« AnteriorContinuar »
American merchant will be found everywhere coöperating in the noble efforts by which the triumphs of the Cross are yet to encircle the earth!
There is another stain upon the commercial spirit, of even deeper dye. I need not, in this presence, do more than name the African slave trade. Gentlemen, this flagitious traffic is still extensively prosecuted. Recent debates in the British Parliament would seem to show that it has of late been largely on the increase; and that the number of slaves now annually taken from the coast of Africa, is more than twice as great as it was at the commencement of the present century. Recent developments at Brazil, too, would seem to implicate our own American commerce, and even our own New England shipping, in “the deep damnation of this taking off.” It is, certainly, quite too well understood, that American vessels, sailing under the American flag, are the favorite vehicles of the slave trader. No force of language, no array of epithets, can add to the sense of shame and humiliation which the simplest statement of such facts must excite in every true American heart.
Gentlemen, we naturally look to the organized forces of our National Government to suppress these abuses of our shipping and our flag, and we all rejoice in the recent negotiation of a treaty, in the highest degree honorable to our great Massachusetts statesman, by which their suppression will be facilitated. But neither the combined navies of Great Britain and the United States, nor of the world, can accomplish this work with. out other aid. The coöperation of commercial men; the general combination and conspiracy, if I may so speak, of all who go down to the sea in ships, or are in any degree connected with business on the great waters, the merchants and merchants clerks, the consignors and consignees, the captains, the supercargoes, the mates, and the common sailors alike; - these must come in aid of our armed squadrons, or the slave trade will still leave a stain upon commerce, which not all great Neptune's ocean will wash clean,” but which will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine!" If a New England or an American vessel be concerned in that traffic, there should be at least no Boston breast, and no Massachusetts breast, capable of containing the guilty secret. The commercial character, the moral character, of our City and of our Commonwealth should be vindicated on such an occasion, as they were just two hundred years ago, when one Thomas Keyser and one James Smith, (the latter a member of the church of Boston,) first involved these colonies in the iniquity of participating in the slave trade; and when, under the lead of Richard Saltonstall, (the ancestor of the late honored and lamented Leverett Saltonstall,) a cry was raised against them as malefactors and murderers; - a cry which could not be hushed, until the culprits had been “ laid hold on, and their wretched victims wrested from their clutches and remitted to their native shore. I charge you, young men, to commit yourselves early to this cause, and to make it a principle of your association, not merely that you will never participate directly or indirectly in such an ignominious traffic, but that you will omit no opportunity which either any effort or any accident in after life may afford you, of exposing any one who may be concerned in it, to the public scorn and legal chastisement which he so richly merits.
Mr. President and Gentlemen, I may detain you and this distinguished audience no longer. I have endeavored to say something which should impress you with a deeper sense of the dignity of the profession which you have chosen, and of the duties and responsibilities which belong to it. I have desired, also, to suggest some views which should impress upon the community a just sense of the value of your institution, and of the importance of sustaining and encouraging it. May your brightest prospects be realized, and your best hopes fulfilled. May the liberality of your patrons and friends soon supply you with a Hall of your own, arranged with every reasonable refer. ence to your accommodation in pursuing the preparation for which you are associated. Let it be supplied with a Library, which shall leave you nothing to desire in the way of useful knowledge or profitable entertainment. Let it be adorned, from time to time, with the portraits of those whose examples are worthy of your imitation; the Merchant-Patriots, who have written their own names upon the title-deeds of our Liberty; and the Merchant-Philanthropists, whose names have been inscribed, by a grateful community, on the institutions by which that liberty is best supported and most worthily illustrated. Let it be dedicated to the cause of Freedom, Civilization, and Peace. But let each one who enjoys its opportunities and privileges remember, that halls, and libraries, and decorations, and dedications, are no substitute for his own individual efforts. Let him remember, that he has chosen a vocation which, in its highest branches, is a Science, with principles worthy of the deepest and most devoted study; and which, in all its branches, will reward the best preparation both of the intellect and of the heart. And may you all be inspired with the ambition, of securing for our own country and for our own city, so far as in you lies, some share in that noble tribute which was paid by the celebrated Montesquieu, a century ago, to the land of our Fathers :“ They know (said he, speaking of the people of England) better than any other people upon earth, how to value, at the same time, these three great advantages, RELIGION, COMMERCE, and LIBERTY!"
NATIONAL MONUMENT TO WASHINGTON.
AN ORATION DELIVERED AT THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT, ON THE OCCASION
OF LAYING THE CORNER-STONE OF THE NATIONAL MONUMENT TO WASHINGTON, JULY 4, 1848.
FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES, —
We are assembled to take the first step towards the fulfilment of a long-deferred obligation. In this eight-and-fortieth year since his death, we have come together to lay the corner-stone of a National Monument to WASHINGTON.
Other monuments to this illustrious person have long ago been erected. By not a few of the great States of our Union, by not a few of the great cities of our States, the chiselled statue or the lofty column has been set up in his honor. The highest art of the Old World, - of France, of Italy, and of England, successively, — has been put in requisition for the purpose. Houdon for Virginia, Canova for North Carolina, Sir Francis Chantrey for Massachusetts, have severally signalized their genius by portraying and perpetuating the form and features of the Father of his Country
Nor has the Congress of the nation altogether failed of its duty in this respect. The massive and majestic figure which presides over the precincts of the Capitol, and which seems almost in the act of challenging a new vow of allegiance to the Constitution and the Union from every one who approaches it, is a visible testimony, - and one not the less grateful to an American eye, as being the masterly production of a native artist, * — that
the government of the country has not been unmindful of what it owes to WASHINGTON.
One tribute to his memory is left to be rendered. One monument remains to be reared. A monument which shall bespeak the gratitude, not of States, or of cities, or of governments; not of separate communities, or of official bodies; but of the people, the whole people of the nation; - a National Monument, erected by the citizens of the United States of America.
Of such a monument we have come to lay the corner-stone here and now. On this day, on this spot, in this presence, and at this precise epoch in the history of our country and of the world, we are about to commence this crowning work of commemoration.
The day, the place, the witnesses, the period in the world's history and in our own history - all, all are most appropriate to the occasion.
The day is appropriate. On this 4th day of July-emphatically the people's day — we come most fitly to acknowledge the people's debt to their first and greatest benefactor.
WASHINGTON, indeed, had no immediate connection with the immortal act of the 4th of July, 1776. His signature did not attest the Declaration of Independence. But the sword by which that independence was to be achieved, was already at his side, and already had he struck the blow which rendered that declaration inevitable.
“Hostibus primo fugatis, Bostonium recuperatum,” is the inscription on the medal which commemorates Washington's earliest triumph. And when the British forces were compelled to evacuate Boston, on the 17th day of March, 1776, bloodless though the victory was, the question was irrevocably settled, that Independence, and not the mere redress of grievances, was to be the momentous stake of our colonial struggle.
Without the event of the 4th of July, it is true, Washington would have found no adequate opening for that full career of military and civil glory which has rendered him illustrious forever. But it is equally true, that without Washington, this day could never have acquired that renown in the history of human liberty, which now, above all other days, it enjoys. We may