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“ [388] our national progress:” the successive seizure of Southern forts in obedience to telegrams from the Senate chamber, the spread of Southern treason like the wild fire of the prairies; the consternation of the people, the apathy of the Executive, the plot to seize the capitol, intended to be executed in January and repeatedly postponed till the attempt involved too serious danger, the systematic efforts in the departments of the Treasury, of the Interior, of War, and, I fear, also of the Navy, to cripple the United States, to strengthen the rebels, and to close the term of the Administration by a coup d'etat, that should give to the new confederacy the power and the prestige of the old Government, and the preparations made by Northern confederates, who, the rebels had been taught to believe, represented the great Northern Democracy, for assisting the plot and joining at the right moment in a general revolution.

Lost themselves to a sense of honor, they ceased to believe in its existence at the North. They seem to have been unable to distinguish between a defence of the constitutional rights of slaveholders within the Union and under the Constitution, and a war in behalf of slavery for the severance of the Union, the overthrow of the Constitution, the desecration of our flag, and the humiliation of our country. Then came the interruption of their plans by the premature discovery of the theft of the Indian bonds and other villanies, compelling the retirement of the traitorous secretaries Cobb, Thompson, and Floyd; the advent of Holt and Dix, reviving the hopes of the nation, and the immortal order of the latter, which rung like a trumpet through the land, “If any man shall attempt to pull down the National Flag, shoot him on the spot.”

Then came the official announcement to the country, by the counting of the electoral votes, of the people's choice, next the safe arrival of Mr. Lincoln in Washington, unharmed by the assassins, who had sworn to take his life; then the inauguration, simple and imposing, the oath administered by the Chief Justice of the United States, and the quiet transfer of such remnants of the Federal property as had not been stolen from the people under the retiring Administration.

A month of apparent inaction on the part of the new Administration, engaged in disentangling the web of treachery, and learning how much of treason lingered in the departments — a month of active preparation by the rebel confederates, and we began to hear the bitter taunts of England at the spiritless people of the great North, who were being driven to dissolution and infamy without an effort at resistance, and relinquishing their nationality to a rebellion without striking a blow in its defence.

We had a brief foretaste of the ignominy that awaits a nation which basely surrenders its integrity and its independence, and we heard the prelude of the shout that would greet the downfall of the Union, and the epitaph that should record--

* * * But yesterday it might
Have stood against the world; now lies it there
And none so poor to do it reverence.

Assured of the integrity and patriotism of the President, and the wisdom of his cabinet, the North waited as only a brave people, conscious of their strength and of the justice of their cause, could afford to wait. The strength of the Government was gradually developed, the war and navy departments began to exhibit signs of life — and the great statesman of the West, who, sacrificing political ambition and personal preferences, had consented to preside over a depleted treasury, renewed the miracle attributed by Webster to Alexander Hamilton: “He smote the rock of the national resources, and abundant streams of revenue gushed forth. He touched the dead body of the public credit, and it sprang upon its feet.”

Desperate as our situation seemed, capitalists demanded no other security than the name of Chase; and when he asked for a loan of eight millions, more than thirty millions were instantly offered.

Gentlemen, I have not time to dwell on the attack on Sumter, the attack of ten thousand men on one hundred men, and the ill-judged boast of Governor Pickens that they had humbled the star spangled banner for the first time in seventy years. They themselves by that act and that boast initiated an irresistible conflict that will hardly cease till the Stars and Stripes again float in their beauty from every fortress in our land.

That bombardment, as was remarked by one of the Judges of the Supreme Court, “blew all the plots of the traitors into the air, and inaugurated a change in the sentiment of the country that seemed all but miraculous.” It awoke the deep love of country which had slumbered beneath the platforms of party and commercial interest. It ended at once the absurd cry of “no coercion,” as applicable to a Government in enforcing its laws and protecting its existence. The rebels by that act closed the door of compromise and reconciliation which had thus far been kept open. They rejected the appeal to a convention of the American people, to which the President in his inaugural had assented — they selected instead the arbitrament of force, the great trial by battle. They struck at the very heart of the nation when they sought to humble the flag of our Union, that had protected them from infancy, and which from childhood we have loved. They themselves inaugurated war. They imposed upon us the most sacred duty that can devolve upon a people, of protecting their nationality, and the world that had. wondered at a forbearance which they could not understand, now wondered again at the spontaneous uprising of a mighty nation.

The threatened attack on Washington, the disloyalty of Baltimore, the cutting off of all

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