TOAST TO “OHIO AND KENTUCKY”
February 19, 1870
Burnett House Cincinnati, Ohio
Ohio and Kentucky; Kentucky and Ohio. How well these names sound together. The early history of Ohio is inseparably blended with the early history of Kentucky. At the beginning, Kentucky, first settled, was most populous, and most powerful; Ohio, in every moment of alarm and peril, appealed to her sister State, and never appealed in vain. That history alluded to here, so familiar, so hackneyed, we know it by heart. Our favorite Governor, Corwin, in his eloquent speeches, in his conversation still more eloquent and still more epigrammatic, made us familiar with the history of his native State.
Why, I remember again and again to have heard him, fond as he was, you know, of illustrating everything by reference to Scripture, declare to great audiences in Ohio that never, since the dispersion on the plains of the Shinar, was a people more truly and literally cradled in war than this same gallant people of Kentucky. In childhood they fought the savages of the Northwest, by the side of their mothers and their sisters in their dwellings. In their youth and in their manhood, they fought them upon the battlefield and in the ambuscade. “Go,” said he, “and trace the path of any savage incursion in early times, and you shall find it marked with Kentucky blood. Wander over any of the battlefields which rescued this Northwest from the savages, and you shall find the whitened bones of Kentucky’s sons.”
In early times, then, my friends, Kentucky and Ohio were of one mind and one heart. Later, in 1824, aye, and in 1844, when the great statesman of Kentucky was put up for the high office of the nation, Ohio rallied to his support with the same zeal and heartiness that did Kentucky. Aye, Henry Clay. It is not among the least of the pleasant recollections of my life that I cast my first vote for Henry Clay, of Kentucky.
And you reciprocated; for, when, in 1836 and 1840, the pioneers of the West selected her favorite soldier and statesmen, General Harrison, to be the Executive of this nation, he found his heartiest support and largest majority in the State of Kentucky.
But now, my friends, if in latter days alienation, dissensions, estrangements, and hostility have arisen between us, it was from causes outside either Kentucky or Ohio-causes which neither Ohio nor Kentucky, nor both united, could possibly control.
But now all that is past, causes and all. No more division, no more separation, to the last syllable of recorded time. God grant that, as the ancient friendship between Kentucky and Ohio depended upon and arose out of a community of toils, sufferings, hardships, and dangers that they endured for each other, that again that ancient accord and harmony may return by reason, perhaps, we may say, of the community of interests and participation in common enterprises, and the enjoyment of the same common prosperity. I believe this is destined to be our future history. I believe that the reviving harmony and friendship is destined to increase; and God grant that it may last forever and ever.