Clinton Celebrates Nation's Centennial 1876

From: The Daily Herald, Wednesday Evening, July 5, 1876, P.4
Transcribed by a Clinton County IaGenWeb volunteer.

A Trite though Inelegant Phrase which Expresses the Character of the Centennial Fourth of July Celebration in Clinton – Details of the Day – The Parade, Addresses, Baseball, Fireworks, Etc.

The celebration is over. The community, arrayed erstwhile in patriotic garb, and teeming with the vivacity of ten thousand pleasure seekers, to-day resumes its wonted humor and grasps again the burdens of ordinary life, with only happy memories, let us hope, of the great and honored occasion just completed. Cities are but types of individuals in this respect and in the expression of characteristics, inanimate structures marking the boundaries of our thoroughfares are made to reflect the prevailing public sentiment. The funeral cortege, passing down the street, dispels the air of gayety and makes the very buildings wear a fancied somber appearance, while the pleasure pageant, clad in holiday attire and glittering in civic splendor, is beckoned onward by trees that dance a merry greeting and edifices smiling in glad response. Thus Clinton, standing above the sordid conditions of commercial existence for the time, gave ample evidence throughout the day that the Fourth of July, A. D. 1876, had been greeted here with fitting enthusiasm.

Anticipations of the celebration were somewhat marred by the incessant rain that fell during the previous night, and weak-kneed prophets, tossing about on sleepless beds, mentally scored a grand disappointment for the public on the morrow. But the drenching so far from being fatal to the celebration, proved only a healthful bath. It refreshed and purified the atmosphere while it did not hinder the parade.


By the usual noisy outbursts, the cannon booming, the bells clanging and whistles screaming, promulgating the glad news that the summit of the century hill of independence had been reached, and summoning all to arouse and properly enter into the spirit of the occasion. The rain had ceased by daylight, and the morning dawned clear and bright, reviving the hopes of all and betokening a successful issue of the contemplated events. The morning hours were ones of bustle and preparation. Society men hurried hither and thither, bearing their Lodge room paraphernalia, committee men rushed along to finish some late-hour task, money makers hustled about intent on improving the bonanza opportunities of eh hour, while boys, girls, men women surged around – everybody bent on seeing the fun and “putting in the day” to the best advantage. Nearly fifty large flags floated above the business blocks or from flag staffs in various parts of the city, while thousands of little flags, bunting, streamers, Centennial mottoes and other emblems were flung to the breeze.


Formed on Fifth avenue and Second street according to the programme, and despite the fact that fully two thousand spectators were gathered along the adjacent walks and in the streets to watch the process of formation, not an accident or incident occurred to mar the harmony, and the procession was arranged and moved off at the appointed hour, 10:30 o’clock, with decided éclat, Marshal Milo Smith, and his aids proving themselves very efficient Generals.

Leading the procession were the pioneers, consisting of a carriage containing Messrs. C. H. Toll, Samuel Crozer, A. P. Hosford and T. J. Flournoy. The Clinton band neatly uniformed, came next, followed by Holy Cross Commandery in full dress, their handsome black uniforms and glittering swords presenting a fine appearance. About forty Sir Knights were in line.

Then came the speaker’s carriage, containing President S. G. Magill, Rev. Mr. Bray and Messrs. W. M. Potter and L. P. Allen, then a dozen carriages filled with old settlers.

The Roman Catholic Total Abstinence and Juvenile Catholic Temperance societies, numbering about eighty, marched next, Martin Grimes being the Marshal, assisted by Messrs. Williams, Conlin, Gleason and Chapman.

The above comprised the First Division, which was in the immediate charge of Capt. J. D. Fegan. The Second, or Capt. J. G. Crozer’s Division, was led by the colored band, followed by Lincoln and Walhalla Lodges of Odd Fellows and their visitors, numbering about seventy-five – John Hogendobler officiating as Marshal. Clinton and Schiller Lodges of Ancient Order of United Workmen came next, numbering sixty, in charge of C. S. Raymond and Albert Huessler. Then followed the German Turnverein, numbering forty in command of Henry Kirkman; the German Workingmen’s Association, numbering fifty, in charge of Fred. Lindloff, and the Danish Benevolent Society distinguished by uniform straw hats, bound with red ribbon, numbering sixty, John Ivers Marshal. This completed the Second Division.

The Third Division, in command of Capt. P. S. Bannister, brought up the rear, and though last, was by no means least in character or significance. This Division was headed by Thomas’ Martial Band, followed by the Clinton Fire Department, the latter making a very creditable appearance. About one hundred fireman were in line comprising North Star Hose Co. No. 1, James Tompkins Foreman and Jas. Dana assistant; Neptune Hose Co. No. 2, A. F. Smith Assistant Foreman and Acting Foreman; Eagle Hose Co., No. 4, John Pollard Foreman and John Delaney assistant. All the hose carriages were tastefully ornamented with flowers and evergreen, and the Eagle carriage bore in front the fine live eagle presented to the company by Capt. Bennett.

Next came the Butchers Association, numbering twenty-five, mounted and decked in neat white aprons and colored sashes , led by a phaeton in which were seated the jovial forms of S. W. Tindall and Chas. Pipping, the “boss” butchers, in point of avoirdupois at least. This squadron was captained by John Wagner and J. Eislem.

A band of masqueraders on horseback, in command of Mr. Mark McGlann, followed the butchers and afforded much sport by their grotesque costumes.


Came next in line, and exceeded in effect the most sanguine anticipations of the public.

The first representation was that of John Alfred & Co.’s Union Boiler Works, and beneath a green wreathed canopy, as the wagon moved along, half a dozen workmen were busy riveting a bona fide steam drum, the deafening noise of their hammering resounding for blocks away.
R. Connor’s marble works was represented by some pretty slabs and a monument.

The wagon following bore up another unfinished boiler on which another squad of workmen were laboring with red-hot rivets and heavy sledges in the interest of Owen & Co.’s Eagle Boiler Works.

The Oriental Mill was represented by a graceful pyramid of flour in sacks.

The generously-filled delivery wagon o Leslie & Dunham followed, with a fine display of groceries and dry goods.

Young & Armstrong’s hardware wagon was replete with patriotic decorating.

C. O. Peck’s musical establishment was artfully represented by a pretty doll playing a miniature piano, and a large Estey organ.

Bather Brothers showed a fine display of flowers, plants and evergreens.

J. L. McClure exhibited an improved kitchen range that made every housewife’s eyes sparkle with admiration.

Among the “knobbiest” of all the outfits was that of Mrs. J. Harding’s millinery establishment. This consisted of a show case, well filled and surmounted by a mammoth straw bonnet, nicely trimmed for the occasion. This bonnet was sent from Chicago with the compliments of D. B. Fisk & Co., and measured six feet in length by nearly four feet in height.

Next came a confectionery wagon, in which Mr. Clark was busily engaged in making candy.

Liberal attention was bestowed on the next turnout, driven by Andy Dennison and representing A. L. Ankeny’s boot and shoe house. Mr. Dennison’s buggy was composed of an immense shoe of improved pattern and neatly blacked, in which he rode with all the grace that once characterized the immortal old lady who abided in a novel leather house and had so large a retinue of juveniles that she was clearly beside herself – according to Mother Goose.

Hoffman & Hanson’s vinegar works were advertised by a load of red, white and blue barrels filled with the palatable acetous liquor.

Francis Lee’s drug store, thanks to the enterprise of Mr. Van Baxter and the other clerks, was represented by a pair of handsome show cases, exposed on either side of a light wagon and profusely ornamented.

E. M. Howes’ jewelry store was represented by a load of watches, clocks, silverware, etc., the wheels of the buggy being shown as four great revolving watches. This display was one of the best in the parade.

The American Express Company turned out a thrifty load of packages, including one addressed to “Boss Tweed, Somewhere,” containing $6,000,000 and marked “C. O. D.”

The Clinton Lumber Company showed a gang of men piling pieces of lumber on a wide wagon track in true lumber man’s style.

The Union Iron Works was represented by a smiling darkey riding in a brush covered vehicle and advertising the patent “nigger” engine made by this firm, S. G. Magill exhibited a miniature warehouse on wheels.

The procession wound up with a number of citizens in carriages and a large attendant crowd on foot. It was fully half a mile long and was twenty minutes passing a given point.


Was taken east on Fifth avenue to First street, north to Fourth avenue, west to Third street, south to Tenth avenue, east to Second street, north to Fifth avenue and thence east to the Water Works park, where fully 2,000 people had congregated in and a Centennial Chartbout the comfortable and commodious amphitheater to witness the exercises there. The parade then ended and at twelve o’clock the exercises commenced.


President S. G. Magill made a brief welcoming speech, in which, with well chosen sentences and in his characteristically fine voice, he alluded to the occasion that had brought this people together and the circumstances of the signing of the Declaration one hundred years ago, closing with a patriotic peroration.

Rev. Mr. Bray then made an appropriate invocation, which was followed by the singing of an Italian hymn by the Centennial choir, composed of Messrs. Carpenter, Flint, Nash, Doerring, Stebbins, Lachmund and Brayton, accompanied by Prof. Jones at the organ, H. J. Rumble with cornet, Geo. Rumble with flute and Fred Taylor with bass viol.

L.P. Allen then read the Declaration of Independence, and the choir sang again, after which Hon. J. J. Flournoy delivered his excellent historical sketch, which we publish in full elsewhere.

Mr. Flint then sang “Red, White and Blue,” which chorus by the choir and assembly, after which Hon. W. M. Potter delivered the oration, which is also published in full in this issue.

Mr. Carpenter sang “A Thousand Years,” and Prof. Jones sang “The Star Spangled Banner,” the choir and people joining in the choruses with grand effect, and with a resolution asking the orator and historian to furnish their addresses for publication and rounds of cheers for the day, and the audience dispersed.


A very interesting game of base ball was played in the afternoon at Clinton Park, between the Clippers, of Fulton, and the Actives, of Clinton, the latter winning by a score of 25 to 0. The park showed a large number of spectators, amounting to thousands of persons, from Clinton, Fulton, Lyons and other localities.


In the evening there must have been several thousand people gathered on the levee to witness the grand display of fireworks, which successfully completed the very eventful day. The fireworks were very fine, and embraced several very attractive exhibition pieces. A storm came up about ten o’clock and cut short the display somewhat, the people hurrying home to escape the shower. A few were caught by the rain.


Barring the unfortunate accident to Mr. Baker, in the morning, which was not incidental to the celebration, the day was remarkably free from mishaps.

Everything passed off satisfactorily and everybody was pleased.

A spark of fire, carelessly thrown into a box of fireworks in front of Webb’s restaurant in the afternoon caused a series of explosions that broke several panes of glass and caused some excitement but no great damage.

After the parade the Odd Fellows retired to their hall and listened to appropriate remarks by Mr. Thos. Kington, of Lyons.

A fine evergreen arch with a handsome motto spanned Fourth street at Barton’s market.

The Gerhard House was illuminated in the evening.

Over 500 men and boys marched in the parade.

The Presbyterian and Baptist refreshment booths near the Water Works Park were well patronized.

A woman was thrown out of a wagon opposite the HERALD office in the afternoon, by furious driving across the railroad track. She was insensible for a few moments, but on the application of restoratives revived and did not seem to be materially injured.

The employees of Curtis Bros. & Co.’s factory procured a fine 26 foot flag with 50 foot streamer, which they elevated on a forty foot staff on top of the factory yesterday to the surprise of their employers.

The Fourth panned out a few fights and about ten arrests for drunkenness, the prisoners being given lodgings in the calaboose over night and sent off with light fines all around.

The Lyons Mirror, July 8, 1876, P. 6
The Centennial Fourth.

Very quietly our city passed the Fourth of July. Many of our citizens went elsewhere for a part or a whole of the day; numbers from outside were in town off and on, but in the absence of any formal doings their stay with us usually was brief.

In the morning a salute was fired, and in the evening had been partly delivered when the cannon burst.

The Floral Fair in the interest of the Young Men’s Association drew many visitors day and evening; the German Fair play and dance were extraordinarily well patronized; and the Irish Temperance Society’s ball was crowded; the Lyons City Band held a pic-nic on the Schutzen Verein grounds, winding up with a dance at night, which was well attended.

At Clinton, the programme was carried out in very fine style. The procession was a very large and attractive one, the city government, civic societies, firemen, manufactures and tradesmen, etc., taking part – the latter parties having worthy representatives of their business on wheels. The oration and history, by Messrs. Potter, and Flournoy, were worthy of the occasion, the city, and their authors; while the reading of Mr. Allen, the music, and all the other attractions of the day, received high encomiums on all hands. In the afternoon the game of base ball proved one of the chief attractions of the day; and in the evening fire works, Marble’s theater, balls and parties closed the celebration.

In Camanche, De Witt, Wheatland, Charlotte, Delmar, Smithtown and Center Grove, of course they had a full time, and good times – with orations, histories, readings, music games, &c.

At Hanntown, a neighbor there informs us, a goodly little company met, and enjoyed themselves and the Fourth to good advantage.

Very fortunately, no serious accidents attributable to the celebration are reported in this vicinity; and upon the whole, the Centennial Fourth may be said to have passed most satisfactorily with the great majority in Clinton county and adjoining territory, as we presume it was throughout the land.
The Daily Herald, Wednesday Evening, July 5, 1876, P.1


Address of John J. Flournoy, Esq., Delivered at the Citizens’ Centennial Celebration in Clinton July 4th, 1876.

Mr. Chairman and Fellow Citizens:
I sincerely wish for your better entertainment, that the part assigned to me on this occasion had been committed to abler hands. The history of our city is replete with interesting and instructive incidents, and during my search for matter for the compilation of this short sketch I was impressed with my own unfitness, and the error of the committee in not assigning the task to some one more capable of its creditable performance. In chronicling the history of Clinton and the progressive stages of its development, I am merely recording the result of your own enterprise.

This sketch is necessarily a short one; for, if I should attempt to enter into detail, we would have a late meeting. Besides I know the orator of the day will entertain you better than I can, and in preceding him I very much resemble (except in the small matters of piety and inspiration) that other John who was the forerunner of one whose shoes he was unworthy to unloose.


The advantages presented by this location for the site of a thriving town were recognized at a very early day in the settlement of the West. As long ago as when Iowa was known as the “Black Hawk Purchase,” and formed a part of the territory of Wisconsin, one J. M. Bartlett established a squatter claim to the land now forming the main part of Clinton, and laid out a town which he called New York. In the spring of 1838, Bartlett sold his claim to C. G. Pearce, of Cincinnati and B. Randall, of Baltimore. Pearce subsequently bought out his associates, and the Government granted him a patent for the land in February, 1848. Well, “New York” reverted to the plow, and for many long years before the project of a town was revived, yielded abundant crops of golden grain under the skillful tillage of Mr. Pearce.


On the 4th of July, 1855, 21 years ago, the Iowa Land Company made its first purchase of about 600 acres of land. Among other advantages which this site presented and which induced the above purchase, was the fact that the Mississippi river offered facilities for bridging at this point, in consequence of the adaptation of the channel, the security of the shores and the presence of Little Rock Island, that mad it superior as a sight for bridging to any other point on the river below St. Anthony’s Falls. These facts seemed to point out the land purchased by the Iowa Land Company as designed and prepared by the hand of nature for the site of the great crossing of the Mississippi river, by the air line route of travel and commerce from Chicago and the East, seeking Iowa, Nebraska, the valley of the Platte, Colorado, Utah and the States of the Pacific coast. To the wise forethought on which these sanguine anticipations were founded, the present magnificent railroad bridge, the city of Clinton with its population of 12,000 souls, and a line of railroad extending westward to the Pacific Ocean, bear ample testimony.

On the 1st of August, 1855, the standing corn was cut from the field and “Clinton” commenced by the laying, with appropriate ceremonies, of the corner stone of a church and schoolhouse and a large hotel. For a time everything went merry as a marriage bell. The town pulse beat high and strong. Town lots were sold rapidly and resold again and again. Then came depressing rumors and rumors were followed by serious troubles.


Up to this time the hopes of the forefathers of the hamlet were founded upon the Mississippi an d Iowa Central road which, starting at Clinton, ran northwesterly to intersect the old line of the Lyons and Iowa Central road, which had a short time before yielded up the ghost like many other projects of vast scope and promise, but little capital. When this project had run the length of its rope, the attention of some Eastern gentlemen of character, capital, enterprise and experience was attracted to it and a thorough investigation was made into its merits. This investigation established the advantages of Clinton as the eastern terminus of a railroad to connect with and be an extension, virtually, of the Chicago and Dixon air line. These conclusions led to the total rejection of all the old projects and the formation on the 26th of January 1858 of a new Railroad Co. which in view of its future field of operations was christened by the comprehensive title of “Chicago Iowa and Nebraska Railroad.” From this time, Clinton may be considered as established on a firm foundation. The C. I. & N. R. R. pledged its faith that this point should forever be maintained as the eastern termination of the road, and nobly redeemed its pledge, not withstanding temptations and allurements to violate them, sufficient to have won the souls of any but the most steadfast, were frequently offered,. None who resided at Clinton at the time will forget the dark days which followed the passage of the Land Grand Act. Nor will they fail remember with gratitude the noble determination of the Directors of the C. I. & N. R. R. to proceed with their road at the hazard of their fortunes rather than abandon those who had trusted to them assurances and made Clinton their home.

The following residents of Clinton at the time were members of the 1st Board of Directors: A. Chandler, H. P. Adams, I. P. Reynor, G. H. Parker, T. W. Arnold, John C. Bucher, W. C. Brown, Jno. Butterfield and J. L. Pearce. Chas Walker was chosen President, Jas. Purdy Vice President, T. T. Davis Treasurer, R. H. Nalton Secretary. Milo Smith, Esq., was at the same time appointed Chief Engineer, which position he most ably filled until June, 1861. The road was finished to Cedar Rapids, a distance of 82 miles, in June 1859 and on the 3rd of July 1862, was leased to the Galena and Chicago Union R. R. which company changed its name and is now known as the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. Under the supervision of Cedar Rapids & Missouri River Railroad Company the road was finished through to Council Bluffs, which city was reached in January, 1867. The railroad buildings are built upon the land originally donated for the purpose by the Iowa Land Co. Within the last few years great improvements have been made in these grounds, and the resident of ten years ago, on seeing them for the first time since would hardly recognize them. The buildings are machine shop, boiler shop, blacksmith shop, paint shop, freight depot, passenger depot and round house. The investment of the company in buildings amounts to $100,000 and 175 men are constantly employed in them.


Chief among the manufactories of Clinton are the saw mills. The history of the rise and progress of this branch of manufacturing industry in this city is interesting. I am sorry that time will not allow me to enter into details upon it. Early in 1857 Chancy Lamb, Esq., superintended the building of eh first saw mill erected here. Soon after it was in running order Mr. Lamb became sole owner and when he had got fairly at work the mill was burned to the ground. This was October 6th, 1857. But to a man of Mr. Lamb’s energy, enterprise and ingenuity such a misfortune only served to develop his resources. He at once began to erect a larger and more substantial structure and today the firm of Lamb & Sons are proprietors in connection with their partners of four mills, the value of which is $350,000 and they employ in their various departments 375 men.

In 1858 Mr. W. J. Young, Esq., established his lumber yard here, having been sent for that purpose by the Ohio Mill Co., then doing business near La Crosse, Wis. He afterwards induced the owners to remove the mill from Wisconsin to this city. His first mill was commenced on the 1st day of May, 1860. He today, with his partners, is proprietor of two mills, the value of which with the real estate upon which the structures and lumber are located, is $1,000,000. He employs in both concerns about 450 men and distributes among them annually about $160,000.

The Clinton Lumber Company was organized in 1869 and the mill structure built by Hosford & Miller in 1859 was purchased. They also have two mills, the value of which is $160,000 and employ 160 men, to whom they pay annually about $72,000.

The Union Works were completed in the spring of 1869, erected by a joint stock company formed in this city on the 3rd day of September 1868. Its present proprietor is A. P. Hosford, Esq., who values it at $50,000. Forty men are constantly employed in its service and the yearly pay roll is about $24,000.

Among the leading manufacturing establishments of the city mention must not be omitted of the extensive sash, door and planing manufactory of Messrs. Curtis Bros. & Co. this firm took possession of their establishment on the 1st of January, 1869. They at once introduced all the modern improvements in machinery. Their work is acknowledged of superior quality, and orders are flowing in upon them far beyond their most sanguine expectations. Their investment at the present time is valued at $100,000. They employ 125 men.

A similar manufactory is owned and operated by Pierson & Haradon in North Clinton, their investment being about $18,000 in real estate, buildings and machinery and they have in their employ about 25 men.

During the year 1868 the Clinton Paper Co. was organized in this city with A. P. Hosford Esq., at its head. The present paid up capital of the company is $50,000, there are 35 men employed by it and its value is $75,000.


In the month of August 1869, two joint stock companies were organized – one for the purpose of conducting a horse railway between this city and Lyons and the other to build gas works, street pipes, etc., in the city of Clinton. The gas works are now in successful operation, thanks to its public spirited managers and stockholders. The investment of the company is now about $70,000.


On the 14th day of March, 1874, the Clinton Water Works Company was organized and on the 26th of the same month the city council passed an ordinance granting a franchise to the Company for 20 years. The works were completed during the same year and are now in admirable running order, the present value being $170,000.


Of boiler works there are two in successful operation – that of Mr. Jho. Alfred, established January 1, 1875, whose investment is about $10,000, and the one of E. Owen & Co., which went into operation about one year ago, the investment there being about $7,000.


The figures given above show the investments only in the largest and most important of the manufacturing establishments of our city, and make in the aggregate a tolerably fair showing for a young western town. At present there are in the city of dry good stores, 11; clothing stores, 7; groceries and provisions, 21; restaurants and confectionaries, 10; bakeries, 8; hotels, 9; hardware, 6; barber shops, 10; wagon and blacksmith, 8; jewelers, 6; booksellers and stationery, 3; agricultural implements, 3; marble works, 2; daguerreans, 4; hoop skirt factory, 1; druggist, 6; boots and shoes, 6; millinery and dressmaking, 14; real estate agents, 5; newspapers, 3; lawyers, 18 (or more than can get a living); National bank, 1; private banks, 3; savings institutions, 2; forwarding and commission, 2; churches, 10; public schools, 5; saloons, only 40. But the last item was furnished by a friend of mine, who has canvassed the city.


It would be strange indeed if a population as intelligent and enterprising as ours should remain long without the advantages of literary improvement and amusement. In 1866, the efforts which had been made to secure these advantages to the public were deemed inadequate and a number of citizens took eh matter in hand and organized the “Young Men’s Association.” That institution is now in flourishing condition with a well selected library of several hundred volumes.


The ancient and honorable fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons seems to have found its lines cast in pleasant places in Clinton. It is represented by two flourishing Lodges of about 200 members, one Chapter of about 60 members, one Commandery consisting of 70 Sir Knights. And if Mr. Blanchard or some one of his anti-Masonic disciples cannot discover which one of us killed Morgan or struck “Billy Patterson,” we expect an accession to the numbers in each body above given. Nevertheless harmony prevails and eh order is prosperous.

Lincoln Lodge, No. 139, I. O. of O. F., was instituted May 12th, 1865 and numbers about 75 members.

Clinton Lodge, No. 175, I. O. of G. T. was chartered May 12th, 1865 and now comprises about 300 members, male and female.

Besides there are the tow Lodges of A. O. U. comprising about 150 members; the R. C. T. A. Society of 150 members; the A. O. Hibernians, numbering 200, German lodges of Odd Fellows and A. O. U. W., and our gallant Fire Department.

This, my fellow citizens, ends the short sketch I have prepared for this occasion. Incomplete as it is, it certainly makes a showing of which every citizen may justly feel proud. To those of us who have lived here long, the growth and progress of our city seems more like the work of enchantment than a reality, and if, before the vision of these millions of American citizens who are assembled today to celebrate the 100th anniversary of our National Independence, could pass in review the young cities of eh West, our own “Clinton” would bear no humble part in the gorgeous pageant.
This is but the outgrowth and a proof of the benign influence of our free institutions. At this moment there is no object upon earth so much attracting the gaze of the intelligent and civilized nations as this great Republic. All men look at us, all men examine our courage, all good men are anxious for a favorable result to this great experiment of republican liberty. We are on a hill and cannot be hid. We cannot withdraw ourselves either from the commendations or the reproaches of the world. They see us, as that “Star of Empire” which a century ago was represented as taking its way westward and they see it today – thank God – a mild placid brilliant orb moving athwart the heavens to the enlightenment and cheering of mankind.

The Daily Herald, Wednesday Evening, July 5, 1876, P.2
The Centennial of Independence.
Delivered by Waldo M. Potter, at Clinton, Iowa, July 4th, 1876.

Ladies and Gentlemen – Fellow Citizens:
There are occasions in every life, and in the life of every nation, which appeal strongly to all that is sensitive and noble in the human heart. Such are the anniversaries which shed their effulgence over the domestic circle, and such is this anniversary which lifts a great nation to the sublimest heights of patriotic feeling, and prompts to outward manifestations of abounding pride and joy. What a spectacle does America present to-day! Forty millions of people, resting from their usual avocations, and swayed by a common impulse, unite in honoring the men and the deeds of a hundred years ago. What exultation fills the breasts of the thronging thousands in all the vast convocations assembled to listen to the story of ’76! Imagine the scene now transpiring at Philadelphia, where the nation was born, where the Declaration was signed, and where those daring political navigators of the past cut adrift from the old Ship of State, and resolutely pushed their little republican bark out on the stormy sea of Revolution. There the full force and significance of the event is being realized. There are the sacred relics of the past – the old Hall of Independence, the house where Jefferson penned his immortal scroll, the original charter of freedom itself – all the accumulated store of Continental times; - and there is the great Exposition, which tells of Centennial achievement, and reveals by contrast with what the Old World has done, the triumphs of the New – giving grander proportions to all that the occasion affords of incident and association. But not only there, but every where the tale is rehearsed to willing ears and sympathetic hearts – everywhere and from every breast, comes the exulting thought, “this is our country; it was for us the Fathers encountered the perils of Revolution; it was our nation which they ushered into being; this is the Centennial of our Republic. All the wealth of this priceless inheritance, all the glory of this grand national epoch – all that makes our Union precious in the eyes of men, or an object of envy to the world – all, all is ours!”
The events which give significance to this day will forever rank among the most momentous in human annals. For five generations the American colonists had been struggling with formidable obstacles to make themselves a home in the new world. Their presence here was an element of British power. This fact provoked the hostility of rival nations, and exposed them to the hardships and sacrifices of border wars, in which the cunning of the savage was supplemented by the skill and resources of European civilization. England plunged into these contests to defend her interests and honor, and when her ambition had been gratified, sought to replenish her treasury by drafts upon the trade and resources of the colonies. The Navigation Act was first employed in 1761 to teach Americans that they were simply vassals of the British crown. By “writs of assistance” American commerce with the West Indies was annihilated, and curses loud and deep followed this needless assault by an unnatural mother upon the prosperity of her children. Then came the Stamp Act of 1765, inaugurating the policy of direct taxation for the benefit of the English exchequer. It was met by an outburst of popular indignation, to which the youthful Patrick Henry gave voice in words which will ring down the ages as the grandest specimen of audacious eloquence: “Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, and George the Third may profit by their example!” Riots occurred everywhere, and the British Ministry, warned that they had gone too far, withdrew the hated stamps, and repealed the obnoxious law.

But the scheme was only postponed, not abandoned. The Ministry saw that they must then insist on the right to tax without representation, or surrender it forever. In ’67 another law was passed levying duties on glass, paper, tea &c., and 700 British regulars were deemed necessary to render it palatable to the /Bostonians. But the menace of force only stimulated hostility to the tyrannical course of the crown. Boston, catching the fiery spirit of Adams, became a hot bed of insurrection which culminated in violent controversies concerning the royal troops, and brought on the “Boston massacre” of 1770. So dangerous did the spirit of sedition become that in ’73 all the duties were repealed except 3d. a pound on tea. On this the British government determined to stand. The principle was to be maintained, and the principle was precisely what the fathers were equally resolved to resist. “No taxation without representation” was then, and continued to be, the key-note of the whole controversy with England.

The position taken by the government was well calculated to test the patriotic and self-denying spirit of the people. There remained but one grievance, the paltry tax of three pence a pound on tea; and it must be borne in mind that not the old women only, but also the men of that period, doated on their fragrant cups of Bohea. More than this, so much had the tax been reduced that they could be afforded in America at 9d a pound cheaper than in England. Would the favorite beverage be given u, and a controversy be continued which paralyzed trade and threatened war, rather than pay that little tax of three-pence a pound on tea? The answer given was worthy the men and women of that eventful period. They resolved not to pay the tax; still more, not to use the tea; further than this, that no tea should be sold, and that the royal consignees of the article must throw up their commissions. In several ports ships loaded with the Chinese leaf were hurried out to sea to escape the popular fury; and in Boston – which never did anything by halves – an Indian masquerade, using the harbor for a tea pot, consumed 242 tea chests in a single evening; and though there was little gossiping by the participants, there is no disputing that it was the most scandalous tea party ever know!

So, at least, thought King George’s government. Lord North was furious over the contumacious spirit of the Americans, and forthwith devised measures for their punishment. Bills were prepared, and promptly passed by Parliament; 1st. Closing Boston as a port, and transferring its commercial privileges to Salem; 2nd. Abrogating chartered rights, and giving to the royal governors the poser of making civil appointments; 3rd. Providing that crimes against the magistracy be triable in England. 4th. Quartering royal troops – sent here as instruments of despotism – upon the colonists. These enormous strides of power set the people in a ferment. Steps were immediately taken to secure unity of action, which resulted in the assembling of the First Continental Congress Sept 5, 1774. So far, independence had not been contemplated; or at least, the idea had not found public expression. The Congress disavowed any thought of it, but assumed a most determined attitude in defence of chartered rights. It recommended non-intercourse with Great Britain, until the obnoxious measures should be repealed; advised that the names of all who violated this agreement be made public; and denounced the slave trade as injurious to the best interests of America. An “Address to the People of Great Britain,” from the pen of John Jay, and a “Petition to the King”, by John Dickinson, were authorized and adopted. These papers were such masterpieces, in style and argumentation, that Lord Chatham pronounced them equal to the most celebrated writings of antiquity, and declared in parliament that “all attempts to impose servitude on such men, to establish despotism over such a mighty continental nation, must be in vain – must be futile.” The voice of this great orator and patriot was again raised in advocacy of repeal; but the King, and his Council, and Parliament, would listen to no advice of that sort. Having goaded the colonies to desperation they were determined to crush the rising spirit of revolt. Bills were promptly passed restricting the commerce of the colonies to Great Britain, Ireland and the West Indies – that is, forbidding them to trade with the outside world - and taking away the right, always theretofore exercised, of participating in the fisheries on the coast of Newfoundland. Thus at one stroke they intended to wipe out what little was left of colonial commerce, and to deprive thousands of sea faring people of the very means of existence.

All doors of accommodation being now closed – commerce being destroyed, and every right dear to freemen invaded – it was evident that force only could determine the questions at issue. Three thousand British troops were sent to Boston. The various colonies commenced to arm. In Massachusetts, and generally throughout New England, “minute men” were drilling under the veterans of previous French and Indian wars. Military stores were located at convenient points by the patriot authorities. An attempt to destroy one of these depots brought on the first armed collisions, April 19, 1775, known in history as the battles of Lexington and Concord, which opened the bloody drama of the seven years’ war for independence. A month before, on the 20th of March, Patrick Henry, with prophetic instinct, exclaimed in the Virginia Convention, “The next breeze from the North will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms. There is no longer room for hope – we must fight!” On the 10th of May the Congress reassembled, pursuant to adjournment, and while resolving to repel force with force, declared that they “had no wish to separate from the mother country, but only to maintain their chartered rights.” This may look like policy to us, but it was doubtless sincere – so difficult was it for those prudent men to give up the associations in which they had been reared, and institutions to which they were accustomed. On the morning of the very day this Congress was convening, at early dawn, the fearless Ethan Allen, with eighty Green Mountain Boys, surprised Fort Ticonderoga, capturing the garrison and munitions of war and two days afterwards Crown Point fell an easy prey to patriot audacity and courage. A month later, June 14th, George Washington – the divinely appointed Moses of the Revolution – was made commander-in-chief of the American armies; and three days subsequently occurred the sublimest exhibition of patriot valor in modern times at the Battle of Bunker Hill, where untaught yeomanry, fighting for their rights, proved themselves more than a match for the drilled mercenaries of despotic power. Shall I recall the incidents of that bloody field – the fall of the brave, accomplished, and noble Warren; the effort , three times repeated, of the British regulars to reach the American entrenchments; the skill of Ward, the lion-like courage of Putnam, and the gallantry of Stark; the hand-to –hand conflict of combatants, cold steel against clubbed muskets; the thickly strewn corpses, the farmer in homespun lying side by side with the invader in red coat and gold lace; the shout of the onset, the answer of defiance, the groans of the dying; and finally, the slow retreat of the patriot force to a neighboring stronghold, which was held until the haughty Briton, months after, sued for the privilege of evacuating Boston? Such was the issue of the first attempt to teach American freemen not to dispute the authority of King and Parliament.

But I have said enough to indicate the rise and character of the conflict between Great Britain and the American Colonies. The gage of battle which she had thrown down had been accepted. She was seeking to crush by stifling commerce and by enforcing taxation without representation. The colonies were contending for inherent and chartered rights. The green soil of Bunker Hill had been drenched with patriot blood, and there could be neither receding nor reconciliation. A few months sufficed to make this clear to all. In January, ’76, Massachusetts instructed for independence; the two Carolinas and Georgia imitated her example. Washington wrote, “nothing else will save us.” June 7th, of that year, Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, introduced into Congress a resolve, “that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent States.” It was adopted June 11th, and a committee of five appointed to put the declaration in form, consisting of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston. If Lee had not been called away by sickness at home, at that juncture, the immortal paper now identified with the name of Jefferson might have come from a different hand, and a new coloring have been given, possibly to many subsequent events.

But whatever the reason for placing Jefferson at the head of that committee, there can be no question that he was the right man in the right place. The deference paid to him by his illustrious colleagues, Franklin and Adams, proves that, young as he was – only thirty-three years of age – his eminent fitness was understood and acknowledged. And how grandly the work was performed! At this day, looking back a hundred years, we recognize its soundness in principle, its nervous strength and beauty of styles, its terrible arraignment of King and Parliament, and the majestic attitude of the colonies in declaring their reasons for a separation.

This matchless paper having passed the ordeal of the Committee, who made few changes in the original draft, was reported to Congress June 28th. We know little what passed in that body of pure and noble spirits, in secret session, when the supreme issue was this presented. That there were some who shrank from the great responsibility, is well known – among them, John Dickinson, of Pennsylvania, who had done more by his writings, for ten years, to prove that the colonies were right, and the King wrong, than almost any other man. But the Declaration did not lack able and eloquent defenders. It embodied the will and purpose of the people – the country was ripe for it and anxiously expecting it, and was not destined to disappointment.

Let us look in, for a moment, upon the heroic assembly, about to take a step that will change the destiny of the race. They are few in number – only fifty six; but they are grave and reverend men, of noble aspect, and giants in intellectual stature. The style of the period contributes to the natural dignity of their demeanor. The powdered wigs, shining waistcoats, white neckerchiefs, lace sleeves, silk stockings and bright shoebuckles, all are indicative of gentility and refinement. But at the mention of their names how instinctively we bow to the majesty of such a presence. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Robert Morris, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Rush, Edward Rutledge, Charles Carroll, of Carrollton – all these, and many more, are “names that the world will not willingly let die.” They represent the wealth and culture of the time; but they are about to affix their names to a document that will write “traitor” on their brows, work a forfeiture of their great estates, peril all the associations of home, break up many old lifelong attachments, lead inevitable to a long and bloody war, and possibly bring some of them to violent and ignominious deaths. But they do not hesitate. Their souls are fired with a patriotic purpose; they have counted the cost, and are ready to accept the hazard of the die; the issue is Submission and Slavery, for themselves and their children, or the Declaration and Liberty, at the cost of untold blood and treasure. One by one they step cheerfully forward, and write their endorsement of the great title-deed of freedom. It is an act worthy of heroes – yea, it would become the demi gods of the old mythology. There are the names recorded for the emancipation of a continent, inscribed on a roll of deathless fame. All honor to the Spartan Band who stood in the American Thermopylae, launching defiance at the foreign aggressor, on the 4th of July, 1776!

The deed performed on that day involved a test of character which only the Anglo-American has yet proved capable of enduring. That test was the disposition of the masses voluntarily to bear the burdens, endure the privations, and sustain the losses, in life and treasure, incident to a long and exhausting war. Under monarchical rule the people have no voice, and their masters may pursue the game of war indefinitely, until all available resources are exhausted; but the American Fathers, trampling under foot the old sentiment of allegiance to kingly power, voluntarily sustained the Declaration, through six long and bloody years, with their earning and their blood, until peace and independence were achieved. Who can truthfully paint the trials and sufferings, or adequately compliment the gallantry and heroism of that fierce struggle? Warren fell at Bunker Hill; Montgomery at Quebec; Hale was executed as a spy; defeat often came to blast ardent hope; hunger and nakedness were the portion of the patriot soldier, and frequently the bloody imprint of unprotected feet was left on the snow and frozen ground. But there were triumphs which repaid these accumulated sorrows and sufferings; the capture of Ticonderoga; the defeat which was a victory on Bunker Hill; the surprise at Trenton; the surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga; the prowess of Paul Jones, and his brother stars on the ocean; and scores of lesser note all served to buoy up the popular heart, and to give assurance that a decisive victory would come at last, as it did when the British lion succumbed to the American eagle, in the capitulation of Cornwallis at Yorktown. Nor must we forget the means and instrumentalities of this great deliverance our obligations to France, as a faithful and generous ally to her young, brave and gallant Lafayette, and her veteran Rochambeau to Poland’s Kosciucko, and Germany’s Steuben and to the long line of American heroes: Washington, Putnam, Green, Know, Lee, Gage, Morgan, Marion, and hundreds more, to say nothing of the thousands who laid down their lives in the cause, and the thousands more whom the fortunes of war permitted to return from the battle-fields of liberty to cherished and often desolated homes.

Independence was now achieved – the United Colonies were recognized as a distinct people – and upon the men who had founded the young republic devolved the duty of providing for its preservation. It was a great undertaking. How to devise a government with such checks and balances as would restrain lawless ambition on the one hand, and preserve popular liberty on the other, was the problem to be solved. Long and learned were the discussions, and great were the embarrassments experienced from the want of an organized central government. But gradually and surely there was evoked, in the writings of Hamilton, Madison and others, the form of a system which subsequently took shape as the CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES – the noblest civil structure ever fashioned by human genius – and Washington – first in peace as in war, whose voluntary relinquishment of his sword seven years before was the grandest rebuke ever given to the ambition of conquerors – was called from his retirement to set in motion the last best government of earth.

Here the work of the Revolutionary Fathers may be considered as accomplished. This was the end of the long struggle to found a nation which began with resistance to British oppression, grew into Revolution, made the Declaration necessary, and finally achieved through red handed war, Independence and Self-government. All this history, glorious as it is, centers in the event whose first Centennial we this day celebrate. We owe it all to them – all we possess as a people, all that makes America great among the nations, all that her example has accomplished – to the Men of ’76. Those orators, statesmen, warriors, patriots, where are they! We look around in vain for the faces of any of those giants of the past. Washington has lain in Mount Vernon’s tomb nearly 77 years, but still we may mourn him – mourn one to whom we owe so much- in this Centennial year. As Tennyson beautifully wrote of the Iron Duke, we may say of the Father of his Country:

“Mourn for the man of amplest influence,
Yet clearest of ambition’s crime,
Our greatest yet with least pretence,
Great in council and great in war,
Foremost captain of his time,
Rich in saving common sense,
And, as the greatest only are,
In his simplicity sublime.”

And his compeers in the grand drama of Revolution – Franklin, Jefferson, Heary, the Adams’, and the rest – they, too, have passed away, and taken their places with the good of all time. Jefferson and John Adams – the author and the defender of the Declaration – a hundred years ago to-day, were intently watching the vote of the colonies which was to consummate their work. Precisely fifty years there after on the semi Centennial Fourth, they passed from the scene of their labors, blessed by Providence with the privilege of adding a new significance to the cherished day of freedom. Another fifty years have since left their impress on the republic, and now there is not a living representative of “the times that tried men’s souls.” Inhabitants of the spirit land guide us to the shrines where our hearts may communicate the love and homage which we freely offer to-day to the good and great who left the precious legacy we now enjoy! We honor them, and shall ever gladly think they are watching over and protecting us –

“Their spirits skirt the dusky mountain,
Their memory sparkles o’er the fountain,
The meanest rill, the mightiest river,
Roll mingling with their name forever!”

Turning from the Fathers, and their work, it is fitting, on this Centennial day, that a passing glance be given to the evidences of Progress everywhere exhibited, and largely as the product of the principles which triumphed in the Revolution. A hundred years ago there were thirteen feeble colonies, skirting the Atlantic coast, and when independence was achieved the Mississippi was the western boundary of the Republic. Now there are thirty-eight States, many of them great and powerful, and nine territories, and no rival flag separates us from the western ocean. Then there were scarcely three millions of people, now there are over forty millions. In territory we have gained about three times and in population more than twelve times, in a hundred years. Then there were half a million of slaves; eighty years after there were four millions; now, there is not one. God be praised that on this Centennial anniversary, the star and stripes do not float over a single slave! When Washington became President, eighty seven years ago, all the shipping of America only rated 201,562 tons, and the foreign trade amounted to $43,202,156 that year. In 1869 our shipping aggregated 4,107,336 tons; and the foreign trade $1,003,066,748; in ’76 there were few schools; in 1870 there were 542 dailies and 4,425 weeklies, and the number of each had nearly quadrupled in the previous thirty years. That this is largely due to our institutions is evident from the fact that nearly half the publications of the world are issued in the United States – so close is the relationship between the press and self-government! Then the country was poor, but in 1870 the assessed valuation of real and personal property was over fourteen thousand millions, and the true value was placed at $30,068,518,507, being an increase of four times from 1850, only twenty years before.

A like amazing increase is seen in farming acreage. In 1850, the total acreage of farms was 293,560,614 acres; of which 113,032,614 acres were under improvement. In 1870 the total average had expanded to 407,735,045, and the amount improved to 188,921,099 acres – an increase of one third in twenty years; and at the latter date there were in the country 2,650,000 farms, or as many farms as there were men, women and children in the country at the time of the Declaration. So the value of farming machinery ran up in round numbers from one hundred and fifty one million dollars in 1850 to three hundred and thirty six million in 1870. So, also, the wheat crop went up from one hundred million bushels, in the same period, to three hundred millions; the number of farm horses from four millions to seven millions; and the value of all live stock from $544, 180, 510 in 1850 to the prodigious sum of $1,525,276,457 in 1870.

Invention, it is probably safe to say, has been stimulated a thousand fold by the influence and example of the American system. The cotton gin, a Yankee improvement, gave a marvelous impulse to the growth of cotton as a staple, and manufacturing as a branch of industry, as well as to American slavery, which it lured on to such arrogant demands as secured its downfall. Railroads and steamboats were unknown a hundred years ago; now there are 75,000 miles of rail in the Union – more than in all the world beside – every part of our great country being interlaced and knit together by these wonderful bands – and the steamboat is puffing out its black smoke, on every ocean, in every harbor, and on all the navigable rivers of the world. Intelligence moved at a slow pace in revolutionary times – now the telegraphic wire spans continents and hemispheres, traversing regions of eternal ice, and stretching the darks abysses of ocean, carrying the messages of prince and peasant with a rapidity only equaled by thought itself. We have not only tickled the earth into fruitfulness with a hundred machines of which the fathers never dreamed and reaped the results on the rich prairies of the West of which the dwellers on the sterile soil of the old colonies scarcely had a conception, but we have plunged into the bowels of the earth, developing iron, coal, silver and gold mines, thereby adding immensely to the national comfort and wealth. The shipments of the gold product abroad, in twenty years, from our Pacific States and Territories, aggregate at least a thousand millions of dollars.

In a like ratio, the condition of the people has improved, especially of the masses, who now enjoy facilities of education and the comforts and luxuries of life, equal to the most favored in revolutionary times. Then, and for many subsequent decades, pioneering meant hardship, suffering, the permanent separation of families, communication at long intervals, even by letter, deprivation of schools, of church facilities, etc. Now, whole colonies, embracing all trades and occupations, drop down together on the virgin prairie, after traversing a thousand miles in a week, and soon a school, a church, a blacksmith shop, a store, and quite likely a saloon, are all in full blast, while the telegraph opens instantaneous communication with the dear ones left behind.

Scarcely less remarkable changes have marked the history of other nations. The great Napoleon, employing the dragon’s teeth of the Reign of Terror – the blind attempt of ignorance to imitate American freedom – broke through the despotisms of Europe, and to-day France is traveling toward genuine Republicanism as rapidly as she can bear the light. England, which sought to turn back the hand on the dial of Time in dealing with the colonies, has done bravely for freedom in a hundred years: Slavery abolished, the Catholics emancipated, the corn laws repealed, popular suffrage extended, Ireland measurably free and happy – such are the fruits of our example. Spain, revolutionized, still clings to monarchy, but ignores Papal demands. Italy, formerly ruled by petty despots, now consolidated, under a King, but essentially free. Germany, once more a nation and an empire, is resting on popular intelligence, Russia, recently semi-barbarous, is now dispensing with serfdom. Brazil is abrogating slavery under a Portuguese Emperor. While in the far off Sandwich Islands, New Zealand and Australia, lately the habitation of cannibals, and in Japan, clad with exclusiveness like a coat of mail, are happy peoples basking in the sunshine of civilization – shining stars in the vast waste of the Pacific. Does anybody believe that these evidences of progress would have appeared if England had throttled the revolt of ’76! It is clear that the face of the world has changed, and is changing, under the influences set in motion a hundred years ago.

Do you ask for other evidences of advancement? See what diplomacy accomplished in settling the Alabama claims with England. In other ages such a controversy would have resulted in war. Then note the fact that we stand today on what was foreign soil when the Declaration was signed. The vast region west of the Mississippi came to us from Napoleon in 1803. What is it to be? It is an empire in extent, and a paradise in fertility of soil. Our own loved Iowa is but a small section of it – the best, we are apt to think, in climate and location – and what has she accomplished in less than forty years? Her fifty-five thousand square miles were organized into a territory in ’38; she was admitted as a State in ’46, and boasted a population of 192,214 in 1850. In twenty years the population increased six times, being 1,194,020 in 1870. According to the census of that year, the value of land they owned as farms was $392,662,441, of farming implements, $20,509,582; of farm products, $114, 386,441; of manufactured articles, $46,534,332. Of railroads she had 3,800 miles in ’73. She is to-day second in wheat, and first in corn growing, and bids fair to outstrip all competitors as the Agricultural State of the Union.

But Iowa is not alone. The great Mississippi Valley is all rich, and will show approximate result to what Iowa has achieved. Accepting, therefore, any reasonable ration of increase, what may we not expect in the future? When the next Centennial comes Iowa will be supporting from five to seven millions of happy people – this mighty Valley will swarm with its tens of millions – and the Seat of Empire, whether it carries with it the seat of government or not, will be within a radius centering where we stand of a circle less than a thousand miles in diameter. When that day comes the Father of Waters will be the outlet of a commerce untold in volume and wealth. The undertaking of Eads to pry open its great mouth with jetties having proved a success, ocean steamers will have easy access not only to New Orleans, but eventually to St. Louis, and a trade will spring up with England, France, the West Indies, and Central and South America, of whose magnificent proportions the most sanguine now have scarcely a conception. That will be the millennial period of the West, when the Mississippi cities – and Clinton prominent among them – will teem with manufacturers, exchanging their products at the least cost of transportation with the workers of the soil, holding the accumulations of each State’s industry within its own border, as far as practicable, and so pouring over it a continuous stream of wealth, developing all its resources and stimulating every branch of enterprise. This great, rich country, trembling with the tread of busy millions, dotted with splendid cities, the garden of the earth, the seat of American power - predominant in wealth, refinement and culture – the home of liberty – will be the abode of our children, the field of their effort, the place where they will play their part in the drama of life; and for all that will make it most desirable, for the full fruition of greatness of which it is capable, they may bless this generation for purging it of African Slavery, as we now look back and bless the fathers for emancipation from British rule.

Do you thing this picture overdrawn, and feel tempted to question the perpetuity of the republic? Such forebodings, if not groundless, are at least unnecessary. What has been achieved may be accepted as a guaranty of future triumphs. When the Continental Congress issued the Declaration it took the hazard that the people would fail to maintain it; but feeble as they were in numbers, deficient in education, and lacking in wealth, they bore bravely up against the vicissitudes of war, suffered defeat, submitted to the sacrifice of husbands, brothers and sons, and to poverty and pestilence, but never relaxed their efforts until the heel of the Briton was lifted from their necks. So, when Rebellion reared its hydra head in the form of Secession and armed revolt – when the advocates of Slavery declared it must become the corner stone of the republic, or the Union should be destroyed – and the issue of war had been accepted by Lincoln and the congress of 1861, the vital question then presented was, will the people freely pour out their blood, offer their sons a sacrifice, devote their property to the public service, and bear up under defeat and disaster, until this monster rebellion is utterly crushed? It was a terrible inquiry. They had almost forgotten the art of war, had learned to hate bloodshed, and were absorbed in the chase for gold. But what a grand reply came up from the heart of the peace-loving masses! “Draw on us for the last man, and the last dollar! The liberty purchased with revolutionary blood must be preserved, and the giant curse of slavery, then unwillingly retained, must be torn out root and branch!” And for four years the youth of the North rushed into the maelstrom of death, and the nation poured out its treasure, to save the Republic. It was saved – not a star erased from the old flag, nor a root of soil surrendered, and Succession, with slavery, went down and out forever.
So much we have done. Now we are afflicted with corruption, partly the fruit of a great war, and we are told that it will finish us. But will not the same stern spirit which breasted the tide of rebellion, and is still carrying the burden of its debt, prove equal to the contest with corruption? Let us not be easily discouraged. We have had two revolutionary epochs: 1st. For the liberty of the white man – and this is making a visible strain upon our institutions now. The old world statesmen of the last century looked upon the attempt at free government here as an “experiment.” The honestly thought so. They did not believe the masses of men could safely take part in governmental affairs. Nor were the revolutionary sages sure of it, for they did not provide for universal suffrage. For nearly fifty years after the Declaration, until the Constitution of 1821, property did the voting in New York; and there can be no question that the extension of suffrage, by bringing a larger number of the ignorant and venal to the ballot box, enhanced the difficulty of securing an intelligent and honest decision at the polls. So the recent introduction of four millions of freedmen to this high privilege, has certainly added to these embarrassments. But it was necessary for their protection, in their respective States, under our complex form of government, whether they were prepared for so great a responsibility or not. Hence it was the highest wisdom, as the least of two evils, and we must seek to overcome the disadvantages resulting there from, with all others incident to our system, including venality in official life, as best we may. The American people are equal to the solution of the problem, if how to maintain self government with a free ballot box. We must look to the schools, the press, Christianity, patriotism, principle and intellect, to carry us through. This is the great trial of free institutions – the ordeal which must be passed in establishing self-government among men – and if the good, the wise and pure, will take part in primary meetings, and help to free them of the littleness of selfish chicanery, I will answer for the triumph of honesty and intelligence at the ballot box. Tennyson’s pregnant line will do for a motto:

“On God and God-like men we build our trust.”

We must shake off such tyrants as political and official corruption, intemperance and vice – break through the fetters of prejudice and ignorance – and stand erect as independent, intellectual and moral beings, determined to do what is right because it is right, and to uphold all the best interests of our common humanity.

Our fathers turned a deep furrow through the superstitions of ages when they planted the young republic. We are still holding the same plow. Greed and power never lacked pretexts for robbery and despotism. The Kings claimed a divine right to bestride the necks of the people. The slave holder invented a like plea for his abomination, when he made State sovereignty or hostility to the national government, the shield of his scheme to rivet the shackles of the slave. The same plea is yet used to pave the way for a return to serfdom as a substitute for slavery. But all such subterfuges will fail. We are surely moving towards more certain guarantees of human rights. All nationalities are participating, and we cannot go backward.
Woman has been accorded an improved position, which she is fortifying with high culture, and demonstrations of aptitude for useful fields of labor. She is no longer the drudge or plaything, but the inheritor of rights. The doors of the college and university fly open at her approach – many callings invite her to a test of her powers. She is learning to be, what every human creature should be in the Centennial year, and all other years, independent. Where she will stop, I know not, but I trust it will be within boundaries that will retain for her the willing respect and homage, courtesy and love, of her brother, man. She may not be a participant in political control, but she may aspire to be, and is likely to become, the educator as well as the mother of the race.

The spirit of the age revolts at fetters. Creeds are melting into common forms of truth, and differences of sect are regarded more as matters of taste than as covering essentials in belief. We are learning to take broader views than formerly – the fathers failed to practice the toleration which the logic of their principles required, either in politics or religion. But time, discussion, growth, and change in organic law, have exercised a wonderful influence upon the mass of mind. It is becoming a settled axiom that pressure will not control the opinions of men, nor their general course of conduct, and that they are not likely to be better than reason and argument will make them. This fact renders easier the assimilation of various nationalities, and their enjoyment of a common citizenship. Here men of all climes, all creeds, all colors, if animated by an honest purpose, are made to realize that American liberty was intended for them. The German, the Irishman, the Swede, the Norwegian, the Jew, all find a welcome to our glorious country – to the enjoyment of its freedom, to ownership of its fertile soil, to its business advantages, to its schools and colleges, and to participation in the franchises which confer upon whoever receives them the noble title of freemen.

Standing then, in this presence, with all the sacred association and memories of the Centennial day, crowding upon us, let us each pledge the other to do what in us lies to preserve the great legacy received from the fathers, and to transmit it untarnished to those who come after us, remembering that an omnipresent press, universal intelligence, freedom for all – the widest scope of endeavor, for man and woman – are alike the product and guarantee of American institutions – the legitimate fruit of that sublime act of political daring, the Declaration of Independence, one hundred years ago!