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most eminent men who contributed to its formation through a most eventful period in the annals of the world, and through all the vicissitudes peace
and war incidental to the condition of un ciated man, it has not disappointed the hores , aspirations of those illustrious benefactors of their age and nation. It has promoted the lastink welfare of that country so dear to us all ; it has, to an extent far beyond the ordinary lot of humanity, secured tl. rdom and happiness of this people. We now ret sve it as a precious inheritance from those to whom we are indebted for its establishment, doubly bound by the examples which they have left us, and by the blessings which we have enjoyed as the fruits of their labours, to transmit the same, unimpaired, to the succeeding generation.
In the compass of thirty-six years, since this great national covenant was instituted, a body of laws, enacted under its authority and in conformity with its provisions, has unfolded its powers, and carried into practical operation its effective energies. Subordinate departments have distributed the executive functions in their various relations to foreign affairs, to the revenue and
expenditures, and to the military force of the Union, by land and sea. A co-ordinary department of the judiciary has expounded the constitution and the laws; settling, in harmonious coincidence with the legislative will, numerous weighty questions of construction, which the imperfection of human language had rendered unavoidable. The year of Jubilee, since the first formation of our Union, has just elapsed; that of the Declaration of our Independence is at hand. The consummation of both was effected by this constitution. Since that period a population of four millions has multiplied to twelve.
A territory bounded by the Mississippi has been extended from sea to sea. New states have been admitted to the Union, in numbers nearly equal to those of the first confederation. Treaties of peace, amity, and commerce have been concluded with the principal dominions of the earth. The people of other nations, inhabitants of regions acquired, not by conquest, but by compact, have been united with us in the participation of our rights and duties, of our burdens and blessings. The forest has fallen by the axe of our woodsman; the
soil has been made to teem by the tillage of our farmers; our commerce has whitened every ocean. The dominion of man over physical nature has been 'extended by the invention of our artists. Liberty and law have marched hand in hand. All the purposes of human association have been accomplished as effectively as under
other government on the globe; and at a cost little exceeding, in a whole generation, the expenditures of other nations in a single year.
Such is the unexaggerated picture of ourcondition under a constitution founded upon the republican principle of equal rights. To admit that this picture has its shades, is but to say that it is still the condition of men upon earth.
From evil, physical, moral and political it is not our claim to be exempt. We have suffered sometimes by the visitation of Heaven through disease ; often by the wrongs and injustices of other nations, even to the extremities of war; and, lastly, by dissentions among ourselves--dissentions, perhaps, inseparable from the enjoyment of freedom, but which have more than once appeared to threaten the dissolution of the Union, and with it the
overthrow of all the enjoyments of our present lot, and all our earthly hopes of the future. The causes of these dissentions have been various, founded upon differences of speculation in the theory of republican government; upon conflicting views of policy in our relations with foreign nations; upon jealousies of partial and sectional interests, aggravated by prejudices and prepossessions which strangers to each other are ever apt to entertain.
It is a source of gratification and of encouragement to me to observe, that the great result of this experiment upon the theory of human rights has, at the close of that generation by which it was formed, been crowned with success, equal to the most sanguine expectations of its founders. Union, justice, tranquillity, the common defence, the general welfare, and the blessings of liberty,all have been promoted by the government under which we have lived. Standing at this point of time, looking back to that generation which has gone by, and forward to that which is advancing, we may at once indulge in grateful exultation and in cheering hope. From the expe
rience of the past, we derive instructive lessons for the future. Of the two great political parties which have divided the opinions and feelings of our country, the candid and the just will now admit, that both have contributed splendid talents, spotless integrity, ardent patriotism, and disinterested sacrifices, to the formation and administration of this government; and that both have required a liberal indulgence for a portion of human infirmity and error. The revolutionary wars of Europe, commencing precisely at the moment when the government of the United States first went into operation under this constitution, excited a collision of sentiments and of sympathies which kindled all the passions, and embittered the conflict of parties, till the nation was involved in war, and the Union was shaken to its centre. This time of trial embraced a period of five and twenty years, during which the policy of the Union, in its relations with Europe, constituted the principal basis of our political divisions, and the most arduous part of the action of our federal government. With the catastrophe in which the wars of the French revolution terminated, and our