« PreviousContinue »
By rejecting the posts, we light the savage fires — we bind the victims. This day we undertake to render account to the widows and orphans whom our decision will make, to the wretches that will be roasted at the stake, to our country, and I do not deem it too serious to say, to conscience and to God. We are answerable, and if duty be anything more than a word of imposture, if conscience be not a bugbear, we are preparing to make ourselves as wretched as our country.
“ There is no mistake in this case there can be none. Experience has already been the prophet of events and the cries of future victims have already reached us. The Western inhabitants are not a silent and uncomplaining sacrifice. The voice of humanity issues from the shade of their wilderness. It exclaims that, while one hand is held up to reject this treaty, the other grasps a tomahawk. It summons our imagination to the scenes that will open. It is no great effort of the imagination to conceive that events so near are already begun. I can fancy that I listen to the yells of savage vengeance and the shrieks of torture. Already they seem to sigh in the west wind — already they mingle with every echo from the mountains.” 1
Webster, also, used this method in the closing words of his oration in Reply to Hayne, when he said:
“I have not allowed myself, Sir, to look beyond the Union to see what might lie hidden in the dark recess behind. I have not coolly weighed the chances of preserving liberty, when the bonds that unite us together shall be broken asunder. I have not accustomed myself to hang over the precipice of disunion, to see whether, with my short sight, I can
1 Bryan, World's Famous Orations, VIII, pp. 160–163.
fathom the depth of the abyss below; nor could I regard him as a safe counsellor in the affairs of this government, whose thoughts should be mainly bent on considering, not how the Union should be best preserved, but how tolerable might be the condition of the people when it should be broken up and destroyed. While the Union lasts, we have high, exciting, gratifying prospects spread out before us, - for us and our children. Beyond that, I seek not to penetrate the veil. God grant that, in my day, at least, that curtain may not rise! God grant that on my vision never may be opened what lies behind! When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood! Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the Republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original lustre, not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured; bearing for its motto, no such miserable interrogatory as 'What is all this worth ?' nor those other words of delusion and folly, 'Liberty first, and Union afterwards !' but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart, - Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable ! ” 1
Persuasion through Pride and Shame. — The last two motives to which orators may appeal are the motives of pride
1 Johnston and Woodburn, American Orations, I, pp. 301-302.
and shame. These two motives usually are employed jointly, one being used to supplement the other.
Lewis Cass in his debate with Calhoun during the Mexican War over the subject of the Ten-Regiment Bill appealed to these motives when he said :
“We are also told, as a dissuasive against the prosecution of this war, that we can raise no more men nor money,
and that our exertions must expire from the very lassitude of our patriotism. Our fathers had these difficulties to contend with in the war of the Revolution, magnified, indeed, a thousand-fold by the circumstances and the nature of the contest, and yet they fought on, till they obtained peace for themselves, and freedom for us, and founded upon a rock the rock, I hope, of ages — this magnificent republican
empire. We heard all this, also, in 1812, and yet, in the face of it, we conducted that war to a glorious termination. We heard it all again at the commencement of this very war, and the time has already passed, according to the prediction of a statesman now present of the highest character, supported almost by mathematical calculations, when we were to have neither men nor money, and when our cause was to fail from the failure of all the means necessary to support it. Now, sir, nothing can be worse than to stop without attaining our object. If we cannot raise men and cannot raise money, why, then, we must stop. But, thank God, we have not got to that point yet, nor do I believe we ever shall get to it. Let us not halt in our course now, simply for the fear that we may be compelled to halt there some time or other. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Sufficient for the dishonor of this country will be the time when she will practically exhibit her inability to maintain her rights and her honor. Hinc illae lachrymae! Tears for taxes, but
none for wounded honor! I trust that I shall never live to see the day when the American people will prosecute an unjust war because they do not feel its burden, or abandon a just one because they feel or fear its financial pressure.
Senator Beveridge in his debate with Senator Hoar on the retention of the Philippines appealed to these motives when he said :
“Do you tell me that it will cost us money? When did Americans ever measure duty by financial standards ? Do you tell me of the tremendous toil required to overcome the vast difficulties of our task? What mighty work for the world, for humanity, even for ourselves, has ever been done with ease ? Even our bread must we eat by the sweat of our faces. Why are we charged with power such as no people ever knew, if we are not to use it in a work such as no people ever wrought? Who will dispute the divine meaning of the fable of the talents ?
remind me of the precious blood that must be shed, the lives that must be given, the broken hearts of loved ones for their slain? And this is indeed a heavier price than all combined. And yet as a nation every historic duty we have done, every achievement we have accomplished, has been by the sacrifice of our noblest sons. Every holy memory that glorifies the flag is of those heroes who have died that its onward march might not be stayed. It is the nation's dearest lives yielded for the flag that makes it dear to us; it is the nation's most precious blood poured out for it that makes it precious to us. That flag is woven of heroism, and grief, of the bravery of men, and women's tears, of righteous
1 Denney, Duncan, McKinney, Argumentation and Debate, pp. 233
ness and battle, of sacrifice and anguish, of triumph and of glory. It is these which make our flag a holy thing. Who would tear from that sacred banner the glorious legends of a single battle where it has waved on land or sea? What son of a soldier of the flag whose father fell beneath it on any field would surrender that proud record for the heraldry of a king? In the cause of civilization, in the service of the Republic anywhere on earth, Americans consider wounds the noblest decorations man can win, and count the giving of their lives a glad and precious duty.
Pray God that spirit never fails. Pray God the time may never come when Mammon and the love of ease shall so debase our blood that we will fear to shed it for the flag and its imperial destiny. Pray God the time may never come when American heroism is but a legend like the story of the Cid, American faith in our mission and our might a dream dissolved, and the glory of our mighty race de
To this appeal by Beveridge, Hoar made the following reply, based in the same manner on the motives of pride and shame:
“Mr. President, I know how imperfectly I have stated this argument. I know how feeble is a single voice amid this din and tempest, this delirium of empire. It may be that the battle for this day is lost. But I have an assured faith in the future. I have an assured faith in justice and the love of liberty of the American people. The stars in their courses fight for freedom. The Ruler of the heavens is on that side. If the battle to-day go against it, I appeal to another day, not distant, and sure to come. I appeal from
1 Denney, Duncan, McKinney, Argumentation and Debate, pp. 321–