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140 ROBERT TOOMBS
his debate with the Honorable Senator from Illinois (Mr. Douglas). I have it before me. He says he would vote against the decision of the Supreme Court. Then you do not accept that arbiter. You will not take my construction ; you will not take the Supreme Court as an arbiter; you will not take the practice of the Government; you will not take the treaties under Jefferson and Madison; you will not take the opinion of Madison upon the very question of prohibition in 1820. What, then, will you take? You will take nothing but your own judgment; that is, you will not only judge for yourselves, not only discard the Court, discard our construction, discard the practice of the Government, but you will drive us out simply because you will it. Come and do it! You have sapped the foundations of society; you have destroyed almost all hope of peace. In a compact where there is no common arbiter, where the parties finally decide for themselves, the sword alone at last becomes the arbiter.
You will not regard confederate obligations; you will not regard constitutional obligations; you will not regard your oaths. What, then, am I to do 2 Am I a freeman 2 Is my State a free State, to lie down and submit because political fossils raise the cry of the glorious Union ? Too long already have we listened to this delusive song. We are freemen. We have rights; I have stated them. We have wrongs; I have recounted them. I have demonstrated that the party now coming into power has declared us outlaws, and is determined to exclude four thousand millions of our property from the common Territories; that it has declared us under the ban of the empire, and out of the protection of the laws of the United States everywhere. They have refused to protect us from invasion and insurrection by the Federal power, and the Constitution denies us in the Union the right either to raise fleets or armies for our own defence. All these charges I have proven by the record; and I put them before the civilized world, and demand the judgment of to-day, of to-morrow, of distant ages, and of Heaven itself, upon the justice of these causes. I am content, whatever it be, to peril all in so noble, so holy a cause. We have appealed, time and time again, for these constitutional rights. You have refused them. We appeal again. Restore us these rights as we had them, as your court adjudges them to be, just as all our people have said they are: redress these flagrant wrongs, seen of all men, and it will restore fraternity, and peace, and unity to all of us. Refuse them, and what then 2 We shall then ask you, ‘‘Let us depart in peace.” Refuse that, and you present us war. We accept it; and, inscribing upon our banners the glorious words, “Liberty and equality,” we will trust to the blood of the brave and the God of battles for security and tranquillity.
CHARLES SUMNER (1811–1874)
legitimate climax of the long and virulent slavery contest in the Congress of the United States. On that day Preston S. Brooks, a South Carolina Representative, attacked Charles Sumner, a Massachusetts Senator, in his seat in the Senate chamber, beating him on the head with a heavy cane till he became insensible, and injuring him so seriously that it was years before he fully recovered. It was the appeal to violence; the first blow in the Civil War. It indicated that the conflict was passing the limits of debate and argument, and entering the arena of physical force. Injured as he was, Sumner was not disarmed. On his return to the Senate in 1859, his unrelenting hostility to the “peculiar institution” was again manifested in a speech on “The Barbarism of Slavery,” which produced an immense effect. Sumner's career in the Senate began in 1850, when he was elected to succeed Daniel Webster, then made Secretary of State. He continued there during the remainder of his life, taking an active part in the debates during the war and the reconstruction period that followed. He was chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations from 1861 to 1870, and lived to witness the triumph of the principles for which he so long and strenuously contended. Among his important services was the production of the Freedman's Bureau Bill.
Sumner holds rank with Webster and Everett, as one of the three greatest orators of New England. In oratory he was a notable representative of the academic method. Eloquence with him was not native, but acquired; the result of special study and mental cultivation. Superior to Webster in scholarship, he was not his equal in native powers of oratory, or in the art of moving men's minds. Yet
0 N the 22d of May, 1856, took place an event which formed the
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his influence in the councils of the nation was great, the more so as his honor continued unimpeachable and his moral dignity was elevated far above that of many of his Congressional associates.
THE TRUE GRANDEUR OF NATIONS
[Sumner first won fame as a great orator on the 4th of July, 1835, when he delivered in Boston an oration on “The True Grandeur of Nations,” which was very widely read, attracting much attention not alone in the United States and Canada, but in Europe as well. Its purpose was the promotion of the cause of peace. We select from this fine example of his eloquence its effective deprecation of the worship of military glory and the horrors of war, and its statement of the elements of true national greatness.]
In our age there can be no peace that is not honorable; there can be no war that is not dishonorable. The true honor of a nation is to be found only in deeds of justice, and in the happiness of its people, all of which are inconsistent with war. In the clear eye of Christian judgment vain are its victories; infamous are its spoils. He is the true benefactor and alone worthy of honor who brings comfort where before was wretchedness; who dries the tears of sorrow ; who pours oil into the wounds of the unfortunate; who feeds the hungry and clothes the naked ; who unlooses the fetters of the slave; who does justice; who enlightens the ignorant; who enlivens and exalts, by his virtuous genius, in art, in literature, in science, the hours of life; who, by words or actions, inspires a love for God and for man. This is the Christian hero ; this is the man of honor in a Christian land. He is no benefactor, nor deserving of honor, whatever may be his worldly renown, whose life is passed in acts of force; who renounces the great law of Christian brotherhood; whose vocation is blood ; who triumphs in battle over his fellow-men well may old Sir Thomas Browne exclaim: “The world does not know its greatest men;” for thus far it has chiefly discerned the violent brood of battle, the armed men springing up from the dragon's teeth sown by Hate, and cared little for the truly good men, children of Love, Cromwells guiltless of their country's blood, whose steps on earth have been as noiseless as an angel's wing. . . . . Thus far mankind has worshiped in military glory an idol compared with which the colossal images of ancient Babylon or modern Hindostan are but toys; and we, in this blessed day of light, in this blessed land of freedom, are among the idolaters. The heaven-descending injunction, “Know thyself,” still speaks to an ignorant world from the distantletters of gold at Delphi-know thyself; know that the moral nature is the most noble part of man i transcending far that part which is the seat of passion, *
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strife, and war; nobler than the intellect itself. Suppose war to be decided by force, where is the glory? Suppose it to be decided by chance, where is the glory? No; true greatness consists in imitating, as near as possible for finite man, the perfections of an Infinite Creator; above all, in cultivating those highest perfections, justice and love—justice, which like that of St. Louis, shall not swerve to the right hand or to the left; love, which like that of William Penn, shall regard all mankind of kin. “God is angry,” says Plato, “when anyone censures a man like himself, or praises a man of an opposite character. And the Godlike man is the good man.” And again, in another of those lovely dialogues, vocal with immortal truth, “Nothing resembles God more than that man among us who has arrived at the highest degree of justice.” The true greatness of nations is in those qualities which constitute the greatness of the individual. It is not to be found in extent of territory, nor in vastness of popu1ation; nor in wealth ; not in fortifications, or armies, or navies; not in the phosphorescent glare of fields of battle; not in Golgothas, though covered by monuments that kiss the clouds: for all these are the creatures and representatives of those qualities of our nature which are unlike anything in God’s nature. Nor is the greatness of nations to be found in triumphs of intellect alone; in literature, learning, science or art. The polished Greeks, the world's masters in the delights of language, and in range of thought; and the commanding Romans, overawing the earth with their power; were little more than splendid savages; and the age of Louis XIV., of France, spanning so long a period of ordinary worldly magnificence, thronged by marshals bending under military laurels, enlivened by the unsurpassed comedy of Moliere, dignified by the tragic genius of Corneille, illumined by the splendors of Bossuet, is degraded by immoralities that cannot be mentioned without a blush, by a heartlessness in comparison with which the ice of Nova Zembla is warm, and by a succession of deeds of injustice not to be washed out by the tears of all the recording angels of heaven. ) The true greatness of a nation cannot be in triumphs of the intellect alone. Literature and art may widen the sphere of its influence; they may adorn it; but they are in their nature but accessories. The true grandeur of humanity is in moral elevation, sustained, enlightened, and decorated by the intellect of man. The truest tokens of this grandeur in a state are the diffusion of the greatest happiness among the greatest number, and that passionless, Godlike justice, which controls the relations of the state to other states, and to all the people who are committed to its charge. . . . . . .
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As we cast our eyes over the history of nations, we discern with horror the succession of murderous slaughters by which their progress has been marked. As the hunter traces the wild beast, when pursued to his lair, by the drops of blood on the earth ; so we follow man, faint, weary, staggering with wounds, through the black forest of the past, which he has reddened with his gore. Ohl let it not be in the future ages as in those which we now contemplate. Let the grandeur of man be discerned in the blessings which he has secured; in the good he has accomplished; in the triumphs of benevolence and justice; in the establishment of perpetual peace. ~3s the ocean washes every shore, and clasps with all-embracing arms severy land, while it bears upon its heaving bosom the products of various climes; so peace surrounds, protects, and upholds all other blessings. Without it, commerce is vain, the ardor of industry is restrained, happiness is blasted, virtue sickens and dies, -- " And peace has its own peculiar victories, in comparison with which Marathon and Bannockburn and Bunker Hill, fields held sacred in the history of human freedom, shall lose their lustre. Our own Washinton rises to a truly heavenly stature, not when we follow him over the ice of the Delaware to the capture of Trenton; not when we behold him victorious over Cornwallis at Yorktown, but when we regard him, in noble deference to justice, refusing the kingly crown which a faithless soldiery proffered, and at a later day upholding the peaceful neutrality of the country, while he received unmoved the clamor of the people wickedly crying for war. What glory of battle in England's annals will not fade by the side of that great act of justice, by which her legislature, at a cost of one hundred million dollars, gave freedom to eight hundred thousand slaves | And when the day shall come (may these eyes be gladdened by its beams 1) that shall witness an act of greater justice still, the peaceful emancipation of three millions of our fellow-men, “guilty of a skin not colored as our own,” now held in gloomy bondage, under the Constitution of our country, then shall there be a victory, in comparison with which that of Bunker Hill shall be as a farthing candle held up to the sun. That victory shall need no monument of stone. It shall be written on the grateful hearts of uncounted multitudes, that shall proclaim it to the latest generation. It shall be one of the links in the golden chain by which
humanity shall connect itself with the throne of God. s As the cedars of Lebanon are higher than the grass of the valley; as the heavens are higher than the earth; as man is higher than the beasts of the field; as the angels are higher than man; as he that ruleth his spirit is higher than he that taketh a city; so are the virtues and victories
of peace higher than the virtues and victories of war. -->