Speech delivered at the Festival commemorative of the Boston Massacre
, in Faneuil Hall, March 5, 1858.
Ladies and gentlemen: I am very glad to stand here in an hour when we come together to do honor to one of the first martyrs in our Revolution.
I think we sometimes tell the story of what he did with too little appreciation of how much it takes to make the first move in the cold streets of a revolutionary epoch.
It is a very easy thing to sit down and read the history; it is a very easy thing to imagine what we would have done,--it is a very different thing to strike the first blow.
It is a very hard thing to spring out of the ranks of common, every-day life — submission to law, recognition of established government--.and lift the first musket.
The man or the dozen men who do it, deserve great, pre-eminent, indisputable places in the history of the Revolution.
It is an easy thing to fight when the blood is hot; but this man whose memory we commemorate to-night stepped out of common life, every-day quiet, and lifted his arm among the very first against the government.
It is only pre-eminent courage that can do this.
To-day, in yonder capital of Paris
, the whole government rests on a thin film of ice. A hundred men in arms in the streets would break it; that hundred men cannot be found,--a hundred men willing to risk their lives, with a cold, unmoved populace behind