OF NEW YORK. (BORN 1820, DIED 1869.)
On reconstruction; conservative, or administration, republican opinion;
In the house of representatives, December 21, 1865.
I need not say that I have been gratified to hear many things which have fallen from the lips of the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Finck), who has just taken his seat. I have no party feeling, nor any other feeling, which would prevent me from rejoicing in the indications apparent on that side of the House of a purpose to concur with the loyal people of the country, and with the loyal administration of the Government, and with the loyal majorities in both Houses of Congress, in restoring peace and order to our common country. I cannot, perhaps, help wishing, sir, that these indications of an interest in the preservation of our Government had come somewhat sooner. I cannot help feeling that such expressions cannot now be of as much service to the country as they might once have been. If we could have had from that side of the House such indications of an interest in the preservation of the Union, such heartfelt sympathy with the efforts of the Government for the preservation of that Union, such hearty denunciation of those who were seeking its destruction, while the war was raging, I am sure we might have been spared some years of war, some millions of money, and rivers of blood and tears.
But, sir, I am not disposed to fight over again battles now happily ended. I feel, and I am rejoiced to find that members on the other side of the House feel, that the great problem now before us is to restore the Union to its old integrity, purified from everything that interfered with the full development of the spirit of liberty which it was made to enshrine. I trust that we shall have a general concurrence of the members of this House and of this Congress in such measures as may be deemed most fit and proper for the accomplishment of that result. I am glad to assume and to believe that there is not a member of this House, nor a man in this country, who does not wish, from the bottom of his heart, to see the day speedily come when we shall have this nation—the great American Republic—again united, more harmonious in its action than it ever has been, and forever one and indivisible. We in this Congress are to devise the means to restore its union and its harmony, to perfect its institutions, and to make it in all its parts and in all its action, through all time to come, too strong, too wise, and too free ever to invite or ever to permit the hand of rebellion again to be raised against it.