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4TH OF JULY ADDRESS, BY GEERAL HERY EDWI
In obedience to the requirements of the law, there was no
preaching in the Gospel Tent on the evening of the 4th of July,
but Centennial thanksgiving services were held in the morning, at
which upwards of 1000 persons were present. They commenced
with the singing of " America," followed by prayer ; after which
the Declaration of Independence was read by the Rev. Stephen
H. Tyng, jr., D.D. An original poem by Mr. Sanders, entitled
" The Centennial Reunion," was spoken by the author, and after
the singing of " Hold the Fort," the following address was de-
livered by General Henry Edwin Tremain.
Ladies and Gentlemen — Four days ago I was drafted for
this platform. It is your misfortune that substitutes are not
allowed. Although unprepared to do justice to the occasion, I
am grateful for the kind invitation of my reverend friend who is
presiding. I am here as you are, to join in the general praise
and thanksgiving going up from this people throughout our land.
Let me crave your indulgence in a few remarks suggested by the
In other and more appropriate places orators to-day will add
to their own and their country's fame. To be unexpectedly en-
trusted with the privilege of attempting expression on this plat-
form of the sentiments that bring together this concourse of my
fellow citizens, is an honor of which an orator might feel proud.
It dismays an untutored speaker. But your kind favor, sympa-
82 UDER CAVAS.
thizing looks, the time, the place, assure me that it is less the
grace of the rhetorician than the language of the heart which is
expected from me. I understand other speakers will follow,
whose eloquence will command your attention.
The associations here are those of love — love of God ; love of
man. Henceforth is blended with these the love of country. Wh
is untouched by this affection ? I see it illumine every face. I
think I hear the united pulsations of your hearts throbbing back
the message, " Yes, I love my country."
To the American people this is the day of a year, the year of
a century. To-day the civilized world reflects upon the century
of all history ; the nation of all centuries. From year to year
this nation gives a passing day to the contemplation of its civic
existence and material progress. But, in the language of the
President of the United States, this year " seems to demand
an exceptional observance." So the successor of Washington has
by formal proclamation invited " the good people of the United
States in addition to the usual observances with which they are
accustomed to greet the return of this day, further in such man-
ner and at such time as in their respective localities and religious
associations may be most convenient, to mark its recurrence by
some public, religious and devout thanksgiving to Almighty God
for the blessings which have been bestowed upon us as a nation
during the century of our existence, and humbly to invoke a con-
tinuance of His favor and His protection."
The sun does not shine this morning upon a citizen of the
orth, or of the South, of the East, or of the West, who does
not rejoice in the inheritance of the glories and the benefits of
the dying century. We are ending one century and beginning
another. We may look back, but it is not given us to survey the
future. One hundred years ago our fathers looked back, but it
was not given to them to survey the future. ot only on this
side of the Atlantic, but the world Over, the past has been a most
remarkable century. Empires, dynasties, kingdoms and republics
have been made and unmade ; weak nations have grown strong,
and strong ones have become feeble. Rich and prosperous
countries have become richer and more prosperous ; while wars,
pestilence and famine have been visited upon many a happy
The political geography of Europe has been kaleidoscopic,
and all the grand and sordid motives of human action have also
left their traces on the maps of Asia, Africa and the Western
hemisphere. Good and great men, yea, and good and great
women have lived and died and left their impress. Human
thought has sought to learn the earth, the sea, and all that is
therein. The heavens and the worlds beyond have been drawn
CETEIAL CELEBRATIO. 83
upon for man's emolument ; the air, the winds, the sky, the clouds
have been mapped and marshalled for man's convenience ; con-
tinents have been spanned ; mountains undermined ; the sea
commanded to whisper our thoughts ; and achievements perfected
by man's ingenuity, skill and science that challenge past and
future centuries for a parallel. Shall we not rejoice in these
gifts and indulgences of our time ?
We need not settle the question whether this age is better,
higher, nobler, richer and purer than its predecessors. We take
it as we find it. It is our age.
We may feel its thorns ; but we see its flowers, we gather
its honey, we partake of its fruit, we are saturated with its at-
mosphere ; our bodies are chained to its influence, and whatever
be its evils, its life and benefits belong essentially to us. We live
in it ; we help to make it ; we are responsible for it. Who has
any sympathy with those social, religious, or political fretters,
who are always denouncing the sad times in which they live,
condemning the present, hopelessly yearning for the return of the
good old days of some imaginary past, and warning their neigh-
bors of a coming destruction ?
I would not argue with you what kind of an age this has been.
Most people prefer their own spectacles.
Should it be said that this is an age of peace — illustrated by
Geneva, International Congress and Arbitrations, some one will
reply it is an age of war ; that there have been more great wars
in this century than its decades, and that thrice as many great
historical battles occurred in this than in the previous century.
If I said that it is an age of gold, another may reply that it is
an age of brass. If one says it is an age of brains, another will
assert it is an age of muscle. If one proclaims it is an age of
worship, another will say it is an age of infidelity. If one says it
is an age of art, another will claim it is an age of machinery. If
one asserts it is an age of justice, the reply will come, it is an age
of corruption. If you speak of it as an age of letters, some dis-
appointed author will answer it is an age of books. If it be
termed an age of learning, the response will come, it is an age of
ignorance. Call it an age of iron, another will name it an age of
straw. Say it is an age of republics, and you will be pointed to
the spread of empires, the revolution of South America, and the
newly-created Empress of India. It is all of no import. Agree-
ment or disagreement ; what matters it % Let one say it is an age
of concord, another that it is an age of dissention ; nevertheless,
we will all, with one accord and one voice, unite to-day in stamp-
ing this concluding century with the everlasting title of The
American Age. (Applause.)
Few years in this American age are more replete with inter-
84: UDEE CAVAS.
est than the year 1776. It is not only famous for the immortal
Declaration of Independence, just read to us ; but it has witness-
ed man's faith and spirits sorely tried, social bonds severed, politi-
cal animosities relaxed, and principles of agreement strengthened,
as the magnitude of the task undertaken by the colonists was
opened to their view.
When in the spring of 1776 the British withdrew from Bos-
ton, it was indeed a military success for the colonists. But the
long period of comparative inactivity of our forces after the bat-
tle of Bunker Hill, while the small army was being organized,
had occasioned no little restlessness among troops not trained to
the habits of regular soldiers. When that army was therefore
brought to ew York to resist the threatened attack of Howe, it
was by no means the appropriate material to cope with the well-
appointed and disciplined British troops. Discontent, distrust,
open and covert hostility to the plans of the continentalists, the
lack of money and military resources, gave to the Congress and
Washington's army a peculiar and difficult task. Illicit cor-
respondence between the enemies within our lines and the armed
forces without, was of no little injury to the cause in ew York.
The Mayor of the city was detected and imprisoned ; and the
plot to seize the Commander-in-Chief, and to carry him a prisoner
to the British ships lying in the harbor was so thoroughly plan-
ned that one of Washington's body-guard, corrupted into the
scheme, was tried and shot for his participation in the affair. In
no part of the confederacy was the English party more influen-
tial than in the city of ew York and its neighborhood. With
the little army of scarcely eight thousand men, it was not only a
difficult, but, as events proved, an impossible task to defend the
city, or to operate against the forces ready to be precipitated upon it.
Confident in their own strength, and the friendly co-operation
of their numerous adherents throughout the colony, the English
commanders occupied Staten Island, rode their ships at ease in
our bay, and took their own time to advance. Landing on Long-
Island, just below the arrows, they encountered the Continental
forces occupying the hills beyond Brooklyn in one of the most un-
equal and to the revolutionists disastrous battles of the war.
Had the victors pushed their success with that vigor which is a
characteristic of modern military skill, the career of Washington
might have been ended, and his little army captured or destroyed.
But with the caution, fashionable in that day in military opera-
tions, and not diminished by the experience of Bunker Hill, the
battle closed without a last grand vigorous assault, such as was
made by the South at Getty sourg, or by the orth at Winchester ;
and the English went into camp and made preparations for " regu-
lar approaches." The colonists were reinforced, and, to all outward
CETEIAL CELEBRATIO. 85
appearances, another desperate battle was at hand. But in a
night the Continental army was prudently withdrawn across the
river, and Long Island was in undisputed control of the enemy.
If Washington, on the night he retreated, had had one of the
Fulton ferry boats of the present day, this masterly movement
might not have gone down to history as one of the splendid
achievements of his generalship.
Then came the serious question of holding ew York City,
and the effect of its possible fall upon the cause of the colonists.
It has been said, " councils of war never fight ;" and the two
councils of his generals called by Washington in respect to the
f urther defence of ew York were no exception. The officers
seem to have been nearly unanimous in the opinion that ew
York would have to be abandoned, and their military judgment
was, in this instance, undoubtedly correct. Washington thanked
Congress for reposing in his judgment, and enforced his own
opinion by explaining to that body that the enemy by getting in
our rear, and " by cutting off all communication with the main,"
would " oblige us to force a passage through them on the terms
they wish, or to become prisoners in some short time, for want of
necessary supplies of provisions."
The evacuation was precipitated by the landing of the British
at Kipp's Bay (near Thirty-fourth street, East River). The
American troops there posted tied panic-stricken, evoking
from Washington, it is said, when he failed to rally them, the
passionate exclamation, " Are these the men with which I am to
The fate of the city was decided, and Putnam, in com-
mand of what is now "down town," barely escaped with his
troops up the Greenwich road.
Then came that brilliant little engagement called the Battle
of Harlem Plains (near the present Manhattanville), where the
British were successfully fought in open field, and by which the
morale of the American army seems to have been completely re-
stored. It is wonderful how a little success sometimes affects the
great campaign of life.
When our army withdrew in its own good time into West-
chester, it was a body of men that General Howe was justly cau-
tious in approaching. It was a sturdy band, led by spirits who
knew no such word as fail. It was the nucleus of that immortal army
that for five more long and bloody years followed the standards
of Washington to the final surrender at Yorktown. This was
the last seen of the Continental troops in this city during the war;
so that in a local point of view, the year 1776 is an eventful
one. We should to-day remember those who were with that little
army in ew York. The faithful Knowlton (killed . at Harlem
86 UDER CAVAS.
Plains,) and Knox, Greene, Clinton, Leitch, Sullivan, McDougal
and Hamilton, were worthy followers of their great commander.
Meanwhile, the political horizon was being cleared. The great
declaration had been launched. It was not fashioned in a day ;
nor can it be said to be the work of one mind. It was the pro-
duct of time and of events. It was not framed under whip and
spur as a mere manifesto. It did not issue as the inception of a
grand political movement merely to attract or to encourage ad-
herents ; nor was it the proclamation of a victorious party re-
joicing at the successful conclusion of its campaign.
It is not discreditable to our conception of the great char-
acters who participated in the struggles of that period, to regard
this instrument as the embodiment of the collective determina-
tion and deliberative wisdom of the selected leaders of public
It came more than a year after Bunker Hill, and when there
was every indication of a long and stubborn attempt on the part
of the home Government to enforce its authority by arms.
It was not a sudden conclusion, as when a great general
changes at a critical moment his plan of battle.
In 1774 the Continental Congress had voted a " Declaration
of Colonial Rights," which if it did not suggest the topics cer-
tainly outlined some features of the grand declaration adopted
two years later.
The same Congress prepared petitions to the King, memorials
to the home Government, and to neighboring colonies, which
carefully set forth the entire political situation. Every measure
was most deliberately undertaken.
" Every man in this assembly," then wrote John Adams, to
his wife from the Continental Congress, " is a great man, an orator,
a critic, therefore every man upon every question must show his
oratory, his criticism, and his political abilities. The consequence
is that business is spun out to an immeasurable length." This
might not be an untruthful description of a Congress of the
The colonists were everywhere determined to maintain their
rights, but all their official declarations breathed attachment to
Great Britain and loyalty to peace and order. The repeal of the
Parliamentary acts in derogation of colonial rights, and the dis-
continuance of military preparations were,: however, firmly insisted
In all the provinces the colonial authorities were as concilia-
tory in their addresses as they were firm and constant in their
provisions for defence. But the difference between the English
officers and colonial assemblies were so great, that the govern-
ment of the latter were feeble. Their public affairs lacked force
CETEIAL CELEBRATIO. 87
and stability. The colonial assemblies advised the Continental
Congress while the Congress advised the colonial assemblies.
There was no competent executive authority ; and in this chaotic
condition of affairs, the statesmen of that day were obliged to
frame new governments. Every colony thus had its own task
and sought to build on its own foundation.
What then was more natural after a year or two of such ex-
perience, while the country was on the brink of a long war, with
no prospect of peace, than that the new governments should em-
body a thorough and complete reconstruction of colonial affairs.
This was indeed more convenient. True statesmanship is always
practical. Thus the recommendations for independence followed
in the natural order of events, and assumed formal shape in May,
1776. Congress then declared that " all the powers of govern-
ment should be exerted under authority from the people of the
colonies." When in June it was formally moved in the Congress
that the " United Colonies are, and ought to be, free and inde-
pendent States ; " there was a long and important debate. Even
on July first but nine colonies voted for the declaration, and by
the Fourth of July, when the final vote was taken, ew York
alone declined to vote. The delegates of the future Empire State
were prudent statesmen ; and intended that when ew York
moved forward, there should be no power to turn her backward.
A few days afterward the Provisional Assembly of ew York
gave its instructions, and on the ninth of July the final sanction of
ew York was given to what then become the unanimous act of
the thirteen United States.
We celebrate the Fourth, because that is the day the authori-
tative vote was taken, and the document itself dated. You may
celebrate its unanimity on the ninth of July ; and as it was not
finally engrossed and completely signed until the second of
August, the thoroughly patriotic will continue their celebration
until the second of next month. (Laughter and applause.)
We do not celebrate then the act of a day ; we co mm emorate
a period of great events ; we recall political and social emergen-
cies, and perceive how the leading thinkers, statesmen and soldiers
of that period dealt with those emergencies.
We take the Declaration of Independence as a mere exponent.
It ushered a new nation among the nations. It is an epitome of
the times. It was, and is and always will be a moral power in
American polity. But it was not enough to run a government
upon. Having a door plate does not give a man a family, a gen-
eral's commission does not give him troops. The next year the
"articles of confederation and perpetual union" as well as a
national flag, were adopted. But it was not until ten years later
88 UDER CAVAS.
that our Constitution emergea from the ordeal that fashioned it.
This Constitution with its fifteen amendments is the great
political instrument of the century. Upon it nearly twice as many
States have been fashioned as originally participated in its construc-
tion. To it the statesmen of two continents have been accustomed
to turn for inspiration. From it the government of every civi-
lized country has drawn political philosophy ; and to its genial
and comprehensive influence and irrefragible power, a prosperous
and happy people confide their security and welfare.
Perfect or imperfect, it is an inheritance of the century, and
if it is not in our power to improve it before handing it to our
successors, let us at least take care that it be not marred in our
Whether or not it will be harmed by the guarantee that all
voters may be educated and public schools sustained, we, as citi-
zens, may be called upon to determine. (Applause.)
So vital and extensive are the interests affected by a vote, and
so unrestricted by educational or property interests has the suf-
frage grown, that many anxious minds distrust the future.
Against the combinations of mobs, the prejudices of creeds, of
ignorance, of corruption, and the evils of extreme partizanship
there is no better protection than the intelligence of the citizen.
Let the word then go forth on this Centennial that your
schools and colleges and academies shall be multiplied, your
universities extended. Why should not also your churches be
thrown open daily, and become centres of elevating influence and
beneficent instruction ? (Applause.) If they are useful one day
in the week, they would be seven times as useful then. This
may not be the highest ground to place it upon. It is a view of
But I have already detained you too long. It is natural for
a native ew Yorker to take pride in .ew York's Centennial.
It is difficult, after the success of last night's celebration, to
believe that ew York is only two hundred and sixty-four years
old ; that two hundred and fifty years ago it had but about twenty
log houses, with a block house for defence, and that the whole
island sold for twenty-four dollars. It must be of interest to old
residents to know that this sum, at compound interest to the
present time is about equal to the city debt, although it seems
impossible to speak of that debt as a known quantity. (Laughter.)
The difference, however, is that the price of Manhattan Island
was actually paid in wampum currency, whereas it is doubtful if
the city debt will ever be extinguished in any currency at all.
Yet, the ew Yorker is justly proud of his city. He remembers
that the first post office in the United States was established here,
and now you show the stranger a grand post office that will hold
CETEIAL CELEBRATIO. 89
the ew Court House in its garret and save money by the
operation. He remembers that a Colonial Congress first met in
ew York eleven years before the independence declaration ;
that the first President was inaugurated here ; that the first Con-
gress under the Constitution was here convened ; and that to-day
ew York City is the radiating centre of activity, influence,
industry and benevolence.
Morally, financially, socially and politically tins community
must account for this responsibility. Every man and every
woman must render their share of accountability. Let it not be
said at our next Centennial that ew York struck boldly forward
in the march of human progress for a short time, and then grew
callous and fell behind — to suffer, to linger, and to die.
o, as the nation moves forward, onward, upward, let this
people advance in greatness and in goodness. ot haltingly, nor
yet with hand alone ; nor with head alone ; but with hands, with
head, and with heart in the full power of your manhood and of
your womanhood labor in your field.
" Brother, waste no time in hoping
For some greater work to do ;
Fortune is a lazy goddess,
She will never come to you.
Go and toil in any vineyard,
Do not fear to do or dare,
If yon want a field of labor
Yon can find it anywhere."
A vote of thanks proposed by the Rev. Dr. Tyng, jr., and
seconded by the Rev. John Johns of the Thirty-fourth street
Methodist Church,was unanimously accorded to General Tremain,
and after the singing of the Coronation Hymn the benediction
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