Page images
[blocks in formation]

Some of you admit that no Republican designedly aided or encouraged the Harper's Ferry affair, but still insist that our doctrines and declarations necessarily lead to such results. We do not believe it.

. We know we hold to no doctrine, and make no declarations, which were not held to and made by our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live. You never dealt fairly by us in relation to this affair. When it occurred, some important State elections were near at hand, and you were in evident glee with the belief that, by charging the blame on us, you could get an advantage of us in those elections. The elections came, and your expectations were not quite fulfilled. Every Republican man knew that, as to himself at least, your charge was a slander, and he was not much inclined by it to cast his vote in your favor. Republican doctrines and declarations are accompanied with a continual protest against any interference whatever with your slaves, or with you about your slaves. Surely, this does not encourage them to revolt.

True, we do, in common with our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live, declare our belief that slavery is wrong; but the slaves do not hear us declare this. For anything we say or do the slaves would scarcely know there is a Republican party. I believe they would not, in fact, generally know it but for your misrepresentations of us, in their hearing. In your political contests among yourselves each faction charges the other with sympathy with Black Republicanism, and then, to give point to the charge, defines Black Republicanism to simply be insurrection, blood and thunder among the slaves. .

And how much would it avail you if you could, by the use of John Brown, Helpe's book, and the like, break up the Republican organization. Human action can be modified to some extent, but human nature cannot be changed. There is a judgment and a feeling against slavery in this nation which cast at least a million and a half of votes. You cannot destroy that judgment and that feeling—that sentiment—by breaking up the political organization which rallies around it. You can scarcely scatter and disperse an army which has been formed into order in the face of your heaviest fire ; but if you could, how much would you gain by forcing the sentiment which created it out of the peaceful channel of the ballotbox into some other channel! What would that other channel probably be? Would the number of John Browns be lessened or enlarged by the operation ?

THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS [Never did eloquence reach a more sublime level, and never was more deep and significant thought compressed within a few sentences, than in Lincoln's worldfamous remarks at the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, on November 9, 1863.]

[blocks in formation]

Fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on å great battlefield of that war. We are met to dedicate a portion of it as the final resting-place of those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a large sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work that they have thus far so nobly carried on. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task reniaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion ; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain ; that this nation, under God, shall have a new ,birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS (On the 4th of March, 1865, Abraham Lincoln spoke his last words to the American nation. These words will remain for centuries to come a classic of American oratory, their closing words inscribed upon the hearts of our people as the true motto of the great Western Republic.]

FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN : At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than at the first. Then, a statement somewhat in detail of the course to be pursued seemed very fitting and proper; now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have constantly been called forta concerning every point and place of the great contest which still absorbs attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself. It is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With a high hope for the future, no prediction in that regard is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it. All sought to avoid it. While the Inaugural Address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, the




insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war, seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide the effects by negotiating. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let it perish, and war came. One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but located in the southern part. These slaves contributed a peculiar but powerful interest. All knew the interest would somehow cause

To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected the magnitude or duration which it has already attained; neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph and a result less fundamental and astonishing. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God. Each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any man should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing bread from the sweat of other men's faces : but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayer of both should not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully, for the Almighty has His own purposes. 'Woe unto the world because of offenses, for it must needs be that offense come; but woe unto that man by whom the offense cometh.”

If we shall suppose African slavery one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war, as was due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern that there is any departure from those divine attributes which believers in the living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away ; yet if it be God's will that it continue until the wealth piled by bondsmen by two hundred and fifty years' unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said that the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and orphans ; to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][graphic]


WILLIAM M. EVARTS ADDRESSING THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION, 1877 This was an historic event of the greatest importance. The Assembly included James G. Blaine, James A. Garfield and other distinguished American Orators, many of whose well-known faces are recognizable in this picture. Mr. Evarts was one of the most eminent lawyers and orators of his day.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

These distinguished American Orators won high place in oratory, both in and out of Congress. The
former was known as the “ Plumed Knight" for the popular addresses he made in campaigns for presi-
dency, and the latter as "Czar Reed" for his method of ruling as Speaker of the House.

« PreviousContinue »