History of Antietam National Cemetery (Bradford - page 47)
Upon this line we commenced the war, and on this line, thanks to our whole army and their distinguished commander, we fought it out to signal and complete triumph.
But now, when we had safely passed what for the last thirty years had been generally reckoned the greatest danger to the Constitution, and that and other results of the conflict had filled us with the highest hopes of the future, and given us, as we supposed, the assurance of complete tranquillity for the present, suddenly evil influences are found still at work, sometimes in the shape of fears, honest or simulated; of dangers in the future, sometimes prompted by vindictive recollections of supposed injuries in the past, more frequently than either, perhaps, instigated by old party leaders, who play upon these fears and memories with no other object than to recover some old office or power they have lost, or to retain others they have more lately won, until our exultation at the results we have achieved is arrested by our apprehension of evils yet to come.
Think not for a moment, my friends, that I am about to desecrate the solemnity of such an occasion by any discussion of the partisan topics of the day. God forbid that the time should ever come, or party lines be ever so drawn, that a plea for the Constitution shall be reckoned as a badge of party fealty. The only party in whose behalf I would this day raise a voice is the party of moderation and conciliation. The only party against which I would this day warn you is made up of those ultras of all sides, whose agitations have contributed so largely to the disasters of the past, and which, if not arrested, may be the forerunner of others equally deplorable in the future. Against such agitators would I therefore invoke—and take this as an appropriate occasion of doing so—the moderate, disinterested, reflecting and patriotic people of the country. It was by this class, as I have already said, that the Constitution was created, and it will be by this class that it must be saved.
If it still contains defects, if it is growing obsolete, or keeps not up with the progressive ideas of the age, amend it by the means which its own provisions prescribe; but whilst it is still acknowledged as our organic law, and we daily swear to it allegiance, let it be in all our political controversies the umpire whose decree shall be final.
Come the peril to it whence it may, from State rights or consolidation, let me on this, the anniversary of its adoption, in the name of the men who made it, by the memory of the men who have died for it, upon this spot where blood has been so profusely shed in its behalf, appeal to you to preserve, protect and defend it.
Many of the passages of the oration were applauded, and as the orator took his seat they were loud and oft repeated.
Maryland. Board of Trustees of the Antietam National Cemetery.
Washington County Free Library.
23 x 14 cms
J.W. Woods, printer, Baltimore
Antietam National Cemetery; United States History, Civil War, 1861-1865, Registers of dead.
Washington County, Md; 1862-1869.