upon me of presiding over a meeting of patriots convened to declare their intention to uphold the government, to maintain and support the constitution and the cause of the United States
We have fallen, indeed, on troublous times.
Rebellion is abroad; treason attempts to overthrow the work of patriots, and it is for you, for us, to say the work that has been made shall stand.
(Voices, “It shall.” ) Yes, stand it will, in spite of traitors, in spite of rebellion.
Thank God, I look now upon a multitude that knows no party divisions — no Whigs, Democrats or Republicans.
(A voice, “We are all Americans
and for the Union
Great cheering.) There is no party but the Union
The only distinction now, until this contest shall be settled, till order shall be established, is that of citizen or traitor.
(Voices, “Down with them.”
fellow-citizens :--No ordinary events have notified you to assemble, nor ordinary circumstances have convened you upon this spot.
Another of the periods in human affairs which constitute the epochs of history has transpired; and summoned by the emergency from their usual vocations the people have congregated here to-day to take order upon that which so intimately affects them.
Since the construction of our government hitherto has its controlling policy been determined and applied through the instrumentality of political parties.
To be sure, the vital functions of these parties have uniformly been derived from the people, as the source of all political power; yet the favorite method of asserting its sovereignty, most usually preferred by public opinion, has been that which embraces party organization and party discipline.
Accordingly we have seen great public measures when proposed either adopted or defeated under the auspices and by the strength of political divisions.
The clamors of conflicting opinions have at various times proceeded from the various organizations which prompted them.
The Federalist at one time contended with the Republican
; at another the Democrat struggled for political ascendency with an opposition variously designated, as expediency or the irresistible conflict of some political necessity conferred the various titles of National Republican, Whig, or Republican.
These progressive changes you will not, fellow-citizens, fail to perceive were characteristic of the difficulties which prevailed among the citizens of a common country respecting the method of guiding its destiny.
They were but the internal distinctions adopted among men occupying together the common position of one government and one country, and devoting their whole energies, whatever their conflicting opinions upon incidental questions, to the advancement and prosperity of that government and that country.
Such hitherto has been the attitude of our political parties towards each other, and such their relations to the country, whose best interests each and all aspired to consult.
It is not singular, therefore, that when government and country are imperilled the divisions of party should disappear, and that their memory should be regarded but as an incentive to a more cordial and general co-operation for the general welfare.
But yesterday and the commotions of party strife characterized our councils and imparted vigor to our political contest.
Then, with a constitution unimpeached and a government unimpaired, the struggle for ascendency contributed to political divisions.
But to-day, party zeal has subsided and party emulation ceased; for to-day our country demands the efforts of all her children.
To-day, the people and the whole people have cast, aside the attributes of the political partisan, and in an unbroken array have assembled to express their unanimous condemnation of the practices by which the public peace has been violated, and the public weal endangered.
(Cheers.) Events of dire import signal to us the approach of war — not the war constituted of resistance to the hostile tread of an invading foe, and laden with the consequences only of foreign aggression resented, and foreign attack resisted — but a war inflamed by the passions, waged by the forces, and consisting of the conflict of citizens, brothers and friends.
It is true that the problem of the future must baffle the most comprehensive wisdom, and compel the patriot into painful anxiety for the fate that awaits us. Yet we are not forbidden to extract from the past whatever consolations rectitude of purpose and a discreet conduct allow, and to summon their inspiration to our alliance and aid. It is not my purpose, fellow-citizens, to weary you with the recapitulation of the party differences, the conflict of which, while constituting our past political history at the same time shaped the question so long, so pertinaciously, and so fearfully debated between the North
and the South
, I need not direct your attention to those acts which seem necessarily to constitute the preliminaries to the bloody arbitrament that is upon us, and the consideration of which, however brief, cannot fail to manifest the patience and forbearance with which conflict has been shunned and the evils of war sought to be averted.
Nearly all that need be submitted upon this point is directly pertinent to the recent and coercive attitude of the citizens very generally of the city of New York
Upon the revolutionary action of the seven Gulf States there occurred here an access of desire that every honorable means should be employed to induce their retention to the confederation of States in this Union.
If this could not be attained, it was still hoped that a considerate policy might retain the border slave States, and thus possess us of the means of an ultimate restoration of its former integrity to the Union
Thus, though the property of the United States
had been seized, its jurisdiction violated, and its flag assailed, yet it was by very many still thought wiser to refrain from hostility and to court renewed national harmony, through the milder methods of conciliation and compromise.
Accordingly many, actuated by such motives, established themselves firmly in the policy of such concessions as, satisfactory to the Union
sentiment of the border slave States, would, in their opinion, recommend themselves also to the judgment of the Northern
I believe that a very large portion of our fellow-citizens entertained similar views, and were quite willing to advance towards any settlement of our sectional difficulties, not so much in the sense of remedial justice to the South
as in that of an effectual method of restoring the Union
For myself, I may say that while actuated by such views, I have never supposed that the requirements of the border slave States would exact what a Northern opinion would not grant; nor, while affirming my belief that Northern patriotism would resist the infraction of Southern rights, did I for an instant imagine that I could be understood as including secession, and the seizure of the property of the