Page images







"Nature and Laws would be in an ill case, if Slavery should find what to say for itself, and Liberty
be mute; and if tyrants should find men to plead for them, and they that can waste and vanquish
tyrants, should not be able to find advocates."







New York: 11 East Seventeenth Street

The Riverside Press, Cambridge


[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1861,


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States in and for the

Northern District of New York.



THE fourth volume of THE WORKS OF WILLIAM H. SEWARD, is now presented to the public.

The three preceding volumes, beginning with the earliest events of his life, closed with the enactment of the compromises of 1850.

The present volume includes the succeeding and eventful period made memorable by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, the struggle of slavery for Kansas, the assault upon a senator in the senate chamber by a slaveholding representative of South Carolina, the organization of the Republican party, its almost successful contest in 1856, and its triumph in the presidential election of 1860, and by the admission of Kansas into the Union a Free State :-a period that may be said to comprise the harvest season of those principles which in previous years Mr. Seward had sown in the public mind, and watched and cultivated with so much consistency and integrity of purpose.

The Memoir begun in the first volume is continued in the following pages, down to the inauguration of a Republican administration. It aims only to give a plain history of the times and events of which Mr. Seward is so important a part. The action of Congress and the movements of political parties during the ten years-especially such as find illustration and comment in his speeches are quite fully recorded. His interesting tour through the Western states during the last presidential campaign, including all the brief but eloquent

speeches which he made at various places in response to the addresses presented to him, forms a considerable portion of the Memoir. These impromptu speeches contain many beautiful passages and are full of Mr. Seward's peculiar sentiments.

The ORATIONS and ADDRESSES, following the Memoir, are among the most valuable productions of their author's fertile mind. They are entitled, The Destiny of America; The True Basis of American Independence; The Physical, Moral and Intellectual Development of the American People; and The Pilgrims and Liberty.

A BIOGRAPHY OF DE WITT CLINTON, occupies the next twenty pages of the volume. This is an original paper,' prepared with that just appreciation of its subject which Mr. Seward is known to entertain. It gives more clearly than any biography, yet written, of that illustrious man, the political springs which moved his public life.

POLITICAL SPEECHES, is the title of the next division of the volume. The limits of a Preface will allow but a passing allusion to any of the contents of the volume. We can only, therefore, call attention to these speeches-some twenty in number, beginning with the advent of the Republican party, in 1854, and extending through the campaigns of 1856; 1858 and 1860-as containing the history and philosophy of the great party which now governs the country.

The SPEECHES IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, embraced in this volume, present an eloquent and vivid history of the Kansas struggle from its inception in 1854, when Mr. Douglas introduced the bill to organize the territory, to the final success of Freedom in 1861, when the Senate by a decisive vote admitted the new state into the Union.

Mr. Seward's latest speeches, on THE STATE OF THE UNION, conIclude the volume.

His speeches in the Senate, with those before the people in their primary assemblies, make a text book from which the richest instruc

1 A portion of it appears also in the New American Cyclopedia.

tions may be drawn in the new Era upon which our country is just entering.

Perhaps the criticism that in some quarters greeted the earlier volumes may salute this—that herein is Mr. Seward proven to be an Agitator. But History vindicates the agitator, from Paul to Luther and from Luther to the century of Romilly, Wilberforce and Jefferson. That Mr. Seward has been an Agitator to no purpose will hardly, now, be contended, if the to-day at Washington be contrasted with the morning when the Atherton resolutions were introduced into the House, or with the hour when Mr. Seward, almost alone, confronted an unbroken column of pro-slavery senators.

Nevertheless, as Mr. Seward himself has said, the verdict is not to be looked for in the passing hour. "There is Yet in that word Hereafter."

Neither, is this the place for vindication or eulogy, if any were needed. The four volumes speak for themselves.

In those before published, appear Mr. Seward's Orations and Discourses; his Occasional Addresses and Speeches; his Notes on New York and Executive Messages; his Forensic Arguments and Political Writings; his Correspondence with the Virginia and Georgia Governors, and his Letters from Europe in 1833; his Speeches in the Senate of New York, and in the Senate of the United States.

The friendly zeal which has prepared these volumes, may have given place or prominence to some sentiments and speeches which a timid policy would have suppressed. In similar collections an Index Expurgatorius, it is charged, has been allowed to swallow up the living issues of the day.

But the Works of William H. Seward could not escape an injunction writ from their primary author, unless the boldness and frankness of his thoughts had faithfully manipulated the types.

Mr. Seward's sentences are all so full of the inspiration of Liberty and Justice, and so like aphorisms, that it is difficult to abbreviate

« PreviousContinue »