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The lesson taught us by this case is, that not only may every mail steamer of a neutral be seized, and searched for contraband of war or despatches of the enemy, but that her voyage may and must be broken up, and the vessel brought in for adjudication. Neutral commerce may well pray relief from her friends.
But will England feel herself bound by the precedent such as it is? So long as it is convenient, — not a moment longer. Her standard of right has been, is, and will be, the maritime power and interests of England. There is nothing in the law of nature and of” nations that will stand in the way of her imperious will.
SPEECH AT THE MASS MEETING FOR RECRUITING,
ON BOSTON COMMON.
AUGUST 27, 1862.
Mr. PRESIDENT AND FELLOW-CITIZENS, -If you could analyze the feelings of a candle upon being lit up just as the sun was going down, you would appreciate my feelings in succeeding New England's most accomplished orator.* But you neither expect, nor would you tolerate, an elaborate speech. Indeed, if I consulted my own heart, my lips would be sealed.
When the beauty of our Israel is slain on her high places; when the sons of our love are perishing in loathsome dungeons; when armed treason is battering the gates of the capital; when the nation itself is struggling, gasping, for the breath of its life; rhetoric, logic, eloquence even, seem mean and paltry. Nothing, indeed, is eloquent but the roar of the cannon and the crack of the rifle, nothing logical but the sword and the bayonet.
The issues before the country are of life or death, glory or shame, order or anarchy, union or chaos, a nation or a Mexico. And, in this hour of awful peril, there is for us but one hope, one way of salvation; and you put
* Mr. Everett.
that is to subdue armed rebellion by arms, — to overwhelm it by superior force on the field of battle.
Processions and banners, touching allusions to Bunker Hill and Faneuil Hall, sentimental resolutions, proclamations beginning and ending in words, bills of confiscation and emancipation, after much travail utterly still born, won't do the work. If you mean to save the country, you have got to fight for it. The negro can't do it for you; Providence won't do it for
unless your shoulders to the wheel. You have got to work out your own salvation ; in this case, without “fear or trembling."
The only alternative is to sue for peace, and submit to dissolution; to betray the sublime trust committed to us by God and our fathers, and to rot into dishonored graves at home.
If this be so, men of Boston, patriotic, self-sacrificing men, capable of living and dying for your country, what wait you for? The path of duty lies open before you. Interest, duty, honor, patriotism, the sense of manhood, all point one way: that way leads to struggle and to victory, and, through victory, to union and peace. Controversy as to the causes of the war is useless now. Grumbling, carping criticism of the past is mean and disloyal now. Side-issues, partisan or philanthropic, are moral treason now. They weaken and divide us in a struggle that requires all our wisdom, all our energy, all our strength, directed and converged to the single work and duty of subduing the foe in arms. Not a man, not a dollar, not a thought, can be wasted on any other issue. Now or never is the salvation of the country possible. Hard words won't do it; threats and curses won't do it; violence won't do it. Nothing will do it but superior physical force in the field, wielded with an energy all the more terrible because it is calm, and knows how to obey as well as to
Fellow-citizens, we have cause for anxiety, - none for despair. We have under-estimated the strength and resources of our opponents. We have greatly underestimated our own strength and resources. Rebellion has, we may believe, made its crowning effort: its bucket has touched bottom. The water in our well is yet deep. We can maintain a million men in the field; and, on the sea, five hundred ships of war. With these, twenty millions of intelligent, united, devoted people can vindicate the integrity of the nation, and defy a world in arms. If you
would avoid intervention by foreign powers, the only way is to be prepared for it. Put your million of men into the field, and your five hundred ships upon your seas and rivers. Bear up the old flag, resolved to live under it, to conquer with it, or die beneath its folds. In an hour of your weakness, other nations may intervene; never, if you put forth your real strength,
Would you consent to separation, to give up this glorious Union of your fathers, where will you draw the line? Are the Gulf States only to be severed? Your enemy will not consent to that division. Will you give up the Border States ? The Border States will not go. Let me say in the face of the men of Boston, that a nobler, truer, more patriotic set of men, the sun does not shine upon, than the Union men of the Border States. I feel that I know them; and I tell you, they will not go. If finally driven from you, no man can say how much of the great West would go with them, or where the ultimate line of division would fall.
[Mr. Thomas here enlarged upon the geographical and commercial ties which bind the West to the South, and said there is no safety for us but in clinging to the Union as it was and the Constitution as it is.]
Let us be manly, be just, be tolerant. It is the easiest thing in the world to find fault, but not the wisest thing. In conducting war upon so vast a scale, and requiring so many and varied agencies, mistakes and blunders will be made. The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. We have a great and powerful people, and at their head an upright, conscientious, conservative Chief Magistrate. Let us work, and not grumble ; let us labor, and not faint.