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powers have withdrawn from the continent, leaving us the fruits of their possessions.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