when the Congress of the United States, on the 4th of July, 1776, issued the ever memorable Declaration which we commemorate to-day, they deemed that a decent respect for the opinions of mankind required a formal statement of the causes which impelled them to the all-important measure.
The eighty-fifth anniversary of the great Declaration finds the loyal people of the Union
engaged in a tremendous conflict, to maintain and defend the grand nationality, which was asserted by our Fathers, and to prevent their fair Creation from crumbling into dishonorable Chaos.
A great People, gallantly struggling to keep a noble framework of government from falling into wretched fragments, needs no justification at the tribunal of the public opinion of mankind.
But while our patriotic fellow-citizens, who have rallied to the defence of the Union
, marshalled by the ablest of living chieftains, are risking their lives in the field; while the blood of your youthful heroes and ours is poured out together in defence of this precious legacy of constitutional freedom, you will not think it a misappropriation of the hour, if I employ it in showing the justice of the cause in which we are engaged, and the fallacy of the arguments employed by the South
, in vindication of the war, alike murderous and suicidal, which she is waging against the Constitution
and the Union
Prosperous State of the country last year.
A twelvemonth ago, nay, six or seven months ago, our country was regarded and spoken of by the rest of the civilized world, as among the most prosperous in the family of nations.
It was classed with England
, and Russia
, as one of the four leading powers of the age.2
Remote as we were from the complications of foreign politics, the extent of our commerce and the efficiency of our navy won for us the respectful consideration of Europe
The United States
were particularly referred to, on all occasions and in all countries, as an illustration of the mighty influence of free governments in promoting the prosperity of States.
, notwithstanding some diplomatic collisions on boundary questions and occasional hostile reminiscences of the past, there has hardly been a debate for thirty years in parliament on any topic, in reference to which this country in the