Fellow-citizens:--I am sorry you have not selected a chairman to preside over your assemblage more accustomed to such a task and more competent to fulfil it than I am. But while feeling my incompetency, I am encouraged by the hope that I shall find in your kind regard an excuse for any errors I. may commit — believing it is my duty, while I can do but little, to do all I can to manifest the deep interest I feel in the restoration to peace and good order and submission to the law of every portion of this glorious Republic.
I cannot take this seat without contrasting the situation in which I now find myself with that in which I was placed on this very spot almost fifty years ago.
Then, in the days of our weakness, we were subjected to dishonorable capitulation brought about by the imbecility of the leader; while now, in the days of our strength, neither treason nor weakness can permanently affect the holy cause to which all hands and hearts are pledged.
(Applause.) Then our contest was a legitimate war waged with a foreign foe; our war to-day is a domestic one, commenced by and bringing in its train acts which no right feeling man can contemplate without most painful regret.
But a few short months since, and we were the first and happiest nation on the face of the globe.
In the midst of this prosperity, without a single foe to assail us, without a single injury at home caused by the operations of the Government
to affect us, this glorious Union, acquired by the blood and sacrifices of our fathers, has been disowned and rejected by a portion of the States composing it,--Union which has given us more blessings than any previous Government ever conferred upon man.
Here, thank God--its ensign floats proudly and safely--(applause)--and no American can see its folds spread out to the breeze without feeling a thrill of pride at his heart, and without recalling the splendid deeds it has witnessed in many a bloody contest, from the day of Bunker's Hill
to our time.
(Applause.) And that flag, your worthy Mayor
has, by the direction of the municipal authority, hung out upon the dome above us. The loyal American people can defend it, and the deafening cheers which meet us to-day are a sure pledge that they will
defend it. (Applause.) A stern determination to do so is evinced by the preparations and patriotic devotion which are witnessed around us, and in the echoes which are brought here by every wind that blows.
You need no one to tell you what are the dangers of your country, nor what are your duties to meet and avert them.
There is but: one path for every true man to travel, and that is broad and plain.
It will conduct us, not indeed without trials and sufferings, to peace and to the restoration of the Union
He who is not for
his country is against
her. (Applause.) There is no neutral position to be occupied
. It is the duty of all zealously to support the Government
in its efforts to bring this unhappy civil war to a speedy and satisfactory conclusion, by the restoration, in its integrity, of that; great charter of freedom bequeathed to us by Washington
and his compatriots.
His ashes, I humbly trust, will ever continue to repose in the lowly tomb at Mt. Vernon
, and in the United States of America
, (applause,) which he loved so well, and did so much to found and build up. Manifest your regard for his memory by following, each with the compass of his power, his noble example and restore his work as he left it, by devoting heart, mind, and deed to the cause.
(Loud-continued cheering.)--N. Y. Times
, April 29.