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men of Seventy-Six to have been the boldest men of progress that the world has ever seen!
These are the men whom the Fourth of July invites us to respect and to imitate;— the James Otises and the Warrens, the Franklins and the Adamses, the Patrick Henrys and the Jeffersons, and him whom I may not name in the plural number, brightest of the bright and purest of the pure, Washington himself. But let us be sure to imitate them, (or to strive to do so,) in all their great principles, in both parts of their noble and comprehensive policy. Let us reverence them as they reverenced their predecessors, not seeking to build up the future on the ruins of all that had gone before, por yet to bind down the living, breathing, burning present to the mouldering relics of the dead past, but, deducing the rule of a bold and safe progress from the records of a wise and glorious experience.
I am trespassing unconscionably, sir, upon the time of the company, but I will, with your leave, add one further reflection. We live at an era as eventful, in my judgment, as that of '76, though in a different way. We have no foreign yoke to throw off; but in the discharge of the duty devolved upon us by Providence, we have to carry the republican independence which our fathers achieved, with all the organized institutions of an enlightened community, institutions of religion, law, education, charity, art, and all the thousand graces of the highest culture, beyond the Missouri, beyond the Sierra Nevada; perhaps, in time, around the circuit of the Antilles ; perhaps to the archipelagoes of the Central Pacific. The pioneers are on the way; who can tell how far and how fast they will travel ? Who, that compares the North America of 1753, but a century ago, and numbering but a little over a million of souls of European origin; or still more the North America of 1653, when there was certainly not a fifth part of that number; who that compares this with the North America of 1853, its twenty-two millions of European origin, and its thirty-one States, will venture to assign limits to our growth; will dare to compute the time-table of our railway
growth; will dardles, will ventum
progress; or lift so much as a corner of the curtain that hides
the crowded events of the coming century ? -- This only we can plainly see: the old world is rocking to its foundations. From the Gulf of Finland to the Yellow Sea, every thing is shaken. The spirit of the age has gone forth to hold his great review, and the kings of the earth are moved to meet him at his coming. The band which holds the great powers of Europe together in one political league, is strained to its utmost tension. The catastrophe may for awhile be staved off, but to all appearance they are hurrying to the verge of one of those conflicts which, like the battles of Pharsalia and Actium, affect the condition of States for twice ten centuries. The Turkish Empire, encamped but for four centuries on the frontiers of Europe, and the Chinese monarchy, contemporary with David and Solomon, are alike crumbling. While these events are passing in the old world, a tide of immigration which has no parallel in history, is pouring westward across the Atlantic and eastward across the Pacific, to our shores. The real political vitality of the world seems moving to the new hemisphere, whose condition and fortunes it devolves upon us and our children to mould and regulate.
Sir, it is a grand, let me say a solemn thought, well calculated to still the passions of the day, and to elevate us above the paltry strife of parties. It teaches us that we are called to the highest, and I do verily believe, the most momentous trust that ever devolved upon one generation of men. Let us meet it with a corresponding temper and purpose, with the wisdom of a well-instructed experience, and with the foresight and preparation of a glorious future; not on the narrow platforms of party policy and temporary expediency, but in the broad and comprehensive spirit of seventy-six.
THE PILGRIM FATHERS."
You have been good enough, Mr. President, to intimate that, among our numerous honored guests, (to whom your complimentary remarks, with possibly a single exception, might have applied with as much justice as to myself,) I am the individual to whom you look, to respond to the toast that has just been announced. I rise to obey the call. It is true that there is a single circumstance which may make the allusion more exclusively applicable to me than to any other gentleman present. It is true, that, on one pleasant occasion on which I have been at this delightful and beloved Plymouth, I suggested that it might be expedient, not always, but occasionally, to transfer the celebration of the great day from the winter to the summer season. Supposing that to be the circumstance which you had in your mind, I feel that I may without impropriety obey your call by rising to respond to the toast that has just been given.
It is now hard upon thirty years since I had the honor, on the 22d of December, to address the sons and daughters of the Pilgrims, assembled at this place. I regarded it a peculiar privilege and honor. I deem it, sir, an equal privilege to find myself here on this joyous occasion, and to be permitted to participate in this happy festival, where we have an attendance of so many distinguished friends and fellowcitizens from other parts of the country, — from almost every State in the Union, sir, you have already told us; where we are favored with the company of the representatives of the New England Society of New York, one of those institutions which are carrying the name and principles of the Pilgrims to the furthest ends of the land; where we are gratified with the presence of our military friends from the same city, the great commercial emporium of the United States; where we are honored by so much of the gravity, the dignity, and the character of the community in which we dwell, and are favored with the presence of so much of its beauty, grace, and loveliness.
* Speech at the Plymouth Festival on the 1st of August, 1853, in commemoration of the embarkation of the Pilgrims.
I do indeed, sir, feel it to be a privilege to be here under these circumstances, and I deem myself most highly honored in being called upon to respond to the toast which you have just announced, in commemoration of the embarkation of the Pilgrims, and its results. The theme is vast; I shrink from it; I know not where to begin, or where to end. It seems to me, sir, that you yourself, in the remarks with which you have favored the company, struck the key-note of this great theme, in alluding to the state of this vast continent before the Pilgrims came, and to the situation of its primitive inhabitants. There is the beginning. I could not but feel it, as I saw one or two of them, poor wanderers, as we came into Plymouth this morning, seated by the road side, wondering spectators of the pageant which was passing before their eyes.
A few days ago, as I saw in the newspapers, two light birch bark canoes appeared in Boston harbor, containing each a solitary Indian They seemed, as they approached, to gaze in silent wonder at the city of the triple hills, rising street above street, and crowned with the dome of the Statehouse, and at the long line of villas stretching far into the background;-at the numerous small vessels outward bound, as they dropped down the channel and spread their broad wings to the breeze, and those which were returning weatherbeaten from the ends of the earth; - at the steamers dashing in every direction across the harbor, breathing volumes of smoke from their fiery lungs. They paddled their frail barks with dexterity and speed through this strange, busy, and to them, no doubt, bewildering scene; and having made the circuit of East Boston, the navy yard, the city itself, and VOL. III.
South Boston, dropped down with the current, and disappeared among the islands.
There was not a human being of kindred blood to utter a word of welcome to them, in all the region which on the day we now commemorate was occupied by their forefathers in Massachusetts. The race is gone. It would be a mistaken sentimentality to regret the change; to regret that some thousand uncultured barbarians, destitute of all the improvements of social life, as we understand it, and seemingly incapable of adopting them, should have yielded gradually to the civilized millions who have taken their place. But we must, both as men and as Christians, condemn whatever of oppression and wrong has marked the change, (as is too apt always to be the case when strong and weak are brought into contact with each other,) and without affectation we may indulge a heart-felt sympathy for the feeble and stricken relics of once powerful and formidable tribes of fellow men.
On the 1st of August, 1620, the circumstances of the two races, as far as this part of America is concerned, presented very nearly the reverse of the picture we have just contemplated. On that day, the territory now forming the States of New England was occupied by numerous Indian tribes, some of which were strong and warlike. They were far behind the natives of Mexico and Peru, but they had added some simple agriculture to their hunting and fishing, — their moccasons, and snow-shoes, and stone hatchets, and arrow-heads, and wampum-belts, evinced their aptitude for the humble arts of savage life; they retained unimpaired their native independence, ignorant of the metaphysical claims to sovereignty which powerful governments three thousand miles off founded upon the right of discovery; and neither the arts, nor the arms, nor the diseases, nor the vices of civilized life, had commenced that terrible warfare against them, which has since been pushed nearly to their extermination.
On that day, and in this condition of the American races, a handful of careworn, twice-doomed English exiles set sail from Delft Haven, in Holland, with the intention, after being joined by a few brethren of their faith in England, to encoun