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reticulated have not only developed its resources, but united, emphatically in metallic bands, all parts of the Union. While the country has been expanding in dimensions, in numbers, and in wealth, the government has applied a wise forecast in the adoption of measures necessary, when the world shall no longer be at peace, to maintain the national honour, whether by appropriate displays of vigour abroad, or by welladapted means of defence at home. A navy, which has so often illustrated our history by heroic achievements, though in peaceful times restrained in its operations to narrow limits, possesses, in its admirable elements, the means of great and sudden expansion, and is justly looked upon by the nation as the right arm of its power. An army, still smaller, but not less perfeat in its detail, has on many a field exhibited the military aptitudes and prowess of the race, and demonstrated the wisdom which has presided over its organization and government. And this extension of territory embraced within the United States, increase of its population, commerce, and manufactures, development of its resources by canals and railroads, and rapidity of intercommunication by means of steam and electricity, have all been accomplished without overthrow of, or danger to, the public liberties, by any assumption of military power; and indeed without any permanent increase of the army, except for the purpose of frontier defence, and of affording a slight guard to the public property; or of the navy, any further than to assure the navigator that, in whatsoever sea he shall sail his ship, he is protected by the stars and stripes of his country. This, too, has been done without the shedding of a drop of blood for treason or rebellion ; while systems of popular representation have regularly been supported in the State governments and the general government; while laws, national and State, of such a character have been passed, and have been so wisely administered, that I may stand up here to-day, and declare, as I now do declare, in the face of all the intelligence of the age, that, for the period which has elapsed from the day that Washington laid the foundation of the Capitol to the pres– ent time, there has been no country upon Earth in which life, liberty, and property have been more amply and steadily se– cured, or more freely enjoyed, than in these United States of America. Who is there that will deny this? Who is there prepared with a greater or a better example? Who is there that can stand upon the foundation of facts, acknowledged or proved, and assert that these our republican institutions have not answered the true ends of government beyond all precedent in human history? There is yet another view. There are still higher considera
t tions. Man is an intellectual being, destined to immortality. There is a spirit in him, and the breath of the Almighty hath given him understanding. Then only is he tending toward his proper destiny, while he seeks for knowledge and virtue, for the will of his Maker, and for just conceptions of his own duty. Of all important questions, therefore, let this, the most important, be first asked and first answered : In what country of the habitable globe, of great extent and large population, are means of knowledge the most generally diffused and enjoyed among the people? This question admits of one, and only one answer. It is here; it is here in these United States; it is among the descendants of those who settled at Jamestown ; of those who were pilgrims on the shore of Plymouth ; and of those other races of men who, in subsequent times, have become joined in this great American family. Let one fact, incapable of doubt or dispute, satisfy every mind on this point. The population of the United States is twenty-three millions. Now, take the map of the continent of Europe, and spread it out before you. Take your scale and your dividers, and lay off in one area, in any shape you please, a triangle, square, circle, parallelogram, or trapezoid, and of an extent that shall contain one hundred and fifty millions of people, and there will be found within the United States more persons who do habitually read and write than can be embraced within the lines of your demarcation. But there is something even more than this. Man is not only an intellectual, but he is also a religious being, and his religious feelings and habits require cultivation. Let the religious element in man’s nature be neglected, let him be influenced by no higher motives than low self-interest, and subjected to no stronger restraint than the limits of civil authority, and he becomes the creature of selfish passion or of blind fanaticism. The spectacle of a nation powerful and enlightened, but without Christian faith, has been presented, almost within our own day, as a warning beacon to the nations. On the other hand, the cultivation of the religious sentiment represses licentiousness, incites to general benevolence and the practical acknowledgment of the brotherhood of man, inspires respect for law and order, and gives strength to the whole social fabric, at the same time that it conducts the human soul upwards to the Author of its being. Now I think it safe to say, that a greater portion of the people of the United States attend public worship, decently clad, well behaved, and well seated, than of any other country of the civilized world. Edifices of religion are seen everywhere. Their aggregate cost would amount to an immense sum of money. They are, in general, kept in good repair, and consecrated to the purpose of public worship. In these edifices the people regularly assemble on the Sabbath-day, which, by all classes, is sacredly set apart for rest from secular employment and for religious meditation and worship, to listen to the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and discourses from pious ministers of the several denominations. This attention to the wants of the intellect and of the soul, as manifested by the voluntary support of schools and colleges, of churches and benevolent institutions, is one of the most remarkable characteristics of the American people, not less strikingly exhibited in the new than in the older settlements of the country. On the spot where the first trees of the forest were felled, near the log cabins of the pioneers, are to be seen rising together the church and the school-house. So has it been from the beginning, and God grant that it may thus continue ! . Who does not admit that this unparalleled growth in prosperity and renown is the result, under Providence, of the union of these States under a general Constitution, which guarantees to each State a republican form of government, and to every man the enjoyment of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, free from civil tyranny or ecclesiastical domination ? And, to bring home this idea to the present occasion, who does not feel that, when President Washington laid his hand on the foundation of the first Capitol, he performed a great work of perpetuation of the Union and the Constitution ? Who does not feel that this seat of the general government, healthful in its situation, central in its position, near the mountains whence gush springs of wonderful virtue, teeming with Nature's richest products, and yet not far from the bays and the great estuaries of the sea, easily accessible, and generally agreeable in climate and association, does give strength to the union of these States? that this city—bearing an immortal name, with its broad streets and avenues, its public squares, and magnificent edifices of the general government, erected for the purpose of carrying on within them the important business of the several departments, for the reception of wonderful and curious inventions, for the preservation of the records of American learning and genius, of extensive collections of the products of Nature and Art, brought hither for study and comparison from all parts of the world; adorned with numerous churches, and sprinkled over, I am happy to say, with many public schools, where all the children of the city, without distinction, have the means of obtaining a good education; and with academies and colleges, professional schools and public libraries—should continue to receive, as it has heretofore received, the fostering care of Congress, and should be regarded as the permanent seat of the national government? With each succeeding year new interest is added to the spot : it becomes connected with all the historical associations of our country, with her statesmen and her orators; and, alas! its cemetery is annually enriched by the ashes of her chosen sons. Before us is the broad and beautiful river, separating two of the original thirteen States, which a late President, a man of determined purpose and inflexible will, but patriotic heart, desired to span with arches of ever-enduring granite, symbolical of the firmly cemented union of the North and the South. That President was General Jackson. On its banks repose the ashes of the Father of his Country; and at our side, by a singular felicity of position, overlooking the city which he designed, and which bears his name, rises to his memory the marble column, sublime in its simple grandeur, and fitly intended to reach a loftier height than any similar structure on the surface of the whole Earth. Let the votive offerings of his grateful countrymen be freely contributed, to carry this monument higher and still higher 1 May I say, as on another occasion, “Let it rise ! let it rise, till it meet the Sun in his coming; let the earliest light of the morning gild it, and parting day linger and play on its summit !” Fellow-citizens, what contemplations are awakened in our minds as we assemble here to reënact a scene like that performed by Washington I Methinks I see his venerable form now before me, as presented in the glorious statue by Houdon, now in the Capitol of Virginia. He is dignified and grave; but concern and anxiety seem to soften the lineaments of his countenance. The government over which he presides is yet in the crisis of experiment. Not free from troubles at home, he sees the world in commotion and arms all around him. He sees that imposing foreign powers are half-disposed to try the strength of the recently-established American government. We perceive that mighty thoughts, mingled with fears as well as hopes, are struggling within him. He heads a short procession over these then naked fields; he crosses yonder stream on a fallen tree; he ascends to the top of this eminence, whose original oaks of the forest stand as thick around him as if the spot had been devoted to Druidical worship, and here he performs the appointed duty. And now, fellow-citizens, if this vision were a reality; if Washington actually were now amongst us, and if he could draw around him the shades of the great public men of his own day, patriots and warriors, orators and statesmen, and were to address us in their presence, would he not say to us: “Ye men
of this generation, I rejoice, and thank God for being able to see that our labours and toils and sacrifices were not in vain. You are prosperous, you are happy, you are grateful; the fire of liberty burns brightly and steadily in your hearts, while DUTY and the LAW restrain it from bursting forth in wild and destructive conflagration. Cherish liberty, as you love it; cherish its securities, as you wish to preserve it. Maintain the Constitution which we laboured so painfully to establish, and which has been to you such a source of inestimable blessings. Preserve the union of the States, cemented as it was by our prayers, our tears, and our blood. Be true to God, to your country, and to your duty. So shall the whole Eastern world follow the morning Sun to contemplate you as a nation; so shall all generations honour you, as they honour us; and so shall that Almighty Power which so graciously protected us, and which now protects you, shower its blessings upon you and your posterity.” Great Father of your Country ! we heed your words; we feel their force as if you now uttered them with lips of flesh and blood. Your example teaches us, your affectionate addresses teach us, your public life teaches us your sense of the value of the blessings of the Union. Those blessings our fathers have tasted, and we have tasted, and still taste. Nor do we intend that those who come after us shall be denied the same high fruition. Our honour as well as our happiness is concerned. We cannot, we dare not, we will not, betray our sacred trust. We will not filch from posterity the treasure placed in our hands to be transmitted to other generations. The bow that gilds the clouds in the heavens, the pillars that uphold the firmament, may disappear and fall away in the hour appointed by the will of God; but, until that day comes, or so long as our lives may last, no ruthless hand shall undermine that bright arch of Union and Liberty which spans the continent from Washington to California. Fellow-citizens, we must sometimes be tolerant to folly, and patient at the sight of the extreme waywardness of men; but I confess that, when I reflect on the renown of our past history, on our present prosperity and greatness, and on what the future hath yet to unfold, and when I see that there are men who can find in all this nothing good, nothing valuable, nothing truly glorious, I feel that all their reason has fled away from them, and left the entire control over their judgment and their actions to insanity and fanaticism ; and, more than all, fellowcitizens, if the purposes of fanatics and disunionists should be accomplished, the patriotic and intelligent of our generation would seek to hide themselves from the scorn of the world, and go about to find dishonourable graves.