PRESIDENTIAL NEW ENGLAND TOUR, SMYTH’S OPERA HOUSE, MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE
August 23, 1877
Ladies and Friends: Our reception and welcome everywhere in New Hampshire have been gratifying and hearty, but, nowhere, I assure you, has it been more gratifying and certainly, nowhere warmer than in Manchester. We thank you for such a welcome and such a reception. We are grateful to the good taste of your ancestors, whose elms and maples have somewhat tempered the warmth of reception. Our time is so limited that the committee desire to suggest to you the impossibility of going through that part of the reception ceremony which consists of handshaking. I must say to you, as I have said to a number of audiences at different times, that I would be glad to have it understood by ladies and gentlemen, young and old, that instead of a shake of the hands, I now extend to you, by wholesale, a hearty Buckeye shake. On politics and public affairs we need not speak. If an administration can not stand up on its acts, leaving out all discussion to friends and adversaries, it can not stand at all. Talk and argument will not save it. Therefore, I must omit all that. I desire to have it understand, and that, perhaps, would be quite as well understood if I did not speak of it, that however defective our methods, however mistaken our measures, the ends we aim at are the welfare of the whole country and of all its inhabitants. We wish to see every part of the Constitution of the United States—the part that is new no less than the part that is old—observed, obeyed, respected, and loved, in all parts of the country. If, in anything we are mistaken, the people of the country will correct the mistake. As for me I look only to approving judgment of this generation, and if anything we shall do shall be remembered so long, the approving judgment of those who come after us.
And now, my friends, I am sure you will be glad to be introduced to hear the voices of some of those who are associated with me in keeping council, in deliberating upon the public affairs of the country. Three members of the Cabinet are present, the Secretary of State, Mr. Evarts, the Postmaster General, Mr. Key, and the Attorney General, Mr. Devens, and I hardly know which you wish to see first. The man I was most curious to see, as I had never seen him, was the Democrat from Tennessee, that somehow or other got into the Cabinet, to the astonishment, and I am afraid, dismay of some of my friends and I am quite sure, from what I have observed of his ability and dignity, all right in time to come. However we may have differed in the past, now and in the future we are likely to agree. But in this we are now agreed, that this is one people, having, in the language of Webster, ‘One country, one Constitution, one destiny.’
But, knowing this as you do, and as I do, that a government based between sections, a government based between two races, can only be on a foundation of equal and exact justice to all men, without further preface, I introduce you to Judge Key, of Tennessee.
My friends: In every battlefield of the nation, from Bennington and Bunker Hill to the battle of Shenandoah and Appomattox, the State of New Hampshire has furnished her share of gallant soldiers who have earned victories for the nation. I am sure that in this great audience there are man who have taken part in the contest for the Union. I wish to introduce one who will be greeted, not only for his integrity, ability, and learning as a lawyer, but also for his gallantry and services as a soldier, Attorney General Devens, of Massachusetts.
Fellow Citizens: We regret that we can not spend longer time with you. I suspect that the audience are suffering under the heat of the room, and, possibly, by the infliction of long speeches. You will regret it less than we do—will regret it, perhaps, much less than we do—the brevity of this interview. And now, thanking you for the kindness and heartiness of your reception, we bid you good morning, wishing that the City of Manchester may have a prosperity in the future that will be equal and superior to that of the past.