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[105]

Mr. Havemeyer, on taking the chair, made a few brief remarks, observing that in the course of his life he never had supposed that he would be called upon to perform the duty which all present were called upon to perform this day.

Mr. Havemeyer then introduced the Rev. Mr. Preston, who read a short prayer.

Mr. Witthaus was called upon to act as Secretary of the meeting, and a list of Vice-Presidents was read and adopted.

The resolutions were then read by Mr. Richard Warren, and were adopted by a unanimous vote. During these proceedings the crowd in the square, fronting the stand, had augmented by tens of thousands, and the greatest degree of enthusiasm prevailed everywhere. The excitement increased at the appearance of Major Anderson on the platform, accompanied by Messrs. Simeon Draper and Police Superintendent Kennedy. The gallant Major was introduced to the Germans by Mr. Draper. The first speaker introduced was Mr. Coddington, and while he was speaking, Captain Foster and Dr. Crawford, the Surgeon of Fort Sumter, arrived on the platform. They were introduced by Mr. Warren, and were received with vociferous cheers. These gentlemen, as also Major Anderson previously, soon left the stand, and the speaker was permitted to proceed with the discourse.


Speech of David S. Coddington.

fellow-citizens:--The iron hail at Fort Sumter rattles on every Northern breast. It has shot away the last vestige of national and personal forbearance. A loaf of bread on its way to a starving man was split in two by a shot from his brother. You might saturate the cotton States with all the turpentine of North Carolina; you might throw upon them the vast pine forests of Georgia, then bury the Gulf storm's sharpest lightning into the combustible mass, and you would not redden the Southern horizon with so angry a glow as flashed along the Northern heart when the flames of Fort Sumter reached it. To-day, bewildered America, with her torn flag and her broken charter, looks to you to guard the one, and restore the other. How Europe stares and liberty shudders, as from State after State that flag falls, and the dream breaks! Hereafter Southern history will be as bare as the pole from which the sundered pennant sinks, and treason parts with the last rag that concealed its hideousness. I know how common and how easy it is to dissolve this Union in our mouths. Dangerous words, like dangerous places, possess a fearful fascination, and we sometimes look down from the heights of our prosperity with an irresistible itching to jump off. This spectre of disunion is no new ghost, born of any contemporary agitation. For years it has been skulking semi-officially about the Capitol. Through the whole range of our parliamentary history every great question, from a tariff to a Territory, has felt its clammy touch. Did it not drop its death's head into the tariff scales of ‘33, hoping to weigh the duties down to a conciliation level? did it not shoot its ghastly logic into the storm of ‘20, and frighten our soundest statesmanship into that crude calm called the Missouri Compromise? did it not sit grinning upon the deck of all our naval battles, hoping to get a turn at the wheel, that it might run the war of 1812 upon a rock? did it not stand up upon the floor of the first Congress and shake its bony fingers in the calm face of Washington? and did not our fathers, who stood unmoved the shock of George the Third's cannon, shudder in the presence of this spectre, when they thought how the infant republic might be cast away upon its bleak and milkless breast? Then it was a thin, skulking, hatchet-faced ghost. At last, fed upon the granaries of Northern and Southern fanaticism, it has come to be a rotund, well fed, corpulent disaster. Southern passion may put on the war-paint; Southern statesmanship may attempt to organize a pique into an empire, to elevate a sulk into a sacrament, by marrying disappointment to revolution, and reducing a temporary constitutional minority into a hopeless organic political disaster. They may even propose in solemn convention to abolish the Fourth of July, and throw all its patriotic powder into the murderous arsenal of fratricidal conflict;, but they cannot except through self-destruction, permanently disrupt our nationality. Talk of the wise statesmanship of the South! Had they allowed Kansas to become a free State they would have been in possession of the national government at this moment. Although the repeal of the Missouri Compromise awoke the North from its deep sleep upon the slave question, yet the most economical outlay of prudence would have continued them in possession of the government for an indefinite future. Then Mexico would have been possible, without the awful leap which copies her morals without the possibility of possessing her territories. South Carolina once lived upon a potato to rout a king, and she is fast going back to that immortal vegetable, in order to crown a fallacy. Our republicanism means the whole nation, or it means nothing. Together, the parts temper each other; asunder, the aristocracy of the slave power makes equality a myth, and the free radical North less safely democratic. If Abraham Lincoln has inaugurated a crash; if George Washington is to be no longer known as the successful contender for a combined and self-regulating nationality; if Bishop Berkeley's star of empire has crumbled away into belligerent asteroids, and we are to fall, like Caesar, at the base of this black Pompey's pillar, we shall at least go into this holy battle for the Constitution, with no law broken and no national duty unfulfilled. We have not stolen a single ship, or a pound of powder, or a dollar of coin to sully the sacred tramp with which patriotism pursues robbery and rebellion. All the ills of the South could have been remedied within the Constitution — all their wrongs righted by the victory of future votes. Shall I tell you what secession means? It means ambition in the Southern leaders and misapprehension in the Southern people. Its policy is to imperialize slavery; and to degrade and destroy the only free republic in the world. It is a fog of the brain and a poison at the heart. Dodging the halter, it walks in a volcano which must explode whenever the tempestuous shock of Northern invasion shall render slavery impossible. The day that Southern statesmanship turned pirate, Southern slavery lost its last hold on Northern forbearance. God forbid that servile war should ever be on our consciences; but what power could restrain the frenzied passion of continuously provoked multitudes, when the taste of blood has brutalized their march? We have not come here to talk about any man's party creed. We have not come to seek the falling fruits of patronage, but to save the beautiful and wide-spreading tree upon which all our blessings grow. Party and partyisms are dead; only grim, black powder is alive now. Who talks of Tammany or Mozart Hall? Who haunts the coal-hole

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