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in duration the future of the United States. It is not for ourselves alone; you have the least possible interest in it. It is, indeed, for chose children of yours. Old John Adams, when, at the close of the revolutionary war, he sat down and counted up the losses and sacrifices that he had endured and made, rejoiced in the establishment of the independence which had been the great object of his life, and said: “I have gained nothing. I should have been even more comfortable, perhaps, and more quiet, had we remained under the British dominion; but for my children, and for their children, and for the children of the generation that labored with me, I feel that we have done a work which entitles us to rejoice, and call upon us by our successes to render our thanks to Almighty God.”
THE CONSTITUTION INTERPRETED.'
It has been by a simple rule of interpretation that I have studied the constitution of my country. That rule has been simply this: That by no word, no act, no combination into which I might enter, should any one human being of the generation to which I belong, much less any class of human beings, of any nation, race or kindred, be repressed and kept down in the least degree in their efforts to rise to a higher state of liberty and happiness. Amid all the glosses of the times, amid all the essays and discussions to which the con. stitution of the United States has been subjected, this has been the simple, plain, broad light in wbich I have read every article and every section of that great instrument. Whenever it requires of me that this hand shall keep down the humblest of the human race, then I will lay down power, place, position, fame, everything, rather than adopt such a construction or such a rule. If, therefore, in this land there are any that would rise, I extend to them, in God's name,
, a good speed. If there are any in foreign lands who would improve their condition by emigration, or if there be any here who would go abroad in the search of bappiness, in the improvement of their condition, or in their elevation to a higher state of dignity and happiness, they have always had, and always shall have, a cheering word and such efforts as I can consistently make in their behalf.
* Extract from Mr. Seward's speech, at Madison, September 11, 1860. Vol. IV.
POLITICAL EQUALITY THE NATIONAL IDEA.
SAINT PAUL, SEPTEMBER 18, 1860.
ONE needs to have had something of my own experience of living in a state at an early period of its material development and social improvement, and growing up with its growing greatness, to be able to appreciate the feeling with which I am oppressed, on this my first entrance into the capital of the state of Minnesota. Every step of my progress since I reached the Northern Mississippi has been attended by an agreeable and constantly increasing surprise. I had early read the works in which the geographer had described the scenes around me, and I had studied these scenes minutely in the finest productions of art; but still the grandeur, the luxuriance, the geniality of the region were but imperfectly conceived before I saw these sentinel walls that look down on the Mississippi—seen as I beheld them—just when the earliest tinges of the fall give the rich variety of hues to the American forest. I thought how much of taste and genius had been wasted in celebrating the highlands of Scotland and the mountains of Palestine, before civilized man had reached the banks of the Mississippi. And then that beautiful lake Pepin scene, at the close of the day, when the autumnal green of the shores was lost in a deep blue hue that emulated that of the heavens; the moistened atmosphere reflected the golden rays of the setting sun, and the skies above seemed to come down to complete the gorgeous drapery of the scene. It was a piece of upholstery such as no hand but that of nature could have made. This magnificent lake, I said to myself, is a fitting vestibule to the capital of the . state of Minnesota-a state which I have loved, which I ever shall love, for more reasons than time would now allow me to mention, but chiefly because it was one of three states which my own voice had been potential in bringing into the Federal Union. Every one of the three was a free state, and I believe on my soul that, of the whole three, Minnesota is the freest of all.
I find myself now, for the first time, on the highlands in the center of the continent of North America, equidistant from the waters of Hudson's bay and the gulf of Mexico, from the Atlantic ocean to the ocean in which the sun sets-here on the spot where spring up, almost side by side, and so near that they may kiss each other, the two great rivers of the continent, the one of which pursuing its strange, capricious, majestic, vivacious course through rapids and cascade, lake after lake, bay after bay, and river after river, till, at last, after a course of two thousand five hundred miles, it brings your commerce into the ocean midway to the ports of Europe, and the other, which meandering through woodland and prairie a like distance of two thousand five hundred miles, taking in tributary after tributary from the east and from the west, bringing together the waters from the western declivity of the Alleghanies and the torrents which roll down the eastern sides of the Rocky mountains, finds the Atlantic ocean in the gulf of Mexico. Here is the central place where the agriculture of the richest regions of North America must begin its magnificent supplies to the whole world. On the east, all along the shore of lake Superior, and on the west, stretching in one broad plain, in a belt across the continent, is a country where state after state is yet to rise, and whence the productions for the support of human society in other crowded states must forever go forth. This is then a commanding field; but it is as commanding in regard to the commercial future, for power is not to reside permanently on the eastern slope of the Alleghany mountains, nor in the seaports of the Pacific. Seaports have always been controlled at last by the people of the interior. The people of the inland and of the upland, those who inhabit the sources of the mighty waters, are they who supply all states with the materials of wealth and power. The seaports will be the mouths by which we shall communicate and correspond with Europe, but the power that shall speak and shall communicate and express the will of men on this continent, is to be located in the Mississippi valley, and at the source of the Mississippi and the St. Lawrence. In other days, studying what might perhaps have seemed to others a visionary subject, I have cast about for the future the ultimate central seat of power of the North American people. I have looked at Quebec and at New Or. leans, at Washington and at San Francisco, at Cincinnati and at St. Louis, and it has been the result of my best conjecture that the seat
power for North America would yet be found in the valley of Mexico; that the glories of the Aztec capital would be renewed, and that city would become ultimately the capital of the United States of America. But I have corrected that view, and I now believe that the last seat of power on the great continent will be found somewhere within a radius not very far from the very spot where I stand, at the head of navigation on the Mississippi river and on the great Mediterranean lakes.
I have often seen, but never with great surprise, that on the occasion of a revival of religion, the oldest, the most devout, the most religious preacher—he whose life had seemed to me and to the world to be better ordered according to the laws of God and of affection to mankind, has discovered that he had been entirely mistaken in his own experience, and that he now found out, to his great grief and astonishment, that he had never before been converted, and that now for the first time he had become a Christian. While standing here, I almost fall into the notion that I am in the category of that preacher, and although I cannot charge myself with having been really a sedi. tious or ever a disloyal citizen, I have yet never exactly and com. pletely understood the duties that I owed to society and the spirit that belongs to an American citizen. I have never until now occu. pied that place whence I could grasp the whole grand panorama of the continent, for the happiness of whose present people and of whose future millions of millions, it is the duty of an American statesman to labor. I have often heard it said, and indeed I have thought that one could get a very adequate idea of the greatness of this republic of ours, if he could stand as I have stood on the deck of an American ship of war, as she crossed the Mediterranean, passed through the Ionian islands, ascended the Adriatic, bearing at the mast-head the stripes and stars that command respect and inspire fear equally among the semibarbarians of Asia and the most polite and powerful nations of Europe, I have often thought that I could lift myself up to the conception of the greatness of this republic of ours by taking a stand on the terrace of the capitol of Washington, and contemplating the concentration of the political power of the American people, and then fol. lowing out in my imagination the dispatches by which that will, after being modified by the executive and legislative departments, went forth in laws, and edicts, and ordinances for the government and direction of a great people. But, after all, no such place as either of these is equal to that I now occupy. I seem to myself to stand here on this eminence as the traveler who climbs the dome of St. Peter's in Rome. There, through the opening of that dome, he seems to himself to be in almost direct and immediate communication with the Almighty Power that directs and controls the actions and the wills of men, and he looks down with pity on the priests and votaries below who vainly.try, by poring over beads and rituals, to study out and influence the mind of the Eternal. Standing here and looking far off into the northwest, I see the Russian as he busily occupies himself in establishing seaports and towns and fortifications, on the verge of this continent, as the outposts of St. Petersburg, and I can say, “Go on, and build up your outposts all along the coast up even to the Arctic ocean—they will yet become the outposts of my own country-monuments of the civilization of the United States in the northwest.” So I look off on Prince Rupert's land and Canada, and see there an ingenious, enterprising and ambitious people, occupied with bridging rivers and constructing canals, railroads and telegraphs, to organize and preserve great British provinces north of the great lakes, the St. Lawrence, and around the shores of Hudson bay, and I am able to say, “It is very well, you are building excellent states to be hereafter admitted into the American Union." I can look southwest and see, amid all the convulsions that are break. ing the Spanish American republics, and in their rapid decay and dissolution, the preparatory stage for their reörganization in free, equal and self-governing members of the United States of America. In the same high range of vision I can look down on the states and the people of the Atlantic coast of Maine and Massachusetts, of New York and Pennsylvania, of Virginia and the Carolinas, and Georgia, and Louisiana, and Texas, and round by the Pacific coast to California and Oregon. I can hear their disputes, their fretful controversies, their threats that if their own separate interests are not gratified and consulted by the federal government they will separate from this Union. I am able to say, "peace, be still.” These subjects of contention and dispute that so irritate and anger and provoke and alienate you, are but temporary and ephemeral. These institutions which you so much desire to conserve, and for which you think you would sacrifice the welfare of the people of the continent, are almost as ephemeral as yourselves. The man is born to-day who will live to see the American Union, the American people,