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not accustomed myself to hang over the precipice of disunion, to see whether, with my short sight, I can fathom the depth of the abyss below; nor could I regard him as a safe counselor 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 shall 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 linger. ing 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 follyliberty first, and union afterwards—but every where, 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 for ever, one and inseparable!
32. POLITICAL CORRUPTION.-McDuffie.
Sir,—We are apt to treat the idea of our own co
corruptibility, as utterly visionary, and to ask, with a grave affectation of dignity-what! do you think a member of congress can be corrupted ? Sir, I speak what I have long and deliberately considered, when I say, that since man was created, there never has been a political body on the face of the earth, that would not be corrupted under the same circumstances. Corruption steals upon us in a thousand insidious forms, when we are least aware of its approaches. Of all the forms in which it can present itself, the bribery of office is the most dangerous, because it assumes the guise of patriotism to accomplish its
had the spear
fatal sorcery. We are often asked, where is the evidence of corruption ? Have you seen it? Sir, do you expect to see it ? You might as well expect to see the embodied forms of pestilence and famine stalking before you, as to see the latent operations of this insidious power.
walk amidst it and breathe its contagion, without being conscious of its presence. All experience teaches us the irresistible power of temptation, when vice assumes the form of virtue. The great enemy of mankind could not have consummated his infernal scheme for the seduction of our first parents, but for the disguise in which he presented himself. Had he appeared as the devil, in his proper
of Ithuriel disclosed the naked de. formity of the fiend of hell, the inhabitants of paradise would have shrunk with horror from his presence.
But he came as the insinuating serpent, and presented a beautiful apple, the most delicious fruit in all the garden. He told his glowing story to the unsuspecting victim of his guile. “It can be no crime to taste of this delightful fruit. It will disclose to you the knowledge of good and evil. It will raise you to an equality with the angels.” Such, sir, was the process; and in this simple but impressive narrative, we have the most beautiful and philosophical illustration of the frailty of man, and the power of temptation, that could possibly be exhibited. Mr. Chairman, I have been forcibly struck with the similarity between our present situation and that of Eve, after it was announced that Satan was on the borders of paradise. We, too, have been warned that the enemy is on our borders. But God forbid that the similitude should be carried any farther. Eve, conscious of her innocence, sought temptation and defied it. The catastrophe is too fatally known to us all. She went, 66 with the blessings of heaven on her head, and its purity in her heart,” guarded by the ministry of angels—she returned, covered with shame, under the heavy denunciation of heaven's everlasting
Sir, it is innocence that temptation conquers. If our first parent, pure as she came from the hand of God, was overcome by the seductive power, let us not imitate her fatal rashness, seeking temptation, when it is in our power to avoid it. Let us not vainly confide in our own infallibility. We are liable to be corrupted. To an ambitious man, an honorable office will appear as beautiful and fascinating as the apple of paradise.
I admit, sir, that ambition is a passion, at once the most powerful and the most useful. Without it, human affairs would become a mere stagnant pool. By moans of his patronage, the president addresses himself in the most irresistible manner, to
this, the noblest and strongest of our passions. All that the imagination can desire-honor, power, wealth, ease, are held out as the temptation. Man was not made to resist such temptations. It is impossible to conceive, Satan himself could not devise, a system which would more infallibly introduce corruption and death into our political Eden. Sir, the angels fell from heaven with less temptation.
33. NATIONAL RECOLLECTIONS THE FOUNDATION OF NATIONAL
How is the spirit of a free people to be formed, and animated, and cheered, but out of the store-house of its historic recollections ! Are we to be eternally ringing the changes upon Marathon and Thermopylæ; and going back to read in obscure texts of Greek and Latin, of the exemplars of patriotic virtue? I thank God that we can find them nearer home, in our own country, on our own soil ;—that strains of the noblest sentiment that ever swelled in the breast of man, are breathing to us out of every page of our country's history, in the native eloquence of our mother tongue ;—that the colonial and provincial councils of America exhibit to us models of the spirits and character which gave Greece and Rome their name and their praise among nations. Here we ought to go for our instruction ;—the lesson is plain, it is clear, it is applicable. When we go to ancient history, we are bewildered with the difference of manners and institutions. We are willing to pay our tribute of applause to the memory of Leonidas, who fell nobly for his country in the face of his foe. But when we trace him to his home, we are confounded at the reflection, that the same Spartan heroism, to which he sacrificed himself at Thermopylæ, would have led him to tear his own child, if it had happened to be a sickly babe,—the very object for which all that is kind and good in man rises up to plead,—from the bosom of its mother, and carry it out to be eaten by the wolves of Taygetus. We feel a glow of admiration at the heroism displayed at Marathon, by the ten thousand champions of invaded Greece; but we cannot forget that the tenth part of the number were slaves, unchained from the work-shops and doorposts of their masters, to go and fight the battles of freedom. I do not mean that these examples are to destroy the interest with which we read the history of ancient times; they possibly increase that interest by the very contrast they exhibit. But
they do warn us, if we need the warning, to seek our great practical lessons of patriotism at home ; out of the exploits and sacrifices of which our own country is the theatre; out of the characters of our own fathers. Them we know,—the high-souled, natural, unaffected, the citizen heroes. We know what happy firesides they left before the cheerless сатр. know with what pacific habits they dared the perils of the field. There is no mystery, no romance, no madness, under the name of chivalry about them. It is all resolute, manly resistance for conscience and liberty's sake, not merely of an overwhelming power, but of all the force of long-rooted habits and native love of order and peace.
Above all, their blood calls to us from the soil which we tread; it beats in our veins; it cries to us not merely in the thrilling words of one of the first victims in this cause,—“My sons, scorn to be slaves!”—but it cries with a still more moving eloquence—“My sons, forget not your
HAPPY CONSEQUENCES OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE.
In a full persuasion of the excellency of our government, let us shun those vices which tend to its subversion, and cultivate those virtues which will render it permanent, and transmit it in full vigor to all succeeding ages. Let not the haggard forms of intemperance and luxury ever lift up their destroying visages in this happy country. Let economy, frugality, moderation, and justice at home and abroad, mark the conduct of all our citizens. Let it be our constant care to diffuse knowledge and goodness through all ranks of society. The people of this country will never be uneasy under its present form of government, provided they have sufficient information to judge of its excellency. No nation under heaven enjoys so much happiness as the Americans. Convince them of this, and will they not shudder at the thought of subverting their political constitution, of suffering it to degenerate into aristocracy or monarchy? Let a sense of our happy situation awaken in us the warmest sensations of gratitude to the Supreme Being. Let us consider him as the author of all our blessings, acknowledging him as our beneficent parent, protector, and friend. The predominant tendency of his providences towards us as a nation, evinces his benevolent designs. Every part of his conduct
speaks in a language plain and intelligible. Let us open our ears, let us attend, let us be wise.
While we celebrate the anniversary of our independence, let us not pass over in silence the defenders of our country. Where are those brave Americans whose lives were cloven down in the tempest of battle? Are they not bending from the bright abodes? A voice from the altar cries,
“these are they who loved their country, these are they who died for liberty.” We now reap the fruit of their agony and toil. Let their memories be eternally embalmed in our bosoms. Let the infants of all posterity prattle their fame, and drop tears of courage for their fate.
The consequences of American independence will soon reach to the extremities of the world. The shining car of freedom will soon roll over the necks of kings, and bear off the oppressed to scenes of liberty and peace. The clamors of war will cease under the whole heaven. The tree of liberty will shoot its top up to the sun. Its boughs will hang over the ends of the whole world, and wearied nations will lie down and rest under its shade.
Here in America stands the asylum for the distressed and persecuted of all nations. The vast temple of freedom rises majestically fair. Founded on a rock, it will remain unshaken by the force of tyrants, undiminished by the flight of time. Long streams of light emanate through its portals, and chase the darkness from distant nations. Its turrets will swell into the heavens, rising above every tempest: and the pillar of divine glory, descending from God, will rest for ever on its summit.
OBLIGATIONS OF MASSACHUSETTS TO STAND BY THE
Mr. President,—The people of the United States, by a vast and countless majority, are attached to the constitution. If they shall be convinced that it is in danger, they will come to its rescue and save it. It cannot be destroyed, even now, if they will undertake its guardianship and protection.
But suppose, sir, there was less hope than there is, would that consideration weaken the force of our obligations ? Are we at a post which we are at liberty to abandon, when it becomes difficult to hold it? May we fly at the approach of dan ger? Does our fidelity to the constitution require no more of us than to enjoy its blessings, to bask in the prosperity which