Civil War Artillery Goggles

Civil War Artillery Goggles

c. 1860s Civil War Era, Artillery Soldier’s Screen-Side Glasses with Case, Choice Very Fine.

These goggles are made of colored lenses situated within wire mesh frames designed to protect the wearer’s eyes from any debris, fragments, or other foreign objects from flying into their eyes. Contained in a small metal case, this eyewear could prove to be invaluable on the battlefield or even in various types of civilian employment after the war itself.

Very scarce fully intact Civil War era Artillery Soldier’s screen-side glasses, about 5″ total width with 8″ cord straps. Complete with original Japanned tin case, 3.25″ x 1.5″. These were worn to protect the eyes from debris while firing a cannon. Blue glass lenses still intact and great condition. Rare and hard to find, especially in this condition. A useful, collectible Civil War display piece.


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Why I Will Not Vote the Democratic Ticket: Historical Document

Why I Will Not Vote the Democratic Ticket.

I am opposed to the Democratic Party, and I will tell you why. Every State that seceded from the United States was a Democratic State. Every ordinance of secession was drawn by a Democrat. Every man that endeavored to tear the old flag from the heaven that it enriches was a Democrat. Every enemy this great Republic has had for twenty years has been a Democrat. Every man that shot Union soldiers was a Democrat. Every man that starve union soldiers and refused them in the extremity of death a crust was Democrat. Every man that tried to destroy this nation was a Democrat. Every man that loved slavery better than liberty was a Democrat. That man that assassinated Abraham Lincoln as a Democrat. Every man that sympathized with the assassin — every man glad that the noblest President ever elected was assassinated — was a Democrat. Every man that impaired the credit fo the Union States; every man that swore we would never pay the bonds; every man that swore we would never redeem the greenbacks was a Democrat. Every man that resisted the draft was a Democrat. Every man that wept over the corpse fo slavery was a Democrat. Every man that cursed Lincoln because the issued the Proclamation of Emancipation — the grandest paper since the Declaration of Independence — every one fo them was a Democrat. Every man that wanted an uprising in the North, that wanted to released the rebel prisoners, that they might burn down the homes of Union soldiers above the heads of their wives and children, while the brave husbands, the heroic fathers, were in the front fighting for the honor of the old flag, every one of them was a Democrat. Every man that believed this glorious nation of ours is only a confederacy, every man that believed the old banner carried by our fathers through the Revolution, through the war of 1812, carried by our brothers over the plains of Mexico, carried by our brothers over the fields of the Rebellion, simply stood for a contract, simply stood for an agreement, was a Democrat. Every man who believed that any State could go out of the Union at its pleasure; every man that believed the grand fabric of the American Government could be made to crumble instantly into dust at the touch of treason was a Democrat.

Soldiers! Every scar you have got on your heroic bodies was given you by a Democrat. Every scar, every arm that is lacking, every limb that is gone, every scar is a souvenir of a Democrat.

What the Republican Party Has Not Done.

The Republicans have done some noble things–things that will be remembered as long as there is history. But there are some things they did not do.

They did not use an army to force slavery into Kansas.

They did not fire upon Fort Sumter.

They did not attempt secession.

They did not plunder the nation of its arms.

They did not inaugurate rebellion.

They did not drive American commerce from the seas.

They did not “huzza” over Union disasters.

They did not “huzza” over Rebel victories.

They did not mourn over Rebel defeats.

They did not oppose enlistments in the Union army.

They were not draft rioters.

They were not “Knights of the Golden Circle.”

They did not commit the atrocities of Libby, Belle Isle, Salisbury and Andersonville.

They did not oppose emancipation.

They were not “Ku-Klux.”

They did not commit the Butchers at Fort Pillow.

They did not commit the horrible massacre at New Orleans.

They did not murder Dixon.

They did not butcher the Chisholm family.

They did not massacre black men at Hamburg.

They did not scourge, and hang, and shoot, and murder men for opinion’s sake.

They did not organize the Louisiana white league of the South Caroline rifle clubs.

They did not drench the South with the blood of inoffensive colored men.

They did not invent the “Mississippi plan.”

They did not use tissue ballots.

They are not “moonshiners.”

They do not resist the national authority.

They did not set up their States above the nation.

They did not try to destroy the Nation’s credit.

They did not try to pauperize the American mechanic.

They have not been an impediment to national growth.

They have not been an impediment to the people’s prosperity.

Can the Democratic party and all Democrats say as much? The people can trust a party that has not done these things, but they cannot trust a party that in whole or in part did do them.


What Does the Flag Mean?

U.S.C.T. and the Symbolism of the Flag in the Civil War

The flag of the United States of America is the perennial symbol of the nation, but its meaning is constantly under debate. Recently, several major media incidents have questioned the true value of the Stars and Stripes—specifically whether the flag symbolizes racism or freedom.[1] Certain high-profile activists and revisionists claim that since the American flag flew over the nation while slavery remained active, it still condones racism today.

Such a perspective, interestingly, is not entirely unheard of in our nation’s past. Several years before the Civil War, great abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass (himself an escaped slave) summarized the sentiments of black Americans towards the federal banner at that time, saying:

“While slavery exists, and the union of these states endures, every American citizen must bear the chagrin of hearing his country branded before the world as a nation of liars and hypocrites; and behold his cherished national flag pointed at with the utmost scorn and derision.”[2]

As long as slavery was permitted and protected by the Union flag Douglass carried an attitude similar to those of recent critics. However, Douglass’s statement is conditional upon the existence of slavery, thereby suggesting that abolition would elevate the symbolic nature of the flag and improve its reception by black Americans.

History reveals that Douglass was correct. Throughout the Civil War the men of the United States Colored Troops and those closely associated with the fight for freedom began to see the national flag in a different and positive light. Their patriotism and sacrifice redeemed the meaning of the flag, changing its reception in the black community from a symbol of slavery to one of liberty.

20th Regiment Receiving Flag

The journey of the flag and the black community during the Civil War largely began once black units were formed after the military opened its ranks to all people. Following custom, the Colored Troops, like many white units, received both a regimental and national flag, often from their local town, before going off to war.

For example, when the 20th US Colored Regiment was sent out of their native New York, Charles King, the son of Founding Father Rufus King, bestowed, “the flag of the Union and of Liberty to the first regiment of colored troops that has marched from this city to defend both.”[3] One paper considered the scene so important that an engraving was made, saying that, “no scene of the war has been more striking or significant.…[as] the flag of the country waved over them in benediction.”[4]

In his speech, Charles King imbued the national flag with a special meaning before passing it into the protection of its freshly “sworn defenders and guardians.”[5] King relates the flag’s significance to that of their shared faith, explaining that:

“The religion to the flag is second only to the religion of the altar.…Hence he who is false to his flag is false to his altar and his God.”[6]

To imply a spiritual significance to the defense of the flag most certainly would have affected the listeners. He went on to explain that by joining the military and risking their lives for those still bound by slavery, they not only elevate the flag but themselves also. Declaring that:

“When you put on the uniform and swear allegiance to the standard of the Union, you stand emancipated, regenerated, and disenthralled—the peer of the proudest soldier in the land.”[7]

The speech received a warm reception by both the citizens in attendance and the soldiers of the 20th Colored Regiment. The officer in charge received the flag saying:

“This beautiful banner symbolizes our country. It is this that makes death glorious beneath its starry folds—it is this that rouses the feelings of outraged honor when we see it trailed in the dust. How base and how dead to all sense of honor, must that wretch be whose brow burns not with shame and rage at the dishonor of the flag of his country.”[8]

20th Regiment on Parade

Furthermore, in the lunch and procession following the presentation the soldiers of the 20th praised the speeches of Charles King and Col. Bartram, reflecting on how, “that flag is a big thing, boys.”[9] The men were beginning to see the Union flag not as the banner which had allowed slavery and oppression, but rather as the standard by which they could personally advance freedom’s cause.

The 20th were far from the only black soldiers to recognize the symbolic significance of receiving the national flag. For example, the 29th Regiment out of Connecticut enjoyed a bestowal ceremony, where, “to the surprise of the regiment we were presented with the United States national colors, which greatly pleased the boys.”[10] The 1st African Descent Regiment from Iowa were also presented with “a beautiful silk national flag” by the women of their state, “which was carried through the storms of battle, and returned at the close of the war to the State.”[11]

Most notably, however, the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Regiment (later the 33rd Colored) revealed their elevated affection to the national flag on many occasions. One evening a month before the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, several men from the 1st began to give speeches to encourage the troops. Their commanding officer, Col. Thomas Higginson (a pastor and abolitionist) recorded the speech of Corporal Prince Lambkin, who was, “one of our color-guard, and one of our ablest men.”[12] Lambkin told his fellow slaves-turned-soldiers:

“Our masters they have lived under the flag, they got their wealth under it, and everything beautiful for their children. Under it they have ground us up, and put us in their pocket for money. But the first minute they think that ol’ flag meant freedom for we colored people, they pulled it right down, and run up a rag of their own. [Immense applause.] But we’ll never desert they ol’ flag, boys, never; we have lived under it for eighteen hundred sixty-two years [sic], and we’ll die for it now.”[13]

1st South Carolina Flag Ceremony

The speech was remembered by the Colonel as, “one of the few really impressive appeals for the American flag that I ever heard.” Less than a month after Lambkin’s speech, the 1st South Carolina were presented the national flag on the day, “Lincoln’s immortal proclamation of freedom was given to the world.”[14] Col. Higginson explained that after receiving the large silk flag:

“Then followed an incident so simple, so touching, so utterly unexpected and startling, that I can scarcely believe it on recalling, though it gave the keynote to the whole day. The very moment the speaker had ceased, and just as I took and waved the flag, which now for the first time meant anything to these poor people, there suddenly arose, close beside the platform, a strong male voice (but rather cracked and elderly), into which two women’s voices instantly blended, singing, as if by an impulse that could no more be repressed than the morning note of the song-sparrow: “My Country, ‘tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing!”

People looked at each other, and then at us on the platform to see whence came this interruption, not set down in the bills. Firmly and irrepressibly the quavering voices sang on, verse after verse; others of the colored people joined in; some whites on the platform began, but I motioned them to silence. I never saw anything so electric; it made all other words cheap; it seemed the choked voice of a race at last unloosed. Nothing could be more wonderfully unconscious; art could not have dreamed of a tribute to the day of jubilee that should be so affecting; history will not believe it; and when I came to speak of it, after it was ended, tears were everywhere. If you could have heard how quaint and innocent it was!

Just think of it! The first day they had ever had a country, the first flag they had ever seen which promised anything to their people, and here, while mere spectators stood in silence, waiting for my stupid words, these simple souls burst out in their lay, as if they were by their own hearths at home! When they stopped there was nothing to do for it but to speak, and I went on; but the life of the whole day was in those unknown people’s song.”[15]

The men of the 1st South Carolina bravely bore those flags throughout the war and, after victory, recalled with pride that, “it has never been disgraced by a cowardly faltering in the hour of danger, or polluted by a traitor’s touch.”[16] The success of the black divisions was measured, both by themselves and others, by their steadfast protection of the national flag through unflinching heroism and endless courage.

Nothing displays this more clearly than the numerous moments of bravery by black soldiers protecting the flag. No less than seven African Americans received the Medal of Honor for valiantly defending the national flag in battle.[17] The most famous example remains that of Sgt. William Carney who, though wounded twice, led the Massachusetts 54th through the Battle of Fort Wagner despite the overwhelmingly desperate situation.[18]

Christian Fleetwood

Additionally, several men at the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm received the Medal of Honor for not allowing the colors to touch the ground. Sgt. Alfred B. Hilton took up both the flag and the regimental standard once the original color bearers were shot. Thereafter, when Hilton himself was severely wounded, Sgt. Christian Fleetwood caught the national flag before it fell to the ground, and carried it through the rest of the fight—with General Butler himself allegedly witnessing their bravery.[19]

Such noble actions, however, were far from rare in the black units. At the Battle of the Crater the 43rd Colored Regiment gave ample proof of this for, “as each brave color bearer was shot down, another and another would immediately grasp the National emblem, all riddled with balls and plant it further on the enem[y’s] line,” until the flag was, “almost entirely cut up by the fire, and the Color Staffs splintered and broken.”[20] The list of heroic deeds in defense of the flag extends well beyond the few stories mentioned above, a fact which led USCT veteran and Civil War historian George Washington Williams to rejoice that, “the one flag of a great nation will float as the sovereign symbol of a free and united people.”[21]

The officers of these units particularly were struck by the devotion black troops showed to the flag under which so much oppression had been so recently practiced. For example, Lieutenant Joseph G. Golding of the 6th Colored Infantry recalled that his men bravely fought and nobly sacrificed, “to the utmost, even to the laying down of their lives for us, for the flag, [and] for the perpetuation of the grandest nationality the sun shines upon.”[22] That unit specifically suffered a 57% casualty rate throughout the War. Similarly, when the 33rd USCT mustered out at the end of the war, their commanding officer, Lt. Col. Trowbridge, explained in his final order that as a result of their efforts:

“Millions of bondsmen have been emancipated, and the fundamental law of the land has been so altered as to remove forever the possibility of human slavery being established within the borders of redeemed America. The flag our fathers, restored to its rightful significance.”[23]

Trowbridge explicitly applauds the USCT for helping to redeem the national symbol, elevating it finally to the standard which the Founding Fathers had envisioned.

Fort Pillow Massacre

A natural result following the tireless devotion of the soldiers to the flag was that the nation as a whole also began to judge the flag by the way the government pursued liberating the slave population and the treatment of the African American soldiers. A major issue surrounded the revelation that Confederates would mistreat, brutalize, and kill the black troops if they were captured through the course of the war. One officer remarked that, “they fought with ropes round their necks,” because for them it was either victory or death.[24]

In response to the tragedy of Fort Pillow and the growing evidence that black prisoners were systematically treated horribly, an article in Harper’s Weekly demanded retaliation on the honor of the national flag. The author concluded that:

“After due delay, if the Government should find that the natural suspicion of foul play is correct, then if its retaliation is not swift, sure, and deadly, if the rebels are not taught, as by fire, that every man who fights beneath the national flag is equally protected by the people whose sovereignty that flag symbolizes, we are simply unworthy of success.”[25]

Through the course of the Civil War the status of the flag and the meaning it carried directly corresponded to the issue of abolition and equal rights.

After the war, the black men who fought under the American flag and were freed by that banner reflected this redeemed symbolism through both word and deed. Significantly in the years immediately following, many of the newly elected black congressmen pointed to the brave service of the USCT and their valiant defense of the national flag as evidence of their patriotism and rights.

One of the first to do so was Representative Richard Harvey Cain. A prominent pastor as well as one of the first African Americans elected to national office, Cain explained in a speech supporting increased civil rights that he had hoped to fight in the War due to his desire to, “vindicate the Stars and Stripes.”[26]

For the redemption of the flag, Cain, and thousands like him, sought to serve under that standard in order to effect such a change. Speaking on behalf of the black community which elected him, Cain explained:

“We propose to identify ourselves with this nation….We will take the eagle as the emblem of liberty; we will take that honored flag which has been borne through the heat of a thousand battles.[27]

Now, after the Civil War, the national flag finally stands as a suitable symbol for his constituents. Cain suggests that the Star-Spangled Banner rightfully encompasses both black and white, concluding that:

“Under its folds Anglo-Saxon and Africo-American can together work out a common destiny, until universal liberty…shall be known throughout the world.”[28]

John Roy Lynch

In the following session of Congress, another black Representative—John Roy Lynch—confirmed Cain’s sentiments through his defense of the Civil Rights Act of 1875. Born into slavery and freed only through the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch’s perspective on the flag carries significant weight as he was once enslaved under its authority, then freed by it. In an eloquent expression Lynch proclaimed:

“I love the land that gave me birth; I love the Stars and Stripes. This country is where I intend to live, where I expect to die. To preserve the honor of the national flag and to maintain perpetually the Union of the States hundreds, and I may say thousands, of brave, and true-hearted colored men have fought, bled, and died. And now, Mr. Speaker, I ask, can it be possible that that flag under which they fought is to be a shield and a protection to all races and classes of persons except the colored race? God forbid!”[29]

Such a sentiment poignantly reflects the increasing veneration and regard for the national flag due to the results of the Civil War. Lynch had been born into slavery under the national standard, then liberated by those fighting for it, and now is himself defending the newfound meaning of the flag through the very institution of Congress which once had so powerfully operated against him.

Similarly, the continued importance of the aforementioned Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Christian Fleetwood in the national black society gives valuable insight into how drastically the communal reception of the flag had changed on account of the war. Fleetwood’s bravery brought him public recognition to such a degree that he was, “known from one end of the Country to the other.”[30]

Settling into the Washington DC area once peace had been achieved, he capitalized on his influential standing and used his fame to train the next generation of black Americans to see the nation and flag the way he did. In addition to advocating for the role of African Americans in the military, he even formed and trained a black cadet corps. Fleetwood’s effort eventually led to the formation of the first black National Guard unit—paving the way for later units.[31]

Freedom to the Slave Broadside

However, perhaps Frederick Douglass, with whom we began, most resoundingly displayed how the actions of the USCT and the end of slavery redeemed the symbolism of the national flag and its reception by black Americans. Once abolition became an official war goal, Douglass began, in his own words, “to persuade every colored man able to bear arms to rally around the flag, and help save the country and save the race.”[32]

After victory and the successful emancipation of all slaves, the famed orator relates a story of sailing on the USS Tennessee specifically noting that for the first time he could rejoice to finally live, “under the national flag, which I could now call mine, in common with other American citizens.”[33]

In a later speech, Douglass ventures even further and announces that that the national flag truly is, “a glorious symbol of civil and religious liberty, leading the world in the race of social science, civilization, and renown.”[34] Douglass, like many others, realized that the American flag of 1865 was radically different than the one of 1855—its destiny proved one not of derision, as first believed, but rather of deliverance.

Ultimately, the brave sacrifices from the United States Colored Troops, and those who stood alongside them, successfully redeemed the symbolism of the Stars and Stripes—purging from its folds any sanction of slavery. America could now march into the next era under a unified flag fulfilling the promise of the Founding Fathers that all men were created equal.

Furthermore, the reception of national standard in the black community was revolutionized. Leaders like Douglass, Fleetwood, Lynch, and Cain all rallied to the flag instead of railing against it. After generations of steadfast resolve and four years of unimaginable courage, the entire nation—black and white—could join with the men of the 20th and confidently say: “that flag is a big thing.”[35]


[1] Cf. Julie Spankles, “Chris Pratt Is in Hot Water for This Controversial T-Shirt & the Internet Has Thoughts,” Yahoo Lifestyle, July 17, 2019, (accessed February 19, 2020); Bill Chappell, “Nike Pulls Shoes Featuring Betsy Ross Flag Over Concerns About Racist Symbolism,” National Public Radio, July 2, 2019, (accessed February 19, 2020).

[2] Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (New York: Miller, Orton, and Mulligan, 1855), 438.

[3] “The Twentieth U.S. Colored Regiment,” Harper’s Weekly, March 19, 1864, 178.

[4] “The Twentieth U.S. Colored Regiment,” Harper’s Weekly, March 19, 1864, 178.

[5] “Twentieth U.S. Colored Regiment—Reception by the Union League—Speeches of Charles King and Colonel Bartram—Departure for the Seat of the War.” First Organization of Colored Troops in the State of New York, To Aid in Suppressing the Slaveholders’ Rebellion (New York: Baker and Goodwin, 1864), 16.

[6] “Twentieth U.S. Colored Regiment—Reception by the Union League—Speeches of Charles King and Colonel Bartram—Departure for the Seat of the War.” First Organization of Colored Troops in the State of New York, To Aid in Suppressing the Slaveholders’ Rebellion (New York: Baker and Goodwin, 1864), 16.

[7] “Twentieth U.S. Colored Regiment—Reception by the Union League—Speeches of Charles King and Colonel Bartram—Departure for the Seat of the War.” First Organization of Colored Troops in the State of New York, To Aid in Suppressing the Slaveholders’ Rebellion (New York: Baker and Goodwin, 1864), 17.

[8] “Twentieth U.S. Colored Regiment—Reception by the Union League—Speeches of Charles King and Colonel Bartram—Departure for the Seat of the War.” First Organization of Colored Troops in the State of New York, To Aid in Suppressing the Slaveholders’ Rebellion (New York: Baker and Goodwin, 1864), 18.

[9] “Twentieth U.S. Colored Regiment—Reception by the Union League—Speeches of Charles King and Colonel Bartram—Departure for the Seat of the War.” First Organization of Colored Troops in the State of New York, To Aid in Suppressing the Slaveholders’ Rebellion (New York: Baker and Goodwin, 1864), 19.

[10] J. J. Hill, A Sketch of the 29th Regiment of Connecticut Colored Troops (Baltimore: Daugherty, Maguire, and Co., 1867), 21-22.

[11] Joseph Wilson, The Black Phalanx: A History of the Negro Soldiers of the United States (Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1897), 223, here.

[12] Thomas Higginson, The Writings of Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1900), 3.149, here.

[13] Thomas Higginson, The Writings of Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1900), 3.31, here. Higginson records the speech in the original spoken dialect, but the spelling has been updated above.

[14] Susie King Taylor, Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33d United States Colored Troops, Late 1st S. C. Volunteers (Boston: Susie King Taylor, 1902), 48-49.

[15] Thomas Higginson, The Writings of Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1900), 3.54-56, here.

[16] Susie King Taylor, Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33d United States Colored Troops, Late 1st S. C. Volunteers (Boston: Susie King Taylor, 1902), 48-49.

[17] Cf., “Who Were These Heroes?” Negro History Bulletin 23, no. 3 (1959): 50-70.

[18] George Washington Williams, A History of the Negro Troops in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865 (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1888), 199-202.

[19] Walter Beyer, and Oscar Keydel, Deeds of Valor: How America’s Heroes Won the Medal of Honor (Michigan: The Perrien Keydel Company, 1901), 434-435; James Clifford, “Christian Fleetwood.” On Point 13, no. 3 (2007): 21-24.

[20] Jeremiah Marion Mickley, The Forty-Third Regiment United States Colored Troops (Gettysburg: J. E. Wible, 1866), 74-75.

[21] George Washington Williams, A History of the Negro Troops in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865 (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1888), 199-202, 236-237, 326, 333, 336-337.

[22] Candice Zollars, “6th U.S. Colored Infantry: They Laid Down Their Lives for the Flag,” Military Images 33, No. 3 (2015): 28.

[23] Susie King Taylor, Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33d United States Colored Troops, Late 1st S. C. Volunteers (Boston: Susie King Taylor, 1902), 48.

[24] Thomas Higginson, The Writings of Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1900), 3.337-338, here.

[25] “Treatment of Captured Colored Soldiers,” Harper’s Weekly, August 15, 1863, 515.

[26] The Congressional Record Containing the Proceedings and Debates of the Forty-Third Congress, First Session (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1874), 2.566.

[27] The Congressional Record Containing the Proceedings and Debates of the Forty-Third Congress, First Session (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1874), 2.903.

[28] The Congressional Record Containing the Proceedings and Debates of the Forty-Third Congress, First Session (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1874), 2.903.

[29] The Congressional Record Containing the Proceedings and Debates of the Forty-Third Congress, Second Session (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1875), 3.945.

[30] Roger D. Cunningham, “‘His Influence with the Colored People Is Marked:’ Christian Fleetwood’s Quest for Command in the War with Spain and Its Aftermath.” Army History, no. 51 (2001): 23.

[31] James Clifford, “Christian Fleetwood.” On Point 13, no. 3 (2007): 21-24.

[32] Frederick Douglass, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass Written by Himself (Hartford: Park Publishing Company, 1882), 382.

[33] Frederick Douglass, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass Written by Himself (Hartford: Park Publishing Company, 1882), 456.

[34] Frederick Douglass, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass Written by Himself (Hartford: Park Publishing Company, 1882), 471.

[35] “Twentieth U.S. Colored Regiment—Reception by the Union League—Speeches of Charles King and Colonel Bartram—Departure for the Seat of the War.” First Organization of Colored Troops in the State of New York, To Aid in Suppressing the Slaveholders’ Rebellion (New York: Baker and Goodwin, 1864), 19.

A Preacher and the President

President James Garfield–
A Minister of God

James Garfield, the 20th president of the United States, was a Gospel minister, thus clearly contradicting today’s errant notion that religious leaders are not to be involved with civil government. Sadly, few know much about Garfield partly because of the deliberate secularization of American history but also because of his short presidency.

Garfield was born in Ohio in 1831–the last president to be born in a log cabin. He grew up working on the family farm before going to work on a canal boat at age 16. An 1881 biography recounts an occasion when he unexpectedly fell into the river:

James was awakened out of a very sound sleep…He began to uncoil a rope to steady the boat through a lock it was approaching. The rope caught somehow on the edge of the deck and resisted several pulls that he made to extricate it. At last it yielded but, in the rebound, sent him headlong over the bow into the water…Death seemed inevitable. Fortunately his hand seized the rope in the darkness…and he drew himself, hand over hand, upon deck. He saw that he had been saved as by a miracle…’What saved me that time? It must have been God. I could not have saved myself’…During the time that he was thus reflecting he was trying to throw the rope so that it would catch in the crevice. Again and again he coiled the rope and threw it; but it would neither kink nor catch…It was but a few weeks after the last immersion before James was quite severely attacked by ague, a diseases that prevailed somewhat in that region…The captain settled with James…and James started for home…As he drew near the house, he could see the light of the fire through the window…Looking in at the window, he beheld her [his mother] kneeling in the corner, with a book open in the chair before her…her eyes were turned heavenward; she was praying. He listened and he distinctly heard, “Oh, turn unto me, and have mercy upon me! Give Thy strength unto Thy servant, and save the son of Thine handmaid!’

His mother’s statement struck his heart, but it was two years later in 1850 before he became a Christian.

Throughout his life, Garfield was involved in multiple career fields. He was self-taught in law, served as a Union military general in the Civil War, and was a member of the House of Representatives (where he was a key leader in passing numerous civil rights bills to secure racial equality), and he also served as an ordained minister during the Second Great Awakening.

One of the many unique items related to James Garfield in the WallBuilders’ collection is an 1858 letter in which Garfield recited details from a series of services he preached:

We have just closed our meeting with happy results. There were 34 addition[s]. 31 by immersion…I have spoken 19 discourses in our meeting here.

President James Garfield was inaugurated president on March 4, 1881, and later that year on July 2, he was shot by an assassin. The doctors were unable to find and remove the bullet, and on September 19, 1881, he finally succumbed to the complications related to the medical treatment. (Interestingly, Alexander Graham Bell attempted unsuccessfully to find the bullet using a metal detector.)

Garfield reminded citizens of the important role they played in keeping American government healthy and strong, telling Americans:

[N]ow more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. . . . [I]f the next centennial does not find us a great nation . . . it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.

The life of President James A. Garfield should be an inspiration to Americans today, especially to Christians and Americans of faith.

Civil War Christmas Card

Below, from WallBuilders’ Collection, is a Christmas Card from Frank Browning (a Civil War quartermaster) to his sister, dated December 25, 1864.

The Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father
who art in Heaven.
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy
will be done on earth as
it is in heaven. Give us this
day our daily bread…And
forgive us our debts as we
forgive our debtors. Lead
us not into temptation but
deliver us from evil. For
thine is the kingdom &
the power & the glo-
ry forever.
H. Heath. Artist.

Executed by                                    Lieut. Heath

from                                                  to
Quartermaster                                Sister
Frank Browning                             Carrie,
U.S.A.                                                With love.

Dec 25, ’64
Merry Christmas.

Civil War Baptism Competition

William Cogswell

The author of this letter, John Munroe, enlisted as a private in the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry at the age of 19 on May 22, 1861, and served until mustered out on July 1, 1864. During the war he acted as the musician for K Company. 1 Aside from this, not much is known of Private Munroe.

The letter’s most notable character, Colonel William Cogswell, however, was perhaps one of the most famous members of the 2nd Massachusetts. Col. Cogswell served with exemplary distinction during the Civil War, finally being brevetted a Brigadier General. Afterwards, he was three times of the mayor of Salem, five times a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, then he was elected to the Senate of Massachusetts in the mid 1880’s. In 1886, Cogswell became a Republican representative in the Federal Congress—a position to which he was reelected to until his death in 1895.2

In one of the many addresses given during the memorial to his life, the speaker attested to his strong character saying:

When heroes were needed, Mr. Cogswell could easily be found. When the tender sympathies of a woman were needed, his heart was loaded with that sweet necessity of life.

His close companions, those whom he loved, knew him to be great in God’s holiest, sweetest, and tenderest gifts, as well as great in the heart that accomplishes the grand achievements of life.

He had a soul fitted to reprove the wicked. He had an arm potential against the oppressor. He had a heart dauntless in the face of danger, ever quick to respond when duty called him to action. The tear of a suffering child, the sigh of an unfortunate woman, and the pitiful look of the debased, all found sympathy in his great soul.3

The anecdote related by Private Munroe in the letter most likely happened towards the end of 1864 after the capture of Atlanta on September 2. General Sherman had appointed Cogswell to be the post-commandant during the period immediately after the completion of the siege.4

Below are the pictures and transcript of the letter.

A “Col” who would not be outdone

At the time the 2nd Regt Mass Inf was in in camp at or near Atlanta, a Michigan Regt was brigaded with it for a while. It being a crack “regt,” a great rivalry fell out between it and the Mass 2nd, also a crack Regiment under Col. Cogswell, and the latter had the better of the competition.

One day a wave of religion struck the Michigan crowd. We had been stationed at this place some little time and the Chaplains had begun to get in their work. When Soldiers are marching or fighting they don’t seem to give religion much thought, but when in Camp for a month and the muddy current of life settles a little it is very different.

At this particular time a regular revival broke out in the Michigan Regt. The Col himself was given that way, and you could find about as many Hymn books, as decks of cards about his Hd. Qs.* and as he rather led this return to a better and brighter life many of his boys naturally fell in and followed. Cogswell’s regiment, on the other hand, was decidedly a perverse and stiffnecked generation. If there was any religion in that regiment it was a secret and none ever knew it. One day while the Michigan revival was at its heighth [sic] an Officer was talking with Cogswell about it.

“Do you know, Colonel,” he said to Cogswell, “I understand that eleven of those Michigan fellows are going to be baptized to-morrow?” “The deuce they are!” said Cogswell, & all of scorn and incredulity. He thought he saw a scheme to outdo his brave Second Mass. He determined to thwart it. That evening on dress parade he addressed his regiment. He told them of the Michigan regiment and how eleven of them were going to be baptized in the river next morning.

“Now boys,” said Cogswell, and his voice trembled, “the Second Massachusetts can’t stand this. We’ve outfought, outmarched and outdrilled these Michigan men, and can repeat all of these solemnities any day in the week. They know it, too, and so ever they try to make a mean, sneaking detour, as it were, and give us the go-by in religious matters, thinking to catch us asleep and not at home, now Boys, if I were to call for volunteers to charge a battery of siege guns, or to just march calmly out to die there would be but one response. And that would be the Sutler.  Every man but the Sutler would step forward on the instant. To save the honor of the regiment then, when it is so insidiously beset by those people from Michigan, I now call on you for an unusual sacrifice.”

“And boys,” continued Cogswell, in tones of deepest feeling, “I don’t want you at this crisis in the career of a noble regiment to whose undying fame we all have contributed our blood, to weaken or hang back. Eleven of our rival are to be baptized tomorrow morning, and I now call for 25 of my brave fellows to volunteer to also be baptized. We’ll see their 11 and go ____ 14 better.” The line hesitated a moment, and at last a soldier asked for further & fuller light. “Are you going to be ‘mersed [sic for immersed] too, Colonel?” he inquired. “I will never,” said Cogswell, “shriek from a peril to which I invite my men.

“Should the Col of the Michigan regiment attempt any trick of personal baptism, I too, will go. Should he baptize any of his Officers, officers of equal rack in the 2nd Mass will be there to uphold the honor of their Regiment.”

“As the story comes to me now, it would seem as a first play these people meditate only the baptism of eleven privates, and to it rests with you my men, to say, whether at this juncture their plot shall succeed, or whether with 25 brave volunteers for this special duty we will retain our proud prestige as the crack regiment of this Brigade; and the unmeasured Superior of this particular outfit from Michigan.”

The 25 Volunteers stepped forward, and Cogswell issued an order to the Chaplain to baptize them at the same time and place with their hated rivals.

Truly Yours,

John Munroe


1 Alonzo H. Quint, The Record of the Second Massachusetts Infantry, 1861-65 (Boston: James P. Walker, 1867), 425, 469.
2 “Address of Mr. Moody,” Memorial Addresses on the Life and Character of William Cogswell (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1897), 19.
3 “Address of Mr. Henderson,” Memorial Addresses (1897), 38.
4 “Biography: William Cogswell,” American Battlefield Trust, accessed December 13, 2023,

John Clem and his Hymn Book

John Clem

When looking back upon his service in the Civil War, John Clem remarked, “Almost literally it might be said that I went from the nursery to the battlefield.”1 Such an observation was not an overstatement. Widely held to be the youngest soldier in the Union army,2 John Clem first attempted to join the Third Ohio Regiment of Volunteers when he was nine years old only to be laughed off.3 This did not deter him though, and when the Third Ohio boarded their train to the mobilization camp in Covington, Kentucky, Clem climbed aboard as well.4 He explained:

My father had no notion of allowing me to go to the war. Accordingly, I decided to run away. The spirit of adventure had gripped me. It was necessary that the Union should be preserved, and my help was obviously needed.5

Once in Covington, John Clem again attempted to enlist but this time with the Twenty-Second Michigan. Although he was officially rejected Clem continued with the regiment serving as a drummer boy and drawing the standard soldier’s pay.16 The Twenty-Second were quick to accept the young boy, and equipped him with a uniform and a rifle altered to a manageable size.7 In his own words:

From the view-point of the Twenty-Second Michigan, I was a member in full standing of that military family—the baby of the regiment. … In all the hardships of war I endured my share—such as marching in rain or snow, sleeping without protection against the elements, and on occasions going hungry.8

Throughout the war he fought at the battles of Shiloh, Chickamauga, Stone River, Resaca, Kenesaw, Peach Tree Creek, Atlanta, and Nashville.9 During these battles Clem was wounded twice10—one time receiving shrapnel from a shell in the hip (either at Atlanta11 or Chickamauga12), and the other time having his ear “nipped” by a bullet in Atlanta.13

During the war, due to his bravery at the battle of Chickamauga, he became the youngest non-commissioned officer in the history of the American armed forces due. Clem recalled that battle:

At the close of the day the Union forces were retiring toward Chattanooga, and my brigade was sore beset by the enemy. In fact, we were in a tight place. A Confederate colonel rode up and yelled at me, “Surrender, you damned little Yankee!”

Raising my musket without aiming, I pulled the trigger, and he fell off his horse, badly wounded. …

As I have said, however, it was a tight place. Three musket balls (as I subsequently ascertained) went through my cap. I decided that the best policy was to fall dead for the moment, and so I did. I lay dead until after dark, when I “came alive” again and managed to find my way to Chattanooga.14

Ulysses S. Grant

As a result, he was praised by General Rosecrans and General Thomas in addition to being promoted to Sergeant.15 After rejoining the pushed back Union forces in Chattanooga, Clem met General Ulysses S. Grant for the first time. Clem would meet Grant again during his presidency.

After the war, in 1871, the now experienced veteran attempted to enroll at West Point. However, due to his education being on the battlefield instead of in the classroom, Clem was unable to pass the academic entrance exam. Not one to be discouraged, he related his next steps:

That was certainly hard luck. What is the use of being a Civil War veteran, beating honorable scars, if in one’s old age—the age of twenty, let us say, in sight—one is turned down my an unappreciative Government?

I thought I would speak of the matter to my old acquaintance and military comrade General Grant, who was at that time occupying the White House. I went to see him.

I told him that I had failed to get into the Point, and that I meant to try for a civilian appointment in the army. His reply was, “We can do better than that. I will appoint you now a second lieutenant.16

After this John Clem continued to serve his country. He was promoted to First Lieutenant in 1874, Captain in 1882, Major is 1895, Lieutenant Colonel in 1901, and full Colonel in 1903.18 Upon reaching the maximum age for army offices in 1915,[xviii] the 64-year-old John Clem was retired and given a final promotion to Brigadier General.19 He moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he died at the age of 86 in 1937.20

This piece is the hymnal which John Clem carried with him during the Civil War. It bears his signature on the inside of both the front and back covers. Published in Chicago in 1861 by the United States Christian Commission arm of the Young Men’s Christian Association these hymn books were passed out to many soldiers throughout the war. The, Commission in their official address, explained their purpose and called for action:

There are over 700,000 men now in the army and navy, who have left the comforts of home to endure hardship, and it may be to die, for us. A large number of them have now no means of religious instruction, and all are exposed to the demoralizing influences of war. We propose to encourage in them whatever is good, and keep fresh in their remembrance the instructions of earlier years, and to develop, organize, and make effective, the religious element in the army and navy. The field is open to us. We can have free access to their immortal souls; the chaplains desire and call for our aid; the Government wish it; and the men ask for and receive religious reading and teaching, with eagerness most touching. Thousands, who at home never entered the house of God, and had none to care for their souls, now in imminent peril, desire to know of Him who can give them the victory over death, through our Lord Jesus Christ. The time is short; what we do must be done quickly.21

In the execution of these ends, delegates of the Commission gave this hymnal to John Clem while he served in the Twenty-Second Michigan

Pictures of John Clem’s Hymn Book

Front Cover


Signatures in Front Cover

In the above photo Clem noted that he was in Company C of the Michigan Twenty-Second. We also see that during this time time he switched from spelling his name as “Klem” to the now famous “Clem.”

Title Page


Signatures in Back Cover


Back Cover

1 John L. Clem. “From Nursery to Battlefield,” Outlook, 4 July 1914, 546. (Read here)
2 Henry Howe, Historical Collections of Ohio (Cincinnati: C. J. Krehbiel & Co., 1907), Vol. 2, p. 72. (Read here); John L. Clem. “From Nursery to Battlefield,” Outlook, 4 July 1914, 546. (Read here); “Gen. John Clem, a Drummer Boy at 11, dies at 86,” Chicago Tribune, 15 May 1937, 20. (Read here)
3 “Last Veteran of ’61 to Leave the Army,” The New York Times, 8 August 1915. (Read here)
4 Ibid.
5 John L. Clem. “From Nursery to Battlefield,” Outlook, 4 July 1914, 546. (Read here)
6 Ibid.
7 “Last Veteran of ’61 to Leave the Army,” The New York Times, 8 August 1915. (Read here)
8 John L. Clem. “From Nursery to Battlefield,” Outlook, 4 July 1914, 546. (Read here)
9 “Gen. John Clem, a Drummer Boy at 11, dies at 86,” Chicago Tribune, 15 May 1937, 20. (Read here); John L. Clem. “From Nursery to Battlefield,” Outlook, 4 July 1914, 547. (Read here)
10 Ibid.
11 “Last Veteran of ’61 to Leave the Army,” The New York Times, 8 August 1915. (Read here); “Gen. John Clem, a Drummer Boy at 11, dies at 86,” Chicago Tribune, 15 May 1937, 20. (Read here)
12 John L. Clem. “From Nursery to Battlefield,” Outlook, 4 July 1914, 547. (Read here); Henry Howe, Historical Collections of Ohio (Cincinnati: C. J. Krehbiel & Co., 1907), Vol. 2, p. 73. (Read here)
13 Ibid.
14 John L. Clem. “From Nursery to Battlefield,” Outlook, 4 July 1914, 547. (Read here)
15 Henry Howe, Historical Collections of Ohio (Cincinnati: C. J. Krehbiel & Co., 1907), Vol. 2, p. 73. (Read here)
16 John L. Clem. “From Nursery to Battlefield,” Outlook, 4 July 1914, 548. (Read here)
17 “Last Veteran of ’61 to Leave the Army,” The New York Times, 8 August 1915. (Read here);
18 Ibid.
19 “Last Veteran of ’61 to Leave the Army,” The New York Times, 8 August 1915. (Read here)
20 “Gen. John Clem, a Drummer Boy at 11, dies at 86,” Chicago Tribune, 15 May 1937, 20. (Read here)
21 Lemuel Moss, The Annals of the United States Christian Commission (Philadelphia: L. B. Lippincott & Co., 1868), p. 112. (Read here)

Laura Bridgman Letter

Laura Bridgman (1829-1889) was a blind and deaf student under Samuel G. Howe at the Perkins School for the Blind during the middle of the 1800’s.1 (The school was originally chartered in 1829 and opened in 1832 by Dr. John Fisher and Howe with the support of Col. Thomas Perkins. It sought to enable the blind to live a full life through a holistic curriculum.2)

Laura Bridgman’s incredible success helped illustrate the school’s mission by being the first person with her disabilities to receive a high degree of education and the ability to communicate in the English language, paving the way for others such as Helen Keller. During her life she became widely known not only in American, but in England as well due mostly to the extensive treatment she received in Charles Dickens’ book American Notes.

During his visit to the school in 1842 Dickens describes seeing her write, saying

In doing so, I observed that she kept her left hand always touching, and following up, her right, in which, of course, she held the pen. No line was indicated by any contrivance, but she wrote straight and freely.3

At the time of his visit, Dickens also explains that Dr. Howe, “is occupied now, in devising means of imparting to her, higher knowledge; and of conveying to her some adequate idea of the Great Creator of that universe in which, dark and silent and scentless though it be to her, she has such deep delight and glad enjoyment.” 4

Years later Laura herself described her salvation to her minister writing:

In June, I heard Jesus speak down from his throne into my heart, before and after meeting an humble, devoted and Christian woman, in Vermont [Mrs. Palmer] for whom I had a glow of respect and love, because she appeared to have love to God and Jesus and was rich in faith.…My heart was opened by the hand of Jesus, and He illumined my heart with glory and light and grace. I beheld his face boldly, granting his Holy Word I felt my soul fall into his hands. My feelings were governed by the Spirit of God, and Jesus Christ. God taught me to pray and guided my heart in his way.5

This letter, written by Laura when she was 39, discusses the passing of her father, Daniel Bridgman, which occurred towards the end of November in 1868.

Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4

L.B. March 14th 1869

My very dear friend

A happy morn the beam of the sun is very brilliant & gladdening to my heart in my room. It is a blessed Sabbath that we should enjoy as far as possible. I presume that you are designed to go to church all day. Do you remember of writing & invited me while I was with my dear parents last summer. I shall be happy to accept the invitation if nothing occurs to prevent the visit in your cheerful home. I invite you to accompany me home if it is convenient for you to guide me. Julia takes the same cars going home near the house of my home I can go to the dep. with her you could meet me thereat. I will be much obliged to you for the trouble of procuring a ticket for my free trip immediately. There is not decision for a vacation yet. I shall look for a reply from you to this rather shortly & to know your plans. My dear Papa was released from all his suffering the last week of Nov. unto the throne of God. What a sad journey I shall take in his death. I cannot anticipate the enjoyment of being at home as high as before. My last sister is engaged to the last Brother of mine in law. So it seems to my poor heart like a broken home I am so anxious to go to my lonely Mother & comfort her. They seem so impatient to welcome her home. John & his wife live there. But they do not sit with Mama at all. Give my love to all folks. God bless you.

Your aff. friend, Laura


1 “Laura Bridgman,” Perkins School for the Blind, accessed December 8, 2023.
2 “Perkins Founding,” Perkins School for the Blind, accessed December 8, 2023.
3 Charles Dickens, American Notes (New York: John W. Lovell Company, 1883), 622.
4 Dickens, American Notes (1883), 625-626.
5 Maud Howe, Laura Bridgman: Dr. Howe’s Famous Pupil and What He Taught Her (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1903), 283.

Sermon – House of Representatives – 1864

Byron Sunderland was born in Shoreham on November 22, 1819. He served 45 years as Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C. Sunderland spoke privately about Christian philosophy with Lincoln. He served as Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, and presided over the wedding of President Grover Cleveland at the White House. Notably, he preached in favor of abolition, at a time, and in a place, where it was dangerous to do so.

Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, and Chaplain U.S. Senate for Thirty-Eighth Congress.



Washington,  D.C. Feb. 4, 1864.
Chaplain U. S. Senate:
DEAR SIR:  Realizing the great value of the truths enunciated in the sermon delivered by you in the House of Representatives of the United States last Sabbath morning, “on the duty of maintaining the public worship of God,” knowing its most gratifying reception by the immense audience convened on that occasion, and feeling that others will be profited by hearing it, we invite you to repeat it at Hall No. 481 Ninth street, at a time agreeable to yourself, and also that you furnish a copy for publication.
With sentiments of high regard, we remain
Yours, very truly,
HENRY A. BREWSTER, New York.                                               WILLIAM BEBB, Ohio.
JUDSON S. BROWN, Massachusetts.                                             HANNIBAL HAMLIN, Maine.
LEONARD S. FARWELL, Wisconsin                                              SCHUYLER COLFAX, Indiana.
THADEUS STEVENS, Pennsylvania.                                             SOLOMON FOOT, Vermont.
AUGUSTIN CHESTER, Illinois                                                        D. CLARKE, New Hampshire.
JAMES M. EDMUNDS, Michigan.                                                  J. A. BROWN, Rhode Island.
B. B. FRENCH, Washington, D. C.                                                  W. C. DODGE, Minnesota.
A. F. WILLIAMS, Connecticut.                                                        J. CONNESS, California.
A. M. SCOTT, Iowa.                                                                           A. CARTER WILDER, Kansas.
N. B. SMITHERS, Delaware.                                                            R. G. GREENE, Virginia.
J. D. MERRILL, Missouri.                                                 HANISON REED, Florida.
J. W. NESMITH, Oregon.                                                                   J. D. DOTY, Utah.
J. F. SHARETTS, Maryland.                                                             J. CLAY SMITH, Kentucky.

WASHINGTON, D. C., Feb. 5, 1864.


GENTLEMEN:  Your note of the 4th inst. Is received, inviting me to repeat the discourse “on the duty of maintaining the public worship of God,” delivered in the House of Representatives January 31, 1864.  I cheerfully comply with the request, and designate Monday evening, the 8th inst., as the time.It is with thanksgiving to God that I find such sentiments endorsed by you, as the representatives of the great Christian community throughout the United States.  With trembling I think of the stern and fearful time in which we live, and of the stupendous contest for the supremacy of the law and of the perpetuity of the Union in which the nation is engaged.

I feel sure we all desire the triumph of our Government over the rebellion, because we believe it will be a victory for righteousness in the earth.

We must have Jehovah for our Captain by conforming to his requirements, and especially maintaining the public ordinances of his worship.
With sincere regards,
ISAIAH 66:23
“And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, says the Lord.”
This is a marvelous prediction.  What a day for the world, when the worship of God from month to month, and from week to week, shall be universal!

The worship of God implies the highest acts of which a rational creature is capable.  It demands all the powers of body and soul.  To conceive and feel all that it implies, and to give suitable outward expression to its thoughts and emotions, by the posture of the body, by the voice, by the various faculties of manifestation, presupposes a character of the noblest culture.

The worship of God may be solitary, as of the individual alone – domestic, as in the family – social, as in the small companies of friends – or public, as in the great and open congregation.

In any case however, to be real it must be spiritual, whatever may be the outward act by which it is expressed – “God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

And what does this mean but that homage which is due to God as the Father of spirits, and the Supreme King?  In acts of worship, we render to God an acknowledgment of his right to rule over us – of the supreme authority of his law, and the righteousness of his kingdom and dominion, in opposition to all other pretended authority whatsoever.  For such an act, the whole being of the man is requisite – body, soul, mind, reason, sense, memory, hope, imagination, and the loftiest thoughts of human faith.  And as to spirituality, what is it but the life of justice and truth and virtue?  Can anything be more spiritual than these?  If I pay my honest debt, I hold the essence of that deed is as purely spiritual as the act of the loftiest adoration – both are proper upon occasion, and both befit the highest development of our nature.

Each form of worship of God has its appropriate characteristics, and requires in its observance the outward expression suited to its nature.  As I intend, in this discourse to speak chiefly of public worship, I will remark, in passing, that the general usage of the evangelical world has assigned three grand parts to the service of God in the great congregation: prayer – reading and expounding the Holy Scriptures – and praise in singing, with instruments of music; the first two generally conducted by the minister – the last by a choir, or the whole assembly.  Each of these parts is held to be of paramount importance, both from their intrinsic fitness and from the long experience of the affections of human nature.  Wherever an assembly meets for the public worship of God on the Sabbath, ample provision should be made, if practicable, for the full performance of each of these parts, so that nothing may be wanting to the great object.

In a congregation like this, meeting in a place like this, we have all the material or physical requisites, if properly employed, to make the public worship of God what it ought to be, so far as it depends upon such conditions.  If there is a failure, in any degree or in any sense, to make the service all it should be, we must attribute it to ourselves.  The Hall itself is sufficient – the attendants here are diligent, courteous and faithful – ministers are provided – the Sabbath day comes round – the word of God lies open before us – the people assemble – and the service begins.  That there may be given to public worship its greatest impressiveness, I take leave to mention that some general order should be observed, by all in the congregation, through the different parts of the service.  For example, in the reading of the Scriptures and preaching, let all sit with fixed attention upon what is uttered by the minister – not listless, or perhaps asleep – not distracted by idle curiosities – not whispering, or moving about or leaving the assembly, unless by imperative necessity.  Custom has stamped all these things as exceedingly vulgar and low-bred, besides being irreverent and insulting to God.

In time of singing, let all stand up, and devoutly join in the hymn of praise by the voice, or in silent meditation.  In time of prayer, let all kneel or bow the head forward, attesting by their attitude their sense of the solemnity of the act – and let there be no unnecessary noise or confusion, as is often the case in the time of daily prayer in these chambers – talking, rattling of papers, sitting in the seat, perhaps reading or writing, and in many ways showing that indifference to the act of prayer to God, which is positively shameful.  And while on this point, I wish every member of Congress were here today, that I might ask it of these kind gentlemen, such of them as have fallen into this habit – for I rejoice to say that many should be exempted – nay, I would not insinuate that to be a member of Congress is to be prima facie an unchristian man – every man innocent till proved guilty, is the maxim of law to which they, with us, are entitled; and indeed I know some among them to be as noble Christian gentlemen as are to be found in the land – and far, far be it from me to inveigh against men whose lives illustrate the clear virtues and sublime sympathies of our divine religion; who rejoice when it flourishes, and lament when it declines, and who would go to every length of rational sacrifice to promote its extension in the earth – no, not such do I intend – but such rather as profess no such adherence to its cause, and certainly exhibit none to be spoken of – but that I might ask it of them to reform in this particular.

I allude to this subject, not in a spirit of bitterness or personal complaint at all; for I have this to say, that in all my personal intercourse with members of Congress, and with the officers and employees of the Capitol, I have never received anything but kindness and respect, and I should be sorry to have aggrieved any of them, by alluding to these things now – but I do feel a solicitude for the honor of God, and that men should pay that homage to Him which is due to the Father of us all.  It is true that many times members are absent from the daily prayers = for which I have heard various reasons alleged – some detained by necessary business – some by providential dispensations – some from want of inclination toward this duty – and some from a positive dislike of the sentiments these gentlemen from this public Sabbath service, many, it is true, worshipping in the churches of the city, but the majority, I fear elsewhere, leaving the assembly here to be largely made up, from week to week, of strangers from all parts of the land, and of the great sojourning public who have no other stated place of worship.

It naturally follows from these very circumstances, that there is no certain reliance to be placed upon any one or any number of persons, for that most important and yet most difficult part of public worship, the praise of God in the singing of sacred hymns.  All that can be expected is the voluntary service of those who may be disposed to aid in the singing for the time being, upon a mere voluntary impulse.  Congress manifesting so great an indifference to the whole matter, not only by the absence of the greater portion of the members, but also by the decided opposition of the majority to making any provision for such services, it must continue to be a matter of regret that the ordinary resort in such cases to voluntary contributions is not practicable, and consequently if divine service is held here on the Sabbath, it must be subject to the inconvenience, the deficiency and the depression, which I have here pointed out.

It is true, a man may say, what right have you to lecture me on this or any other subject?  I reply, by the right of free speech, which God has given me – and when I have given my lecture, in respectful terms, there my responsibility ends, and his begins.  If Congress may not choose to receive what they regard as a chaplain’s lecture, that is their business, not mine.  This rule applies universally.  If you read a lecture to me, I cannot deny you the right – but my own judgment must decide whether it is of any value, and whether or not I will heed it; and I act in this, under a responsibility for which I am accountable, and one day must account to the Judge of all.  So I am the more earnest to develop the whole matter before us, as far as it lies in my power.

Now I undertake to say that there is an erroneous and most vicious public sentiment abroad, not only here among the public functionaries of the Government, but everywhere throughout the country, upon the whole question of the public worship of God.  Does it ever occur to men, that God has required these public ordinances of religion to be observed unto Him, and has foretold the advent of a day when all flesh shall come and worship before Him?  Does it ever occur to men to feel that one is just as much bound by these requirements as another?  Does it ever occur to them to think, that one man, as a member of the religious community, has just as much to think, that one man, as a member of the religious community, has just as much interest at stake in the maintenance of these ordinances of Heaven as another?  And yet this is really so.

I have truly no more interest in the matter than you have; and you have truly no more interest in the matter than that officer of the Government, high or low, who appropriates the Sabbath day of God to pleasure excursions, and forsakes the public worship of the Almighty, that he may pay court to some foreign minister, or find means for his own private and personal recreation.  I say I have no more interest in the matter than we all have in common – for if these ordinances of God are wantonly ignored and willfully neglected – if the great light that shines in them shall finally be extinguished, and the darkness and degradation of vice, precursor of destruction, shall succeed to it – and if finally, the whole structure of society, undermined and s=disintegrated, shall tumble into ruin, I shall have no more to lose than my neighbor, in the common catastrophe!  What I lose, he will lose – we shall all be alike despoiled.

Now the whole community may be divided in respect to this matter of public worship, into three classes: 1st, those who attend upon it with some just sense of its true nature and importance; 2d, those who go to the sacred assembly from grossly inadequate, if not wholly improper motives; 3d, those who stay away altogether.  Of the first class I have nothing to say, but that it is comparatively small – alas!  To small, I fear, for the leavening of the whole lump.  Of the second class I have this to say, that I wonder at them.  I am thankful to my Maker that whatever may have been, or may now be my faults, I never had the disposition or desire to attend public worship for the simple sake of seeing or being seen – of making a display – of ogling the assembly – and in short for any and every purpose, but the single one which is alone pertinent and proper, the devout and reverent waiting upon the Majesty of earth and heaven.  I never had any sympathy with that spirit which can sport and trifle in the place and time of prayer, – I never could comprehend that levity which mocks at the most sacred things, and turns the very sanctuary of Jehovah into a theatre of laughter and of jeers.  Of the third class I testify, in the name of religion, that they are moral delinquents by habit and inclination, and in their example before the nation and the world, they support the grand foundation principle of a practical atheism, and to this extent they are corrupters of society and the enemies of mankind.  I take my stand on the decrees of God’s word, and boldly declare that any man, who habitually neglects the worship of God, is a traitor not only to the high government and law of God, but also to the security and welfare of human society itself.

Said the devout Witherspoon, one of the signers of the Declaration, and one of the noblest spirits of the Revolution, a Christian and a clergyman of those brave and heroic times – “He is the truest friend to American liberty who is the most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind.  Whoever is an avowed enemy to God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country.  It is your duty in this important and critical season to exert yourselves, everyone in his proper sphere, to stem the tide of prevailing vice, to promote the knowledge of God, the observance of his name and worship, and obedience to his laws.  Your duty to God, to your country, to your families, and to yourselves, is the same.  True religion is nothing else but an inward temper and an outward conduct suited to your state and circumstances, in the Providence, at any time.  And as peace with God and conformity to Him add to the sweetness of creature comforts, while we possess them, so in times of difficulty and trial it is the man of piety and inward principle that we may expect to find the uncorrupted patriot, the useful citizen, and the invincible soldier.”

In affixing his name to the Declaration of Independence, this man rose in that illustrious assembly, and gave utterance to these words: “Mr. President, that noble instrument on your table, which insures immortality to its author, should be subscribed this very morning, by every pen in the House.  He who will not respond to its accents, and strain every nerve to carry into effect its provisions, is unworthy the name of freeman.  Although these grey hairs may descend into the sepulcher, I would infinitely rather they should descend thither by the hand of the executioner than desert at this crisis the sacred cause of my country.”  The words ran through the body like electric fire.  Every man arose and affixed his name to that immortal document.  He spoke then the best and highest word of the nation.  He was the mouthpiece of a people standing on the religion of the Bible.

Every nation under heaven has had its religion, and will have to the end of time.  Our own nation has never recognized, in form or principle, any system but that of Christianity, the highest outward expression of which is known in the public service of divine worship maintained among us, especially on the Sabbath day.  And of all places in the land, none should be more important, none more command the sympathy and awaken the interest of the whole people, than the public worship of God in the Capital of the nation.

The historical facts connected with this subject are fraught with the deepest importance, and are entitled to the most serious consideration.  To go no further back than the adoption of the Federal Constitution, and confining ourselves also simply in this statement to the proceedings had in relation to the chaplains of Congress, we call to mind first, the fact that the Constitution of 1789 forbids Congress to make “law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” – and further says, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification for any office or public trust in the United States.”  This secures two things – the freedom of religion, and the equality of religious sects.  But it does not dispense with the divine obligations of the public worship of God.  So our fathers believed, and so they acted.  The first Congress under the Constitution elected two chaplains, and this practice is continued to the present day.  The law of 1789, and of 1816, regulating this subject, and fixing an annual salary which has never exceeded $750, was passed in pursuance of the conviction not only of the constitutionality, but of the eminent propriety and religious obligation of the service to which the chaplains of Congress were appointed.

And while speaking of salary for the chaplain service in this country, permit me to notice the contrast presented by the State establishment of the Church of England.  The statistics were furnished me by a friend who has thoroughly examined this whole subject.  From tables prepared by him, it appears that the tithing system of Great Britain for the support of the Church, opens an abyss absolutely appalling.  One single fact illustrates the truth of this assertion.  The amount of annual salary paid to some twenty four individuals in the highest orders of the clergy, aggregates nearly $1,000,000 – the highest single salary reaching over $78,000, and the lowest exceeding $20,000!  What then must be the cost of the entire ecclesiastical establishment?

Now, in comparison with this, what is done by our Government for the support of Christianity?  Until the present war, which has of course increased the expense of the chaplaincy, still however, leaving it as a system very defective, the little that was attempted by the Government of the United States can be reported in few words.  I find from a small volume published in 1856, entitled “Government Chaplains,” by Dr. L. D. Johnson, and containing much interesting and curious information, that there were at that date thirty chaplains in the Army, twenty-four in the Navy, and two in Congress, besides a number of post-chaplains and teachers among the Indians.  The whole expense annually to the Government of supporting this body of men did not exceed a quarter of a million of dollars.  I venture to assert that no nation ever existed on earth that maintained the popular religion at so cheap a rate.  Think of it again.

To say nothing of the army or navy, Congress has two chaplains, and gives them each $750 per annum for their services in daily attendance.  I do not for one ask an increase.  I am not pleading for money so much as for the moral effect of the observance, in Congress, of the public ordinances of Divine worship.  But there is no provision of law regulating or even requiring the public Sabbath service in which we are now engaged, and there never has been from the beginning, so far as I am instructed.  It seems to stand alone upon custom.  It has been the unvarying usage for the chaplains of Congress to hold one public service in the Capitol on the Sabbath.  It is evident that Washington, Franklin, Madison, Ellsworth, Sherman and their illustrious compeers, approved of the custom, and that ever since that day, the greatest, the best, and the purest men in the nation have given it countenance and support.  Yet there have been times when questions of the propriety of such services have arisen – times when a portion of the people have petitioned Congress for the abolition of the whole system of the chaplaincy, and consequently of the public religious services which chaplains perform – and times when the system of Government chaplains, and of the Christian ministry itself has met, in the Houses of Congress and out of them, a storm of ridicule, contempt and denunciation.

On the 5th of September, 1774 the American Congress was in session.  There was a doubt in the minds of many about the propriety of opening the daily deliberations with prayer, the reason assigned being the great diversity of opinion and religious belief.  Then rose the venerable puritan, Samuel Adams, with his long white locks hanging over his shoulders, and spoke as follows:  “It does not become men professing to be Christians, convened for solemn deliberation in the hour of their extremity, to say there is so wide a difference in their religious belief that they cannot as one man bow the knee in prayer to the Almighty, whose aid they hope to obtain.  Independent as I am, and an enemy to all Prelacy as I am known to be, I move that the Rev. Dr. Duche, of the Episcopal church, be invited to address the Throne of grace in prayer.”  Dr. Duche complied, and offered prayer, first in the form of his church, and then in extemporaneous supplication, until all hearts were moved, and the whole assembly were bathed in tears.  In the Convention which formed the present Constitution, another scene occurred, no less remarkable and impressive, when the venerable Franklin proposed, in words of profound solemnity never to be forgotten, the introduction of prayer to the Father of Light for that wisdom which was then wanting to harmonize the conflicting elements, and establish the conditions of the nation’s welfare.

Many are the thrilling facts in our country’s history which demonstrate the necessity of public religious services, conducted by the Christian ministry, to the well-being of the Government and the highest prosperity of the whole people.  And now I remark, by the way, that a volume has recently been issued, entitled “The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States,” by the Rev. B. F. Morris, which is the only book of the kind in existence, and which I find to be a perfect treasury of the Christianity of the nation, as embodied in its public monuments, and attested by its public men – a book which ought to become the Manual of the people, and find a place in every library, and be in the possession of every man, woman and child in the nation, and the close companion of all, whether in public or private life.  I trust that book will be thoroughly studied by the present generation of Americans, for it has all the interest of a romance, with all the solidity of science, and all the sanctity of religion.  Go to that book, if you would see what the great and good men of the nation, from the beginning until now, have thought of the propriety and absolute necessity of the services of the Christian ministry, and of the observance of the public worship of God in our national affairs, and in the high places of the country.

I am mainly indebted to it for the impulse which originated this very discourse – for I saw it in manuscript, and have copiously drawn from it, as from a fountain deep and rare, for all the great words I have quoted, or am about to quote from our illustrious ancestors.  Need I say that its loyalty is one of its grandest features; that the very heart of a deep, genuine, glorious devotion to God and the Country and the Constitution, throbs through every page of it.  It could not be otherwise, for it is the sum of the great Christian monuments of the fathers who under God built up our nation – laid its foundation, and reared its mighty structure.  Oh had the degenerate sons of now dishonored sires in the rebellious States heeded these great lessons, instead of those of their false and lying prophets of a more recent time, how great a ruin they might have averted from their heads!

By the expressed conviction and resolute conduct of the great men of the first age of the Republic, the objections of the ignorant, the profane, the unbelieving, against the Christian religion and its devoted ministers were in a measure silenced.  But when at length, in after years, the institution of the Sabbath seemed to be peculiarly and openly endangered by the public example of the Government in the universal running of the mails, the Christian mind of the nation became alarmed, and the Christian ministry lifted up a decided protest, and made their voice heard in the halls of Congress upon that question.  This awakened a powerful opposition from the lax and dissolute men of every description, and kindled again into open conflagration the smoldering embers of the popular prejudice against the ministers and services of religion.  The debates in Congress of that period attest a severe conflict, in which at last however, the friends and advocates of immorality were virtually discomfited, and the cause of Christianity obtained a substantial triumph.  Thus the question of religion, especially as connected with the appointment of chaplains to Congress, and the public worship of God in the Capitol, was left undisturbed for a considerable period.  Meantime, however, a series of causes were operating to bring on the conflict in a fiercer form of political partisanship and bitter animadversion.

It must be confessed that the scramble for the office of chaplain to Congress, by many applicants, and by some perhaps not the best qualified for its responsibilities and duties, had been a growing evil, and was becoming an open scandal to the country.  Besides this, measures had been proposed in Congress affecting the question of slavery, and the repeal of a compact of long standing, which moved the whole nation to its very foundation.  It was an occasion when large portions of the Christian ministry felt justified in bearing an open testimony on the question at issue.  Earnest and stirring memorials, signed by large bodies of the clergy, were sent to Congress, and this aroused the indignation of Senators and Representatives of the dominant political party, against whose public policy the petitions of the memorialists were directed.  Sad is the chapter of the proceedings and debates in regard to the Christian ministry generally, and especially in regard to the election of chaplains, and their services in the 33d Congress.  The very election of a chaplain was characterized as “a farce.”  Votes were given for a female to be the chaplain of the House.  One speaker alludes to the election, as the election of “an humble chaplain.”  Another speaker said, “The candidates are multiplying, and those whose names are now before us are getting uneasy.

I am anxious to have the matter settled, so that the rejected applicants may apply for some other office if they do not get this!”  An article appeared in one of the daily papers of the city to this effect:  “We are altogether opposed to having chaplains to Congress.  We hope the last of them have been elected.  It is pretty well understood that those paid for prayers are to be made brief – cut off short, in order to avoid boring Congress.  Short as they are, they are bores.”  In the Senate, the opposition to the action of a portion of the Christian clergy, and especially to the ministers of New England, took a wider scope.  Senators held them up as deserving the grave censure of that body – as not knowing what they were talking about – as bringing our holy religion into disrepute – as agitators, transforming the lamb to the tiger and the lion.

Meanwhile, memorials came up from the profane and infidel in various quarters of the land for the total abolishment of the office of chaplain.  The reasons set forth for this were that the continuance of the office was in violation of the Constitution – that it imposed unjust taxation – that it was a virtual establishment of the union of church and state – and that it was subversive of the genius and spirit of American institutions.  All these points were fully answered in the reports of the Committees of the two Houses of Congress upon that whole subject, during that ever memorable period.  The Christian sentiment and deliberate sense of the people and of their representatives again prevailed, and the office of the chaplain and the public worship of God in this Capitol of the nation survived together!  But there are objections still, no doubt, lurking in the popular mind and heart, if not openly expressed, against the whole system of the Chaplaincy, and especially against the public worship of God in this high place, which I propose now to consider.

1.  It is unconstitutional.  The voice and practice of the fathers refute this charge.  The Constitution does not forbid the creation of the office of chaplain, with a salary by law of Congress; nor does it forbid the appropriation of money to support a decent observance of the public worship of God in this Capitol.  Congress appropriates thousands of dollars in other ways, not half so much calculated, in my opinion, to promote the public welfare and virtue of the people; and they have a right, under the Constitution, if they so choose, not only to employ a chaplain or chaplains to conduct daily prayers, and the services of public worship here on the Sabbath, but also to devote money from the public treasury to provide a choir, to purchase an organ, and to do all other acts and things necessary to the fullest perfection of divine service.  It will not do for any man to undertake to convince me that all this is unconstitutional.

It is a scandal on the Constitution – a reproach to the memory of our fathers – an insult to religion, and impiety toward God.  The catholic evangelical church of Christ of this day, in all denominations, will not tolerate such a sentiment – such a satire on the great organic law of a free and Christian people.  The Constitution is not at war with the law of God in this particular; and if it were conclusively shown to be, I should go for the higher law of God, and go for conforming the Constitution to that higher law.  We have had enough of sneering at this higher law of God in the land for the last fifteen years.  This is one of the iniquities that has brought at last the thunders of His judgment upon us.

2.  But this would be forming and establishing a union of church and state.  Not by any means.  I am as much opposed to such a union as any man, and would contend as strongly against it.  When our fathers, by the Constitution, deprived Congress of the power to establish religion by law, they did not intend to make us an infidel nation, nor our Government an impious and God-forsaken iniquity.  They meant not to divorce religion wholly from the existence and life of the Republic, but only to prevent the union of any Church establishment with the State, in such a way as to bind the conscience and burden the coffers of the people with either the creed or the taxes of any ecclesiastical institution.  Nobody finds fault with the employment of Government physicians and surgeons, and yet there is just as much reason on this ground for the complaint of a union of Therapeutics with the State.

What is meant by a State church is such as exists in England, where immense sums are appropriated, and large prerogatives exclusively granted to a single church establishment, at the expense of all others, and this in perpetuity.  No such policy has existed under our Constitution, and I trust it never may.  But it is a very different thing for Congress to provide for the public recognition and worship of God in their own halls, leaving all men free to act upon their conscience as to their attendance upon the same, responsible alone to God, for the manner in which these obligations are discharged.

3.  It is no place for religious services.  Ah, and whose opinion is this?  Jesus Christ instructs us, that the day has gone by, when the worship of God shall be confined to any one locality exclusive of another – when men shall worship the Father neither alone at Jerusalem nor in the mountains of Samaria, but everywhere, where men shall worship Him in the spirit.  The temple, the synagogue, the academy, the market-place, the forum, the theatre, the aeropagus, as well as the Christian sanctuary, have all been used for this high purpose.  Nay, the deserts and caves, and fastnesses of the mountains, the vast solitudes of nature, the wide forest, the open sea, under the broad sky in the light of day, in the shadow of midnight, the camp, the caravansary, the hospital, the asylum, the cottage, the seminary, the halls of justice, and the very jails and penitentiaries have been made the temples of the public worship of the Almighty.  And now will it do to say that here in the high conclave of the nation, there is no place for the pure, spiritual, public worship of the one only living and true God?

It is the thought of the infidel – it is the word of the profane!  I am well aware of the opinion of multitudes in this land in regard to the whole subject of Christianity, its ordinances, its laws, its requirements, it ministry, and especially in regard to those who represent it as chaplains, whether here or in the army or the navy.  I know they look with contempt upon the whole arrangement.  They treat the whole matter as though it were but the cant of superstition, or the bigotry of ignorance.  They look upon chaplains as beggars, and upon God as a myth, and upon his worship as a mummery.  They think it superbly magnanimous even to tolerate all this.  They think and feel and act as if Christianity had no right to be here in the world, and its ministers ought to be apologizing to every man they meet, for the fault of pursuing their profession.  But those who have such ideas are not the wise and virtuous of the land.  They are the impious and corrupt, the very dregs and refuse of human society.  They want no restraint on their lusts and passions.

They would hear no reproof of their vices.  They desire full scope for their briberies, their dishonesties, their peculations, their foul and pestilent iniquities.  Such men would no doubt be glad to see God himself dethroned, his law abolished, his government destroyed, and every vestige of his authority swept away, in order that they might run unimpeded and unquestioned into every excess of riot.  Why, I hear it on every hand, day by day, whispered in our dwellings, at the street corners, and everywhere, that there is an amount of corruption going on among us, through men connected with the Government, in all its branches, political, pecuniary, personal, official, and in every way, enough to sink the nation by the weight of its own enormities.  I hear it said on every side, that the same is true socially with the population of the city, in their resorts of amusement and in their dens of infamy.  Now if this be so, would it not be the most natural thing in the world for such a multitude to desire the public monuments of religion to be everywhere destroyed, that they may have full license to run their course of unscrupulous and lawless conduct, without molestation and without restraint.

And now I undertake to say to all such that I ask no leave of them to be following my profession as a minister of Christ.  I shall never beg of any such the privilege of staying in the world to preach the Gospel, and to join in the public worship of Almighty God.  I shall never go creeping and crawling before any man, in my clerical capacity.  If I am not treated as I ought to be, I have the instructions of my Great Master how to proceed.  I will shake the dust off my feet for a witness against them, and leaving them to settle the account with God in the day of final reckoning, I will go elsewhere, as Providence may guide my way.  It is not for any minister of Christ to be whining and puling among his fellow men, as though he were but half a man himself.  Someone remarked to me the other day that a member of Congress had said “he thought it a great privilege that we were allowed the use of this chamber for public worship at all” – and I say if that is the sense of the American Congress, I for one will leave them, the moment it is ascertained, to do their own preaching and praying, and to follow out their own devices in their own way.

I will not waste my breath upon any class of men who, in this age and country, feel like that.  The man who repudiates the Christian religion, and shows his contempt for all it enjoins, and for all who represent and serve it, does not reflect that it is the parent of all the highest social, intellectual, civil and moral good in the land – that it has fostered into greatness all the resources, industries, prosperities, honors and dignities of the nation – that it has adorned our civilization with its rarest ornaments – that it has given to woman her true place in the scale of life – that it has multiplied all the charities and magnanimities of human nature – and he may well be told, in the sententious language of Dr. Franklin, who on one occasion wrote, with a quiet satire only equaled by the truth of the sentence he penned, “For among us it is not necessary , as among the Hottentots, that a youth to be raised into the company of men, should prove his manhood by beating his mother!”  I think so, too.  Take Christianity from this land today – suspend the public worship of God everywhere – eliminate every radix and vestige of the Christian element from among the people, and what would you have left but a mass of fools and knaves, and a general scoundrelism swallowing itself up on all sides!  Therefore I say, stand your ground, to all men who would be true to God, the gospel, and their country.

I do not come here to ask any favor for myself, and I again assert that every man, high or low, black or white, has an equal interest and a common obligation for the maintenance of the public worship of God in this Capitol.  As a single member of the religious community, I do feel an intense interest in the support of the public recognition of God in this high place of the nation; and though I might never preach here again, it would be my prayer that some messenger of the great truth of Revelation might always stand here to uphold the mighty doctrine, and to flash its light and proclaim its summons over all the nation.

4.  But the office of chaplain is liable to abuse, both in the manner of seeking it and in the character of its incumbents.  I know it is alleged, and with some foundation of truth, I fear, that unworthy men have disgraced the profession, not only here but in the army and navy.  But the true remedy is purgation, not the destruction of the office.  Would you abolish Congress, because some members of Congress disgrace their station?  I deplore as deeply as any man the delinquencies of men assuming the sacred office, only to make it the means of pandering to their own selfishness or corruption.  I denounce it here, and I denounce it everywhere.  But let us not tear down the house over our heads because some thief or robber has stolen into it, to rifle it of its contents.

5.  But the services of chaplains are a bore to Congress.  Ah! Then so much the worse for  Congress.  I am glad no record shows, so far as I have seen, that any member of Congress said such a thing as that.  It was said by some scribbler for a newspaper.  It comes with an ill grace from a class of individuals who get their living by filling the issues of the daily press with garbage.  Do not take me to be criticizing that mighty power in the land without discrimination.  When I consider the gigantic influence of this wonder of modern civilization, I am struck with awe at the constancy, the rapidity, and the ubiquity of its operations.  It has more than realized all the fabled actors of antiquity.  The hundred-handed Briareus, the hundred-eyed Argus, the thousand gifts of Apollo, the strength of Hercules, the wisdom of Minerva, the laughter of Momus are all its own – yea, and it has also the secrets of the fatal box of Pandora – and the prolific growth and foliage of all times and climes, and latitudes and seasons, until its leaves fall daily thicker than the leaves of all the forests – to bless or blight the nations.  It is a mighty power for good or evil.  Many great and good men are endeavoring to direct its energies – to them let us give all praise – but in the hands of the evil and the venal, who can calculate the mischief it has power to work!

6.  But ministers are too apt to meddle with politics.  If they would only preach the gospel, and let politics alone, they might be tolerated.  Now I admit that there is a danger here, and that some fall into it – that is to say, ministers may fail in their great mission of preaching the gospel to the world, either by suppressing its great cardinal elements, and foisting in their place some truth, or error, as the case may be, which does not belong to the place they would assign to it; or they may so preach the gospel, in their style of handling it, as to render nugatory its legitimate influence and effect.  All this is to be carefully avoided.  But whoever undertakes to say that the gospel is not in itself essentially a system that takes hold upon the question of right and wrong everywhere in the nature, relations, society, intercourse and business of men, knows nothing of its principles or of its design.  I know there has been an attempt to divorce the gospel from politics, and politics from the gospel; and I hold it to be one of the most stupendous practical errors, follies, heresies, and crimes of the age.  The gospel is the most radical force of a moral and spiritual kind ever introduced into this world.

It is God’s plough-share, driven afield by the great cattle of his Providence, through the wilderness of human wrong and outrage for the last two thousand years; and wherever it comes, it is destined to tear up the prescription of ages of iniquity, the great systems of false religion and false philosophy, the infidelity, the tyranny, the oppression, the vice and rooted corruptions of mankind, and hurl them headlong from its mighty furrows.  If it encounters a vulgar and vitiated system of politics, it will no more spare that than anything else that tends to the destruction and ruin of mankind.  The gospel was designed to attack all false opinions and sentiments, all immoral customs and practices, all despotic and cruel principles, and every enemy of the virtue, the true culture, the Christian progress, and the spiritual elevation of mankind; and woe be to that professed minister of Christ who fails through any fear or favor of man, to declare the whole counsel of God, who abates one jot from the Revelation of divine wisdom.  It is the duty of the minister to proclaim Christ and him crucified, the only and all-sufficient Savior of the world, and all the cognate and kindred doctrines of grace; but around this central doctrine of the cross, this article of justification by faith, every human interest and relationship come thronging; and he must apply this truth, rightly dividing the word – a workman that needs not to be ashamed.

The truth is, and we may all know it, a pure Christianity is the only sufficient and proper conservator of the duties, the obligations, and immunities of mankind – the only lasting and adequate security of republican constitutional liberty.  This is the testimony of all the wisdom and greatness of the ages that are past:

“Government has an everlasting foundation in the unchangeable will of God,” said Otis.  “May we ever be a people favored of God,” said Warren.  “If it was ever granted to mortals to trace the designs of Providence, we may cry out, not unto us, but unto thy name be the praise,” said Samuel Adams.  “There is one thing more I wish I could give them, and that is the Christian religion,” said Patrick Henry.  “Let us play the men for God and the cities of our God,” said John Hancock.  “Science, liberty, and religion are the choicest blessings of humanity,” said John Adams.  “Righteousness exalts a nation,” testified Robert Treat Paine.  “The hand of Heaven seems to have directed every occurrence,” said Elbridge Gerry.  “I believe in the divine mission of our Savior,” said Thornton.  “I believe in the Christian religion,” said Hopkins.  “Let us be hopeful and trusting, for the Lord reigns,” said William Ellery.  “A life-long devotion to his country and his God.” Is the eulogy of Roger Sherman.  “

A professing Christian of eminent virtue,” was the substance of the testimony of the biographers of Huntingdon, of Williams, of Wolcott, of Livingston and Stockton.  Of Witherspoon, the historian says, “If the pulpit of America had given only this one man to the Revolution, it would deserve to be held in everlasting remembrance.”  “The worship of God is a duty,” said Benjamin Franklin. “I tremble for my country, when I reflect that God is just,” said Jefferson.  “The duty we owe to God can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force and violence,” said George Mason.  “Religion is the solid basis of good morals,” said Governor Morris.  Of Pinckney it is certified, “He had practical faith in the divinity of the Bible, and its essential need to republican government” – of Benjamin Rush, that “he was one of the greatest and best of Christians.”  Fisher Ames, John Hart, James Smith, and Robert Morris were all believers in the gospel of Christ; and some of them were as eminent in His church as in the councils of the nation.  Hamilton, that great genius of the Revolution, says, “The law of nature, dictated by God himself, is of course superior to any other.  No human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this.”  “Grateful to Almighty God for the blessings which, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, he has bestowed upon my beloved country,” said the venerable Charles Carroll of Carrollton.

Thompson, Wythe, Wilson, Chase, the two Lees, were all pre-eminent Christians.  Every one of their illustrious associates and successors might be quoted as witnesses of the same great faith.  John Jay, Boudinot, Madison, Monroe, Ellsworth, Drayton, Greene, Knox, Wm. Livingston, Trumbull, Washington and Lafayette, Marshall, the Randolph’s, the Adams, Jackson, Clay, and Webster – all these have left an imperishable record of their conviction that it is as true now as in the remotest antiquity, that, using the language of Plutarch, “a city might as well be built in the air, without any earth to stand upon, as a commonwealth or a kingdom be constituted or preserved without religion!”  Need I say then, how deeply the American people, but especially the rulers, lawgivers, judges, and military and civil functionaries of our country, ought to feel the necessity and obligation of cleaving to this public recognition of Almighty God, and the great foundation principles of the Christian faith, in such a day as this?  Now the earthquake of popular excitement is heaving in every quarter.  Now the hurricane of popular opinion is sweeping fiercely and wildly across the naked heart of the nation.  Now grim-visaged war rolls his dun clouds, reddened with the blood of our bravest and best, over all the sky.  Now we are in the most momentous year of these great travail pangs – a year in which it is to be determined whether the nation, with the sword in one hand, and reeling under the weight of staggering blows from a giant rebellion, uplifted by the awful energies of the universal convulsion, can with the other steadily hold her great and sovereign birthright, and by the deliberate and unrestricted suffrage of a free people, advance to the high seat of Government a citizen for their President!  Oh when I look at these things, I say God help us.  Let the nation cling to the Christian religion.

It would be easy to show, as has been done over and over again, how the public worship of God tends directly to work those effects in the opinions, habits and spirit of the people which contribute to the public security and prosperity; and how, on the other hand, the neglect of these great ordinance s conspires to the demoralization of communities, until they are ground to powder beneath the upper and nether millstones of God’s providence.  But I shall not enter into this argument now.  It is sufficient to assert that no people can retain the principles of religion apart from its public monuments, ordinances, and commemorations.  God has foretold therefore, that his worship shall be universal; and that in the high places of every nation there shall be the celebration of his praise.  And therefore let me ask you whether it is a matter of individual and national concern for the people of the United States to maintain or not the public worship of Almighty God in these chambers of their Capitol?  Shall the great hope of man and the great light of salvation here be permitted to go out from the highest public altar of the country – the temple of law and justice – the edifice consecrated to the noblest earthly work of man?  No, no, sai I- a thousand times, no!  I would not have this capitol polluted and disgraced by any company of brawling politicians, demagogues and conspirators, who under the sacred forms of legislative office, in the proud parade of senatorial robes – bearing the insignia of representatives of a mighty people, use such a place as this to hatch their infernal plots, and to perfect the finesse or the chicanery of their corrupt and mischievous designs.

Nay, rather I would have every man who enters these halls feel at once the grand old air of an upright and majestic manhood – feel that he stands in a temple – not like that at Jerusalem, which smoked with the holocausts of a thousand victims but a place where God’s homage is paramount, and man’s dignity the next in value to the Infinite; both uniting to give these halls a sanctity more than the veneration of the Amphictyon Council – more than the Hebrew Sanhedrin – more than the Court of Aeropagus, or the Delphic Oracles – more than the Roman Senate- more than the Saxon Witenagemot – more than the House of Deputies of France – more than the Parliament of England.  And so long as the starry banner, the previous ensign of the Republic floats over the capitol, in token of the convention of the nation’s lawgivers, and so long as the statue of Liberty, now exalted over us by the wonderful skill and cunning handiwork of man, shall look down upon this grand panorama and proscenium of the metropolis, so long, even to the last running sand of expiring time, would I have this public structure devoted to the public worship of God – its pillars the emblems of his truth, its adornments the symbols of his favor, its chambers, halls and corridors filled with the rolling songs of praise, and echoing to the swell of voices uplifted in the wonder, the gratitude, the awe, and the adoration of His worship.

Yea, and when that glorious hour shall strike the full accomplishment of his great prediction, and from moon to moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all nations shall come before the Jehovah of the whole earth, and there shall be one matchless and continuous anthem of worship, reverberating from hill to hill, and from land to land, and from shore to shore, as the sun performs his circuit in the heavens, and all the ministers of God, becoming the mouth of the millions of earth’s people, shall utter their successive testimony to the truth of the great salvation, and from all the renowned cities of the globe shall break, and echo, and respond, in the soul-thrilling accents of apocalyptic tongues, the last great announcement of the emancipated world, the kingdoms of the earth have become the kingdoms of our God, and when the great heart of human nature no longer driven by the sins and sorrows of the time, but redressed and full of living joy, shall beat with the mighty fervor of unutterable enthusiasm, and when from every summit of nature, and every tower of man, shall peal forth the solemn knoll of God’s great bells of time, calling mankind to worship – Oh, then would I have the capitol of my country stand high and strong, with all the heart of the nation gathered about it, God’s favor shining upon it, millions of prayers centered in it, and the voice of its worship going up to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe in a volume the clearest, the grandest, and the most earnest of all the voices that shall salute the ear of Heaven from the manifold languages of the whole earth!  This is an emulation worthy to be fostered, and may the Lord Jehovah hasten it in his time! Amen.

Oration – July 4th – 1826, Cambridge

Edward Everett (1794-1865) graduated from Harvard in 1811. He was ordained a minister in 1814. Everett worked as a tutor at Harvard (1812-184), professor of Greek literature at Harvard (1815-1826), an overseer of Harvard (1827-1847, 1849-1854, 1862-1865), and president of Harvard (1846-1849). He was also a member of U.S. Congress (1825-1835), Secretary of State (1852-1853), and member of the U.S. Senate (1853-1854).











Fellow Citizens,

It belongs to us with strong propriety, to celebrate this day. The town of Cambridge and the county of Middlesex are filled with the vestiges of the Revolution; whithersoever we turn our eyes, we behold some memento of its glorious scenes. Within the walls, in which we are now assembled, was convened he first provincial Congress, after its adjournment at Concord. The rural magazine at Medford reminds us of one of the earliest acts of British aggression. The march of both divisions of the Royal army, on the memorable nineteenth of April, was through the limits of Cambridge; in the neighboring towns of Lexington and Concord, he first blood of the Revolution was shed; in West Cambridge, the royal convoy of provisions was, the same day, gallantly surprised by the aged citizens, who stayed to protect their homes, while their sons pursued the foe. Here the first American army was formed; from this place, on the seventeenth of June was detached the Spartan band, that immortalized the heights of Charlestown, and consecrated that day, with blood and fire, to the cause of American Liberty. Beneath the venerable elm, which still shades the southwestern corner of the common, General Washington first unsheathed his sword at the head of an American army, and to that seat 1 was want every Sunday to repair, to join in the supplications which were made for the welfare of his country.

How changed is now the scene! The foe is gone! The din and the desolation of war are passed; Science has long resumed her station in the shades of our venerable University, no longer glittering with arms; the anxious war-council is no longer in session, to offer a reward for the discovery of the best mode of making salt-petre, an unpromising stage of hostilities, when an army of twenty thousand men is in the field in front of the foe; the tall grass now waves in the trampled sally-port of some of the rural redoubts, that form a part of the simple lines of circumvallation, within which a half-armed American militia held the flower of the British army blockaded; the plough has done, what the English batteries could not do, has leveled others of them with the earth; and the Men, the great and good men, their warfare is over, and they have gone quietly down to the dust they redeemed from oppression.

At the close of the half century, since the declaration of our Independence, we are assembled to commemorate that great and happy event. We come together, not because it needs, but because it deserves these acts of celebration. We do not meet each other, and exchange our felicitations, because we should otherwise fall into forgetfulness of this auspicious era; but because we owe it to our fathers and to our children, to mark its return with grateful festivities. The major part of this assembly is composed of those, who had not yet engaged in the active scenes of life, when the Revolution commenced. We come not to applaud our own work, but to pay a filial tribute to the deeds of our fathers. It was for their children that the heroes and sages of the Revolution labored and bled. They were too wise not to know, that it was not personally their own cause, in which they were embarked; they felt that they were engaging in an enterprise, which an entire generation must be too short to bring to its mature and perfect issue. The most they could promise themselves was, that, having cast forth the seed of liberty; having shielded its tender germ from the stern blasts that beat upon it; having watered it with the tears of waiting eyes, and the blood of brave hearts; their children might gather the fruit of its branches, while those who planted it should moulder in peace beneath its shade.

Nor was it only in this, that we discern their disinterestedness, their heroic forgetfulness of self. Not only was the independence, for which they struggled, a great and arduous adventure, of which they were to encounter the risk, and others to enjoy the benefits; but the oppressions, which roused them, had assumed, in their day, no worse form that that of a pernicious principle. No intolerable acts of oppression had ground them to the dust. They were not slaves, rising in desperation from beneath the agonies of the lash; but free men, snuffing from afar “the tainted gale of tyranny.” The worst encroachments, on which the British ministry had ventured, might have been borne, consistently with the practical enjoyment of many of the advantages resulting from good government. On the score of calculation alone, that generation had much better have paid the duties on glass, painters’ colors, stamped paper, and tea, than have plunged into the expenses of the Revolutionary war. But they thought not of shuffling off upon posterity the burden of resistance. They well understood the part, which Providence had assigned to them. They perceived that they were called to discharge a high and perilous office to the cause of Freedom; that their hands were elected to strike the blow, for which near two centuries of preparation – never remitted, though often unconscious – had been making, on one side or the other, of the Atlantic. They felt that the colonies had now reached that stage in their growth, when the difficult problem of colonial government must be solved; difficult, I call it, for such it is, to the statesman, whose mind is not sufficiently enlarged for the idea, that a wise colonial government must naturally and rightfully end in independence; that even a mild and prudent sway, on the part of the mother country, furnishes no reason for not severing the bands of the colonial subjection; and that when the rising state has passed the period of adolescence, the only alternative which remains, is that of a peaceable separation, or a convulsive rupture.

The British ministry, at that time weaker than it had ever been since the infatuated reign of James II, had no knowledge of political science, but that which they derived from the text of official records. They drew their maxims, as it was happily said of one of them, that he did his measures, from the file. They heard that a distant province had resisted the execution of an act of parliament. Indeed, and what is the specific, in cases of resistance? – a military force; and two more regiments are ordered to Boston. Again they hear, that the General Court of Massachusetts Bay has taken counsels subversive of the allegiance due to the crown. A case of a refractory corporation; what is to be done? First try a mandamus; and if that fails, seize the franchises into his majesty’s hands. They never asked the great questions, whether nations, like man, have not their principles of growth; whether Providence has assigned no laws to regulate the changes in the condition of that most astonishing of human things, a nation of kindred men. They did not inquire, I will not say whether it were rightful and expedient, but whether it were practical, to give law across the Atlantic, to a people who possessed within themselves every imaginable element of self-government; a people rocked in the cradle of liberty, brought up to hardship, inheriting nothing but their rights on earth, and their hopes in heaven.

But though the rulers of Britain appear not to have caught a glimpse of the great principles involved in these questions, our fathers had asked and answered them. They perceived, with the rapidity of intuition, that the hour of separation had come; because a principle was assumed by the British government which put an instantaneous check to the further growth of liberty. Either the race of civilized man happily planted on our shores, at first slowly and painfully reared, but at length auspiciously multiplying in America, is destined never to constitute a free and independent state; or these measures must be resisted, which go o bind it, in a mild but abject colonial vassalage. Either the race of civilized man happily planted on our shores, at first slowly and painfully reared, but at length auspiciously multiplying in America, is destined never to constitute a free and independent state; or these measures must be resisted, which go to bind it, in a mild but abject colonial vassalage. Either the hope must be forever abandoned, the hope that had been brightening and kindling toward assurance, like the glowing skies of the morning, the hope that a new center of civilization was to be planted on the new continent, at which the social and political institutions of the world may be brought to the standard of reason and truth, after thousands of years of degeneracy, either this hope must be abandoned, and forever, or the battle was now to be fought, first in the political assemblies, and then, if need be, in the field.

In the halls of legislation, scarcely can it be said that the battle was fought. A spectacle indeed seemed to be promised to the civilized world, of breathless interest and uncalculated consequence. “You are placed,” said the provincial Congress of Massachusetts, in their address o the inhabitants of December 4th 1774, an address promulgated at the close of the session held in this very house, where we are now convened, “You are placed by Providence in a post of honor, because it is a post of danger; and while struggling for the noblest objects, the liberties of our country, the happiness of posterity, and the rights of human nature, the eyes, not only of North America and the whole British empire, but of all Europe, are upon you.” 2 A mighty question of political right was at issue, between the two hemispheres. Europe and America, in the face of mankind, are going to plead the great cause, on which the fate of popular government forever is suspended.

One circumstance, and one alone exists, to diminish the interest of the contention – the perilous inequality of the parties – an inequality far exceeding that, which gives animation to a contest; and so great as to destroy the hope of an ably waged encounter. On the one side, were arrayed the two houses of the British parliament, the modern school of political eloquence, the arena where great minds had for a century and a half strenuously wrestled themselves into strength and power, and in better days the common and upright chancery of an empire, on which the sun never set. Upon the other side, rose up the colonial assemblies of Massachusetts and Virginia, and the continental congress of Philadelphia, composed of men whose training had been within a small provincial circuit; who had never before felt the inspiration, which the consciousness of a station before the world imparts; who brought no power into the contest but that which they drew from their cause and their bosoms. It is by champions like these, that the great principles of representative government, of chartered rights, and constitutional liberty, are to be discussed; and surely never, in the annuals of national controversy, was exhibited a triumph so complete of the seemingly weaker party, a rout so disastrous of the stronger. Often as it has been repeated, it will bear another repetition; it never ought to be omitted in the history of constitutional liberty; it ought especially to be repeated this day; the various addresses, petitions, and appeals, the correspondence, the resolutions, the legislative and popular debates from 1764, to the declaration of independence, present a maturity of political wisdom, a strength of argument, a gravity of style, a manly eloquence, and a moral courage, of which unquestionably the modern world affords no other example. This meed of praise, substantially accorded at the time by Chatham, in the British parliament, may well be repeated by us. For most of the venerated men to whom it is paid, it is but a pious tribute to departed worth. The Lees and the Henrys, Otis, Quincy, Warren, and Samuel Adams, the men who spoke those words of thrilling power, which raised and ruled the storm of resistance, and rang like the voice of fate across the Atlantic, are beyond the reach of our praise. To most of them it was granted to witness some of the fruits of their labors; such fruit as revolutions do not often bear. Others departed at an untimely hour, or nobly fell in the onset; too soon for their country, too soon for liberty, too soon for everything but their own undying fame. But all are not gone; some still survive among us; the favored, enviable men, to hail the jubilee of the independence they declared. Go back, fellow citizens, to that day, when Jefferson and Adams composed the sub-committee, who reported the Declaration of Independence. Think of the mingled sensations of that proud but anxious day, compared to the joy of this. What honor, what crown, what treasure, could the world and all its kingdoms afford, compared with the honor and happiness of having been united in that commission, and living to see its most wavering hopes turned into glorious reality. Venerable men! You have outlived the dark days, which followed your more than heroic deed; you have outlived your own strenuous contention, who should stand first among the people, whose liberty you vindicated. You have lived to bear to each other the respect, which the nation bears to you both; and each has been so happy as to exchange the honorable name of the leader of a party, for that more honorable one, the Father of his Country. While this our tribute of respect, on the jubilee of our independence, is paid to the grey hairs of the venerable survivor in our neighborhood; let it not less heartily be sped to him, whose hand traced the lines of that sacred charter, which, to the end of time, has made this day illustrious. And is an empty profession of respect all that we owe to the man, who can show the original draught of the Declaration of the Independence of the United States of America, in his own handwriting? Ought not a title-deed like this to become the acquisition of the nation? Ought not the price, at which it is bought, to be the ease and comfort of the old age of him who drew it? Ought not he, who at the age of thirty declared the independence of his country, at the age of eighty, to be secured by his country in the enjoyment of his own? 3

Nor let us forget, on the return of this eventful day, the men, who, when the conflict of counsel was over, stood forward in that of arms. Yet let me not by faintly endeavoring to sketch, do deep injustice to the story of their exploits. The efforts of a life would scarce suffice to paint out this picture, in all its astonishing incidents, in all its mingled colors of sublimity and woe, or agony and triumph. But the age of commemoration is at hand. The voice of our fathers’ blood begins to cry to us, from beneath the soil which it moistened. Time is bringing forward, in their proper relief, the men and the deeds of that high-souled day. The generation of contemporary worthies is gone; the crowd of the un-signalized great and good disappears; and the leaders in war as well as council, are seen, in Fancy’s eye, to take their stations on the mount of Remembrance. They come from the embattled cliffs of Abraham; they start from the heaving sods of Bunker’s Hill; they gather from the blazing lines of Saratoga and Yorktown, from the blood-dyed waters of the Brandywine, from the dreary snows of Valley Forge, and all the hard fought fields of the war. With all their wounds and all their honors, they rise and plead with us, for their brethren who survive; and bid us, if indeed we cherish the memory of those, who bled in our cause, to show our gratitude, not by sounding words, but by stretching out the strong arm of the country’s prosperity, to help the veteran survivors gently down to their graves.

But it is time to turn from sentiments, on which it is unavailing to dwell. The fiftieth return of this all-important day appears to enjoin on us to reassert the principles of the Declaration of Independence. Have we met, fellow citizens, to commemorate merely the successful termination of a war? Certainly not; the war of 1756 was, in its duration, nearly equal, and signalized in America by the most brilliant achievements of the provincial arms. But no one would attempt to prevent that war, with all its glorious incidents, from gradually sinking into the shadows, which time throws back on the deeds of men. Do we celebrate the anniversary of our independence, merely because a vast region was severed from an European empire, and established a government for itself? Scarcely even this; the acquisition of Louisiana, a region larger than the old United States, the almost instantaneous conversion of a vast Spanish colonial waste, into free and prosperous members of our republican federation, the whole effected by a single happy exercise of the treaty-making power, this is an event, in nature not wholly unlike, in importance not infinitely beneath the separation of the colonies from England, regarded merely as a historical transaction. But no one thinks of commemorating with festivals the anniversary of this cession; perhaps not ten who hear me recollect the date of the treaty by which it was effected; although it is unquestionably the most important occurrence in our history, since the declaration of independence, and will render the administration of Mr. Jefferson memorable, as long as our republic shall endure.

But it is not merely nor chiefly the military success nor the political event, which we commemorate on these patriotic anniversaries. It is to mistake the principle of our celebration to speak of its object, either as a trite theme, or as one among other important and astonishing incidents, of the same kind, in the world. The declaration of the independence of the United States of America considered, on the one hand, as the consummation of a long train of measures and counsels – preparatory, even though unconsciously, of this event, and on the other hand, as the foundation of the systems of government, which have happily been established in our beloved country, deserves commemoration, as the most important event, humanly speaking, in the history of the world; as forming the era, from which the establishment of government on a rightful foundation is destined universally to date. Looking upon the declaration of independence as the one prominent event, which is to represent the American system (and history will so look upon it), I deem it right in itself and seasonable this day to assert, that, while all other political revolutions, reforms, and improvements have been in various ways of the nature of palliatives and alleviations of systems essentially and irremediably vicious, this alone is the great discovery, in political science; the Newtonian theory of government, toward which the minds of all honest and sagacious statesmen in other times had strained, but without success; the practical fulfillment of all the theories of political perfection, which had amused the speculations and eluded the grasp of every former period and people. And although assuredly this festive hour affords but little scope for dry disquisition, and shall not be engrossed by me with abstract speculation, yet I shall not think I wander from the duties of the day, in dwelling briefly on the chain of ideas, by which we reach this great conclusion.

The political organization of a people is of all natters of temporal concernment the most important. Drawn together into that great assemblage, which we call a nation, by the social principle, some mode of organization must exist among men; and on that organization depends more directly, more collectively, more permanently, than on anything else, the condition of the individual members that make up the community. On the political organization, in which a people shall for generations have been reared, it mainly depends, whether we shall behold in one of the brethren of the human family the New Hollander, making a nauseous meal from the worms which he extracts from a piece of rotten wood; 4 or the African cutting out the under jaw of his captive to be strung on a wire, as a trophy of victory, while the mangled wretch is left to bleed to death, on the field of battle; 5or whether we shall behold him social, civilized, Christian; scarcely faded from that perfect image, in which at the divine purpose, “Let us make man,”

“______ in beauty clad,
And reason throned upon his brow,
Stepped forth immortal man.”

I am certainly aware that between the individuals that compose a nation, and the nation as an organized body, there are action and reaction; that if political institutions affect the individual, individuals are sometimes gifted with power, and seize on opportunities, most essentially to modify institutions; nor am I at all disposed to agitate the scholastic question, which was first, in the order of nature or time, men forming governments or governments determining the condition of men. But having long acted and reacted upon each other, it needs no argument to prove, that political institutions get to be infinitely the most important agent in fixing the condition of individuals, and even in determining in what manner and to what extent individual capacity shall be exerted and individual character formed. While other causes do unquestionably operate, some of them, such as national descent, physical race, climate, and geographical position, very powerfully; yet of none of them is the effect constant, uniform, and prompt; while I believe it is impossible to point out an important change in the political organization of a people, a change by which it has been rendered more or less favorable to liberty, without discovering a correspondent effect on their prosperity.

Such is the infinite importance to the nations of men of the political organization which prevails among them. The most momentous practical question therefore of course is, in what way a people shall determine the political organization under which it will live; or in still broader terms, what is a right foundation of government. Till the establishment of the American constitutions, this question had received but one answer in the world; I mean but one, which obtained for any length of time and among any numerous people; and that answer was force. The right of the strongest was the only footing on which the governments of the ancient and modern nations were in fact placed; and the only effort of the theorists was, to disguise the simple and somewhat starling doctrine of the right of the strongest, by various mystical or popular fictions, which in no degree altered its real nature. Of these the only two worthy to detain us, on the present occasion, are those of the two great English political parties, the Whigs and the Tories, as they are called, by names not unlike, in dignity and significance, to the doctrines which are designated by them. The Tories taught that the only foundation of government was “divine right;” and this is the same notion, which is still inculcated on the continent of Europe; though the delicate ears of the age are flattered by the somewhat milder term, legitimacy. The Whigs maintained, that the foundation of government was an “original contract;” but of this contract the existing organization was the record and the evidence; and the obligation was perpetually binding. It may deserve the passing remark, therefore, that in reality the doctrine of the Whigs in England is a little less liberal than that of the Tories. To say that the will of God is the warrant, by which the king and his hereditary counselors govern the land, is, to be sure, in a practical sense, what the illustrious sage of the revolution, surviving in our neighborhood, dared as early as 1765, to pronounce it, “dark rivalry.” But in a merely speculative sense it may, without offense, be said, that government, like everything else, subsists by the Divine will; and in this acceptation, there is a certain elevation and unction in the sentiment. But to say that the form of government is matter of original compact with the people; that my ancestors, ages ago, agreed that they and their posterity, to the end of time, should give up to a certain line of princes the rule of the state; that no right remains of revising this compact; that nothing but extreme necessity, a necessity which it is treasonable even to attempt to define beforehand, justifies a departure from this compact, in which no provision is made that the will of the majority should be done, but the contrary; a doctrine like this, as it seems to me, while it is in substance as servile as the other, has the disadvantage of affecting a liberality not borne out by the truth.

And now, fellow citizens, I think I speak the words of truth and soberness, without color or exaggeration, when I say, that before the establishment of our American constitutions, this tory doctrine of the divine right was the most common, and this Whig doctrine of the original contract was professedly the most liberal doctrine, ever maintained by any political party in any powerful state. I do not mean that in some of the little Grecian republics, during their short-lived noon of liberty and glory, nothing better was practiced; nor that, in other times and places, speculative politicians had not in their closets dreamed of a better foundation of government. But I do mean, that, whereas the Whigs in England are the party of politicians who have enjoyed, by general consent, the credit of inculcating a more liberal system, this precious notion of the compact is the extent to which their liberality went.

It is plain, whichever of these solemn phrases – “divine right” or “original compact” – we may prefer to use, that the right of the strongest lies at the foundation of both, in the same way and to the same degree. The doctrine of the compact denounces every attempted change in the person of the prince as a breach of faith, and as such also not only treasonable but immoral. When a conflict ensues, force alone, of course, decides which party shall prevail; and when force has so decided, all the sanctions of the divine will and of the social compact revive in favor of the successful party. Even the statute legislation of England, although somewhat coy of unveiling the chaste mysteries of the common law, allows the successful usurper to claim the allegiance of the subject, in as full a manner as it could be done by a lawful sovereign.

Nothing is wanting to fill up this sketch of other governments, but to consider what is the form in which force is exercised to sustain them; and this is that of a standing army; at this moment, the chief support of every government on earth, except our own. As popular violence, the unrestrained and irresistible force of the mass of men, long oppressed and late awakened, and bursting in its wrath all barriers of law and humanity, is unhappily the usual instrument by which the intolerable abuses of a corrupt government are removed; so the blind force of the same fearful multitude, designedly kept in ignorance both of their duty and their privileges as citizens, employed in a form somewhat different indeed, but far more dreadful, that of a mercenary standing army, is the instrument by which corrupt governments are sustained. The deplorable scenes which marked the earlier stages of the French revolution have called the attention of this age to the fearful effects of popular violence; and the minds of men have recoiled at the dismay which leads the van, and the desolation which marks the progress of an infuriated mob. But the power of the mob is transient; the rising sun most commonly scatters its mistrustful ranks; the difficulty of subsistence drives its members asunder; and it is only while it exists in mass, that it is terrible. But there is a form, in which the mob is indeed portentous; when to all its native terrors it adds the force of a frightful permanence; when, by a regular organization, its strength is so curiously divided, and by a strict discipline its parts are so easily combined, that each and every portion of it carries in its presence the strength and terror of the whole; and when, instead of that want of concern which renders the common mob incapable of arduous enterprises, it is despotically swayed by a single master mind, and may be moved in array across the globe.

I remember to have seen the two kinds of mob brought into direct collision. I was present at the second great meeting of the populace of London in 1819, in the midst of a crowd of I know now how many thousands, but assuredly a vast multitude, which was gathered together in Smithfield market. The universal distress, as you recollect, was extreme; it was a short time after the scenes at Manchester, at which men’s minds were ulcerated; deaths by starvation were said not to be rare; ruin by the stagnation of business was general; and some were already brooding over the dark project of assassinating the ministers, which was not long after matured by Thistlewood and his associates; some of whom, on the day to which I allude, harangued this excited, desperate, starving assemblage. When I considered the state of feeling prevailing in the multitude around me – when I looked in their lowering faces – heard their deep indignant exclamations – reflected on the physical force concentrated, probably that of thirty or forty thousand able-bodied men; and added to all this, that they were assembled to exercise an undoubted privilege of British citizens; I did suppose that any small number of troops, who should attempt to interrupt them, would be immolated on the spot. While I was musing on these things, and turning in my mind the commonplaces on the terrors of a mob, a trumpet was heard to sound – an uncertain, but a harsh and clamorous blast. I looked that the surrounding stalls should have furnished the unarmed multitude at least with that weapon, with which Virginians sacrificed his daughter to the liberty of Rome; I looked that the flying pavement should begin to darken the air. Another blast is heard – a cry of “The horse-guards!” ran through the assembled thousands; the orators on the platform were struck mute; and the whole of that mighty host of starving, desperate men incontinently took to their heels; in which, I must confess – feeling no vocation, in that cause to be faithful found, among the faithless – I did myself join them. We had run through the Old Bailey and reached Ludgate hill, before we found out, that we had been put to flight by a single mischievous tool of power, who had come triumphing down the opposite street on horseback, blowing a stagecoach man’s horn.

We have heard of those midnight scenes of desolation, when the populace of some overgrown capital, exhausted by the extremity of political oppression, or famishing at the gates of luxurious palaces, or kindled by some transport of fanatical zeal, rushes out to find the victims of its fury; the lurid glare of torches, casting their gleams on faces dark with rage; the ominous din of the alarm bell, striking with affright, on the broken visions of the sleepers; the horrid yells, the thrilling screams, the multitudinous roar of the living storm, as it sweeps onward to its objects; but oh, the disciplined, the paid, the honored mob; not moving in rags and starvation to some act of blood or plunder; but marching, in all the pomp and circumstance of war, to lay waste a feebler state; or cantoned at home among an overawed and broken-spirited people! I have read of granaries plundered, of castles sacked, and their inmates cruelly murdered, by the ruthless hands of the mob. I have read of friendly states ravaged, governments overturned, tyrannies founded and upheld, proscriptions executed, fruitful regions turned into trampled deserts, the tide of civilization thrown back, and a line of generations cursed, by a well organized system of military force.

Such was the foundation in theory and in practice of all the governments, which can be considered as having had a permanent existence in the world, before the Revolution in this country. There are certainly shades of difference between the oriental despotisms, ancient and modern – the military empire of Rome – the feudal sovereignties of the Middle Ages – and the legitimate monarchies of the present day. Some were and are more, and some less, susceptible of melioration in practice; and of all of them it might perhaps be said – being all in essence bad,

“That, which is best administered, is best.”

In no one of these governments, nor in any government, was the truth admitted, that the only just foundation of all government is the will of the people. If it ever occurred to the practical or theoretical politician, that such an idea deserved examination, the experiment was thought to have been made in the republics of Greece, and to have failed, as fail it certainly did, from the physical impossibility of conducting the business of the state by the actual intervention of every citizen. Such a plan of government must of course fail, if for no other reason, at least for this, that it would prevent the citizen from pursuing his own business which it is the object of all government to enable him to do. It was considered then as settled, that the citizens, each and all, could not be the government; someone or more must discharge its duties for them. Who shall do this; how shall they be designated?

The first king was a fortunate soldier, and the first nobleman was one of his generals; and government has passed by descent to their posterity, with no other interruption, than has taken place, when some new soldier of fortune has broken in upon this line of succession, in favor of himself and of his generals. The people have passed for nothing in the plan; and whenever it has occurred to a busy genius to put the question, by what right government is thus exercised and transmitted? The common answer has been, By Divine right; while, in times of rare illumination, men have been consoled with the assurance, that such was the original contract.

But a brighter day and a better dispensation were in reserve. The founders of the feudal system, barbarous, arbitrary, and despotic as they were, and profoundly ignorant of political science, were animated themselves with a spirit of personal liberty; out of which, after ages of conflict, grew up a species of popular representation. In the eye of the feudal system, the king was the first baron, and standing within his own sphere, each other baron was as good as the first. From this important relation, in which the feudal lords of England claimed to stand to their prince, arose the practice of their being consulted by him, in great and difficult conjunctures of affairs; and hence the co-operation of grand council (subsequently convened in two houses under the name of parliament) in making the laws and administering the government. The formation of this body has proved a great step in the progress of popular rights; its influence has been decisive in breaking the charm of absolute monarchy, and giving to a body partially eligible by the people a share in the government. It has also operated most auspiciously on liberty, by exhibiting to the world, on the theatre of a conspicuous nation, a living example, that in proportion as the rights and interests of a people are represented in a government, in that degree the state becomes strong and prosperous. Thus far the science and the practice of government had gone in England, and here it had come to a stand. An equal representation, even in the House of Commons, was un-thought of; or thought of only as one of the exploded abominations of Cromwell. It is asserted by Mr. Hume, writing about the middle of the last century, and weighing this subject with equal moderation and sagacity, that “the tide has run long and with some rapidity to the side of popular government and is just beginning to turn toward monarchy.” And he maintains that the British constitution is, though slowly, yet gradually verging toward an absolute government. 6

Such was the state of political science, when the independence of our country was declared, and its constitutions organized on the basis of that declaration. The precedents in favor of a popular system were substantially these, the short-lived prosperity of the republics of Greece, where each citizen took part in the conduct of affairs; and the admission into the British government, of one branch of the legislature nominally elective, and operating, rather by opinion than power, as a partial check on the other branches. What lights these precedents gave them, our fathers had; beyond this, they owed everything to their own wisdom and courage, in daring to carry out and apply to the executive branch of the government that system of delegated power, of which the elements existed in their own provincial assemblies. They assumed, at once, not as a matter to be reached by argumentation, but as the dictate of unaided reason – as an axiom too obvious to be discussed, though never in practice applied – that where the state is too large to be governed by an actual assembly of all the citizens, the people shall elect those, who will act for them, in making the laws and administering the government. They, therefore, laid the basis of their constitutions in a proportionate delegation of power, from every part of the community; and regarding the declaration of our Independence as the true era of our institutions, we are authorized to assert, that from that era dates the establishment of the only perfect organization of government, that of a Representative Republic, administered by persons freely chosen by the people.

This plan of government is therefore, in its theory, perfect; and in its operation it is perfect also; that is to say, no measure of policy, public or private, domestic or foreign, can long be pursued, against the will of a majority of the people. Farther than this the wisdom of government cannot go. The majority of the people may err. Man collectively as well as individually, is man still; but whom can you more safely trust than the majority of the people; who is so likely to be right, always right, and altogether right, as the collective majority of a great nation, represented in all its interests and pursuits, and in all its communities?

Thus has been solved the great problem in human affairs; and a frame of government, perfect in its principles, has been brought down from the airy regions of Utopia, and has found ‘a local habitation and a name’ in our country. Henceforward we have only to strive that the practical operation of our systems may be true to their spirit and theory. Henceforth it may be said of us, what never could have been said of any people, since the world began, be our sufferings what they will, no one can attribute them to our frame of government; no one can point out a principle in our political systems, of which he has had reason to complain; no one can sigh for a change in his country’s institutions, as a boon to be desired for himself or for his children. There is not an apparent defect in our constitutions which could be removed without introducing a greater one; nor a real evil, whose removal would not be rather a nearer approach to the principles on which they are founded, than a departure from them.

And what, fellow citizens, are to be the fruits to us and to the world, of the establishment of this perfect system of government? I might partly answer the inquiry, by reminding you what have been the fruits to us and to the world; by inviting you to compare our beloved country, as it is, in extent of settlement, in numbers and resources, in the useful and ornamental arts, in the abundance of the common blessings of life, in the general standard of character, in the means of education, in the institutions for social objects, in the various great industrious interests, in public strength and national respectability, with what it was in all these respects fifty years ago. But the limits of this occasion will not allow us to engage in such an enumeration; and it will be amply sufficient for us to contemplate, in its principle, the beneficial operation on society, of the form of government bequeathed to us by our fathers. This principle is Equality; the equal enjoyment by every citizen of the rights and privileges of the social union.

The principle of all other governments is monopoly, exclusion, favor. They secure great privileges to a small number, and necessarily at the expense of all the rest of the citizens.

In the keen conflict of minds, which preceded and accompanied the political convulsions of the last generation, the first principles of society were canvassed with a boldness and power before unknown in Europe, and, from the great principle that all men are equal, it was for the first time triumphantly inferred, as a necessary consequence, that the will of a majority of the people is the rule of government. To meet these doctrines, so appalling in their tendency to the existing institutions of Europe, new ground was also taken by the champions of those institutions, and particularly by a man, whose genius, eloquence, and integrity gave a currency, which nothing else could have given, to his splendid paradoxes and servile doctrines. In one of his renowned productions, 7 this great man, for great, even in his errors, most assuredly he was, in order to meet the inferences drawn from the equality of man, that the will of the majority must be the rule of government, has undertaken, as he says, “to fix, with some degree of distinctness, an idea of what it is we mean when we say the People;” and in fulfillment of this design, he lays it down, “that in a state of rude nature, there is no such thing as a people. A number of men, in themselves, can have no collective capacity. The idea of a people is the idea of a corporation, it is wholly artificial; and made, like all other legal fictions, by common agreement.”

“In a state of rude nature, there is no such thing as a people!” I would fain learn in what corner of the earth, rude or civilized, men are to be found, who are not a people, more or less improved. “A number of men in themselves have no collective capacity!” I would gladly be told where, in what region, I will not say of geography, I know there is none such, but of poetry or romance, a number of men has been placed, by nature, each standing alone, and not bound by any of those ties of blood, affinity, and language, which form the rudiments of a collective capacity. “The idea of a people is the idea of a corporation, it is wholly artificial, and made like all other legal fictions, by common agreement.” Indeed, is the social principle artificial? Is the gift of articulate speech, which enables man to impart his condition to man, the organized sense, which enables him to comprehend what is imparted? Is that sympathy, which subjects our opinions and feelings, and through them our conduct, to the influence of others and their conduct o our influence? Is that chain of cause and effect, which makes our characters receive impressions from the generations before us, and puts it in our power, by a good or bad precedent, to distil a poison or a balm into the characters of posterity? Are these, indeed, all by-laws of a corporation? Are all the feelings of ancestry, posterity, and fellow-citizenship; all the charm, veneration, and love, bound up in the name of country; the delight, the enthusiasm, with which we seek out, after the lapse of generations and ages, the traces of our fathers’ bravery or wisdom, are these all “a legal fiction?” Is it, indeed, a legal fiction, that moistens the eye of the solitary traveler, when he meets a countryman in a foreign land? Is it a “common agreement,” that gives its meaning to my mother tongue, and enables me to speak to the hearts of my kindred men, beyond the rivers and beyond the mountains? Yes, it is a common agreement; recorded on the same registry with that, which marshals the winged nations, that,

In common, ranged in figure, wedge their way,
Intelligent of seasons; and set forth
Their airy caravan, high over seas
Flying, and over lands, with mutual wing
Easing their flight.

The mutual dependence of man on man, family on family, interest on interest, is but a chapter in the great law, by which commerce, manufactures, and agriculture support each other, is the same law, in virtue of which the thirsty earth owes its fertility to the rivers and the rains; and the clouds derive their high-traveling waters from the rising vapors; and the ocean is fed from the secret springs of the mountains; and the plant that grows derives its increase from the plant that decays; and all subsist and thrive, not by themselves but by others, in the great political economy of nature. The necessary cohesion of the parts of the political system is no more artificial, than the gravity of the natural system, in which planet is bound to planet, and all to the sun, and the sun to all. Insulate an interest in society, a family, or a man, and all the faculties and powers they possess will avail them little toward the great objects of life; in like manner, as not all the mysteriously combined elements of the earth around and beneath us, the light and volatile airs, that fill the atmosphere; not the electric fluid, which lies condensed and embattled in its cloudy magazines, or subtly diffused through creation; not the volcanic fires that rage in the earth’s bosom, nor all her mines of coal, and niter, and sulphur; nor fountains of naphtha, petroleum, or asphalt, not all, combined and united, afford one beam of that common light, which sends man forth to his labors, and which is the sun’s contribution to the system, in which we live. And yet the great natural system, the political, intellectual, moral system, is artificial, is a legal fiction! “O that mine enemy had said it,” the admirers of Mr. Burke may well exclaim. O that some impious Voltaire, some ruthless Rousseau had uttered it. Had uttered it! Rousseau did utter the same thing; and more rebuked than any other error of this misguided genius, is his doctrine of the Social Contract, of which Burke has reasserted, and more than reasserted the principle, in the sentences I have quoted.

But no, fellow citizens; political society exists by the law of nature. Man is formed for it; every man is formed for it; every man has an equal right to its privileges, and to be deprived of them, under whatever pretence, is so far to be reduced to slavery. The authors of the Declaration of Independence saw this, and taught that all men are born free and equal. On this principle, our constitutions rest; and no constitution can bind a people on any other principle. No original contract, that gives away this right, can bind any but the parties to it. My forefathers could not, if they had wished, have stipulated to their king, that his children should rule over their children. By the introduction of this principle of equality it is, that the Declaration of Independence has at once effected a before unimagined extension of social privileges. Grant that no new blessing (which, however, can by no means with truth be granted) be introduced into the world on this plan of equality, still it will have discharged the inestimable office of communicating, in equal proportion, to all the citizens, those privileges of the social union, which were before partitioned in an invidious gradation, profusely among the privileged orders, and parsimoniously among all the rest. Let me instance in the right of suffrage. The enjoyment of this right enters largely into the happiness of the social condition. I do not mean, that it is necessary to our happiness actually to exercise this right at every election; but I say, the right itself to give our voice in the choice of public servants, and the management of public affairs, is so precious, so inestimable, that there is not a citizen who hears me, that would not lay down his life to assert it. This is a right unknown in every country but ours; I say unknown, because in England, whose institutions make the nearest approach to a popular character, the elective suffrage is not only incredibly unequal and capricious in its distribution; but extends after all, only to the choice of a minority of one house of the legislature. Thus then the people of this country are, by their constitutions of government, endowed with a new source of enjoyment. Our religious hopes, intellectual meditations, social sentiments, family affections, political privileges, these are springs of un-purchased happiness; and to condemn men to live under an arbitrary government, is to cut them off from nearly all the satisfactions, which nature designed should flow from those principles within us, by which a tribe of kindred men is constituted a people.

But it is not merely an extension to all the members of society, of those blessings, which, under other systems, are monopolized by a few; great and positive improvements, I feel sure, are destined to flow from the introduction of the republican system. The first of these will be, to make wars less frequent, and finally to cause them to cease altogether. It was not a republican, it was the subject of a monarchy, and no patron of novelties, who said,

War is a game, which, were their subjects wise,
Kings would not play at.

A great majority of the wars, which have desolated mankind, have grown either out of the disputed titles and rival claims of sovereigns, or their personal character of their favorites, or some other circumstance evidently incident to a form of government which withholds from the people the ultimate control of their affairs. And the more civilized men grow, strange as it may seem, the more universally is this the case. In the barbarous ages the people pursued war as an occupation; its plunder was more profitable, than their labor at home, in the state of general insecurity. In modern times, princes raise their soldiers by conscription, their sailors by impressments, and drive them at the point of the bayonet and dirk, into the battles they fight for reasons of state. But in a republic, where the people, by their representatives, must vote the declaration of war, and afterwards raise the means of its support, none but wars of just and necessary defense can be waged. Republics, we are told, indeed, are ambitious, a seemingly wise remark, devoid of meaning. Man is ambitious; and the question is, where will his ambition be most likely to drive his country into war; in a monarchy where he has but to ‘cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war,’ or in a republic, where he must get the vote of a strong majority of the nation? Let history furnish the answer. The book, which promised you, in its title, a picture of the progress of the human family, turns out to be a record, not of the human family, but the Macedonian family, the Julian family, the families of York and Lancaster, of Lorraine and Bourbon. We need not go to the ancient annals to confirm this remark. We need not speak of those, who reduced Asia and Africa, in the morning of the world, to a vassalage from which they have never recovered. We need not dwell on the more notorious exploits of the Alexander’s and the Caesars, the men who wept for other worlds to visit with the pestilence of their arms. We need not run down the bloody line of the dark ages, when the barbarous North disgorged her ambitious savages on Europe, or when at a later period, barbarous Europe poured back her hold ruffians on Asia; we need but look at the dates of modern history, the history of civilized, balanced Europe. We here behold the ambition of Charles V, involving the continent of Europe in war, for the first half of the sixteenth century, and the fiendlike malignity of Catherine de’ Medici and her kindred distracting it the other half. We see the haughty and cheerless bigotry of Philip, persevering in a conflict of extermination for one whole age in the Netherland, and darkening the English channel with his armada; while France prolongs her civil dissensions, because Henry IV was the twenty-second cousin of Henry III. We enter the seventeenth century, and again find the hereditary pride and bigotry of the House of Austria wasting Germany and the neighboring powers with the Thirty Years’ war; and before peace of Westphalia is concluded, England is plunged into the fiery trial of her militant liberties. Contemporaneously, the civil wars are revived in France, and the kingdom is blighted by the passions of Mazarin. The civil wars are healed, and the atrocious career of Louis XIV begins; a half century of bloodshed and woe, that stands in revolting contrast with the paltry pretenses of his wars. At length the peace of Ryswic is made in 1697, and bleeding Europe throws off the harness and lies down like an exhausted giant to repose. In three years, the testament of a doting Spanish king gives the signal for the Succession of war; till a cup of tea spilled on Mrs. Masham’s apron, restores peace to the afflicted kingdoms. Meantime the madman of the North had broken loose upon the world, and was running his frantic round. Peace at length is restores, and with one or two short wars, it remains unbroken, till, in 1740, the will of Charles VI occasions another testamentary contest; and in the gallant words of the stern but relenting moralist,

The queen, the beauty, sets the world in arms.

Eight years are this time sufficient to exhaust the combatants, and the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle is concluded; but, in 1755, the old French war is kindled in our own wilderness, and through the united operation of the monopolizing spirit of England, the party intrigues of France, and the ambition of Frederic, spread throughout Europe. The wars of the last generation I need not name, nor dwell on that signal retribution, by which the political ambition of the cabinets at length conjured up the military ambition of the astonishing individual, who seems in our day, to have risen out of the ranks of the people, to chastise the privileged orders with that iron scourge, with which they had so long afflicted mankind; to gather with his strong Plebeian hands the fragrance of those palmy honors, which they had reared for three centuries in the bloody gardens of their royalty. It may well be doubted, whether, under a government like ours, one of all these contests would have taken place. Those that arose from disputed titles, and bequests of thrones, could not of course have existed; and making every allowance for the effect of popular delusion, it seems to me not possible, that a representative government would have embarked in any of the wars of ambition and aggrandizement, which fill up the catalogue.

Who then are these families and individuals – these royal lanistae – by whom the nations are kept in training for a long gladiatorial combat? Are they better, wise than we? Look at them in life; what are they? “Kings are fond,” says Mr. Burke, no scoffer at thrones, “kings are fond of low company.” 8 What are they when gone? Expende Hannibalem. Enter the great cathedrals of Europe, and contemplate the sepulchers of the men, who claimed to be the lords of each successive generation. Question your own feelings, as you behold where the Plantagenet’s and Tudors, the Stuarts and those of Brunswic, lie mournfully huddled up in the chapels of Westminster Abbey; and compare those feelings with the homage you pay to Heaven’s aristocracy, the untitled learning, genius, and wit that moulder by their side. Count over the sixty-six emperors and princes of the Austrian house, that lie gathered in the dreary pomp of monumental marble, in the vaults of the Capuchins at Vienna; and weigh the worth of their dust against the calamities of their Peasants’ war, their Thirty Years’ war, their Succession war, their wars to enforce the Pragmatic Sanction, and of all the other uncouth pretences for destroying mankind, with which they have plagued the world.

But the cessation of wars, to which we look forward as the result of the gradual diffusion of republican government, is but the commencement of the social improvements, which cannot but flow from the same benignant source. It has been justly said that he was a great benefactor of mankind, who brought into action such a vast increase of physical, political, and moral energy; who have made not two citizens to live only, but hundreds, yea, unnumbered thousands to live, and to prosper in regions, which but for their achievements would have remained for ages unsettled, and to enjoy those rights of man, which but for their institutions would have continued to be arrogated, as the exclusive inheritance of a few. I appeal to the fact. I ask any sober judge of political probability to tell me, whether more has not been done to extend the domain of civilization, in fifty years, since the declaration of independence, than would have been done in five centuries of continued colonial subjection. It is not even a matter of probability; the king in council had adopted it, as a maxim of his American policy, that no settlements in this country should be made beyond the Allegany’s; that the design of Providence in spreading out the fertile valley Mississippi, should not be fulfilled.

I know that it is said, in palliation of the restrictive influence of European governments, that they are as good as their subjects can bear. I know it is said, that it would be useless and pernicious to call on the half savage and brutified peasantry of many countries, to take a share in the administration of affairs, by electing or being elected to office. I know they are unfit for it; it is the very curse of the system. What is it that unfits them? What is it that makes slavish labor, and slavish ignorance, and slavish stupidity, their necessary heritage? Are they not made of the same Caucasian clay? Have they not five senses, the same faculties, the same passions? And is it anything but an aggravation of the vice of arbitrary governments, that they first deprive men of their rights, and then unfit them to exercise those rights, and then unfit them to exercise those rights; profanely construing the effect into a justification of the evil?

The influence of our institutions on foreign nations is – next to their effect on our own condition – the most interesting question we can contemplate. With our example of popular government before their eyes, the nations of the earth will not eventually be satisfied with any other. With the French revolution as a beacon to guide them, they will learn, we may hope, not to embark too rashly on the mounting waves of reform. The cause, however, of popular government is rapidly gaining in the world. In England, education is carrying it wide and deep into society. On the continent, written constitutions of governments, nominally representative, though as yet, it must be owned, nominally so alone, are adopted in eight or ten, late absolute monarchies; and it is not without good grounds that we may trust, that the indifference with which the Christian powers contemplate the sacrifice of Greece, and their crusade against the constitutions of Spain, Piedmont, and Naples, will satisfy the mass of thinking men in Europe, that it is time to put an end to these cruel delusions, and take their own government into their own hands.

But the great triumphs of constitutional freedom, to which our independence has furnished the example, have been witnessed in the southern portion of our hemisphere. Sunk to the last point of colonial degradation, they have risen at once into the organization of free republics. Their struggle has been arduous; and eighteen years of checkered fortune have not yet brought it to a close. But we must not infer, from their prolonged agitation, that their independence is uncertain; that they have prematurely put on the toga virilis of Freedom. They have not begun too soon; they have more to do. Our war of independence was shorter; happily we were contending with a government, that could not, like that of Spain, pursue an interminable and hopeless contest, in defiance of the people’s will. Our transition to a mature and well adjusted constitution was more prompt than that of our sister republics; for the foundations had long been settled, the preparation long made. And when we consider that it is our example, which has aroused the spirit of Independence from California to Cape Horn; that the experiment of liberty, if it had failed with us, most surely would not have been attempted by them; that even now our counsels and acts will operate as powerful precedents in this great family of republics, we learn the importance of the post which Providence has assigned us in the world. A wise and harmonious administration of the public affairs, a faithful, liberal, and patriotic exercise of the private duties of the citizen, while they secure our happiness at home, will diffuse a healthful influence through the channels of national communication, and serve the cause of liberty beyond the Equator and the Andes. When we show a united conciliatory, and imposing front to their rising states, we show them, better than sounding eulogies can do, the true aspect of an independent republic. We give them a living example that the fireside policy of a people is like that of the individual man. As the one, commencing in the prudence, order, and industry of the private circle, extends itself to all the duties of social life, of the family, the neighborhood, the country; so the true domestic policy of the republic, beginning in the wise organization of its own institutions, pervades its territories with a vigilant, prudent, temperate administration; and extends the hand of cordial interest to all the friendly nations, especially to those which are of the household of liberty.

It is the way that we are to fulfill our destiny in the world. The greatest engine of moral power, which human nature knows, is an organized, prosperous state. All that man, in his individual capacity, can do – all that he can effect by his fraternities – by his ingenious discoveries and wonders of art – or by his influence over others – is as nothing, compared with the collective, perpetuated influence on human affairs and human happiness of a well constituted, powerful commonwealth. It blesses generations with its sweet influence; even the barren earth seems to pour out its fruits under a system where property is secure, while her fairest gardens are blighted by despotism; men, thinking, reasoning men, abound beneath its benignant sway; nature enters into a beautiful accord, a better, purer asiento with man, and guides an industrious citizen to every rood of her smiling wastes; and we see, at length, that what has been called a state of nature, has been most falsely, calumniously so denominated; that the nature of man is neither that of a savage, a hermit, nor a slave; but that of a member of a well ordered family, that of a good neighbor, a free citizen, a well informed, good man, acting with others like him. This is the lesson which is taught in the charter of our independence; this is the lesson, which our example is to teach the world.

The epic poet of Rome – the faithful subject of an absolute prince – in unfolding the duties and destinies of his countrymen, bids them look down with disdain on the polished and intellectual arts of Greece, and deem their arts to be

To rule the nations with imperial sway;
To spare the tribes that yield; fight down the proud;
And force the mood of peace upon the world.

A nobler counsel breathes from the charter of our independence; a happier province belongs to our free republic. Peace we would extend, but by persuasion and example, the moral force, by which alone it can prevail among the nations. Wars we may encounter, but it is in the sacred character of the injured and the wronged; to raise the trampled rights of humanity from the dust; to rescue the mild form of Liberty, from her abode among the prisons and the scaffolds of the elder world, and to seat her in the chair of state among her adoring children; to give her beauty for ashes; a healthful action for her cruel agony; to put at last a period to her warfare on earth; to tear her star-spangled banner from the perilous ridges of battle, and plant it on the rock of ages. There be it fixed for ever, the power of a free people slumbering in its folds, their peace reposing in its shade!

Note to page 11.
About the time these words were uttered, the great man to whom they refer, breathed his last, ten minutes before one o’clock on the 4th of July, 1826; and toward the close of the afternoon of the same day, the other venerated patriot, alluded to, also expired.

To have been one of those, whose names stand subscribed to the Declaration of Independence, is of itself a rare felicity; to have lived to witness, at the close of the half century from the declaration, the prosperous condition of Independent America, is an eminent favor of Providence, beyond the reach of expectation, and almost beyond the course of Nature. But history can scarce furnish a coincidence so nearly miraculous, as that the individuals, who stood first and second on the Committee of five appointed to prepare the Declaration, who were the two persons exclusively designated by their colleagues for this most honorable trust, and who, after filling as associates, or competitors, the highest offices in the country, had long cultivated an honorable intercourse in retirement, should have passed out of the world together, on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the day, which their Declaration had rendered immortal for themselves, for their country, and for every free people. That these venerated Fathers of their Country retained to the last that possession of reason, which enabled them to feel the signal favor of Providence, that was vouchsafed to them, is a wonderful circumstance at their advanced age, which fills up this picture of human felicity. When Mr. Adams, then near his end, was informed by his attendants that the firing of cannons and ringing of bells denoted the Fourth of July, instead of calling it a “glorious day,” as he was wont to do, he was heard by those around him, for the first time, and almost with his last breath, to call it “a great and a good day!” It is impossible to contemplate a scene like this, and compare it with his letter written from Philadelphia on the 5th of July, 1776, without emotions of a higher cast, than those of astonishment and admiration. “Yesterday,” he then wrote in the spirit of prophecy, “the greatest question was decided which was ever decided among men. A resolution was passed unanimously ‘That these United States are and of right ought to be Free and Independent States.’

“The day has passed. The fourth of July, 1776, will be a memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe, it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the Great Anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to Almighty God. It ought to be solemnized with pomp’s, shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of he continent to the other, from this time forever! You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil, blood, and treasure it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States; yet, through all the gloom, I can see a ray of light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means; and that posterity will triumph, although you and I may rue – which I hope we shall not.”

It is stated, in the accounts of the last days of Mr. Jefferson, that his favorite exclamation, as he drew near his departure was, Nunc dimittis, Domine, “Lord, now let thou thy servant depart in peace.” On the day before his death, being sensibly near his end, on inquiring what day of the month it was, and being answered “The third of July,” he expressed a desire to live till the next day, “that he might breathe the air of the Fiftieth Anniversary!”

There have certainly been times, in the history of our country, when the political opposition between these two venerable men, was deemed a source of great evil, in its immediate influence on the community. In reference to their own characters, to their personal history, and the moral influence of their example, their political contention can now no longer be regretted. Nothing less than so keen a struggle between men, who had been united hearted and hand, in such a cause; and nothing less than a long and honorable friendship subsequently existing between men who had thus contended, would have sufficed to read a salutary lesson of mutual forbearance and respect to the contending political interests of the day, and of mild expostulation to those, who, imitating these illustrious men in nothing but their dissensions, mistakenly think to show respect to their memory, by endeavoring to revive and perpetuate them.