Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

cultural industry, which you have so appropriately selected as the embellishment of your official letter paper. There, at any rate, in that venerated mansion, and in the breast of its august proprietor, the idea of your association originated.

In one of those well-remembered letters of his to Sir John Sinclair, who has been called “ the Father of British Agriculture, and the Father of British Statistics," – in one of those letters of which a fac-simile edition is the richest ornament of so many farmers' libraries, and of which I had the happiness to present a copy to the son of Sir John, the venerable Archdeacon of Middlesex (England), on his late visit to America, — Washington says :

" It will be some time, I fear, before an Agricultural Society, with Congressional aids, will be established in this country. We must walk, as other countries have done, before we can run. Smaller societies must prepare the way for greater ; but, with the lights before us, I hope we shall not be so slow as older nations have been."

Well, sir, the smaller societies have, indeed, prepared the way, and it is time for the greater to enter into their labors. You have called me up in connection with one of them, 66 the Massachusetts Society for the Promotion of Agriculture,” of which my excellent friend at my side (Hon. J. C. Gray) is President. That society, founded in 1792, has done much, and is still doing much. Its stock is hardly second to any in your pens this day. Its premiums are, at this moment, stimulating the invention of the whole country to furnish us with even a better mowing machine than those which have already been the admiration and wonder of the crystal palaces of both England and France. And I believe we shall have a better. I would be the last to rob this old Society of any of its rightful laurels. But I am afraid I cannot insist on its being called the oldest State Society in the country.

The first American Society of all was undoubtedly the Philadelphia Society, which has just been so well represented by my friend, Mr. McMichael, and of which our own Timothy Pickering was the original Secretary. And it is a most agreeable coincidence that this earliest American association, for the promotion of this greatest American interest, had the same birth-place with both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

This was a city or county society. But, in examining the minutes of this time-honored institution (as printed in 1854, and kindly sent to me by a Philadelphia friend), I found somewhat unexpected evidence that a much earlier State society was formed than that of Massachusetts.

The Philadelphia Record of Dec. 5, 1785, sets forth, that a letter was received “ from the Hon. William Drayton, Esq., Chairman of the Committee of the South Carolina Society of Agriculture, inclosing a few copies of their address and rules, and soliciting a correspondence with this Society.” This letter was dated Nov. 2, 1785, and leaves no doubt, therefore, that South Carolina had established a State Agricultural Society at least seven years before Massachusetts. It is certainly a striking circumstance, that the year of its establishment was the very year in which the first five bales of cotton ever exported from America, were entered at Liverpool, and were actually seized at the Custom House, I believe, on the ground that no such thing as cotton had ever been grown, or could ever be grown in America! Indigo was then the staple export of Carolina, of which hardly a plant is now found upon her soil, and of which not a pound is exported. Truly, sir, there have been revolutions in the vegetable kingdom, within a century past, hardly less wonderful than those of the civil and political world.

Allow me, Mr. President, in allusion to some of these facts, to propose to you as a sentiment for this occasion :

PENNSYLVANIA, SOUTH CAROLINA, AND MASSACHUSETTS The pioneers in the great cause of American agricultural improvement, with WASHINGTON as its especial patron ---May common memories of the past, and common interests of the present, and common hopes of the future, ever bind them together in the same glorious brotherhood.

NATIONAL POLITICS.

A. SPEECH MADE AT THE WHIG CONVENTION OF MASSACHUSETTS, IN THE TREMONT

TEMPLE, BOSTON, SEPTEMBER 3, 1856.

I THANK you, fellow-citizens and fellow-Whigs of Massachusetts, for the honor of presiding over this convention. Had I felt at liberty to consult only my own convenience, or even to yield to the pressure of any ordinary engagements, — still more, had I been capable of being controlled by any mere considerations of personal policy, — I should not have been within the reach of such a distinction. I should have been elsewliere today. But there are times when it hardly becomes a good citizen to shrink from any position to which he may be called by those with whom he agrees in regard to public affairs. There are times when no man who has honest, deliberate, and decided views in reference to the condition of his country, should hold back from declaring them distinctly and boldly. There are times, and this is eminently one of those times, when, as the great Roman orator said, it should be written on every man's forehead, what he thinks of the republic.

You have called me to the chair, indeed, gentlemen, as one whose opinions are not altogether unknown. Though I have thus far adhered to my intention of giving no absolute committals or irrevocable pledges, and though I do not mean to be so bound by any party ties as to prevent me from acting at any time according to my sincere individual convictions, I have yet more than once indicated the general views and the particular preferences which I entertain, in regard to the approaching election, in terms which could not have been misunderstood.

You will hardly excuse me, however, from complying with the custom of these conventions, by availing myself of this position, and of this opportunity, to give a somewhat fuller and more formal expression of opinion in relation to the momentous issues now before the people of the United States.

We have come together as Massachusetts Whigs, who have not yet seen our way clear to the merging of our old organization in that of any of the other parties, old or new, which have attracted so many of those with whom we have formerly been associated. We have come together under the same old flag which has borne the battle and the breeze for a quarter of a century past, and which during so long a portion of that period has floated in triumph over our beloved Commonwealth. We lift it up afresh to-day, with the bright particular star of our own State on one side, and with nothing less than all the stars of the Union on the other, and rally as proudly beneath its folds, now that it seems to be committed to the keeping of hardly more than a respectable color-guard, as when it was the cherished ensign of an army of seventy thousand voters. We have assembled in a full consciousness of our own comparative weakness, and not without renewed emotions of regret, that the noble old party which so long secured a prosperous and honorable administration to our State, and which so long furnished a bright succession of patriotic and powerful leaders to the councils of the nation, should have been deprived of its supremacy and shorn of its strength, at a moment when more than ever before its services were needed both to the Commonwealth and the whole country.

But we come together, gentlemen, I am sure, in no spirit of animosity or bitterness towards anybody. We come for no purposes of petty proscription or revenge. We come neither to read anybody out of our ranks who is disposed to remain there, nor yet to calumniate or censure any one who has already left us.

For myself, I desire, in what I may have to say this morning, to speak both of the past and of the present in a tone of entire moderation and forbearance. The condition of our country is too serious to be treated of in violent or intemperate language. Mutual criminations and invectives have already been the cause of one full half of all the evils under which we are suffering, and they are doing nothing, nothing whatever, towards relieving us from the pressure of the other half. It would be as easy for me, perhaps, as it is for others, to pander to the ultraisms and extravagances of the hour, and I might gain a fresh popularity in some quarters by doing so. But if discord is to catch and kindle throughout the land, if the disorders which are now limited and local are to spread and swell until they shall have attained to the full height and fearful proportions of civil war, I pray Heaven that I, for one, may have given no just occasion for such a stricture as that of Dr. Johnson upon Junius, –“Finding sedition in the ascendant, he has been able to advance it; finding the nation combustible, he has been able to inflame it.” Rather let my ability to say any thing, or my courage to do any thing, be for ever questioned or denied, than that I should manifest either courage or ability at the expense of the national peace or the national Union,

No, gentlemen, if I can pour no oil upon the waters, I will, at least, add no fuel to the flames; and I do not intend, if I can help it, that a single harsh word or reproachful imputation shall escape my lips to-day, in relation either to any of the candidates before the country, or to any of those by whom they are respectively supported. I see on all sides those whom I respect, those whom I love, those with whom I have so long been proud to be associated in public life, and with whom I am still proud to be associated in private life, — ranging themselves under banners widely differing from each other, and not less widely differing from that to which, whether in prosperous or adverse fortune, I still cling. They are following, I know, their own well-considered and conscientious convictions of duty, and far be it from any of us to impeach their motives or question their sincerity. Not even the unjust and ungenerous censures which have so often been cast on my own adherence, now and heretofore, to the dictates of my deliberate judgment, shall tempt me to indulge in any thing of retaliation or retort. The day will assuredly come, when we shall be found acting together again with some of them,-- perhaps with all of them; - and while I recognize the policy of the old maxim, that we should deal even with our friends as with those who may one day be our enemies, I like still better the higher and nobler principle of dealing

« ZurückWeiter »