PRESIDENTIAL NEW ENGLAND TOUR, CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE
August 22, 1877
Gov. Prescott, Ladies and Gentlemen: This custom of handshaking, which I have just got through with, comes down to us through several generations, and it is not altogether a satisfactory proceeding; and now having shaken hands, we hardly feel acquainted with each other. We wish to hear the voice, and I suppose it is proper now as at any time to make my acknowledgment to the authorities of the State of New Hampshire, the Governor, the members of the Legislature, and to the authorities of the City of Concord for their kindness in bringing me to New Hampshire. We entered the State last Monday, and have been making our way through it, visiting the remarkable scenery of the mountain regions, under circumstances every way favorable—the weather is perfect, the sky clear, the air bracing, and when the top of Mount Washington, there seemed nothing lacking to improve that wonder spectacle, which is as surprising as it is perfect. It is possible that we have had a few clouds in the sky, just enough to make the sky seem beautiful, as their shadows floated over the great mountain. And passing from that we came down into the region of the lakes, that beautiful part of New Hampshire, where your great rivers, perhaps, take their rise, where the great Merrimac (that great river that builds up such great cities as Lowell, Lawrence, and Manchester), take its rise. So I came on down here under a somewhat hotter sun than is usual in your climate, I think.
I met you, my fellow citizens, glad to exchange greeting with you, and to be met by you. I thought that it was not altogether proper, in meeting this people, that I should talk politics to them. Men of all parties met me, Democrats, Republicans, and Independent Republicans—Republicans that are satisfied and Republicans that are dissatisfied, and really I feel, by the way that laugh comes in, that that is a pretty large crowd here, but at any rate we are here, not to talk politics, and it does not seem proper to me that one in my situation should argue as to the measures he thinks proper to pursue. What you want in this country, as an Executive is one that shall execute. That I believe to be his duty, and all that I want of my countrymen is that charitable judgment that is proper to be given by men among men, looking each other in the face, who believe that upon the whole the man that they are looking in the face, whether he is right or wrong, after all means to be right. It is not a good thing to say of a man that his intentions are good, and there is a proverb that a very bad place is paved with good intentions; and yet, after all, among this people, the man that has the confidence of the people that he has good intentions has gained something, and, perhaps, I had better stop here and call upon some others.
Well, then, there is only one other thing, and that is, up in New Hampshire, as in Ohio and every other State, you desire the union to be a real union—a union of hearts and a union of friends. You would wish to have an entire union, secure, not merely by force, but by all the affections of the people in all parts of the country. Now, while we have had in the past distrust between the sections, alienation and the hostility of bad blood, I believe, nevertheless, that with the cause removed, the old harmony and concord may return and I believe it will return, and believe in adopting measures that will make it return speedily. Then I do not see, but that, in the main, we agree as to the most needful thing to be done, and our only difference is upon the measures by which we are to accomplish that end; this I must decline altogether to discuss.
And so now let me introduce to you gentlemen that are somewhat responsible for my blunders, and it is a great pleasure to have somebody to lay it on. In the first place, there is a gentleman from the South, who, it is said, captured the good natured man from Ohio. Well, I can’t say [for] sure about that. There may be something in it, but I thought then that we captured him. He was very much in error during four years, and his error continued up to last November, for, as I have been telling audiences, he made a bad mistake in voting against me in November last. And yet, upon the whole, he seems to be a very honest man, and that is one thing that seems to disturb men in politics. There are so many men who vote wrong. He has become better very fast. As I told the people up there, that if you keep him among you a week or two, he will be as good a Republican as you can furnish. So now I introduce to you Postmaster-General Key.
Fellow-Citizens: I hardly know how to introduce my friend and Secretary of State. A very unfortunate thing happened to him this morning. He lost an opportunity, and it is the only one I ever knew him to lose, of cracking a most excellent joke. This morning I said to the citizens of one of the towns north of here—a town of which we did not know the name, but which we afterward learned was Tilton—that I was about to introduce to them a gentleman well-known in the United States as a man who in the Beecher-Tilton trial exhibited the capacity of making the longest speech of any man in the United States, and I have the honor of introducing to you the Secretary of State of the United States.
Fellow-Citizens: Thanking you for your attention, and the gentlemen who are with me join, no doubt , in those thanks, we bid you good morning.