Second Life of Washington
Note: Samuel Osgood (1812–1880) was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, and attended Harvard, taking degrees in 1832 and 1835. After finishing divinity school he lived for two years in Louisville, Kentucky, where he edited edited The Western Messenger, an influential periodical that focused on Transcendental subjects. From 1837 to 1869 he served as a Unitarian minister in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and New York City, but in 1870 he took orders in the Protestant Episcopal Church. Osgood also took two mre degrees, the D.D. from Harvard in 1857, and the LL.D. from Hobart in 1872, and in the 1850s edited the Christian Inquirer. He also published a number of books, including translations from the German of Hermann Olshausen’s History of the Passion (1839) and Wilhelm Martin Leberecht de Wette’s Human Life (2 vols., 1842). Osgood contributed more than one hundred articles to the Western Messenger, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, and the North American Review.The following is taken from the March 1866 issue of Harper’s (vol. 32, pp. 460–68).
THE SECOND LIFE OF WASHINGTON.
ON the 22d of February, 1732, in a plain homestead of one story and attic, between Pope’s and Bridge’s Creek, in Virginia, near the Potomac, was born George, son of Augustine Washington, and great-grandson of the John Washington who, with his brother Lawrence, came from England, a Cavalier refugee, in 1657. On the 14th of December, 1799, in the stately mansion of Mount Vernon, upon the banks of the river that was overlooked by that old homestead many miles below, George Washington died, and the most memorable man whom God has granted to America entered upon his second life. With that second life, as it lives and acts in history, and especially in our national history, I am now to deal in this essay, not presuming to treat of that second life in God to which His faithful servants are called from this earth. He lived to see sixty-seven birthdays, and if we add sixty-seven to 1799, we have 1866, and February 22, 1866, closes the cycle of birthdays in his second life.
Since his death Washington has been a living power on earth as never before; and as we are to meet together now, as a great and united nation, on the festival of his birth, we can not but recognize his virtual presence, and are quite sure that his spirit speaks in our laws, guards our homes and forts, marches with our armies, sails with our fleets, and watches over our flag. His career, we say, is now completing its second cycle, and it is now about as long time since Washington’s death as his death was from his birth—an obvious but most significant fact that, just as the nation has closed up the present signal chapter of its history and crushed out the great rebellion, abolished slavery, and restored the Union, the Father of our Country is rounding this great historic period of his second life, and the echoes of his old triumphs in war and peace are ringing through the land in the grand jubilee of liberty and union that is sounding from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast.
I will not attempt to review or sum up the first life of Washington. The simplest and most comprehensive generalization will suffice to keep the main points of those sixty-seven years in mind. The first period covers twenty-seven years, and may be called his preparation. It begins with the removal of the family up the river to Stafford County, opposite Fredericksburg, and his instruction in the “old field school-house” by Hobby, the parish sexton; it then presents him to us as fatherless, and living at Bridge’s or Pope’s Creek, with his brother Augustine, under the excellent discipline of Mr. Williams’s school; then as living with his brother Lawrence, at Mount Vernon; then, at sixteen, a surveyor beyond the Blue Ridge, and for years familiar with the wildest scenes and roughest people of the Virginia borders; then begins his preliminary military career, and this presents him to us at nineteen, in 1751, as District Adjutant-General; and in 1754, as second in command, Lieutenant-Colonel, on the opening of the seven years’ war with the French and Indians, which closed in 1759. Then, after an interval, during which the tyranny of English rule was developing itself, his second period—his great war career—opens; he appears at the head of the armies of the Revolution in 1775, and in 1783 he resigns his commission and closes his military career. Then the third, or civic, period begins, and covers the remaining sixteen years of his life, the eight years of his Presidency being hardly more memorable for their power over the nation than the eight years of his nominally private life. In order to make the parallel between his first and second life more distinct, it is best to remember his work under the three aspects—first, his preliminary training till the close of the French and Indian war, in 1759; then his service in the Revolution, ending in 1783; then his civic influence in establishing the Constitutional Republic and administering its supreme office, and in watching over its welfare to the last.
When he died he was nearer the heart of the nation than ever, and the career which had been developing itself part by part, and fastening attention to each successive part, now rose before the people in its unity, and his true historical cycle began. It began and continued, and the end is not yet, for it takes about the usual term of human life—seventy years—to show a great man’s place, under the Providence of God and in the destiny of his nation and his race. Through three stages history must pass before it bears its ripe fruit and rises to its true dignity within the Divine word and kingdom. Its first stage is the journal, that gives events as they transpire from day to day; its second stage is that of annals, that unite the journals in the sequence and order of the year; last of all comes the œonic stage of high history, in which the wisdom of ages is heard, and the story of things past takes its place in that eternal truth wherein past, present, and future are one. The instinct of our people has gone before our scholars in thus making the history of our civic Father. The tidings of his death, that went from State to State, village to village, and house to house, as of a personal calamity, quickened the memory of the nation as it moved their grief and fixed their affection. The popular mind first recalled the scenes and events of his life in impassioned musing, as our own personal experiences sometimes rise before us like pictures upon some memorable vicissitude; then came more tranquil recollection asking for some due arrangement of his annals in sequence and order, such as his principal biographers, Marshall, Sparks, and Irving, have given; then comes the yearning for the higher story of his career—his true life in history—such a story as is now shaping itself in the heart of the nation, but which has not yet found any adequate embodiment. This essay aims rather to express the yearning than to fulfill the requirement, and I speak as one of the yearning people who are readers, not as one of the masters of history who are their teachers.
Let us understand at the outset what we mean by the position that we assign to Washington as our Representative Patriot. We, of course, do not mean to glorify his personal or individual character in oversight of the Providential ideas and forces that worked through him; nor to the disparagement of his comrades in the field and the council, as if to make them out to be nothing, or next to nothing, that we may make him all in all. No, we can not appreciate him without appreciating them, for he knew and used them all for the best purposes, and in being their leader he was their interpreter and organizer, the keystone in the arch that keeps the other stones together. What the nation could have done without him we can not say; but, thank God, in having him, we had all other patriots under their rightful chief; and in thus honoring him we do not put him on a pedestal for hero-worship as a demigod, but we accept him from God as the child of his Providence and the father of the nation. The characteristics that gave him place, and keep him still rising in estimation as our Providential man, are obviously three; in him met all the essential elements of our American condition and character; in him these elements were combined in personal life and organized into institutions; in him these elements and institutions developed a diversity in unity, the manyone, which years are confirming in the destiny of our nation, which still, in its differences and its oneness, is and is to be the Constitutional Republic of Washington. Consider his position in history, then, as the representative of our national idea and destiny—in fact, as ideally as well as geographically our continental man, who contained in himself the elements of our national destiny, and who was the practical synthesis of our domain, people, and principles.
I. Our national idea is, that we shall unite many soils, people, and parties in one country, government, and civilization. In each of these respects the Father of our nation has been working for its welfare without stop, and being dead he is yet alive. In him the idea of the nation lives and goes forward.
1. He has been a mighty power, first of all, in securing our territorial unity. At his birth the last of the old thirteen colonies was just planted, and Georgia was the youngest of the illustrious sisterhood. Probably the whole thirteen colonies then did not contain as many people as now live in this city and its immediate vicinity; while the bond of union was slight, being little more than community of language, dependence upon the British crown, and common hostility to the Indian and French marauders. In his lifetime Washington was the great Unionist leader—alike as a surveyor, land-owner, soldier, and magistrate. When a boy of sixteen, with compass and chain, he crossed the Blue Ridge, he carried the new empire of civilization with him; and as he looked down the slopes that empty into the Ohio, his glance was the pioneer of the march which afterward led him to Fort Duquesne, when, in capturing what is now Pittsburg, he virtually secured the whole Western valley to the future nation by securing the waters that dominate its destiny. It was indeed a comparatively little strip of land that he knew in his lifetime. He traveled north and south only as far as Boston and Savannah, and no farther west than the Ohio; and when he died, only three new States, Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee had been added to the old thirteen, making sixteen States in all, with a population of about five millions, with annual receipts and expenditures of about twelve millions of dollars, and with an area of 820,680 square miles, about a quarter of our present domain.
After his death his name and power entered upon a new cycle of territorial dominion. In 1793 he laid the corner-stone of the original Capitol at Washington; and in the year 1800, November 17, about a year after his death, Congress held its first session in the new metropolis, and recognized his presiding name and influence. What a power that metropolis has been to the nation! and what foresight he who gave it its name showed in his choice of the Seat of Government! It binds North and South, and virtually East and West, together by its central position and the flow of its neighboring waters. It holds Virginia and Maryland within the Union by territorial necessity; commands Fortress Monroe as the key to Chesapeake Bay; and commanding Chesapeake Bay, it claims the control of the Susquehanna River and its tributaries in Pennsylvania and New York, and virtually integrates with itself the great States that have colonized and controlled the West. New powers have confirmed and extended these obvious territorial affinities; and since Fulton and Watt and Stephenson and Morse have given the nation the mighty forces of steam navigation,— railways, and telegraphs, the Seat of Government is more than ever the centre of the nation; and ere long the remote northwestern border, the State of Washington that is to be, on the Pacific coast, will be within easier distance of the capital than Savannah was in Washington’s time, and will catch and answer each word from the metropolis as by the nerve that binds the hand and foot of the nation to the imperial brain.
Our Territorial troubles have come chiefly from the new domain that was annexed since Washington’s death, especially from the purchase of Louisiana in 1803, with an urea larger than that of the whole national domain before. The State of Missouri, formed from a part of that Territory, became, as all know, the battle-ground between slavery and liberty; and after first being committed to slavery within the Union, in spite of the sound old Washington doctrine of emancipation and no more slavery, tried to keep and extend slavery outside of the Union. There the slavery propagandists showed their hand, first in the Missouri Compromise, then in its repeal, and then in the attempt at secession. The mantle of Washington had fallen upon a patriot President at the capital, and first by the sword and banner of the Union, under the rightful rulers, and then by the free act of the people, the treason was rebuked, and the curse of slavery has been forever removed from the soil. The leading influence went forth from the old capital, and border feuds were put down first of all by national power under the executive head. Back of the sword of Washington there was a moral force that has never parted company with his name, and that has been ever carrying out his emancipation principles. In 1786 he wrote to Morris: “There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery. But there is only one proper and effectual mode by which it can be accomplished, and that is, by legislative authority; and this, as far as my suffrage will go, will never be wanting.”
So from the capital of the nation and from its cardinal principle, liberty, our great Father has been guarding the unity of the soil, removing the root of division, and bringing the new domain into harmony with the old. The land itself, in many respects so new and unadorned by history and romance, has an ideal, human worth from his influence; and a mighty power of civilization goes with his name from the mountain that lifts it to the skies down to the frontier village that speaks it to the prairies or forests, and the university that teaches it to youth as part of the living word of God and liberty.
Under God, we believe that Washington, in his second life, is keeping the national domain at one; and the whole horde of traitors, backed by foreign confederates, have not and can not take from us the capital that is our inheritance—our bond and our destiny. The most impassioned and effective outbreak of national valor came like a volcano’s fire at the word that the capital was in danger of capture. While the war has been raging its walls have been rising, and its paintings and sculptures going forward, and the statue of Liberty is crowning the dome. Under God and Liberty our chief still guards the land and keeps the many in one. The soil that is identified with his name and centralized by his capital bears his mark every where, and is our country, under God.
2. Thus Washington lives still in the territorial unity of the country, whose many sections he did so much to make one. We might show that he had foresight of the great lines of communication that were to fix this Union, as when he planned the draining of the Dismal Swamp of Virginia, and the uniting of the waters of the James with the Potomac, and opening communications between the Potomac and the Ohio. But men are masters of the soil, and the land is one when the parties and races that tend to separate men are made to integrate them in a sound citizenship and generous humanity. We recognize his power as a living force in our citizenship and our humanity.
Our American citizenship is based upon the idea of unity in difference—many States under one Federal Union. Washington was practically the Father of our Union, and he is still its great practical representative. I do not say that as a speculative thinker or a professional statesman he excelled other founders of our national polity. Franklin had undoubtedly more constructive sagacity; Jay more juridical knowledge and acumen; Adams more intellectual originality; Jefferson more ideal insight. Madison had more cogent logic, and Hamilton more of a statesman’s genius for combination and forecast. But practically Washington carried more weight than any of them, simply because he best embodied in his continental manhood, so contained and all-containing, the national life that they sought to school, define, and codify. He brought to the Constitutional Convention over which he presided the American Nationality itself in its solar mass, light, and warmth, centripetal and centrifugal forces, while his associates were rather the observers, and mathematicians, and philosophers, who noted the phenomena, studied and stated the overruling laws of the forming system, or superintended special departments of operation. He felt, and saw, and stated the principles that should shape the Magna Charta of the nation, as they had been developing themselves and working within him from his youth of public spirit through his career of military rule and civil influence. He carried in him the fact and the forces of the national life that was to be interpreted and written out. He bore the forces of repose and action in the body politic, while they, his associates, were to draw up the statical and dynamical laws of those forces, or administer especial branches of their action. Thus he was solar and they were planetary. Franklin said a true and deep word when, on the last day of the session of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, as the members were signing the engrossed copy of the Constitution, he looked toward the President’s chair, at the back of which a sun was painted, and observed to the persons next to him: “I have often, in the course of the session and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that sun behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. At length I have the happiness to know it is a rising, not a setting sun.” So it was over that chair of Washington the sun of our America rose, and has not set nor waned. Practically he was our great statesman, and embodied the nation virtually, while others undoubtedly more acutely defined its theory. Yet he knew his grounds well; and in his plain, common-sense way he states the defects of the old Confederacy and the principles of the desired Union as distinctly as words can do it. To Colonel Henry Lee, in 1786, he wrote on the subject of suppressing tumults in Massachusetts, and thus met his call for influence rather than for positive authority: “Influence is not government. Let us have a government by which our lives, liberties, and properties will be secured, or let us know the worst at once.”
Again, to Madison, in the same year: “Thirteen sovereignties pulling against each other, and all tugging at the Federal head, will soon bring ruin on the whole.”
Washington well understood and indicated the two focal points of our national order, by which party-spirit and sectional jealousy are to be kept in check, and anarchy and despotism are to be kept off: the two principles of personal and local liberty and central order that are to bring and keep our many people and States at one. He did not pretend to be able to interpret, define, and apply these principles in their sequences and relations as sagaciously as his associates; but practically he wielded and mastered them as no other man could do, and kept them within their wholesome bounds. He accepted them both as Providential facts, when he held Jefferson and Hamilton in his Cabinet: those two focal minds of the nation, who are still with us in their influence, and still held together by that national sagacity which centred in their Providential chief. Jefferson and Hamilton are gone, but they live still in their characteristic ideas, and are working together in the new life of the nation more harmoniously than they worked together in the Cabinet of Washington. I will not speak now of their personal characters, but of their historical mission as representatives of the ruling principles of the republic, Liberty and Union. Jefferson was more of the French theoretical school—our political Rousseau, in some respects; while Hamilton was more of the English historical school—the Edmund Burke of America; yet each needed the other, and our nationality is integrating them both under startling and significant circumstances. A strange transformation, in one respect, has taken place in the championship of the great Virginia Liberal’s idea of human rights; Free States have adopted his ideal principles, and left to Virginia his personal frailties—as when the wine is drawn off by a syphon, and only the lees are left behind If any reader wishes to make a bad pun on the word “lees” he may do so, but we are not punning, but trying to study out our national history seriously, Our national life has been joining the ideal liberty of Jefferson with the conservative unionism of Hamilton in the great struggle under Abraham Lincoln, a patriot President, who was a Western edition of Washington—on paper a little rough, but with all the print there, and full and clear; while the Old Dominion left to ruin under the tottering rule of a slave-breeding oligarchy of traitors who, at home and abroad, have been trying to betray every principle for which Washington fought and conquered and legislated. Long live that Liberty and that Union! Confounded are that junto of traitors. God blesses the Constitution of the Federal Republic, and confounds the Confederacy that conspired for its ruin. The Constitution now vindicates itself as never before, and the consummation that Washington desired has come through that legal amendment by which Liberty and Union are one; and those focal points that seemed sometimes in danger of separating draw near each other, like the foci in the ellipsis of the earth’s orbit, and repeat the order of the spheres. He lived in our Constitution, and lives still, and still holds our many States in its unity. Andrew Johnson succeeds Abraham Lincoln in guarding the Union and Liberty of the Republic of Washington.
3. The same influence which Washington holds in harmonizing the antagonist principles and parties of the republic under our law, he exercises in reconciling differences of race and habits in our civilization and humanity. In him, as a soldier and civilian, all the elements and characters of American society seemed to be reconciled. In him, most obviously of all, the North and South met together and were friends. When he visited Boston, as early as 1756, when a young man of twenty-four, the staid Puritan population rejoiced to welcome him, and his blood-horses and stately equipments won more admiration than censure from grave fathers and mothers and earnest sons and daughters. When he had John Adams for his Vice-President the Cavalier and Puritan mingled their wisdom and affection; and what God has been doing for two centuries and more in English history, he did signally for America in that union of Cavalier lordliness with Puritan independence. The Southern people, except a certain class of sectionalists and slavery-lovers and propagandists, liked him, and the unspoiled heart of the Old Dominion set him forward as the model man. An incident in the campaign of 1754 shows something of the mischief that even then was breeding in the temper of South Carolina—that Judas Iscariot of the old thirteen States in treason, although not betraying with a kiss. When Washington and his little army were in great danger from the French and Indians about Fort Duquesne, Captain Mackay arrived with his independent company of South Carolinians, and soon began his game of cross-purposes, with all airs of civility and etiquette, as if he carried his ramrod in his back-bone, not in his gun. Holding a commission from the King, the Captain would not acknowledge a provincial officer as superior, kept separate guards, and refused to use the parole and countersign. Washington bore with the foolery of this Carolina captain as long as he could, but left him when he refused to have his men help was make the military road that the other soldiers were at work upon, unless he could have a shilling sterling a day for each man, which Washington would not pay. Washington left Captain Mackay at Fort Necessity—the Fort Necessity virtually where the city of Charleston and the State of South Carolina have been left to lie, and ought to lie till they repent, which they will have ample time to do, and will perhaps do more effectually from changing the logical method of their madness to the logic of loyalty.
Generally, however, Washington was the bond of union between Northern and Southern men, and under his commanding and genial presence it became clear, as true philosophy affirms, that a certain difference of traits and culture helps instead of harming social fellowship, and differences, when wisely and kindly treated, integrate instead of provoking and sundering the parties. In old times the Northern man, with his reserved, thoughtful individualism, rejoiced to meet the genial, easy Southerner, with his ready fellowship and commanding air. So it will be again, when American ideas are carried out, and our commercial, agricultural, and educational habits are allowed to move among the Southern planters, and develop the industry that rests on liberty, and the order that gives power to character, not to caste. The New South and the New North are to meet together more cordially than the old, and Mason’s and Dixon’s line is to be the belt of our union, not the chain of our separation. Not precisely as some of us thought our great Father is mediating between the alienated sections, yet he is none the less mediating. Edward Everett bore aloft through the nation his sacred image to stay the storm, almost as Peter the Hermit bore the cross; yet the rebellion came, and Edward Everett lived to see that Washington was to sway the Union, not by ignoring, but by declaring and enforcing his anti-slavery principles and his emancipation policy.
Here again Washington was and is the representative idea of the union of our many races under one republic. Around him, in the field and court, all the nationalities gathered—French, German, Irish, Scotch, Polish; and all were represented in the new Union. The Celtic and Teutonic elements came together, and gave promise of that large hospitality that has since taken millions of new-comers to itself, and assimilated them to its temper and polity. The best heart of Ireland gave its allegiance to the Union in the faithful and ardent Knox, who clung to Washington like a brother when he bade farewell to the army, arid served him as Secretary of War to the last. In Lafayette France was with us, and its best heart is with us still, in spite of its master. In Steuben our loyal Germany in America had a noble representative in the soldier who stood by his chief in the field, and who, with Hamilton, Knox, and St. Clair, represented the army at the Inauguration.
The relation of the African race to our nation Washington represented. He was not a radical reformer, not an ideal theorist, but a practical thinker and ruler, and as such he interpreted the African’s destiny. He recognized his capacity to be a farmer, mechanic, and soldier, treated him kindly, and taught and practiced the principle of emancipation. He regarded slavery, indeed, as part of the law of the land, and denied the right of any citizen to interfere with the legal claims of the master to his slave; but he thought that the law ought to be changed, and he stands in our history as the representative of the old school of Emancipationists, who regarded slavery as a fading relic of a semi-civilized form of society. He could work with the negroes, and mingle praise with blame in his judgments; and without having extreme opinions of their gifts or virtues, he thought them fitted for freedom and capable of education. He died before the cotton gin had made slave-labor so attractive, but he has said enough of the negro’s worth to teach us how to make the cotton gin a blessing instead of a curse, by teaching that the negro is open to all worthy human motives; and his free labor, and in time his intelligence, is to do for the South what the lash and chain, the Black Code and blood-hound can never do.
Thus in all leading respects we regard Washington as embodying our national idea of the Many and One, and as still a living force that is drawing us together in a common country, government, and civilization. He is our America embodied and ensouled, and his majestic countenance rises up with new radiance in each new crisis of our history. His portraits are commanding, but the loyalty of the people paints and carves better than all the artists, and sees him rising still in transfigured glory, as the years leave behind his earthly limitations and bring out his Providential mission. The lover like Dante sees his departed idol in her second beauty revealed in his vision of Paradise. The patriot sees our hero in his second glory in the firmament of our national fellowship, all radiant with ideas, powers, And destinies that he embodied, and building better than he knew, prophet as he was in his life more than in his thought.
It is the sober faith of our people that Washington is the Providential leader, the chosen Man for our America. I was brought up to believe this, and I believe it more than ever with expanding study and deepening thought. In the civil sphere the Eternal Word that made and the Eternal Spirit that holds the worlds manifest themselves to us in him: and the Divine ideas and forces that united in him as their Providential agent still work for us in history, and are our elemental law and continuous strength. His second life surpasses his natural life in these three respects—that it exalts him above earthly limitations, gives him universal range, and also distinct and integral development. Above us, yet with us, he is seen of all as never before, and his ruling idea is expressing, articulating itself in integrated diversity—the Many in One of our land, parties, and people.
II. Washington leads the Manifest Destiny of our country not only by thus representing its idea of Many in One, but by adding such virtue to that idea as to make it an organic power throughout the land, a power that still retains his energy, and under God still carries out his will. What is Destiny but a faith made into deed? and our Man of Destiny is not a despot, nor a soldier of fortune, but a citizen whose wisdom and courage fixed the original character of our institutions, and whose name still brings the loyal nation together in the arts of peace and the emergencies of war. His virtue lives still, and adds power to his wisdom, and holds us within the nation that he organized.
1. We read our manifest destiny under Washington’s lead in the land itself, and make it our creed to give up not an inch of soil, not a drop of water, but to hold all in trust for the people, for humanity, for liberty, and God. The wealth of the nation is sacred in the name of the great chief of our industry, the thrifty farmer of Mount Vernon, and the far-seeing surveyor of our early borders, as well as the captain of our armies and the head of our councils. Whenever the integrity of our domain is threatened, either from near or from afar, we will cry, “The Sword of the Lord and of Washington!” and strike down the robbers of our birth-right and of the domain that our birth-right controls.
The products of the soil, in themselves and in their results under the hand of art and science, we claim for the nation, and insist that our wealth should not corrupt, but rather up-build our worth. Let the treasures of field and forest, orchard and vineyard, mountain and valley, all combine to draw us together by bonds of interest and public spirit. Let the mines and farms conspire together, bring gold, silver, iron, copper, lead, coal, with grain, fruit, hay, cotton, rice, sugar, wool, and join in raising a circle of work-shops and factories throughout the land, that shall bind our borders with a mighty bond, keep the pence at home, and set all foreign threats at defiance. Let our industry rise into beauty and intelligence as well as thrift; and let taste and culture school our youth in the useful arts, and preside over the festivals of honorable labor. The majestic face of our Providential chief will then smile upon us anew, and the wealth of the nation will be its joy in peace and its sinew in war. Thanks be to God for what we have thus far seen done toward this consummation—that in these years of our trouble the mountains and rivers have opened unexampled treasures of the mine, and even the cold, dark earth has at last heard the decree, “Let there he light!” and light has gushed up in fountains on every side; The rock has been stricken, and oil as well as water comes forth at the stroke.
Thank God for the loyal purse of the nation, and for the ability and readiness of the people to sustain the rightful rule against a cursed rebellion with the earnings of industry, under a taxation as vast in amount as it is noble and effective in its aim! Well will it he for the nation if its book-keeping is modeled and its gigantic accounts are kept according to his precision, frugality, and honesty!
2. The Sword as well as the Purse of the nation is token of its Manifest Destiny, and our sword as well as our purse follows the lead of our Providential chief. Whether sheathed in peace or drawn out in war, to him the sword was the symbol of Law. So it is now; and now, as ever, we are a law-loving people. How majestic was the spectacle of this great nation quietly, as on a Sabbath, casting its vote of millions on that great November that chose Abraham Lincoln, and securing loyal rule over our empire for four years in the midst of terrible warfare, and after the heat of party agitation of unexampled intensity! How impressive the determination of the people to stand by the Constitution and the flag at whatever cost of treasure and of blood!
Our Man of Destiny has been with us in this war of our Constitutional Republic against the seditious Confederacy, which ever since his day has been trying to show its head, but has always been put down in his name. During the thirty years after his death the sectional factions were from time to time defeated, quite as much by his influence, when the Democratic party ruled, as if the nominal Federalism that claimed his good-will had prevailed; and Jefferson and Madison, as Democrats, were probably able, with less suspicion from the masses, to carry out Washington’s Union idea, than if they had worn his Conservative colors. We may compare the years of Washington’s second life in the nation, from 1800 to 1830, to Washington’s preliminary career to the close of the French and Indian war, and affirm that during those thirty years his power was felt in meeting the various difficulties of our position, in repelling foreign aggressions that were like the old French invaders, and in putting down home broils and factions that raged like the old savages. In 1830 his second life entered upon its new term, and repeated against domestic treason the military strength and civic wisdom that it of old directed against English tyranny. In 1832 and in 186t he was again our soldier and statesman; and he has been completing his cycle of military and civic influence by sanctioning our national defense and confirming and maturing our national polity. When Nullification and Secession showed their traitorous front, Democracy hoisted without reserve the old Union colors, and Washington held the pen for Andrew Jackson when he signed the Union proclamation against Carolina in 1832, and he sailed with Winfield Scott into Charleston harbor in the good ship Constitution. Washington stood by Anderson when he raised the stars and stripes on Fort Sumter in 1861, and with Gillmore when he put hack that flag in its place. He was with Abraham Lincoln when he called the nation to avenge their insulted standard, and recover their stolen forts and store-houses and treasure. Washington has gone with us through the war—teaching us to bear reverses patiently and successes calmly. He went with Farragut and Butler to New Orleans, with Meade to Gettysburg, with M’Clellan to Antietam, with Sheridan to the Shenandoah, with Thomas to Nashville, with Grant to Fort Donelson and Chattanooga and Vicksburg and Richmond, with Terry and Porter to Wilmington, with Sherman to Atlanta and Savannah and Columbia. He led in this second war, not of revolution but of conservatism, and by his wisdom in council and valor in battle he defends the work of the first revolution and its organic fruit, the Federal Republic; and again he met the traitors at home, backed as of old by tyrants abroad. He trod down at once the insolence of the slave oligarchy and the British aristocracy, and in his outward work fights out again the old war with England, and in his inner work enacts again the Constitution of the United States. He held the pen when Abraham Lincoln signed the proclamation of emancipation, and when Andrew Johnson declared emancipation secured, and called on the nations to respect the power of the free and united republic. He has been the mighty though unseen enemy of the rebel chiefs who have been trying to undo every good work that he did, and to ruin the republic that he lived, and would have died, to save. It is a notorious fact that the leading fire-eaters of the South were long in the habit of making light of Washington’s old-fashioned Unionism, and Jefferson Davis took the lead in the merriment. His mighty shade hovered over the miserable Lord of Misrule, the leader of the insurgents, as the avenging angel over the Prince of Darkness. Sherman and Grant, Thomas and Sheridan might strike, but an unseen power guided their arm in defense of the nation against the traitor, as the archangel Michael struck down Satan:
Author of evil, unknown till thy revolt,
Unnamed in heaven, now plenteous, as thou seest
These acts of hateful strife, hateful to all,
Though heaviest by just measure on thyself
And thy adherents—how hast thou disturbed
Heaven’s blessed peace, and into nature brought
Misery, uncreated tilt thy rebellion? how bait thou instilled
Thy malice into thousands, once upright
And faithful, now proved fake?
Hence then, and evil go with thee along,
Thy offspring, to the place of evil, hell,
Thou and thy wicked crew.
To the hell of baffled ambition the Confederate Lucifer has gone, and he needs no curse or stroke of ours to bring him to his doom. Without calling for his blood, we leave him to himself and his friends. With the fall of the rebellion and the return of peace the sword has been sheathed, not in token of the cessation of the national force, but of its rest and its health. The nation will not, cannot lose its vital power, but will turn to new triumphs of peace the great organic strength, the vital loyalty, which has been so schooled in war. He who surrendered his commission when his country was redeemed and laid his sword at the footstool of law leads our destiny still, and in his name we shall be guided to deeds of enterprise, conservation, humanity, and religion that shall turn swords into plow-shares, spears into pruning-hooks, and make the arts of industry majestic and brilliant and brave enough to be marshaled by banners and drums and bugles and saluted with peals of bells and cannon. His influence is behind the marvelous developments of our peace, and a million of soldiers, repeating his lesson, have been absorbed in the ranks of industry, no more an army of destroyers, but a host of producers. So Washington still holds our sword and nerves our power in peace and in war.
3. The Flag, as well as the Purse and Sword, of the nation follows the Manifest Destiny begun by our leader; and in our relation to other nations, as in our industry and our law, we are not to desert Washingtonian principles. Our flag.—Washington first raised it aloft, and may every hand be confounded that would tread it down!—our flag expresses our international policy as well as our national idea. It declares in its stars that we are many in one; and in its stripes it waves toward other lands the same large affinity that we ourselves cherish. Under our flag we affirm that there are certain inborn and inbred differences of condition, and that these ought to be reconciled or integrated by good citizenship and broad humanity. We are many in one, and we have borne all sectional feuds and jealousies with marvelous patience, and have resisted faction only when it became rebellion, and when turning the other cheek but invited injury. We have tolerated and defended each other, and shall do it again as of old; again under the old banner, and over the abominated shreds of the rebel flag, that would inaugurate the empire of slavery in the place of our free republic, and put up the freebooter’s pagan signal instead of our Christian standard.
Thus large and fraternal among our States and races, we are ready also to be amicable abroad, and act on foreign nations rather by our example of freedom and prosperity than by meddlesome intervention. In this respect we are still of the school of Washington, and our Government still holds his policy and keeps us at peace with Europe. Honor to the great representatives of this foreign policy, especially to Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, William H. Seward, and Charles Francis Adams, who have done so much to prevent Europe from assailing us, by the wise statesmanship of Washington! Under him as our representative man we stand before the world, and we have no reason to hide our heads in presence of other nations with their imperial chiefs, the heroes of their history. Under him, in our Providential position, we are developing a certain character, that is as yet by no means contemptible, and ought to be noble—a certain union of independence and reverence, of individuality and fellowship, such as history has not seen. We ought to be as universal as the Frenchman in ideas without his imperialism, as independent as the German without his stubborn individualism, as loyal as the Englishman without being so much of a fixture as he; to seek catholicity without Popery, Protestant freedom without self-will, fidelity to institutions without bondage to prejudices—many in all generous traits and affinities, but one in loyal patriotism and humanity. Such should all true Americans be, as we sit beneath our flag at home or sail under it around the world. True to this standard we honor the Father of his Country, and write in our own career and character the Second Life of Washington.
That life is now rounding itself; and soon, as already said, the term since his death will equal the term of his natural life. This year, that completes his second cycle, will without doubt bring new triumphs of his principles, and establish the great interests and institutions for which he labored and lived. Our continental hero, he represents the solidarity and continuity of our national life; and we forget him when we part with any element of our material welfare, our civic birth-right, or our human dignity. Our whole country, our whole rights, and our whole people—that is the true Washington platform, and there we stand, with God as our trust.
The great questions that are perplexing us will be settled by the mighty working of our institutions, the historical habits and indomitable instincts of our people, if our legislators will be content to leave time and God to do their work. The States will be free and equal, but not sovereign; and the Union shall be sovereign, but not tyrant. Free labor will make its way southward as westward, and the logic that reduces idleness to starvation and brings industry to abundance will be stronger than any verbal arguments to cure the folly of slavery propagandists and the laziness of vagabonds, black or white. Our republic will dominate the continent, and keep at bay the crowned Powers of Europe by its own prosperity and intelligence, its liberty and order. The Monroe doctrine will prevail sooner under a calm and determined statesmanship than a rapacious filibusterism; and the French will leave Mexico as soon as it is clear that Germanic liberty, not Latin empire, is to be the rule of this continent. The strong arm must be always ready, indeed; and it will be all the stronger when lifted only in a quarrel that is just, and the arts of peace have been invoked in vain.
Who can number the images and associations that rise before us as we recall those sixty-seven years of Washington’s second life? The most memorable of all images and associations in our mind came to us in April 25, 1865, when the stately hearse hearing the body of Abraham Lincoln passed the statue of Washington in our Union Square, before the great multitude of uncovered heads, and attended by a vast escort of soldiers and citizens. Then the two most remarkable men in American history met together to our insight as guardians of the country; and Washington and Lincoln, the progenitor and regenerator of the nation, stood before the people, above the changes of time and the shadows of mortality, as good angels of the republic and servants of humanity and God. Lincoln, the President of the plain people, keeps near the common heart the principles of the stately chief who first ruled the land; and his death gives the majesty of tragedy to the annals of the office that Washington begun in his career of triumph and crowned with his death of peace. George Washington—Abraham Lincoln—and between them a line of Presidents unequaled, on the whole, in integrity and efficiency by any dynasty of princes in history. The last name says Amen to the first; and in view of the whole array, with honor to nearly all and charity for the few most open to our censure, it is easy to say, Long live the republic of Washington, and God bless Andrew Johnson, President of the United States!