Page images
PDF
EPUB

his. But before the war he demanded peaceful disunion— yet it was the Union in arms that saved Liberty. During the war he would have superseded Lincoln—but it was Lincoln who freed the slaves. He pleaded for Ireland, tortured by centuries of misrule, and while every generous heart followed with sympathy the pathos and the power of his appeal, the just mind recoiled from the sharp arraignment of the truest friends in England that Ireland ever had. I know it all; but I know also, and history will remember, that the slave Union which he denounced is dissolved; that it was the heart and conscience of the nation, exalted by his moral appeal of agitation, as well as by the enthusiasm of patriotic war, which held up the hands of Lincoln, and upon which Lincoln leaned in emancipating the slaves, and that only by indignant and aggressive appeals like his has the heart of England ever opened to Irish wrong. No man, I say, can take a pre-eminent and effective part in contentions that shake nations, or in the discussion of great national policies, of foreign relations, of domestic economy and finance, without keen reproach and fierce misconception. “But death,” says Bacon, “bringeth good fame.” Then, if moral integrity remain unsoiled, the purpose pure, blameless the life, and patriotism as shining as the sun, conflicting views and differing counsels disappear, and, firmly fixed upon character and actual achievement, good fame rests secure. Eighty years ago, in this city, how unsparing was the denunciation of John Adams for betraying and ruining his party, for his dogmatism, his vanity and ambition, for his exasperating impracticability— he, the Colossus of the Revolution | And Thomas Jefferson? I may truly say what the historian says of the Saracen mothers and Richard Coeur de Lion, that the mothers of Boston hushed their children with fear of the political devil incarnate of Virginia. But, when the drapery of mourning shrouded the columns and overhung the arches of Faneuil Hall, Daniel Webster did not remember that sometimes John Adams was imprudent and Thomas Jeffer. son sometimes unwise. He remembered only that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were two of the greatest American patriots—and their fellow citizens of every party bowed their heads and said, Amen. I am not here to declare that the judgment of Wendell Phillips was always sound, nor his estimate of men always just, nor his policy always approved by the event. He would have scorned such praise. I am not here to eulogize the mortal, but the immortal. He, too, was a great American patriot; and no American life—no, not one—offers to future generations of his countrymen a more priceless example of inflexible fidelity to conscience and to public duty; and no American more truly than he purged the national name of its shame, and made the American flag the flag of hope for mankind.

Among her noblest children his native city will cherish him, and gratefully recall the unbending Puritan soul that dwelt in a form so gracious and urbane. The plain house in which he lived—severely plain, because the welfare of the suffering and the slave were preferred to books and pictures and every fair device of art; the house to which the North Star led the trembling fugitive, and which the unfortunate and the friendless knew; the radiant figure passing swiftly through these streets, plain as the house from which it came, regal with a royalty beyond that of kings; the ceaseless charity untold; the strong sustaining heart of private friendship; the sacred domestic affections that must not here be named; the eloquence which, like the song of Orpheus, will fade from living memory into a doubtful tale; that great scene of his youth in Faneuil Hall; the surrender of ambition; the mighty agitation and the mighty triumph with which his name is forever blended; the consecration of a life hidden with God in sympathy with man— these, all these, will live among your immortal traditions, heroic even in your heroic story. But not yours alonel As years go by, and only the large outlines of lofty American characters and careers remain, the wide Republic will confess the benediction of a life like this, and gladly own that if with perfect faith and hope assured America would still stand and “bid the distant generations hail,” the inspiration of her national life must be the sublime moral courage, the all-embracing humanity, the spotless integrity, the absolutely unselfish devotion of great powers to great public ends, which were the glory of Wendell Phillips.

SHERMAN

John SBIERMAN was born at Lancaster, Ohio, May 10, 1823. He was not

sent to college, but received a fairly good academic education. He studied law and was admitted to the bar at the age of twenty-one. He joined the Whig party, and was a delegate to the National Whig Conventions in 1848 and 1852. He took part in the organization of the Republican party, and in 1855 presided over the first Republican Convention held in his native State. He was a representative in Congress from March 4, 1855, to March, 1861, and was the Republican candidate for Speaker in 1859–60. He was sent to the Federal Senate in 1861 to succeed Salmon P. Chase, and was re-elected in 1866 and 1872. He was Secretary of the Treasury under President Hayes from 1877 to 1881. On March 4, of the year last named, he again took a seat in the Senate and was re-elected in 1886 and 1892. He was a prominent candidate for the Presidency in several Republican National Conventions On March 4, 1897, he became Secretary of State in the McKinley administration, but did not long retain the office. He died in 1900.

ON SILVER COINAGE AND TREASURY NOTES

UNITED STATES SENATE, JUNE 5, 1890

APPROACH the discussion of this bill and the kindred bills and amendments pending in the two Houses with unaffected diffidence. No problem is submitted to us of equal importance and difficulty. Our action will affect the value of all the property of the people of the United States, and the wages of labor of every kind, and our trade and commerce with all the world. In the consideration of such a question we should not be controlled by previous opinions or bound by local interests, but with the lights

of experience and full knowledge of all the complicated facts involved, give to the subject the best judgment which imperfect human nature allows. With the wide diversity of opinion that prevails, each of us must make concessions in order to secure such a measure as will accomplish the objects sought for without impairing the public credit or the general interests of our people. This is no time for visionary theories of political economy. We must deal with facts as we find them and not as we wish them. We must aim at results based upon practical experience, for what has been probably will be. The best prophet of the future is the past. To know what measures ought to be adopted we should have a clear conception of what we wish to accomplish. I believe a majority of the Senate desire, first, to provide an increase of money to meet the increasing wants of our rapidly growing country and population, and to supply the reduction in our circulation caused by the retiring of national banknotes; second, to increase the market value of silver not only in the United States but in the world, in the belief that this is essential to the success of any measure proposed, and in the hope that our efforts will advance silver to its legal ratio with gold, and induce the great commercial nations to join with us in maintaining the legal parity of the two metals, or in agreeing with us in a new ratio of their relative value; and third, to secure a genuine bimetallic standard, one that will not demonetize gold or cause it to be hoarded or exported, but that will establish both gold and silver as standards of value not only in the United States, but among all the civilized nations of the world. Believing that these are the chief objects aimed at by us all, and that we differ only as to the best means to obtain

« PreviousContinue »