The secret of its assured success lies in that very characteristic which, in the mouth of scoffers, constitutes its great and lasting imbecility and reproach. It lies in the fact that it is a party of one idea; but that is a noble one—an idea that fills and expands all generous souls; the idea of equality—the equality of all men before human tribunals and human laws, as they all are equal before the Divine tribunal and Divine laws.
I know, and you know, that a revolution has begun. I know, and all the world knows, that revolutions never go backward. Twenty Senators and a hundred Representatives proclaim boldly in Congress to-day sentiments and opinions and principles of freedom which hardly so many men, even in this free State, dared to utter in their own homes twenty years ago. While the Government of the United States, under the conduct of the Democratic party, has been all that time surrendering one plain and castle after another to slavery, the people of the United States have been no less steadily and perseveringly gathering together the forces with which to recover back again all the fields and all the castles which have been lost, and to confound and overthrow, by one decisive blow, the betrayers of the Constitution and freedom forever.
From the beginning of our history it has been a mooted question whether we are to consider the United States as a political state or as a congeries of political states, as a Bundesstaat or as a Staatenbund. The essence of the controversy seems to be contained in the very title of the republic, one school laying stress on the word United, as the other does on the word States. The phases of the controversy have been beyond calculation, and one of its consequences has been a civil war of tremendous energy and cost in blood and treasure.
Looking at the facts alone of our history, one would be most apt to conclude that the United States had been a political state from the beginning, its form being entirely revolutionary until the final ratification of the Articles of Confederation in 1781, then under the very loose and inefficient government of the Articles until 1789, and thereafter under the very efficient national government of the Constitution; that, in the final transformation of 1787-9, there were features which were also decidedly revolutionary; but that there was no time when any of the colonies had the prospect or the power of establishing a separate national existence of its own. The facts are not consistent with the theory that the States ever were independent political states, in any scientific sense.