as I must understand those proclamations, to say nothing of the kindred brood which has followed, upon the theory of emancipation, devastation, subjugation, it can not fail to be fruitless in every thing except the harvest of woe which it is ripening for what was once the peerless republic.
Now, fellow citizens, after having said thus much, it is right that you should ask me, What would you do in this fearful extremity?
I reply, From the beginning of this struggle to the present moment, my hope has been in moral power.
There is reposes still.
When, in the Spring of 1861, I had occasion to address my fellow citizens of this city, from the balcony of the hotel before us, I then said I had not believed, and did not then believe, aggression by arms was either a suitable or possible remedy for existing evils.
All that has occurred since then has but strengthened and confirmed my convictions in this regard.
I repeat, then, my judgment impels me to rely upon moral force, and not upon any of the coercive instrumentalities of military power.
We have seen, in the experience of the last two years, how futile are all our efforts to maintain the Union by force of arms; but, even had war been carried on by us successfully, the ruinous result would exhibit its utter impracticability for the attainment of the desired end. Through peaceful agencies, and through such agencies alone, can we hope to “form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity;” the great objects for which, and for which alone, the Constitution was formed.
If you turn round and ask me, What if these agencies fail?
what if the passionate anger of both sections forbids?
what if the ballot-box is sealed?
Then, all efforts, whether of war or peace, having failed, my reply is, You will take care of yourselves; with or without arms, with or without leaders, we will, at least, in the effort to defend our rights as a free people, build up a great mausoleum of hearts, to which men who yearn for liberty will, in after years, with bowed heads and reverently, resort, as Christian pilgrims to the sacred shrines of the Holy Land.
It can not, surely, be needful to demonstrate that the author of this oration did not regard the Rebel
power as his
enemy, nor that of the country.
, who addressed a large gathering in the New York Academy of Music, in language carefully weighed beforehand and tempered by the obvious requirements of his official position, was far more measured and cautious in his assaults and imputations than were the great majority of his compatriots.
yet he opened with this allusion to the Nation
's imminent perils and the disappointed hopes, the blighted expectations, of those who, whether in council or on the field, were charged with the high responsibility of upholding its authority and enforcing its laws:
When I accepted the invitation to speak, with others, at this meeting, we were promised the downfall of Vicksburg, the opening of the Mississippi, the probable capture of the Confederate capital, and the exhaustion of the Rebellion.
By common consent, all parties had fixed upon this day when the results of the campaign should be known, to mark out that line of policy which they felt that our country should pursue.
But, in the moment of expected victory, there came the midnight cry for help from Pennsylvania to save its despoiled fields from the invading foe; and, almost within sight of this great commercial metropolis, the ships of your merchants were burned to the water's edge.
Having completed his portrayal of the National
calamities and perils, he proceeded:
A few years ago, we stood before this community two warn them of the dangers of sectional strife; but our fears were laughed at. At a later day, when the clouds of war overhung our country, we implored those in authority to compromise that difficulty; for we had been told by that great orator and statesman, Burke, that there never yet was a revolution that might not have been prevented by a compromise opportunely and graciously made.
[Great applause.] Our prayers were unheeded.
Again, when the contest was opened, we invoked those who had the conduct of affairs not to underrate the power of the adversary — not to underrate the courage, and resources, and endurance, of our own sister States.
This warning was treated as sympathy with treason.
You have the results of these unheeded warnings and unheeded prayers; they have stained our soil with blood; they have carried mourning into thousands of homes; and to-day they have brought our