Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

The fortitude of the men of the North, under intense suffering for liberty's sake, has been almost god-like . History has so recorded it. Who comprised that gallant army, without food, without pay, shelterless, shoeless, penniless, and almost naked, in that dreadful winter, — the midnight of our Revolution, — whose wanderings eould be traced by their blood-tracks in the snow; whom no arts could seduce, no appeal lead astray, no sufferings disaffect; but who, true to their country and its holy cause, continued to fight the good fight of liberty, until it finally friumphed 2 Who, Sir, were these men 2 Why, Northern laborers'—yes, Sir, Northern laborers' Who, Sir, were Roger Sherman and But it is idle to enumerate. To name the Northern laborers who have distinguished themselves, and illustrated the history of their country, would require days of the time of this House. Nor is it necessary. Posterity will do them justice. Their deeds have been recorded in characters of fire :

—o-
194. MERITS OF FULTON'S INVENTION, 1838. —ogden Hoffman.

This House and the world have been told that Robert Fulton was not the inventor of steam navigation. England asserts that it is to a Scotchman that the honor of this discovery is due, and that it was the Clyde and the Thames that first witnessed the triumphant success of this wonderful invention. France, through her National Institute, declares that it was the Seine. Even Spain, degraded and enslaved, roused by the voice of emulation, has looked forth from her cloistered halls of superstition, and declared that in the age of Charles, in the presence of her Court and nobles, this experiment was successfully tried. But America, proudly seated upon the enduring monument which Fulton has reared, smiles at these rival claims, and, secure in her own, looks down serenely upon these billows of strife, which break at the base of her throne.

But it has been denied, in this debate, that any other credit than that of good luck is due to Fulton for his invention. Gentlemen would have us suppose that good luck is the parent of all that we admire in science or in arms. If this be so, why, then, indeed, what a bubble is reputation . How vain and how idle are the anxious days and sleepless nights devoted to the service of one's country ! Admit this argument and you strip from the brow of the scholar his bay, and from those of the statesman and soldier their laurel. Why do you deck with chaplets the statue of the Father of his Country, if good luck, and good luck alone, be all that commends him to our gratitude and love? A member of this House retorts, “Bad luck would have made Washington a traitor.” Ay, but in whose estimation? Did the great and holy principles which produced and governed our Revolution depend, for their righteousness and truth, upon success or defeat Would Washington, had he suffered as a rebel on the scaffold, - would Washington have been regarded as a traitor by Warren, and Hancock, and Greene, and Hamilton, — by the crowd of patriots who encompassed him, partners of his toil and sharers of his patriotism 2 Was it good luck that impelled Columbus, through discouragement, conspiracy and poverty, to persevere in his path of danger, until this Western world blessed his sight, and rewarded his energy and daring 2 Does the gentleman emulate the glory of the third King of Rome, Tullus Hostilius, –and would he erect in our own land a temple to Fortune? It cannot be that he would seriously promulgate such views; — that he would take from human renown all that gives it dignity and worth, by making it depend less on the virtue of the individual than on his luck! —--— 195. SECTIONAL SERVICES IN THE LAST WAR. Caleb Cushing.

The gentleman from South Carolina taunts us with counting the costs of that war in which the liberties and honor of the country, and the interests of the North, as he asserts, were forced to go elsewhere for their defence. Will he sit down with me and count the cost now 2 Will he reckon up how much of treasure the State of South Carolina expended in that war, and how much the State of Massachusetts — how much of the blood of either State was poured out on sea or land 2 I challenge the gentleman to the test of patriotism, which the army roll, the navy lists, and the treasury books, afford. Sir, they who revile us for our opposition to the last war have looked only to the surface of things. They little know the extremities of suffering which the People of Massachusetts bore at that period, out of attachment to the Union, — their families beggared, their fathers and sons bleeding in camps, or pining in foreign prisons. They forget that not a field was marshalled, on this side of the mountains, in which the men of Massachusetts did not play their part, as became their sires, and their “blood fetched from mettle of war proof.” They battled and bled, wherever battle was fought or blood drawn.

Nor only by land. I ask the gentleman, Who fought your naval battles in the last war : Who led you on to victory after victory, on the ocean and the lakes 2 Whose was the triumphant prowess before which the Red Cross of England paled with unwonted shames 2 Were they not men of New England 2 Were these not foremost in those maritime encounters which humbled the pride and power of Great Britain I appeal to my colleague before me from our common county of brave old Essex, — I appeal to my respected colleagues from the shores of the Old Colony. Was there a village or a hamlet on Massachusetts Bay, which did not gather its hardy seamen to man the gundecks of your ships of war? Did they not rally to the battle, as men

flock to a feast 2

I beseech the House to pardon me, if I may have kindled, on this subject, into something of unseemly ardor. I cannot sit tamely by, in humble acquiescent silence, when reflections, which I know to be unjust, are cast on the faith and honor of Massachusetts. Had I suffered them to pass without admonition, I should have deemed that the disembodied spirits of her departed children, from their ashes mingled with the dust of every stricken field of the Revolution, — from their bones mouldering to the consecrated earth of Bunker's Hill, of Saratoga, of Monmouth, – would start up in visible shape before me, to cry shame on me, their recreant countryman | Sir, I have roamed through the world, to find hearts nowhere warmer than hers, soldiers nowhere braver, patriots nowhere purer, wives and mothers nowhere truer, maidens nowhere lovelier, green valleys and bright rivers nowhere greener or brighter; and I will not be silent, when I hear her patriotism or her truth questioned with so much as a whisper of detraction. Living, I will defend her; dying, I would pause, in my last expiring breath, to utter a prayer of fond remembrance for my native New England

[ocr errors]

196. BARBARITY OF NATIONAL HATREDS.–Rufus Choate.

MR. PREsinext, we must distinguish a little. That there exists in this country an intense sentiment of nationality; a cherished energetic feeling and consciousness of our independent and separate national existence; a feeling that we have a transcendent destiny to fulfil, which we mean to fulfil; a great work to do, which we know how to do, and are able to do; a career to run, up which we hope to ascend, till we stand on the steadfast and glittering summits of the world; a feeling, that we are surrounded and attended by a noble historical group of competitors and rivals, the other Nations of the earth, all of whom we hope to overtake, and even to distance; — such a sentiment as this exists, perhaps, in the character of this People. And this I do not discourage, I do not condemn. But, Sir, that among these useful and beautiful sentiments, predominant among them, there exists a temper of hostility towards this one particular Nation, to such a degree as to amount to a habit, a trait, a national passion, — to amount to a state offeeling which “is to be regretted,” and which really threatens another war, – this I earnestly and confidently deny. I would not hear your enemy say this. Sir, the indulgence of such a sentiment by the People supposes them to have forgotten one of the counsels of Washington. Call to mind the ever seasonable wisdom of the Farewell Address: “The Nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is, in some degree, a slave. It is a slave to its animosity, or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.”

No, Sir no, Sir! We are above all this. Let the Highland clansman, half naked, half civilized, half blinded by the peat-smoke of his cavern, have his hereditary enemy and his hereditary enmity, and keep the keen, deep, and precious hatred, set on fire of hell, alive, if he can ; let the North American Indian have his, and hand it down from father to son, by Heaven knows what symbols of alligators, and rattlesnakes, and war-clubs smeared with vermilion and entwined with scarlet; let such a country as Poland, - cloven to the earth, the armed heel on the radiant forehead, her body dead, her soul incapable to die, — let her remember the “wrongs of days long past;” let the lost and wandering tribes of Israel remember theirs—the manliness and the sympathy of the world may allow or pardon this to them; — but shall America, young, free, prosperous, just setting out on the highway of Heaven, “decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she just begins to move in, glittering like the morning star, full of life and joy,” shall she be supposed to be polluting and corroding her noble and happy heart, by moping over old stories of stamp act, and tea tax, and the firing of the Leopard upon the Chesapeake in a time of peace? No, Sir no, Sir! a thousand times, no! Why, I protest I thought all that had been settled. I thought two wars had settled it all. What else was so much good blood shed for, on so many more than classical fields of Revolutionary glory? For what was so much good blood more lately shed, at Lundy's Lane, at Fort Erie, before and behind the lines at New Orleans, on the deck of the Constitution, on the deck of the Java, on the lakes, on the sea, but to settle exactly these “wrongs of past days”? And have we come back sulky and sullen from the very field of honor For my country, I deny it.

Mr. President, let me say that, in my judgment, this notion of a national enmity of feeling towards Great Britain belongs to a past age of our history. My younger countrymen are unconscious of it. They disavow it. That generation in whose opinions and feelings the actions and the destiny of the next are unfolded, as the tree in the germ, do not at all comprehend your meaning, nor your fears, nor your regrets. We are born to happier feelings. We look to England as we look to France. We look to them, from our new world, - not unrenowned, yet a new world still, - and the blood mounts to our cheeks; our eyes swim; our voices are stifled with emulousness of so much glory; their trophies will not let us sleep : but there is no hatred at all; no hatred, - no barbarian memory of wrongs, for which brave men have made the last expiation to the brave.

—o-
197. ON PRECEDENTS IN GOVERNMENT, 1851. – Lewis cass.

MR. PRESIDENT, eloquent allusions have been made here to the ominous condition of Europe. And, truly, it is sufficiently threatening to fix the regard of the rest of the civilized world. Elements are at work there whose contact and contest must, ere long, produce explosions whose consequences no man can foresee. The cloud may as yet be no bigger than a man's hand, like that seen by the prophet from Mount Carmel; but it will overspread the whole hemisphere, and burst, perhaps in ruins, upon the social and political systems of the Old World. Antagonistic principles are doing their work there. The conflict cannot be avoided. The desire of man to govern himself, and the determination of rulers to govern him, are now face to face, and must meet in the strife of action, as they have met in the strife of opinion. It requires a wiser or a rasher man than I am to undertake to foretell when and how this great battle will be fought; but it is as

sure to come as is the sun to rise again which is now descending to the horizon. What the free Governments of the world may find it proper to do, when this great struggle truly begins, I leave to those upon whom will devolve the duty and the responsibility of decision.

It has been well said that the existing generation stands upon the shoulders of its predecessors. Its visual horizon is enlarged from this elevation. We have the experience of those who have gone before us, and our own, too. We are able to judge for ourselves, without blindly following in their footsteps. There is nothing stationary in the world. Moral and intellectual as well as physical sciences are in a state of progress; or, rather, we are marching onwards in the investigation of their true principles. It is presumptuous, at any time, to say that “Now is the best possible condition of human nature; let us sit still and be satisfied; there is nothing more to learn." I believe in no such doctrine. I believe we are always learning. We have a right to examine for ourselves. In fact, it is our duty to do so. Still, Sir, I would not rashly reject the experience of the world, any more than I would blindly follow it. I have no such idea. I have no wish to prostrate all the barriers raised by wisdom, and to let in upon us an inundation of many such opinions as have been promulgated in the present age. But far be it from me to adopt, as a principle of conduct, that nothing is to be done except what has been done before, and precisely as it was then done. So much for precedents !

198. INTERVENTION IN THE WARS OF EUROPE, 1852. — Jeremiah Clemens.

WASHINGTON has said : “There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon any real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion which experience must cure, and which a just pride ought to discard.” There is a deep wisdom in this; and he who disregards, or treats it lightly, wants the highest attribute of a statesman. We can expect nothing as a favor from other nations, and none have a right to expect favors from us. Our interference, if we interfere at all, must be dictated by interest ; and, therefore, I ask, in what possible manner can we be benefited ? Russia has done us no injury; we have, therefore, no wrongs to avenge. Russia has no territory of which we wish to deprive her, and from her there is no danger against which it is necessary to guard. Enlightened self-interest does not offer a single argument in favor of embroiling ourselves in a quarrel with her. So obvious, so indisputable, is this truth, that the advocates of “intervention” have based their speeches almost solely on the ground that we have a divine mission to perform, and that is, to strike the manacles from the hands of all mankind. It may be, Mr. President, that we have such a mission ; but, if so, “ the time of its fulfilment is not yet.” And, for one, I prefer waiting for some clearer manifestation of the Divine will. By attempting to fulfil it now, we employ the surest means of disappointing that "manifest destiny" of

« ZurückWeiter »