cannon, and tile rattle of the musketry, and the groans of the dying, are heard but as a faint echo of terror from other lands, even here in the loyal States, the mailed hand of military usurpation strikes down the liberties of the people, and its foot tramples on a desecrated Constitution.
Ay, in this land of free thought, free speech, and free writing — in this republic of free suffrage, with liberty of thought and expression as tile very essence of republican institutions — even here, in these free States, it is made criminal * * * for that noble martyr of free speech, Mr. Vallandigham, to discuss public affairs in Ohio — ay, even here, the temporary agents of the sovereign people, the transitory administrators of the government, tell us that in time of war the mere arbitrary will of the President takes the place of the Constitution, and the President himself announces to us that it is treasonable to speak or to write otherwise than as he may prescribe; nay, that it is treasonable even to be silent, though we be struck dumb by the shock of the calamities with which evil counsels, incompetency, and corruption, have overwhelmed our country.
Considering that Gen. Lee
, at the head of a formidable Southern army, composed in good part of the Virginians like himself, was on the soil of the Free States
when this address was written, intent on compelling them, by force of arms, to submit to a dissolution of the Union
, the following passage can hardly be surpassed:
I trust it may be profitable on this occasion, as the call of your meeting suggests, to revive the memories of that heroic epoch of the republic, even though they come laden with regrets, and hold up that period of our history in contrast with the present — though they come to remind us of what were our relations during the Revolution, and in later years, prior to 1861, to that great commonwealth which we were accustomed to refer to by the name of “ the Mother of Statesmen and of States;” and of what those relations now are. Can it be that we are never to think again of the land where the dust of Washington and Patrick Henry, of Jefferson and Madison, repose, with emotions of gratitude, admiration, and filial regard?
Is hate for all that Virginia has taught, all that Virginia has done, all that Virginia now is, to take the place of sentiments which we have cherished all our lives?
Other men may be asked to do this; but it is in vain to appeal to me. So far as my heart is concerned, it is not a subject of volition.
While there may be those in whose breasts such sentiments as these awaken no responsive feeling, I feel assured, as I look over this vast assemblage, that the grateful emotions which have signalized this anniversary in all our past history are not less yours than they are mine to-day.
Let us be thankful, at least, that we have ever enjoyed them; that nothing can take from us the pride and exultation we have felt as we saw the old flag unfold over us, and realized its glorious accretion of stars from the original thirteen to thirty-four; that we say much, when we say, in the language of New Hampshire's greatest son, if we can with assurance say no more: “The past at least is secure.”
closed his oration with a deprecation of civil war and an appeal for peace on the basis of the Union and Constitution, which — considering by whom and for what the War
was initiated — seem; to this writer to evince an amazing defiance of the assumption that Man is a rational being.
It is as follows:
My friends, you have had, most of you have had, great sorrows, overwhelming personal sorrows, it may be; but none like these, none like these, which come welling up, day by day, from the great fountain of national disaster, red with the best and bravest blood of the country, North and South--red with the blood of those in both sections of the Union whose fathers fought the common battle of Independence.
Nor have these sorrows brought with them any compensation, whether of national ride or of victorious arms.
For is it not vain to appeal to you to raise a shout of joy because the men from the land of Washington, Marion, and Sumter, are baring their breasts to the steel of the men from the land of Warren, Stark, and Stockton ; or because, if this war is to continue to be waged, one or the other must go to the wall — must be consigned to humiliating subjugation?
This fearful, fruitless, fatal civil war has exhibited our amazing resources and vast military power.
It has shown that, united, even in carrying out, in its widest interpretation, the Monroe doctrine, on this continent, we could, with such protection as the broad ocean which flows between ourselves and European powers affords, have stood against the world in arms.
I speak of the war as fruitless ; for it is clear that, prosecuted upon the basis of the proclamations of September 22d and September 24th, 1862, prosecuted,