ON ABHORRING THE SWORD
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
- 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.