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as the action of their agents, State and National, in the discharge of political duties. The constitutions were by no means finalities. They were not ends, but means devised to promote the public good and to preserve the public life. They were “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” They are sacred obligations upon all, but they are valuable only as they contribute to this object. When they no longer embody the results of progress, the power that made them has the power of altering them; for the sovereignty remains intact, and has the right to exercise its power whenever society demands it. This Republican Government is the original political contribution of the American Revolution to mankind. Of all who have written on this system, perhaps no one has been better qualified to pronounce a judgment upon it than the late Lord Brougham. In his work reviewing the governments of the world, he dwells long on that of the United States. He examines the method devised of keeping the action of the local and national legislatures within the spheres of power allotted to them, - the authority vested in the courts of the States and of the nation, to declare void acts violative of the organic law; and pronounces the means devised “ the very greatest refinement of social polity to which any state of circumstances has given rise, or to which any age has given birth.” The criticism on the founders of the republic has been most severe, because, in setting up a general government, they did not interfere with the domestic policy of the several States to such an extent as to abolish and prohibit slavery. How different is the judgment of that noble friend of our country, John Bright! His words are: “ Colonial weakness, when face to face with British strength, made it impossible to put an end to slavery, or establish a republic free from slavery. To meet England, it was necessary to be united; and to be united, it was necessary to tolerate slavery. The American people dreaded the destruction of their country even more than they hated the evil of slavery.” Fortunately the founders of the republic did not attempt an impossibility and fail. Now that party heat on this question is gone, let justice be done to these founders. They did as well as they could. They did not admit the word slave into the Constitution. They left the responsibility for the continuance of slavery entirely with the States. One State after another, after the Constitution was ordained and established, abolished slavery; and had every. State followed their example, there would have been no obligation left in the Constitution in relation to it. But how different it is with the permanent things in our system, - with trial by jury, the habeas corpus, freedom in religion, freedom of the press, and the rich cluster of sister liberties! These know neither race, nor color, nor time, nor frontiers; all these are provided for. Indeed, all are comprehended in the great guaranty securing to the people of each State a republican form of government. They were the living forces that prepared the Americans for their great work. They are the things that have grown with our growth, and strengthened with our strength. They moulded the glorious Old Thirteen. They moulded the great States that grew up, entered into the inheritance of the fathers, and adorn our land. They are the living forces to-day. They will continue to mould future commonwealths. All honor to the founders of the republic for casting over them the mighty shield of this supreme law. In doing this they did all they could to transmit these priceless blessings to posterity. It was for these great things that the battles of the Revolution were fought, and to secure them that the Republican Government was instituted. The decision in the late awful appeal, in the only tribunal having full jurisdiction between nations and fragments of nations, gives full significance to the preamble under which this government acts. It reads: — “We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Amendments to the Constitution prohibiting slavery are by the side of the prohibition of any title of nobility. There is now all over this land fealty to the common bond. The seats of our national halls, that were vacant for years which seemed ages, are now filled. Thus all constitutional duties are performed. The expressions of fidelity to the old flag have been such as to warrant the remark, that, should there be war between this country and a foreign nation, none would be more prompt to maintain our cause than those who fought in the Confederate ranks. That there is not real peace between all the sections, or even fraternity, is not owing to the soldiers who fought North or South. - They wished the war to end when the war was over. If the spirit which they have manifested had been the spirit of the whole country, we all should be now not merely countrymen, but friends. There is a fresh illustration of this fact. We had hardly ceased to admire the generous and lofty strain of eulogy on the lamented Charles Sumner, by the gifted General Lamar, of Mississippi, when he but yesterday thrilled
the national halls and the country with the words, “The doctrine of secession, the right of withdrawing from the Union, is extinct. The institution of slavery, with all its incidents, is dead, extinguished, and sunk in that sea which never gives up its dead. The enlightened people of the South would not, if they could, identify the interests of the country with an institution which stood utterly antagonistic to all the elements and living forces in modern civilization. They regard the three last amendments of the Constitution as inviolable and sacred as the articles that were written by their fathers.” - & .
Among all the wonderful things of the last hundred years, – the extension of knowledge, the discoveries in the arts and sciences, the triumphs of enterprise, the marvels of the telegraph, the wars, the changes in the fate of kingdoms, – there is nothing more wonderful than the preservation of this Republican Government. It is a triumph for the whole of our country. This government stands to-day stronger than ever. The party is not larger than an omnibus could hold who would go back to a monarchy or an order of nobility, or who would exchange this government for any other that the sun shines upon. It is the strongest government upon the face of the earth, because, at the call of the law, millions stand ready to fly to the standard of the law,