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     THIS uncounted multitude before me, and around me,
proves the feeling which the occasion has excited. These
thousands of human faces, glowing with sympathy and
joy, and, from the impulses of a common gratitude, turned
reverently to heaven, in this spacious temple of the firma-
ment, proclaim that the day, the place, and the purpose
of our assembling have made a deep impression on our

     If, indeed, there be anything in local association fit to
affect the mind of man, we need not strive to repress the
emotions which agitate us here. We are among the sep-
ulchres of our fathers. We are on ground, distinguished
by their valor, their constancy, and the shedding of their
blood. We are here, not to fix an uncertain date in our
annals, nor to draw into notice an obscure and unknown
spot. If our humble purpose had never been conceived,
if we ourselves had never been born, the 17th of June,
1775, would have been a day on which all subsequent his-
tory would have poured its light, and the eminence where
we stand, a point of attraction to the eyes of successive
generations. But we are Americans. We live in what
may be called the early age of this great continent; and
we know that our posterity, through all time, are here to
suffer and enjoy the allotments of humanity. We see
before us a probable train of great events; we know that
our own fortunes have been happily cast; and it is nat-
ural, therefore, that we should be moved by the contempla-
tion of occurrences which have guided our destiny before
many of us were born, and settled the condition in which
we should pass that portion of our existence which God
allows to men on earth.

     We do not read even of the discovery of this continent,
without feeling something of a personal interest in the
event; without being reminded how much it has affected
our own fortunes, and our own existence. It is more
impossible for us, therefore, than for others, to contem-
plate with unaffected minds that interesting, I may say that
most touching and pathetic scene, when the great
Discoverer of America stood on the deck of his shattered
bark, the shades of night falling on the sea, yet no man
sleeping; tossed on the billows of an unknown ocean, yet
the stronger billows of alternate hope and despair tossing
his own troubled thoughts; extending forward his har-
assed frame, straining westward his anxious and eager
eyes, till Heaven at last granted him a moment of rapture
and ecstasy, in blessing his vision with the sight of the
unknown world.

     Nearer to our times, more closely connected with our
fates, and therefore still more interesting to our feelings
and affections, is the settlement of our own country by
colonists from England. We cherish every memorial of
these worthy ancestors; we celebrate their patience and
fortitude; we admire their daring enterprise; we teach
our children to venerate their piety, and we are justly
proud of being descended from men who have set the
world an example of founding civil institutions on the
great and united principles of human freedom and human
knowledge To us, their children, the story of their
labors and sufferings can never be without its interest.
We shall not stand unmoved on the shore of Plymouth,
while the sea continues to wash it; nor will our brethren
in another early and ancient colony, forget the place of
its first establishment, till their river shall cease to flow
by it. No vigor of youth, no maturity of manhood, will
lead the nation to forget the spots where its infancy was
cradled and defended.

     But the great event, in the history of the continent,
which we are now met here to commemorate; that prodigy
of modern times, at once the wonder and the blessing of
the world, is the American Revolution. In a day of ex-
traordinary prosperity and happiness, of high national
honor, distinction, and power, we are brought together, in
this place, by our love of country, by our admiration of
exalted character, by our gratitude for signal services and
patriotic devotion.

     The society, whose organ I am, was formed for the pur-
pose of rearing some honorable and durable monument to
the memory of the early friends of American Independ-
ence. They have thought, that for this object no time
could be more propitious than the present prosperous and
peaceful period; that no place could claim preference over
this memorable spot; and that no day could be more
auspicious to the undertaking than the anniversary of the
battle which was here fought. The foundation of that
monument we have now laid. With solemnities suited to
the occasion, with prayers to Almighty God for his bless-
ing, and in the midst of this cloud of witnesses, we have
begun the work. We trust it will be prosecuted; and
that springing from a broad foundation, rising high in
massive solidity and unadorned grandeur, it may remain,
as long as Heaven permits the works of man to last, a fit
emblem, both of the events in memory of which it is
raised, and of the gratitude of those who have reared it.

     We know, indeed, that the record of illustrious actions
is most safely deposited in the universal remembrance of
mankind. We know, that if we could cause this structure
to ascend, not only till it reached the skies, but till it
pierced them, its broad surfaces could still contain but
part of that, which, in an age of knowledge, hath already
been spread over the earth, and which history charges
itself with making known to all future times. We know,
that no inscription on entablatures less broad than the
earth itself, can carry information of the events we com-
memorate, where it has not already gone; and that no
structure, which shall not outlive the duration of letters
and knowledge among men, can prolong the memorial.
But our object is, by this edifice to show our own deep
sense of the value and importance of the achievements of
our ancestors; and, by presenting this work of gratitude
to the eye, to keep alive similar sentiments, and to foster
a constant regard for the principles of the Revolution.
Human beings are composed not of reason only, but of
imagination also, and sentiment; and that, is neither
wasted nor misapplied which is appropriated to the pur-
pose of giving right direction to sentiments, and opening
proper springs of feeling in the heart. Let it not be sup-
posed that our object is to perpetuate national hostility,
or even to cherish a mere military spirit. It is higher,
purer, nobler. We consecrate our work to the spirit of
national independence, and we wish that the light of peace
may rest upon it forever. We rear a memorial of our
conviction of that unmeasured benefit which has been
conferred on our own land, and of the happy influences
which have been produced, by the same events, on the
general interests of mankind. We come, as Americans,
to mark a spot which must forever be dear to us and our
posterity. We wish, that whosoever, in all coming time,
shall turn his eye hither, may behold that the place is
not undistinguished, where the first great battle of the
Revolution was fought. We wish, that this structure may
proclaim the magnitude and importance of that event, to
every class and every age. We wish, that infancy may
learn the purpose of its erection from maternal lips, and
that weary and withered age may behold it, and be solaced
by the recollections which it suggests. We wish, that
labor may look up here, and be proud, in the midst of its
toil. We wish, that, in those days of disaster, which, as
they come on all nations, must be expected to come on us
also, desponding patriotism may turn its eyes hitherward,
and be assured that the foundations of our national power
still stand strong. We wish, that this column, rising
towards heaven among the pointed spires of so many
temples dedicated to God, may contribute also to produce,
in all minds, a pious feeling of dependence and gratitude.
We wish, finally, that the last object on the sight of him
who leaves his native shore, and the first to gladden his
who revisits it, may be something which shall remind him
of the liberty and the glory of his country. Let it rise,
till it meet the sun in his coining; let the earliest light of
the morning gild it, and parting day linger and play on
its summit.

     We live in a most extraordinary age. Events so vari-
ous and so important, that they might crowd and distin-
guish centuries, are, in our times, compressed within the
compass of a single life. When has it happened that
history has had so much to record, in the same term of
years, as since the 17th of June, 1775? Our own Revo-
lution, which, under other circumstances, might itself
have been expected to occasion a war of half a century,
has been achieved; twenty-four sovereign and independent
states erected; and a general government established over
them, so safe, so wise, so free, so practical, that we might
well wonder its establishment should have been accom-
plished so soon, were it not far the greater wonder that it
should have been established at all. Two or three mil-
lions of people have been augmented to twelve; and the
great forests of the West prostrated beneath the arm of
successful industry; and the dwellers on the banks of the
Ohio and the Mississippi, become the fellow citizens and
neighbors of those who cultivate the hills of New England.
We have a commerce, that leaves no sea unexplored; navies,
which take no law from superior force; revenues, adequate
to all the exigencies of government, almost without tax-
ation; and peace with all nations, founded on equal rights
and mutual respect.

     Europe, within the same period, has been agitated by a
mighty revolution, which, while it has been felt in the
individual condition and happiness of almost every man,
has shaken to the centre her political fabric, and dashed
against one another thrones, which had stood tranquil for
ages. On this, our continent, our own example has been
followed; and colonies have sprung up to be nations. Un-
accustomed sounds of liberty and free government have
reached us from beyond the track of the sun; and at this
moment the dominion of European power, in this conti-
nent, from the place where we stand to the south pole, is
annihilated forever.

     In the mean time, both in Europe and America, such
has been the general progress of knowledge; such the
improvements in legislation, in commerce, in the arts, in
letters, and above all in liberal ideas, and the general
spirit of the age, that the whole world seems changed.

     Yet, notwithstanding that this is but a faint abstract of
the things which have happened since the day of the bat-
tle of Bunker Hill, we are but fifty years removed from
it; and we now stand here, to enjoy all the blessings of our
own condition, and to look abroad on the brightened
prospects of the world, while we hold still among us some
of those who were active agents in the scenes of 1775, and
who are now here, from every quarter of New England,
to visit, once more, and under circumstances so affecting,
I had almost said so overwhelming, this renowned theatre
of their courage and patriotism.

     VENERABLE MEN! you have come down to us from a
former generation. Heaven has bounteously lengthened
out your lives, that you might behold this joyous day.
You are now where you stood, fifty years ago, this very
hour, with your brothers, and your neighbors, shoulder to
shoulder, in the strife for your country. Behold, how
altered! The same heavens are indeed over your heads;
the same ocean rolls at your feet; but all else, how
changed! You hear now no roar of hostile cannon, you
see no mixed volumes of smoke and flame rising from
burning Charlestown. The ground strewed with the dead
and the dying; the impetuous charge; the steady and
successful repulse; the loud call to repeated assault; the
summoning of all that is manly to repeated resistance; a
thousand bosoms freely and fearlessly bared in an instant
to whatever of terror there may be in war and death; —
all these you have witnessed, but you witness them no
more. All is peace. The heights of yonder metropolis,
its towers and roofs, which you then saw filled with wives
and children and countrymen in distress and terror, and
looking with unutterable emotions for the issue of the
combat, have presented you to-day with the sight of its
whole happy population, come out to welcome and greet
you with an universal jubilee. Yonder proud ships, by a
felicity of position appropriately lying at the foot of this
mount, and seeming fondly to cling around it, are not
means of annoyance to you, but your country’s own means
of distinction and defence. All is peace; and God has
granted you this sight of your country’s happiness, ere
you slumber in the grave forever. He has allowed you to
behold and to partake the reward of your patriotic toils;
and he has allowed us, your sons and countrymen, to meet
you here, and in the name of the present generation, in
the name of your country, in the name of liberty, to thank

     But, alas! you are not all here! Time and the sword
have thinned your ranks. Prescott, Putnam, Stark, Brooks,
Read, Pomeroy, Bridge! our eyes seek for you in vain
amidst this broken band. You are gathered to your
fathers, and live only to your country in her grateful
remembrance, and your own bright example. But let us
not too much grieve, that you have met the common fate
of men. You lived, at least, long enough to know that
your work had been nobly and successfully accomplished.
You lived to see your country’s independence established,
and to sheathe your swords from war. On the light of
Liberty you saw arise the light of Peace, like

                                    'another morn,
                    Risen on the mid-morn;'

and the sky, on which you closed your eyes, was cloudless.

     But — ah! — Him! the first great Martyr in this great
cause! Him! the premature victim of his own self‑
devoting heart! Him! the head of our civil councils,
and the destined leader of our military bands; whom
nothing brought hither, but the unquenchable fire of his
own spirit; Him! cut off by Providence, in the hour of
overwhelming anxiety and thick gloom; falling, ere he
saw the star of his country rise; pouring out his gener-
ous blood, like water, before he knew whether it would
fertilize a land of freedom or of bondage! how shall I
struggle with the emotions that stifle the utterance of
thy name! — Our poor work may perish; but thine shall
endure! This monument may moulder away; the solid
ground it rests upon may sink down to a level with the
sea; but thy memory shall not fail! Wheresoever among
men a heart shall be found, that beats to the transports of
patriotism and liberty, its aspirations shall be to claim
kindred with thy spirit!

     But the scene amidst which we stand does not permit
us to confine our thoughts or our sympathies to those
fearless spirits, who hazarded or lost their lives on this
consecrated spot. We have the happiness to rejoice here
in the presence of a most worthy representation of the
survivors of the whole Revolutionary Army.

     VETERANS! you are the remnant of many a well fought
field. You bring with you marks of honor from Trenton and
Monmouth, from Yorktown, Camden, Bennington,
and Saratoga. VETERANS OF HALF A CENTURY! when in
your youthful days, you put everything at hazard in your
country’s cause, good as that cause was, and sanguine as
youth is, still your fondest hopes did not stretch onward
to an hour like this! At a period to which you could not
reasonably have expected to arrive; at a moment of
national prosperity, such as you could never have fore-
seen, you are now met, here, to enjoy the fellowship of
old soldiers, and to receive the overflowings of an univer-
sal gratitude.

     But your agitated countenances and your heaving breasts
inform me that even this is not an unmixed joy. I per-
ceive that a tumult of contending feelings rushes upon
you. The images of the dead, as well as the persons of
the living, throng to your embraces. The scene over-
whelms you, and I turn from it. May the Father of all
mercies smile upon your declining years, and bless them!
And when you shall here have exchanged your embraces;
when you shall once more have pressed the hands which
have been so often extended to give succor in adversity,
or grasped in the exultation of victory; then look abroad
into this lovely land, which your young valor defended,
and mark the happiness with which it is filled; yea, look
abroad into the whole earth, and see what a name you
have contributed to give to your country, and what a
praise you have added to freedom, and then rejoice in the
sympathy and gratitude which beam upon your last days
from the improved condition of mankind.

     The occasion does not require of me any particular
account of the battle of the 17th of June, nor any detailed
narrative of the events which immediately preceded it.
These are familiarly known to all. In the progress of the
great and interesting controversy, Massachusetts and the
town of Boston had become early and marked objects of
the displeasure of the British Parliament. This had been
manifested in the Act for altering the Government of the
Province, and in that for shutting up the port of Boston.
Nothing sheds more honor on our early history, and noth-
ing better shows how little the feelings and sentiments of
the colonies were known or regarded in England, than the
impression which these measures everywhere produced in
America. It had been anticipated, that while the other
colonies would be terrified by the severity of the punish-
ment inflicted on Massachusetts, the other seaports would
be governed by a mere spirit of gain; and that, as Boston
was now cut off from all commerce, the unexpected advan-
tage, which this blow on her was calculated to confer on
other towns, would be greedily enjoyed. How miserably
such reasoners deceived themselves! How little they
knew of the depth, and the strength, and the intenseness
of that feeling of resistance to illegal acts of power,
which possessed the whole American people! Every-
where the unworthy boon was rejected with scorn. The
fortunate occasion was seized, everywhere, to show to the
whole world that the colonies were swayed by no local
interest, no partial interest, no selfish interest. The
temptation to profit by the punishment of Boston was
strongest to our neighbors of Salem. Yet Salem was pre-
cisely the place where this miserable proffer was spurned,
in a tone of the most lofty self-respect, and the most
indignant patriotism. ‘We are deeply affected,’ said its
inhabitants, ‘with the sense of our public calamities; but
the miseries that are now rapidly hastening on our breth-
ren in the capital of the Province, greatly excite our com-
miseration. By shutting up the port of Boston, some
imagine that the course of trade might be turned hither
and to our benefit; but we must be dead to every idea of
justice, lost to all feelings of humanity, could we indulge
a thought to seize on wealth, and raise our fortunes on
the ruin of our suffering neighbors.’ These noble senti-
ments were not confined to our immediate vicinity. In
that day of general affection and brotherhood, the blow
given to Boston smote on every patriotic .heart, from one
end of the country to the other. Virginia and the Caro-
linas, as well as Connecticut and New Hampshire, felt and
proclaimed the cause to be their own. The Continental
Congress, then holding its first session in Philadelphia,
expressed its sympathy for the suffering inhabitants of
Boston, and addresses were received from all quarters,
assuring them that the cause was a common one, and
should be met by common efforts and common sacrifices.
The Congress of Massachusetts responded to these assur-
ances; and in an address to the Congress at Philadelphia,
bearing the official signature, perhaps among the last, of
the immortal Warren, notwithstanding the severity of its
suffering and the magnitude of the dangers which threat-
ened it, it was declared, that this colony ‘is ready, at all
times, to spend and to be spent in the cause of America.’

     But the hour drew nigh, which was to put professions
to the proof, and to determine whether the authors of
these mutual pledges were ready to seal them in blood.
The tidings of Lexington and Concord had no sooner
spread, than it was universally felt, that the time was at
last come for action. A spirit pervaded all ranks, not
transient, not boisterous, but deep, solemn, determined,

                                   ‘totamque infusa per artus
     Mens agitat molem, et magno se corpore miscet.’

     War, on their own soil and at their own doors, was, in-
deed, a strange work to the yeomanry of New England;
but their consciences were convinced of its necessity,
their country called them to it, and they did not withhold
themselves from the perilous trial. The ordinary occupa-
tions of life were abandoned; the plough was stayed in the
unfinished furrow; wives gave up their husbands, and
mothers gave up their sons, to the battles of a civil war.
Death might come, in honor, on the field; it might come,
in disgrace, on the scaffold. For either and for both they
were prepared. The sentiment of Quincy was full in
their hearts. ‘Blandishments,’ said that distinguished
son of genius and patriotism, ‘will not fascinate us, nor
will threats of a halter intimidate; for, under God, we
are determined, that wheresoever, whensoever, or howso-
ever we shall be called to make our exit, we will die free

     The 17th of June saw the four New England colonies
standing here, side by side, to triumph or to fall together;
and there was with them from that moment to the end of
the war, what I hope will remain with them forever, one
cause, one country, one heart.

     The battle of Bunker Hill was attended with the most
important effects beyond its immediate result as a military
engagement. It created at once a state of open, public
war. There could now be no longer a question of proceed-
ing against individuals, as guilty of treason or rebellion.
That fearful crisis was past. The appeal now lay to the
sword, and the only question was, whether the spirit and
the resources of the people would hold out, till the object
should be accomplished. Nor were its general cones-
quences confined to our own country. The previous pro-
ceedings of the colonies, their appeals, resolutions, and
addresses, had made their cause known to Europe. With-
out boasting, we may say, that in no age or country, has
the public cause been maintained with more force of argu-
ment, more power of illustration, or more of that persua-
sion which excited feeling and elevated principle can alone
bestow, than the revolutionary state papers exhibit. These
papers will forever deserve to be studied, not only for the
spirit which they breathe, but for the ability with which
they were written.

     To this able vindication of their cause, the colonies had
now added a practical and severe proof of their own true
devotion to it, and evidence also of the power which they
could bring to its support. All now saw, that if America
fell, she would not fall without a struggle. Men felt sym-
pathy and regard, as well as surprise, when they beheld
these infant states, remote, unknown, unaided, encounter
the power of England, and in the first considerable battle,
leave more of their enemies dead on the field, in propor-
tion to the number of combatants, than they had recently
known in the wars of Europe.

     Information of these events, circulating through Eu-
rope, at length reached the ears of one who now hears me.
He has not forgotten the emotion, which the fame of
Bunker Hill, and the name of Warren, excited in his
youthful breast.

     SIR, we are assembled to commemorate the establish-
ment of great public principles of liberty, and to do honor
to the distinguished dead. The occasion is too severe for
eulogy to the living. But, sir, your interesting relation
to this country, the peculiar circumstances which surround
you and surround us, call on me to express the happiness
which we derive from your presence and aid in this solemn

     Fortunate, fortunate man! with what measure of devo-
tion will you not thank God, for the circumstances of
your extraordinary life! You are connected with both
hemispheres and with two generations. Heaven saw fit
to ordain, that the electric spark of Liberty should be
conducted, through you, from the new world to the old;
and we, who are now here to perform this duty of patri-
otism, have all of us long ago received it in charge from
our fathers to cherish your name and your virtues. You
will account it an instance of your good fortune, sir, that
you crossed the seas to visit us at a time which enables
you to be present at this solemnity. You now behold
the field, the renown of which reached you in the heart
of France, and caused a thrill in your ardent bosom.
You see the lines of the little redoubt thrown up by
the incredible diligence of Prescott; defended, to the
last extremity, by his lion-hearted valor; and within
which the cornerstone of our monument has now taken
its position. You see where Warren fell, and where
Parker, Gardner, McCleary, Moore, and other early patri-
ots fell with him. Those who survived that day, and
whose lives have been prolonged to the present hour, are
now around you. Some of them you have known in the
trying scenes of the war. Behold! their now stretch
forth their feeble arms to embrace you. Behold! they
raise their trembling voices to invoke the blessing of
God on you, and yours, forever.

     Sir, you have assisted us in laying the foundation of this
edifice. You have heard us rehearse, with our feeble com-
mendation, the names of departed patriots. Sir, monu-
ments and eulogy belong to the dead. We give them,
this day, to Warren and his associates. On other occa-
sions they have been given to your more immediate com-
panions in arms, to Washington, to Greene, to Gates,
Sullivan, and Lincoln. Sir, we have become reluctant to
grant these, our highest and last honors, further. We
would gladly hold them yet back from the little remnant
of that immortal band. Serus in coelum redeas. Illustri-
ous as are your merits, yet far, oh, very far distant be the
day, when any inscription shall bear your name, or any
tongue pronounce its eulogy!

     The leading reflection, to which this occasion seems
to invite us, respects the great changes which have hap-
pened in the fifty years, since the battle of Bunker Hill
was fought. And it peculiarly marks the character of the
present age, that, in looking at these changes, and in esti-
mating their effect on our condition, we are obliged to
consider, not what has been done in our own country only,
but in others also. In these interesting times, while
nations are making individual and separate advances in
improvement, they make, too, a common progress; like
vessels on a common tide, propelled by the gales at differ-
ent rates, according to their several structure and manage-
ment, but all moved forward by one mighty current
beneath, strong enough to bear onward whatever does not
sink beneath it.

     A chief distinction of the present day is a community
of opinions and knowledge amongst men, in different
nations, existing in a degree heretofore unknown. Knowl-
edge has in our time, triumphed, and is triumphing, over
distance, over difference of languages, over diversity of
habits, over prejudice, and over bigotry. The civilized
and Christian world is fast learning the great lesson, that
difference of nation does not imply necessary hostility,
and that all contact need not be war. The whole world is
becoming a common field for intellect to act in. Energy
of mind, genius, power, wheresoever it exists, may speak
out in any tongue, and the world will hear it. A great
chord of sentiment and feeling runs through two conti-
nents, and vibrates over both. Every breeze wafts intel-
ligence from country to country; every wave rolls it; all
give it forth, and all in turn receive it. There is a vast
commerce of ideas; there are marts and exchanges for
intellectual discoveries, and a wonderful fellowship of
those individual intelligences which make up the mind
and opinion of the age. Mind is the great lever of all
things; human thought is the process by which human
ends are ultimately answered; and the diffusion of knowl-
edge, so astonishing in the last half-century, has rendered
innumerable minds, variously gifted by nature, competent
to be competitors, or fellow-workers, on the theatre of
intellectual operation.

     From these causes, important improvements have taken
place in the personal condition of individuals. Generally
speaking, mankind are not only better fed, and better
clothed, but they are able also to enjoy more leisure; they
possess more refinement and more self-respect. A superior
tone of education, manners, and habits prevails. This
remark, most true in its application to our own country,
is also partly true, when applied elsewhere. It is proved
by the vastly augmented consumption of those articles of
manufacture and of commerce, which contribute to the
comforts and the decencies of life; an augmentation which
has far outrun the progress of population. And while the
unexampled and almost incredible use of machinery would
seem to supply the place of labor, labor still finds its occu-
pation and its reward; so wisely has Providence adjusted
men’s wants and desires to their condition and their

     Any adequate survey, however, of the progress made in
the last half-century, in the polite and the mechanic arts,
in machinery and manufactures, in commerce and agri-
culture, in letters and in science, would require volumes.
I must abstain wholly from these subjects, and turn for a
moment, to the contemplation of what has been done on
the great question of politics and government. This is
the master topic of the age; and during the whole fifty
years, it has intensely occupied the thoughts of men. The
nature of civil government, its ends and uses, have been
canvassed and investigated; ancient opinions attacked and
defended; new ideas recommended and resisted, by what-
ever power the mind of man could bring to the contro-
versy. From the closet and the public halls the debate
has been transferred to the field; and the world has been
shaken by wars of unexampled magnitude, and the great-
est variety of fortune. A day of peace has at length
succeeded; and now that the strife has subsided, and the
smoke cleared away, we may begin to see what has actu-
ally been done, permanently changing the state and con-
dition of human society. And without dwelling on particular
circumstances, it is most apparent, that, from the
before-mentioned causes of augmented knowledge and
improved individual condition, a real, substantial, and
important change has taken place, and is taking place,
greatly beneficial, on the whole, to human liberty and
human happiness.

     The great wheel of political revolution began to move
in America. Here its rotation was guarded, regular, and
safe. Transferred to the other continent, from unfortu-
nate but natural causes, it received an irregular and vio-
lent impulse; it whirled along with a fearful celerity;
till at length, like the chariot wheels in the races of
antiquity, it took fire from the rapidity of its own motion,
and blazed onward, spreading conflagration and terror

     We learn from the result of this experiment, how for-
tunate was our own condition, and how admirably the
character of our people was calculated for making the
great example of popular governments. The possession
of power did not turn the heads of the American people,
for they had long been in the habit of exercising a great
portion of self-control. Although the paramount authority
of the parent state existed over them, yet a large field of
legislation had always been open to our colonial assem-
blies. They were accustomed to representative bodies
and the forms of free government; they understood the
doctrine of the division of power among different
branches, and the necessity of checks on each. The
character of our countrymen, moreover, was sober, moral,
and religious; and there was little in the change to shock
their feelings of justice and humanity, or even to disturb an
honest prejudice. We had no domestic throne to overturn,
no privileged orders to cast down, no violent changes of
property to encounter. In the American Revolution, no
man sought or wished for more than to defend and enjoy
his own. None hoped for plunder or for spoil. Rapacity
was unknown to it; the axe was not among the
instruments of its accomplishment; and we all know that it
could not have lived a single day under any well founded
imputation of possessing a tendency adverse to the
Christian religion.

     It need not surprise us, that, under circumstances less
auspicious, political revolutions elsewhere, even when well
intended, have terminated differently. It is, indeed, a
great achievement, it is the master work of the world, to
establish governments entirely popular, on lasting foun-
dations; nor is it easy, indeed, to introduce the popular
principle at all, into governments to which it has been
altogether a stranger. It cannot be doubted, however, that
Europe has come out of the contest, in which she has
been so long engaged, with greatly superior knowledge,
and, in many respects, a highly improved condition. What-
ever benefit has been acquired, is likely to be retained,
for it consists mainly in the acquisition of more enlight-
ened ideas. And although kingdoms and provinces may
be wrested from the hands that hold them, in the same
manner they were obtained; although ordinary and vulgar
power may, in human affairs, be lost as it has been won;
yet it is the glorious prerogative of the empire of knowl-
edge, that what it gains it never loses. On the contrary,
it increases by the multiple of its own power; all its ends
become means; all its attainments, helps to new con-
quests. Its whole abundant harvest is but so much seed
wheat, and nothing has ascertained, and nothing can ascer-
tain the amount of ultimate product.

     Under the influence of this rapidly increasing knowl-
edge, the people have begun, in all forms of government,
to think, and to reason, on affairs of state. Regarding
government as an institution for the public good, they
demand a knowledge of its operations, and a participa-
tion in its exercise. A call for the. Representative system,
wherever it is not enjoyed, and where there is already
intelligence enough to estimate its value, is perseveringly
made. Where men may speak out, they demand it; where
the bayonet is at their throats, they pray for it.

     When Louis XIV. said, “I am the state,” he expressed
the essence of the doctrine of unlimited power. By the
rules of that system, the people are disconnected from the
state; they are its subjects; it is their lord. These ideas,
founded in the love of power, and long supported by the
excess and the abuse of it, are yielding, in our age, to
other opinions; and the civilized world seems at last to be
proceeding to the conviction of that fundamental and
manifest truth, that the powers of government are but a
trust, and that they cannot be lawfully exercised but for
the good of the community. As knowledge is more and
more extended, this conviction becomes more and more
general. Knowledge, in truth, is the great sun in the fir-
mament. Life and power are scattered with all its beams.
The prayer of the Grecian combatant, when enveloped in
unnatural clouds and darkness, is the appropriate political
supplication for the people of every country not yet
blessed with free institutions;

          ‘Dispel this cloud, the light of heaven restore,
           Give me to SEE — and Ajax asks no more.’

     We may hope, that the growing influence of enlightened
sentiments will promote the permanent peace of the world.
Wars, to maintain family alliances, to uphold or to cast
down dynasties, to regulate successions to thrones, which
have occupied so much room in the history of modern
times, if not less likely to happen at all, will be less likely
to become general, and involve many nations, as the great
principle shall be more and more established, that the
interest of the world is peace, and its first great statute,
that every nation possesses the power of establishing a
government for itself. But public opinion has attained
also an influence over governments, which do not admit
the popular principle into their organization. A neces-
sary respect for the judgment of the world operates, in
some measure, as a control over the most unlimited forms
of authority. It is owing, perhaps, to this truth, that
the interesting struggle of the Greeks has been suffered
to go on so long, without a direct interference, either to
wrest that country from its present masters, and add it to
other powers, or to execute the system of pacification by
force, and, with united strength, lay the neck of Christian
and civilized Greece at the foot of the barbarian Turk.
Let us thank God that we live in an age, when something
has influence besides the bayonet, and when the sternest
authority does not venture to encounter the scorching
power of public reproach. Any attempt of the kind I
have mentioned, should be met by one universal burst of
indignation; the air of the civilized world ought to be
made too warm to be comfortably breathed by any who
would hazard it.

     It is, indeed, a touching reflection, that while, in the
fulness of our country’s happiness, we rear this monu-
ment to her honor, we look for instruction, in our under-
taking, to a country which is now in fearful contest, not
for works of art or memorials of glory, but for her own
existence. Let her be assured, that she is not forgotten
in the world; that her efforts are applauded, and that
constant prayers ascend for her success. And let us cher-
ish a confident hope for her final triumph. If the true
spark of religious and civil liberty be kindled, it will burn.
Human agency cannot extinguish it. Like the earth’s
central fire it may be smothered for a time; the ocean
may overwhelm it; mountains may press it down; but its
inherent and unconquerable force will heave both the ocean
and the land, and at some time or another, in some place or
another, the volcano will break out and flame up to heaven.

     Among the great events of the half-century, we must
reckon, certainly, the Revolution of South America; and
we are not likely to overrate the importance of that Revo-
lution, either to the people of the country itself or to the
rest of the world. The late Spanish colonies, now inde-
pendent states, under circumstances less favorable, doubt-
less, than attended our own Revolution, have yet success-
fully commenced their national existence. They have
accomplished the great object of establishing their inde-
pendence; they are known and acknowledged in the world;
and although in regard to their systems of government,
their sentiments on religious toleration, and their
provisions for public instruction, they may have yet much
to learn, it must be admitted that they have risen to the
condition of settled and established states, more rapidly
than could have been reasonably anticipated. They
already furnish an exhilarating example of the difference
between free governments and despotic misrule. Their
commerce, at this moment, creates a new activity in all
the great marts of the world. They show themselves
able, by an exchange of commodities, to bear an useful
part in the intercourse of nations. A new spirit of enter-
prise and industry begins to prevail; all the great inter-
ests of society receive a salutary impulse; and the
progress of information not only testifies to an improved
condition, but constitutes, itself, the highest and most
essential improvement.

     When the battle of Bunker Hill was fought, the exist-
ence of South America was scarcely felt in the civilized
world. The thirteen little colonies of North America
habitually called themselves the ‘Continent.’ Borne down
by colonial subjugation, monopoly, and bigotry, these
vast regions of the South were hardly visible above the
horizon. But in our day there hath been, as it were, a
new creation. The Southern Hemisphere emerges from
the sea. Its lofty mountains begin to lift themselves into
the light of heaven; its broad and fertile plains stretch
out, in beauty, to the eye of civilized man, and at the
mighty bidding of the voice of political liberty the waters of
darkness retire.

     And, now, let us indulge an honest exultation in the
conviction of the benefit, which the example of our
country has produced, and is likely to produce, on human
freedom and human happiness. And let us endeavor to
comprehend, in all its magnitude, and to feel, in all its
importance, the part assigned to us in the great drama of
human affairs. We are placed at the head of the system
of representative and popular governments. Thus far
our example shows, that such governments are compatible,
not only with respectibility and power, but with repose,
with peace, with security of personal rights, with good
laws, and a just administration.

     We are not propagandists. Wherever other systems
are preferred, either as being thought better in themselves,
or as better suited to existing condition, we leave the pref-
erence to be enjoyed. Our history hitherto proves, how-
ever, that the popular form is practicable, and that with
wisdom and knowledge men may govern themselves; and
the duty incumbent on us is, to preserve the consistency
of this cheering example, and take care that nothing may
weaken its authority with the world. If, in our case, the
Representative system ultimately fail, popular govern-
ments must be pronounced impossible. No combination
of circumstances more favorable to the experiment can
ever be expected to occur. The last hopes of mankind,
therefore, rest with us; and if it should be proclaimed,
that our example had become an argument against the
experiment, the knell of popular liberty would be sounded
throughout the earth.

     These are excitements to duty; but they are not sug-
gestions of doubt. Our history and our condition, all
that is gone before us, and all that surrounds us, authorize
the belief, that popular governments, though subject to
occasional variations, perhaps not always for the better,
in form, may yet, in their general character, be as durable
and permanent as other systems. We know, indeed, that,
in our country, any other is impossible. The Principle of
Free Governments adheres to the American soil. It is
bedded in it; immovable as its mountains.

     And let the sacred obligations which have devolved on
this generation, and on us, sink deep into our hearts.
Those are daily dropping from among us, who established
our liberty and our government. The great trust now
descends to new hands. Let us apply ourselves to that
which is presented to us, as our appropriate object. We
can win no laurels in a war for Independence. Earlier
and worthier hands have gathered them all. Nor are
there places for us by the side of Solon, and Alfred, and
other founders of states. Our fathers have filled them.
But there remains to us a great duty of defence and
preservation; and there is opened to us, also, a noble pur-
suit, to which the spirit of the times strongly invites us.
Our proper business is improvement. Let our age be the
age of improvement. In a day of peace, let us advance
the arts of peace and the works of peace. Let us develop
the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up
its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see
whether we also, in our day and generation, may not per-
form something worthy to be remembered. Let us culti-
vate a true spirit of union and harmony. In pursuing
the great objects, which our condition points out to us,
let us act under a settled conviction, and an habitual feel-
ing, that these twenty-four states are one country. Let
our conceptions be enlarged to the circle of our duties.
Let us extend our ideas over the whole of the vast field
in which we are called to act. Let our object be, OUR
. And, by the blessing of God, may that country
itself become a vast and splendid monument, not of
oppression and terror, but of Wisdom, of Peace, and of
Liberty, upon which the world may gaze, with admiration,

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