the course of another, it is always well to ask one's self the question: What would you yourself have done if similarly placed?
Warmed by my argument, and the great precedents of Lee
and of Washington
, I did so here.
I and mine were and are at least as much identified with Massachusetts
as was Lee
and his with Virginia
—traditionally, historically, by blood and memory and name, we with the Puritan Commonwealth
as they with the Old Dominion.
What, I asked myself, would I have done had Massachusetts
at any time arrayed itself against the common country, though without my sympathy and assent, even as Virginia
arrayed itself against the Union
without the sympathy and assent of Lee
The question gave me pause.
And then I must confess to a sense of the humor of the situation coming over me, as I found it answered to my hand.
The case had already arisen; the answer had been given; nor had it been given in any uncertain tone.
The dark and disloyal days of the earlier years of the century just ended rose in memory—the days of the embargo, the ‘Leopard
’ and the ‘Chesapeake
,’ and of the Hartford Convention.
The course then taken by those in political control in Massachusetts
is recorded in history.
It verged dangerously close on that pursued by Virginia
and the South
fifty years later: and the quarrel then was foreign; it was no domestic broil.
One of my name, from whom I claim descent, was in those years prominent in public life.
He accordingly was called upon to make the choice of Hercules
, as later was Lee
. He made his choice, and it was for the common country as against his section.
The result is matter of history.
Because he was a Union man, and held country higher than State or party, John Quincy Adams
was in 1808 driven from office, a successor to him in the United States Senate was elected long before the expiration of his term, and he himself was forced into what at the time was regarded as an honorable exile.
Nor was the line of conduct then by him pursued—that of unswerving loyalty to the Union
—ever forgotten or wholly forgiven.
He had put country above party; and party leaders have long memories.
Even so broad-minded and clear-thinking a man as Theodore Parker
, when delivering a eulogy upon J. Q. Adams
, forty years later, thus expressed himself of this act of supreme self-sacrifice and loyalty to Nation rather than to State: ‘To my mind, that is the worst act of his public life; I cannot justify it. I wish I could find some reasonable excuse for it. . . . However, it must be confessed that this, though not the only instance of injustice, is the only case of servile compliance with the executive to be found in the whole life of the ’