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quartette to sing " My Country 'tis of Thec." In the meantime the servants will work down that way; we have all had plenty to eat.
Music:-Quartette, “ My Country 'tis of Thee."
The President:—The first toast is: “Our Nation, with a Capital N." To this toast General W. W. Belknap will respond.
FIRST Toast-"Our Nation."
Response by General W. W. BELKNAP.
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN OF THE SOCIETY:
The land, fought for and won, in days long gone, by men whose hearts were filled with love of life and liberty; the land whose soil at Camden, at Monmouth, and Yorktown and Saratoga, was softened with the blood of the pioneers of right; the land whose farmers and mechanics, whose lawyers and whose clergymen, whose men of high position and low degree, gathered a hundred years ago to defy the dictates of a parliament and king, whose navy seemed to command the ocean, and whose drum beat encircled the world; the land whose soldiers starving at Valley Forge, and then marching with bleeding feet, and fighting with frozen hands slew more than man for man, and conquered freedom; the land whose people met in covention, and proclaiming independence, gained it, and then formed a constitution which even time has not touched; that land became a Nation, if ever there was one on earth.
It is too late now, or if not too late, too early, for us to sit in quiet seats, and listen without a word, to those who
that this land born under the inspiration which freedom forms, and growing with the years, has no life, no strength, and no existence, but is as powerless as a sick and nameless child. Back from the past come the echoes of the guns of the Revolution, which bring with them the history of those eventful days. They tell of trial, and peril, and war, and famine and death, out of which came the Unitedthe United States of America — States, each a State severally within itself; fertile in soil, rich in real wealth_bright with intellect and regardless of latitude or meridian, united as one, in the Nation, of which each formed a part.
Known as a Nation by the men who made it so, its flag was unfuried in 1777. The thirteen States placed there the thirteen stripes in the body of the flag. These stripes fastened together
became the sign and emblem of a union of these States which no blow can break. In a blue field the stars were set-each the sign of a State-and in this field, as new States came, new stars were there to mark the bond that bound them to the flag. Should trouble and disaster come, and should one star be eclipsed by the unreasoning action of those who placed it there; should it even drop from the galaxy of stars that adorned which shield, and should other stars fall with it from that firmament of freedom, still the flag would be there; these stripes-red, emblematic of war, and white, of peace would be there. They could not be torn apart. They were there to cheer the soldier of the Union in the fight, and there to soothe his lingering hours in hospitals, where there was no fair hand to smooth the soldier's pillow. In the midst of action that same flag, with some of its stars, perhaps obscured, but with these same old stripes, waving in their first beauty, was there to cheer the wavering, to rally the faltering and to save the day.
And this flag, beautiful in the breeze, as it unfolds from its staff; dear to every man who loves his country, whether it hangs listlessly in quiet, or snaps its ends in defiance, blown in full display by the winds of heaven; this flag with its first stripes is the best emblem of a Nation which could not be broken-a Nation which no assault can harm and no attack dismay-a Nation for which we fought and won, my comrades—a Nation with a capital N.
And whatever doubt there might have been as to the weakness or strength of the Government, the strong arms and the firm faith of men like yourselves dissolved the doubt forever! Through labor, and peril, and work, whose true story can never be told, the triumph was won. The
presence of death in camp where disease lurked night and day was full of danger; in the field where at times minie ball and shot and shell held their own high carnival; on picket line where the brave boys who filled it knew as they marched to the front, that in the lottery of army life, each day would claim one of their number as his own; everywhere he made his mark. But resisting that disease, the terror of all camps, whose wasting weakness, as our surgeons say, outrivals shot and shell; facing batteries and charging works in defiance of their fullest fire; with no doors open to them save those of pitiless prisons, which always swung wide open for the captured; they fought their fight; they bore the banner of the Union; they unfurled its fair but tattered folds in their advancing marches, and planted it
there the flag of the free, the symbol of an unbroken Union, and the everlasting emblem of the Nation with a big capital N.
A Nation with a capital N! Made so by whom? By the men who fought for it in its first days a hundred years ago; by the men who stood by it in later years at Chippewa and New Orleans; by the men who, on the fields of Mexico, made their mark in the face of greater strength, made memorable the fields of Chepultepec and Buena Vista. And when peril struck the land again, the descendants of these men, forgetting home, forsaking friends, and dropping even the best pleasures of domestic life, marched to the front, side by side, and to their country gave up all they had.
That country can not be ungrateful. All history shows how honored those have been who, going to the wars, fought for their country's sake. Derided at times by those at home, and censured by those who never heard a bullet whiz and never slept outside of softest couches; by those high in place, and strong in power, yet their heroic memories will live forever. Walter Scott says in Woodstock: “What can they see in the longest kingly line in Europe, save that it runs back to a successful soldier.”'
And Voltaire builded better than he knew when he said: “A soldier may justly claim to govern the State, . when he knew how to defend it. The first king was a fortunate soldier. He who serves his country well needs no ancestors.”
Nor does the country need better defenders than his descendants.
Remembering the full measure of our own surroundings in the war, we can gather these memories which made us mindful of the past, and which tells us with full hearts and willing hands to do homage to the flag which we love, to the Union which we fought to save and to the Nation with a capital N.
The President:—The fashion is to invite you to fill your glasses and drink the toast, but I will dispense with that to-night.
SECOND TOAST—“The President of the United States."
MR. PRESIDENT AND COMRADES, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
Since the organization of this Society, it has been the custom at all its banquets to offer a toast to the President of the United States.
It must be understood that with us this is no light and trivial matter.
We do it as a mark of our respect for that citizen who has been chosen by the people to fill the highest office in the gift of this Nation or any nation. We do it because of our respect for the Presidential office, in which centres the great executive powers of this mighty Republic-including that commander-in-chief of the army and navy.
We do it, Mr. President and comrades, because we know it was through the patriotism and prowess of the Army of the Tennessee, and our comrades in the other great armies of the Republic, that the Presidential office with its constitutional powers and duties was preserved, and with it our grand system of free representative government, for this great undivided-united people—and their posterity forever.
We fought to overthrow a rebellion which was waged to divide the Union, but which primarily was a refusal of a minority to subinit to the result of an election for a President.
We held that the will of this mighty people constitutionally expressed at the ballot-box in the selection of a President was law for every citizen, and that the overthrow of this principle was the destruction of our system of government and the establishment of an oligarchy.
We held that the great powers of the President of the United States were delegated by the authority of the people in the constitution and laws of the country, and that it was the duty of every citizen to observe that constitution and those laws with patriotic fidelity.
We fully recognized the necessity and wisdom of the organization of political parties as a proper means of obtaining an expression of public opinion through the ballot-box, upon great questions of government, by the selection of men to make and to enforce our laws, whose opinions agreed with the majority
We fought the four years of the mighty struggle of the Civil War not that this party or that should control this country. No, no; our aim and inspiration was more noble than that. We fought for the reign of law.
We denied that rebellion was a proper remedy under our system of government for the amendment of abuses of administration. We fully endowed the opinion of Jefferson, that to secure the re
moval of abuses of government, it was only necessary to arraign them before the bar of public opinion.
The Army of the Tennessee in its composition and leadership was a splendid exponent of the principle that the President as commander-in-chief is lawfully entitled to cheerful and prompt obedience, and earnest and patriotic support.
Our great commanders, Grant and Sherman, when in the zenith of their power and glory, treaded not upon the authority of President Lincoln; his constitutional prerogatives were fully recognized by them, and they went forward in the performance of their mighty tasks, sure of his confidence, his sympathy and his patriotic support.
The accord between President and army and commanders was so perfect that the hardships and dangers of the field were lightened by the knowledge of his sympathetic and prompt recognition of duty well performed, and his determined efforts at support, as shown by the voices of our brethren ringing out over hill and dale: 66
We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more."
We honor the long line of illustrious men who have filled the Presidential office, but we single out from all the rest Abraham Lincoln for our reverence. The contemplation of his patriotic and pathetic career, even after these years, stirs every emotion of the heart.
He bore the burdens and sorrows of this people during the four years of terrible war. When the cloud lifted, and the sunshine of peace and joy filled the land, he was denied the privilege of joining his voice in the mighty anthem which rent the air of “peace on earth and good will toward men." But he fell as the last and greatest martyr to the cause of the Union, freedom and free gov. ernment.
The chief glory of our system of government is the intimate and sympathetic relations which exist between the people and the official body of our citizens.
The office holders are not a class apart from the great mass of the people, they, therefore, do not constitute a distinct strata of society, and as a consequence the simplicity of our private life is carried into the most exalted positions.
The President of the United States and his family are quite as accessible as the average man of business. Instead of adopting a