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to him, the benefit of any fact or principle of law, then this Court will have to answer for the deep transgression, at the bar at which we shall all meet again. When we appear there, none of us can plead that we were insane and knew not what we did; and by just so much as our ability and knowledge exceed those of this wretch, whom the world regards as a fiend in human shape, will our guilt exceed his, if we be guilty.
PLEA FOR THE UNION
WILLIAM H. SEWARD
R. PRESIDENT, I have designedly dwelt so long on the probable effect of disunion upon the safety of the American people as to leave me little time to consider the other evils which must follow in its train. But, practically, the loss of safety involves every other form of public calamity. When once the guardian angel has taken flight, everything is lost.
Dissolution would not only arrest, but extinguish the greatness of our country. Even if separate confederacies could exist and endure, they could severally preserve no share of the common prestige of the Union. If the constellation is to be broken up, the stars, whether scattered widely
apart or grouped in smaller clusters, will thenceforth shed forth feeble, glimmering and lurid lights. Nor will great achievements be possible for the new confederacies. Dissolution would signalize its triumph by acts of wantonness which would shock and astound the world. It would provincialize Mount Vernon, and give this Capitol over to desolation at the very moment when the dome was rising over our heads that was to be crowned with the statue of liberty. After this there would remain for disunion no act of stu
pendous infamy to be committed. No petty confederacy that shall follow the United States can prolong, or even renew, the majestic drama of national progress. Perhaps it is to be arrested because its sublimity is incapable of continuance. Let it be so, if we have indeed become degenerate. After Washington, and the inflexible Adams, Henry, and the peerless Hamilton, Jefferson, and the majestic Clay, Webster and the acute Calhoun, Jackson, the modest Taylor, and Scott, who rises in greatness under the burden of years, and Franklin, and Fulton, and Whitney, and Morse, have all performed their parts, let the curtain fall.
While listening to these debates, I have sometimes forgotten myself in marking their contrasted effects upon the page who customarily stands on
the dias before me, and the venerable secretary who sits behind him. The youth exhibits intense but pleased emotion in the excitement, while at every irreverent word that is uttered against the Union the eyes of the aged man are suffused with tears. Let him weep no more. Rather rejoice, for yours has been a lot of rare felicity. You have seen and been a part of all the greatness of your country, the towering national greatness of all the world. Weep only you, and weep with all the bitterness of anguish, who are just stepping on the threshold of life; for that greatness perishes prematurely, and exists not for you, nor for me, nor for any that shall come after us.
The public prosperity! how could it survive the storm? Its elements are industry in the culture of every fruit; mining of all the metals; commerce at home and on every sea; material improvement that knows no obstacle and has no end; invention that ranges throughout the domain of nature; increase of knowledge as broad as the human mind can explore; perfection of art as high as human genius can reach; and social refinement working for the renovation of the world. How could our successors prosecute these noble objects in the midst of brutalizing civil conflict? What guarantee will capital invested for such pur
poses have, that will outweigh the premium offered by political and military ambition? What leisure will the citizen find for study or invention or art, under the reign of conscription; nay, what interest in them will society feel when fear and hate shall have taken possession of the national mind? Let the miner in California take heed; for its golden wealth will become the prize of the nation that can command the most iron. Let the borderer take care; for the Indian will again lurk around his dwelling. Let the pioneer come back into our denser settlements; for the railroad, the postroad, and the telegraph advance not one furlong further into the wilderness. With standing armies consuming the substance of our people on the land, and our navy and our postal steamers withdrawn from the ocean, who will protect or respect, or who will even know by name our petty confederacies? The American man-of-war is a noble spectacle. I have seen it enter an ancient port in the Mediterranean. All the world wondered at it and talked of it. Salvos of artillery, from forts and shipping in the harbor, saluted its flag. Princes and princesses and merchants paid it homage, and all people blessed it as a harbinger of hope for their own ultimate freedom. I imagine now the same noble vessel again entering the same haven. The flag of
thirty-three stars and thirteen stripes has been hauled down, and in its place a signal is run up, which flaunts the device of a lone star or a palmetto tree. Men ask, "Who is the stranger that thus steals into our waters?" The answer, contemptuously given, is, "She comes from one of the obscure republics of North America. Let her pass
Samuel Adams, Revolutionary patriot and statesman, was born at Boston, Mass., September 27, 1722, and died there October 3, 1803. He was a member of the famous Adams family of Massachusetts, being second cousin to President John Adams. As an orator he ranks with Patrick Henry, James Otis, and Richard Henry Lee, who participated with him in the oratorical struggle which preceded, attended, and followed the Revolutionary War. Many authentic specimens of his writings are preserved to us, but very few of his speeches. The one delivered on American Independence in 1776 is, however, a complete report, and brings out clearly the characteristics of his style, consisting of earnestness, intellectual, and emotional force, which overcame all physical weakness, and a splendid flow of living words, which never failed to rouse his hearers to the highest pitch of enthusiasm.
ROM the day on which an accommodation takes place between England and America, on any other terms than as independent States, I shall date the ruin of this country. A politic