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Knowing their value well, we give them with the more pride and the more joy. Sir, how can we retreat ? Sir, how can we make peace? Who shall treat? What commissioners? Who would go? Upon what terms? Where is to be your boundaryline? Where the end of principles we shall have to give up ? What will become of constitutional government? What will become of public liberty? What of the past glories? What of future hopes? Shall we sink into the insignificance of the grave - a degraded, defeated, emasculated people, frightened by the results of one battle, and scared by the visions raised by the imagination of the Senator from Kentucky upon this floor? No, sir! a thousand times, no, sir! We will rally--if, indeed, our words be necessary-we will rally the people, the loyal people of the whole country. They will pour forth their treasure, their money, their men, without stint, without measure. The most peaceable man in this body may stamp his foot upon this Senate-chamber floor, as of old a warrior and a Senator did, and from that single tramp there will spring forth armed legions. Shall one battle determine the fate of empire or a dozen? The loss of one thousand men or twenty thousand, of one hundred million dollars or five hundred million? In a year, in ten years at most, of peaceful progress we can restore them all. There will be some graves reeking with blood, watered by the tears of affection. There will be some privation; there will be some loss of luxury; there will be somewhat more need for labor to procure the necessaries of life. When that is said, all is said. If we have the country, the whole country, the Union, the Constitution, free government-with these there will return all the blessings of well-ordered civilization; the path of the country will be a career of greatness and of glory such as, in the olden time, our fathers saw in the dim vision of years yet to come, and such as would have been ours now, to-day, if it had not been for the treason for which the Senator too often seeks to apologize."
JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE.
An amusing episode followed the debate. Breckinridge thought it was Sumner who answered Baker's interrogatory, “What would have been done with a Roman Senator guilty of such treason?” by exclaiming that “He would have been hurled from the Tarpeian Rock." And he denounced the Massachusetts Senator in severe and angry Saxon. When Breckinridge discovered it was Fessenden and not Sumner who had given this response, he did not complain of the first nor apologize to the second. The Senator from Massachusetts has a sort of vicarious office to this day, and suffers a great deal from the sins of others.
The contrast between the prophets, living and dead, is useful, and does not seem to have been lost upon the survivor, Mr. Breckinridge, if we may judge by his deportment since the close of the war, and by the following words spoken by him at Louisville, Kentucky, on the 13th of October last, at a meeting called to do honor to the memory of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate military leader. It was a meeting of men of all parties, and he said: “If the spirit which animates the assembly before me to-night shall become general and extend over the whole country, then indeed may we say that the wounds of the late war are truly healed. We ask only for him what we concede to the manly qualities of others. Among the more eminent of the Federal generals who fell during the war, or have since died, may be mentioned Thomas and McPherson. What Confederate would refuse to raise his cap as their funeral train passed by, or grudge to drop a flower upon their soldier-graves?"
And doubtless if he had thought of it he would have included in the list of "Federal soldiers” the gallant Baker of Oregon, whose prediction of the collapse of the rebellion he has lived to realize, and, I hope, not to regret.
[March 12, 1871.]
John QUINCY ADAMS was a Representative in Congress from 1831--three years after he left the Presidency—to the 23d of February, 1848, when he fell from his seat in the House, and died literally in harness. The lives of the Adamses have been unusually busy and brilliant. John, the second President, was a patriot of the impulsive school, honest and self-willed. John Quincy, his son, was in some respects a larger and a riper mind; Charles Francis, his living grandson, is a more cautious and conservative personage, while his great-grandsons are spoken of as men of learning and culture. This family is one of the few evidences of the transmission of genius in the same blood. There is really no representative left of Washington, Jefferson, Clay, Webster, Calhoun, or Jackson. It seems to have been ordained that each was to be the last of his race, and that none should be left to eclipse his fame. The first time I ever saw John Quincy Adams was also the first time I ever saw Stephen A. Douglas. This was in May of 1846, while Polk was President, and James Buchanan Secretary of State. The annexation of Texas was the reigning issue. Parties were divided upon it, and John Quincy Adams led the opposition. He was in his seventy-ninth year. Douglas was in his thirty-third. The contrast was marked between the feeble and bald-headed statesman and the boyish face and figure of the black-eyed and black-haired partisan. The one was closing out his eventful career—the other was beginning his, not so varied, but crowded with almost as many trials. As I sat in the gallery that sweet May morning, and looked down upon the men who led and dominated the deliberations, I little thought of the terrible future before us, and that I should outlive many who were then in the prime of a vigorous manhood. Young as I was, I was editor enough to know the leaders, either personally or by name.
STATESMEN OF FORTY-SIX.
There were Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine, Adams and Winthrop, of Massachusetts, Collamer and Foot, of Vermont (both afterward in the Senate and since dead), Preston King, of New York (afterward a Senator and since dead), Brodhead, Charles J. Ingersoll, Joseph R. Ingersoll, Lewis C. Levin, and David Wilmot, of Pennsylvania, the first and last afterward in the Senate, and the whole number now in their
Thomas H. Bayley and George C. Dromgoole, of Virginia, both since dead. There also were McKay, of North Carolina, Linn Boyd, of Kentucky, Cave Johnson, of Tennessee, S. F. Vinton and Joshua Giddings, of Ohio, all gathered to their fathers. And there also were many yet living, like Andrew Johnson, of Tennessce, Stevens and Toombs, of Georgia—these two last among the most active of the moderate men of that period ; Whigs as earnest as young Delano and Schenck, of Ohio, who were in the same House, one of them now General Grant's Secretary of the Interior, and the other his Minister to England.
In this same Congress, a Representative from Illinois, was E. D. Baker, afterward a Senator from Oregon, whose noble reply to Breckinridge, some fifteen years later, I quoted from in my last number. Born in England, and “brought to this country when a child, and left an orphan in Philadelphia,” this boy of genius, this handsome, whole-hearted man, this statesman in the Senate and hero in the field, had no idea, at that early day, when he fought Douglas in the House, that they two would harmonize in love of country at last, and that they would go to meet their father-God in the same year, and only a few months apart. How bitter these Whigs and Democrats were! How angry they got themselves, and how angry they made their respective friends! And yet at the end of less than a generation we find Douglas and Baker, intense party foes in the year 1846, lying down together almost in the same grave, at nearly the same time, martyrs alike to the same holy cause, in the
year 1861. · They were strangely alike in many things. They were
familiar to a degree. Their tastes were similar. They loved their friends without hating their foes. Neither believed in the philosophy of revenge. They thought they did sometimes in their impulses, but when the passion passed off they forgave like gods. Mean men only live in the darkness of malice. It is the great soul alone that outlives in history and memory the mean soul, unless the latter is so infamous as to stand as a beacon and a warning. Of this school were Baker and Douglas. But to my story.
I sat in the gallery of the old House, now the glorious receptacle which I hope decent courage in our public men will secure from the profanation of being a sepulchre for every dead-beat in the way of art, where Stephen A. Douglas made his magnificent speech in favor of the annexation of Texas in reply to ex-President Adams. I shall never forget that sweet and odorous 13th of May, 1846. Nowhere, as it seems to me, is there an atmosphere like Washington in May and June. Nature seems to revel in the supreme luxury of her own charms. That spot, without snow in winter, prolonging its equal reign far into the summer, and resuming its neutral sway early in September, seems to have been chosen as the “golden mean” alike of politics and climate. I had come from my little country-city to hear and to see, and I was gratified.
In view of the fact that Texas is now the fertile outpost of an athletic civilization, and of the other fact that if we had not conquered her from Mexico, she would be to-day a sort of middle ground, compounded of guerillas and knights of the free lance, the friends of annexation may claim a sort of poetical vindication. Mexico is still a most vexatious problem. What would Texas be if left to the mercy of Mexico, or to the manipulations of foreign powers? In this light the annexation of 1846, consummated by the treaty of Guadaloupe-Hidalgo in 1848, was a measure of consummate foresight.
I shall never forget how eagerly John Quincy Adams listened