« ZurückWeiter »
very large and fine looking assembly; but I have here now a subject, a mere cursory glance of which would require me till to-morrow morning, and has already required a famous historian to write some twelve or fifteen volumes. The reward of your patience, long and forbearing as it may be, reminds me of a little incident that occurred to a man who was traveling over some railroads projected by these far-sighted gentlemen whom I am allowed to meet. He didn't get along very well in his eastern residence, and concluded to go west. His party consisted of himself, his dearly beloved wife, several babies, and his still more dearly beloved mother-in-law, who accompanied the daughter and children and son-in-law on the expedition to see that it was properly carried out.
Away out here on some of the western railroads, where it is said to be cold, they encountered a great storm, and such was its severity and length that they found themselves embedded in a portion of the road where they could get neither forward nor backward, and the storm continued so long that they were unable, even by half rations, to make their provisions last till the road could be opened. Finally it was concluded that the best thing to do, in order to save the many, was to sacrifice the few; and they resolved, Christians as they were, to resort to a species of cannibalism, that the lives of the young members might be prolonged. Straws were drawn, and this hopeful and beloved son-in-law was intrusted with the straws, and strange to tell, when the unlucky straw was drawn it was drawn by the dear good mother-in-law, and she was sacrificed ; and the son-in-law received for his pains very little more than you will be able to get out of me in this toast, on this vast subject ;-as he was only able to get, when this good mother-in-law was sacrificed, a portion of the wish-bone and a still less portion of the neck.
If any thing could inspire a lover of his country with its greatness and its glory, it would be the charms of the delightful song that was so beautifully rendered by our friends constituting the choir. I remember in 1861, and still later, on every festive occasion, when any thing suggested the power and glory and greatness and. magnitude of this great country, increasing in its power as the years roll on, there
was never any thing that lifted my soul so much in response to patriotism as the song, "My Country, 't is of Thee.”
In every other land, ladies and gentlemen, to become conspicuous, great, and honorable, men must be descendants; in America, they can become great and powerful and be ancestors. Their opportunities are found in the primitive forests; they are found beneath your soil ; they are found, through the genius of Edison and his colaborers, in that mysterious and incomprehensible fluid, whose force and whose utility no magician can foretell.
America! Our country! The United States, with its flag with several stars now added ; a government of 62,000,000 to 64,000,000 of people, interlaced and bound together with muscles of iron, connecting every brain center with electric nerves, recording and articulating the beautiful sentiments that portray its glory and its power through the wonderful and mysterious telephone, recording, if you will, these musical strains that lift the soul in harmony and in love for the nation's flag, the strains of "My Country, 't is of Thee!”
Do you ask the youngest of this Society, the humblest of this Society, do you ask the farthest south of this Society, to come here in order to warm your hearts and render more genial your souls for the American flag? Do you ask a son of grand old patriotic Pennsylvania to come back here after an absence of fifteen or twenty years, and make it necessary, by his voice in this hall, in beautiful Toledo, in great Ohio, close to the borders of loyal, courageous, and heroic Michigan, to portray to you, ladies and gentlemen, that the United States of America is larger, braver, freer, richer, than any other nation that is blessed by the golden light of the sunshine ?
Shall we bring here the olive and the magnolia and wreath them with the ivy, adorn them with the rose, deck them with all that may be beautiful and lovely on the shores of the lake, in order to make an audience of Toledo believe that we have the loveliest and most attractive habitation on the face of the globe? We are rich in all the elements that constitute greatness; we are richer in the materials that are embedded in mother earth, in our mechanical genius, bolder and loftier in our conceptions. In the skill of American mechanics, we
all are proud to display the blistered hand of toil. We are formed in all that constitutes a brave and liberty-loving people. We are richer in beautiful and accomplished women. We are richer in the attributes that make up and adorn manhood. We are richer in the country's heroic defenders. We can muster more men, in less time, who will face courageously the shock of battle, in defense of their flag, than all the nations of the earth combined.
Do you ask me now to trespass further upon your time and patience to portray the magnificence, glory, and strength of the United States of America, the fertility of its soil, its boundless resources, its incomprehensible genius, its glory and its power?
God grant that no day may come when all the people of the country, South and North alike, may not unite in hunible prayers of thankfulness that the common flag has been restored, and that the flag of a firm and enduring Union shall live and be perpetuated in the frozen North as well as in the clime where summer is well nigh eternal
Passing to the North-west, I call attention to the toast of "THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,” and request a citizen of that state from whom came the honorable president who was named by COLONEL WICKERSHAM, and I would ask GENERAL SMITH D. ATKINS, of Illinois, to respond.
GENERAL SMITH D. ATKINS:
To the American soldier the American flag is the embodiment of the nation's power and grandeur. It came when the nation was born like a gleam of glory, and so it will remain as long as the nation endures. The President of the United States is Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy; into his keeping the flag is given; to him, for the time being wherever he may be, is due the faithful allegiance of every citizen, and every faithful citizen loyally accords it. Earth has no greater honor to bestow, and to that great office the humblest
citizen among our sixty-four millions of population may freely aspire, except the ladies, and they are only excluded that they may not endure the horrors of having Presidential bees in their bonnets; but it does include our distinguished guest and fellow-citizen from the pine woods of Michigan, GENERAL ALGER, and our beloved commander, “Old Rosy.” But that great office belongs to the people; it is theirs to withhold and to bestow; the President is the people's servant, not their master, and in that rests the perpetuity of our free, wise, strong government. The people gave it first to WASHINGTON, whose gleaming sword upheld the American flag on the battle fields of the Revolution; they gave it to ANDREW JACKSON, whose military genius crushed LORD PACKENHAM at New Orleans; they gave it to WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON, who outwitted and outfought the red children of the forest on the banks of the historic Maumee; they gave it to ZACHARY TAYLOR, “ Rough and Ready” in dealing with the enemies of his country on the plains of Mexico; they gave it to ABRAHAM LINCOLN, uplifted by the great Jehovah to lead this people to perfect liberty, as Moses in times of old led the chosen people of the Lord; they gave it to U. S. GRANT," the soldier of soldiers ;" they gave it to JAMES A. GARFIELD, a comrade of the Army of the Cumberland; they gave it to BENJAMIN HARRISON, brave soldier and wise statesman, to whom this hour in confidence and trust we give our willing allegiance, approving all things in the past and hoping for great things in the future. Our wise forefathers made no mistake when they created that great office, and none when they made the President eligible to re-election, for, from WASHINGTON to HARRISON, the best have always been given two terms, and every President knows that if he pleases the people, and the people will it, he will be, for one time, his own successor. We hail the President that now is; he is our President, the President of all the people; long live the President of the United States. And this be the message that the Army of the Cumberland sends to him, and to his successors in that great office : “See to it, as is enjoined by your oath, that the laws are obeyed, and that the American flag given into your hands shall protect in all the rights guaranteed to him by the constitution and laws, without molesta
tion and without fraud, the humblest citizen in the remotest corner of the Republic.”
“The Army of the Cumberland” was then beautifully rendered by MRS. AINSWORTH and the choir.
It sometimes seems to us, when we get around the board and look upon those who participated in these scenes, that the memory of them makes the members of the Army of the Cumberland grow younger, and when the next gentleman who is to respond to a toast arises and you look upon him again, those of us who saw him twenty-five years ago will feel that the memories of that past have made him younger. The toast now is “ THE ARMY OF THE CUMBERLAND, and we call upon our young friend, GENERAL T. J. Wood, to respond.
GENERAL T. J. WOOD:
Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades, and Mr. Chairman-This cordial reception stirs one up considerably, after a separation of twenty-five years, though, to be exact, and you know, comrades, accuracy is a cardinal virtue in a soldier, it is not quite so long as twenty-five years since I was last with you. It is certainly a great satisfaction to the survivors of the Army of the Cumberland that so many yet live " to spin long yarns of the deeds they have done;" and not only that so many of the old soldiers of the Army of the Cumberland survive, but as our comrade, JUDGE COCHRAN, says, they remain so young. I take it that the "fountain of youth" has been found by them in the consciousness of duty to the nation well done when its existence was imperiled.
The theme assigned to me is embarrassing, not because it is not an interesting one, but because the story has been told so often that it has lost the charm of novelty. The history of the Army of the Cumberland has become an integral part of the history of the nation.