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WM. B. WEDGWOOD, LL.D.,
Professor of Commercial, International, Constitutional, and Statutory Law, in the University
JOHN H. TINGLEY, 152* FULTON STREET.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1861, by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern
RECONSTRUCTION OF THE GOVERNMENT.
University Of The City Of New-york,
Fellow-Citizens Of The Late United, Now Belligerent
To you who still hold sacred the declaration of the renowned statesman Henry Clay, and even now "Know no North, no South, no East, no West," but one great and glorious empire, bound together by ten thousand bonds of consanguinity and affinity—of time-honored duties performed and obligations gratefully acknowledged — of love and affection long cherished—of mutual pecuniary interests—to you would I present the strongest assurances of continued good-will and undiminished friendship. I would invite yon to sit down with me and let us institute the inquiry, and ascertain if a reconstruction of our government can not be accomplished which will be satisfactory to all.
We are in the midst of extraordinary events. Civil war with all its horrors is upon us. Five hundred thousand American citizens are rushing to the battle-field, where father will be arrayed against the son, and brother against brother, in cruel and deadly strife. It will cost the nation in expenses for the war and in the destruction of private and public property more than five hundred millions of dollars for the first year with, no certainty of seeing the end of the war at the expiration of the year. Is it not well for the whole nation, North and South, to pause and reflect before they plunge deeper into the yawning chasm before them?
Let us for a moment return to the old paths in which our fathers trod, and see if we can find any precedent to guide us in the dark hour that is upon us. Let us review the toil and suffering and sacrifice of our noble ancestors in constructing this republic, before we ruthlessly destroy it.
Before the Revolution there was no bond of union between the Colonies. When the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill were fought in April and June, 1775, no one dreamed of establishing an independent nation. But, on Friday, June 7, 1776, the question of separation from the mother country was brought before the Continental Congress. The next day it was debated in committee of the whole, in secret session, and adopted. On Monday following, a committee was appointed to prepare Articles of Confederation. On the 4th of July, the Declaration of Independence was made public, and on the 12th of July the committee appointed to prepare Articles of Confederation made their report. But eighty copies of the report were printed; members binding themselves, their secretary, and their printer, by a solemn pledge of secresy.
The 8th of June, 1776, may be regarded as the birthday of this republic. On that day the umbilical cord which bound us to the mother country was forever severed. The infant republic was soon after to receive its baptism of fire and blood. New-York was to be the place forever consecrated by that august ceremony, The American army, under command of General Washington, was at that time in and around this city. In a few weeks thirty-five thousand of the best troops in Europe wTere at our doors. On the 27th August a desperate battle was fought on Long Island, a few miles from this city, in which more than a thousand brave American soldiers were killed, and still more wounded. On the following night the American army returned to this city, and a few days later Fort Washington, on Washington Heights, in this city, fell into the hands of the enemy, after a desperate resistance, and after the discharge of the last round of ammunition. Two thousand of the American army were here taken prisoners, and many slain. This was the baptism of the infant republic. And who, I ask, were these illustrious men who were killed and wounded and taken prisoners, to suffer cruelties worse than