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my breast; that I cherish it day and night; that I live on its healthful, saving influences, and that I trust never, never, never to cease to heed it till I go to the grave of my fathers, is as true [turning to Mr. Spencer] as that you sit here. I do not suppose I am born to any considerable destiny, but my destiny, whatever it may be, attaches me to the Constitution of the country. I desire not to outlive it. I desire to render it some service. And, on the modest stone that shall mark my grave, whether within my native New Hampshire or my adopted Massachusetts, I wish no other epitaph than this: While he lived, he did what he could to support the Constitution of his country. I confess to you that as to mere /questions of politics, of expediency, I have taken my share in them, as they have gone along, in the course of my public life, which is now fast running through. But I have felt no anxiety, no excitement; nothing has made me lie awake at night, when it is said honest men sleep, except what has concerned the preservation of the Union.
The Constitution of the United States'! What is there on the whole earth; what is there that so fills the imaginations of men under heaven; what is there that the civilized, liberalized,' liberty-loving people of the world can look at, and do look at, so much as that great and glorious instrument held up to their contemplation, blazing over this western hemisphere, and darting its rays throughout the world, the Constitution of the United States of America! In Massachusetts, in New York, in Washington, its ample folds are athwart the whole heavens. Are they not seen in all America, on all the continent of Europe, gazed at and honored in Kussia, in Turkey, in the Indian seas, in all the countries of the Oriental world? What is it that makes you and me here, to-day, so proud as we are of the name of America? What is it? It is almost a miracle; the achievement of half a century, by wise men under propitious circumstances, acting from patriotic motives; a miracle achieved on earth and in view of all nations; the establishment of a government, taking hold on a great continent; covering ample space for fifty other governments; having twenty-five milli ns of people, intelligent, prosperous, brave, able to defend themselves against united mankind, and to bid defiance to the whole of them; a noble monument of republican honor and power, and of republican success, that throws a shade, and sometimes a deep and black shade, over
Vol. u. 50
the monarchies, and aristocracies, and despotisms of Europe. Who is there, who is there from the poles to the Mediterranean, despot, aristocrat, autocrat, who is there that now dares to speak reproachfully or in tones of derogation of the government of the United States of America? There is not one. And if we may judge, my friends, of the success of our system of government from the regard it attracts from all nations, we may natter ourselves that in our primitive republicanism, in our representative system, in our departure from the whole feudal code and all the prerogatives of aristocratic and autocratic power, from all the show and pageantry of courts, we shall hold ourselves up like the face of the sun, not marred by inscription, but bright in glory, and glittering in the sight of all men. And so we will stand, so shine; and when the time comes when I shall be gathered to my fathers, and you to yours, that eternal, unfading sun of American liberty and republicanism, as steady in its course as ^he sun in the heavens, shall still pour forth its beams for the enlightenment of mankind.
Gentlemen, I again thank you for the manner in which you have been pleased to receive the complimentary sentiment proposed by my friend. I thank you, thank him. Gentlemen, I am happy to be here, in this ancient city. Of course, I like to see my Yankee brethren here, and a great many of them, of the ancient stock. But I have no objection to see the recent importations, so to describe them, come from where they may; because I am of opinion, and have expressed it again and again, that we have got to that stage in our affairs, that the world has reached that point in the system of change and innovation, that we have nothing to do but say to the inhabitants of the ancient world,—the Irish, the Welch,the German, — Gentlemen, come! and the fact is, "the cry is still, They come!" There are people enough imported into New York, twice a year, to make a city as large as old Salem or Naumkeag in Massachusetts. Every ship brings them to our shores, and off they start for Wisconsin. Well, they come, and whether they come from Dublin, Cork, or Kerry they are very happy to stay wher they are. If they come from the North of Ireland, if they have a little of the canny Scot in them, they still find themselves at home. Every steamboat brings them, and every packet; and when you think they are all here, " the cry is still, They come!" Well, we must
meet this as well as we can. Very many of them are excellent persons, and become excellent citizens of the United States. I am a New England man. I am of the Anglo-Saxon race; but it is my good fortune to be connected in life with a lady who has a portion of the old Knickerbocker blood. I am happy to know that among this company there are many persons of Dutch descent. I honor them all, and I accord to them credit for honesty, for sobriety of character, and for the great aid they have lent to the growth and prosperity of this and neighboring States.
Gentlemen, numerous and various as are the elements of our national life, they are harmonized into one great whole, — 1 IllConstitution and the Union. With my dying breath, if I have my senses, my last prayer shall be, Heaven save my country and the Constitution! I hear the cry of disunion, secession. The secession of individual States, to my mind, is the most absurd of all ideas. I should like to know how South Carolina is to get out of this Union. Where is she to go? The commercial people of Charleston say, with truth and propriety, if South Carolina secedes from the Union, we secede from South Carolina. The thing is absurd. A separate secession is an absurdity. It could not take place. It must lead to war. I do, indeed, admit the possibility that a great mass of the Southern States, if they should come so far north as to include Virginia, might make a Southern confederation. But it would put Virginia up to all she knows to accomplish it. More than half of Virginia lies on the west slope of the Alleghanies, and is connected with the valley of the Mississippi, its people and interests, more than with those who live on tide-water. Do they think that the great western slope of the Alleghanies is to be included in a secession movement? Nevertheless, it is a most serious consideration. All know what would be the result of any dismemberment of this Union, large or small. The philosophic poet tells us, that in the frame of things, above us, beneath us, and around us, there are connections, mutual dependences and relations, which link them together in one great chain of existences, beginning from the throne on high, and running down to the lowest or der of beings. There seems to be some analogy between this great system of the universe and our association here as separate States; independent, yet connected; revolving in separate
spheres, and yet mutually bound one with another. What the poet says of the great chain that holds all together in the moral, intellectual, and physical world, is applicable to the bond which unites the States: —
"Whatever link you strike, Tenth, or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike."
Now, Gentlemen, it is not for me to do much more, nor attempt much more, on this theatre of action. I look on to see what others shall do, and especially to see what the rising generation shall do. I look on to see what the young men of the country are determined to do. I see them intelligent, regardless of personal objects, holding on upon what their ancestors gave them, holding on with their whole strength to the institutions of the country. I know that, when I shall slumber in the dust, the institutions of the country will be free and safe; I know that the young men of the country can preserve the country. In the language of the old Greek orator, "The young are the springtime of the people." I wish to leave my exhortation to the young men all over the country; to say to them, On you, young men of the republic, the hopes, the independence, the Union, the honor of the country, entirely depend. May God bless you! In taking leave of you, whilst I shall never forget the pleasure this occasion has given me, I give you, as a sentiment: —
"The young men of Albany, the young men of this generation and of the succeeding generations: may they live for ever, but may the Constitution and the Union outlive them all."