Under the flag.1
Therefore thus saith the Lord: Ye have not hearkened unto me in proclaiming liberty every one to his brother, and every man to his neighbor: behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, saith the Lord, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine.
Jer. XXXIV. 17.
Many times this winter, here and elsewhere, I have counselled peace,--urged, as well as I knew how, the expediency of acknowledging a Southern Confederacy, and the peaceful separation of these thirty-four States.
One of the journals announces to you that I come here this morning to retract those opinions.
No, not one of them!
[Applause.] I need them all,--every word I have spoken this winter,--every act of twenty-five years of my life, to make the welcome I give this war hearty and hot. Civil war is a momentous evil.
It needs the soundest, most solemn justification.
I rejoice before God to-day for every word that I have spoken counselling peace; but I rejoice also with an especially profound gratitude, that now, the first time in my antislavery life, I speak under the stars and stripes, and welcome the tread of Massachusetts
men marshalled for war. [Enthusiastic cheering.] No matter what the past has been or said; to-day the slave asks God for a sight of this banner, and counts it the pledge of his redemption.
[Applause.] Hitherto it may have meant what you thought, or what I
did; to-day it represents sovereignty and justice.
[Renewed applause.] The only mistake that I have made, was in supposing Massachusetts
wholly choked with cotton-dust and cankered with gold.
[Loud cheering.] The South thought her patience and generous willingness for peace were cowardice; to-day shows the mistake.
She has been sleeping on her arms since 1883, and the first cannon-shot brings her to her feet with the war-cry of the Revolution on her lips.
[Loud cheers.] Any man who loves either liberty or manhood must rejoice at such an hour.
Let me tell you the path by which I at least have trod my way up to this conclusion.
I do not acknowledge the motto, in its full significance, “Our country, right or wrong.”
If you let it trespass on the domain of morals, it is knavish.
But there is a full, broad sphere for loyalty; and no war-cry ever stirred a generous people that had not in it much of truth and right.
It is sublime, this rally of a great people to the defence of what they think their national honor!
A “noble and puissant nation rousing herself like a strong man from sleep, and shaking her invincible locks.”
Just now, we saw her “reposing, peaceful and motionless; but at the call of patriotism, she ruffles, as it were, her swelling plumage, collects her scattered elements of strength, and awakens her dormant thunders.”
But how do we justify this last appeal to the God of battles?
Let me tell you how I do. I have always believed in the sincerity of Abraham Lincoln
You have heard me express my confidence in it every time I have spoken from this desk.
I only doubted sometimes whether he were really the head of the government.
To-day he is at any rate Commander-in-chief.
The delay in the action of government has doubtless been necessity, but policy also.
Traitors within and with
out made it hesitate to move till it had tried the machine of government just given it. But delay was wise, as it matured a public opinion definite, decisive, and ready to keep step to the music of the government march.
The very postponement of another session of Congress till July 4th plainly invites discussion,--evidently contemplates the ripening of public opinion in the interval.
Fairly to examine public affairs, and prepare a community wise to co-operate with the government, is the duty of every pulpit and every press.
Plain words, therefore, now, before the nation goes mad with excitement, is every man's duty.
Every public meeting in Athens
was opened with a curse on any one who should not speak what he really thought.
“I have never defiled my conscience from fear or favor to my superiors,” was part of the oath every Egyptian
soul was supposed to utter in the Judgment-Hall
, before admission to heaven.
Let us show to-day a Christian spirit as sincere and fearless.
No mobs in this hour of victory, to silence those whom events have not converted.
We are strong enough to tolerate dissent.
That fog which floats over press or mansion at the bidding of a mob, disgraces both victor and victim.
All winter long, I have acted with that party which cried for peace.
The antislavery enterprise to which I belong started with peace written on its banner.
We imagined that the age of bullets was over; that the age of ideas had come; that thirty millions of people were able to take a great question, and decide it by the conflict of opinions; that, without letting the ship of state founder, we could lift four millions of men into Liberty and Justice.
We thought that if your statesmen would throw away personal ambition and party watchwords, and devote themselves to the great issue, this might be accomplished.
To a certain extent it has been.
to the call.
Year after year, event by event, has indicated the rising education of the people,--the readiness for a higher moral life, the calm, self-poised confidence in our own convictions that patiently waits — like master for a pupil — for a neighbor's conversion.
has responded to the call of that peaceful, moral, intellectual agitation which the antislavery idea has initiated.
Our mistake, if any, has been that we counted too much on the intelligence of the masses, on the honesty and wisdom of statesmen as a class.
Perhaps we did not give weight enough to the fact we saw, that this nation is made up of different ages; not homogeneous, but a mixed mass of different centuries.
The North thinks
,--can appreciate argument,--is the nineteenth century,--hardly any struggle left in it but that between the working class and the money-kings.
The South dreams,--it
is the thirteenth and fourteenth century,--baron and serf,--noble and slave.
and Wat Tyler
loom over its horizon, and the serf, rising, calls for another Thierry
to record his struggle.
There the fagot still burns which the Doctors
of the Sorbonne called, ages ago, “the best light to guide the erring.”
There men are tortured for opinions, the only punishment the Jesuits were willing their pupils should look on. This is, perhaps, too flattering a picture of the South
Better call her, as Sumner
does, “the Barbarous States
Our struggle, therefore, is between barbarism and civilization.
Such can only be settled by arms.
[Prolonged cheering.] The government has waited until its best friends almost suspected its courage or its integrity; but the cannon shot against Fort Sumter
has opened the only door out of this hour.
There were but two. One was compromise; the other was battle.
The integrity of the North
closed the first; the generous forbearance of nineteen States closed the other.
The South opened this with cannon-shot, and Lincoln
shows himself at the door.
[Prolonged and enthusiastic cheering.] The war, then, is not aggressive, but in self defence, and Washington
has become the Thermopylae of Liberty and Justice.
[Applause.] Rather than surrender that Capital, cover every square foot of it with a living body [loud cheers]; crowd it with a million of men, and empty every bank vault at the North
to pay the cost.
[Renewed cheering.] Teach the world once for all, that North America
belongs to the Stars and Stripes, and under them no man shall wear a chain.
[Enthusiastic cheering.] In the whole of this conflict, I have looked only at Liberty
,--only at the slave.
entered the battle of the Lakes
with “don't give up the ship
floating from the masthead of the Lawrence
When with his fighting flag he left her crippled, heading north, and, mounting the deck of the Niagara
, turned her bows due west, he did all for one and the same purpose,--to rake the decks of the foe. Steer north or west, acknowledge secession or cannonade it, I care not which; but “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
I said, civil war needs momentous and solemn justification.
, the world, may claim of us, that, before we blot the nineteenth century by an appeal to arms, we shall exhaust every concession, try every means to keep the peace; otherwise, an appeal to the God of battles is an insult to the civilization of our age; it is a confession that our culture and our religion are superficial, if not a failure.
I think that the history of the nation and of the government both is an ample justification to our own times and to history for this appeal to arms.
I think the South
is all wrong, and the administration is all right.
[Prolonged cheering.] Let me tell you why. For thirty years the North
has exhausted conciliation and compromise.
They have tried every expedient, they have relinquished
every right, they have sacrificed every interest.
they have smothered keen sensibility to national honor, and Northern weight and supremacy in the Union
; have forgotten they were the majority in numbers and in wealth, in education and strength; have left the helm of government and the dictation of policy to the Southern States
For all this, the conflict waxed closer and hotter.
The administration which preceded this was full of traitors and thieves.
It allowed the arms, ships, money, military stores of the North
to be stolen with impunity.
took office, robbed of all the means to defend the Constitutional rights of the government.
He offered to withdraw from the walls of Sumter
everything but the flag.
He allowed secession to surround it with the strongest forts which military science could build.
offered to meet in convention her sister States, and arrange the terms of peaceful separation.
Strength and right yielded everything,--they folded their hands, waited the returning reason of the mad insurgents.
Week after week elapsed, month after month went by, waiting for the sober second-thought of two millions and a half of people.
The world saw the sublime sight of nineteen millions of wealthy, powerful, united citizens, allowing their flag to be insulted, their rights assailed, their sovereignty defied and broken in pieces, and yet waiting, with patient, brotherly, magnanimous kindness, until insurrection, having spent its fury, should reach out its hand for a peaceful arrangement.
Men began to call it cowardice, on the one hand; and we, who watched closely the crisis, feared that this effort to be magnanimous would demoralize the conscience and the courage of the North
We were afraid that, as the hour went by, the virtue of the people, white-heat as it stood on the fourth day of March, would be cooled by the temptations, by the suspense, by the want and suffering which it was feared would stalk from the Atlantic
to the valley of
We were afraid the government would wait too long, and find at last, that, instead of a united people, they were deserted, and left alone to meet the foe.
All this time, the South
knew, recognized, by her own knowledge of Constitutional questions, that the government could not advance one inch towards acknowledging secession; that when Abraham Lincoln
swore to support the Constitution
and laws of the United States
, he was bound to die under the flag on Fort Sumter
, if necessary.
[Loud applause.] They knew, therefore, that the call on the administration to acknowledge the Commissioners
of the Confederacy
was a delusion and a swindle.
I know the whole argument for secession.
Up to a certain extent, I accede to it. But no administration that is not traitor can acknowledge secession until we are hopelessly beaten in fair fight.
[Cheers.] The right of a State to secede, under the Constitution of the United States
,--it is an absurdity; and Abraham Lincoln
knows nothing, has a right to know nothing, but the Constitution of the United States
[Loud cheers.] The right of a State to secede, as a revolutionary right, is undeniable; but it is the nation which is to recognize that; and the nation offered, at the suggestion of Kentucky
, to meet the question in full convention.
The offer was declined.
The government and the nation, therefore, are all right.
[Applause.] They are right on constitutional law; they are right on the principles of the Declaration of Independence
Let me explain this more fully, for this reason; because --and I thank God for it, every American should be proud of it — you cannot maintain a war in the United States of America
against a constitutional or a revolutionary right.
The people of these States have too large brains and too many ideas to fight blindly,--to lock horns like a couple of beasts in the sight of the world.
[Applause.] Cannon think in this nineteenth century; and you must
put the North
in the right,--wholly, undeniably, inside of the Constitution
and out of it,--before you can justify her in the face of the world; before you can pour Massachusetts
like an avalanche through the streets of Baltimore
, [great cheering,] and carry Lexington
on the fifth of April south of Mason
[Renewed cheering.] Let us take an honest pride in the fact that our Sixth Regiment made a way for itself through Baltimore
, and were the first to reach the threatened Capital.
In this war Massachusetts
has a right to be the first in the field.
I said I knew the whole argument for secession.
Very briefly let me state the points.
No government provides ft r its own death; therefore there can be no constitutional right to secede.
But there is a revolutionary right.
The Declaration of Independence
establishes, what the heart of every American acknowledges, that the people — mark y u, the people!--have always an inherent, paramount, his alienable right to change their governments, whenever they think — whenever they
think — that it will minister to their happiness.
That is a revolutionary right.
Now, how did South Carolina
come into the Union
They came into it by a convention representing tie people.
alleges that she has gone out by convention.
So far, right.
She says that when the people
take the State
rightfully out of the Union
, the right to forts and national property goes with it. Granted.
She says, also, that it is no matter that we bought Louisiana
, and Florida
No bargain made, no money paid, betwixt us and France
, could rob Florida
of her right to remodel her government whenever the people found it would be for their happiness.
So far, right.
The people,--mark you!
presents herself to the administration at Washington
, and says, “There is a vote of my convention, that I go out of
“I cannot see you,” says Abraham Lincoln
[Loud cheers.] “As President
, I have no eyes but constitutional eyes; I cannot see you.”
[Renewed cheers.] He could only say, like Speaker Lenthal
before Charles the First, “I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak but as the Constitution
is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am.”
He was right.
said, the Fathers said, in 1789, “No man but an enemy of liberty will ever stand on technicalities and forms, when the essence is in question.”
could not see the Commissioners
of South Carolina
, but the North
could; the nation could; and the nation responded, “If you want a Constitutional secession, such as you claim, but which I repudiate, I will waive forms: let us meet in convention, and we will arrange it.”
[Applause.] Surely, while one claims a right within the Constitution
, he may, without dishonor or inconsistency, meet in convention, even if finally refusing to be bound by it. To decline doing so is only evidence of intention to provoke war. Everything under that instrument is peace.
Everything under that instrument may be changed by a national convention.
The South says, “No!”
She says, “If you don't allow me the Constitutional right, I claim the revolutionary right.”
responds, “When you have torn the Constitution
into fragments, I recognize the right of the people
of South Carolina
to model their government.
Yes, I recognize the right of the three hundred and eighty-four thousand white men, and four hundred and eighty-four thousand black men to model their Constitution.
Show me one that they have adopted, and I will recognize the revolution.
[Cheers.] But the moment you tread outside of the Constitution
, the black man is not three fifths of a man,--he is a whole one.”
[Loud cheering.] Yes, the South
has the right of revolution; the South
has a right to model her government; and the
moment she shows us four million of black votes thrown even against it, and balanced by five million of other votes, I will acknowledge the Declaration of Independence
is complied with [loud applause],--that the people south of Mason
's line have remodelled their government to suit themselves; and our function is only to recognize it.
Further than this, we should have the right to remind them, in the words of our Declaration of Independence
, that “governments long established are not to be changed for light and transient causes,” and that, so long as government fulfils the purposes for which it was made,--the liberty and happiness of the people,--no one section has the right capriciously to make changes which destroy joint interests, advantages bought by common toil and sacrifice, and which division necessarily destroys.
Indeed, we should have the right to remind them that no faction, in what has been recognized as one nation, can claim, by any law, the right of revolution to set up or to preserve a system which the common conscience of mankind stamps as wicked and infamous.
The law of nations is only another name for the common sense and average conscience of mankind.
It does not allow itself, like a county court, to be hoodwinked by parchments or confused by technicalities.
In its vocabulary, the right of revolution means the right of the people to protect themselves, not the privilege of tyrants to tread under foot good laws, and claim the world's sympathy in riveting weakened chains.
I say the North
had a right to assume these positions.
She did not. She had a right to ignore revolution until these conditions were complied with; but she did not. She waived it. In obedience to the advice of Madison
, to the long history of her country's forbearance, to the magnanimity of nineteen States, she waited; she advised the government to wait.
, in his inaugural, indicated
that this would be the wise course.
hinted it in his speech in New York.
The London Times bade us remember the useless war of 1776, and take warning against resisting the principles of popular sovereignty.
The Tribune, whose unflinching fidelity and matchless ability make it in this fight “the white plume of Navarre,” has again and again avowed its readiness to waive forms and go into convention.
We have waited.
We said, “Anything for peace.”
We obeyed the magnanimous statesmanship of John Quincy Adams
Let me read you his advice, given at the “Jubilee of the Constitution
,” to the New York Historical Society, in the year 1839.
He says, recognizing this right of the people
of a State,--mark you, not a State: the Constitution
in this matter knows no States; the right of revolution knows no States: it knows only the people.
The people of each State in the Union have a right to secede from the confederated Union itself.
Thus stands the right.
But the indissoluble link of union between the people of the several States of this confederated nation is, after all, not in the right, but in the heart.
If the day should ever come (may Heaven avert it!) when the affections of the people of these States shall be alienated from each other, when the fraternal spirit shall give way to cold indifference, or collisions of interest shall fester into hatred, the bands of political association will not long hold together parties no longer attracted by the magnetism of conciliated interests and kindly sympathies; and far better will it be for the people of the disunited States to part in friendship from each other, than to be held together by constraint.
Then will be the time for reverting to the precedents which occurred at the formation and adoption of the Constitution, to form again a more perfect union, by dissolving that which could no longer bind ; and
to leave the separated parts to be reunited by the law of political gravitation to the centre.
said “Amen” to every word of it. They waited.
They begged the States to meet them.
They were silent when the cannon-shot pierced the flag of the Star of the West.
They said “Amen” when the government offered to let nothing but the bunting cover Fort Sumter
They said “Amen” when Lincoln
stood alone, without arms, in a defenceless Capital, and trusted him-3elf to the loyalty and forbearance of thirty-four States.
The South, if the truth be told, cannot
Like all usurpers, they dare not give time for the people to criticise their power.
War and tumult must conceal the irregularity of their civil course, and smother discontent and criticism at the same time.
Besides, bankruptcy at home can live out its short term of possible existence only by conquest on land and piracy at sea. And, further, only by war, by appeal to popular frenzy, can they hope to delude the Border States
to join them.
War is the breath of t heir life.
To-day, therefore, the question is, by the voice of the South
, “Shall Washington
own the continent?”
And the North
says, “From the Gulf
to the Pole, the Stars and Stripes shall atone to four millions of negroes whom we have forgotten for seventy years; and, before you break the Union
, we will see that justice is done to the slave.”
[Enthusiastic and long-continued cheers.]
There is only one thing those cannon-shot in the harbor of Charleston
settled,--that there never can be a compromise.
[Loud applause.] We Abolitionists have doubted whether this Union really meant justice and liberty.
We have doubted the intention of nineteen millions of people.
They have said, in answer to our criticism: “We believe that the Fathers meant to establish
We believe that there are hidden in the armory of the Constitution
weapons strong enough to secure it. We are willing yet to try the experiment.
We have doubted, derided the pretence, as we supposed.
During these long and weary weeks we have waited to hear the Northern
conscience assert its purpose.
It comes at last.
[An impressive pause.] Massachusetts
blood has consecrated the pavements of Baltimore
, and those stones are now too sacred to be trodden by slaves [Loud cheers.]
You and I owe it to those young martyrs, you and I owe it, that their blood shall be the seed of no mere empty triumph, but that the negro shall teach his children to bless them for centuries to come.
[Applause.] When Massachusetts
goes down to that Carolina fort to put the Stars and Stripes again over its blackened walls [enthusiasm], she will sweep from its neighborhood every institution which hazards their ever bowing again to the palmetto.
[Loud cheers.] All of you may not mean it now. Our fathers did not think in 1775 of the Declaration of Independence
The Long Parliament never thought of the scaffold of Charles the First, when they entered on the struggle; but having begun, they made thorough work.
[Cheers.] It is an attribute of the Yankee
blood,slow to fight, and fight once.
[Renewed cheers.] It was a holy war, that for Independence: this is a holier and the last,--that for liberty.
I hear a great deal about Constitutional liberty.
The mouths of Concord
guns have room only for one word, and that is liberty.
You might as well ask Niagara
to chant the Chicago Platform
, as to say how far war shall go. War and Niagara
thunder to a music of their own. God alone can launch the lightnings, that they may go and say, Here we are. The thunderbolts of His throne always abase the proud, lift up the lowly, and execute justice between man and man.
Now let me turn one moment to another consideration.
What should the government do?
I said “thorough” should be its maxim.
When we fight, we are fighting for justice and an idea.
A short war and a rigid one is the maxim.
Ten thousand men in Washington
it is only a bloody fight.
Five hundred thousand men in Washington
, and none dare come there but from the North
[Loud cheers.] Occupy St. Louis
with the millions of the West
, and say to Missouri
, “You cannot go out!”
[Applause.] Cover Maryland
with a million of the friends of the administration, and say: “We must have our capital within reach.
[Cheers.] If you need compensation for slaves taken from you in the convulsion of battle, here it is. [Cheers.] Government is engaged in the fearful struggle to show that 1889 meant justice, and there is something better than life, holier than even real and just property, in such an hour as this.”
And again, we must remember another thing,--the complication of such a struggle as this.
Bear with me a moment.
We put five hundred thousand men on the banks of the Potomac
is held by two races, white
Suppose those black men flare in our faces the Declaration of Independence
What are we to say?
Are we to send Northern bayonets to keep slaves under the feet of Jefferson Davis
[Many voices, “No!”
“Never!” ] In 1842, Governor Wise
, the symbol of the South
, entered into argument with Quincy Adams
, who carried Plymouth Rock
[Applause.] It was when Joshua Giddings
offered his resolution stating his constitutional doctrine that Congress had no right to interfere, in any event, in any way, with the slavery of the Southern States
refused to vote for it. Mr. Adams
said (substantially): “If foreign war comes, if civil war comes, if insurrection comes, is this beleaguered capital, is this besieged government, to see millions of its subjects i-arms,
and have no right to break the fetters which they are forging into swords?
No; the war power of the government can sweep this institution into the Gulf
[Cheers.] Ever since 1842, that statesman-like claim and warring of the North
has been on record, spoken by the lips of her wisest son. [Applause.]
When the South
cannonaded Fort Sumter
the bones of Adams
stirred in his coffin.
[Cheers.] And you might have heard him, from that granite grave at Quincy
, proclaim to the nation: “The hour has struck!
Seize the thunderbolt God has forged for you, and annihilate the system which has troubled your peace for seventy years!”
[Cheers.] Do not say this is a cold-blooded suggestion.
I hardly ever knew slavery go down in any other circumstances.
Only once, in the broad sweep of the world's history, was any nation lifted so high that she could stretch her imperial hand across the Atlantic
, and lift by one peaceful word a million of slaves into liberty.
God granted that glory only to our mother-land.
You heedlessly expected, and we Abolitionists hoped, that such would be our course.
Sometimes it really seemed so, and we said confidently, the age of bullets is over.
At others the sky lowered so darkly that we felt our only exodus would be one of blood; that, like other nations, our Bastille would fall only before revolution.
Ten years ago I asked you, How did French slavery go down?
How did the French
slave-trade go down?
came back from Elba
, when his fate hung trembling in the balance, and he wished to gather around him the sympathies of the liberals of Europe
, he no sooner set foot in the Tuileries than he signed the edict abolishing the slave-trade, against which the Abolitionists of England
had protested for twenty years in vain.
And the trade went down, because Napoleon
felt he must do something to gild the darkening
hour of his second attempt to clutch the sceptre of France
How did the slave system go down?
When, in 1848, the Provisional Government
found itself in the Hotel
de Ville, obliged to do something to draw to itself the sympathy and liberal feeling of the French
nation, they signed an edict — it was the first from the rising republic — abolishing the death-penalty and slavery.
The storm which rocked the vessel of state almost to foundering snapped forever the chain of the French
Look, too, at the history of Mexican
and South American emancipation, you will find that it was in every instance, I think, the child of convulsion.
That hour has come to us. So stand we to-day.
The Abolitionist who will not now cry, when the moment serves, “Up, boys, and at them!”
is false to liberty.
A voice, “So is every other man.” ] Yes, to-day Abolitionist is merged in citizen,--in American.
Say not it is a hard lesson.
Let him who fully knows his own heart and strength, and feels, as he looks down into his child's cradle, that he could stand and see that little nestling borne to slavery, and submit,--let him cast the first stone.
But all you, whose blood is wont to stir over Naseby
and Bunker Hill
, will hold your peace, unless you are ready to cry with me,--Sic semper tyrannis
! “So may it ever be with tyrants!”
, I believe in the might of nineteen millions of people.
Yes, I know that what sewing-machines
and reaping-machines and ideas and types and school-houses cannot do, the muskets of Illinois
can finish up. [Cheers.] Blame me not that I make everything turn on liberty and the slave.
I believe in Massachusetts
I know that free speech, free toil, school-houses, and ballot-boxes are a pyramid on its broadest base.
Nothing that does not sunder the solid globe can
disturb it. We defy the world to disturb us. [Cheers.] The little errors that dwell upon our surface, we have medicine in our institutions to cure them all. [Applause.]
Therefore there is nothing left for a New England
man, nothing but that he shall wipe away the stain which hangs about the toleration of human bondage.
said at Rochester
, years and years ago: “If I thought that there was a stain upon the remotest hem of the garment of my country, I would devote my utmost labor to wipe it off.”
[Cheers.] To-day that call is made upon Massachusetts
That is the reason why I dwell so much on the slavery question.
I said I believed in the power of the North
to conquer; but where does she get it. I do not believe in the power of the North
to subdue two millions and a half of Southern men, unless she summons justice, the negro, and God to her side [cheers]; and in that battle we are sure of this,--we are sure to rebuild the Union
down to the Gulf
[Renewed cheering.] In that battle, with that watchword, with those allies, the thirteen States and their children will survive,--in the light of the world, a nation which has vindicated the sincerity of the Fathers of 1887, that they bore children, and not pedlers, to represent them in the nineteenth century.
[Repeated cheers.] But without that,--without that, I know also we shall conquer.
Nothing but victory will blot from history that sight of the Stars and Stripes giving place to the palmetto.
But without justice for inspiration, without God for our ally, we shall break the Union
asunder; we shall be a confederacy, and so will they.
This war means one of two things,--Emancipation or Disunion.
[Cheers.] Out of the smoke of the conflict there comes that,--nothing else.
It is impossible there should come anything else.
Now, I believe in the future and permanent union of the races that cover
this continent from the pole down to the Gulf
. One in race, one in history, one in religion, one in industry, one in thought, we never can be permanently separated.
Your path, if you forget the black race, will be over the gulf of Disunion,--years of unsettled, turbulent, Mexican
and South American civilization, back through that desert of forty years to the Union
which is sure to come.
But I believe in a deeper conscience, I believe in a North more educated than that.
I divide you into four sections.
The first is the ordinary mass, rushing from mere enthusiasm to
A battle whose great aim and scope
They little care to know,
Content, like men-at-arms, to cope
Each with his fronting foe.
Behind that class stands another, whose only idea in this controversy is sovereignty and the flag.
The seaboard, the wealth, the just-converted hunkerism of the country, fill that class.
Next to it stands the third element, the people; the cordwainers of Lynn
, the farmers of Worcester
, the dwellers on the prairie,--Iowa
,--the broad surface of the people who have no leisure for technicalities, who never studied law, who never had time to read any further into the Constitution
than the first two lines,--“Establish Justice and secure Liberty
They have waited long enough; they have eaten dirt enough; they have apologized for bankrupt statesmen enough; they have quieted their consciences enough; they have split logic with their Abolition neighbors long enough; they are tired of trying to find a place between the forty-ninth and forty-eighth corner of a constitutional hair [laughter]; and now that they have got their hand on the neck of a rebellious aristocracy, in the name of the people, they mean to strangle it. That I believe is the body of the people itself.
by side with them stands a fourth class,--small, but active, --the Abolitionists, who thank God that he has let them see his salvation before they die. [Cheers.]
The noise and dust of the conflict may hide the real question at issue.
may think, some of us may, that we are fighting for forms and parchments, for sovereignty and a flag.
But really the war is one of opinions: it is Civilization against Barbarism: it is Freedom against Slavery.
The cannon-shot against Fort Sumter
was the yell of pirates against the Declaration of Independence
, the war-cry of the North
is the echo of that sublime pledge.
The South, defying Christianity, clutches its victim.
offers its wealth and blood in glad atonement for the selfishness of seventy years. The result is as sure as the throne of God.
I believe in the possibility of justice, in the certainty of union.
Years hence, when the smoke of this conflict clears away, the world will see under our banner all tongues, all creeds, all races,--one brotherhood,--and on the banks of the Potomac
, the Genius of Liberty, robed in light, four and thirty stars for her diadem, broken chains under feet, and an olive-branch in her right hand.