76.-the Union: it must and shall be preserved.
an address delivered by Daniel S. Dickinson, before the Literary societies of Amherst Colleg Massachusetts, July 10th, 1861.
We are admonished by “the divinity that stirs within us,” as well as by all history and experience in human affairs, that there are principles which can never be subverted, truths which never die. The religion of a Saviour, who, at his nativity, was cradled on the straw pallet of destitution, who in declaring and enforcing his divine mission was sustained by obscure fishermen, who was spit upon by the rabble, persecuted by power, and betrayed by treachery to envy, has by its inherent forces subdued, civilized, and conquered a world; not by the tramp of hostile armies, the roar of artillery, or the stirring airs of martial music, but by the swell of the same heavenly harmonies which aroused the drowsy shepherds at the rock-founded city of Bethlehem
, proclaiming in their dulcet warblings, peace on earth
and good will toward men; not by flashes of contending steel, amidst the bad passions of the battle-field, the shrieks of the dying, and the flames of subjugated cities, but by the glowing light which shot athwart the firmament and illumined the whole heavens at his advent.
Thus was ushered in that memorable epoch in the world's eventful history, the Christian era--an era which closed one volume in the record of man's existence and opened another — which drew aside the dark curtain of death and degradation, exhibiting to life's worn and weary pilgrim, along the wastes of ignorance and barbarism, new domains of hope and happiness for exploration and improvement, new fields for him to subdue, and fertilize, and reap, and new triumphs for him to achieve in the cause of human regeneration.
And let him who fails to estimate the priceless value of this divine reformation in a temporal sense alone, contrast the condition of man wherever Christian civilization has travelled, with a people groping amidst the degrading darkness of idolatry, or bowing beneath some imposture still more heaven-daring and impious.
Second only in interest and importance to the religion of Him who spake as never man spake, is that system of political truth which proclaims the doctrine of man's equality, and elevates him in the scale of being to that dignity of station which heaven destined him to fill.
For untold centuries, despotism and kingcraft had asserted dominion over the world's masses.
Every attempt to break the fetters which held a people in vassalage had resulted in riveting them more securely upon the limbs of servitude.
Labor had groaned under the exactions, and the spirit had prayed long and fervently for deliverance, but in vain.
The failure of every effort to correct an organization so false, and vicious, and cruel, and to restore the power swayed by the tyrannic few to the plundered many, had been written in human blood, until
Hope, for a season, bade the world farewell.
But our fathers, imbued with the spirit of liberty, which a free respiration of the air of the new world inspired, and goaded to desperation by the exactions of oppression, rolled the stone from the door of the sepulchre, where crucified and entombed liberty was slumbering, and it arose to light and life, to cheer, and bless, and give hope to the down-trodden humanity of earth; to emancipate the immortal mind from the slavery by which it was degraded.
They asserted the simplest yet sublimest of political truths, that all men were created equal.
They arraigned at the bar of a Christian world, trembling, tyrannous, stultified legitimacy, while asserting its impious dogma of Heaven-descended rulers, and they repudiated and laughed to scorn the fraudulent theories, base pretensions, and vain ceremonials of its political hierarchy.
They declared in the broadest sense the right of man's self-government, and his capacity for its exercise, and sought release from a proud and haughty monarchy, that they might enjoy upon this continent a nation's independence, and found a system which recognized the equality of men, in which their theories were established.
They trusted the future of their “lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” to the chances of a great experiment, and while the timid faltered, the treacherous betrayed, the mercenary moaned, and the unbelieving derided; far-seeing patriotism pressed forward with an eye of faith, upon its mission of progress, until hope gave place to fruition; until expectation became success, until the most formidable power of earth learned the salutary lesson, that a proud nation mighty in armed men, and strong in the terrible material of war by sea and by land, could not conquer the everlasting truth.
The experiment, so full of promise and yet so threatened with dangers, became an accomplished fact.
Like a grain of mustard seed, sown in a subdued faith, it shot upward, and became an over-shadowing tree, so widespread and luxuriant, that the birds of the air could rest on its branches.
Would that none of the evil omen had ever taken refuge there!
Thus was planted the germ of liberty in this holy land of freedom.
It was nurtured in the warm hearts' blood of patriots and watered by the tears of widows and of orphans; but for a time it was tremulous and slender, and, like a frail reed, it bowed before every breeze.
Oh, what invocations ascended to Him “who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb,” for that cherished shoot, that the “winds of Heaven might not visit it too roughly.”
With the Fathers of Revolution, it was remembered at the morning and evening sacrifice.
“When its leaves withered, they mourned, and when it rejoiced, they rejoiced with it.”
But those who planted it, and watched over its spring-time with more than a father's solicitude, have gone up to loftier courts, and repose under the fadeless foliage of the tree of life.
The gray-haired minister who craved for it God's blessings, has been wafted away like the prophets of old, in a chariot of fire, and the children who sported together on the grass beneath it, now slumber with their fathers.
The last Revolutionary soldier who rejoiced in its pride and told with tears its early trials, “Shouldered his crutch, and showed how fields were won,” has been mustered into the service of his Lord
and Master, where the tramp of cavalry, and the shock of armies, the neighing of chargers, and the blast of bugles, shall be heard no more.
But the slender shoot of other times has become a giant in the world's extended forest.
Its roots have sunk down deep in earth, its top has stretched beyond the clouds, and its branches have spanned the continent.
Its form is graceful, its foliage is bright and beautiful, and its fruits have carried gladness to every quarter of the globe.
The oppressed of other lands, finding, like the wearied dove, no rest amid the
old world's desolation, have conquered the holiest instincts of the soul, the love of early home, of the birthplace, of the streams of childhood, of the graves of their beloved dead, and have sought a gathering place of affection under its protecting branches.
Here they have reposed in peace and plenty, and fancied security from the struggles which cursed their native land.
No groans of oppression are heard beneath it, no deadly malaria sickens in its shade, but its sheltering influences, refreshing as the dews and genial as the sunshine, have blessed and cherished all.
Ah! What government has so protected its children, so ennobled man, so elevated woman, so inspired youth, so given hope and promise to budding childhood, so smoothed the descent of dreary age; has so guarded the freedom of conscience, so diffused intelligence, so fostered letters and the arts, so secured to all “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?”
The triumphs of freedom, moral and material, under this new dispensation, have excelled the hope of the most sanguine.
From three, our population has increased to thirty millions; from thirteen feeble colonies along the Atlantic
slope, to thirty-four powerful States, with numerous others in the process of formation, and on their way for admittance to the Union
Two strong European
powers have withdrawn from the continent, leaving us the fruits of their possessions.
Great and prosperous States and cities and towns, teeming with the elements of enterprise and social culture, and abounding with institutions of religion and learning, have arisen as if by magic, on the far distant Pacific, where we have only paused, lest to cross it might put us on our return voyage, and bring us nearer home; and the river which the ambition of our early history essayed to fix for our western limit, now runs nearest our eastern boundary.
Numerous aboriginal nations leave been displaced before the prevailing current of our arts and arms, and free principles, and whoever listens may hear the pattering feet of coming millions; and whoever will look back upon the past and forward upon the future, must see that there are further races for us to civilize, educate and absorb, and that new triumphs await us in the cause of progress and civilization.
Thus have we passed from infancy to childhood, from childhood to robust and buoyant youth, and from youth to vigorous manhood, and with an overgrowth so superabundant, we should neither be surprised nor alarmed that we have provoked foreign envy as well as unwilling admiration — that cankers of discontent are gnawing at our heart-strings, and that we are threatened with cheeks, and trials, and reverses.
The continent of North America
presents to the observing mind one great geographical system, every portion of which, under the present facilities for intercommunication, may be more accessible to every other than were the original States to each other at the time the confederacy was formed.
It is destined at no distant day to become permanently the commercial centre, when France
will pay tribute to New York, and the Rothschilds and the Barings will sell exchange on Wall street at a premium; and it requires no romantic stretch of the imagination to believe that the time is at hand, when man, regarding his own wants, yielding to his own impulses, and acting in obedience to laws more potent than the laws of a blind ambition, will ordain that the continent shall be united in political as well as natural bonds, and form but one great Union--a Free, Self-Governed, Confederated Republic, exhibiting to an admiring world the results which have been achieved for man's freedom and elevation in this western hemisphere.
In ordinary times, a correct taste would suggest that, upon occasions like the present, all subjects of political concern, however measured by moderation, and seasoned with philosophy and historic truth, should be left for discussion to some appropriate forum, and those only considered which are more in sympathy with the objects of the societies of Amherst
; but when the glorious edifice which protects and shelters all is threatened with the fate of the Ephesian dome, the patriotic scholar, before he sits down to his favorite banquet, will raise his voice and nerve his arm, to aid in extinguishing the flames, that he may preserve to posterity institutions without which all the learning of the schools would be but mockery, and give place to violence, and ignorance, and barbarism.
This is emphatically a utilitarian and practical age, and when the foundations upon which the ark of our political safety rests are threatened, rebellion is wafted on every breeze, and the rude din of arms greets us on either hand, menacing our very existence as a great and prosperous people, letters may sympathize with the danger, and become silent in our midst as well as laws.
Bad government is the enemy of knowledge.
Under its destructive reign, learning is neglected, ignorance is honored and commended, and free opinion is persecuted as an enemy of State.
Its schools are military despotisms, and the dungeon, the rack, and the gibbet are its teachers.
Under its haughty sway, the energies of mind are bowed and broken, the spirit subdued and restrained in its search for sustenance, and literature and the sciences droop, languish, and die. This glorious Union is our world; while we maintain its integrity, all the nations of the earth, the lofty and the low, must recognize our supremacy, and pay us homage; disjointed, forming two or more fragmentary republics, we shall deserve and receive less consideration than the States of Barbary
; and now that we are threatened with destruction, let us as one people, from the North
and the South
, the East
and the West
, rising above the narrow instincts of parties and associations, relume our lamps of liberty, as the vestals replenished their sacred fire, though not extinguished, from the rays of the morning sun. Let
us renew our covenant, and swear upon the holy altars of our faith, to maintain and defend it and its glorious emblem, the Stars and Stripes, so replete with pleasing memories, and if there are any who distrust their own firmness, and fear they may be seduced or may fall out by the wayside, or be frightened from their purpose, let them, like Fernando Cortez
, burn the means of retreat behind them, that they may remain faithful to the end.
When the sunlight of the last autumn was supplanted by the premonitions of winter, by drifting clouds, and eddying leaves, and the flight of birds to a milder clime, our land was emphatically blessed.
We were at peace with all the powers of the earth, and enjoying undisturbed domestic repose.
A beneficent Providence
had smiled upon the labors of the husbandman, and our granaries groaned under the burden of their golden treasures.
Industry found labor and compensation, and the poor man's latch was never raised except in the sacred name of friendship, or by the authority of law. No taxation consumed, no destitution appalled, no sickness wasted, but health and joy beamed from every face.
The fruits of toil, from the North
and the South
, the East
and the West
, were bringing to our feet contributions of the earth, and trade, which for a time had fallen back to recover breath from previous over-exertion, had resumed her place “where merchants most do congregate.”
The land was replete with gladness, and vocal with thanksgivings, of its sons and daughters, upon the vast prairies of the West
, up its sunny hill-slopes, and through its smiling valleys, along its majestic rivers and down its meandering streamlets, and its institutions of religion and learning and charity echoed back the sound:
But bringing up the rear of this bright host,
A spirit of a different-aspect waved
His wings, like thunder-clouds above some coast,
Whose barren beach with frequent wrecks is paved.
His brow was like the deep when tempest-tost;
Fierce and unfathomable thoughts engraved
Eternal wrath on his immortal face,
And where he gazed, a gloom pervaded space.
Yes, in the moment of our country's triumph, in the plenitude of its pride, in the hey-day of its hope, and in the fulness of its beauty, the serpent which crawled into Eden
, and whispered his glozing story of delusion to the unsuspecting victim of his guile, unable to rise from the original curse which rests upon him, sought to coil his snaky folds around it and sting it to the heart.
From the arts and the enjoyments of peace we have been plunged deep in the horrors of civil war. Our once happy land resounds with the clangor of rebellious arms, and is polluted with the dead bodies of its children, some seeking to destroy, some struggling to maintain the common beneficent Government of all, as established by our fathers.
This effort to divide the Union
, and subvert the Government
, whatever may be the pretence, is, in fact, a daring and dangerous crusade against free institutions.
It should be opposed by the whole power of a patriotic people, and crushed beyond the prospect of a resurrection; and, to attain that end, the Government
should be sustained in every just and reasonable effort to maintain the authority and integrity of the nation; to uphold and vindicate the supremacy of the Constitution
and the majesty of the laws by all lawful means; not grudgingly sustained, with one hesitating, shuffling, unwilling step forward to save appearances, and two stealthy ones backward to secure a seasonable retreat; nor with the shallow craft of a mercenary politician, calculating chances and balancing between expedients, but with the generous alacrity and energy which have a meaning, and prove a loyal, a patriotic, and a willing heart.
It is not a question of administration, but of a Government — not of politics, but of patriotism — not of policy, but of principles which uphold us all — a question too great for party-between the Constitution
and the laws on one hand, and misrule and anarchy on the other-between existence and destruction.
The Union was formed under the Constitution
, by an association of equals; like the temple of Diana
, every pillar which upholds its arches, was the gift of a sovereign; not a sovereign created by man's usurpation and serving upon gala days to exhibit to plundered subjects the diadems, and diamonds, and gorgeous trappings of royalty, but of a sovereign people, created in the image of their Maker, and bearing in their bosoms the crown jewels of immortality.
In the administration of its government, and in the relations of its members with each other, each and every one is entitled to complete equality; the right to enjoy unmolested all the privileges of the compact, in their full length and breadth, in letter and in spirit.
Whenever and wherever there has been a departure from this plain and just stipulation, in theory or in practice, in either section, or where either has employed means or agencies calculated to disturb or irritate, or annoy the other; there have been error and cause of grievance which demanded redress and restitution; and when rebellion has sheathed its sword, and lowered its front, and the obligations of the Constitution
are again recognized by all who owe it obedience, may every true friend of the Constitution and Union unite in a common purpose and an earnest effort, in seeing that there remains no just cause of complaint unredressed in any portion of the confederacy.
But there has been no grievance alleged, which, if true, could justify armed rebellion and disunion.
The Constitution, with defects and imperfections from which human creations are inseparable, bears upon its bosom remedies for every abuse which is practised in its name, and the power to punish every violation of its salutary provisions; and those who are unable to “bear the ills they have,” should invoke its spirit, rather than “fly to others which they know not of.”
And the Government
, though it has by no means been exempt from maladministration
throughout its eventful history, has been less arraigned for injustice than any Government on earth.
And time and patience and a sense of popular justice, the ebbs and flows and currents of opinion would have proved a corrective of all serious causes of disturbance.
But efforts to divide the Union
and destroy the Government
, besides being intrinsically atrocious, instead of correcting the alleged grievances, are calculated to aggravate them more than a hundred-fold, and, if successful, to close a day of humanities, hope and promise, in this refuge of liberty, in blood and darkness.
No one denies to an oppressed people the right of revolution as the last dreadful resort of man seeking emancipation, when all other efforts have proved unavailing-never to be entered upon except as a terrible necessity.
But Secession is a bold and bald and wicked imposture, with its authors; a chimera, an illusion, and cheat with those who are betrayed into its support, and it exhibits the worst features of the basest despotism in enforcing obedience to its reign of terror.
It is but a synonym for disunion by violence, under the pretence of rights reserved to States; and must have sprung, like the voluptuous goddess, from froth, so little of right, or reason, or justice, or remedy, or good sense, is there in it, or around it, or about it; though, like the contents of the mystic girdle, it promised to its votaries a surfeit of hidden pleasures.
The attempt to liken this wicked and corrupt rebellion to the American Revolution
, requires an. assurance of brass sufficient to reconstruct the Colossus of Rhodes
While the colonies were petitioning for a redress of grievances, war was precipitated upon them by the British Crown
, to compel their submission and silence.
While Congress was canvassing the alleged grievances of a portion of the States of the Confederacy
, and while its legislation upon the subject of the Territories
was proceeding in harmony with their professed wishes, members representing such aggrieved States withdrew and precipitated disunion in hot haste, before the result of proposed conciliatory efforts could be ascertained, as though they feared, if they awaited the development of events in progress, they might be more seriously aggrieved by a redress of grievances!
The Colonies had neither support, nor sympathy, nor representation in any department of the British Government
, but they persevered in their efforts to obtain justice and recognition so long as a single ray of hope gave promise, and until they were silenced by the presence of British troops, and were compelled to submit to slavery and degradation, or appeal to the last refuge of an oppressed people — the arbitrament of the battle-field.
They claimed no false or fabricated reading of the British Constitution, which enabled them to sever their connection with the Crown and avoid the responsibility of revolution, but they manfully took their stand upon the ultima ratio
They received a world's sympathy, because their revolt was an imperious necessity, and Heaven smiled upon their efforts for deliverance and in-dependence.
But if they had connived at the accession of the selfish, perverse, and bigoted George to the Crown, that they might be able to complain of the reigning monarch, and, above all, if they had controlled the Ministry, and held a majority in Parliament, and had then vacated their seats, and yielded up the power to their opponents, and had cried out oppression to cover schemes of political ambition, they would have both deserved, and received, instead of sympathy, or confidence, or countenance, the scorn and contempt of Christendom.
The Declaration of American Independence, the modern Magna Charta
of human rights, evolved the idea, so cheering to the cause of freedom and yet so startling to monarchy, that Governments derived their just powers from the consent of the governed, and that although Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes, yet when they become subversive of the ends for which they were established, and “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinced the design to reduce them under absolute despotism
, it was their right, their duty to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”
But it nowhere declares that a knot of conspiring politicians, foiled in their schemes of ambition and plunder, and chafing under disappointment like a tiger cheated in his foray, may without the popular support or sympathy, but in defiance of both, assert that the election of a political opponent whose success they might have prevented, is a sufficient cause of rebellion; or that a party or an interest, which has the majority in both branches of the Representative Government
, and is protected by the opinions of the judiciary of the nation, can withdraw, so as to give its opponents the power, and then set on foot a rebellion, and seek to destroy an edifice which stands as the last best hopes of man, because they fear they may be visited with political oppression!
Those who practise such shallow devices before the world, in the latter part of the nineteenth century, should remember that they but copy the stupid instincts of the bird which buries its head in the sand, and then indulges the conceit that its ungainly body is concealed also.
Whatever causes of disturbance and disaffection existed between the North and South, the public judgment has rendered its verdict upon abundant evidence, and with extraordinary unanimity, deciding that such formed a remote and feeble element in inducing disunion, but that it was a foregone conclusion with those who urged it forward, darkly designed and deliberately determined, for the purpose of securing personal eclat
and self-aggrandizement, rather than of securing rights and privileges to an oppressed section of people.
Order is Heaven's first law,
--it is coeval with being.
No people, civilized
or savage, ever existed without a Government for their guidance and regulation.
Beasts of the field and forest, birds of the air, fishes of the sea, and insects which inhabit all, form their colonies and associations, and arrange themselves in obedience to some recognized rule; and even inanimate objects obey with unerring certainty the hand that guides them.
Nor do the lights of his-tory, the lessons of experience, or the flickering shadows of tradition tell of a Government which voluntarily and by design planted the seeds of its own decay in its bosom, or provided for its own destruction and overthrow, by committing its life and destiny to other hands.
The Constitution forming the Union
and erecting its Government, was the emanation of t
he people of the United States
. It was adopted, as declared in its preamble, “to form a more perfect Union, to establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, to promote the general welfare, and to secure the blessings of liberty to the people who ordained it to their posterity.”
But if the instrument, which formed the more perfect Union with becoming solemnity contemplated its dismemberment and overthrow, by the withdrawal of all or any of the States therefrom at the pleasure of their capricious politicians, it remained a most imperfect and pitiable Union still.
If the justice it established was but temporary, if the domestic tranquillity it insured was for the time being, if the common defence it provided for was until some of the States should withdraw from the Union
and make war upon it, and if the blessings of liberty it secured to posterity were upon condition that those who secured them should not wish to subvert the liberty thus secured by armed force, then our boasted Constitution, which has been hailed throughout the earth as one of the wisest emanations of man, and enjoys a world-wide fame for its humane provisions and lofty conceptions of statesmanship, should be scouted as a fraud, a delusions and an imposture, possessing much more sound than substance, and carrying by design in its own bosom the seeds of its dissolution.
But no sentence, or word, or syllable can be found in the Federal Constitution
sustaining an idea at once so puerile and monstrous.
It provides for the admission to the Union
of new States, but not the withdrawal therefrom of those already members.
To gain such admission the State
must apply to Congress, with a constitution Republican in form; and upon an act of Congress authorizing such admission, duly approved and signed by the President
of the United States
, such State becomes a member of the confederacy.
If one State, being thus admitted, can withdraw at pleasure, by passing an act or ordinance of Secession, and cancel a solemn covenant by one party alone, which it required two to make, and in which both remain interested, any or all may do the same, and the rich harvest of liberty and its attending blessings, which our forefathers professed to secure to posterity, may prove a barren and a blasted field, when those for whom it was designed prepare to reap their inheritance.
It is a familiar principle of law that a repealing statute, itself repealed, revives and puts in force the former law. So long, then, as Congress permits its several acts for the admission of the revolted States to the Union
to stand, according to Secession law and logic, these States can go out and in at pleasure, and if they may withdraw by an ordinance of their own, by the same rule Congress may expel them by repealing its act of admission.
To go out of the Union
as they insist, they have only to pass an act or ordinance of Secession without the knowledge, privity, or consent of the Government
of the Union
To return, they would have only to repeal it. They can then go out when it suits principle, and return when it favors interest; or they can alternate like migratory birds with the seasons, hatching Disunion in the Confederacy
and rearing it without, and as thus far its managers have, in most instances, generously relieved the people of participation in the matter, the destruction of old governments and the erection of new ones would occasion little inconvenience.
, according to mythology, and that is an authority not easily refuted, leaped fully armed from the brain of Jupiter
; but stranger still, the founders of the Government
of the Southern Confederacy leaped fully armed with high-sounding titles of official station from their own, and brought their government with them; an emanation neither suggested nor approved by the popular voice, but the creation of those who, like the renowned Peter Brush, “wanted something to have rather than something to do,” and almost universally repudiated wherever opportunity has been afforded.
A Government purporting to be of the people without permitting them to have a voice in constructing it; without a “local habitation,” of departments in the abstract, and offices with more titles than duties; a President without an election, a Treasury without money, or sources of revenue, a Navy without ships, a Post-Office without mails, a Minister of foreign relations, whose relations abroad decline to acknowledge the connection, a department of the Interior representing a nature-abhorred vacuum, an Attorney-General
without law, and a Patent-Office which, in the absence of other business, should issue letters securing the exclusive right of this new-fledged confederacy to those who invented it, for its extraordinary novelty rather than its acknowledged utility; that it may be preserved to after-times in the world's curiosityshop, with Law
's scheme of banking, the moonhoax of Locke
, the messages of the President
over the submarine telegraph, and Redheiffer's perpetual motion.
The advocates of the right of Secession in claiming that a State, after its solemn admission and while enjoying the protection and participating in the fruits of the Union
, may at its
pleasure, and by its own act, secede, to be consistent, should hold that a nation may at pleasure withdraw from its treaty obligations without previous provision or consent of the other side; that one who has conveyed an estate and received the consideration, may resume it when it suits his necessity or convenience, that the husband or wife may repudiate the marriage obligation without detriment, or a disregard of marital faith, and in short, that a covenant made by two parties, and in which both are interested, may be cancelled by one.
The right thus to secede must rest upon a political free love, where States unequally united may, on discovering their true affinities, dissolve the first condition and become sealed in confederate wedlock to their chosen companions during pleasure, and the authors of the discovery should go down to posterity as the Brigham Youngs
of modern confederacies.
Most events of modern times find their parallel in early history, and this attempt to extemporize a government upon the elements of political disquietude, so that, like sets of dollar jewelry, every person can have one of his own, does not form an exceptional case.
When David swayed the sceptre of Judea, the comely Absalom
, a bright star of the morning, whose moral was obscured by his intellectual light, finding such amusements as the slaying of his brother and burning the barley fields of Joab, too tame for his ambition, conceived the patriotic idea of driving his father from the throne, of usurping the regal authority and relieving the people unasked from the oppressions under which he had discovered they were groaning.
Like modern demagogues he commenced with disaffection, advised all who came with complaints that, from royal inattention, no one was deputed to hear them, and in greeting those who passed the King
's gate with a kiss, that he might steal away their hearts, he lamented that he was not a judge in the land, so that any one who had a cause or suit, might come to him, and he would do him justice.
Under pretence of going to Hebron
, the royal residence in the early reign of David, to pay his vows, for he was conscientious in the matter of vows as Herod
, he raised a rebellious army, and sent spies through the laud to proclaim him king and reigning in Hebron
, when the trumpet should sound upon the air. The conspiracy, says sacred history, was strong, and the rebellion was so artfully contrived, so stealthily inaugurated, that it gave high promise of success.
The king, although in obedience to the stern dictates of duty, he sent forth his armies by hundreds and by thousands to assert and maintain his prerogative, exhibited the heart of a good prince and an affectionate father, in beseeching them for his sake, to deal gently with the young man, even Absalom; and when the conflict was over, the first inquiry with anxious solicitude was, “Is the young man safe?”
And yet this ambitious rebel, in raising a numerous and powerful army, and endeavoring to wrest the Government
from the rightful monarch, would doubtless have claimed, according to modern acceptation, that he was acting from high convictions of duty, from a powerful necessity, and fighting purely in self-defence.
And when the great battle was set in array in the wood of Ephraim, where 20,000 were slaughtered, and the wood devoured that day more than the sword devoured, there was evidently nothing that he so much desired, when he saw exposure and overthrow inevitable, as to be let alone
. But that short struggle subdued the aspirations, and closed forever the ignoble career of this ambitious leader in Israel
— a warning to those who would become judges before their time, or be made kings upon the sound of a trumpet, blown by their own directions.
Let all such remember the wood of Ephraim, the wide-spreading branches of the oak, the painful suspense
which came over the author of the rebellion, the darts of Joab, and the dark pit into which this prince of the royal household was cast for his folly, his madness, and treachery.
And when those charged with the administration of our Government send forth its armies by hundreds and by thousands to main-tain and vindicate the Constitution and Union of our fathers, may they imitate the example of the wise king of Judea, and beseech the captains of the hosts to deal gently with the young Absaloms
of Secession, and by all means inquire for their safety, when their armies have been completely routed, and the rebellion put down forever.
Secession, either peaceable or violent, if crowned with complete success, can furnish no remedy for sectional grievances, real or imaginary.
It would be as destructive of Southern as of Northern interests, for both are alike concerned in the maintenance and prosperity of the Union
It would increase every evil, aggravate every cause of disturbance, and render every acute complaint hopelessly chronic.
Look at miserable, misguided, misgoverned Mexico
, and receive a lesson of instruction.
She has been seceding, and dividing, and pronouncing, and fighting for her rights, and in the self-defence of aggressive leaders, from the day of her nominal independence, and she has reaped an abundant harvest of degradation and shame.
of the Republic
has ever served the full term for which he was elected, and generally, had his successor had more fitness than himself, it would have occasioned no detriment.
When the population of the United States
was three millions that of Mexico
was five; and when that of the United States
is thirty, the population of Mexico
is only eight; and while the United States
has gained the highest rank among the nations of the earth, by common consent, Mexico
has descended to the lowest.
Her people have been the dupes, and slaves, and footballs of aspiring leaders, mad with a reckless and mean ambition, inflated with self-importance and conceit, and
destitute of patriotism or statesmanship.
But as a clown with a pickaxe can demolish the choicest productions of art, so can the demagogue overthrow the loftiest institutions of wisdom.
Thus has poor, despised, dwarfed, and downtrodden Mexico
been crushed forever, under the iron heel of her own insane despoilers; a memorable but melancholy illustration of a people without a fixed and stable government; the sport of the profligate and designing, the victims of fraud and violence.
Southern States along the free border had felt most seriously all the injury and irritation produced by inharmonious and conflicting relations between them and their brethren of the North
, and yet the people of these States shrunk from the remedy of Secession as from the bottomless pit. They saw in it nothing but swift and hopeless destruction, and believed that the desire for disunion had originated more in ultra-ambitious schemes than in a determination to protect their peculiar system of domestic servitude from encroachment.
But States with which the heresy originated and had been cherished, had long revelled in dreamy theories and vague notions of benefits which would flow to them from a dissevered Union, and madly hastened to destroy the fabric of their fathers before it could be rescued.
The most sordid passions of man, seeking indulgence of their appetites in the promised land of Secession, lent their absorbing stimulants to urge forward the catastrophe.
Avarice clanked her chains for the necessitous and mercenary, and fortunes sprung up unbidden on either hand to greet them, seeking masters and service.
Ports, and harbors, and marts, and entrepots rushed in upon a heated imagination, as they heard in the distance the knell of the Union
tolling; they beckoned, and the contributions of a world's commerce were poured into their lap by direct trade, and universal expansion came over all the votaries of disunion, as if by magic.
“The three-hooped pot had ten hoops,” and what was “Greek Creek
once was Tiber now.”
Mammon erected his court, and they heard the clinking of gold in the world's exchequer, as it accumulated at the counters of their exchange.
Ambition kindled her torch, which, like the bush of Horeb
, burned and was not consumed, and rank, and place, and station, and stars and garters, and the gew-gaw trappings of nobility, were showered in promiscuous profusion; wreaths of laurel adorned the brows of the brave, and the devotees of pleasure danced at the music of secession sackbut and psaltery and harp, “and all went merry as a marriage bell.”
Though sectional feeling had, after many years of profitless conflict, culminated, and the wise and Union-loving were engaged in restoring friendly relations, under circumstances more favorable to success than thirty years of struggles had furnished, and though Congress was organizing the Territories
without restriction upon domestic institutions, yet the time for disunion, so long invoked, had come, and one State, so far as in her power, sundered the bonds that made her a member of the Union
before the result of the Presidential election had been declared by Congress.
They turned their backs upon friends and sympathizers, denounced laggards in the cause, declared their repudiation of the Constitution
, and applied the torch to the temple of free government and the Union
, with as little solemnity as they would have repealed an act of legislation.
The property of the United States
, by sea and by land, was seized, and the Government
was defied and menaced by armed forces and avowed preparation for war; other States followed, in form if not in substance, by the action of politicians if not people — some half willing, others more than half forced-those who should have stood with sleepless zeal upon the ramparts of the Constitution
ingloriously surrendered their posts, and the reign of anarchy was thus inaugurated in our own happy land.
All this increased, and seriously too, the embarrassment which surrounded the question.
But still the spirit of the times, the voice of the people in every section, South as well as North
, demanded peace — that abstractions should be laid aside, that every substantial cause of grievance should be redressed, and that the interests of a great and prosperous nation should not be disturbed, nor the moral sense of the world shocked by a conflict of arms among brethren.
There was yet hope that the cup of intestine war might in mercy be permitted to pass.
The report of the first hostile gun which was discharged, however, proclaimed to the world that all chances of peaceful adjustment were over; that “heaven in anger for a dreadful moment had suffered hell to take the reins” --that Pandora
's box was opened again, and the deadliest plagues known to earth let loose to curse it; but like that repository of evil, hope yet smiled at the bottom.
Argument and opinion were thrust aside for violence and blood with deliberate preparation.
Is it strange that the natural elements sympathized with the occasion, as the intelligence was flashed through the land?
A sheet of cimmerian darkness, near midnight, hung like a death-pall over the earth — the winds moaned heavily, like the wail of spirits lost-doors creaked and windows clattered, driving currents and counter-currents of sleet and rain descended like roaring cataracts; but the hoarse and startling shriek of the New York newsboy rose above all with the appalling cry, “the bombardment of Fort Sumter
Gave signs of woe
That all was lost.
The blood-fiend laughed loud; the evil genius of humanity clapped his hands in triumph; Monarchy “grinned horribly a ghastly smile,” but Liberty, bathed in tears, was bowed in
shame, for the madness of her degenerate children.
The first flash of artillery kindled anew a flame of patriotic devotion to country, which will burn with a pure and constant glow when the lamp of mortal existence shall pale and flicker in death.
Its first reverberations upon the air, aroused a slumbering love of Constitution and of Union, and of the cherished emblem of all, the Stars and Stripes, which will not again seek repose until the roar of hostile guns shall be silenced.
It startled to their feet, as if by a common impulse, twenty millions of freemen, to guard the citadel of their faith from destruction, as war was driving his ebon car upon his remorseless mission.
This civil intestine war is one of the most fearful and ferocious that ever desolated earth; and its authors will be cursed, when the atrocities of Bajazet and Tamerlane, and the Khans of Tartary and India
, and other despoilers of the earth shall be forgotten.
It is a war between and among brethren.
Those whose eyes should have beamed in friendship now gleam in war; those who close in the death-struggle upon the battle-field, were children of the same household and nurtured at the same gathering place of affection; baptized at the same font, and confirmed at the same chancel:
They grew in beauty, side by side,
They filled one house with glee;
* * * * * *
Whose voices mingled as they prayed
Round the same parent knee.
But, while we express deep humiliation for the depravity of our kind, and are shocked and sickened at a spectacle so revolting, we should not abandon the dear old mansion to the flames, even though kindled by brethren, who should have watched over it with us, and guarded it from harm.
And, while we should not raise our hand to shed a brother's blood, we may turn aside his insane blow, aimed at the heart of the venerated mother of all. And, if a great power of Europe
is disposed to sympathize with rebellion, and believes this Government and this people can be driven by the menace of foreign and domestic forces combined, to avoid the curses of war, let her try the experiment.
But when they come, to save time and travel, let them bring with them a duly executed quitclaim to the Union
for such portions of the North American Continent
as they have not surrendered to it in former conflicts, for they will have occasion for just such an instrument, whenever their impertinent interference is manifested practically in our domestic affairs.
Conspicuous in this strange passage of the new world's history is the secession of Texas
A State with extended territories, and the right to form four more States from them without restriction, south of the old Missouri line,--a State requiring the protection of the Federal Government
to guard it from marauding savages and other hostile bands — a State which was never wronged by a Northern State, nor by the Government
of the Union
, in theory or in practice.
This State was the last Southern State gathered under the flag of the Union
--admitted in 1845, more as a Southern than a Northern measure; admitted, too, under peculiar circumstances, after a most memorable struggle, and in the highest branch of the National Legislature, by a single vote.
Sir John of Hynford, 'twas my blade,
That knighthood on thy shoulder laid;
For this good deed, permit me then,
A word to these misguided men.
Not to those who would seek to maintain but to those who labor to destroy the Union
You have widely mistaken both the temper and the purpose of the great body of people of the Free States
in the present crisis.
In this unnatural struggle, which your leaders have forced upon them, they seek only to uphold and maintain, and preserve from destruction a Government which is a common inheritance, and in the preservation of which you are equally interested.
They seek not to despoil your States, not to disturb your internal relations, but to preserve the Union
which shelters and protects all, and vindicate the Constitution
, which is especially your only defence from aggression — is both your sword and shield.
They war not upon your peculiar system of domestic servitude, nor will they, but they admonish you in a spirit of kindness that, during this brief struggle, its friends and advocates have been its worst enemies, and have furnished arguments against it which will weaken its foundations, when the denunciation of its most persistent Anti-Slavery foes are forgotten forever.
You arraign the people of the free States for rallying around the Government
of the Union
, of which a few months since you were members, and sustained it yourselves, and which, at the time of your alleged secession, had experienced no change beyond one of political administrations.
You rebuke those who stood with you through good and evil report, in defence of the Constitution
and all its guarantees, in its dark days of trial, when menaced only by opinion, for sustaining it, now, when it is assailed by armed forces, and insist that, after having defended that sacred instrument so long and so faithfully, they are bound now to assist in its overthrow!--a system of law, logic, and morality peculiar to disunion ethics alone.
You repudiate the Constitution
with no sufficient cause of revolution, for all the alleged causes of grievance as stated were insufficient to justify it, and proclaimed a dissolution of the Union
, defied and dishonored its flag, and menaced the Government
by denouncing actual war. You seized by violence its fortresses, armories, ships, mints, custom-houses, navy-yards, and other property, to which you had not even a pretence of right, and threatened to take possession of the National Capital
You bombarded Fort Sumter
, a fortress of the United States
, garrisoned as a peace establishment only, and in a state of starvation, from
batteries which the Government
of the United States
, in its extreme desire for peace, permitted you to erect for that purpose, under the guns of the same fortification, a proceeding unheard of before, and never to be repeated hereafter,--bombarded it too, because the flag of the Union
which your fathers and yourselves had fought under with us the battles of the Constitution
,--a flag which a few days previously you had hailed with pride-because the Stars and Stripes, the joy of every American heart, full of glowing histories and lofty recollections,--floating over it according to the custom of every nation and people under Heaven, were hateful in your sight!
were tired of hearing their great leader called the Just, and consigned him to banishment.
You were annoyed at the sight of the noblest national emblem which floats under the sun, when unfurled where, by your consent, and for a consideration, too, the Government
of the United States
held exclusive jurisdiction, and where it properly belonged; and for this you commenced a war promising to be more ferocious and exterminating throughout the Republic
, than was the atrocious decree of Herod
in a single village.
was not erected for the exclusive defence of the harbor of Charleston
, but for the purpose of preventing a foreign enemy from making a lodgment there, and from that point levying successful maritime war upon New York, Boston
, New Orleans, and other towns and cities.
And the unfriendly relations which sprung up between the Southern States
and the Government
of the Union
, made its retention and occupation more necessary than before.
You will not consent that the General Government
, the Government
of the whole people, should march forces over the “sacred soil of a State” of the confederacy, to maintain its own dignity and authority, to check rebellion, and save the Capital
from conflagration, and its archives from destruction; but you should stand admonished that there is no soil sufficiently sacred under the broad aegis of the Constitution
, to shelter armed rebellion or secret treason, and that the Government
of the United States
has not only full right and lawful authority to march its forces over every inch of territory between the St. Lawrence
and the Pacific
, to stop the progress of enemies, foreign or domestic; to put down rebellion, or to arrest those who despoil its property or resist the execution of its laws; but that it is its first and most solemn duty to do so. Should the General Government
enter a State for the purpose of interference with its domestic policy, it would be usurpation and an unwarrantable invasion — a neglect to employ its power to enforce its constitutional prerogative would be a culpable disregard of official obligation.
You propose to defend your home-hearths, your firesides, your porches, your altars, your wives, and your children, your household gods, and these resolves sound well indeed, even in the abstract; but practically the defence will be in time when they are assailed, or at least threatened.
And you may rest with the assurance that when either of these sacred and cherished interests shall be desecrated or placed in danger or in jeopardy from any vandal spirit upon the globe, you shall not defend them alone; for an army from the Free States
mightier than that which rose up to crush your rebellion, “aye a great multitude, which no man can number,” will defend them for you. But the issue must not be changed nor frittered away.
was not your home-hearth, Pickens
your fireside, Harper's Ferry
your porch, the navy-yards your altars, the custom-houses and post-offices and revenue cutters your wives and children, nor the mints your household gods.
The Government has no right to desecrate your homes, nor have you the right to seize upon and appropriate to yourselves under any name, however specious, what is not your own, but the property of the whole people of the United States
; not of those in array against it as enemies, defying its laws, but those who acknowledge and defer to its authority.
You desire peace!
Then lay down your arms and you will have it. It was peace when you took them up, it will be peace when you lay them down.
It will be peace when you abandon war and return to your accustomed pursuits.
Honorable, enduring, pacific relations will be found in complete obedience to the provisions of the Constitution
, and not in its violation or destruction.
The Government is sustained by the people, not for the purpose of coercing States in their domestic policy, not for the purpose of crushing members of the Confederacy
because they fail to conform to a Federal standard, not for the purpose of despoiling their people, and least of all, not for the purpose of disturbing, or in any degree interfering with the system of Southern servitude; but for the sole and only purpose of putting down an unholy armed rebellion, which has defied the authority of the Government
, and seeks its destruction, and in this their determination is taken with a resolution, compared with which the edicts of the Medes and Persians were yielding and temporary.
When the Government
of our fathers shall be again recognized, when the Constitution
and the laws to which every citizen owes allegiance shall be observed and obeyed; then will the armies of the Constitution
and the Union
disband, by a common impulse, in obedience to a unanimous popular will.
And should the present or any succeeding Administration attempt to employ the authorities of the Government
and people to coerce States, or mould their internal affairs in derogation of the Constitution
, the same array of armed forces would again take the field, but it would be to arrest Federal assumption and usurpation and protect the domestic rights of States.
War is emphatically, and more especially
a war between brethren, is a disgrace to civilization-and any war is a drain upon the life-blood of a nation, and originates in wrong Evil spirits give power to evil men for its inauguration, that amid conflicts of blood they may cast all roaring down to the dark regions, where the waves of oblivion will close over them.
Its evils cannot be written, even in human blood.
It sweeps our race from earth, as if Heaven had repented the making of man. It lays its skinny hand upon society, and leaves it deformed by wretchedness and black with gore.
It marches on its mission of destruction through a red sea
of blood, and tinges the fruits of earth with a sanguine hue, as the mulberry reddened in sympathy with the romantic fate of the devoted lovers.
It “spoils the dance of youthful blood,” and writes sorrow and grief prematurely upon the glad brow of childhood.
It chills the heart and hope of youth.
It drinks the life current of early manhood, and brings down the gray hairs of the aged with sorrow to the grave.
It weaves the widow's weeds with the bridal wreath
, and our land, like Rama, is filled with wailing and lamentation.
It lights up the darkness with the flames of happy homes.
It consumes, like the locusts of Egypt
, every living thing in its pathway.
It wrecks fortunes, brings bankruptcy and repudiation, and blasts the fields of the husbandman — it depopulates towns, and leaves cities a modern Herculaneum
It desolates the firesides, and covers the family dwelling with gloom, and an awful vacancy rests where, like the haunted mansion:
No human figure stirred to go or come,
No face looked forth from open shut or casement,
No chimney smoked; there was no sign of home,
From parapet to basement.
No dog was on the threshold great or small,
No pigeon on the roof, no household creature,
No cat demurely dozing on the wall,
Not one domestic feature.
It loads the people with debt to pass down from one generation to another, like the curse of original sin; upon its merciless errand of violence, it fills the land with crime and tumult and rapine, and it “gluts the grave with untimely victims and peoples the world of perdition.”
In the struggle of its death throes, it heaves the moral elements with convulsions, and leaves few traces of utility behind it to mitigate its curse, and he who inaugurates it, like the ferocious Hun
, should be denominated the scourge of God, and when his day of reckoning shall come, he will call upon the rocks and mountains to hide him from popular indignation.
But with all its attending evils, such a Union cannot be yielded to its demands, nor to avoid its terrors, even though, like the Republic
, we may exchange for a time “liberty, equality, and fraternity,” for infantry, cavalry, and artillery.
Nor are tame and timid measures the guarantors of peace.
It is as much the nature of faction to be base as of patriotism to be noble; and a divided Union, instead of securing peace, would present constant occasion for conflict, and be a fruitful source of war. Let the rabble cry of divide and crucify go on from the throat of faction, and the cold and calculating political Pilates wash their hands, and proclaim their innocence, while their souls are stained with guilt and crime for urging it forward; but let the faithful, conscious of their integrity and strong in truth, endure to the end. Yet ruthless as is the sway, and devastating as the course of war, it is not the greatest of evils nor the last lesson in humiliation.
“Sweet are the uses of adversity.”
In its current of violence and blood, it may purify an atmosphere too long surcharged with discontent and corruption, and apostasy and treachery and littleness, and prove how poor a remedy it is for social grievances.
It may correct the dry-rot of demoralization in public station, and raise us, as a people, above the dead level of a mean and morbid ambition.
It may scatter the tribe of bloated hangers — on who seek to serve their country that they may plunder and betray it; and above all it may arouse the popular mind to a just sense of its responsibility, until it shall select its servants with care, and hold them to a faithful discharge of their duties; until deficient morals shall be held questionable, falsehood a social fault, violations of truth a disqualification and bribery a disgrace-until integrity shall be a recommendation, and treason and larceny crimes.
Can a Union once dissevered be reconstructed by the arrangement of all parties concerned in its formation?
No! When it is once destroyed it is destroyed forever.
Let those who believe it can be, first raise the dead, place the dimpling laugh of childhood upon the lip of age, gather up the petals of May flowers and bind them upon their native stems in primeval freshness amid the frosts of December, bring back the withered leaves of Autumn and breathe into them their early luxuriance, and then bring together again the scattered elements of a dissevered Union, when the generous spring-time of our Republic has passed away, and selfishness and ambition have come upon us with their premature frosts and “Winter of discontent.”
Shall we then surrender to turbulence, and faction, and rebellion, and give up the Union
with all its elements of good, all its holy memories, all its hallowed associations, all its bloodbought history?
No! let the eagle change his plume,
The leaf its hue, the flower its bloom.
But do not give up the Union
Preserve it to “flourish in immortal youth,” until it is dissolved amid the “wreck of matter and the crash of worlds.”
Let the patriot and statesman stand by it to the last, whether assailed by foreign or domestic foes, and if he perishes in the conflict, let him fall like Rienzi
, the last of the Tribunes, upon the same stand where he has preached liberty and equality to his countrymen.
Preserve it in the name of the Fathers of
the Revolution — preserve it for its great elements of good — preserve it in the sacred name of liberty — preserve it for the faithful and devoted lovers of the Constitution
in the rebellious States--those who are persecuted for its support, and are dying in its defence.
Rebellion can lay down its arms to Government — Government cannot surrender to rebellion.
Give up the Union
“this fair and fertile plain to batten on that moor.”
Divide the Atlantic
, so that its tides shall beat in sections, that some spurious Neptune
may rule an ocean of his own!
Draw a line upon the sun's disc, that it may cast its beams upon earth in divisions!
Let the moon, like Bottom in the play, show but half its face!
Separate the constellation of the Pleiades, and sunder the bands of Orion
I but retain the Union
Give up the Union
, with its glorious flag, its Stars and Stripes, full of proud and pleasing and honorable recollections, for the spurious invention with no antecedents, but the history of a violated Constitution and of lawless ambition!
No! let us stand by the emblem of our fathers,
Flag of the free hearts, hope, and home,
By angel hands to valor given,
Thy stars have lit the welkin dome
And all thy hues were born in Heaven.
Ask the Christian
to exchange the cross, with the cherished memories of a Saviour's love, for the crescent of the impostor, or to address his prayers to the Juggernaut or Josh, instead of the living and true God!
but sustain the emblem your fathers loved and cherished.
Give up the Union
Never! The Union shall endure, and its praises shall be heard when its friends and its foes, those who support, and those who assail, those who bare their bosoms in its defence, and those who aim their daggers at its heart, shall all sleep in the dust together.
Its name shall be heard with veneration amid the roar of Pacific
's waves, away upon the rivers of the North and East, where liberty is divided from monarchy, and be wafted in gentle breezes upon the Rio Grande
It shall rustle in the harvest, and wave in the standing corn, on the extended prairies of the West
, and be heard in the bleating folds and lowing herds upon a thousand hills.
It shall be with those who delve in mines, and shall hum in the manufactories of New England
, and in the cotton gins of the South
It shall be proclaimed by the Stars and Stripes in every sea of earth, as the American Union, one and indivisible; upon the great thoroughfares, wherever steam drives and engines throb and shriek, its greatness and perpetuity shall be hailed with gladness.
It shall be lisped in the earliest words, and ring in the merry voices of childhood, and swell to Heaven upon the song of maidens.
It shall live in the stern resolve of manhood, and rise to the mercyseat upon woman's gentle availing prayer.
Holy men shall invoke its perpetuity at the altars of religion, and it shall be whispered in the last accents of expiring age. Thus shall survive and be perpetuated the American Union, and when it shall be proclaimed that time shall be no more, and the curtain shall fall, and the good shall be gathered to a more perfect Union, still may the destiny of our dear land recognize the conception, that
Perfumes as of Eden flowed sweetly along,
And a voice, as of angels, enchantingly sung,
Columbia, Columbia, to glory arise.
The Queen of the World, and the child of the skies.