It is but just to say something in this book in reference to the work accomplished by the women in furtherance of the interests of the army and the country during the war. The patriotic women of the North labored as untiringly as did the men in the field, and their work was of vast importance to the army and nation. What abundance of sanitary stores were sent forward by them: linen for the sick -- shirts, drawers, pillows, sheets -- all kinds of delicacies, wines, etc. It is not the fault of the women if many of the "delicacies" never reached the sick, but were devoured by greedy hospital cooks, surgeons, and nurses. Women visited the sick in hospitals; established Soldiers' Homes in nearly every city of the South; Orphan Asylums and Schools for Freedmen as fast as the army advanced. How great a debt of gratitude the soldiers owe the devoted Sisters of Charity. Patriotic Christian women of all denominations united in the good work, and in nearly every township of the North, there were Women's Loyal Leagues, and Aid Societies; the women working continually, -- those who could giving their entire time, visiting the "fatherless and widows in their affliction," administering to the wants of the needy and destitute. Thousands of dollars were collected by the Women's Leagues and Aid Societies of this city and county and distributed to the families of soldiers. Des Moines had three or four organized societies actively at work all the time while the war lasted; and every township in the county had aid societies at work doing vast good, administering


to the needy at home, and preparing articles to send to the soldiers in hospital.

When the war ended, the work of these noble women did not end. But joining with patriotic men, they helped to establish Orphans' Homes all over Iowa, where now hundreds of the children of fallen heroes are clothed and tenderly cared for and educated.

All cannot be told that was done and suffered during the war by the patriotic women of Polk County. God will reward them. The bullet that pierced the heart of the husband or son, sent a sharper pang to the heart of the wife and mother. If noble men have shed their blood on the battle-field, their bodies being mangled and limbs shot away, greater were the pangs suffered in the minds of sympathetic women at home.

I ask, why all this expense of life and time and money? Why so much death, suffering, and tears? Was it that we of the North might gain the mastery over our brethren of the South, to rule and reign over them, to rob our fellows of the "unalienable rights of liberty and the pursuit of happiness?" Nay, verily. But it was well understood by every soldier in the Union army, that he was fighting to preserve popular government among men; for, if our Republic had been overcome by the aristocracy of the South, then the world would have pronounced "government by the people for the people "a failure, and kingcraft and aristocracy would have again become supreme on earth. Thanks to God, the intelligent masses of the North had not forgotten the traditions of their fathers. The youth in the land of free schools bad read the history of their country, and were prepared to appreciate the worth of free government. The following sentences convey the opinions transmitted to us by our ancestors; the thoughts that stimulated our fathers at Valley Forge to endure the rigors of winter, hunger, and nakedness; to go forward with undaunted hearts until they had achieved independence and established a free government: --

. . . . "A free commonwealth was not only held by wisest men in all ages the noblest, the manliest, the equalest, the justest government, the most agreeable to all clue liberty and proportioned equality, both human, civil, and Christian, most cherishing to virtue and true religion, but also (I may say it with greatest probability) plainly commended or rather enjoined by our Saviour himself to all Christians, not without remarkable disallowance and the brand of gentilism upon kingship. God in much displeasure gave a king to the Israelites, and imputed it a sin to them that they sought one: but Christ evidently forbids His disciples to admit of any such heathenish government; 'The kings of the Gentiles,' saith He 'exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors; but ye shall not be so; but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he that is chief as he that serveth.' The occasion of these His words, was the ambitious desire of Zebedee's two sons to be exalted above their brethren in His kingdom, which they thought was to be erelong upon the earth. That He speaks of civil government is manifest by the former part of the comparison which infers the other part to be always in the same kind. And what government comes nearer to this precept of Christ than a free commonwealth, wherein they who are greatest are perpetual servants and drudges to the public; neglect their own affairs, yet are not elevated above their brethren; live soberly in their families; walk the streets as other men, may be spoken to freely, familiarly, friendly, without adoration?

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

"The happiness of a nation must needs be firmest and certainest in a full and free council of their own electing, where no single person, but reason only sways.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

"If we were aught else but sluggards or babies we need depend on none but God and our own counsels, our own active virtue and industry. 'Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise; which having no prince, ruler, or lord, provides her meat in the summer and gathers her food in harvest;' which evidently shows us that they who think the nation undone without a king, though they look grave or haughty, have not so much true spirit and understanding in them as a pismire; neither are these diligent creatures thence concluded to live in lawless anarchy, or that commended; but are set the examples to imprudent and ungoverned men of a frugal and self governing democracy or commonwealth; safer and more thriving in the joint providence and counsel of many industrious equals, than under the single dominion of one imperious lord.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

"For the ground and basis of every just and free government, is a general council of ablest men, chosen by the people, to consult of public affairs from time to time for the common good.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

"To make the people fittest to choose, and the chosen fittest to govern, will be to mend our corrupt and faulty education; to teach the people faith not without virtue, temperance, modesty, sobriety, justice, not to admire wealth or honor; to hate turbulence and ambition; to place every one his private welfare and happiness in the public peace, liberty, and safety.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

"The other part of our freedom consists in the civil rights and advancements of every person according to his merit: the enjoyment of those never more certain, and the access to these never more open, than in a free commonwealth.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

"They should have here, also, schools and academies at their own choice, wherein their children may be bred up in their own sight to all learning or and noble education, not in grammar only, but in all liberal arts and exercises. This would soon spread much more knowledge and civility, yea, religion through all parts of the land, by communicating the natural heat of government and culture more distributively to all extreme parts, which now lie numb and neglected, would soon make the whole nation more industrious, more ingenuous at home, most potent, more honorable abroad. To this a free commonwealth will easily assent, for of all governments, a commonwealth aims the most to make the people flourishing, virtuous, noble, and high spirited. Monarchs will never permit; whose aim is to make the people wealthy indeed, well fleeced for their own shearing and the supply of regal prodigality; but otherwise softest, basest, viciousest, servilest, easiest to be kept under, and not only in fleece, but in mind also, sheepishest; and will have all benches of judicature annexed to the throne, as a gift of royal grace, that we have justice done us; whereas nothing can be more effectual to the freedom of the people, than to have the administration of justice and all public ornaments in their own election and within their own bounds, without long travelling or depending on remote places to obtain their right, or any civil accomplishment; so it be not supreme but subordinate to the general power and union of the whole Republic." -- PROSE WORKS OF JOHN MILTON: Ready and Easy Way to establish a Free Commonwealth.

Such was the intellectual food our fathers fed on -- strong meat, but such as we would have our children relish.

I have now finished "AMERICAN PATRIOTISM; OR. MEMOIRS OF 'COMMON MEN,'" -- an earnest attempt to write a good book.

Transcribed from pages 545-549.

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