Doc. 65-speech of Galusha A. Grow, on taking the Chair of the House of Representatives of the United States, July 4.
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives of the United States of America:--Words of thanks for the honor conferred by the vote just announced, would but feebly express the heart's gratitude. While appreciating this distinguished mark of your confidence, I am not unmindful of the trying duties incident to the position to which you have assigned me. Surrounded at all times by grave responsibility, it is doubly so in this hour of national disaster, when every consideration of gratitude to the past and obligation to the future tendrils around the present. Fourscore years ago, fifty-six bold merchants, farmers, lawyers, and mechanics, the representatives of a few feeble colonists, scattered along the Atlantic seaboard, met in convention to found a new empire, based on the inalienable rights of man. Seven years of bloody conflict ensued, and the Fourth of July, 1776, is canonized in the hearts of the great and good as the jubilee of oppressed nationalities, and in the calendar of heroic deeds it marks a new era in the history of the race. Three-quarters of a century have passed away, and the few feeble colonists hemmed in by the ocean in front, the wilderness and the savage in the rear, have spanned a whole continent with a great empire of free States, rearing throughout it; vast wilderness the temples of science and of civilization on the ruins of savage life. Happiness, seldom if ever equalled, has surrounded the domestic fireside, and prosperity unsurpassed has crowned the national the liberties of the people been secure at home and abroad, while the national standard floated honored and respected in every commercial mart of the world. On the return of this glorious anniversary, after a period but little exceeding the allotted lifetime of man, the people's representatives are convened in the council chambers of the republic to deliberate on the measures for preserving the Government under whose benign influence these grand results have been achieved. A rebellion, the most causeless in the history of the race, has developed a conspiracy of long standing to destroy the Constitution formed by the wisdom of our fathers, and the Union cemented by their blood. This conspiracy, nurtured for long years in secret council, first develops itself openly in acts of spoliation and plunder of public property, with the connivance and under the protection of treason enthroned in all the high places of the Government; and at last, in armed rebellion for the overthrow of the best Government ever devised by man, without an effort in the mode prescribed in the organic law for a redress of all grievances, the malcontents appeal only to the arbitrament of the sword, insult the nation's honor, and trample upon its flag, inaugurate a revolution which, if successful, would end in establishing petty jarring confederacies or anarchy upon the ruins of the Republic, and the destruction of its liberties. The 19th of April, canonized in the first struggle for American nationality, has been reconsecrated in martyr blood. Warren has his counterpart in Ellsworth, and the heroic deeds and patriotic sacrifices of the struggle for the establishment of the Republic are being reproduced upon battle-fields for its maintenance. Every race and tongue of men almost is represented in the grand legion of the Union, their standards proclaiming, in a language more impressive than words, that here indeed is the home of the emigrant, and the asylum of the exile; no matter where was his birth-place, or in what clime his infancy was cradled, he devotes his life to the defence of his adopted land, the vindication of its honor, and the protection of its flag, with the same zeal with which he would guard his native hearthstone and fireside. All parties, sects, and conditions of men, not corrupted by the institutions of human bondage, forgetting bygone rancors or prejudices, blend in one phalanx for the integrity of the Union and the perpetuity of the Republic. Long years of peace in the pursuits of sordid gain, instead of blunting the patriotic devotion of loyal citizens, seem but to have intensified its development, when the existence of the Government is assailed. The merchant, the banker, and the tradesman, with an alacrity unparalleled, proffer their all at the altar of their country, while from the counter, the workshop, and the plough, brave hearts and stout arms, leaving their tasks unfinished, rush to the tented field; the air  vibrates with martial strains, and the earth shakes with armed men. In view of this grand demonstration for self-preservation in the history of nationalities, desponding patriotism may be assured that the foundations of our national greatness still stand strong, and the sentiment which beats to-day in every loyal heart will for the future be realized. No flag alien to the sources of the Mississippi will ever float permanently over its mouth till its waters are crimsoned in human gore, and not one foot of American soil can be wrenched from the jurisdiction of the Constitution of the United States until it is baptized in fire and blood. (Vociferous applause upon the floor and in the galleries, which lasted for many minutes.) [Gentlemen, as your presiding officer, it becomes my duty to apprise you that any demonstrations of approval or disapproval of any thing done or said during your sessions is in violation of parliamentary decorum, and the Chair would also inform the persons in the galleries that applause by them is a violation of good order, and a breach of the rules of the House. The Chair hopes, therefore, that any demonstration of applause will not be repeated.] In God is our trust, and
The star spangled banner forever shall wave(Suppressed applause.) Those who regard it as mere cloth bunting, fail to appreciate its symbolical power. Wherever civilization dwells, or the name of Washington is known, it bears on its folds the concentrated power of armies and navies, and surrounds the votaries with a defence more impregnable than battlement of wall or tower. Wherever on the earth's surface an American citizen may wander — called by pleasure, business, or caprice — it is a shield that will secure him against wrong and outrage, save on the soil of the land of his birth. As the guardians of the rights and liberties of the people, your paramount duty is to make it honored at home as it is respected abroad. A government that cannot command the loyalty of its own citizens is unworthy the respect of the world, and a government that will not protect its own loyal citizens deserves the contempt of the world. (Applause.) He who would tear down this grandest temple of constitutional liberty, thus blasting forever the hopes of crushed humanity, because its freemen, in the mode prescribed by the Constitution, select a chief magistrate not acceptable to him, is a parricide to his race, and should be regarded as a common enemy of mankind. The Union once destroyed is a shattered vase that no human power can reconstruct in its original symmetry. Coarse stones when they are broken may be cemented again — precious ones never. If the Republic is to be dismembered, and the sun of its liberty must go out in endless night, let it set amid the roar of cannon and the din of battle, when there is no longer an arm to strike or a heart to bleed in its cause, so that coming generations may not reproach the present with being too imbecile to preserve the priceless legacy bequeathed by our fathers, so as to transmit it unimpaired to future times. Again, gentlemen, thanking you for your confidence and kindness, and invoking guidance from that Divine Power that led our fathers through the Red Sea of the Revolution, I enter upon the discharge of the duties to which you have assigned me, relying upon your forbearance and cooperation, and trusting that your labors will contribute not a little to the greatness and glory of the Republic.
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.