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noble trophies which were gathered in the successive and bloody harvests of Freedom, and have laid them among our foundation-stones, or installed them as sustaining columns in our national edifice. That which we have is far from being all our own achieving. It was battled for, in some form or other, far back in the ages of the world, and beyond our seas, and when as yet freedom, like the giant of old, lay bound with a hundred chains beneath the smoking mountain of despotic power.
But those chains have been breaking, one after another, and the earth bas often been made, and will yet again and again be made, to tremble with the struggles of this giant rising up to victory.
The early Greeks and Romans, the more modern nations of the Teutonic race, and especially the soldiers of Protestant freedom in continental Europe, have one and all contributed to our rich possessions. Each has its representative gift, — some right or privilege, wrested, often at the expense of life and treasure, from the iron hand of power.
They had not these treasure-houses of instituted rights, - these spolia opima, gathered by our fathers from the far-reaching common law of our common humanity, as it has struggled out, century after century, from that ancient darkness into the new and golden dawn of a Christian civilization. They fell far, very far short of the point we now occupy, though they took steps thitherward; and in tender and holy sympathy with those who were yet to follow, reared the monuments of their slow advance along the highway of nations.
But we have no right to accept these precious gifts, purchased at such incalculable cost by freedom's ancestry, merely that we may sit down idly for their enjoyment, no more than the father, who, having taught his son to feed and warm himself, has the right here to limit his education. A grand but solemn experiment has been transmitted down through these apostles of liberty, and committed into our hands ; the naked experiment of man in the full possession of freedom to govern himself!
The solution of this problem, and the testing of his capacity for the still higher development of his being, in its relations with Christian freedom, is now going forward. It is here, where we stand to-day; these are the heights to which we have been lifted by those who have gone before us. We have reared our temple in this new world, far from the influences of those grim and hoary agencies which yet enslave the mind in the old, and we have appointed Intelligence and Virtue as its two chief corner-stones. Around its columns we have carved the past history of freedom, as the story of one of its enemies is emblazoned on that graceful column in the Place Vendome. Our aim is to make still greater advances as a nation in developing the power and majesty of that Christian freedom in which we live, and in firmly securing its foundations on the earth against both the shocks of despotism from abroad, and those which spring from the stormy passions of the people at home. The American citi. zen who appreciates his high privileges, and is willing to prove himself worthy of them, should assume the garb of those who essayed to rebuild the shattered temple of Jerusalem, armed both for labor and defensive war. He should go forth hopefully, prepared with his brethren to give the cause he professes to serve such an onward impulse as the united strength of this century's noblest purposes can command. He should press forward fearlessly, animated with a strong faith that the day may yet come when all nations shall bathe in the renovating fountain of freedom; and the harmonious chimings of free and Christian institutions shall constitute the one glad anthem of a globe rescued by her spirit and consecrated to her praise.
This being the acknowledged end of our government, it follows that it is the right and duty of this State also, not only to secure our present acquisitions, but also to promote and attain that end by all means that do not absolutely encroach upon the constitutional liberty of the citizen.
Former nations, as we have seen, invariably claimed this right for themselves, and labored for what they conceived to be the State's best interest and her highest glory; and the inquiry with us is, Has “the State," under its constitution, absolutely conceded away this right to the citizen, or is it still inherent in herself? Has she not simply delegated to him the exercise of it in such manner, that when he neglects or fails to discharge his obligations in this respect, she may at once reïnvest herself with the right, and assume its duties for and on his behalf?
The right of property implies not only the right of possession and enjoyment, but of protection and transmission ; nor can there be a denial or divorce of these latter rights from the former, without doing violence to that conscious sense of justice which is lodged in every breast.
The shepherd on the mountain-side, and the cottager in the vale, the noble on his broad domain, and the tradesman in the mart, all enjoy this undisputed right of protecting and transmitting their possessions to those who come after them. Nor is this an ordinary privilege merely; it is recognized as one of those absolute rights which enters into the very foundation of every free state, and which
cannot be taken away without a struggle and a protest from modern liberty.
A right so confidently claimed, then, by the individual, should in justice be conceded to the State ; for it were contrary to the very first principles of justice to hold, that a State which, after much tribulation, had achieved her liberty, and proved herself a worthy member of the family of nations, should be denied that right of self-preservation and perpetuity, which is freely accorded to the humblest of her citizens.
“ Salus populi, suprema lex,” was the form in which this right of the State was first announced, and this has been conceded sound law, in more than one instance, since it was first propounded. It has been the battle-cry through many bloody revolutions, nor will it be denied in our day.
Seneca, also, expressed the same idea in a somewhat different form, when he said, “Servare cives, major est virtus patria patri;” but
, Webster, the great expositor of our institutions, looking higher, and far beyond the mere life of the citizen, told us this great truth in words of classic strength and clearness, when he said, “The first object of a free people is the preservation of their liberty !”
This is a pregnant sentence, and has all the force of a precept, were it necessary so to interpret it. It means not only to assert the right of the State as we have expressed it, but also to declare it as her highest and holiest duty to preserve and transmit her liberty to future generations.
It is mandatory, and sounds like one of those strong precepts from the ancient prophets, which still startle the consciences of men.
It will not do (for the reason that it is not safe, if for no other) for those who live under a popular form of government, to say, “Let us care only for the things of to-day, the morrow will take care of itself.”
Despotism, tiger-like, yet crouches in the mouth of his gloomy cavern, ready at any moment to spring forth and crush out every new development of freedom, especially if it is observed to be exposed and without adequate defence. For Americans thus to live, were to retrograde, to betray, rather than promote, the well being of the State. The march of the true disciple towards the sun-crowned heights of human freedom is, like that of the Christian, a constant strife,—a battle, a contention with principalities and powers, a forgetting of those things which are behind, and a looking and pressing forward to those that are before. On one side of his banner he should write that stirring monition, “ Nulla vestigia retrorsum ;” and on the other in letters worthy of that word of higher resolve, “ Excelsior.”
There is in the affairs of every State a mighty rushing tide onward, like the inevitable stream of death, and onward that State must go. If prepared and ready to avail herself of the currents and the breeze, and the right genius sits at the helm, her advance is one of prosperity ; but if the contrary is her condition, then she is soon drawn into the eddy, and whirled about by wind and tempest, until ere long she plunges into the jaws of a certain destruction. Who and where, then, is the citizen so dull and so indifferent to the welfare of his native land and race, as to feel that these splendid States of instituted and free government are not worth preserving? We, as a people, free
? and secure as we feel ourselves to be, have no talismanic charm that protects us from being overthrown; for we know that the freer the government the greater and more numerous are its perils.
Yet, if we pursue the proper course, and are influenced by the right motives, we can make these institutions of ours strong as the rocky barriers of ocean, and capable of rolling harmlessly back the wildest waves of popular commotion.
But, disregarding these motives, we can so loosen and weaken, if we will, the cohesive strength of this great structure, that those same waves shall ere long wash down our altars, and bury all trace of our once holy worship beneath their sandy mantle.
How, then, is this liberty of ours, which we see every day exposed more and more to peril, even from hands that should carry its weapons of defence, - how is it to be preserved and perpetuated? We have an abiding confidence in God, that, if we show ourselves worthy of it, he will preserve it both to us and our children's children.
If He has, indeed, appointed this continent as the scene of man's political regeneration and escape from the oppression of the old world, He will take it into his keeping, and by his good providence preserve it for the ages to come. But this providential care implies effort on our part, and a readiness to execute his will, as He manifests it from time to time.
Foremost among those agencies which He prizes above all else, and which his providence clearly indicates as both desirable and necessary for the race, are the cultivation of virtue and the diffusion of knowledge. Nor will any one deny that the most essential safeguard of a free State is the liberal education of her youth. Not that education which merely implies intelligence,- for Prussia is educated, yet her sons have yet to taste the purest and best delights of a free State, but I mean that broad and thorough culture which takes into its
scope of instruction the whole faculties of the man, develops and directs them in such manner as enamors him of liberty, constitutes him her devoted disciple, attaches him and all his powers to her service, and makes him even more eager for the perpetuity of the State, than were his ancestors before him.
This sort of culture, and this alone, will secure this result. It implies, not only an intellectual, but a moral culture, such as makes the man acquainted, not only with his duties towards his fellow-man, but informs him also of his relations to that God, from whom the principles of his government have been derived, as well as the rules which subject him to its sway.
A superficial education is the very bane and curse of a self-governed State, and modern developments seem to indicate that this has already become an impending calamity with us. Our universities, as compared with those of Europe, or with what the universities of a free republic should be, are but grammar schools, and fields of preparation for what should come thereafter.
In most of our colleges the close of the senior year completes the education of the man, and he is then turned out as a teacher and man of opinion among those with whom he dwells. With a few unsettled ideas on morals and religion (the most important of all subjects), gleaned for the most part from the barren fields of natural theology ; a smattering of the sciences, which in his hands exposes them to a shameful perversion and prostitution of the truth, instead of rendering them great coädjutors in its advancement ; and, with a mere school-boy acquaintance with the classics, he arrogates to himself the wisdom and infallibility of the philosopher. Yet his education is, in fact, only the acquisition of that " little knowledge,” which the poet wisely classifies among the most dangerous” of possessions.
Hence superficiality in all scholarly attainments is becoming, if it has not already become, one of the striking characteristics of this country. The first fruits of our more modern, steam-driving, ten-hour systems of education are beginning to appear in an avowed and widespreading scepticism, both in reference to religion and political liberty ; in those spiritual humbug manifestations, which await only the electric spark of true science to vanish into thin air; in the recent mode of making learning easy by inducting a pupil into a score of different languages and sciences, in as many different lessons; in the degrading and barbarous rites and practices of Mormonism, which already stain our territory ; in a misguided and unheroic crusade after what is styled “Woman's Rights,” but what, if truthfully designated, should be named, “Woman's Wrongs;" in the hundred, and