New Departure of the Republican Party

“Mr. President,” said Mr. Webster as he rose in the Senate of the United States to reply to Mr. Hayne of South Carolina, in what is still remembered as the great debate of 1830, “when the mariner has been tossed for many days in thick weather and on an unknown sea, he naturally avails himself of the first pause in the storm, the earliest glimpse of the sun, to take his latitude, and ascertain how far the elements have driven him out of his course. Let us imitate his prudence, and before we float farther on the wave of this debate, refer to the point from which we departed, that we may at least be able to conjecture where we now are. I ask for the reading of the resolution before the Senate.” Many have admired the oratorical skill of this opening sentence who have failed to detect the sincerity of the request, or the strict candor of the reflection as he added: “It will readily occur to any one that it is almost the only subject about which something has not been said in the speech running through two days,” inasmuch as it is difficult to find that the orator himself adhered more closely to the resolution than did his eloquent antagonist. “It is not to be denied,” said the same voice in the same place, twenty years later, in his equally memorable “7th of March speech,” “that we live in the midst of strong agitations and are surrounded by very considerable dangers to our government. The imprisoned winds are let loose. The East, the North, and the stormy South combine to throw the whole sea into commotion, to toss the billows to the skies and disclose its profoundest depths.” Continuing his nautical figure, which none knew better how to employ, he added: “I do not affect to regard myself, Mr. President, as holding, or fit to hold, the helm in the combat with the political elements; but I have a duty to perform, and I mean to perform it with fidelity, not without a sense of exciting dangers, but not without hope. I have a part to act, not for my own safety, for I am looking for no fragment on which to float away from the wreck, if wreck there must be, but for the good of the whole and the preservation of all; and there is that which will keep me to my duty, during this struggle, whether the sun and stars shall appear or shall not appear for many days.”

The drift and danger, so vividly portrayed and with so much tact referred to, though hardly borne out by existing facts, the professed desire to find the true position and the purpose to stand in the breach at whatever hazard, represent none too forcibly or eloquently the condition of affairs which has since obtained, and the wisdom and patriotism which have so signally marked the decade of the nation’s history just closed. The storm of rebellion and war, of treason and its punishment, of the purpose to destroy, and “the uprising of a great people” to save the government, the struggle and strain required for that and for the reconstruction, now nearly accomplished, have more than realized what the orator only, or mainly, imagined. The nation has actually seen and felt the storm he painted. It has gone through the wild commotion produced by the loosened winds, as the East, the North, and the stormy South have stirred the sea of American thought and feeling, passion, prejudice, and purpose, tossing its billows to the skies and disclosing its profoundest depths. For four long years, with that hope deferred which makes the heart sick, the people waited, in weary vigils, for the war-clouds to disperse, so that the sun and stars might again appear. That fearful upheaving of everything political and pecuniary, social and religious, the fierce strifes of the field and of the forum, the unexpected though legitimate, results of a disturbance so deep and wide, the new under-currents in the popular mind and heart which have received motion and direction from those great events, have driven and drifted the ship of state from its former course, and rendered necessary new observations, new calculations, and a new departure.

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Nor is this any the less true because it is deemed a subject of gratulation, because we feel that the storms have purified the atmosphere, and because the nation has been thus driven or drifted, without voluntary purpose of its own, into an open sea, and away from waters hitherto so full of peril. Dropping the figure: it is accepted as one of the grand compensations of the war, with its terrible cost of blood and treasure, of tears and personal demoralization, that the nation has been made better, and been brought into a condition and circumstances when new policies must be inaugurated, new principles adopted and made familiar, and the action of the people, individual and governmental, adapted to the changed posture of affairs, and to the new purposes and objects thus generated and made attainable. In an endeavor to form an estimate of future responsibilities, duties, and dangers, it may be well to note some of the leading facts and features of these changes, and of this new condition of affairs.

Prominent, of course, stand the great facts that slavery is no more, and that the slave power is dethroned, its sceptre broken, and its fearful capacity for mischief destroyed. That disturbing and demoralizing element has been expelled. No longer does it remain to debauch the public mind, corrupt the Church, control the government, dictate its foreign and domestic policy, and make American history little more and better than a record of its machinations, its arrogant assumptions, its imperious and exacting demands, its frauds and feints, as through these long, dark years when it pursued its one fixed purpose to rule or ruin. Like the nightmare of the troubled dreamer, — only this was anything but a dream, — it passed away as the nation, awakening to a consciousness of her condition, cast off the terrible incubus which had been paralyzing her energies and putting in peril life itself. Who can over-estimate or exaggerate the magnitude or importance of such a revolution? Who can appreciate the changed condition of affairs, and estimate aright the full significance of such an overturn in the structure of American society and in the administration of the government of the nation. Better now than eight years ago, though hardly now can the people intelligently respond to the exultant words of Mr. Sumner in Faneuil Hall: “Thank God that I have lived to enjoy this day. The skies are brighter and the air is purer now that slavery is handed over to judgment.”

Another change is found in the fact that for the first time since the adoption of the Constitution is the government of the United States consistent with its creed, or the nation a republic in anything but the name. There has always been the assumption that the government was republican, and the pretence has been made of deferring questions to the popular voice and vote. The people have appeared to deliberate, and express their convictions by their ballots. They have gone through the forms of the caucus, the convention, and the polls, as if they were in reality choosing their own rulers and making their own laws. But it has never been other than a semblance, a show of participation where there has been no participation, a show of authority when there has been no authority. In point of fact, indeed, from the adoption of the Constitution till the breaking out of the Rebellion this government has been an absolute despotism, with only the forms of liberty; and the only option given to the people has been that of throwing away their votes, or choosing between two national parties, both of which were nearly alike obsequious to the Southern rule. Mr. Hale was accustomed to enliven and enforce his political addresses by instituting a search for the locality of the government. He used to tell his hearers that it was not where the popular idea located it, at Washington, Boston, or Concord, but among the people. He was, however, as wide of the mark as those he criticised. For till the Rebellion the government had never been practically in their hands. The slave power, wherever it was located, was the government, issuing its edicts, and finding Presidents, Congresses, parties, the army and the navy, its willing servitors.

Nor is this a recent discovery. John Quincy Adams thirty years ago declared that it was “the sectional division of parties, or, in other words, the conflict between freedom and slavery, which constituted the axle round which the administration of national government revolved. All its measures of foreign and domestic policy were but radiations from that centre.” That this was not exceptional in his esteem, but the general feature of the government and its administration, appears from still stronger language employed elsewhere, when, referring to the principle of the “three-fifths” representation introduced into the Constitution, he declared that “its operation upon the government of the nation is to establish an artificial majority in the slave representation over that of the people in the American Congress, and thereby to make the preservation, propagation, and perpetuation of slavery the vital and animating spirit of the national government.” He spoke again of the Constitution as being “saturated with the infection of slavery which no fumigation could purify, no quarantine could extinguish”; by means of which he added, “a knot of slaveholders give the law and prescribe the policy of the country.” Mr. Adams’s position, age, experience, profound learning, and studious disavowal of all sympathy and affiliation with abolitionists, invest this severe characterization of the government and its policy with a gravity not to be lightly esteemed or unreflectingly gainsaid. Nor is there need of farther asseveration from him or others. This sad feature of American history stands confessed before the world, and needs no further proof.

Now all this has passed away. The tyrant is not only dethroned, but dead. There can be neither resurrection nor restoration. There is now no secret star-chamber where the counsels and schemes of the slave oligarchy are concocted, and from which its edicts are promulgated. The Democratic party, too, which was ever its subservient ally, is demoralized and in disgrace.

The most important change, however, involving, as it does, consequences and responsibilities of such grave and practical importance, is the fact that the business of self-government is now in the hands of the people. This, though the theory, has never been the practice. But now the king is dead, and his sceptre is broken, who shall take his place? Some new usurper? Or will the people, learning wisdom from their past fearful history, reduce to practice the theory of self-government so long and so inconsistently held? It is easy to say they should. But government is no holiday affair, and republicanism is anything but a mere sentiment. It involves thought, knowledge, consideration, and self-control, which are far from being indigenous in human nature, besides the time and effort which are needful for the details of civil and political management. Except the few who, from personal or patriotic motives, are willing to perform the drudgery of a political canvass, the great mass pray to be excused from any such outlay of time, work, or money. There are too many here who merit the censure by Bismarck of the French people, that they were far more ready to claim their rights than to perform their duties. More are found to de claim vociferously against the wrongs of oppression than to perform soberly and sedulously such labors as are needful to resist and overcome its stealthy approaches or its violent assaults. And there are many who see, or think they see, evidences that large numbers are even now, through indolence or interest, preparing to transfer to money-aggregated capital the allegiance hitherto given to the slave power.

Indeed, there are those calculating on money as the lever by which the Democracy shall be lifted to power again. One writes: “Tammany with the ‘almighty dollar’ has secured and is sure of holding New York. Money conquers everything. The coalition of the Tammany ring with the Erie ring is irresistible in the State, and the Democratic managers here have only to put their heads together and make a joint-stock alliance of all the great railway and telegraph interests of the country in order to gain the White House.” Another, speaking of the controlling influence which wealthy men acquire in the leading corporations, boards of directors becoming mere tools to register their edicts and do their bidding, remarks that “these men are becoming kaisers, and erelong the whole machinery of government will be under their manipulation. Their impress is seen and felt now in many States, and legislation is moulded according to the dictation of these railroad kings.” By the side of these statements the following figures are significant. The Erie has not only 25,000 employees, over whom its master-spirit professes to have a controlling influence, but its stocks and bonds amount to $101,935,000. The “marketable indebtedness” of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroads is said to be $102,897,689. That of the Pennsylvania Central is nearly as large. These facts and many of like character, the votes at some recent elections, the evidence of the control which the money power has exerted over too many State legislatures, over too many judges on the bench, and the influence too marked in the councils of the nation, are ominous, and fill the minds of the thoughtful with apprehensions of a bondage in store as grinding, if not as ignominious, as that which has just passed away.

Another great change is the enlarged basis of suffrage made by the Fifteenth Amendment. Just at the moment when the demand for intelligent voting was so greatly increased, when there seemed to be another chance for the people to reassert and reclaim the right of managing their affairs according to the theory of free government, — a right they had so fatally relinquished to the slave power, — and the hope was cherished that our flag should no longer be a flaunting lie, or wave over a people free only in name, then the exigencies of the situation, indeed, the very existence of the nation, made it necessary to adopt the principle of manhood suffrage. By the adoption of this amendment all men, without regard to race, color, or previous condition, religion, or education, are clothed with the regal authority of the ballot; so that now, in addition to the crowds that come pouring in from Europe with all the disqualifications of their early training, there have been made by the stroke of a pen more than three quarters of a million of voters out of those who, like their fathers, had been born and educated under the paralyzing and brutalizing influences of slavery. How can these growing millions, just emancipated, some from the fetters of chattlehood and a larger number from the political bondage of the slave power, hold the even balance of a wise determination between the conflicting claims that will be urged upon the voters of such a Republic as this? How shall they weigh with intelligence and candor the many questions that must be submitted to the arbitrament of a popular vote? How shall they be able to decide aright even the question, which every one, however ignorant and weak, must decide, as to the party he will join, and the leaders he will follow?

Now that “slavery has been handed over to judgment,” and something besides the peculiar institution is to be cared for by the government, there will arise, as there have arisen, many grave questions to be argued before the popular tribunal and decided by a popular vote. How can such a pleading be anything but a farce, unless there be some culture and some intelligence concerning the points at issue? How can the decision of such a vote be any better than the “throw of a die”? Of course it is not claimed that every vote should comprehend all the recondite points of true statesmanship, the mysteries of finance and commerce, the principles of protection and free trade, though the theory of a republican government recognizes no other tribunal than that of the people; but it is expected, and should be provided for, that every one who casts his ballot should have some general opinions upon such subjects, enough at least to choose intelligently between the conflicting claims and their advocates presented for popular adoption and support. There will be found two serious difficulties in the way of a wise and intelligent exercise of the right of suffrage arising from other causes than ignorance and that controlling force which the slave power was accustomed to exert. Sectionalism and demands for special legislation will often prompt to segregated rather than united effort, preventing rather than promoting that harmony and union which alone are the earnests of true and permanent success. But the magnanimity and breadth of views, which can look beyond the present moment for reward, and, listening to the voice of humanity, justice, and a wise forethought, can see in the good of the whole more than a compensation for the sacrifice of selfish greed, can hardly be expected of the millions of the old or of the new made voters, exposed, as they will be, to the arts and pretensions of scheming adventurers and plotting politicians, unless there be comprehensive and well-directed efforts towards popular education, public instruction, and domestic and social culture. Without the school-house and the church there is but a poor showing for a successful experiment of free government on so large a scale, with a continental empire for its theatre, with open doors towards the east and west inviting immigration from beyond the Atlantic and Pacific, and with a population so heterogeneous. It cannot be longer safe to “leave things at loose ends,” and to trust to the chance influences of commerce, the arts, the general struggle for a livelihood and wealth, and those scattered efforts of individuals, churches, and voluntary associations for the public good, which have hitherto so grandly illustrated and adorned American history, and which have, through home missions, tract, Bible, and Sabbath-school associations, and aid to colleges and schools, done so much for civilization and republicanism on this continent.

For, however timely and beneficent may have been these voluntary interpositions, in a nations behalf, of the humble and Christian toilers, — working noiselessly at the foundations, almost unobserved, and without reward other than the consciousness of doing good, and solving the social problems which each embryo city, village, and town presented, — and however much is due to them of our gigantic, Western growths, it is becoming apparent that the work is outgrowing the workers. With the sudden enlargement of the territory to be occupied, and the augmentation of the masses to be cared for, and the decay of the early enthusiasm which sent and supported so many of the pioneers in the work, it is becoming, in the minds of many, a question whether the government should not here recognize a responsibility of its own which it has heretofore left entirely to others; and certainly, with or without government aid, there is a most imperative demand for a policy similar to that which has already obtained, but far exceeding in extent and rigor any hitherto attempted. The two great necessities of the country, at the present time, are UNIFICATION and EDUCATION.

UNIFICATION. — That union is a necessity of the nation seems only a truism. From the first it has been one of the popular watchwords, as the people have thought and spoken of the dangers and duties involved in the attempt to maintain free institutions. As it was only by uniting their forces as colonists that the fathers could hope to resist the power of England, so, since they started on the race of national existence, attention has ever been directed by their wisest and ablest men to this as one of the cardinal public virtues. Washington dwelt especially upon its importance in his Farewell Address, expressing particular apprehension of sectional or “geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western.” Nor were these teachings without effect; nor, indeed, were they always employed with a good design. For, from the first, slavery held it up as an argument in terrorem, and succeeded in making the large majority of the nation believe that anything done to its injury would weaken the ties that bound the Union together. Threats of disunion, and “Union-saving committees,” were among the most potent agencies to repress the promptings of freedom, and to resist the demands of justice, humanity, and the laws of God.

Slavery, however, is no more; and its power for evil or good, — if good could ever be predicated of any influence it exerted, — can no longer be calculated upon in any estimate of forces required or to be apprehended, in the future motions and developments of society and the state. As now the national territory broadens, its millions increase, and its immigration becomes more various and mixed; as new tastes and opinions abound, intensified by the quickening energies of modern progress; and especially as the moral and social influences, emanating from New England and the Middle States are becoming relatively less, — there is manifestly need of other and more potent agencies and energies to prepare these heterogeneous and discordant materials for the new condition of affairs, for the new era on which the nation has entered. Those fragments from the crumbling systems of European and Asiatic civilizations, thrown into the crucible of American society, must be fused into some new consistence for their place and use in the “composite nationality” of the great Republic. Nor will it be safe to leave the character of the new amalgam to depend upon the chance or natural affinities developed by the fusion. Other elements must be thrown in to modify and give shape and fitness, as the necessities of the case require. What they shall be and how they shall be applied should be the study of the wisest and best. To this the social philosopher and divine, the statesman and the educator, should bring their most earnest and select efforts. On the altar of this momentous social and national problem should the Christian lay his prayers and alms, and the rich man his gifts. To make the people one in spirit and purpose, to remove anything that is calculated to engender and perpetuate strife or promote sectional animosities and interests, should be regarded, during the generation now entered upon, as the special work of the bravest philanthropy and of the purest and most enlarged statesmanship.

EDUCATION. — From the first, New England seemed to grasp the great idea that education was an essential element of social and civil prosperity. In the midst of their deep poverty its settlers founded Harvard College, and established for the first time the principle of supporting, at public expense, schools to which all were admitted, for the purpose, as they expressed it, of “nurturing” the rising generation in the elements of common intelligence and virtuous living. Recognizing the fundamental thought, that it is the people who “constitute the state” and make it what it is, they saw that self-protection, even the instinct of self-preservation, demanded that the material of which it was, and was to be, composed should be such as its nature and constitution required. Nor has that idea ever been lost. One hundred and fifty years later, Washington counselled his countrymen to “promote as an object of primary importance institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge,” on the ground that, “as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.” There is, however, no need of argument. The theory of popular education, as an essential element of free government, is by general consent admitted.

The chief points of virtue and importance, in any practical discussion of the subject, pertain to the kind of education required, the best methods of its attainment, and some of the hindrances that lie in the way of that attainment. Here there is large room for inquiry and improvement. For, notwithstanding the admitted advancement of the cause of elementary education, there still remains a lamentable lack of men and women suitably educated for the various duties and dangers, responsibilities and emergencies, of actual life. Not only is there a signal failure in improving the privileges furnished at so much public and private cost, but wise observers find many who have enjoyed all the benefits of the schools, — even some who have become proficients in the various branches of study, — exhibiting grave defects in matters of practical experience. For with the advance of these public means of education there has been an increase of adverse influences from the many changes in the business and social habits of the people, so that what might have been fitted once for the necessities of the community and the times would fail now to meet them. The learning of books is, of course, essential; but that is not all which is requisite. There are practical lessons, not found in the arithmetic and algebra, the geography and grammar, which are to be learned now only outside of the school-room, but which should constitute an important part of the curriculum adopted within. Indeed, it is doubtless among the features of “the good time coming,” that the education insisted on and furnished by both the common school and college shall lose something of its present scholastic form, and partake more largely of the practical element; where the intercourse between teacher and pupil shall involve something less of adherence to forms and positive systems, more regard to the individuality of each, and more freedom in its exercise.

The education that is specially needed now embraces the whole of man’s complex nature, and sends the individual forth into the community with the body and heart fitted for his work as well as the mind, with common sense to apply the abstract principles derived from text-books as well as the knowledge and discipline they are designed to afford. Of course much must be derived from the indirect influences exerted simultaneously and subsequently to the days of the school-room by home, its employments, associations, and pleasures, by society, its provisions and demands, the necessities of a livelihood and the calls of business. A good home, says Leigh Richmond, is the best of schools. But it must be good, and much of its value consists in the care and effort necessary to make it thus good. The church, too, and the lecture-room, the caucus, convention, and town-meeting, the farmers club and the trades-union, the newspaper, the magazine, the review, must all contribute their share to produce what should be the grandest product of the ages, the American citizen; one who, reaping what others have sown, and gathering up the spoils which the centuries have laid at his feet, is called upon to meet the grave responsibility of conserving the interests and of shaping the destinies of the mightiest republic of ancient or modern days.

Such substantially is the training and culture required by the exigencies of the present hour. Are the millions now clothed with the royal right of suffrage, and holding in their hands the sovereign power of this nation—the great body of American citizens—thus educated? Do they answer in any good degree this description? Do even the educated men of the country seem fully alive to the exigencies of the case? What measures are now in progress which seem to comprehend the situation, or are based upon a correct estimate of the perils that environ and confront? In a word, are the omens propitious?

Napoleon said, fifty years ago, that the great want of France was mothers, which was his method of saying that the French people needed the education of homes. But France did not heed this saying; and her late Emperor attributes her present troubles to frivolity and lack of principle in the people. A recent letter-writer thus puts the matter on record: “Throughout France, in 1830, the working class had begun to lose its self-respect, and to degenerate into the condition of serfs; morals and manners were almost impossible. Home life received a shock from which it has never recovered.” And now France lies humble and bleeding, fallen at once from the position of the leading nation of Europe to that at least of a second-rate power. Prussia saw that she needed an educated people to cope with surrounding powers, and she decreed that education should be not only compulsory, but military. The results are before the world.

But if France and Prussia, the empire and the kingdom, need education so much, and if its presence and absence have been productive of such dissimilar results, what must be the consequence of its culture or neglect in a country where the two policies of universal suffrage and unrestricted immigration at one and the same time prevail? More than twenty years ago, before the Rebellion, before Emancipation, before the Fifteenth Amendment, before the Pacific Railroad was built or hardly conceived of, when the vast central regions of North America, now dotted with States and Territories and rising cities, were inhabited by the buffalo and savage, when were used with far less pertinence than they can be now the oft-quoted words,

No pent-up Utica contracts your powers,
For the whole boundless continent is yours,

Horace Mann, who has left for his countrymen so many wise counsels and practical suggestions, thus discoursed upon the danger to the government of universal suffrage without universal education: —

The human imagination can picture no semblance of the destructive potency of the ballot-box in the hands of an ignorant and corrupt people. The Roman cohorts were terrible; the Turkish janizaries were incarnate fiends: but each was powerless as a child for harm compared with universal suffrage without mental illumination and moral principle. The power of casting a vote is far more formidable than that of casting spear or javelin. On one of those oft-recurring days, when the fate of the State or the Union is to be decided at the polls, when all over the land the votes are falling thick as hail, and we seem to hear them rattle like the clangor of arms, it is enough to make the lover of his country turn pale to reflect upon the motives under which they may be given, and the consequences to which they may lead. … If they emanate from wise counsels and a loyalty to truth, they will descend like benedictions from Heaven to bless the land and fill it with song and gladness, such as never have been known on earth since the days of paradise; but if, on the other hand, these votes come from ignorance and crime, the fire and brimstone that were rained on Sodom and Gomorrah would be more tolerable.

If these be the words of truth and soberness, how little better than madness is that apathy pervading the public mind on the subject of educating these swelling millions that are now so rapidly covering this continental area of the great Republic! Will the nation awake to its peril before it is too late?

If not corroborative of these stirring words of the Massachusetts educator, strongly tending in the same direction have been some of the recent utterances from the same old Commonwealth, where were first planted and where have been so carefully nourished the institutions of popular education. In the year 1865 a commission was appointed by the Legislature of Massachusetts on the “hours of labor.” There were several hearings before it, and the results, which seemed to have surprised its members, were embodied in a Report, with some suggestions not without significance in this connection. “The evidence,” they say, “almost challenged belief. Certainly the committee were astonished that, in the midst of progress and prosperity unparalleled, advancement in the arts and sciences, development of machinery for the saving of labor, progress in inventions, and in the increase of wealth and material prosperity, yet MAN, the producer of all these, the first great cause of all, was the last of all and least understood. … It was painful to listen to the unanimous evidence, showing a steady demoralization of the men who are the bulwarks of our national life; painful to witness progress in that which is perishable, stagnation and decay in the imperishable and immortal man. The committee are constrained to say that, after patient and careful consideration of the subject, they are satisfied that, if we would avert national calamity and decay, loss of industrial science, and strength of execution, preserve the health, life, and virtue of the people, secure to ourselves and transmit to our posterity the priceless blessings of liberty and self-government, We must awake to the importance of this subject, and, if not in the spirit of philanthropy, at least of self-protection, do justice to it.

Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay.

The subject is of vast importance to the people of this Commonwealth. Important in any aspect in which it may be viewed, it is paramount, in our opinion, to any other subject which claims the attention of thinking men, for upon its solution and settlement depend the best interests of the Church, the State, and the individual man. The times in which we live clothe this subject with a new and peculiar significance; while our institutions, their purity, preservation, and perpetuation, demand of us an immediate investigation and recognition of its claims to us as legislators and as men. … The State is composed of men, and the interests, progress, and advancement of man is the foundation upon which the State rests. If the foundation is firm and solid, the structure is strong and enduring. Hence the first duty of the State is to recognize this great principle of manhood. Laid upon that foundation, the State is enduring and immortal.”

If five years ago this was sound and cogent reasoning for Massachusetts, and there were grounds for the apprehension and alarm thus expressed, in a State with such a record as hers and such bountiful appropriation for popular education as she can show, how much more pertinent and cogent are its suggestions for the nation at large in the new circumstances of its present condition. The report was written, indeed, with special reference to the “factory system” and its operatives; but there is much in common with all the poorer and dependent classes throughout the land: and much which may be predicated of the operatives of New England can be said with equal truth of the freedmen of the South and the emigrant everywhere. It makes but little difference whether men are in the factories of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, among the mines of Pennsylvania and Colorado, the prairies of Illinois and Iowa, or on the plantations of Georgia and Louisiana; if their external conditions are substantially alike, the results will substantially agree; while the nation as a whole is more dependent upon its constituent elements than are the individual States.

In 1869 the same Legislature, in pursuit of a similar object, created a Bureau of Statistics. From a recent report on the evils of overwork the following extract is taken: “Now it is beyond question that whatever affects the social, educational, and sanitary condition of so large a body of wealth-producers of the State, imperatively demands the most thoughtful consideration of the State herself. As a matter of mere financial economy, if she finds that they are overworked, and, consequently, that their productive energy is weakened, and so the products of that energy are diminished in quantity and quality, or both, and that her wealth suffers thereby, she is bound to protect them against such overwork that she may protect herself. As a matter of social right, justice, and humanity, if she finds that they are overworked, and that consequently they are in peril of social degradation, she is bound to protect them against such overwork, that she may not become herself socially degraded. If she finds that they are overworked, so that because of physical exhaustion they are unfitted and unable to give time and attention to the attainment of such mental education as shall secure for them the possibility, at least, of some degree of culture and refinement, she is bound to protect them against such overwork, that she herself may not lose her culture and refinement, and so fall from her proper rank as a true and not a pretentious Christian Commonwealth. And all this is true in relation to all her toiling thousands. The welfare of her children, in each and every avocation, is her own welfare. Never was mother more dependent upon her children, nor children more largely entitled to a mother’s protection. Their interest, happiness, and greatness are intertwined beyond all power of separation. They and the State are one.”

Enough, perhaps more than enough, has been said of the value and importance of education, and of the danger of its neglect; nor is it difficult to secure the general assent to what is said. The real difficulty is to inspire the people with a practical purpose of promoting the cause of such education. The real question at issue is not, ought the present generation to be educated? but, shall it be educated? not, shall the next generation be educated? but shall this? not, shall the true idea of popular education be gradually worked into the American thought and purpose? but, shall it at once be accepted and reduced to practice? There are serious difficulties and hindrances that lie in the way of its practical adoption; shall these difficulties and hindrances be properly recognized and canvassed, and the necessary means adopted to remove or overcome them? These are the questions now in order before the American people.

Some of these more serious difficulties and hindrances are suggested by the condition and circumstances of the emigrant, the freedman, and the operative. While each has disadvantages peculiar to himself, there are some which the three have in common. Generally in moderate, oftener in straitened circumstances, they lack many of those appliances of domestic comfort and social improvement, from the possession of which have arisen many of the more desirable traits of New England and American character. Struggling to keep the wolf from the door, they have too little time for the refinements of life. Even when within the reach of the common school, the tendency is often strong with them to neglect or very inadequately improve its privileges; and when there is attendance, there is so much which is uncongenial in the atmosphere of home, that, beyond the acquisition of the simplest elements of learning, there is little progress towards that completeness of culture which American citizenship requires. Even if the petty and grosser vices are wanting, as too often they are not, there is such an absence of thoughtfulness and considerate purpose, as to render the prospect of intelligent and virtuous manhood very faint. Instead of becoming men who know their duties, and knowing dare fulfil, the danger is great of their becoming mere Hessians in the political market, to be bought, if not with money, at least with craft and party management. For added to the other infelicities of the situation, there is a lack of the social attractions and the benefits of staid society and permanent homes. Much of the glory of New England has arisen from the stimulus and restraints resulting from this more permanent segregation of individuals, blessed with churches and schools, prompting some to worthy courses they would not otherwise have adopted, and restraining others from vicious practices into which they would have fallen without such protection. To many of the emigrants, operatives, and freedmen such influences are wanting. Too generally not rooted in any particular locality, they never breathe a social atmosphere which has the vitalizing forces of one’s native air.

To these considerations in behalf of the thorough and practical education of the people, and to some of the obstacles in the way of its attainment, I would invite the earnest and thoughtful attention of my countrymen. I do not assume the office of instructor; nor do I propose to indicate what is to be done, or how this grave exigency is to be met. I only bespeak here a careful study of this great social and national problem, thus suddenly forced upon the Republic. Fully believing that the nation has never witnessed an hour, not even in the darkest night of the Rebellion, when there were presented more pressing claims for special effort, or when there were demanded of the patriotic, philanthropic, and pious men of thought, more time, effort, and personal sacrifice, I present this matter as second to no question now before the country.

The world has hardly ceased to wonder at “the uprising of a great people, to save this nation in the hour of Rebellion.” The appeals that then rang through the land, and the prompt and generous responses they invoked, still echo in the memory. All distinctions of age, sex, and station seemed for the moment forgotten. Unprecedented, too, in the annals of warfare, is the American woman’s proud record. She not only sent and bade God speed her loved ones, but she went herself to the bloody field of strife, and the soldiers arm was stronger and his courage was firmer because she was there. In the darkest days of 1863 a woman, more earnest than some, feeling that all were not suitably awake, thus appealed to her sisters through the pages of the Atlantic: “The women of to-day have not come up to the level of to-day. They do not stand abreast with its issues. They do not rise to the height of this great argument. ... O my countrywomen! I long to see you stand under the time, and bear it up in your strong hearts, and not to be borne up through it.” Alluding to the uprising of the people on the fall of Sumter, she asks: “Was that a childish outburst of excitement, or the glow of an overruling principle? Was it a puerile anger or a manly indignation? Did we spring up startled pygmies or girded giants?”

Hardly less now than then is there need of the same fiery questionings. Though there is not the need of the same bloody baptism, the same supreme sacrifice as when it led to the hardships and hazards of the camp, the march, and the battle-field, there is a demand for something of the same offering of personal interests on the altar of the public good. The nation needs no words less of grateful commendation for the brave men who went to the war, not a flower less to deck the soldiers graves, nor a monument the less to commemorate the martyred dead; but it does need far less of that cheap patriotism which is content with words for the dead, but has nothing for the living, which extols the bravery of those who fought to save the nation, but will do nothing to complete the work so grandly begun, and rescue the land from foes less sanguinary and violent, but no less dangerous and destructive.

It is at this juncture that the Republican party is called upon to take its position and define its policy. After the storms of war and the foggy uncertainties of the reconstruction now so nearly completed, the sun and stars appear. Now comes the demand for new observations and calculations, that the party’s latitude may be ascertained, and its course laid for a new departure. As there is much to gratify and be proud of in the first ten years of its administration of public affairs, so there is much to encourage and animate as the future beckons it to advance. Shall the same wisdom, forecast, patriotism, and earnestness which have marked the past shine with equal brilliancy in the future? Under its lead the Rebellion has been crushed, slavery destroyed, the States lately in rebellion reconstructed and restored, millions of the public debt paid, gold reduced to 110, and an election held which has given the administration “a vote of confidence,” and secured for it congressional support till its close. Mr. Phillips admitted only the truth when he said in Music Hall: “It is a very good record. It is a very fine picture. It has green laurels, green laurels, worthy, glorious laurels on its brow.” Will the party at the close of its next decade merit such an encomium from a political opponent? This is really the great American question of the hour. So closely identified is the Republican party with the nation, so nearly is it the nation itself, so unpatriotic and un-American has the Democratic party proved itself to be, that to keep the former in the path of duty has been, is now, and is evidently to be, the keeping of the nation there. To imperil its success is to put the nation in danger. What, then, is the present duty of this great national party?

Its first great duty is administration. Intrusted by the nation with the seals of office and sceptre of power, it is responsible for their faithful use. Having proclaimed its public policy and received the nations emphatic indorsement, it must carry it out to a successful issue, especially so much as is embodied in the constitutional amendments and their consequent legislation. The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments must not be permitted to lie a dead letter in the Constitution. As the South, for two generations, made the most of the compromises in the interests of slavery, the Republicans should exhibit equal energy in using these guaranties of human rights in the interests of freedom.

On the financial measures such attention should be bestowed as the exigencies of the occasion and the progress of events require. Fortunately, however, there seems little need of other action than to leave the laws of trade and the legislation already secured to work out their legitimate results. Nor is the encouragement small to allow the matter to remain, as thus arranged, in the safe hands of the present head of the Treasury Department. For if, in spite of the present war in Europe and its complications, the national credit has continued to improve, if the currency has appreciated, until gold, at 131 when General Grant was inaugurated, is now at 110, it would seem the part of wisdom to continue the present policy, which has worked such beneficent results, and which must at no distant day make the greenback the equivalent of specie.

Concerning the tariff there is greater difficulty, as there is greater diversity of sentiment and interest. The questions involved, too, are intrinsically obscure; men, equally patriotic and wise, differ in judgment; the same men differ in opinion at different times, and some men are unable to reach a conclusion entirely satisfactory even to themselves. Different branches of business and different sections of the country find their interests—at least it is so assumed—demanding different lines of policy, some requiring protection and others clamoring for free trade. Entire agreement cannot, therefore, be expected in a national party, embracing within its limits the whole country, and representing so many conflicting interests. It should, therefore, if possible, cease to be a party measure, and some common ground should be found by the wise and patriotic men on which all can consistently and satisfactorily stand. Neither the Republican party nor the country can allow this question to destroy the integrity or imperil the ascendency of an organization with such a record and such elements of power for good. Neither he who desires protection nor those who believe in free trade should demand or expect their extreme opinion to be adopted as the policy of the nation. Some common ground should be sought where existing burdens may be lightened and the great interests of the country may be cared for. Both should concede something, in view of the mighty interests involved. The present revenue laws were formed in time of war. The changed condition of affairs necessitates some modifications; and Congress should speedily address itself to the task of finding some mode of adjustment that may be both satisfactory and enduring. Now that the great disturber is removed, a moderate amount of wisdom and patriotism, it would seem, could find such ground, and agree upon some such mode of adjustment. So long as the interest on a national debt counted by billions is to be provided for, and absolute free trade is impracticable, it would seem that there need be no insurmountable difficulties in the way of adjusting the revenue that must be raised to the necessities of any reasonable protection. Nothing more than remembrance of the sacrifices which were required when, at the call of patriotism, as Whigs and Democrats Republicans left their respective parties to make the new organization, — which was formed and commissioned to save the country, — would seem to be necessary to induce the spirit of moderation and compromise now required, and thus remove this question either from the arena of politics or from the attitude of danger to the party or the nation.

To sustain and aid the President in carrying out his pacific and philanthropic Indian policy, in adequate and persistent detail, is another service to which the Republican party is committed; nor is that policy safe in any other hands. The good name of the nation as well as the well-being of the Indians requires its continued ascendency to perfect what has been so auspiciously begun.

To maintain the dignity and vindicate the honor of the nation in its relations and correspondence with other governments is another duty intrusted to Republican hands, which can be as safe in no other.

Reform in the civil service, by which the work of the government shall be more faithfully and thoroughly performed, and by which there shall be less corruption in the different departments of public employment and greater purity in elections, is another object which has received, and is destined to receive, more of the attention of the administration than has hitherto been customary.

To keep out of power the Democratic party and its semi-rebellious adherents, both North and South, has become a matter of supreme importance to the nation and to the cause of humanity itself. None who correctly gauged the issues of the Rebellion can fail to deprecate as a national calamity the return to power of the party which nurtured within its ranks the men who raised aloft the arm of treason, and came so near to rending asunder the Union itself, — the party that never gave the nation hearty support in its struggles with traitors, and has never concealed its sympathy with them when overthrown. Sadly chilled must be his patriotism, or his cause of complaint must be very grievous, who is willing, for public or private reasons, to affiliate with such a party and help it into power again. For does any one need be told that, with it restored to power, there can be no effective carrying out of those great measures of emancipation and reconstruction which the Republicans have placed on the statute-book and so thoroughly inwrought into the history of the last ten years? Mr. Phillips accords to the Republican party as its “one idea” “to watch over the reconstruction policy of the war,” and he admits that it is a necessary duty, a great function; and yet he says: “I don’t care a chip whether John Quincy Adams or Governor Claflin is the next Governor of Massachusetts.” Who is to “watch over the reconstruction policy of the war,” if disaffected Republicans, uniting with the Democrats, elect Democratic governors and legislatures? If such a policy prevails, how can it be otherwise than that the present movement in behalf of human rights must be summarily checked, and the hopes of human amelioration, recently so sanguine, must be suddenly darkened? Unless the Republican party shall remain harmonious, and, inspired by its past and glorious achievements, shall carry forward its good work to completion, much of the fearful cost of the war will have been incurred in vain. Where, then, is the remedy? Nowhere but in the intelligence and right purposes of the public. The people must be fortified against the wiles and misrepresentations of designing men, who too often and too easily make them the tools of their ambition and revenge, mere counters in their game of politics.

It is the opinion of some that the nation has reached that stage when the fitting of the materials of which it is composed for the new epoch in its history is its great work. The new condition of things has practically changed the workings of political affairs. Relieved from the presence and pressure of slavery and the slave power, but threatened with another tyrant in the shape of capital, the country needs relief and safety, and there is no chance for either except as the people can be properly instructed and persuaded.

The strength of the Republican party has lain in its ideas, or rather in the fact that it has been a party of ideas. Lifted above the mere scramble for place and power, and the grovelling ambition for personal and partisan triumphs, and appealing to the higher principles of thought and feeling, a love of country, a sense of justice, and regard for human rights, it embodies in itself something of the essential value and dignity of the objects for which it was formed and maintained. Born in the hour of the nation’s peril, when slavery was stretching forth its hand to destroy what it had so long endamaged and disgraced, its watch-words have been loyalty and freedom, “liberty and union,” for the first time “one and inseparable.” Under the lead of sagacious leaders, — better said, under the guiding hand of Providence, — it has hitherto kept in advance even of the people who gave it power. President Lincoln, though accused of tardiness, was ahead of the party which elected him in his Proclamation of Emancipation. And the Republican Congresses, which have inaugurated and carried through the reconstruction measures, have led rather than followed the popular sentiment. But party leaders cannot with safety go far ahead of the public sentiment in legislation. Either the people must be brought up, or the party standard must be brought down; and in this fact is found another reason why the Republican party should accept as one of the living issues of the hour the proper education of the people. How shall it be attempted? By what methods shall it be taken from the mere abstraction of discussion or declamation, and made one of the issues of party purpose and effort? Briefly thus.

It should receive the moral support of a hearty indorsement in the party’s national and State conventions. As during the war the party did not hesitate to make emphatic declaration of its purpose to save the Union by meeting the bloody issue tendered by the foe, so there should now be equal explicitness in proclaiming a purpose to complete in peace what was commenced in war; it should reveal its ability to detect dangers to the Republic, though they do not come in the form of armed legions, and do not herald their approach by the roar of cannon and the “sulphurous canopy” of the battle-field. By so doing it will be only carrying out what it has again and again claimed for itself. In the Address of the Congressional Republican Committee on the eve of the recent election, it claimed, no one dissenting, that “it came into being as an organization of reform and progress, and should be ever ready to accept the living issues of the hour and march abreast with the spirit of the age.” How can it more effectually do this than by making it one of its prominent and proclaimed purposes to unify and educate the people?

Aid should be invoked from every available source. The ripest scholars, men of the most profound sagacity, of the most undoubted philanthropy, and of the most fervid piety, should be invited to contribute their best thoughts and most practical suggestions. The Association of Social Science, and representative bodies of the great religious denominations, might worthily make the matter a subject of earnest investigation. The pulpit and press should become the vehicles of discussion, warning, and appeal, until the whole country is aroused, as in the days of the Rebellion, to an appreciative conviction of the matter at issue, and of the necessity of labors and sacrifices commensurate with its urgency and importance.

Appeals should be made to the wealthy men of the party and of the nation. They have at least a twofold interest in the subject, personal and pecuniary. Though a secondary, it is certainly a legitimate consideration, that the security and value of property lies very much in the stability of society, — a security and value which can be easily destroyed when the agrarian and anarchical tendencies of an ignorant or vicious population prevail. Among the threatening indications arising from accumulated wealth, already referred to, there is the cheering indication of a somewhat widely diffused purpose of rich men to endow institutions of learning. Like the Harvards, Yales, and Browns of former days, the Cornells, the Vassars, the Willistons and Simmonses of to-day are linking their names and memories with well-endowed institutions for the education of those who can avail themselves of their liberal provisions. And it is well. But this does not reach the masses. Here is a wide and needy field ready for culture, with promise of most generous returns.

Mr. Peabody set an example by inaugurating a system or plan of operations which should have many followers or imitators. He not only became the almoner of his own bounty, the executor of his own estate, but the patron of able and sagacious men, who, gladly joining their talents and sagacity with his wealth, were willing to labor earnestly in this cause of philanthropy for the poor and lowly. In the present transition state at the South and Southwest, and in many portions of the West, there is a most inviting field for our millionnaires to combine an agency for material development, and for the mental and moral improvement of the masses now struggling, with straitened means, to make for themselves homes, and to become fitted for the privileges and duties of American citizenship. Mr. Stewart, of New York, has recently given but another example of his practical sagacity and public spirit, in purchasing and preparing for the market Hampstead Plains, on Long Island. Employing the highest practical and engineering skill in laying out these plains into streets, squares, and parks, and throwing them open for sale, he will long identify his name with the purchase and place, and the merchant prince of New York will leave in it a monument more enduring than marble. Had he, however, invested a similar amount of money in Southern lands with the same sagacious employment of the necessary skill in preparing and bringing them into the market, and with proper inducements and means of securing emigration and skilled labor from Europe and the North, affording an opportunity to the freedmen and all others who desire to purchase farms, of larger or smaller size, on terms of easy payment, — perhaps proffering some little aid in starting, — he would have accomplished a greater and more enduring good. Such an act would bring to light the material resources of a country never yet developed, and while making provision for schools and churches, would educate the people, not only in the learning of books, but in those practical lessons which the struggle for homes and a livelihood necessarily inculcate and incorporate with the current modes of thought and feeling.

Could a portion of the vast wealth represented by the Republican party, that of its millionnaires and men of smaller means, be devoted to this work, how it would help those needing help, unify and educate the nation, and inure to the advantage and permanence of the party itself! The South is impoverished, it needs capital; it has labor, but it is poor and greatly demoralized, unskilled, and discouraged; how would such a policy as this recommended set in motion the wheels of industry, exorcise the demons of ignorance and secession, restore the lately rebellious States to the Union clothed and in their right mind, and cover that imperial land with the verdure and fruits of such a husbandry as it so much needs, but has never enjoyed! Is it not an object, a living issue, worthy even the party which can boast such a record as the Republicans proudly claim?

The party should commit itself to appropriate legislation. There can be no question of either the necessity or legitimacy of legislation that contemplates the unification and education of the people. At least they can have no scruples who have witnessed and shared in the benefits of the school laws in those States where the system of common schools has been established. Now that with the general rejection of the State rights heresy, State lines are becoming fainter, and State individuality is being more and more absorbed into national unity, it is apparent that the educational policy of the States which have hitherto sustained free schools should be substantially adopted by the nation; at least, that no State should have the power to prevent the national prerogative from being exerted in that direction. A voice, too, from across the waters, echoed and re-echoed from the bloody battle-fields in the present Franco-Prussian war, is significant and to the point. A system of compulsory education, established for more than two centuries in portions of Germany, and for more than a century and a half in Prussia, has brought forth fruits which the world see. France, with a fairer and more fertile country, with the prestige of a brilliant military record, but with a population ignorant, priest-ridden, and emasculated of their manhood, lies beaten on every field and helpless at the conquerors feet. The lesson should not be lost on the American people, especially upon the Republican party. The Bureau of Education should be strengthened, and Mr. Hoar’s bill for the establishment of a system of national education, or something tantamount thereto, should receive the immediate attention of Congress and the undivided support of Republicans. By so doing the party will add to its many claims on the gratitude and support of the nation.