« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN
THE ARMY AND NAVY
(Speech of General William T. Sherman at the first annual dinner of the New England Society in the City of Brooklyn, December 21, 1880. The President, Benjamin D. Silliman, on announcing the toast, “The Army and Navy-Great and imperishable names and deeds have illustrated their history,” said: “In response to this toast, I have the privilege of calling on the great Captain who commands the armies of the Republic; of whom it has been said, that he combines the skill and valor of the soldier, with the wisdom of the statesman, and whose name will ever live in the history of the nation. We shall have the great satisfaction of listening to General Sherman.")
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN:—While in Washington I was somewhat embarrassed by receiving invitations from two different New England societies to dine with them on different days in commemoration of the same event. I hoped, under cover of that mistake, to escape one or the other, but I find that each claims its day to be the genuine anniversary of the landing of their Fathers on Plymouth Rock. I must leave some of you to settle this controversy, for I don't know whether it was the 21st or 22d; you here in Brooklyn say the 21st; they in New York say it was the 22d. Laboring under this serious doubt, when I came on the stand and found my name enrolled among the orators and statesmen present, and saw that I was booked to make a speech, I appealed to a learned and most eloquent attorney to represent me on this occasion. I even tried to bribe him with an office which I could not give; but he said that he belonged to that army sometimes described as “invincible in peace, invisible in war." [Laughter.] He would not respond for me. Therefore I find myself upon the stand
at this moment compelled to respond, after wars have been abolished by the Honorable Secretary of State, and men are said to have risen to that level where they are never to do harm to each other again—with the millennium come, in fact, God grant it may be so? [Applause.]
I doubt it. I heard Henry Clay announce the same doctrine long before our Civil War. I heard also assertions of the same kind uttered on the floor of our Senate by learned and good men twenty years ago when we were on the very threshold of one of the most bloody wars which ever devastated this or any other land. Therefore I have some doubt whether mankind has attained that eminence where it can look backward upon wars and rumors of war, and forward to a state of perpetual peace.
No, my friends, I think man remains the same to-day, as he was in the beginning. He is not alone a being of reason; he has passions and feelings which require sometimes to be curbed by force; and all prudent people ought to be ready and willing to meet strife when it comes. To be prepared is the best answer to that question. [Applause.]
Now my friends, the toast you have given me to-night to respond to is somewhat obscure to me. We have heard to-night enumerated the principles of your society—which are called “ New England ideas." They are as perfect as the catechism. [Applause and laughter.] I have heard them supplemented by a sort of codicil, to the effect that a large part of our country-probably one-half-is still disturbed, and that the Northern man is not welcome there. I know of my own knowledge that two-thirds of the territory of the United States are not yet settled. I believe that when our Pilgrim Fathers landed on Plymouth Rock, they began the war of civilization against barbarism, which is not yet ended in America. The Nation then, as Mr. Beecher has well said, in the strife begun by our fathers, aimed to reach a higher manhood-a manhood of virtue, a manhood of courage, a manhood of faith, a manhood that aspires to approach the attributes of God Himself.
Whilst granting to every man the highest liberty known on earth, every Yankee believes that the citizen must be the architect of his own fortune; must carry the same civilization wherever he goes, building school-houses and
churches for all alike, and wherever the Yankee has gone thus far he has carried his principles and has enlarged New England so that it now embraces probably a third or a half of the settled part of America. That has been a great achievement, but it is not yet completed. Your work is not all finished.
You who sit here in New York, just as your London cousins did two hundred and fifty years ago, know not the struggle that is beyond. At this very moment of time there are Miles Standishes, under the cover of the snow of the Rocky Mountains, doing just what your forefathers did two hundred and fifty years ago. They have the same hard struggle before them that your fathers had. You remember they commenced in New England by building log cabins and fences and tilling the sterile, stony, soil, which Mr. Beecher describes, and I believe these have been largely instrumental in the development of the New England character. Had your ancestors been cast on the fertile shores of the lower Mississippi, you might not be the same vigorous men you are to-day. Your fathers had to toil and labor. That was a good thing for you, and it will be good for your children if you can only keep them in the same tracks. But here in New York and in Brooklyn, I do not think you now are exactly like your forefathers, but I can take you where you will see real live Yankees, very much the same as your fathers were. In New York with wealth and station, and everything that makes life pleasant, you are not the same persons physically, though you profess the same principles, yet as prudent men, you employ more policemen in New York-a larger proportion to the inhabitants of your city than the whole army of the United States bears to the people of the United States. You have no Indians here, though you have “ scalpers." [Applause and laughter.] You have no "roadagents” here, and yet you keep your police; and so does our Government keep a police force where there are real Indians and real road-agents, and you, gentlemen, who sit here at this table to-night who have contributed of your means whereby railroads have been built across the continent, know well that this little army, which I represent here to-night, is at this moment guarding these great roadways against incursions of desperate men who would stop the cars and interfere with the mails and travel, which would paralyze the trade and commerce of the whole civilized world, that now passes safely over the great Pacific road, leading to San Francisco. Others are building roads north and south, over which we soldiers pass almost yearly, and there also you will find the blue-coats to-day, guarding the road, not for their advantage, or their safety, but for your safety, for the safety of your capital.
So long as there is such a thing as money, there will be people trying to get that money; they will struggle for it, and they will die for it sometimes. We are a good-enough people, a better people it may be than those of England, or France, though some doubt it. Still we believe ourselves a higher race of people than have ever been produced by any concatenation of events before. [Laughter.] We claim to be, and whether it be due to the ministers of New England, or to the higher type of manhood, of which Mr. Beecher speaks—which latter doctrine I prefer to submit to—I don't care which, there is in human nature a spark of mischief, a spark of danger, which in the aggregate will make force as necessary for the government of mankind as the Almighty finds the electric fluid necessary to clear the atmosphere. [Applause.]
You speak in your toast of “honored names "'; you are more familiar with the history of your country than I am, and know that the brightest pages have been written on the battle-field. Is there a New Englander here who would wipe “Bunker Hill ” from his list for any price in Wall Street? Not one of you! Yet you can go out into Pennsylvania and find a thousand of bigger hills which you can buy for ten dollars an acre. It is not because of its money value, but because Warren died there in defence of your government which makes it so dear to you. Turn to the West. What man would part with the fame of Harrison and of Perry? They made the settlement of the great Northwest by your Yankees possible. They opened that highway to you, and shall no honor be given to them? Had it not been for the battles on the Thames by Harrison, and by Perry on Lake Erie, the settlement of the great West would not have occurred by New England industry and thrift. Therefore I say that there is an eloquence of thought in those names
as great as ever was heard on the floor of Congress, or in the courts of New York. [Applause.]
So I might go on, and take New Orleans, for example, where General Jackson fought a battle with the assistance of pirates, many of them black men and slaves, who became free by that act. There the black man first fought for his freedom, and I believe black men must fight for their freedom if they expect to get it and hold it secure. Every white soldier in this land will help him fight for his freedom, but he must first strike for it himself. “Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow.” [Cheers.] That truth is ripening, and will manifest itself in due time. I have as much faith in it as I have that the manhood, and faith, and firmness, and courage of New England has contributed so much to the wealth, the civilization, the fame, and glory of our country. There is no danger of this country going backward. The Civil War settled facts that remain recorded and never will be obliterated. Taken in that connection I say that these battles were fought after many good and wise men had declared all war to be a barbarism-a thing of the past. The fields stained with patriotic blood will be revered by our children and our children's children, long after we, the actors, may be forgotten.. The world will not stop; it is moving on; and the day will come when all nations will be equal“ brothers all," when the Scotchman and the Englishman will be as the son of America. We want the universal humanity and manhood that Mr. Beecher has spoken of so eloquently. You Yankees don't want to monopolize all the virtues; if you do, you won't get them. [Laughter.]
The Germans have an industry and a type of manhood which we may well imitate. We find them settling now in South America, and in fact they are heading you Yankees off in the South American trade. It won't do to sit down here and brag. You must go forth and settle up new lands for you and your children, as your fathers did. That is what has been going on since Plymouth Rock, and will to the end. The end is not yet, but that it will come and that this highest type of manhood will prevail in the end I believe as firmly as any man who stands on this floor. It will be done not by us alone, but by all people uniting, each acting his own part; the merchant, the lawyer, the mechanic, the