Speeches of Carl Schurz/08 Free Speech

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This address was delivered in the regular course of the Fraternity Lectures. A few days before its delivery a meeting of Abolitionists was broken up in Boston by an excited crowd, among whom, as the papers stated, several of the "respectable conservative citizens and business men of Boston" were conspicuous. The secession movement in the Southern States had assumed formidable proportions, and great apprehensions were entertained by commercial men and manufacturers, who had large pecuniary interests at stake in the insurgent States. Their fears and excitement were increased by every demonstration in the North which might have a tendency to "irritate the South." The same cause produced similar disturbances in other Northern cities, until at last the great national uprising after the attack on Fort Sumter put an end to such proceedings.

Ladies and Gentlemen: —

A few days ago, when on my travels in the State of New York, I was reading newspapers in a railroad car, my eyes lighted upon a column headed in large letters: "The mouth of Abolitionism shut! The Blacks smoked out!" &c., and then followed a glowing account of the ardor and enthusiasm displayed by the intelligent and conservative citizens of Boston in breaking up a meeting of Abolitionists. At first I thought there must be some mistake; it must be an old paper, or an article copied from an old paper; or it must be a typographical error, substituting Boston for Baltimore, or Louisville, or some other place exposed to the Southern breeze — but sure enough, all the particulars coincided, it was Boston, the great commercial and intellectual metropolis of the great and enlightened State of Massachusetts. I need hardly add that the paper which expressed so high satisfaction at an attempt to put down freedom of speech, had in the late campaign advocated the interests of Stephen A. Douglas, somewhat mixed up with those of Mr. Bell, and of the representative of American culture and refinement, Edward Everett. [Sensation.]

I must confess that the reading of that account filled my heart with sadness; not as though I had expected much good to arise from the meeting that was disturbed; for it was no doubt superfluous to discuss in Boston, the question how slavery can be abolished, at a time when the people of the Cotton States are so busily engaged in the material solution of that interesting problem; nor as though I had sympathized with the peculiar views to which that meeting was likely to give a public expression; for, as long as our fundamental laws are such as to keep the road of progressive improvement open, I shall always be opposed to every attempt to seek that progress outside of the laws; but the reading of that account made me sad, because it destroyed a delusion I had fondly indulged in. It was the delusion that in a city which surrounded the Cradle of American Liberty, which had listened to the most eloquent appeals in favor of human rights, and in which the most progressive features of American civilization are most successfully cultivated, that in such a city, I say, every educated man would appreciate the great agencies of progress and social order, to which we owe our moral and intellectual development and prosperity and power among the nations of the world. Indeed, of all countries on the globe, Massachusetts, and of all cities inhabited by civilized beings, Boston ought to be the first to understand that free speech is not only the great propelling power of progress, but also the great bulwark of peace and security. [Hearty applause.]

Is it necessary that in the heart of New England I should spend my voice in illustrating the idea that the freedom of speech is the great agency of human progress? A year ago, on a November day, I went from Albany by Worcester to Providence. Nature was stripped of its autumnal beauty, and the frosty breath of winter had clad your hills and valleys in monotonous grey. And yet the landscape was far from leaving a dreary and melancholy impression upon the mind. For wherever the eye turned, there were the cheerful evidences of human ingenuity, of successful labor, of thoughtful enterprise. Here busy waterfalls, surrounded with the stirring bustle of manufacture, there the neat farm-house on the small patch of arable ground between the hills, there clusters of dwellings and tidy villages bespeaking general thrift and contentment, all following upon each other in rapid succession — everywhere dead nature enlivened with human thought translated into living action. We left Worcester in the dusk of the evening; the air was chilly, the sky dark, and the prospect of the trip unpleasant. But hardly was the railroad station behind us, when I saw a sight, the recollection of which will never leave my memory. On the right and left a grand and almost continuous illumination; factory after factory far and near, with thousands of windows brilliantly shining, as though hundreds of Christmas trees were burning within. I have seen the capitals of the old world illuminated, when the masters of kingdoms and empires tried to honor themselves in honoring each other; artificial suns baffling the moonlight, thousands of rockets mocking the stars; but of all the splendor I could recall to my memory, none equalled that endless sea of light which in the barren nooks of your rocky country shone from the windows of your factories, reflected by quiet mill-ponds and flickering cascades. In the capitals of Europe I had seen the people gathering around those splendid exhibitions of royal pomp and giving vent to official enthusiasm. I had heard them shout "Long live King so-and-so!" and the enthusiasm died away with the fire-works. But here also, on that day and evening, I witnessed a popular demonstration, not of the noisy and official kind, nor passing away like the light of a Roman candle. As we went along from station to station, men and women, young and old, passed out and in; all well-behaved and of pleasant address, the evidence of intelligence and cheerful contentment on every face. I listened to their conversations as the train went on; some engaged in a jovial talk about small home affairs, others absorbed in grave discussion about church and state, and labor and pay, and books and lectures, and all political and social problems imaginable. There I heard thoughts expressed and opinions uttered by men whose hands showed the traces of hard manual labor, thoughts and opinions set forth in logical reasoning, which would have puzzled the philosophers of the old world and made the faces of despots turn pale; and these thoughts and opinions weighed and modified in the current of occasional but earnest discussion, brought forward with a calmness and self-reliance, as though the men who uttered them had been unaware that in almost any other country of the world their utterances would have shaken the political edifice to its very foundation.

But here we went on quietly and undisturbed through the brilliantly lighted valley, and the conviction impressed me profoundly that these calm and earnest conversations were also an homage paid to a sovereign — but to the all-powerful sovereign of this country, the freedom of inquiry. In honor of this sovereign the thousands of windows were gorgeously illuminated, in his honor burned in every human brain around me the inextinguishable light of free thought, shining out in full utterance. [Applause.]

It was a grand spectacle — grand in its simplicity; grander still for the fact that it was the regular exhibition of every day life. This shows, on a small scale, the whole tendency of New England life. Here, then, is a great exchange market of ideas, where every man, whose brain is active, offers the thoughts he has conceived for the thoughts that have sprung up in the brains of others, on every subject within the circle of his interests, on every problem within the reach of the human understanding; every idea weighed as to its value with scrutinizing curiosity; what is wrong, and dangerous, condemned; what is valueless, thrown aside; what is good and useful, accepted; but nothing condemned, nothing thrown aside, nothing accepted, before it is tried in the high court of a free and enlightened public opinion.

There is, then, a people, where every man thinks and is fond of thinking, because his mental activity is stimulated by the thoughts of others; where every man gives utterance to his thoughts, and thereby modifies the thoughts of others; where every man receives from others, and elaborates within himself to new forms what he has received. This is the freedom of thought made fruitful by the freedom of speech.

What son of Massachusetts will deny that this uninterrupted, boundless, universal traffic of ideas, is the source of her rapid and universal intellectual and material progress? Who will pretend that limits could be set to the freedom of utterance, without crippling the productive power of the freedom of thought?

But let us give the arguments of those who, from time to time, see fit to put down free speech, a candid and serious consideration. You tell me that there are certain social and political problems, the free discussion of which would endanger certain interests, and make certain men very angry. Oh, no doubt of that. Free discussion has always been a very uneasy thing to those who were wrong, and knew it; and, if they had been permitted to rule the world, the human species would, by this time, have become as mute as the species codfish, and but little more intelligent. But you may tell me that, at certain times, and under certain circumstances, more than ordinary discretion and forbearance are required, and that by an inconsiderate use of the freedom of speech, dangers and complications might be brought about, which it would be better to avoid. Undoubtedly; I am of the same opinion. I, too, think that moderation enhances the efficiency of firmness.

But while I am willing to admit that, under certain circumstances, discretion may be the better part of valor, there are other people who do not think so. And if they make an indiscreet use of their right to think and speak as they please, much as we may disapprove of it, shall we try to obviate the inconvenience that may possibly arise from their indiscretion, by depriving them of their rights? Do you not see that a limitation of the freedom of speech will create much greater dangers than those arising from an indiscreet use of it?

I will explain myself. Imagine the chief-of-police of Austria or France travelling on our railroads, listening to the conversations of people around him, visiting our lectures and political meetings, reading the newspapers and pamphlets with which the country is flooded every day; he will exclaim: "How is it possible that an orderly and well regulated government can exist where everybody is permitted to utter such revolutionary and inflammatory sentiments?" And his astonishment will increase when you tell him that where the freedom of speech and the press are most scrupulously respected, there is the least danger of trouble and disorder in the State. He will, perhaps, at first, not understand this.

But you ask him: "How do you maintain law and order at home?" And he will reply: "By suppressing the expression of opinions which run against the ruling system of government." "Is the order which you maintain, by such means, never endangered and interrupted?" "Yes, it is from time to time. In Russia the nobility and officers of the army are in the habit of forming conspiracies, and killing off an Emperor, now and then. In France we have our revolutionary outbreaks at almost regular periods. A few thousand people are slaughtered, kings driven away, governments broken up, and the confusion is general." "And what opinions are entertained by those who form the conspiracies in Russia, or who make the revolutions in France?" "Just those the expression of which the government has seen fit to suppress, and, I am astonished to see, they are very much like those which I find here in every newspaper and in everybody's mouth."

That is what the good chief-of-police does not understand; and yet, nothing is plainer.

Here is a man who is blessed with an active brain. His mind conceives an idea which becomes dear to his heart, because he is profoundly convinced of its justness and rectitude. He sees things in actual life which run contrary to his conviction of right, and the idea he harbors in his soul struggles for utterance. But when he attempts to lay before the conscience of his neighbors the sentiments he cherishes in his heart, he is told: "Thou shalt not speak." His soul retracts within itself, and as he scrutinizes his own thoughts, he becomes more and more convinced that he is right. The secret activity of his mind tortures him; what lives in him will out, but again and again he encounters the arbitrary veto: "Thou shalt not speak!" Thus his inner life is pent up in his breast; it longs for air which is forbidden it; it is pent up like the steam in an overcharged boiler, which, the more it is compressed, the more it approaches a violent and destructive explosion; and at last he cries out: "Let me speak, or I will fight!" Thus the peaceful devotee of an idea has become a rebel against the existing order. I have not described an individual only, but nations.

Possibly, this idea, which thus forces itself into violent utterance, is wrong and impracticable. Would it not have corrected and modified itself, if it had been permitted to come into free and open contact with other ideas on the open forum of political or social life? Or if it was right, would it not, without causing any violent and destructive commotions, gradually have modified the ruling order of things, by the peaceable working of public opinion? But attempt to prohibit its expression, and pen it up within the breasts of men, and it will come out, not as a gentle and reasoning appeal to the popular understanding, but as a passionate outbreak; carrying with it the encouraging consciousness of doing right, at the same time the vindictive consciousness of suffered wrong.

They speak of suppressing the discussion of the slavery question. No doubt that agitation has given rise to many mistaken ideas, to many aberrations of judgment; so has the discussion of the tariff question, and that of the Homestead Bill. But suppress the freedom of utterance, force the convictions and feelings of men back into their hearts, prohibit their meetings, destroy their newspaper presses, suppose it were possible that you succeeded in all this, and what will you gain? What is now spoken out in broad daylight, open to the judgment of all and to the criticism of public opinion, will then be discussed in secret conventicles, and those who now are satisfied with speaking or listening will then, no longer controlled by public opinion, feel an irresistible desire to act. You may now hear strange speeches, but then you would see stranger enterprises. The anti-slavery sentiment, which now is speaking, listens also to what others may have to say. Make it dumb, and you will make it, at the same time, deaf. Do you not know, that with those who are deaf and dumb it is difficult to reason? If you want a man to hear you, give him also permission to speak. You are afraid of fanaticism! You can watch and counteract fanaticism that works itself out in speaking. But impose silence upon it, and it will most surely find a secret field of operation, where it will elude your eye, and baffle your efforts to control it. You are afraid of demagogism and political intrigue! Bring demagogism to the test of free discussion, and it will soon unmask itself, and intrigue has lost its life-element, when in the open light of day argument struggles with argument.

But you may say that fanaticism and demagogism, if armed with the power of speech, may pervert the popular mind, and in appealing to the passions or the imagination of the multitude mislead their reason. I remember the time when, previous to the great outbreak in 1848, the first symptoms of an approaching change became perceptible. A rigid censorship muzzled the press; stringent police regulations rendered open discussion of political matters impossible; but a secret literature had sprung up, little volumes, often copied in manuscript, went from hand to hand, and from time to time we would hear of a liberal speech delivered by men a little more daring than others. The strangest doctrines of political and social organization were thus propagated, and the most adventurous plans of future action seriously formed and entertained. All those who felt sensible of the pressure of an absolute government, grasped at this forbidden fruit with morbid avidity. Sense and nonsense were taken in promiscuously by all those who had not accustomed themselves to a regular mental discipline; everything oppositional, however extreme or strange, was secretly but fervidly applauded, because everything that resisted the pressure from above seemed to cheer and relieve the minds of the people.

At last the outbreak came. The people breathed, the weight that had borne them down was shaken off, men were free. And now all the crude ideas that had been fostered in secret broke forth in prodigious confusion. The press, suddenly relieved of the censorship, poured out an avalanche of political doctrines. Hundreds of speakers enlivened the popular assemblies. Writing and speaking everywhere, and yet no two men seemed to understand each other. Most of them certainly did not understand themselves. That was a moment when fanaticism or demagogism, armed with extraordinary powers of speech, might have yielded a terrible power, not as though free speech itself were a danger to society, but because the people had been deprived so long of the instruction and discipline which free speech brings with it; because the people, for the first time charmed with the music of pathetic language, were apt to believe that everything that sounded well was right, and that everything that pleased their imagination was reasonable.

But where the people have passed through a long school of political experience, where all classes of society group themselves near a certain line of average in regard to education, where the freedom of speech is no novelty but an old established institution, there the people are apt to discriminate. Where public meetings are a matter of daily occurrence, there the orators learn how to speak, but the auditors learn also how to listen. Where speech is not free, there people are apt to swallow the unjustly forbidden fruit unexamined. But we are inclined to become rather fastidious at a dinner-table to which we sit down every day.

I may boast of some little experience in this matter. A good joke may draw a laugh, a pretty figure or brilliant illustration may bring down a house, a pathetic appeal to the tender sympathies of human nature may draw tears from the eyes of an audience — but in this country it requires a strong array of facts and solid argument to change their convictions. Mere eloquence may tickle their senses and move their hearts, but mere eloquence is not sufficient to reach their minds — for their minds are not always accessible even through their hearts. Thus the dangers connected with the freedom of speech decrease in the same measure as it is more extensively exercised. The seductive powers of eloquence grow less, the more the people expose themselves to the seduction.

The people of this country ought certainly to be the last to speak of the dangerous influence of eloquence, for their history is full of examples which show that the highest oratory cannot move the popular mind from the ground of strong moral convictions. Eloquence has not seldom been more dangerous to those who possessed it, than to those upon whom it was destined to operate. New England had a favorite son, whose massive eloquence had more than once thrilled the heart of the nation. New England had been true to him as long as he was true to her. But once, on the 7th day of March, 1850, he spoke again, spoke with all that power which none but he possessed, spoke for a cause which the conscience of New England condemned — spoke himself to death — but the conscience of New England still lives. [Applause.]

If the greatest efforts of the thunderer of Massachusetts could not shake the moral convictions of the people, what chance have those who with the strength of their voices try to make up for the failing strength of their cause? There is not, and perhaps there never was, a man in this country, who has addressed as great a number of his countrymen as Mr. Douglas; and I venture to say there hardly ever was a man who with greater dexterity and perseverance used the watchwords of liberty in the advocacy of slavery. And yet it does not appear that his prodigiously meandering electioneering journeys [laughter and applause] made many converts for his cause. Malicious people even go so far as to pretend that he would have received more votes if fewer people had heard his eloquent voice. [Applause.]

But examples still more striking are crowding upon my memory. It is said that the eloquent Caleb Cushing[1] is laboriously engaged in the delivery of a speech, which he commenced at a time out of men's memory, and which he means to continue to a time out of men's endurance [continued laughter]; a speech in which he has proved, is proving, and will still further prove, that the people of the North have speedily to abandon the principles contained in the Republican platform, or this young and hopeful Republic will sink to the bottom of the unfathomable ocean, never to rise again. And yet I am informed that the moral convictions of the people are successfully enduring this most unearthly of trials. The New York Tribune even asserts that this speech has created a panic in the good town of Newburyport, and that the citizens are rapidly moving their families to Plum Island [laughter], in order to escape the infliction, thus rather abandoning their old and dear firesides than yielding their consciences to Caleb Cushing's oratory. This, however, I do not believe. I think the report is exaggerated. For, although Caleb Cushing's speech may not be attractive enough to hold them, it is probably not propelling enough to drive them away. [More laughter.]

Is any further proof required, that a people who are educated in the great school of public life, are proof against the seductive power of eloquence? That they are moved by ideas, and not by the verbiage of sounding appeals? That it is a conscientious conviction that governs them, and not the charm of glowing periods? [Applause.]

And now suppose the meeting, which those refined and patriotic gentlemen of this neighborhood saw fit to break up — suppose it had resulted in the expression of the sentiment, that slavery could be abolished in no better way than by invading the Southern States and liberating the negroes by force of arms — suppose this proposition had been ever so publicly discussed, had been set forth in language ever so glowing and brilliant, had been urged upon you in appeals ever so warm and touching, do you think that a single individual within the reach of its influence, would have promptly resolved to shoulder his musket, to march into the South, and to undertake the terrible business? Do you not think if it had ever been seriously entertained, the same freedom of speech, which brought it forth, would have subjected it to a rigorous criticism, and would have worked its abandonment?

You may remind me of John Brown. Ah, it was not in consequence of rights and liberties safely enjoyed, but of oppression ignominiously suffered, that he entered upon his fatal career. It was not in the free and serene atmosphere of public discussion, but in the dark secresy of a despairing heart that he conceived his terrible design. [Sensation.]

Nor do I think that those who disturbed the meeting of Abolitionists had any such fears. They deemed it necessary to satisfy their Southern customers of their loyalty, so that trade might not suffer. They had to demonstrate that State street is not disposed to invade Virginia or South Carolina, all of which was very right and proper. Everybody has a right to do that, and if they can persuade the South that Boston is not altogether an anti-slavery city let them do so.

But is it necessary for that purpose that they should put down the freedom of speech? Why not by free speech counteract the mischief that free speech threatened to accomplish? Why not call a meeting on their side, a "tremendous outpouring of the conservative masses," in Faneuil Hall? Have they no orators on their side, whose voice will not reach farther than that of Fred. Douglas? and drown that of Wendell Phillips? [Voice in the audience, "No."] Mr. Everett would certainly be found ready to make another Constitutional-Union speech in continuance of the late Presidential campaign. He would describe the horrors of the slave insurrection in St. Domingo to draw tears from your eyes; he would invoke the spirits of Washington, Jefferson and Madison, generously forgetting that these three great Virginians were anti-slavery men, and if he should not succeed in demonstrating your loyalty to the dullest mind in the South, what have you to hope for? Is a loafer's oath better than Everett's periods? Are brickbats more demonstrative than Mr. Everett's appeals? [Loud applause.]

Ah, yes, it seems, indeed, to be considered so. The "intelligent and conservative citizens of Boston" have learned a lesson, and, remarkable enough, have not forgotten it. Last winter a Conservative Union meeting was held in Faneuil Hall. It was a great success. I stood among the assembled multitude and listened to the speeches. The speeches were good. Ex-Mayor Lincoln spoke, Mr. Everett spoke, and Caleb Cushing spoke. Mr. Lincoln's speech was replete with patriotism, rather liberal; Mr. Everett's with patriotism, somewhat timid; Mr. Cushing's with patriotism, quite vindictive. He indulged in the pious wish that the Abolitionists should be hung, and when I heard that, I thought that the most fastidious Southern appetite ought to be satisfied. But lo! behold! Southern gentlemen made remarks in Congress about the Union meeting in Boston, and kicked and abused Mr. Lincoln for having made an anti-slavery Union speech, and abused and kicked Mr. Everett for not having made a pro-slavery Union speech, and abused and kicked even the indomitably faithful Caleb for having complimented Mr. Lincoln, who had made an anti-slavery Union speech. [Applause and laughter.]

This result was very unsatisfactory; it was hard. No wonder they have, at last, come to the conclusion that they cannot demonstrate their loyalty to the South successfully, unless they do it in the Southern way. The breaking up of a meeting of Abolitionists was decidedly better, and showed a certain progressive spirit; but it was by no means the thing. The thing would have been to tar and feather James Redpath, to hang Wendell Phillips, and to burn Fred. Douglas alive. That would have been a sign of loyalty worth a gracious acknowledgment. [Sensation.] But nothing short of that will answer, and although they certainly have done better than last winter, yet I fear the demand is running ahead of the supply, and love's labors are lost again. Are they afraid to go to such extremes? Ah, why then go in that direction at all, if only by such extremes the desired result can be obtained? It is humiliating to degrade one's-self; but is it not still more humiliating to degrade one's-self in vain? [Loud applause.]

But consider calmly, where we are drifting, if every monetary panic may furnish an excuse for subverting the fundamental liberties of the citizen? If every material interest that considers itself endangered may insist upon overthrowing constitutional rights? If every whim of an influential class of society may pass as a sufficient pretext for undermining the very foundations upon which the successful development of our government rests?

When I look upon this spectacle, there is one thought which presses itself irresistibly upon my mind. This nation has undertaken to be the great guiding star of mankind, and to show the people of the earth how man can be free if left to himself. Thus, this Republic does not belong to herself alone. The human race has its stake in the enterprise. If liberty falls here, where can we expect to see it maintained? If man does not respect his neighbor's rights here, where he has tasted their enjoyment, how can he respect them where he is ignorant of their blessings? If the people cannot preserve the harmony of human rights, where they, free of outward pressure and independent of a foreign will, belong to themselves, how can they be expected to create that harmony, where their feet are clogged, and their hands are tied by institutions and laws and customs not of their own making, and their movements are embarrassed by the cumbersome traditions of past centuries?

And now there are millions of men living in the Old World, watching the development of things in this Republic with anxious solicitude, fondly hoping for the final solution of the great problem, applauding with exultant joy every success we achieve, deploring with heartfelt grief every reverse we suffer, for our victories, as well as our defeats, are theirs also — and whenever I hear, in this Republic, of individual rights invaded, of liberties threatened, and of the great agencies of progress disturbed, I cannot help asking myself: What will they think? What will they think, who expect to hear from our shores the divine message that man is capable of governing himself, and, being free, capable of respecting the freedom of others? To them another spark of light extinguished, another ray of hope obscured, another bond of sympathy severed.

Indeed, those whose eyes were hopefully fixed upon this land, have already had to reconcile themselves to many a contradiction. Slavery existing in a portion of this Republic of equal rights, and all the despotism that grows out of slavery. But where slavery does not exist, there, at least, they supposed, would liberty throw her shield over every natural right of man. And now they have to learn that even here "freedom of speech" means, that every man has a right to say what is not too unpleasant to others. [Applause.] They will remember that there never was a despot on earth who refused to tolerate opinions which exactly agreed with his own. What will they think?

I must be pardoned, if, in my public addresses, I have not always been able to refrain from expressions of scorn and contempt; from applying the lash of invective and bitter denunciation to those who have disfigured the fair image of Liberty, which this Republic holds out to the world, and driven into despondency the millions of liberty-loving men in the world abroad who with all the tendrils of their souls clung to this last hope! I feel every pang of disappointment that distresses them vibrating in my heart, and so I ask again and again: "What will they think?" It is true, the time is out of joint; clashing interests and ideas are standing up against each other in formidable array; the minds of men are disturbed here by the pusillanimous frenzy of fear, there by the madness of a stubborn infatuation, and every day an untoward event may rouse the elementary forces of society to desperate conflicts. The passions of the multitude may be fiercer than in ordinary times, bewildered by the perplexities which seem to beset our path. And believe me, I do not belong to those who think lightly of the dangers threatening the Republic. I have, like many of us, watched the development of our days with profound anxiety, weighing the stake which the universal cause of human liberty and civilization has in the momentous struggle, and seeking with a scrutinizing eye for a gleam of light in the confusion. Terrorism rules the hour in one part of the country; the light of reason seems to be extinguished by headlong passion, and the voice of counsel drowned by the clamor of infatuated zeal. In our midst peace is still reigning, not undisturbed, but not forever broken. Shall we follow their example? Is it better that here also the turbulent passions of the multitude should supplant a free and quiet exchange of opinions? If there is a light that may guide us in the storm, it is the protection of liberty extended to all, the rights of individuals mutually respected, and the freedom of opinion held inviolable. [Applause.] Then the freedom of thought, and the freedom of utterance, may issue from this crisis as it has done a thousand times; not only as the great agency of progress, but as the firmest bulwark of peace and order, as the great moderator of strife, as the great safety-valve of the social machinery. [Enthusiastic applause.]

  1. Mr. Caleb Cushing was engaged in delivering a speech on the State of the Country to the people of Newburyport, which he continued night after night.