30. speech of Governor Andrew, at New York, September 5, 1861, on the occasion of the reception of the Massachusetts Twentieth regiment.
and gentlemen: This occasion in no sense, and by no right, is mine.
No part of its honors pertains to me. Here, present in the city of New York
, called by engagements which pertained to my duty, I have the happiness to find myself in a position to be enabled to unite with you in doing honor to the Twentieth regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, (cheers,) commanded by my friend Colonel Lee
, (applause, and three cheers for Colonel Lee
,) who, with generous devotion and patriotic alacrity, without a moment's delay or hesitation, drew his sword, at my invitation, to lead a regiment of Massachusetts
soldiers — citizens, of brave and accomplished officers and brave men. Upon the heads of such as they Divine Providence will pour its benignest benediction, and upon their memories the most fragrant gratitude of our posterity shall rest.
Whatever fortunes may befall them in the field, whether they shall return with their shields or be borne upon them, forever be these brave men remembered as among the earliest and among the best — among the truest, foremost, and most patriotic who have drawn or will draw a sword for American liberty or constitutional law. And now, sir, I cannot at this moment forget that our sister New England State of Connecticut
is at this hour resigning to the dust all that was mortal of one
man, whose name and memory shall be as immortal as the stars.
— the brave and heroic — the accomplished soldier, the true-hearted and unflinching patriot, at the head of his column, fell beyond the distant waters of the Mississippi
--reclaimed his ashes, and mingles them with her dust.
But his spirit, hovering over this scene of care and toil and aspiration, is with us now and always.
To him and to such as he all that grateful hearts can pay of solemn and yet joyful memories is due. He sleeps well in his soldier's grave — others have accompanied him to the silent land, marching through the Jordan
of death beneath the American
flag for American rights, (applause,) and know how happy, how sweet, it is to die for such a cause.
Of such as he and his, what can we say better than the words of the great poet of British liberty:
Flung to the heedless winds,
Or on the waters cast,
Their ashes shall be watched,
And gathered at the last;
And from their scattered dust,
Around us and abroad,
Shall spring a precious seed
Of witnesses for God
(Applause.) For, sir, this is not a war for man alone — for country alone; it is a war for humanity and God.
To us was intrusted this ark of political salvation — democratic-republican liberty conserved under constitutional forms.
By our fathers to us was it transmitted; into our present charge has it been placed to be saved and transmitted to our posterity, and democratic-republican liberty is the political gospel of our time.
To us of the United States of America
--the people of this Constitutional Confederate Union--was committed this precious charge, not for us alone, but for all humanity, that beneath the shadow of our tree of liberty might the children's children come, not only of the remotest generations of our posterity, but of the way-worn wanderers of all lands and peoples.
And, as the Infinite Father
of all men and all spirits carries in the bosom of His embracing love, nations and peoples — looking down from the vista of eternal years, and prophesying and preparing good for us all — so did He commit to us, as the priests of this political gospel, its preservation and transmission, not only for ourselves, but for all nations and peoples of the earth.
(Applause.) This, then, sir, is a war for humanity.
Challenged by rebellion, assaulted by traitors, stabbed by the political assassins of liberty — the men of Massachusetts
, whom you have so generously commended, marching shoulder to shoulder with the men of New York and of other loyal States, have waked up to the trumpet call of their country, to defend the rights thus challenged, and protect the national life thus aimed at by the blows of those whom all posterity and all future history will only remember to call them accursed.
(Applause.) This war, sir, is in no sense a sectional one.
It is a war of ideas, I grant you; but ideas are universal, not sectional.
It is American only in the sense that our liberty is American, embracing within the ample folds of its character, of its promise, of its hopes, all those who, residing with us and denizened among us, are faithful to our cause; and I cannot now fail to call to your recollection that in the recent brilliant exploit of our naval and our military arm off the coast of North Carolina
, where a citizen of New York, the venerable and gallant Commodore Stringham
, (loud applause,) united his well-earned laurels with those that garlanded the younger brow of a Massachusetts General, Butler
(Applause, and three cheers for Butler
.) When would it be possible for me to forget that among the heroes on that day there were none more deserving of their country's honor, and of proud mention on the brightest page of our history, than the colonel and men of the Twentieth New York regiment of Volunteers under the command of an adopted citizen from the German fatherland--Colonel Max Weber
(Applause, and three cheers for Colonel Weber
.) I cannot describe an emotion which all of you must have felt, and in sympathy with which all true hearts must have beat as they read the record of the exploit of that gallant German regiment of New York, who, upon the edge of the darkness of the night, amid a rolling surf upon that, to them, untried shore, launched their frail and tossing boats, and trusted themselves to the guidance of God and the stars of the sky, cut off during all that long night from human sympathy and aid. (Applause.) If Massachusetts
deserved to be remembered to-day, so do the countrymen of Colonel Weber
, two companies of whose regiment composed the brave and gallant command of Colonel Lee
, now marching as Massachusetts
Neither sectional in any sense, nor national in any narrow sense of exclusiveness, but universal as American citizenship; broad and comprehensive as the idea of liberty, which is bounded by no land, native of no clime, and inheritance of no particular people, of no nation, clime, kindred, or color under heaven.
(Great applause.) This cause is the cause of constitutional liberty, and the rights of universal humanity.
(Applause.) I am no prophet and no prophet's son; I dare not attempt to cast a horoscope of the future, but I believe in the abiding providence of Almighty God.
I know — if aught that tests our human belief, or even human consciousness, can be spoken of as knowledge — that He who guided Columbus
over the seas, He who led our fathers to the New England
shores, He who preserved them from the dangers of the seas, and the dangers of the wilderness, and the dangers of savage tribes, He who planted the acorn of the great tree of liberty on the unhospitable shore of Plymouth
, and has watered it and blessed it, and has led us up till now to the storms of battle, through all the trials that opposed a nation's childhood and youth, will never desert
the faithful and tried in the graver and severer, and not less ennobling, trial of manhood.
And whatever others may think, or dream, or fear, over this poor vision of mine, neither by day nor night, since first the triumphant shout rung from one sea to the other, after the 17th of April, 1861, has there been with me a shadow of a doubt.
The American people, inspired by confidence in their cause and their own trust in God, have taken up the arms which have so long lain unused by their side, and, almost unbidden, have gone into battle; from the hillsides, from the valleys, from the workshops, from the railroads, from the seaside, from the fishing smacks of our dear old commonwealth, they all have come; from every calling, from every profession, from every sect, whether of religion or politics, whether of belief or unbelief, they all have come, under the impulse of a new inspiration.
And whatever misfortune, if misfortune should come, might befall our flag or our arms, either at Washington
, or Baltimore
, or Philadelphia
, or New York, we of New England
will rally behind the Berkshire Hill
and make the Switzerland
of New England
the rampart of our liberties.
(Cries of “Bravo
,” and tremendous cheering.) But neither in New York, nor Philadelphia
, nor Washington
, will our armies suffer defeat.
We went down to Bull Run
, as I had the honor to remark in conversation with a gentleman to-day, a congregation of town meetings without a leader.
(Laughter.) Wheresoever we march again we march as an army, disciplined, drilled, thoroughly banded, and ably commanded, the men knowing who their commanders are. And we will not be content much longer with defending Washington
under the walls of the Capitol
nor on the banks of the Potomac
shall be defended at Charleston, South Carolina
; at Savannah, Georgia
; at the city of New Orleans
, and all the way up the Mississippi
(Great applause.) The Union men of the South
shall be liberated by the arms of the men of the North
and the West
; and all men capable of bearing arms, capable of allegiance, will yet be summoned, unless a blight or blast shall smite the head of every American statesman in America
— shall be summoned to the American standard wherever that flag advances.
(Great applause.) And it is not my opinion that our Generals
, when any man comes to the standard and desires to defend the flag, will find it important to light a candle to see what is the complexion of his face, or to consult the family Bible to ascertain whether his grandfather came from the banks of the Thames
or the banks of the Senegal.
(Applause.) But all they who have attempted to overthrow the national Constitution, which was their aegis as well as ours, to destroy their American liberty as well as ours, to overthrow the hopes of their posterity as well as ours, to destroy civil society and social life in their own midst, shall find that their peculiar patriarchal institution, staggering, shall fall beneath their own parricidal stroke; whether they count it misfortune or not, it will be their own chickens coming home to their own roost — their own fault, and if it shall fall in the good providence of God that other men beside those of my own peculiar complexion and blood shall taste the sweets of liberty, God be praised.
(Great applause, and three cheers for Governor Andrew
.) I am glad that this is not heresy in the commercial metropolis of New York.
I suppose that, although we ought not, if peace had been preserved, either to invade, or counsel, or promote invasion of any constitutional right preserved to any State, when a State or people trample the Constitution
itself beneath their feet, and endeavor to crush us and our children with it, we may at least have the poor privilege of praying for the happiness of them all — bond as well as free.
I look with the assurance of confident faith for an early restoration of universal peace.
I have no idea, not the slightest, that the next Fourth of July will find these people in arms; but if it must be that we shall continue to pour out our money and our blood, to spend our lives in waging, by any form of contest, this holy war, let it come, let it abide, let it stay with us, let the sword be the constant emblem glittering before our eyes, let the flag advance and armed men tread beneath its folds, until in Heaven's own time a perfect, assured peace shall come, established upon the foundations of eternal right, upon which alone can any victory be secured.
And now I have to thank, from the bottom of my heart, the sons of New England
, resident in New York, for the kindness of this reception given to our Twentieth regiment.