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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 not say that the man made the day, or the day the man; but we may say that, by the blessing of God, they were made for each other, and both for the highest and most enduring good of America and of the world.
The place is appropriate. We are on the banks of his own beloved and beautiful Potomac. On one side of us, within a few hours' sail, are the hallowed scenes amid which Washington spent all of his mature life, which was not devoted to the public service of the country, and where still repose, in their original resting-place, all that remained of him when life was over. On the other side, and within our more immediate view, is the Capitol of
the Republic, standing on the site selected by himself, and within whose walls the rights which he vindicated, the principles which he established, the institutions which he founded, have been, and are still to be, maintained, developed, and advanced.
The witnesses are appropriate, and such as eminently befit the occasion.
The President of the United States is here; and feels, I am persuaded, that the official distinction which he lends to the scene has no higher personal charm, if any higher public dignity, than that which it derives from its associations with his earliest and most illustrious prede
“I hold the place which Washington held," must be a reflection capable of sustaining a Chief Magistrate under any and every weight of responsibility and care, and of elevating him to the pursuit of the purest and loftiest ends.
Representatives of foreign nations are here; ready to bear witness to the priceless example which America has given to the world, in the character of him, whose fame has long since ceased to be the property of any country or of any age.
The Vice-President and Senate; the Heads of Departments; the Judiciary; the Authorities of the City and District; the officers of the army and navy and marines, from many a field and many a flood of earlier and of later fame; veterans of the line and volunteers, fresh from the scenes of trial and of triumph, with swords already wreathed with myrtles, which every patriot prays may prove as unfading as the laurels with which their brows are bound; all are here; eager to attest their reverence for the memory of one, whom statesmen and soldiers have conspired in pronouncing to have been first alike in peace and in war.
The Representatives of the People are here; and it is only as their organ that I have felt it incumbent on me, in the midst of cares and duties which would have formed an ample apology for declining any other service, to say a few words on this occasion. Coming here in no official capacity, I yet feel that I bring with me the sanction not merely of the Representatives of the people, but of the People themselves, for all that I can say, and for much more than I can say, in honor of Washington.
And, indeed, the People themselves are here; in masses such as never before were seen within the shadows of the Capitol—a cloud of witnesses—to bring their own heartfelt testimony to the occasion. From all the States of the Union ; from all political parties; from all professions and occupations; men of all sorts and conditions, and those before whom men of all sorts and conditions bow, as lending the chief ornament and grace to every scene of life; the people,—as individual citizens, and in every variety of association, military and masonic, moral, collegiate, and charitable, Rechabites and Red Men, Sons of Temperance and Firemen, United Brothers and Odd Fellows,—the people have come up this day to the temple gates of a common and glorious republic, to fraternize with each other in a fresh act of homage to the memory of the man, who was, and is, and will forever be, “first in the hearts of his countrymen!" Welcome, welcome, Americans all! "The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, (I borrow the words of Washington himself,) must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations."
Nor can I feel, fellow-citizens, that I have yet made mention of all who are with us at this hour. Which of us does not realize that unseen witnesses are around us? Think ye, that the little band, whose feeble forms are spared to bless our sight once more, are all of the army of Washington, who are uniting with us in this tribute of reverence for his memory? Think ye, that the patriot soldiers or the patriot statesmen, who stood around him in war and in peace, are altogether absent from a scene like this? Adams and Jefferson, joint authors of the Declaration, by whose lives and deaths this day has been doubly hallowed; Hamilton and Madison, joint framers of the Constitution, present, visibly present, in the venerated persons of those nearest and dearest to them in life; Marshall, under whose auspices the work before us was projected, and whose classic pen had already constructed a monument to his illustrious compeer and friend more durable than marble or granite; Knox, Lincoln, and Green; Franklin, Jay, Pickering, and Morris; Schuyler and Putnam, Stark and Prescott, Sumter and Marion, Steuben, Kosciusko, and Lafayette; companions, counselors, supporters, friends, followers of Washington, all, all: we hail them from their orbs on high, and feel that we do them no wrong in counting them among the gratified witnesses of this occasion!
But it is the precise epoch at which we have arrived in the world's history, and in our own history, which imparts to this occasion an interest and an importance which cannot easily be over-estimated.
I can make but the merest allusion to the mighty movements which have recently taken place on the continent of Europe—where events which would have given character to an age, have been crowded within the changes of a moon.
Interesting, intensely interesting, as these events have been to all who have witnessed them, they have been tenfold more interesting to Americans. We see in them the influence of our own institutions. We behold in them the results of our own example. We recognize them as the spontaneous germination and growth of seeds which have been wafted over the ocean, for half a century past, from our own original Liberty Tree.
The distinguished writer of the declaration which made this day memorable, was full of apprehensions as to the influence of the Old World upon the New. He even wished, on one occasion, that “an ocean of fire” might roll between America and Europe, to cut off and consume those serpent fascinations and seductions which were to corrupt, if not to strangle outright, our infant freedom in its cradle.
Doubtless, these were no idle fears at the time. Doubtless, there are dangers still, which might almost seem to have justified such a wish. But it is plain that the currents of political influence thus far have run deepest and strongest in the opposite direction. The influence of the