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the necessity ,*of local legislation. If, in a country on the other side of the water (Ireland), there be some who desire a severance of one part of the empire from another, under a proposition of repeal, there are others who propose a continuance of the existing relation under a federative system: and what is this? No more, and no less, than an approximation to that system under which we live, which for local, municipal purposes shall have a local legislature, and for general purposes a general legislature.
This becomes the more important when we consider that the United States stretch over so many degrees of latitude, — that they embrace such a variety of climate, — that various conditions and relations of society naturally call for different laws and regulations. Let me ask whether the legislature of New York could wisely pass laws for the government of Louisiana, or whether the legislature of Louisiana could wisely pass laws for Pennsylvania or New York? Every body will say, " No." And yet the interests of New York and Pennsylvania and Louisiana, in whatever concerns their relations between themselves and their general relations with all the states of the world, are found to be perfectly well provided for, and adjusted with perfect congruity, by committing these general interests to one common government, the result of popular general elections among them all.
I confess, Gentlemen, that having been, as I have said, in my humble career in public life, employed in that portion of the public service which is connected with the general government, I have contemplated, as the great object of every proceeding, not only the particular benefit of the moment, or the exigency of the occasion, but the preservation of this system; for I do consider it so much the result of circumstances, and that so much of it is due to fortunate concurrence, as well as to the sagacity of the great men acting upon those occasions, — that it is an experiment of such remarkable and renowned success, — that he is a fool or a madman who would wish to try that experiment a second time. I see to-day, and we all see, that the descendants of the Puritans who landed upon the Rock of Plymouth; the followers of Raleigh, who settled Virginia and North Carolina; he who lives where the truncheon of empire, so to speak, was borne by Smith; the inhabitants of Georgia; he who settled under the auspices of France at the mouth of the Mississippi; the Swede on the Delaware, the Quaker of Pennsylvania, — all find, at this day, their common interest, their common protection, their common glory, under the united government, which leaves them all, nevertheless, in the administration of their own municipal and local affairs, to be Frenchmen, or Swedes, or Quakers, or whatever they choose. And when one considers that this system of government, I will not say has produced, because God and nature and circumstances have had an agency in it, —but when it is considered that this system has not prevented, but has rather encouraged, the growth of the people of this country from three millions, on the glorious 4th of July, 1776, to seventeen millions now, who is there that will say, upon this hemisphere, — nay, who is there that will stand up in any hemisphere, who is there in any part of the world, that will say that the great experiment of a united republic has failed in America? And yet I know, Gentlemen, I feel, that this united system is held together by strong tendencies to union, at the same time that it is kept from too much leaning toward consolidation by a strong tendency in the several States to support each its own power and consideration. In the physical world it is said, that
"All nature's difference keeps all nature's peace,"
and there is in the political world this same harmonious difference, this regular play of the positive and negative powers (if I may so say), which, at least for one glorious half-century, has kept us as we have been kept, and made us what we are.
But, Gentlemen, I must not allow myself to pursue this topic. It is a sentiment so commonly repeated by me upon all public occasions, and upon all private occasions, and everywhere, that I forbear to dwell upon it now. It is the union of these States, it is the system of government under which we live, beneath the Constitution of the United States, happily framed, wisely adopted, successfully administered for fifty years,— it is mainly this, I say, that gives us power at home and credit abroad. And, for one, I never stop to consider the power or wealth or greatness of a State. I tell you, Mr. Chairman, I care nothing for your Empire State as such. Delaware and Rhode Island are as high in my regard as New York. In population, in power, in the government over us, you have a greater share. You would have the same share if you were divided into forty States. It is not, therefore, as a State sovereignty, it is only because New York is a vast portion of the whole American people, that I regard this State, as I always shall regard her, as respectable and honorable. But among State sovereignties there is no preference; there is nothing high and nothing low; every State is independent and every State is equal. If we depart from this great principle, then are we no longer one people; but we are thrown back again upon the Confederation, and upon that state of things in which the inequality of the States produced all the evils which befell us in times past, and a thousand ill-adjusted and jarring interests.
Mr. President, I wish, then, without pursuing these thoughts, without especially attempting to produce any fervid impression by dwelling upon them, to take this occasion to answer my friend who has proposed the sentiment, and to respond to it by saying, that whoever would serve his country in this our day, with whatever degree of talent, great or small, it may have pleased the Almighty Power to give him, he cannot serve it, he will not serve it, unless he be able, at least, to extend his political designs, purposes, and objects, till they shall comprehend the whole country of which he is a servant.
Sir, I must say a word in connection with that event which we have assembled to commemorate. It has seemed fit to the dwellers in New York, New-Englanders by birth or descent, to form this society. They have formed it for the relief of the poor and distressed, and for the purpose of commemorating annually the great event of the settlement of the country from which they spring. It would be great presumption in me to go back to the scene of that settlement, or to attempt to exhibit it in any colors, after the exhibition made to-day; yet it is an event that in all time since, and in all time to come, and more in times to come than in times past, must stand out in great and striking characteristics to the admiration of the world. The sun's return to his winter solstice, in 1620, is the epoch from which he dates his first acquaintance with the small people, now one of the happiest, and destined to be one of the greatest, that his rays fall upon; and his annual visitation, from that day to this, to our frozen region, has enabled him to see that progress, progress, was the characteristic of that small people. He has seen them from a handful, that one of his beams coming through a key-hole might illuminate, spread over a hemisphere, which he cannot enlighten under the slightest eclipse. Nor, though this globe should revolve round him for tens of hundreds of thousands of years, will he see such another incipient colonization upon any part of this attendant upon his mighty orb. What else he may see in those other planets which revolve around him we cannot tell, at least until we have tried the fifty-foot telescope which Lord Rosse is preparing for that purpose.
There is not, Gentlemen, and we may as well admit it, in any history of the past, another epoch from which so many great events have taken a turn; events which, while important to us, are equally important to the country from whence we came. The settlement of Plymouth— concurring, I always wish to be understood, with that of Virginia— was the settlement of New England by colonies of Old England. Now, Gentlemen, take these two ideas and run out the thoughts suggested by both. What has been, and what is to be, Old England? What has been, what is, and what may be, in the providence of God, New England, with her neighbors and associates? I would not dwell, Gentlemen, with any particular emphasis upon the sentiment, which I nevertheless entertain, with respect to the great diversity in the races of men. I do not know how far in that respect I might not encroach on those mysteries of Providence which, while I adore, I may not comprehend; but it does seem to me to be very remarkable, that we may go back to the time when New England, or those who founded it, were subtracted from Old England; and both Old England and New England went on, nevertheless, in their mighty career of progress and power.
Let me begin with New England for a moment. What has resulted, embracing, as I say, the nearly contemporaneous settlement of Virginia, — what has resulted from the planting upon this continent of two or three slender colonies from the mother country? Gentlemen, the great epitaph commemorative of the character and the worth, the discoveries and glory, of Columbus, was, that he had given a new world to the crowns of Castile and Aragon. Gentlemen, this is a great mistake. It does not come up at all to the great merits of Columbus. He gave the territory of the southern hemisphere to the crowns
of Castile and Aragon; but as a place for the plantation of colonies, as a place for the habitation of men, as a place to which laws and religion, and manners and science, were to be transferred, as a place in which the creatures of God should multiply and fill the earth, under friendly skies and with religious hearts, he gave it to the whole world, he gave it to universal man! From this seminal principle, and from a handful, a hundred saints, blessed of God and ever honored of men, landed on the shores of Plymouth and elsewhere along the coast, united, as I have said already more than once, in the process of time, with the settlement at Jamestown, has sprung this great people of which we are a portion.
I do not reckon myself among quite the oldest of the land, and yet it so happens that very recently I recurred to an exulting speech or oration of my own, in which I spoke of my country as consisting of nine millions of people. I could hardly persuade myself that within the short time which had elapsed since that epoch our population had doubled; and that at the present moment there does exist most unquestionably as great a probability of its continued progress, in the same ratio, as has ever existed in any previous time. I do not know whose imagination is fertile enough, I do not know whose conjectures, I may almost say, are wild enough to tell what may be the progress of wealth and population in the United States in half a century to come. All we know is, here is a people of from seventeen to twenty millions, intelligent, educated, freeholders, freemen, republicans, possessed of all the means of modern improvement, modern science, arts, literature, with the world before them! There is nothing to check them till they touch the shores of the Pacific, and then, they are so much accustomed to water, that that's a facility, and no obstruction!
So much, Gentlemen, for this branch of the English race; but what has happened, meanwhile, to England herself since the period of the departure of the Puritans from the coast of Lincolnshire, from the English Boston? Gentlemen, in speaking of the progress of English power, of English dominion and authority, from that period to the present, I shall be understood, of course, as neither entering into any defence or any accusation of the policy which has conducted her to her present state. As to the justice of her wars, the necessity of her conquests, the