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The following speech' was delivered by Senator Sumner at Cooper Institute, New York, on the afternoon of Saturday, November 5, 1864, before one of the largest audiences ever assembled within the walls of that capacious hall. By this publication, the Young Men's Republican l'nion, at whose invitation the speech was delivered, brings to a close the arduous labors of its third Presidential campaign, – the last of a series of political battles, begun, prosecuted, and completed in the interest and for the furtherance of the principles so nobly and eloquently reasserted in the Massachusetts Senator's last and greatest speech.
Among the auditors, on this occasion, were at least two hundred clergymen, of all denominations, from New York, Brooklyn, Newark, and other adjacent cities. Not less than one thousand ladies, and an equal number of the most eminent citizens of New York, also aided to swell the crowd that assembled to do honor to the distinguished orator, and to express the sympathy and interest they felt in the great cause in whose behalf he was announced to plead.
Besides Francis Lieber, LL. D, the widely known Professor of Political Science in Columbia College, who was chosen Chairman of the meeting by acclamation, there were upon the platform many of the men and women of New York whose names and deeds in various walks of life have illustrated the annals of Freedom's trials and triumphs in America.
Dr. Lieber, upon taking the chair, made a brief and appropriate address, at the close of which he introduced Hon. Edwin D. Morgan, who read a telegram, received from San Francisco, giving assurance of a Union victory in California: the reading of this despatch was hailed with applause and cheers. When order had been restored, the Chairman presented the orator of the occasion, who was made the recipient of an ovation such as has seldom been accorded to a speaker in New York.
The speech, throughout, was received with every evidence of enthusiasm and approval on the part of the vast audience, the applause frequently interrupting the speaker for several moments, and at times causing the hall to become the scene of the wildest excitement. Few of those who were successful in securing admission on this occasion will forget the rounds of applause, the hearty cheers, the clapping of fair hands, and the waving of hundreds of snowy handkerchiefs, by which the swarming crowd so often testified its appreciation of Mr. Sumner's scholarly diction, effective eloquence,
1 This Introduction, by the Committee of the Young Men's Republican Union, appenred as a “ Prefatory Note” to the New York pamphlet edition.
and patriotic, statesmanlike utterance of these great political truths. It is but simple truth to say, that none of the many political meetings of the campaign, in New York, could at all compare with this mass meeting of the flower of our citizenship, whether regard be had to the numbers, intelligence, social position, or sound sentiments of loyalty, which were the characteristics of the great gathering of November 5th, 1864.
NELLOW-CITIZENS,- In all the concerns of life,
the first necessity is to see and comprehend the circumstances about us. Without this knowledge humạn conduct must fail. Without this knowledge the machine cannot be worked, the ground cannot be tilled, the ship cannot be navigated, war cannot be waged, government cannot be conducted. The old Greek, suddenly enveloped in a clond while battling with his enemies, exclaimed, “Give me to see!” -- and this exclamation of the warrior is the exclamation, also, of every person in practical life, whether striving for country or only for himself. “Give me to see,” that I may comprehend my duty. “Give me to see,” that I may recognize my enemy. “Give me to see,” that I may know where to strike.
The wise physician, before any prescription for his patient, endeavors, by careful diagnosis, to ascertain the nature of the disease or injury, and when this is done, he proceeds with confidence. Without such knowledge all medical skill must fail. You do not forget how it failed in the recent case of the Italian patriot, Garibaldi, suffering cruelly from a wound in the foot, received at the unfortunate battle of Aspromonte, which for a long time nobody seemed to understand. Eminent
surgeons of different countries were at fault. At last Nélaton, the liberal professor of the Medical School at Paris, leaving pupils and patients, journeyed into Italy to visit the illustrious sufferer. Other surgeons said that there was no ball lodged in the foot; the French surgeon, after careful diagnosis, declared that there was, and at once extracted it. From that time Garibaldi gained in health and strength, thanks to his scientific visitor, who was enabled to understand his case.
Nowhere is diagnosis more important than in national affairs. Men are naturally patriotic. They love their country with instinctive love, quickened at the mother's knee, and nursed in the earliest teachings of the school. For country they offer fortune and life. But while thus devoted, they do not always clearly see the line of duty. Local prejudice, personal antipathy, and selfish interest obscure the vision. And far beyond all these is the disturbing influence of “party,” with all the power of discipline and organization added to numbers. Men attach themselves to a political party as to a religion, and yield blindly to its behests. By error of judgment, rather than of heart, they give up to party what was meant for country or mankind. I do not condemn political parties, but warn against their tyranny.
A patriotic Opposition, watchful of the public service, is hardly less important than a patriotic Administration. They are the complements of each other, and, even while in open conflict, unite in duty to country.
But a political party which ceases to be patriotic, which openly takes sides with Rebellion, which sends up “blue lights” as a signal to an armed foe, or which subtly undermines those popular energies now needed for the national defence, that the Republic may live, — such a party is an
engine of frightful evil, to be abhorred as "the gates of hell.” It is, unhappily, an evil of party always, even in its best estate, that it tends to dominate over its members, so as to create an oligarchical power, a sort of imperium in imperio, which may overshadow the Government itself. This influence becomes disastrous beyond measure, when bad men obtain control or bad ideas prevail. Then must all who are not ready to forget their country consider carefully the consequences of their conduct. Adherence to party may leave but one step to treason.
Fellow-citizens, I address you as patriots who love their country and would not willingly see it suffer, who rejoice in its triumphs and long to behold its flag furled in peace. But it is the nature of true patriotism to love country most when it is most in peril. As dangers thicken and skies darken, the patriot soul is roused by internal fire so that no sacrifice seems too great. And now, when the national life is assailed by traitors at home, while foreign powers look on with wicked syinpathy, I begin by asking that you should forget "party" and all its watchwords. Think only of country.
There is much misconception, even among well-meaning persons, with regard to the object of the war, while partisans do not tire of misrepresenting it. A plain statement will show the truth as it is.
It is often said that the object of the war on our part is simply to restore the Constitution, and much mystification is employed with regard to the essential limits of such a contest. Mr. Crittenden's resolution, adorted