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a name every way worthy to be associated with their names. History will do justice to Winfield Scott. Always triumphant when fighting the battles of his country, it will be no disparagement to him that he fought his own battles less successfully. The importance and brilliancy of his military career, his moderation in the hour of victory, his submission in the moment of trial, the patriotism of his public principles, the purity of his private life, will secure him a cherished remembrance with posterity, when the fortunes of parties, and even the names of Presidents, shall be altogether forgotten.
Massachusetts finds herself, indeed, in a small minority in his support. But she has known what it is to be in a still smaller minority. She has known what it is even to stand alone in a good cause, and with a good candidate; and her whole history proves that she is not of a complexion to shrink from the maintenance of her honest convictions under any pressure of numbers.
On the present occasion, however, she is proud to recognize at her side the gallant States of Kentucky and Tennessee and Vermont, and in their welcome companionship she finds an ample shield against all imputations of sectionalism.
And now, gentlemen, we are not here to repine at results, or to arraign any of those who have differed from us, either at home or abroad. Still less are we here to speak despairingly of the Republic, or disparagingly of those to whom its destinies have been committed. We bow, without a murmur, to the decision of the majority. We look with entire confidence to the Constitution of our country, and with entire respect to those who are to be entrusted with its administration. We are ready to judge fairly and dispassionately all the measures of our government, and to give a prompt and patriotic support to whatever may be rightly proposed, or rightly accomplished, from whatever source it may originate. And our earnest wish and prayer to God is, that all things may be so ordered and settled,“ that peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety, may be established among us for all generations." May every cause of sectional difference or political discord be removed from our councils, and may that Union, which was cemented by the blood of our fathers, and which is associated with so many hopes of the living and with so many precious memories of the dead, be cherished in all our hearts as a perpetual bond of national brotherhood!
Once more, gentlemen, I thank you for the honor you have conferred upon me; and I beg you to accept my best wishes for your personal health and happiness.
THE GROTON MASSACRE IN 1781.
A SPEECH DELIVERED AT GROTON, CONNECTICUT, SEPT. 6, 1853.
I AM greatly honored and obliged, fellow-citizens, by this friendly and flattering reception. I thank you for this cordial greeting. Most heartily do I wish that I were in a better state of preparation for doing justice either to the occasion or to myself. Circumstances beyond my control, however, rendered it extremely uncertain, until the very last moment, whether I should be able to be with you at all ; and I have come at last upon the express understanding and condition, that I was not to be responsible for any thing in the nature of a formal or ceremonious address. But I cannot decline to attempt some response to the call which has just been made upon me. I cannot omit such an opportunity of expressing the high gratification I have enjoyed in being present on this occasion, in witnessing these interesting ceremonies, in meeting my distinguished friend Judge Wayne, and His Excellency the Governor of Connecticut, and yourself, Mr. President, with all of whom I have had so many pleasant associations at Washington, and in forming so many new and valued acquaintances among the people of New London.
Mr. President, I am almost ashamed to confess it, but it is the first time in my life that I have ever paid a visit to New London, or ever stood upon these consecrated heights. It is, indeed, almost the first time in my life, that I have ever passed a day or a night within the limits of the State of Connecticut. Let me assure you, however, that I have not come here with the feelings of a stranger. I have not forgotten by whom the Connecticut Colony was originally led out and planted. I have not forgotten by whom its charter was obtained from Charles the Second. I
have not forgotten what names are to be found on the roll of its earliest chief magistrates for a period, father and son together, of more than a quarter of a century. Still less have I forgotten by whom the good old town of New London was founded, or whence came the name of this ancient village of Groton.
For myself, my friends, I am a Massachusetts man, a native Bostonian, born within a biscuit's throw of that old Milk-street corner, which will be always distinguished as the birthplace of the illustrious Franklin. All my personal interests, and all my present associations, are connected with that noble old sister Commonwealth of yours, and with its proud and prosperous capital. God bless them! But I cannot but remember on this occasion, that, if the blood in my veins were subjected to a chemical analysis, by far the largest part of it, on the paternal side at least, would be found to be Connecticut blood; — New-London blood. No wonder that it glows and kindles and courses with something more than its wonted fervor, as I find myself inhaling for the first time this ancestral air, and treading for the first time this almost natal soil.
For nearly a hundred and fifty years, New London was the residence of those from whom I am lineally descended. Here my own honored father was born, about the year 1760, and here he passed the happy years of his childhood and his boyhood, — having left here to enter college soon after the death of his father, and only a few years before the very event which you are this day assembled to commemorate. Had he been a few years older and remained here a few years longer, he might have fallen a victim to the British bayonets, and his name and race been altogether cut off. Or, haply, he might have fallen a victim to the hardly less powerful or less piercing shafts of some one of the mothers or grandmothers of the fair daughters whom I see around me; and the birthplace of his children might thus have been the same with his own. But here, at any rate, are still some of my esteemed relatives and kinsfolk, occupying the old places, and some of them keeping alive the old name, where it was originally introduced more than two centuries ago. Nor can I be mistaken in the idea, that the very heights on which we are gathered, and the township in which they are included, derived their name from that ancient Manor of Groton, which was granted to the Winthrops in the time of Henry the Eighth, and which continued to be their residence until they came over to America in 1630. Was I not justified, then, in the remark that I had not come here with the feelings of a stranger ? and may I not be pardoned for adding, that I cannot help feeling a little at home even among places and persons that I have never in my life seen before ?
But I pray your forgiveness, my friends, for even alluding to these passages of personal and family history. I must not, I will not dwell on them an instant longer. The day, the occasion, belong to other names and other themes; and I turn, for a few moments, to the event which you have met together to commemorate, without another word of preface.
And, certainly, I know of few events in the whole history of our revolutionary struggle more worthy of commemoration, or which present to our contemplation incidents of a more striking and impressive character. The sixth day of September, 1781! What New-Londoner, what New-Englander, what American, can ever forget the occurrence which has rendered that date so memorable! Its details, I am sure, are familiar as household words to you all, even before your memories have been refreshed by the address of the eloquent and distinguished gentleman who is to follow me.
The British fleet entering your beautiful harbor at early dawn ; the alarm and consternation of the inhabitants; the removal of the aged and infirm; the flight of the timid; the rallying of the brave; the noble exclamation of your heroic Ledyard, as he bade a last farewell to his friends before crossing the ferry to take command of the fort, “ If I must lose, to-day, honor or life, you who know me can tell which it will be;" the landing of the British regiments, with their gorgeous uniforms and glittering bayonets; the repeated summons to surrender ; the final response, anticipating, almost in terms, the reply of the gallant and lamented Taylor at Buena Vista, — “We shall not surrender, let the consequences be what they may;" the desperate conflict on these heights; the treacherous and cold-blooded massacre of Ledyard and his little band, after they had ceased all resistance against such overwhelming odds; the wanton cruelty to the wounded;