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old as the creation of man, and will survive, even though the crimes of selfish men should drive all the institutions of government to destruction.
It will, no doubt, be an easy thing to abuse these doctrines of our fathers—for abuse is as easy as lying but who will attempt to refute them? Who will dare to quarrel with the words of the revolutionary patriots? Who will venture to deny that the only hope of saving our country is in a return to these paths of our fathers ?
Ignorance, passion, or blind party zeal may plead that necessity calls upon us to trample our Constitution and laws under our feet. Delusion and folly! It is as much as to say that necessity calls upon us all to turn traitors to our Government and laws.
It is hoped that the reader will find nothing in these pages that does not inspire his heart with fresh love for the glorious institutions of freedom which we have inherited from our forefathers, and for the UNION, which is the ark of safety to our people.
The extracts found in these lectures are from the following authorities : CHIEF JUSTICE YATES' MINUTES OF THE SECRET DEBATES IN THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION. Elliot's REPORTS
CONSTITUTIONAL DEBATES. LUTHER MARTIN'S REPORT OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE FEDERAL CONVENTION. THE MADISON PAPERS. ARTICLES OF HAMILTON AND MADISON IN “The FEDERALIST." THE WORKS OF JEFFERSON. Botta's HISTORY OF THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE. THE AMERICAN UNION, BY REED. OBSERVATIONS ON STATE SOVEREIGNTY, BY TRUMBULL.
It was Seneca's counsel to his friend Lucilius that when he went before the public he should imagine Cato or Scipio to be present.
I approach this subject with as cautious a respect for the truth of history as though the spirits of the wise and heroic founders of this Government were present in this audience to listen to all I say. My subject does not discuss the events of the present unhappy hour. It does not look to the future.
It turns our faces backwards to the past. It carries us to the places where our fathers stood.
Above the graves of those who founded the republic let us seek to discover the vital, animating principle of government which guided them through the fierce and bloody period of the Revolution, and through the civil conflicts that followed, until their noble work was done, and they rejoiced in the conviction that they had reared a temple of liberty which the hand of time should not destroy.
There is something inexpressibly solemn, in this investigation which we commence to night.
To sit face to face with the renerable dead-to listen again to the voices of their wisdom out of the imperishable words they have left behind-this is a thought that holds our hearts still, and almost stops our breath. Is this a place for politicians to wrangle over? Will you bring here your loads of hate-of partisan lust and
revenge, and throw them down on the silent bosoms of your fathers ?
No! Patiently, reverently let us find out their footsteps, and nobly resolve that we will forsake them nevermore.
The man that does not love his country, turns his back upon himself.
Our country is ourselves; for we are all parts of the public system which constitutes the grand edifice of our social and political lives.
The man who even dies for his country, dies for himself, for his children, and for the honor of his forefathers.
It is a family interest that connects him with the glory of his country
What are a few days added to a man's life, compared to the progressive perpetuity of those institutions which are to be the abode of all the descending genera. tions of his offspring? Only as a minute compared to a thousand years.
It is of little moment whether you and I go hence to day or to-morrow. Every act of ours that bears upon our country's weal or wo is something infinitely greater than our life.
When we come to investigate the origin of the prin. ciples of our Government, we must go a great ways back of our colonial period.
We must go even behind those long unknown and, except to a few scholars of history, forgotten discoveries of the Scandinavian navigators, who, five hundred years before Columbus, were the first to behold these Western shores.
These principles of government were not invented
during our colonial period. Nor were they during our revolutionary, nor our constitutional period. They were not invented at all. They grew up gradually as a tree grows which has its roots in far-off centuries.
Principles which hold up the weight of states and kingdoms are not inventions. They are growths, good or bad, out of time and circumstances.
One layer of time has Providence piled upon another for immemorial ages, every one of which is essential to the integrity of the whole system.
We who live now stand upon the topmost layer; but remove the one beneath us, and we must go down. Remove the lowest strata of all, and the whole pile would tumble in ruins.
Had Greece been different from what it is, Rome would not have been what she was.
Had Rome been different, Saxony and Normandy would not have been what they were.
Had these been different, England would not be what she is.
Had England been different, we should not be what we are—we should not be here to-night.
We are all parts of one stupendous whole, and are making future generations, just as past generations have made us.
Our fathers transmitted a priceless boon of government to us; and, by an eternal law of Providence, we must send it down to our posterity, a boon or a bane.
As we act to-day, must our children curse or bless our memories.
As we act to-day, shall we transmit to the generations of our offspring the sacred principles of self-government and liberty, or those of anarchy and despotism.
The blood of our fathers was poured out like rain in defense of those principles. And not only of our fathers, but of hundreds of thousands of Saxons in England, even before the time of feudalism.
For old England, under her Saxon kings, was a kingly confederacy.
That was the old Saxon idea of liberty, that the people should somehow rule. In their institutions the name of “ PEOPLE” was never lost, whether in their furtherest antiquity among the forests of Germany, or on the ancient plains of Britainy.
Our fathers, when they began the business of governing themselves, but expanded what the Saxons commenced more than a thousand years ago; before, indeed, the races of the North of Europe had a history of their own, or a place in the history of the more civilized Southern nations.
And these Anglo-Saxons waded through hundreds of years of blood in noble resistance to the centralizing despotism of the Norman sovereigns.
More than a thousand years ago this battle between the ideas of local self-government and of centralized despotism crimsoned every field in Britainy.
The principle of local independence was the Saxon idea. That of centralization, or of all power proceeding from a great and irresponsible center, was the Norman idea. Hence, “when the Saxons conquered Britain, its comparatively small territory was divided into several petty kingdoms or loosely-compacted commonwealths. And again, each of these was parceled out into various other divisions, such as counties, shires, tithings, and other partitions, the origin of which puzzles the antiquarian."
This old Saxon spirit of state independence animated