David J. (David Josiah) Brewer.

Crowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 10) online

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ing, as it were, in the dark, to find political
truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when
presented to us, — how has it happened, sir,
that we have not hitherto once thought of
humbly applying to the Father of Light to
illuminate our understanding? ... 1 have
lived, sir, a long time; and the longer I live,
the more convincing proofs I see of this truth,
— that God governs in the affairs of men.
And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground
without his notice, is it probable that an em-
pire can rise without his aid ? We have been
assured, sir, in the Sacred Writings, that << ex-
cept the Lord build the house, they labor in
vain that build it." I firmly believe this ; and

1 also believe that, without his concurring aid,
we shall succeed in this political building no
better than the builders of Babel ; we shall be
divided by our little, partial, local interests ;
our projects will be confounded and we our-
selves shall become a reproach and a byword
down to future ages. And, what is worse,
mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate
instance, despair of establishing government by
human wisdom, and leave it to chance, war,
and conquest. — From a speech in the Consiitti-
tional Convention of 1787.

Public Benefactors and Their Rewards —
Lord Brougham : It has been the lot of all
men, in all ages, who have aspired at the honor
of guiding, instructing, or amending mankind,
to have their paths beset by every persecution
from adversaries, by every misconstruction from
friends; no quarter from the one, — no chari-
table construction from the other ! To be mis-
construed, misrepresented, borne down, till it
was in vain to bear down any longer, has been
their fate. But truth will survive, and calumny
has its day.

Public Office a Public Trust — William
Wallace Crapo : Public offices are a public
trust, to be held and administered with the
same exact justice and the same conscientious
regard for the responsibilities involved as are
ri^quired in the execution of private trusts. —

2 roj?i an opening address to the Massachztsetts
Republican State Co7tvention, i88t.

Public Opinion — Daniel Webster: We
think that nothing is powerful enough to stand
before autocratic, monarchical, or despotic
power. There is something strong enough,
quite strong enough, — and, if properly exerted,
will prove itself so,— and that is the pover of
mtelligent public opinion in all the nations of

the earth. There is not a monarch on 'earth
whose throne is nut liable to be shaken by
the progress of opinion, and the sentiment of
the just and intelligent part of the people. It
becomes us, in the station which we hold, to
let that public opinion, so far as we form it,
have a free course. I^et it go out; let it be
pronounced in thunder tones ; let it open the
ears of the deaf; let it open the eyes of the
blind ; and let it everywhere be proclaimed
what we of this great Republic think of the
general principle of human libei'cy, and of that
oppression which all abhor. — From a speech in

Quintilian — Oratory and Virtue : Now,
according to my definition, no man can be
a perfect orator unless he is also a good man,

Randall, S. J. — Protection and Free Trade
Under the Constitution : I do not favor
a tariff enacted upon the ground of protection
simply for the sake of protection, l3ecause I
doubt the existence of any constitutional war-
rant for any such construction or the grant of
any such power. It would manifestly be in the
nature of class legislation, and to such legisla-
tion, favoring one class at the expense of any
other, I have always been opposed.

In my judgment the question of fr3e trade
will not arise practically in this country during
our lives, if ever, so long as we continue to raise
revenue by duties on imports, and, therefore,
the discussion of that principle is an absolute
waste of time. After our public debt is paid
in full, our expenditures can hardly be much
below two hundred million dollars, and if this
is levied in a businesslike and intelligent man-
ner it will afford adequate protection to every
industrial interest in the United States. The
assertion that the Constitution permits the levy-
ing of duties in favor of protection << for the
sake of protection >> is equally uncalled for and
unnecessary. Both are alike delusory and not
involved in any practical administrative policy.
If brought to the test, I believe neither would
stand for a day. Protection for the sake of pro-
tection is prohibition pure and simple of import-
ation, and if there be no importation, there
will be no duties collected, and consequently
no revenue, leaving the necessarj^ expenses of
the Government to be collected by direct taxes.
— From a speech in Congress, May jik, 1SS2.

Rather Be Right than President — Henry

Clay : Sir, I had rather be right than Presi-
dent. — To Senator W. C. Preston, of South Caro-
lina, tSsQ.

Representative Government — Geo:-:,"; Mac-
Duffle : It is obvious that liberty has a more
extensive and durable foundation in the United
States than it ever has had in any other age or
country. By the representative principle, — a
principle unknown and impracticable among
the Ancients, — the vv-hole mass of socie.ty is
brought to operate in constraining the ac*:ion of
power, and in the conservatioii of public liberty.



Eevolutionists of Seventy-Six — Kenneth
Eaynor : The extension of our country's lim-
its; the rapid progress of our civilization, our
freedom, our religion, and our laws; the tri-
umphs of our amis ; the advancement of our
commerce ; our wonderful improvements in lit-
erature, in arts, and in industrial enterprise ; in
fact, the teeming wealth and luxury and com-
fort of our boundless resources, and the num-
berless blessings with which kind heaven has
favored us, — for the germ and development of
all these, our revolutionary benefactors, who ap-
pealed to heaven for the rectitude of their in-
tentions, uttered the declaration: << Let this
nation be free >' ; and lo ! it was free ! Sir, can
we, their posterity, feel gratitude warm enough
to requite the boon they bequeathed us ? Can
we speak in language glowing enough duly to
sound their praise ? Can we build monuments
high enough to tell the story of their deeds?
• — From a speech in the North Carolina legis-
lature, Janitary 20th, /SjS-

Right or Wrong, Our Country — Stephen
Decatur : Our Country ! In her intercourse
with foreign nations, may she always be in the
right; but our Country, right or wrong. — A
toast in iSj6.

Rollins, James Sidney— Southern Patri-
otism : Washington and Jefferson, Madison,
Clay, and Jackson were not only Southern men,
but they were all slaveholders; while if you
will trace the history of slavery on this conti-
nent, you will find that the people of the North-
ern States were as largely instrumental, and
profited as much, in the establishment of Afri-
can slavery here as did the Southern people.
Whatever guilt attaches to it in a moral or
political point of view must be forever shared
equally by the North and South. Sir, the great
men of the South need no defense at my hands.
There is not a page in your country's history
that is not illuminated and adorned by their
wisdom, their patriotism, and their valor. From
the time that the first blow was struck in the
cause of American independence until the
breaking out of this << accursed rebellion,>^ there
is scarcely a battlefield whose sands were not
moistened by the blood of patriotic Southern
men. To them the world is largely indebted
for the establishment of free government on
this continent. And the cause of humanity
and liberty in the distant regions of the earth
has had no truer and wanner advocates in this
Capitol than Southern men, whose eloquent
words came —

« So softly that, like flakes of feathered snow.
They melted as they fell."

— Fro7n a speech fielivered in the House of Rep-
resentatives, April 24th, 1862.

Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion— Reverend
Samuel Dicliinson Burchard : We are Repub-
licans and don't propose to leave our party and
identify ourselves with the party whose ante-
cedents have been Rum, Romanism, and Re-
bellion! — Fro7n an address niade as one of a

deputation of clergy visiting Mr. Blaine, at the
Fifth Avenue Hotel, N'ezv York city, October 2gth,

Rush, Benjamin — Extent of Territory :
Let every man exert himself in promoting vir-
tue and knowledge in our country, and we shall
soon become good republicans. Look at the
steps by which governments have been changed,
or rendered stable in Europe. Read the his-
tory of Great Britain. Her boasted govern-
ment has risen out of wars and rebellions that
lasted above six hundred )'ears. The United
States are traveling peaceably into order and
good government. They know no strife — but
what arises from the collision of opinions ; and,
in three years, they have advanced further in
the road to stability and happiness than most
of the nations in Europe have done in as many

There is but one path that can lead the
United States to destruction; and that is their
extent of territory. It was probably to effect
this that Great Britain ceded to us so much
waste land. But even this path may be avoided.
— Fro?}t an address of 1787, previous to the meet-
ing of the Constittitional Convention.

Savonarola, Girolamo — Compassion in
Heaven : God remits the sins of men, and
justifies them by his mercy. There are as many
compassions in heaven as there are justified
men upon earth; for none are saved by their
own works. No man can boast of himself ;
and if, in the presence of God, we could ask
all these justified sinners — Have you been
saved by your own strength ? — all would reply
as with one voice. Not unto us, O Lord ! not
unto us ; but to thy name be the glory ! — There-
fore, O God, do I seek thy mercy, and I bring
not unto thee my own righteousness ; but when
by thy grace thou justifiest me, then thy right-
eousness belongs unto me ; for grace is the
righteousness of God. So long, O man, so long
as thou believest not, thou art, because of thy
sin, destitute of grace. O God, save me by thy
righteousness, that is to say, in thy Son, who
alone among men was found without sin.

Secession in Peace Impossihle — Daniel
Webster : Such a thing as peaceable secession !
It is utterly impossible. Is the Constitution
under which we live, covering this whole coun-
try, to be thawed and melted away by seces-
sion, as the snows upon the mountains are
melted under the influence of a vernal sun, to
disappear almost unobserved ? Our ancestors
would rebuke and reproach us; our children
and grandchildren would cry shame upon us,
if we of this generation should tarnish those
ensigns of the honor, power, and harmony of
the Union, which we now behold with so much
joy and gratitude.

Peaceable secession ! A concurrent resolu-
tion of all the members of this great Republic
to separate ! Where is the line to be drawn ?
What States are to be associated ? What is to
become of the army ? What is to become of
the navy ? What is to become of the public



lands? Alasl what is to remain of America?
What am I to be ? Where is our flag to re-
main ? Where is the eagle still to soar aloft ?
or is he to cower, and shrink, and fall to the
earth ?

St, we could not sit down here to-day, and
draw 2 line of separation that would satisfy
any fi /a men in the country. There are natural
causes that would keep and tie us together, and
there are social and domestic relations which
we could not break if we would, and which we
should not if we could.— From a speech in 1850.

Self-GoTernment — Tbonias Jefferson:

Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted
with the government of himself. Can he, then,
be trusted with the government of others ? Or
have we found angels in the form of kings to
govern him ? Let history answer this question.

Service to Party and Country — Ruther-
ford B. Hayes : The President . . . should
strive to be always mindful of the fact that he
ser\'es his party best who serves the country
best. — Inaugural, 1877.

ShC(-J Him on the Spc1;— Jolin A. Dix:

If any one attempt to haul down the Ameri-
can flag, shoot him on the spot. — A telegram
sent January 2Qtk, 1861.

Sink or Swim, Live or Die— Daniel Web-
ster (Attribu ed by Him to John Adams):
Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I
give my hand and my heart to this vote. It is
true, indeed, that in the beginning we aimed
not at independence. But there's a divinity
which shapes our ends. The injustice of Eng-
land has driven us to arms; and, blinded to
her own interest, for our good, she has ob-
stinately persisted, till independence is now
within our grasp. We have but to reach forth
to it, and it is ours. \Vhy, then, should we de-
fer the Declaration ? Is any man so weak as
now to hope for a reconciliation with England,
which shall leave either safety to the country
and its liberties, or safety to his own life and
his own honor;

Slanderers as iiusects — Lord Brougham:

Not that they wound deeply or injure much ;
but that is no fault of theirs ; without hurting
they give trouble and discomfort. The insect
brought into life by corruption, and nested in
filth, though its flight be lowly and its sting
puny, can swarm and buzz and irritate the
skin and offend the nostril, and altogether give
us nearly as much annoyance as the wasp,
whose zioblei- liature it strives to emulate.
These reve-snd slanderers, — these pious back-
biters, — devoid of force to wield the sword,
snatch the dagger; and destitute of wit to
point or to barb it, and make it rankle in the
wound, steep it in venom to make it fester in
the scratch.

Sober Second ^iiought — Fisher Ames: I
consider biennial elections as a security that
the << sober, second thought" of the people
shall be law.— Quoting Matthew Hale.

Society and Government ~ John C. Cal-
houn : Society can no more exist without gov-
ernment, in one form or another, than man
without society. It is the political, then, which
includes the social, that is his natural state.

Soule, Pierre — American Progress: Sir,
public opinion scorns the presumptuous thought
that you can restrain this growing country
within the narrow sphere of action originally
assigned to its nascent energies, and keep it
eternally bound up in swaddles. As the infant
grows, it requires a more substantial nourish-
ment, a more active exercise. So the lusty ap-
petite of its manhood would ill fare with what
might satisfy the soberer demands of its youth.
Do not, therefore, attempt to stop it on its on-
ward career; for as well might you command
the sun not to break through the fleecy clouds
that herald its advent in the horizon, or to
shroud itself in gloom and darkness as it as-
cends the meridian. — From a speech delivered
in the Setiate Chamber of the United States,
March 12th, 1832.

Sovereignty of Individual Manhood— D.
Uhlman : The great truth which was promul-
gated by the Declaration of Independence,
and established by the War of the Revolution,
and made the distinguishing characteristic of
our nationality, was that ail legitimate power
resides in, and is derived from, the people.
This sublime truth, to us so self-evident, so
simple, so obvious, was before that time meas-
urably undeveloped in the history of the world.
Philosophers, in their dreams, had built ideal
governments; Plato had luxuriated in the hap-
piness of his fanciful republic ; Sir Thomas
More had reveled in the bright visions of his
Utopia; the immortal Milton had uttered his
sublime views on freedom ; and the great Locke
had published his profound speculations on
the true principles of government; but never,
until the establishment of American independ-
ence, was it, except in very imperfect modes,
acknowledged by a nation, and made the cor-
ner-stone and foundation of its government that
the sovereign power is vested in the mass. —
From a speech in i8s5.

Spanish-American Independence — George
Canning : Contemplating Spain such as our
ancestors had known her, I resolved that, if
France had Spain, it should not be Spain
«with the Indies." I called the New World
into existence, to redress the balance of the
Old ! Thus, sir, I answer the question of the
occupation of Spain by the army of France. —
From a speech in Parliameftt in 1826.

Spoils — William L. Marcy : To the victors
belong the spoils of the enemy. — United States
Senate, Jamiary iSj2.

Step to the Music of the Union — Rufus
Choate : We join ourselves to no party that
does no*: carry the flag and keep step to the
music of the Union. — To the Whig Convention,
October /st, /Sjj.



Storrs, E. S. — Short Sermons : It is when
we have borne submissively some dreadful sor-
row that we see the golden ladder reaching
upward, as did Perpetua from the darkness of
the dungeon ; when we have given ourselves
to some great work and wrought it, by God's
help and the inspiration of his spirit, triumph-
antly to the end, that the vision of heaven is
granted us. . . .

Eternal punishment is not sim.ply a volun-
tary infliction ; it is the consolidation and per-
petuation of evil character, projecting itself into
the eternal world, and reaping its own self-
prepared results and consequences. . . .

When loss of property and loss of repute are
come, when the severance of friendship has
come, when the future is overcast with disap-
pointment, and hopes are shattered, and we
know nothing of what is to come except sim-
ply this, that we know God's will must be done,
and try to do what is pleasing in his sight, and
leave all to him, the endurance which then
reveals itself is the masterful power of the
human will. Men- trained in this experience
cannot be frightened nor disheartened by
troubles, however great. . . .

There is no life which in the past has testi-
fied to the power and beauty of the Gospel
but what lives to-day and shall continue in our
future, unfolding life. There has been no
shrinking from duty or sluggishness but what
has left its impress on us ; and on the other
hand, no gift, no act of self-denial which does
not still work in us as a beneficent power. . . .

You may measure, better than by an^-thing
else, the moral value of man or woman, by that
aspiration which is central and permanent in
their spirit and life. . . .

Strong Government — Thomas Jefferson :
I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest
government on earth. I believe it the only one
where every man, at the call of the law, would
fly to the standard of the law, and would meet
invasions of the public order, as his own per-
sonal concern.

Supreme Court, The — Horace Binney:
What, sir, is the Supreme Court of the United
States ? It is the august representative of the
wisdom and justice and conscience of this whole
people, in the exposition of their Constitution
and laws. It is the peaceful and venerable ar-
bitrator between the citizens in all questions
touching the extent and sway of constitutional
power. It is the great moral substitute for force
in controversies between the people, the States,
and the Union.

Swing, David — Apothegms : Let us learn to
be content with what we have, with the place
we have in life. Let us get rid of our false
estimates, let us throw down the god Money
from its pedestal, trample that senseless idol
under foot, set up all the higher ideals — a neat
home, vines of our own planting, a few books
full of the inspiration of genius, a few friends
worthy of being loved, and able to love us in

return ; a hundred innocent pleasures that bring
no pain or remorse, a devotion to the right that
will never swerve, a simple religion empty of
all bigotry, full of hope and trust and love,
and to such a philosophy this world will give
up all the joy it has. . . .

Thinkers alone cannot make a great period.
The glory of Christ was not that he knew
much, but that he loved much. . . .

A novel is the world's truth with a beautiful
woman walking through it. . . .

As the sky has a higher dome than St.
Peter's, so has nature a greater architect than
Angelo. . . .

When a man pursues money only, his feat-
ures become narrowed ; his eyes shrink and
converge ; his smile, when he has any, hardens ;
his language fails of poetry and ornament ; his
letters to a friend dwindle down to a tele-
graphic dispatch ; he seems to have no time
for anything, because his heart has onl)- one
thing for which it wishes time. . . .

Swinging Around the Circle — Andrew
Johnson : We are swinging around the circle.
— Said of his tour in 1866.

'T'axation when Unnecessary a Eobbery —
^ John C. Calhoun : Will you collect money
when it is acknowledged that it is not wanted ?
He who earns the money, who digs it from
the earth with the sweat of his brow, has a
just title to it, against the universe. No one
has a right to touch it without his consent,
except his government, and that only te the
extent of its legitimate wants; — to take more
is robbery; and you propose by this bill to
enforce robbery by murder. Yes ! to this re-
sult you must come, by this miserable soph-
istry, this vague abstraction of enforcing the
law, without a regard to the fact whether the
law be just or unjust, constitutional or uncon-
stitutional !

Tea Taxes and the American Character —
Colonel Isaac Barre: The Americans may be
flattered into anything ; but they are too much
like yourselves to be driven. Have some in-
dulgence for your own likeness ; respect their
sturdy English virtue ; retract your odious ex-
ertions of authority, and remember that the
first step towards making them contribute to
your wants is to reconcile them to your gov-

The Bloody Chasm— Horace Greeley: I

accept your nomination in the confident trust
that the masses of our countrymen. North and
South, are eager to clasp hands across the
bloody chasm which has so long divided them.
— Accepting the Liberal Republicati nomination,

The Constitution as It Is, and the Union
as It Was — James Sidney Rollins: Our
safety consists in guarding with jealous care
the rights and the powers of the individual
States, as well as of the General Government,
as defined in the Federal Constitution — a Con-



stitution that in the achievements of human
wisdom stands without a parallel. . . . For
one, sir, I should be content to-day with the
old order of tilings, with « the Constitution as
it is and the Union as it was.» They met
the objects for which they were created. No
peopJe on earth ever prospered as did the
American people under the influence of our
free tud beneficent institutions. They were
established by the wisest and noblest men that
ever adorned the annals of human history. I
was satisfied with their work. It was good
enough for me and my children. — F7-om a
speech in the House of Representatives, May 30th,

The Only People Who Can Harm Us —
Benjamin Harrison: It is not in the power
of any people upon earth much to harm us,
except our own people.

Tyler, John— The Flag of Yorktown: I

regard union, next to freedom, as the greatest
of blessings. Yes, sir, " the Federal Union must
be preserved. » But how ? Will you seek to
preserve it by force ? Will you appease the
angry spirit of discord by an oblation of blood ?
Suppose that the proud and haughty spirit of
South Carolina shall not bend to your high
edicts in token of fealty ; that you make war
upon her, hang her governor, her legislators,
and judges, as traitors, and reduce her to the
condition of a conquered province — have you
preserved the Union ? This Union consists of
twenty-four States; would you have preserved
the Union by striking out one of the States —
one of the old thirteen ? Gentlemen have boasted
of the flag of our country with its thirteen stars.
When the light of one of these stars shall have
been extinguished, will the flag wave over us
under which our fathers fought ? If we are to
go on striking out star after star, what will
finally remain but a central and a burning sun,
blighting and destroying ever>' germ of liberty ?
The flag which I wish to wave over me is that
which floated in triumph at Saratoga and York-
town. It bore upon it thirteen States, of which

Online LibraryDavid J. (David Josiah) BrewerCrowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 10) → online text (page 33 of 56)