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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Coming of War

By Edward Everett (1794–1865)

[The Call to Arms. 1861.—From Orations and Speeches by Edward Everett. 1850–68.]

I DEPRECATE war, no man more so; and, of all wars, I most deprecate a civil war. And this, if prosecuted by the South in the spirit in which she has commenced it, will be what the stern poet of the civil wars of Rome called a bellum plusquam civile,—a more than civil war. I deprecate, more than I can express, a war with the South. You know my political course. Logan, the Indian chief, mournfully exclaimed, “Such was my love for the whites, that my countrymen pointed at me as I passed, and said, Logan is the friend of the white men!” I have been pointed at for years as the friend of the South. For maintaining what I deemed her constitutional rights, I have suffered no small portion of obloquy, and sacrificed the favor of a large portion of the community in which I was born, and which, from my youth up, I have endeavored to to serve laboriously, dutifully, and affectionately. I was willing, while this ill-starred movement was confined to the States of the extreme South, and they abstained from further aggression, that they should go in peace.

This course I thought would retain the Border States, and bring back the seceders in a year or two, wearied and disgusted with their burdensome and perilous experiment. Such I understood to have been, in substance, the programme of the Administration. But the South has willed it otherwise. She has struck a parricidal blow at the heart of the Union; and to sustain her in this unnatural and unrighteous war is what my conscience forbids. Neither will I remain silent, and see this majestic framework of Government, the noblest political fabric ever reared by human wisdom, prostrated in the dust to gratify the disappointed ambition of a few aspiring men (for that Mr. Vice-President Stephens bravely told his fellow-citizens last November was the cause of “a great part of our troubles”), and this under cover of a sophistical interpretation of the Constitution, at war alike with common sense, with contemporary history, and the traditions of the Government; unsupported by a single authority among the framers of the Constitution, and emphatically denounced by Mr. Madison, their leader and chief.

What then remains, fellow-citizens, but that we should, without unchristian bitterness toward our misguided countrymen, meet calmly and resolutely the demands of the crisis; that we should perform the duty of good citizens with resolution and steadiness; that we should cordially support the Government of the country in the difficult position in which it is placed; that we should cheer and encourage the brave men who have obeyed its call, by a generous care of their families; and, to sum it all in one word, come weal or woe, that we should stand by the flag of the Union!