Abbildungen der Seite


At aný

which Newark is so celebrated, and which, certainly, is quite likely to turn out to have been “ more talk than cider.” rate, as I have already intimated, it is vain now to speculate upon national politics. They are altogether beyond our reach for the present. It is our own State only which it is now in our power to save. It is our own beloved and honored Commonwealth which we have assembled to make preparations for saving from the mischief with which she is threatened ; and, thank Heaven! in regard to her condition, the fatal phrase, “ too late," has not quite yet been pronounced. Strange scenes, it must be confessed, gentlemen, have been witnessed in old Massachusetts during the last few years, - scenes, the mere prediction of which, a twelvemonth before they occurred, would have been denounced by the very men who have been concerned in them, as a gross and groundless defamation. It would have been resented as indignantly as the predictions of the prophet by the Syrian of old, who exclaimed, “Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing ?” and who then straightway proceeded to do it.

Why, what has been the history of our Commonwealth, so far as politics are concerned, since the year of our Lord 1850 ? What true-hearted son of Massachusetts, of any party, can depict that history, or even recall it to remembrance, without emotions of the deepest mortification? Yet it must be recalled, it must be described, it must be held up to public scrutiny and public scorn, in order that it may never again be reproduced in our annals.

Strange scenes, certainly, my friends, have been witnessed among us. We have seen a party, which commenced its career by the most arrogant assumption of all the purity and all the principle in the world ; which professed to seek no offices, which repudiated the idea of acting with anybody, or for anybody, who did not go full length with them in all their peculiar views; and which filled the air with the loudest denunciations of all sacrifices to expediency, and all concessions for success, -entitling itself pre-eminently the Conscience Party ; we have seen this party, I say, - after stealing into the hearts of a host of good and honest men, under these artful disguises, - suddenly throwing off the mask, and entering boldly into the market for a trade, with those with whom they had no principle in common, for a share in the spoils of victory.

Well, gentlemen, they obtained that share, and the lion's share it was. A seat in the Senate of the United States for six years

– to say nothing of other and lesser offices which were thrown in to boot - was obtained in exchange for a single year's enjoyment of the administration of the Commonwealth' by their partners in the traffic. And this, under a formal compact, which was declared at the time by a distinguished gentleman, who has since worthily succeeded to the seat of the lamented Woodbury and Story, on the Supreme Bench of the United States, to be an offence indictable at common law.

We have all heard before about government being founded on original compact. And this was, certainly, an entirely original compact, so far as our own Massachusetts government was concerned. The like of it had never stained our annals before, and I heartily hope and trust that nothing similar or second to it will ever be tolerated among us again.

But this was not enough. The appetite for office, once whetted, could not so easily be appeased. “Another trade" was called for. Another trade! Meantime, the power of the Coalition was not secure enough, nor the offices within its yearly reach sufficiently numerous, under the existing order of things. The machinery of the Constitution was in the way, and it must be changed to suit the emergency. The proposition for a convention, once fairly voted down, was accordingly renewed at a moment when the minds of the people were absorbed by the distracting issues of a presidential election; and that proposition was at last carried by a meagre vote, and, as we must confess it, in a great degree by our own default. The Convention met, and lo! that sacred instrument, which was framed with so much care, for the good and the glory of the whole Commonwealth, by John Adams and Samuel Adams, and Hancock and Bowdoin, and Lincoln and Lowell, and Sullivan and Parsons, is forthwith cut up and cooked over with as little remorse as was shown by the daughters of Pelias when they cut up and cooked over the body. of their aged parent, and very much under the same pretence, - under the pretence of restoring it to new health and vigor, but really to suit

[ocr errors]

the purpose of perpetuating the power of a party, and of securing fresh opportunities for carrying out an abhorrent system of trafficking in office.

This, gentlemen, is a brief history of Massachusetts politics, as we understand that history, during the last three years ; and I call on every true son of Massachusetts to ponder upon it, earnestly and solemnly, before he goes to the polls in November next

It is not for me, in these opening remarks, to detain you with any detailed account of that thing of shreds and patches by which the Constitution of Hancock and Adams is thus sought to be supplanted. There are others here better prepared than myself to tell you of the fatal blow which it has aimed at the independence of the judiciary, and of its monstrous violation of the great principle of equality in the arrangement of representation, - a violation monstrous enough to have roused our fathers to revolution, and which, if now freshly exhibited in the Constitution of a State like Massachusetts, will be pleaded as a justification of every ancient and of every modern abuse by which the rights of humanity are anywhere disregarded and trampled on.

And now, fellow-citizens, the immediate question before the people is this : Shall this new Constitution, unequal and unjust as many of its provisions notoriously are, be sanctioned and adopted in order to prolong and perpetuate the power of a party which has so degraded the character of our ancient Commonwealth, which has so lowered the standard of all virtuous and honorable politics, and which has done so much to demoralize and debauch the youthful political mind, by giving fresh currency to the detestable maxim that in politics every thing is fair? Shall the trading policy be deliberately incorporated into our organic law ? Shall the trading party be solemnly sustained at the polls ? Shall the very name, which, more than all other names in the Commonwealth, is identified with the original arrangement, and with the final and forced consummation of that abominable bargain, be honored with a place on the roll of our chief magistrates ?

Do not let us forget, gentlemen, that these questions are to be decided finally and once for all. If ever this detestable policy is to

be rebuked and arrested, it must be done now,- arrested by the rejection of the machinery which has been deliberately contrived to perpetuate it, and rebuked by the rejection of the candidate who has been one of the main authors and managers of the whole iniquity.

For myself, I have no personal objects to gratify. There is but one Whig in the State whom I am not ready to nominate and support for any office which we may have to bestow. Private life has come not a moment too soon, and can last not a moment too long, for my own satisfaction. I am satiated with political strife, and prefer the office of an American citizen to any I have ever held or hoped. But I should be false to my own conscientious convictions of duty, and the blood which has come down to me would not merely mantle in my cheek, it would mutiny in my veins, had I not lifted my voice at your call, and borne my feeble testimony in such an hour as this. For the honor of our old Puritan Commonwealth ; for the cause of political morality and public virtue; for the interest of oppressed humanity everywhere, which looks to us to find examples of equality and models of justice, and not to see the resuscitation of the rejected and rotten systems of the Old World, - I pray to Heaven that the people of Massachusetts may be seasonably roused to the rescue of their institutions, and to the vindication of their fair fame.

It only remains to me, fellow-citizens, to thank you once more for the distinguished honor you have done me, in placing me in the chair, and to welcome you, one and all, to this chosen scene of our deliberations. Welcome, one and all, Whigs of Massachusetts! Welcome from the city and the plain, from hillside and riverside and seaside, from both the capes, and from the islands of the ocean and the bay! Welcome, Whigs of Berkshire and Barnstable and Bristol, of Plymouth and Nantucket and Dukes, of Essex and Middlesex, of Hampden and Hampshire and Franklin, of Worcester and Norfolk and Suffolk !

We rejoice to see you all. We desire to hear you all. Let us meet as brothers. If the day be stormy without, let us make fair weather within. Let us lay aside all differences. Let us yield to no artful suggestions of conflicting or divided interests. Let us repel all unworthy temptations to seek separate and local advantages. Let us remember that we have one Commonwealth, one Constitution, and one destiny. Let us resolve that that Constitution shall be a Constitution of equal rights and equal representation; and that Commonwealth, a Commonwealth of morality, purity, and justice. We may then feel assured that God will be with us, as he was with our fathers, and that, with his blessing, our destiny will be a destiny of peace, prosperity, and true progress.

« ZurückWeiter »