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ests at the North, and these interests supposed, but falsely supposed, to be at variance,—can this people see, what is so evident to all the world besides, that the Union is their main hope and greatest benefit, and that their interests in every part are entirely compatible? Can they see, and will they feel, that their prosperity, their respectability among the nations of the Earth, and their happiness at home depend upon the maintenance of their Union and their Constitution ? I agree that local divisions are apt to warp the understandings of men, and to excite a belligerent feeling between section and section. It is natural, in times of irritation, for one part of the country to say, “If you do that, I will do this,” and so get up a feeling of hostility and defiance. Then comes belligerent legislation, and then an appeal to arms. The question is, whether we have the true patriotism, the Americanism, necessary to carry us through such a trial. For myself, I propose, Sir, to abide by the principles and the purposes which I have avowed. I shall stand by the Union, and by all who stand by it. I shall do justice to the whole country, according to the best of my ability, in all I say, and act for the good of the whole country in all I do. I mean to stand upon the Constitution. I need no other platform. I shall know but one country. The ends I aim at shall be my country's, my God’s, and Truth’s. I was born an American ; I will live an American ; I shall die an American ; and I intend to perform the duties incumbent upon me in that character to the end of my career. I mean to do this with absolute disregard of personal consequences. What are personal consequences 2 What is the individual man, with all the good or evil that may betide him, in comparison with the good or evil which may befall a great country in a crisis like this, and in the midst of great transactions which concern that country's fate? Let the consequences be what they may, I am careless. No man can suffer too much, and no man can fall too soon, if he suffer or if he fall in defence of the liberties and Constitution of his country.” . .
9 The foregoing are, I believe, the last words spoken by Daniel Webster in the national Senate; at least they are the last that appear in his published works. They are the conclusion of a speech delivered July 17, 1850, on what was called “The Compromise Bill.” And they seem to me to form no unfitting close to his great career as a legislator, the noblest and wisest Senator that has ever illustrated and adorned the American Senate. See Sketch of his Life, page AN APPEAL FOR THE UNION.1
FELLow–CITIZENs: By the Act of Congress of the 30th of September, 1850, provision was made for the extension of the Capitol, according to such plan as might be approved by the IPresident of the United States, and for the necessary sums to be expended, under his direction, by such architect as he might appoint. This measure was imperatively demanded, for the use of the legislative and judiciary departments, the public libraries, the occasional accommodation of the chief magistrate, and for other objects. No Act of Congress incurring a large expenditure has received more general approbation from the people. The President has proceeded to execute this law. IIe has approved a plan; he has appointed an architect; and all things are now ready for the commencement of the work. The anniversary of national independence appeared to afford an auspicious occasion for laying the foundation-stone of the additional building. That ceremony has now been performed by the President himself in the presence and view of this multitude. He has thought that the day and the occasion made a united and imperative call for some short address to the people here assembled; and it is at his request that I have appeared before you to perform that part of the duty which was deemed incumbent on us. - Fellow-citizens, fifty-eight years ago Washington stood on this spot to execute a duty like that which has now been performed. He then laid the corner-stone of the original Capitol. He was at the head of the government, at that time weak in resources, burdened with debt, just struggling into political existence and respectability, and agitated by the heaving waves which were overturning European thrones. But even then, in many respects, the government was strong. It was strong in Washington's own great character; it was strong in the wisdom and patriotism of other eminent public men, his political associates and fellow-labourers; and it was strong in the affections of the people. Since that time astonishing changes have been wrought in the condition and prospects of the American people ; and a degree of progress witnessed with which the world can furnish no parallel. As we review the course of that progress, wonder and amazement arrest our attention at every step.
1 On the 4th of July, 1851, President Fillmore laid, with sitting ceremonies, the Corner-stone of the Addition to the Capitol. Under the above heading, I give, with some omissions, the latter half of the very eloquent address which Webster, then Secretary of State, delivered on that occasion.
And now, fellow-citizens, I ask you, and I would ask every man, whether the government which has been over us has proved itself an affliction and a curse to the country, or any part of it? Ye men of the South, of all the original Southern States, what say you to all this? Are you, or any of you, ashamed of this great work of your fathers? Your fathers were not they who stoned the prophets and killed them. They were among the prophets; they were of the prophets; they were themselves the prophets. Ye men of Virginia, what do you say to all this? Ye men of the Potomac, dwelling along the shore of that river on which WASHINGTON lived and died, and where his remains now rest, —ye, so many of whom may see the domes of the Capitol from your own homes, what say ye? Ye men of James River and the Bay, places consecrated by the early settlement of your Commonwealth, what do you say? Do you desire, from the soil of your State, or as you travel to the North, to see these halls vacated, their beauty and ornaments destroyed, and their national usefulness gone for ever? Ye men beyond the Blue Ridge, many thousands of whom are nearer to this Capitol than to the seat of government of your own State, what do you think of breaking this great association into fragments of States and of people? I know that some of you, and I believe that you all, would be almost as much shocked at the announcement of such a catastrophe, as if you were to be informed that the Blue Ridge itself would soon totter from its base. And ye men of Western Virginia, who occupy the great slope from the top of the Alleghanies to Ohio and Rentucky, what benefit do you propose to yourselves from disunion? If you “secede,” what do you “secede” from, and what do you “accede” to ? Do you look for the current of the Ohio to change, and to bring you and your commerce to the tide-waters of the Eastern rivers ? What man in his senses can suppose that you would remain part and parcel of Virginia a month after Virginia should have ceased to be part and parcel of the United States? The secession of Virginia | The secession of Virginia, whether alone or in company, is most improbable, the greatest of all improbabilities. Virginia, to her everlasting honour, acted a great part in framing and establishing the present Constitution. She has had her reward and her distinction. Seven of her noble sons have each filled the Presidency, and enjoyed the highest honours of the country. Dolorous complaints come up to us from the South, that Virginia will not head the march of secesSion, and lead the other Southern States out of the Union. This, if it should happen, would be something of a marvel, certainly, considering how much pains Virginia took to lead these same States into the Union, and considering, too, that she has partaken as largely of its benefits and its government as any other State. And ye men of the other Southern States, members of the Old Thirteen; yes, members of the Old Thirteen;– that always touches my regard and my sympathies;–North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina! what page in your history, or in the history of any one of you, is brighter than those which have been recorded since the Union was formed? or through what period has your prosperity been greater, or your peace and happiness better secured? What names even has South Carolina, now so much dissatisfied, what names has she of which her intelligent sons are more proud than those which have been connected with the government of the United States? In IRevolutionary times, and in the earliest days of this Constitution, there was no State more honoured, or more deserving of honour. Where is she now? And what a fall is there, my countrymen! But I leave her to her own reflections, commending to her, with all my heart, the due consideration of her own example in times now gone by. Fellow-citizens, there are some diseases of the mind as well as of the body, diseases of communities as well as diseases of individuals, that must be left to their own cure: at least it is wise to leave them so, until the last critical moment shall arrive. I hope it is not irreverent, and certainly it is not intended as reproach, when I say that I know no stronger expression in our language than that which describes the restoration of the wayward son,—“He came to himself.” He had broken away from all the ties of love, family, and friendship. He had forsaken every thing which he had once regarded in his father's house. He had forsworn his natural sympathies, affections, and habits, and taken his journey into a far country. IIe had gone away from himself and out of himself. But misfortune overtook him, and famine threatened him with starvation and death. No entreaties from home followed him, to beckon him back; no admonitions from others warned him of his fate. But the hour of reflection had come, and nature and conscience wrought within him, until at length he came to himself. And now ye men of the new States of the South! You are not of the original Thirteen. The battle had been fought and won, the Revolution achieved, and the Constitution established, before your States had any existence as States. You came to a prepared banquet, and had seats assigned you at table just as honourable as those which were filled by older guests. You have been and are singularly prosperous; and, if any one should deny this, you would at once contradict his assertion. You have bought vast quantities of choice and excellent land at the lowest price; and if the public domain has not been lawished upon you, you will yourselves admit that it has been appropriated to your own uses by a very liberal hand. And yet in some of these States, not in all, persons are found in favour of a dissolution of the Union, or of secession from it. Such opinions are expressed even where the general prosperity of the community has been most rapidly advanced. In the flourishing and interesting State of Mississippi, for example, there is a large party which insists that her grievances are intolerable, that the whole body politic is in a state of suffering; and all along, and through her whole extent on the Mississippi, a loud cry rings that her only remedy is “Secession, secession.” Now, Gentlemen, what infliction does the State of Mississippi suffer under? What oppression prostrates her strength or destroys her happiness? Before we can judge of her proper remedy, we must know something of the disease; and, for my part, I confess that the real evil existing in the case appears to me to be a certain inquietude or uneasiness growing out of a high degree of prosperity and a consciousness of wealth and power, which sometimes lead men to be ready for changes, and to push on unreasonably to still higher elevation. If this be the truth of the matter, her political doctors are about right. If the complaint spring from overwrought prosperity, for that disease I have no doubt that secession would prove a sovereign remedy.
But I return to the leading topic on which I was engaged.— In the department of invention there have been wonderful applications of science to arts within the last sixty years. The spacious hall of the Patent Office is at once the repository and proof of American inventive art and genius. The results are seen in the numerous improvements by which human labour is abridged.
Without going into details, it may be sufficient to say, that many of the applications of steam to locomotion and manufactures, of electricity and magnetism to the production of mechanical motion, the electrical telegraph, the registration of astronomical phenomena, the art of multiplying engravings, the introduction and improvement among us of all the important inventions of the Old World, are striking indications of the progress of this country in the useful arts. The network of railroads and telegraphic lines by which this vast country is