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[526]

Is there any point of pride which prevents us from withdrawing that garrison? I have heard it said by a gallant gentleman, to whom I make no special reference, that the great objection was an unwillingness to lower the flag. To lower the flag! Under what circumstances? Does any man's courage impel him to stand boldly forth to take the life of his brethren? Does any man insist upon going upon the open field with deadly weapons to fight his brother on a question of courage? There is no point of pride. These are your brethren; and they have shed as much glory upon that flag as any equal number of men in the Union. They are the men, and that is the locality, where the first Union flag was unfurled, and where was fought a gallant battle before our independence was declared—not the flag with thirteen stripes and thirty-three stars, but a flag with a cross of St. George, and the long stripes running through it. When the gallant Moultrie took the British Fort Johnson and carried it, for the first time, I believe, did the Union flag fly in the air; and that was in October, 1775. When he took the position and threw up a temporary battery with palmetto-logs and sand, upon the site called Fort Moultrie, that fort was assailed by the British fleet, and bombarded until the old logs, clinging with stern tenacity, were filled with balls, but the flag still floated there, and, though many bled, the garrison conquered. Those old logs are gone; the eroding current is even taking away the site where Fort Moultrie stood; the gallant men who held it now mingle with the earth; but their memories live in the hearts of a brave people, and their sons yet live, and they, like their fathers, are ready to bleed and die for the cause in which their fathers triumphed. Glorious are the memories clinging around that old fort which now, for the first time, has been abandoned—abandoned not even in the presence of a foe, but under the maginings that a foe might come; and guns spiked and carriages burned where the band of Moultrie bled, and, with an insufficient armament, repelled the common foe of all the colonies. Her ancient history compares proudly with the present.

Can there, then, be a point of pride upon so sacred a soil as this, where the blood of the fathers cries to heaven against civil war? Can there be a point of pride against laying upon that sacred soil to-day the flag for which our fathers died? My pride, Senators, is different. My pride is that that flag shall not set between contending brothers; and that, when it shall no longer be the common flag of the country, it shall be folded up and laid away like a vesture no longer used; that it shall be kept as a sacred memento of the past, to which each of us can make a pilgrimage and remember the glorious days in which we were born.

In the answer of the commissioners which I caused to be read yesterday, I observed that they referred to Fort Sumter as remaining a memento of Carolina faith. It is an instance of the accuracy of the opinion which I have expressed. It stood without a garrison. It commanded the harbor, and the fort was known to have the armament in it capable of defense. Did the Carolinians attack it? Did they propose to seize it? It stood there safe as public property; and there it might have stood to the end of the negotiations without a question, if a garrison had not been sent into it. It was the faith on which they relied, that the Federal Government would take no position of hostility to them, that constituted its safety, and by which they lost the advantage they would have had in seizing it when unoccupied.

I think that something is due to faith as well as fraternity; and I think one of

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October, 1775 AD (1)
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