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‘ [54] justice, and justice would be the highest honor, to Virginia, for the cession of her northwestern territory. I will say, sir, it is one of her fairest claims to the respect and gratitude of the country, and that perhaps it is only second to that other claim which belongs to her; that from her counsels and from the intelligence and patriotism of her leading statesmen, proceeded the first idea put into practice of the formation of a general Constitution of the United States.’ And on another occasion, in the same place. ‘* * I here acknowledge the Commonwealth of Virginia to be entitled to the honor of commencing the work of establishing this Constitution. The honor is hers; let her enjoy it; let her forever wear it proudly;——.’

“Nor should it be forgotten,” says Blaine, ‘that the State of Virginia might well be regarded as the creditor, and not as the debtor of the National Government. One of her earliest acts of patriotism as an independent1 State was the cession to the General Government of her superb domain on the north side of the Ohio river, from the sale of which more than $100,000,000 have been paid into the National Treasury. * * * It may surely be pardoned if Americans shall feel a deep personal interest in the good name and good fortune of a State so closely identified with the early renown of the Republic—a State with whose soil is mingled the dust of those to whom all States and all generations are debtors—the Father of his country, the author of the Declaration of Independence, the chief projector of the National Constitution.’

“Perhaps the only thing,” says Fiske, ‘that kept the Union from falling to pieces in 1786 was the Northwestern territory, which George Rogers Clarke had conquered in 1779, and which skilful diplomacy had enabled us to keep when the treaty was drawn up in 1782.’ And again, in reference to the gift by Virginia of this territory to the United States for the common benefit of all. ‘—— Virginia gave up a magnificent and princely territory of which she was actually in possession. She might have held back and made endless trouble, just as, at the beginning of the Revolution she might have refused to make common cause with Massachusetts; but in both instances her leading statesmen showed a far-sighted wisdom, and a ’


1 Note the admission marked by the word ‘independent’ italicised here, and compare the utterances of Mr. Blaine himself elsewhere, and those of others belonging to the same political school, especially the extraordinary misstatements of notorious historical facts contained in Mr. Motley's letter to the London Times in 1861.

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