Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 6.djvu/219

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MEAGHER

ON ABHORRING THE SWORD[1]

(1846)

Born in 1823, died in 1867; identified with the Irish Repeal Association in 1844; a member of the war directory of the Irish Confederation in 1848; transported to Van Diemen's Land in 1849; escaped to New York in 1852; entered the Federal army in 1861; a Brigadier-General in 1862; Governor of Montana in 1866.


A good government may, indeed, redress the grievances of an injured people; but a strong people can alone build up a great nation. To be strong, a people must be self-reliant, self-ruled, self-sustained. The dependence of one people upon another, even for the benefits of legislation, is the deepest source of national weakness.

By an unnatural law it exempts a people from their just duties,—their just responsibilities. When you exempt a people from these duties, from these responsibilities, you generate in them a distrust in their own powers. Thus you enervate, if you do not utterly destroy, that spirit which a sense of these responsibilities is sure to inspire, and which the fulfilment of these duties never fails to invigorate. Where this spirit does

  1. The celebrated "Sword Speech," which was delivered in Constitution Hall, Dublin, July 20, 1846, when Meagher was not quite twenty-three years of age. It was made as a protest against what was then known as "trafficking with the Whigs." Abridged.
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