December 21, 1880

New York, New York



MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN OF THE NEW ENGLAND SOCIETY: We have often heard the phrase- “New England ideas.” It is said, and I think said truly, that those ideas have a large and growing influence in shaping the affairs of the people of the United States. It is not meant, I suppose, that the principles referred to in this phrase are peculiar to New England, but merely that in New England they are generally accepted, and perhaps there they had their first practical illustration. These ideas, these principles, generally termed New England ideas and New England principles, it seems to me have had much to do with that prosperity which we are now enjoying, and about which, perhaps, we are apt to be too boastful, but for which it is certain we can not be too grateful. The subject of New England ideas is altogether too large a one for me, or for anybody, to discuss this evening.  If it was to be done at length, in protracted speaking, we have our friends here, who have a reputation, and have a capacity in that way- my friend Mr. Evarts, for example, and Mr. Beecher, and I am confident that I shall be excused for naming in this connection, above all, our friend General Grant. Leaving then, to them, the humble duty of merely naming the New England ideas to which I refer, New England believes that every man and woman under the law ought to have an equal chance and equal hope with every other man and woman,  It believes that in a country where that is done individuals and society will have their highest development and the largest allotment of human happiness.


New England believes that equal rights can be best secured in a country where every child is provided with the means of education. New England believes that the road, the only road, the sure road, to unquestioned credit and a sound financial condition is the exact and punctual fulfillment of every pecuniary obligation, public and private, according to its letter and spirit. New England believes in the home, and in the virtues that make home happy, and New England will tolerate, so far as depends on her, no institution and no practice, in any State or Territory, which is inconsistent with the sacredness of the family relation. New England cherishes the sentiment of nationality, and believes in a General Government strong enough to maintain its authority, to enforce the laws, and to preserve and perpetuate the Nation. Now, with these New England ideas, everywhere accepted and received, and with just and equal law, administered under the watchful eyes of educated voters; with honesty in all financial transactions, with the New England home and the New England family as the foundation of society, with national sentiments prevailing everywhere in the country, we shall not lack that remaining crown of New England life, which lends to every peopled landscape its chief interest and glory - the spires, pointing to Heaven, that tell to every man who sees them that the descendants of the Pilgrims still hold to and cherish and love that which their fathers brought to this continent, which they here sought and which they here found – freedom to worship God.