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and if war does come, then, Mr. President, we do not fear to meet it. We will meet it so that the curse of Spain shall never rest again on any part of the Western hemisphere. We do not want war: we would do anything in honor to avoid it; but if it must come, it will be a war that will prevent Spain from ever bringing misery, death and ruin to Cuba, and agitation, unhappiness, loss and war to the United States.
And now, Mr. President, what of the Maine? I am so sentimental, I am merely human, that that ship is nearer my heart than anything else. Suppose she had gone down to her death in an English harbor, blown up as she was, carrying her men with her; what do you think would have been the voice of England — the land of Nelson? I believe if it had happened in an English port England would have said, in a great and generous spirit, “We regard this with horror, we believe that it must have been an
HENRY CABOT LODGE
accident, but it happened in our harbor under our flag. If you think otherwise name the reparation that you want.”
Such, Mr. President, I believe, would have been the reply of England; such I believe would have been our reply or that of any of the great powers.
Look now at Spain. She has done nothing but slander officers and sailors of the Maine, dead and living. Her ambassador to Rome said but a week ago to all Europe in a published interview, that that ship went down because her captain neglected her and was not on board. Notorious as the sinking of the ship is, the fact that Captain Sigsbee was there and was the last man to leave, is equally well known, and yet the Spanish ambassador to Rome tells that lying story to the world.
They rejoiced in Havana and they explained the explosion by throwing it upon our officers, slandering their character and denying their words. I have no more doubt about it than that I am now standing in the Senate of the United States, that that ship was blown up by a government mine.
Others may reason from the facts as they please. To me they bear but one interpretation, and that is that the Maine went to her death by Spanish treachery in the harbor of Havana and
Spaniards exulted and feasted when the black deed was done.
It may be urged that we should negotiate and arbitrate, but whenever I think of that solution there comes to my mind the lines of Lowell, written at another period, a very dark time in this country:
Ef I turn mad dogs loose, John,
On your front parlor stairs,
To wait an' sue their heirs?
At the close of the Civil War the great war governor of Massachusetts found his practice scattered, his small accumulations and savings gone, because he had given his time, as, indeed, he gave his life to the service of the State and the country. It was known how much he had suffered in his practice and his purse and there was a story circulated in the papers that his friends intended to make him collector of the port, the most highly paid office in the State of Massachusetts.
The day that item of news appeared a friend of Governor Andrew met him and said to him, “Well, Governor, are you going to take the collectorship?” He paused a moment, then looked up suddenly and said, “I have stood for four years as high priest between the horns of the
altar; I have poured out upon it the best blood of Massachusetts; I cannot take money for that.”
Mr. President, we cannot take money for the dead men of the Maine. There is only one reparation. There is only one monument to raise over that grave, and that is free Cuba and peace in that island. That is a worthy monument, worthy of men who died under the flag they loved, died “in the line of duty."
I care but little what form of words we adopt. I am ready to yield my opinions to those about me in Congress. Still more ready am I to defer to the wishes of the Executive, who stands, and must stand, at our head; but I want now to arm that Executive with powers which shall enable him, in the good providence of God, to bring peace to Cuba and exact justice for the Maine.
THE UNITED STATES NOT A
We are not a warlike nation; here of old our
fathers settled, Seeking scope for their opinions, in the log house
and the hut; Seeking elbow room and freedom, sober men and
Almost too religious, maybe, peaceful-minded
people; but —
Since they wished to farm the meadows, wished
to go to church on Sunday, And the redskin would annoy them with his lust
for human hair, From far Georgia to the south'ard, to the misty
shore of Fundy, Flintlocks kept the plough a-going, bullets helped
to speed the prayer.
We are not a warlike nation; though the blood
we brought was ruddy, We preferred its cherry runnels in the veins kept
tightly shut. We had thews for farm and fishnet; we had
brains to scheme and study; Brawn and brain for peace and quiet,
all we wanted; but —
Ask the fields of sleepy Concord, ask old wrecked
Ticonderoga, Of the cost of unjust taxes and old bottles for
new wine! Something more than glass was broken on the
heights of Saratoga, And the tax was paid at Yorktown by the stiff
old buff-blue line.