But even these acts of treason and rebellion, for such they are, are thrown in the shade by that last unutterable outrage upon the flag of the Union
, at Fort Sumter
, (a fort which no more belongs to South Carolina
than it does to New York or Massachusetts
,) which has rallied twenty millions of freemen as one man to its defence.
Following up the unprovoked and unrighteous war thus inaugurated, a formidable military force, portions of which have been long organized and trained, is now supposed to be advancing on Washington
, under a most able and energetic leader, who has the oath of God upon his conscience to support the Constitution
, as a Senator of the United States
, an office which he has not resigned.
Of the nature of this war, in a constitutional point of view, I shall presently say a word.
I will now only remark, that, if accounts from the South
can be trusted, larger military forces than were ever before arrayed on the soil of America
, are now on their march northward or concentrating in Virginia
, to assault, and if possible, capture, and failing that, to lay in ashes, the city baptized with the sacred name of the Father
of his country, the Capital
of the Union
, the seat of its government, the depository of its archives, and, as such, the heart, if I may so say, of the body politic.
While this formidable movement is in progress in front, the Government
has been assailed in the rear, between the Capital
of the Union
and the loyal States of the North
(from which alone, the Constitution
, I grieve to say, in this hour of its extreme peril, is receiving support against open hostility, and treacherous neutrality, not less dangerous than open hostility,) by a ferocious and bloodthirsty mob, audaciously warring against the Government
and its defenders with brickbats, paving-stones, and all the other cowardly weapons of the assassin, by burning bridges and tearing up railroads and cutting telegraph wires, as if it was not enough to commit murder and treason, unless war is waged at the same time against the noblest works of civilization and the most beneficent structures of peace.
In this unexampled warfare, Providence
, as in 1775, has accorded to Massachusetts
the tearful glory of furnishing the first martyrs in the cause of the country, and, what would before have been thought impossible, has crowned even the 19th of April with new wreaths of immortal fame.
In this state of things the President
of the United States
has called upon the people to rally to the rescue of the national Capital, and to the defence of the Government
of the country.
Wide as the summons has gone forth, it has been obeyed, with an alacrity and unanimity that knows no parallel in our history; and the volunteers of Massachusetts
have been the first in the field.
Unwarlike in their habits and tastes, a full proportion of them in our recent keen but already forgotten party divisions, entertaining, as I have ever done, the kindliest feelings toward the South
, they have hurried from the lawyer's office, from the counting-room, from the artist's studio, in instances not a few from the pulpit; they have left the fisher's line upon the reel, the plough in the furrow, the plane upon the work-bench, the hammer on the anvil, the form upon the printing press
,--there is not a mechanical art nor a useful handicraft that has not its experts in these patriotic ranks,--some at a moment's notice, all with unhesitating promptitude, and they have left their families behind them
. These last words, fellow-citizens, tell the whole story; these words are the warrant under which this meeting is held.
They have left behind them their wives, their children, their aged parents, their dependent relatives of every degree; in many cases, no doubt, those whose only reliable resource for their daily bread was in the stout arms, which have been called away to the defence of the menaced Union.
Well, my friends, these families must not suffer in the absence of their heads and supporters.
The Government will no doubt compensate its defenders as liberally as the nature of the case admits.
But every one knows that the soldier's pay is no adequate substitute for the earnings of a prosperous livelihood, even in the humblest branches of industry.
The deficiency must be made up by the towns of which these brave volunteers are citizens, acting in their corporate capacity, and by efforts like that which you initiate this evening.
In a word, it is absolutely necessary, that in one way or another, by public and private liberality, the means of liberal assistance for the families that need it, should be provided by those that remain at home.
This is a duty in which all of every age and condition, and of either sex, must cooperate; and I rejoice to see, that the gentler sex is, as usual, setting us the example of industry and zeal, in this patriotic work.
The rich must contribute of their abundance, and those of moderate means from their competence, till our brethren, who take their lives in their hands, in this righteous cause, are strengthened and cheered by the assurance, that those dearer to them than their lives will be cared for at home.
If any arguments were necessary to urge us to the performance of this duty, they would be found, and that of the most powerful and persuasive character, in the nature and character of the war which the South
is waging upon us. And here a state of things presents itself which posterity will be slow to credit.
On the last anniversary of our national independence, at the invitation of my fellow-citizens of Boston
, I had occasion to undertake a defence of the United States Government, in its practical operation, against an attack made upon it, with considerable ability, in the British
House of Lords.
In this effort I claimed — honestly and conscientiously claimed, and, as I have reason to think, with the concurrence of my fellow-citizens, of all parties, throughout the country,