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"No nation ever gained its freedom without suffering; and had we time to refer to the facts of history, we could easily show how true it is that others have suffered more and struggled longer." "Let us confess it, there has been no nation which has started upon her career of freedom with such boastfulness, and looked upon her struggles as so transient, her victory as so easily achieved, as ours. Shall we be found boasters; indeed, vain boasters?" --Dr. Minnegerode's New Year's Sermon. Something more is involved in the issue of this conflict than the question of independence. It is to settle our rank in the human race; to show whether it be really true, as asserted by some philosophers, that the European stamina degenerates in America, and that Americans are inferior in profoundness of passion, tenacity of purpose, and strength of endurance, to the people of the Old World. It is common, in some parts of this continent, to look down upon the inhabitants of Europe as inferior to this free, intelligent and virtuous American people. And no portion of the European populations was held in more sublime contempt than "the Dutch," a name applied to all inhabitants of Germany, a race which, however it may have been corrupted of late by infidelity and Red Republicanism, is one of the most manly heroical and conquering races of the earth. Surely, we are not going to allow our contest to be thrown into the shade by those Dutchiest of Dutchmen, the people of the New Netherlands. Have we forgotten the long years of their protracted and desperate struggle? How they contended against immensely greater odds than we are compelled to encounter in this contest; how, pressing them from post to post, was that wonderful military genius, the Prince of Parma, a man born to command; greatest among the great captains whom the military schools of Italy had given to the world, with an eagle's face, and moving with an eagle's wings? Do we remember those patriots reduced to such an extremity that they offered to give their country to France if she would save them from Spain, and that France refused the offered gift; and that while their envoys were absent, soliciting foreign intervention, and refreshing themselves, after the manner of ambassadors, with feasting and frolicking, the people at home were eating rats, and cats, and dogs, and the weeds from the pavements, and the grass from the churchyards? And have we forgotten that, in defiance of all this, they held out to the bitter end, and that, at last, God having tried their faith and manhood in the fiery furnace seven times heated, rewarded them finally with liberty and independence! Nor are these the only examples which the same race have afforded of achievements that we would do well to equal before we settle down in the pleasing conviction that Americans are the greatest of mankind. Do we not remember how Frederick of Prussia, with a population of scarcely five millions of inhabitants, carried on a seven year's war, from 1756 to 1763, against the combined forces of Austria, Russia, France, Sweden and Saxony? In the course of this war, with far inferior forces, he was under the necessity of meeting superior forces, as sailing him at all points. In the battle of Rossbach, Frederick had only twenty-two thousand opposed to an army of fifty thousand. In the battle near Leu then, he had only thirty thousand to oppose eighty thousand; and in both these instances, he gained most signal victories. But he had many sad reverses, as in the battle of Hotchkirk, in which he was defeated by the Austrians, losing many of his best officers, a large number of his best troops, and all his baggage and ammunition. His enemies appeared to be inexhaustible in men and resources. Prussia was drained of its men, and even boys, by conscription; was frequently overrun and desolated by the enemy, and even its capital (Berlin) captured; and, withal, oppressed with heavy taxation. Yet Frederick triumphed, and lived to see his country independent and more prosperous than ever. Surely we, who are fighting under no such disadvantages, who have been subjected to no such disasters and trials, need not fail unless we are inferior in spirits, patriotism and endurance to those benighted and outlandish Germans! "Remember," exclaims Dr. Minnegerode, in a note to his admirable sermon, "how Athens gave up her city for the salvation of Greece; transported her women and children to Aegina and Troezene, and sent her men to man 'the wooden walls" which the Oracle had pronounced their safety, and in which they gained the battle of Salamis. Remember the siege of Tyre and Sidon and other cities, and their heroic defence — the like of which this war has not yet seen; the retreat of the French from Moscow, the crossing of the Berezine, the rear guard under Ney, whose heroic endurance yet stands unrivalled! " The invasion of Hannibal reduced Rome to straits similar to those which form our present crisis. The campaigns of 218, 217, and 216, with the defeats on the Trebia, the Lake Trasimene, and the crushing blow at Cannæ, where her legions were all but annihilated, the defection of all Southern Italy, and the dread of " Hannibal ante portas" had reduced her to the last extremities. In that terrible battle forty thousand Romans (at the lowest calculation) had fallen, and three thousand horse, involving the death of some of the wealthiest and most distinguished citizens, with one consul, both the pro-consuls, both the quaestors, twenty-one out of forty-eight tribunes, and not less than eighty senators, among the slain. History does not record any defeat more complete, and very few more murderous. It was at such a moment that Hannibal sought to open negotiations, and Rome refused to entertain them; sent Marcellus to command the fugitives and stragglers whom Varro was trying to rally; ordered new levies, bought up slaves from their masters (who waited for payment till the treasury was replenished) to serve as light troops; enrolled even debtors and prisoners in the Roman legions.-- Contractors supplied stores, agreeing to wait for payment till the end of the war; the fortunes of minors and widows, which were in the hands of guardians and trustees, were advanced to the State, to be repaid at a future time; the Senate met to deliberate, and the Consul, Loevinus, proposed that the Great Council should sit in example of patriotic devotion. "Let us, said he, contribute all our treasure for the service of the State. Let us reserve, of gold, only our rings, the bullae worn by our sons; and for the ornaments of our wives and daughters, one ounce apiece; of silver, the trappings of our horses, the family salt cellar, and a small vessel for the service of the gods; of copper, five thousand pounds, for the necessity of each family." This proposal was carried by acclamation, and the noble example followed emulously by all the people. So eager was the throng which pressed to the treasury that the clerks were unable to make a full registry of the names. This patriotic loan saved the State; and it was even more valuable in the spirit which it called forth than for the actual relief which it afforded to the treasury." "When C. Terentius Varra had, by his impudence and bad generalship, lost the fatal battle of Cannæ and brought the Republic to the verge of ruin, after he had delivered the fugitives he had rallied at Venusia and Casilinum into the hands of his successor, himself set out to Rome to make a personal report of his conduct. With what feelings he approached the city may be imagined. But as he drew near, the Senate and people went out to meet him, and publicly thanked him, 'for that he had not despaired of the Republic.'" Saith the Roman historian: "History presents no nobler spectacle than this. Had he been a Carthaginian General, he would have been crucified." Which code shall Christian nations adopt?" We need not speak of the Seven Years War of the Revolution. Was it because the European blood still retained its vigor that the men of '76 could hold on for seven years, while we give way in four? Are we really, after all our chivalrous pretensions, and complacent contempt of foreigners, an inferior and emasculated race? We spurn the idea with the contempt and execration it deserves? Or, can it be that, after all, we are not in downright earnest; that this is only a family quarrel; at most, a political campaign, and that we are not disposed to carry it so far as to imperil our vital interests in this planet? We will not believe that a people who have cheerfully given their sons and brothers to the dungeon and the grave can tremble with fear for their miserable pelf.--How could they kneel down upon the grass that has grown up over those pale, heroic faces, once lovingly nestled in their own arms, and whisper such a damning secret? No! The lofty and determined soul of the South may become, at times, sad and dejected, but it can never prove recreant to the traditions of the past, nor stamp degradation upon the very soil which gave it birth, and where its warriors sleep and dream, not of dishonor, but immortality.
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