 79, 96.

  Parties, political, in 1812, 141.

  Party contests under the Constitution, 138.

  Phidias, 9.

  Philip of Macedon, 204.

  Pilgrims, 5 and note;
    purpose of, 10, 59;
    new home of, 15, 18;
    duty of descendants of, 25;
    and see New England, First Settlement of.

  Pizarro, Francisco, 61.

  Plato, 9.

  Plymouth, Mass., 6, 7 and note, 28, 59;
    speech of Webster at, 3.

  Pope, Alexander, 199 note.

  Prescott, William, 36, 54, 57, 58.

  Public lands, 128.

  Public works bonds of union, 129.

  Puritans, 5 note.

  Putnam, Israel, 36, 54.

  Quincy, Josiah, Jr., 73.

  Randolph, Peyton, 83.

  Raphael, 177.

  Religion, influence of, 27.

  Religious liberty in New England, 11.

  Religious persecutions in England, 12.

  Revolution, American, 32;
    survivors of, 35, 36, 38;
    influence of, upon Europe, 42.

  Revolution of 1688, English, importance of, 181.

  Revolution, Webster admits right of, 147;
    a law to itself, 164.

  Robinson, John, 12 and note, 15.

  Rome, commonwealth of, 21.

  Salem, Mass., speech of Webster at, 111.

  Saratoga, N. Y., 38.

  Sargent, Henry, 7 and note.

  Secession, peaceable, impossible, 195.

  Senate, United States, 121;
    speeches of Webster in, 115, 194.

  Serbonis, Lake, 218 note.

  "Seventh of March" (1850) speech of Webster, 194.

  Shakespeare, William, 202 and note.

  Sherman, Roger, 84.

  Slavery, Webster's opinion concerning, 126-128.

  Smithfield (London), 12 and note.

  Socrates, 9.

  Solon, 48.

  Sophocles, 9.

  South America, liberty in, 46.

  South Carolina, 136, 137;
    nullification in, 116;
    Webster's tribute to, 142;
    doctrine of State discretion, 146.

  Southern Confederacy, idea of a, 197.

  Spain, greed of, 60.

  Sparta, 204.

  Standish, Miles, 7.

  Stark, John, 36, 54.

  States, not final judges of acts of general government, 145;
    powers of, as related to powers of general government, 152, 160.

  "Suicide is confession," 114.

  Sullivan, John, 41.

  Supreme Court of the United States, final decision of, 164.

  Tariffs, protective, as related to Constitution, 153, 159;
    to South Carolina nullification, 166.

  Thebes, 204.

  Trenton, N. Y., 38.

  Turenne, Vicomte de, 168 and note.

  Tyler, John, 54;
    portrait of, 54.

  Union, as related to nullification, 154;
    preservation of, 171, 195, 198, 211.

  United States, example of, 47;
    are one, 130;
    a western sun, 182;
    advantages of isolation of, 186;
    dismemberment of, the greatest of evils, 191;
    growth of population of, 205-206.

  Vauban, Sebastien de, 168.

  Virginia resolutions of 1798, 146-147, 146 note.

  Virginia, University of, 105 and note.

  Warren, Joseph, 37, 40, 41, 54;
    portrait of, 37.

  Washington, George, 41, 59, 63, 67, 94, 102, 104, 139, 204, 207-210;
    power of the name of, 175;
    moral example of, 176;
    Farewell Address of, 183, 185, 186, 188;
    conduct of America's foreign relations, 184;
    domestic policy of, 187;
    first cabinet of, 187;
    important measures of administration of, 188;
    opinion of dangers of party spirit, 188;
    love of the Union, 189;
    monition of, 209-210.


  Washington, city of, 207-208;
    speeches of Webster in, 200.

  Washington Monument, 208 and note;
    view of, 208.

  Whig party, 122 note.

  WHITE, CAPTAIN JOSEPH, THE MURDER OF: From an Argument on the Trial
      of Joseph Francis Knapp, at Salem, Mass. Aug. 3, 1830, 111.

  Wilmot proviso, the, 126 note.

  Worcester, Mass., speech of Webster at, 174.

  Wythe, George, 82.

  Yorktown, Va., 38.


[1] The "Pilgrims" are often confused with the "Puritans," and the words
are used interchangeably. Strictly speaking, the former were the English
Independents or Congregationalists who came from Holland to Plymouth in
1620; the latter, the immigrants from England to Massachusetts Bay in
1629 and following years, some of whom, at the time of their arrival in
New England, retained nominal connection with the Church of England. The
church polity of the two parties, however, soon became the same.

[2] Henry Sargent's "Landing of the Pilgrims," in Pilgrim Hall,

[3] The landing at Plymouth was on Dec. 11, 1620, Old Style,
corresponding to December 21 according to the present calendar, though
December 22 is generally observed.

[4] A plain eighteen miles northeast of Athens, between Mount Pentelicus
and the sea, where, B. C. 490, 10,000 Greeks and 1,000 Platæans, under
Miltiades, defeated 100,000 Persians, thereby destroying Darius's scheme
for subjugating Greece.

  "The mountains look on Marathon,
    And Marathon looks on the sea;
  And musing there an hour alone,
    I dreamed that Greece might still be free."
                             BYRON, _Don Juan_, canto iii, stanza 86, 3.

[5] John Robinson, 1575-1625, an influential English Independent (or
Congregational) minister, who left the Church of England and joined the
"Separatists" in 1604, and was their pastor at Scrooby, England,
removing to Amsterdam, Holland, in 1608, and continuing his leadership
of Independents there and in Leyden.

[6] Smithfield is a section of London, north of St. Paul's Cathedral,
where alleged heretics were burned at the stake during the reign of
Queen Mary, in 1555 and subsequent years.

[7] The monument, erected by an association which aroused national as
well as local interest and support, is a granite obelisk, two hundred
and twenty-one feet high, actually standing on Breed's, not Bunker Hill.
The two eminences are seven hundred yards apart, and both were scenes of
conflict, the American redoubt being on Breed's; but general use has
long sanctioned the expression "the battle of Bunker Hill." The monument
was finished in 1842.

[8] Jamestown, Virginia, on the James River, where the first permanent
English settlement in the United States was made May 13, 1607.

[9] It is no part of the purpose of the present edition to undertake to
criticise the rhetoric of Webster. But the use of "him" in the objective
case, in the present paragraph, followed by "thy," is so uncommon as to
call for mention. Most rhetoricians would employ "he," followed by
"his;" or "thou," followed by "thy." A use of cases identical with
Webster's is found in the well-known second stanza of S.F. Smith's

  "My native country, _thee_,
  Land of the noble free,--
    _Thy_ name I love."

[10] The Marquis de la Fayette (1757-1834), a member of a rich and noble
French family, equipped a vessel at his own cost, and came to America in
1777, to aid the Revolutionists. At once brave and judicious, he became
the friend of Washington, and was made major-general, distinguishing
himself as a fighter or strategist at Brandywine, Monmouth, and
Yorktown. Returning to France after the war, he took a middle course in
the French Revolution, for which he later was subjected to the
unwarranted sneers of Carlyle. Imprisoned for years in Austria, he was
released by request of Napoleon in 1797. In 1824 he again visited the
United States, being everywhere greeted with enthusiasm, and receiving
from Congress $200,000 and a township of land. Four years before his
death he was made head of the French National Guard by the party which
dethroned the Bourbon, Charles X., and transferred the crown to Louis

[11] Late may you return to the sky.

[12] The people of Greece, long restive against Turkish oppression, rose
under Alexander Ypsilanti in 1820, promulgated a new constitution in
1822, and began a war of revolution. After bloody atrocities on both
sides, in 1824 the Greeks began to receive some outside help, including
that of Lord Byron, who died at Missolonghi, in that year, from exposure
in the field. The jealousies and intrigues of Mahmoud, Sultan of Turkey,
and Mehemet Ali, Turkish Viceroy of Egypt, with fears of Russian
preponderance in a divided Turkey, led the Great Powers of Europe to
interfere in behalf of Greece, as the Turks and Egyptians were working
together against her. The Treaty of London (July 6, 1827) founded the
new Kingdom of Greece; England, France, and Russia overwhelmed the
fleets of Turkey and Egypt at Navarino, October 26 of the same year; and
the independent career of the resuscitated Greek nation began.

[13] "Monument Square is four hundred and seventeen feet from north to
south, and four hundred feet from east to west, and contains nearly six
acres. It embraces the whole site of the redoubt, and a part of the site
of the breastwork. According to the most accurate plan of the town and
the battle (Page's), the monument stands where the southwest angle of
the redoubt was, and the whole of the redoubt was between the monument
and the street that bounds it on the west. The small mound in the
northeast corner of the square is supposed to be the remains of the
breastwork. Warren fell about two hundred feet west of the monument. An
iron fence encloses the square, and another surrounds the monument. The
square has entrances on each of its sides, and at each of its corners,
and is surrounded by a walk and rows of trees.

"The obelisk is thirty feet in diameter at the base, about fifteen feet
at the top of the truncated part, and was designed to be two hundred and
twenty feet high; but the mortar and the seams between the stones make
the precise height two hundred and twenty-one feet. Within the shaft is
a hollow cone, with a spiral stairway winding round it to its summit,
which enters a circular chamber at the top. There are ninety courses of
stone in the shaft,--six of them below the ground, and eighty-four above
the ground. The capstone, or apex, is a single stone four feet square at
the base, and three feet six inches in height, weighing two and a half
tons."--FROTHINGHAM'S _Siege of Boston._

[14] The old method, established by Julius Cæsar, of counting 365 days
in a year, and 366 every fourth year, gave each year about eleven
minutes too much, which overplus amounted in 1582 to ten days. In that
year Pope Gregory XIII discontinued the "Julian" and established the
"Gregorian" calendar, by setting forward the date of a day ten days.
This change was adopted (the dropping of an additional day being needed)
by the English Parliament in 1751,--September 3, 1752, to be called
September 14. At present, the New Style gives 366 days to every year
divisible by four, excepting 1800, 1900, etc.

[15] March 5, 1770, a conflict called the "Boston Massacre" took place
between English troops and Bostonians, three of the latter being killed.
Samuel Adams, the people's leader in Boston, in consequence compelled
the Governor to withdraw the soldiers from the town.

[16] Documents giving the royal custom-house officers the right to
search any house for alleged smuggled goods.

[17] Parliament closed the port of Boston, in 1774, in retaliation for
the destruction of taxed tea by the Colonists in 1773, in the so-called
"Boston Tea-party." Under the Port Bill all exports and imports were
prohibited save food and fuel.

[18] The parliament of Holland.

[19] Prior to 1804 the "presidential electors" voted for two candidates
from previous page: for president; the one receiving the highest number
to be president, and the one having the next highest vice-president.

[20] John Quincy Adams was President of the United States, 1825-1829.

[21] The fiftieth anniversary of the independence of the United States.
The Jews of the Old Testament celebrated every fiftieth anniversary of
their entrance into Canaan. Leviticus xxv. 10.

[22] Mr. Jefferson himself considered his services in establishing the
University of Virginia as among the most important rendered by him to
the country. In large part he arranged its curriculum, and even designed
its buildings. By his direction the following inscription was placed on
his monument: "Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, Author of the
Declaration of Independence, of the Statutes of Virginia for Religious
Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia."

[23] "Happy, not only in the brightness of his life, but also in the
circumstance of his death."

[24] The question has often been asked whether the anonymous speech
against the Declaration of Independence, and the speech in support of it
ascribed to John Adams in the preceding address, are a portion of the
debates which actually took place in 1776 in the Continental Congress.
Those speeches were composed by Mr. Webster, after the manner of the
ancient historians, as embodying the arguments relied upon by the
friends and opponents of the measure, respectively. They represent
speeches actually made on both sides, but no report of the debates of
this period has been preserved, and Mr. Webster had no aid in framing
these addresses but what was furnished by tradition and the known line
of argument pursued by the speakers and writers of that day for and
against the measure of Independence. The first sentence of the speech
ascribed to Mr. Adams was suggested by the parting scene with Jonathan
Sewall, as described by Mr. Adams himself, in the Preface to the
"Letters of Novanglus and Massachusettensis."

The following answer was written by Mr. Webster to one of the letters of
inquiry above alluded to.

                                        "WASHINGTON, _22 January, 1846_.


"I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 18th
instant. Its contents hardly surprise me, as I have received very many
similar communications.

"Your inquiry is easily answered. The Congress of the Revolution sat
with closed doors. Its proceedings were made known to the public from
time to time, by printing its journal; but the debates were not
published. So far as I know, there is not existing, in print or
manuscript, the speech, or any part or fragment of the speech, delivered
by Mr. Adams on the question of the Declaration of Independence. We only
know, from the testimony of his auditors, that he spoke with remarkable
ability and characteristic earnestness.

"The day after the Declaration was made, Mr. Adams, in writing to a
friend, declared the event to be one that 'ought to be commemorated, as
the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It
ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports,
guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent
to the other, from this time forward, forevermore.'

"And on the day of his death, hearing the noise of bells and cannon, he
asked the occasion. On being reminded that it was 'Independent day,' he
replied, 'Independence forever!' These expressions were introduced into
the speech _supposed_ to have been made by him. For the rest I must be
answerable. The speech was written by me, in my house in Boston, the day
before the delivery of the Discourse in Faneuil Hall; a poor substitute,
I am sure it would appear to be, if we could now see the speech actually
made by Mr. Adams on that transcendently important occasion.

                               "I am, respectfully,
                                          "Your obedient servant,
                                                       "DANIEL WEBSTER."

[25] Joseph White, an old man of eighty, was found murdered in his bed,
in Salem, Massachusetts, on the morning of April 7, 1830. A few weeks
later four men--Richard Crowninshield, George Crowninshield, John
Francis Knapp, and Joseph J. Knapp, Jr.--were arrested on the charge of
murder. On June 15 Richard Crowninshield committed suicide in his cell;
George Crowninshield, having proved an alibi, was discharged; and the
two Knapps were tried between July 20 and August 20, the former as
principal and the latter as accessory. Joseph made a full confession,
outside of court, on the government's promise of impunity; but
afterwards refused to repeat this testimony on the witness-stand. It was
shown that the fatal blow was struck by Richard Crowninshield; that John
Francis Knapp, who had bargained with Richard Crowninshield to commit
the murder, was lurking in the neighborhood during the commission of the
crime; and that Joseph J. Knapp was also an accessory before the fact,
having, indeed, projected the murder. The Knapps were executed. A
detailed description of the extraordinary network of circumstances,
before and after the murder, is given in the volume entitled "Great
Speeches and Orations of Daniel Webster."

[26] The "Great Debate" in the Senate, between Webster and Hayne, had an
unexpected origin. A resolution had been introduced by Senator Samuel
Augustus Foot, of Connecticut, merely ordering an inquiry into the
expediency of throwing restrictions around future sales of public lands
of the United States. Into the discussion of this resolution, which
lasted five months, was brought a large number of partisan pleas, tariff
arguments, local jealousies, and questions of the right and wrong of
slavery, and of the respective powers of the State and national
governments. Recriminations and even personalities were not infrequent;
and some of the Southern speakers did not refrain, in defence of the new
"nullification" doctrine, from criticism of New England Federalism as
having been essentially selfish, derisive, and unpatriotic. Senator
Robert Young Hayne (1791-1840), of South Carolina, who had been a member
of the Senate since 1823, was conspicuous, in this debate, for his
advocacy of the idea that a State might suspend Federal laws at its
discretion; and his assertions to that effect, combined with sharp
criticisms of Massachusetts, led Mr. Webster to make his famous reply.
Mr. Hayne was subsequently Governor of South Carolina, at the time of
the almost armed collision between that State and President Jackson, in
1832, over the nullification of tariff laws. At one time Governor Hayne
actually issued a proclamation of resistance to the authority of the
general government; but subsequently Congress modified the objectionable
tariff provisions and the State repealed its nullification ordinance,
which President Jackson's firmness had certainly made "null, void, and
no law."

[27] It had been charged that John Quincy Adams, during his presidency
(1825-1829), had sought to purchase the support of Webster by giving
offices to members of the old Federalist party, then merging into the
"National Republican" or Whig party. Furthermore, the opposition had
declared that Adams's bestowal of the Secretaryship of State upon Henry
Clay was in accordance with a bargain by which Adams was to be supported
by the Clay vote in the House of Representatives.

[28] Mr. Webster here quotes parts of lines 69 and 74 of Macbeth, Act
III. Scene 14.

[29] The Ordinance of July 13, 1787, was an act of the Congress of the
Confederation,--prior to the beginning of the constitutional government
of the United States in 1789,--which, in its sixth article, said of the
"Northwest Territory," organized by this Ordinance: "There shall be
neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory,
otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have
been duly convicted." Under the provisions of this Ordinance Ohio became
a State in 1802. Says Johnston in his "History of American Politics ":
"The Ordinance of 1787 is noteworthy as an exercise by the Congress of
the Confederacy of the right to exclude slavery from the territories. It
will be found that the language of this Ordinance was copied in the
efforts made in 1819 (Missouri), 1846 (Wilmot Proviso), and 1865 (XIIIth
Amendment), to assert and maintain for the Federal Congress under the
Constitution this power of regulating and abolishing slavery in the
territories of the United States, and finally in the States as the
result of civil war."

[30] The line between Pennsylvania, a free State, and Maryland, a slave
State; originally run by two surveyors bearing these names.

[31] The "Virginia Resolutions of 1798," of which the most important is
here quoted, and the similar Kentucky Resolutions of the same year, were
protests of the Republican, or Anti-Federalist, legislatures of the two
States, against the "Alien and Sedition Laws" passed by the Federalist
majority in Congress. These laws were the outgrowth of an almost warlike
feeling between the United States and France, due to a variety of
causes, for the most part discreditable to France. They authorized the
President to order out of the country any foreigner he deemed dangerous;
and imposed fines and imprisonment upon alleged conspirators against
Government measures, or libellers of Congress or the President. The laws
were deemed by the Anti-Federalists to be autocratic and
semi-monarchical. The Virginia protesting resolutions were put into form
by James Madison, afterwards President.

[32] James Hillhouse (1754-1832), of Connecticut.

[33] The District of Columbia is governed directly by Congress, but
sends no representative thereto.

[34] The Embargo Bill of 1807 prohibited American vessels from foreign
trade, and foreign vessels from American, only coasting trade being
permitted. It was directed against England, and was supported by the
Anti-Federalists and bitterly opposed by the Federalists. For the time
it almost destroyed American commerce, and bore especially heavily on
New England.

[35] Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780), author of the famous
"Commentaries on the Laws of England" (1765-1769).

[36] Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne (1611-1675) an
eminent French general, who left memoirs of his campaigns from 1643 to

[37] See note on page xciv.

[38] John Fries (1764?-1825) was the leader of seven hundred men who
forcibly resisted the levying of the "house or window" tax in
Northampton, Bucks, and Montgomery counties, Pennsylvania, in 1798-1799.
These men liberated prisoners and "arrested" the assessors themselves;
and Fries, when marching toward Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, resisted a
United States marshal. He was tried for treason in 1799, found guilty,
given a new trial in 1800, again found guilty, and sentenced to be
hanged; but President John Adams, against the advice of all his cabinet,
pardoned him and gave a general amnesty to the rioters. Fries became a
well-to-do merchant in Philadelphia.

[39] Interesting examples of Webster's revision of important passages in
this speech may be found by comparing the present standard text with the
original versions as preserved in the Boston Public Library. The
eulogium of Massachusetts, beginning "Mr. President, I shall enter on no
encomium" and ending with "the very spot of its origin," was spoken

"Sir, I shall be led on this occasion into no eulogium on Massachusetts.
I shall paint no portraiture of her merits, original, ancient or modern.
Yet, Sir, I cannot but remember that Boston was the cradle of liberty,
that in Massachusetts (the parent of this accursed policy so eternally
narrow to the West), etc., etc., etc. I cannot forget that Lexington,
Concord and Bunker Hill _are_ in Massachusetts, and that in men and
means and money she _did_ contribute more than any other State to carry
on the Revolutionary war. There was not a State in the Union whose soil
was not wetted with Massachusetts blood in the Revolutionary war, and it
is to be remembered that of the army to which Cornwallis surrendered at
Yorktown a majority consisted of New England troops. It is painful to me
to recur to these recollections even for the purpose of self-defence,
and even to that end, Sir, I will not extol the intelligence, the
character and the virtue of the people of New England. I leave the theme
to itself, here and everywhere, now and forever."

The first form of the famous concluding passage was as follows:

"When my eyes shall be turned for the last time on the meridian sun, I
hope I may see him shining bright upon my united, free, and happy
country. I hope I shall not live to see his beams falling upon the
dispersed fragments of the structure of this once glorious Union. I hope
I may not see the flag of my country with its stars separated or
obliterated; torn by commotions, smoking with the blood of civil war. I
hope I may not see the standard raised of separate State rights, star
against star, and stripe against stripe; but that the flag of the Union
may keep its stars and its stripes corded and bound together in
indissoluble ties. I hope I shall not see written as its motto, '_First_
liberty, and _then_ Union.' I hope I shall see no such delusive and
deluded motto on the flag of that country. I hope to see, spread all
over it, blazoned in letters of light and proudly floating over land and
sea, that other sentiment, dear to my heart, 'Union _and_ Liberty, now
and forever, one and inseparable.'"

[40] At the beginning of the nineteenth century Marcus Tullius Cicero
was often called Tully.

[41] Bishop George Berkeley's (1684-1753) "On the Prospect of Planting
Arts and Learning in America."

[42] A remark by Fisher Ames (1758-1808), of Massachusetts,--perhaps the
extremest Federalist of his time.

[43] The famous phrase "honest friendship with all nations, entangling
alliances with none" was not Washington's, but Jefferson's.

[44] In the debate on Henry Clay's Compromise resolutions.

[45] Pope's translation of Homer's Iliad, book xviii., lines 701-4.
Webster changes the first word, "Thus," to "Now."

[46] Shakespeare, King Henry the Fifth, Prologue, lines 1-4.

[47] Mr. Webster's table contained, of course, the figures for 1793 and
1851 only. For the sake of illustration, those for 1900 are now added.

[48] Including Hawaii, but not the other foreign possessions.

[49] Including Alaska, but no other possession not contiguous to the
United States.

[50] Male population available for defence.

[51] Total lighted aids in the year 1893.

[52] The area given for 1851 was incorrect.

[53] Exclusive of double tracks and sidings.

[54] Total liabilities.

[55] Excluding private lines.

[56] Including public, society, and school libraries.

[57] Total from all parts of the world.

[58] The Washington monument here mentioned had been begun in 1848. Work
was continued, by State and other donations, until 1855, when it was
abandoned until 1877. But as the unfinished condition of the shaft was
felt to be a sort of national disgrace, its construction was resumed in
the last-named year, under a Congressional appropriation, and steadily
pushed forward until the completion of the noble obelisk in 1884, at a
total cost of $1,300,000. It is built of white Maryland marble, and is
555 feet high--the loftiest masonry construction in the world, though
much surpassed in height by the steel Eiffel Tower in Paris.

[59] From the address at the laying of the corner-stone of Bunker Hill

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