previous next

Two speeches in Congress about the Mexican war—Davis and Lincoln, again.

In connection with the Mexican war, two speeches were made in the House of Representatives which were filled with the doctrines which all Americans have inherited from the fathers of the republic.

The one of them was made by a man who, with a mind as broad as the continent, advocated the railroad to connect the Mississippi valley with the West, and who poured out from a heart thrilling with the great tradition of his country inspiring appeals for fraternity and union.

We turn,

said he, ‘from present hostility to former friendship, from recent defection to the time when Massachusetts and Virginia, the stronger brothers of our family, stood foremost and united to defend our common rights. From sire to son has descended the love of our Union in our hearts, as in our history are mingled the names of Concord and Camden, of Yorktown and Saratoga, of Monetrio [131] and Plattsburgh, of Chippewa and Erie, of Bowyer and Guilford, and New Orleans and Bunker Hill. Grouped together they form a monument to the common glory of our common country; and where is the Southern man who would wish that monument even less by one of the Northern names that constitute the mass? Who, standing on the ground made sacred by the blood of Warren, could allow sectional feeling to curb his enthusiasm as he looked upon that obelisk which rises a monument to freedom's and his country's triumph, and stands a type of the time, the men and event it commemorates; built of material that mocks the waves of time, without niche or moulding for parasite or creeping thing to rest on, and pointing like a finger to the sky, to raise man's thoughts to philanthropic and noble deeds?’

Scarce had these words died upon the air when there arose another in the House of Representatives, on February 12, 1848—one who had just voted that the war with Mexico was unnecessary and unconstitutional, and who now based his views of the rights attaching by the conquest on the rights of revolution. He said:

Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better.

This is a most valuable and most sacred right—a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world.

Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it.

Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize, putting down a minority intermingled with or near about them who oppose their movements.

Such a minority was precisely the case of the Tories of the Revolution. It is a quality of revolutions not to go by old lines or old laws, but to break up both and make new ones.

Who, think you, my countrymen, were these spokesmen?

The one who thus glorified the Union was the Kentucky boy who had moved to Mississippi, and was about to lead her soldiers under the Stars and Stripes in battle, and who now fills the grave of a disfranchised citizen. The other who thus held up revolution as the right which was ‘to liberate the world’ was Abraham Lincoln, the Kentucky boy who moved to Illinois, and who is now hailed as ‘the defender and preserver of the nation.’

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Abraham Lincoln (2)
Charles Warren (1)
Guilford (1)
Bowyer (1)
Americans (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
February 12th, 1848 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: