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[333]

The application of these postulates to the present situation of our country is obvious. The people of the South maintained, as their fathers maintained before them, that certain principles were essential to the perpetuation of the Union according to its original constitution. Rather than surrender their convictions, they took up arms to defend them. The appeal was vain. Defeat came, and they accepted it, with its consequences, just as they would have accepted victory with its fruits. They have sworn to maintain the government as it is now constituted. They will not attempt again to assert their views of State sovereignty by an appeal to the sword. None feel this obligation to be more binding than the soldiers of the late Confederate armies. A soldier's parole is a sacred thing, and the men who are willing to die for a principle in time of war, are the men of all others most likely to maintain their personal honor in time of peace.

But it is idle to shut our eyes to the fact that this consolidated empire of States is not the Union established by our fathers. No intelligent European student of American institutions is deceived by any such assumption. We gain nothing by deceiving ourselves.

And if history teaches any lesson, it is this, that a nation cannot long survive when the fundamental principles which gave it life, originally, are subverted. It is true, republics have often degenerated into despotisms. It is also true that after such transformation they have for a time been characterized by a force, a prosperity, and a glory never known in their earlier annals, but it has always been a force which absorbed and obliterated the rights of the citizen, a prosperity which was gained by the sacrifice of individual independence, a glory which was ever the precursor of inevitable anarchy, disintegration, and ultimate extinction.

If then it be asked how are we to escape the catastrophe, I answer by a voluntary return to the fundamental principles upon which our republic was originally founded. And if it be objected that we have already entered upon one of those political revolutions which never go backward, then I ask, who gave to any one the authority to say so? or whence comes the infallibility which entitles any one to pronounce a judgment so overwhelming? Why may there not be a comprehension of what is truly politic, and what is grandly right, slumbering in the hearts of our American people—a people at once so practical and emotional, so capable of great enterprise and greater magnanimity — a patriotism which is yet to awake and announce

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