's Address, which must have occupied considerably more than an hour in delivery, was subsequently printed in the National Philanthropist and Investigator
of July 22 and 29, and has thus been preserved to show the fulness and maturity of the orator's powers in this, his twenty-fourth year, and his thorough moral and intellectual equipment for the warfare upon which he now deliberately entered.
Its importance in this view must justify the considerable extracts from it which are here given, beginning with his opening sentences:
It is natural that the return of a day which established the1 liberties of a brave people should be hailed by them with more than ordinary joy; and it is their duty as Christians and patriots to celebrate it with signal tokens of thanksgiving.
Fifty-three years ago, the Fourth of July was a proud day for our country.
It clearly and accurately defined the rights of man; it made no vulgar alterations in the established usages of society; it presented a revelation adapted to the common sense of mankind; it vindicated the omnipotence of public opinion over the machinery of kingly government; it shook, as with the voice of a great earthquake, thrones which were seemingly propped up with Atlantean pillars; it gave an impulse to the heart of the world, which yet thrills to its extremities.
The orator then proceeded to speak of the degeneracy of the national jubilee, from an occasion distinguished for rationality of feeling and purity of purpose to a day marked by reckless and profligate behavior, vain boasting, and the foolish assumption that no dangers could ever assail or threaten the republic.
To him the prevalence of infidelity, the compulsory desecration of the ‘holy Sabbath,’ the ravages of intemperance, the profligacy of the press, the corruptness of party politics, were all sources of danger and causes for alarm; and he briefly considered them before he took up slavery, the main theme of his discourse.
His words relating to political corruption are neither trite nor inapt now:
I speak not as a partisan or an opponent of any man or measures, when I say, that our politics are rotten to the core.