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ment are not to be prevented or delayed by lawless violence. It is no small matter at this moment to have proved afresh, in the face of friend and foe, at home and abroad, that the American Liberty Cap is not a Mob Cap!
Sir, we are accustomed to talk of Boston as a great commercial city. And so it is; and we are all justly proud of those enterprising, sagacious, and munificent merchants who have done so much to make our city known and honored in our own and in other lands. Their names are as familiar as household words to you all. Many of them are inscribed on your own honorary roll. But Boston is a great Mechanic City, as well as a great Mercantile City; and no class of its citizens has done more to build it upI do not mean materially only, but morally, socially, politically, historically - than that of which your Association is composed.
And there is one service which the mechanics of Boston rendered long ago, not indeed to our own city alone, nor to our own Commonwealth only, but to our whole country and to mankind, which, at this moment of all others, must not be, and cannot be, forgotten. I allude, as you may have anticipated, to the leading and decisive part which they played, just three-quarters of a century ago, in securing the adoption of the Constitution of the United States by the Convention of Massachusetts. You all, I sure, remember the story. There is nothing more worthy of remembrance in the history of Boston mechanics.
You all remember that meeting at the old Green Dragon, in January, 1788, and those resolutions which were transmitted to Samuel Adams, for the special instruction of himself and John Hancock, by the hand of your first President, Paul Revere. Yes, sir, both Samuel Adams and John Hancock needed the instruction of the Boston mechanics at that day; and they received it and conformed to it. It is hardly too much to say, that but for those resolutions, then and there passed by the Patriot Mechanics of '88, the adoption of the Federal Constitution would have failed. And need I add, that of all the mighty and marvellous enginery, to the invention or to the operation of which the mechanic mind or the mechanic arm has ever contributed, the Constitution of the United States is still the master-piece. For, sir, when I speak of the Constitution, I speak of the Union which was its direct and designed result. There could have been no effective and permanent Union without that Constitution. There could have been none at that day. There can be none at this.
True, Mr. President, it is no simple machine. It is somewhat complex in its construction. It has wheels within wheels, which may sometimes get clogged, and sometimes be thrown out of gear. And like every thing else of merely mortal mould, it is not proof against such wanton and wicked attempts to obstruct its operation, and destroy its checks and balances, and overthrow its entire organization, as those from which we are now suffering. Yet, taken for all in all, tested by its practical operation for more than threescore years and ten, the world has seen nothing wiser or better, nothing so wise or so good ; and the most earnest effort and the most fervent prayer of each one of us should be, that it may come out safely from the great trial to which it is now subjected, and be once more restored to us in all its original proportions and in all its matchless symmetry.
I do not forget, Mr. President, that this restoration must primarily be accomplished by force of arms. We must fight, and fight on, and woe unto us if we do not fight, with all our might, against those who are striving to break up this great machine of Free Government! There is no alternative, and no substitute at this moment for hard blows in its defence. We must sustain the powers that be, in re-enforcing the military arm of the nation, in bringing it down with the whole strength of the loyal States on the head of the insurgents. Most heartily do I wish that any word of mine could aid in animating my fellow-countrymen to such a united and vigorous onset as might overwhelm this unholy rebellion at once and for ever. Most heartily do I wish that the whole population of the loyal States could be seen rising at last as one man, without regard to present politics or to future policies, and resolving that the military power of the rebellion should be overthrown at any and every cost. We ought at least to achieve such success, without further delay, as shall enable us to defy foreign intervention and dictate our own terms of peace.
Let me not, however, be misunderstood. I am not one of those, if
any such there be, who believe that nothing besides hard blows is required for the restoration of our beloved Union. A re-en
forced and triumphant army is the first thing, and should have the foremost place in all our thoughts and efforts. But it is not the only thing. I have always been of opinion that a just, generous, conciliatory policy should accompany our advancing hosts, or at least follow close behind them. Do not imagine, my friends, that I am going to discuss that policy here. A dinner table is no place for dogmas. But the ladies will pardon me, perhaps, for venturing on a few words of illustration.
You all know that there are revolving in the firmament above us what are supposed to be the fragments of a once brilliant and beautiful planet. Year after year, and month by month, the searching gaze of modern science has discovered another, and still another, of the members of what may once have been a glorious Union, but which by some process of secession or disruption has been broken into almost insignificant pieces. The Asteroids, as they are called, which have thus far been detected in their hiding-places, already outnumber, more than two-fold, I believe, the stars on our National Flag. Now, it happened, sir, that a few weeks only before the original bombardment of Fort Sumter, it became my duty, as one of an Examining Committee, to visit that admirable Observatory at Cambridge, which was so long under the charge of your late honored Vice-President, Mr. Bond, and which is still under the direction of his worthy and accomplished son; and there the ominous announcement was made to us, in the annual report of the Director, that while several new Asteroids had been observed, Concordia was missing from its accustomed place in the heavens, and had eluded the most diligent search of the great refractor. Again, at the close of another year, on visiting the Observatory, in the fulfilment of a similar duty, I did not fail to inquire whether Concordia had yet been found. “Not yet, not yet," was the reply; and for aught I know, it may be missing still.
Now, sir, I am no superstitious believer in the signs of the sky, or in the influences of either planets or comets. There is One that sitteth on the circle of the heavens, above all stars, who shapes our ends and controls the destinies of nations as well as of individuals. But we may at least extract a moral from this celestial mystery. It is not only from among the glittering orbs of light above us that Concordia has of late been missing. It had been most unhappily driven from its place among the stars which emblazon our national banner, and from among the States which those stars represent, long before this abhorrent rebellion came to a head. And it must somehow or other be won back again, and re-instated in its old position of authority and influence over us, or, let the success of our arms be as complete and triumphant as we all hope it will be, we can rely on no permanent restoration of union and peace.
This is one of the great wants of the times, symbolized in the heavens, felt and realized on earth. We must prepare the way for bringing back that old spirit of fraternity and harmony out of which the Constitution and the Union first sprang into existence, or, though they may be rescued for the moment by force of arms, they will soon be again in jeopardy. Would to Heaven that the inventive genius and mechanical skill with which our land abounds, and of which I see so much around me at this table, could contrive an enginery adequate for accomplishing the great end of diffusing harmony throughout the land, and of re-awakening in every heart something of that old spirit of concord, of mutual regard and respect, and of common pride in a glorious history, which animated our fathers ! But why need we wish that such an instrument might be contrived ? It has been invented already, and is in daily practical use among us at this moment.
I do not refer, Mr. President, to that gigantic new organ which has just been set up in our beautiful Music Hall, — though as I gazed upon that a few days ago, in company with a few favored friends, and saw one of its massive pipes lifted to its place, and listened to the deep thunder tones of its pedal bass, it seemed to me as if there could be no limit to the flood of harmony which it was capable of pouring forth over the land. But I refer to another and still more miraculous organ, whose sounds have literally gone out to the ends of the earth, and to whose influence there is neither circumscription nor confine. I mean that greatest of all mechanical engines, so many of the operators on which are around us at this moment, and from one of whose conductors we have just listened to a patriotic and brilliant address. What a flood of harmony, and alas! what a flood of discord, too, is the Press capable of pouring out !
Sir, it is in the power of the loyal Press of the loyal States of this country, while it urges and stimulates, as it ought unceasingly to urge and stimulate, by every appeal to interest, obligation, and patriotism, the discharge of our first great duty, — that of re-enforcing our army and navy to the utmost practicable extent, and with the utmost practicable despatch, so that we may be able to strike a vigorous and crushing blow upon this hydra-headed rebellion wherever it appears, - yet so to deal with the great questions of the future, so to abstain from wanton irritation and vituperation, so to abandon all savage threats of indiscriminate and wholesale vengeance, as to prepare the way, or at least to leave the way open, for that ultimate restoration of fraternity and concord, without which all the successes of our armies and navies will prove vain and worthless. .
We must not forget that he who overcomes by force, overcomes but half his foe. There is an old maxim that we should so deal with our friends, as not forgetting that they may one day become our enemies. The reverse of that maxim is not less wise, and is more Christian, that we should so deal with our enemies, as remembering and hoping that they may soon once more become our friends. Sir, if the Press of the loyal States could be conducted in such a spirit, and if all our pens and tongues could be similarly inspired, both toward enemies at home and neutrals abroad, we might well feel a confidence that the day was not far distant when the old Constitution for which the mechanics of 1788 struck so decisive a blow, might once more be restored over the land, and when our flag might have a star for every State, and our country a State for every star.
But I dare not dwell longer on this topic, or trespass further on your time. I yielded too rashly, I fear, to your solicitation, Mr. President, that I would come here and address you, and I could only give utterance to what was uppermost in my heart. Let me hasten to conclude by proposing as a sentiment :
THE MECHANICS OF BOSTON They have proved themselves as eager and as resolved to defend the Constitution of the United States, as their fathers of 1788 were to adopt and ratify it. May their efforts be as successful !