Dedication Speech for the Bennington Battle Monument | American Battlefield Trust
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Dedication Speech for the Bennington Battle Monument

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August 19, 1891

Dedication speech for the Benning Battle Monument delivered by E. J. Phelps on August 19, 1891, in honor of the Battle of Bennington on August 16, 1777.

 

Bennington Battle Monument
Boston Public Library

Vermont consecrates to-day her first historic monument. But not hers alone. New Hampshire and Massachusetts, who fought with her and for her at Bennington, have joined in erecting this memorial of their common history. And they are here, by a splendid representation, to share in the triumph of its completion, and to give to the occasion by the distinction of their presence, a higher dignity, a more generous grace.

The day has a still larger significance. It is trebly fortunate. It marks not only the anniversary of the battle, and the happy consummation in this structure of the exertions of fifteen years, but likewise the centennial of the entrance of Vermont into the Federal Union. It unites in its suggestions the great memories and the great hope in the life of our commonwealth, the expiring century and the limitless future. It is fit that we should signalize such an occasion. Well may Vermont throw open this day her gates and her heart. Well may she call her children home. And with a display uncommon to her simple life, with trumpets, and banners, and acclamations, and the triumphant voice of cannon, offer unbounded welcome to the great concourse that has gathered to her festival.

It is appropriate and gratifying that the chief magistrate of the nation should be at such a time our most honored guest. In this scene, party differences are forgotten. We are only Americans. And in loyalty to that great office, and respect for the incumbent who fills it so well, we are all this day on the President's side.

History is full of battles. All its pages are stained with blood. Instruments, for the most part, of ambition, of tyranny and of crime. It would have been well for the world to be spared the misery they wrought. It would be well for its history if their memory could perish. But there have been battles nevertheless whose smoke went up like incense; consecrated in the sight of Heaven by the cause they maintained. Such was that for which this shaft shall henceforth stand.

If battles were to be accounted great in proportion to the numbers engaged, Bennington would be but small. In comparison with Marathon, and Waterloo, and Gettysburg, it was in that view only an affair of outposts. But it is not numbered alone that give importance to battlefields. The fame of Thermopylae would not have survived, had the Greeks been a great army instead of three hundred. It is the cause that is fought for, the heroism and self-sacrifice displayed, and the consequences which follow, moral and political as well as military, that give significance to conflicts of arms. Judged by these standards, Bennington may well be reckoned among the memorable battles of the world.

It was, on our side, the people's fight. No government-directed or supplied it; no regular force was concerned; it was a part of no organized campaign. New Hampshire sent her hastily embodied militia, not the less volunteers. In Vermont and Massachusetts, it was thespontaneous uprising of a rural and peace-loving population, to resist invasion, to defend their homes, to vindicate their right of self-government. Lexington and Bunker Hill were in thisrespect its only parallels in the Revolutionary war.

The march of Burgoyne from Canada to the Hudson, had been till then a continuous victory. He was a brave and skillful soldier, leading a well-appointed and powerful army. Ticonderoga, the key and stronghold of the northern frontier, had fallen unexpectedly without a blow. The Vermonters retreating thence had been overtaken and utterly defeated at Hubbardton. The advance of the British to Still water had been almost unopposed; and there was as yet no promise of effectual resistance. Even Washington, steel proof against despair, wrote that he saw not how Burgoyne's march to Albany could be checked.

The situation of the inhabitants of the Hampshire Grants was most critical. Their whole frontier was open to the incursions of an enemy whose allies were savages. They had been totally neglected by Congress ; not a step had been taken for their relief. Scattered sparsely through the country upon their farms, without any organized state government, almost destitute of the material of war, except the firearms in their houses, they still had no thought of flight or submission. They called upon God first, in a day of fasting and prayer, appointed by their Convention, and not only appointed but solemnly kept. And then they called upon New Hampshire and John Stark. New Hampshire, ablaze with patriotic feeling, issued instant orders for her militia to march. Stark's reply was brief, for he was not a man of words. "I am on the way," said he, " with all the men I can muster." With the eye of a born soldier he saw that the Vermonters were right when they declared, that there could be no frontier but a frontier of armed men. That the Hampshire Grants must be held, because no enemy could be resisted to whom the gates of the country were thus thrown open. And that the effectual blow against Burgoyne must be struck on his flank.

Full justice has been done, in history and tradition, to the bravery and the patriotism of John Stark. But his great qualities as a general have not been set forth as they deserve. No better piece of military work was seen in the Revolution, than he did in that brief and sudden campaign. He concentrated the scattered militia at Charleston, with a rapidity that was marvelous. He was impeded by the want of the most necessary and ordinary supplies. Detained, he wrote, for lack of bullet molds; "but one pair in town"; for they had their own bullets to cast; destitute, he wrote again, even of camp kettles; striving in vain to get three or four field pieces mounted; the powder he had depended upon half spoiled. Yet receiving his orders on the 2d July, while the militia were all at their homes, he marched with the last of them from Charleston, on the 3d of August. On the 7th he was at Manchester, through the wilderness and across the Green Mountains, by incapable roads, and without any adequate transportation. On the 9th he was at Bennington, with his own forces and the Massachusetts and Vermont men organized and in hand. On the 13th he engaged the enemy; on the 16th the battle was fought. If there had been no battle at all, such celerity and precision of movement, with an irregular force, in the face of such difficulties, would alone have been generalship of the highest order.

At Manchester he was met by a peremptory order from Congress, to march at once to join Schuyler, leaving the Grants to their fate. He refused to obey it. The cause was more to him than Congress, and he understood its necessities better than they did. On the 19th, three days after the battle, but before the news of it had reached them, that body adopted a resolution that his conduct was prejudicial to discipline, and injurious to the common cause, and demanding of New Hamp shire to revoke the orders under which he was acting. Three days later, they sent him a vote of thanks, their only contribution to the victory that caused the destruction of Burgoyne.

Meanwhile the men of the Grants had not been idle. Every nerve had been strained in their own behalf. The Council of Safety, improvised for the occasion, sat continuously at Bennington, assuming all the powers of government. Every available man turned out. No woman bid husband, son or brother stay. Such scanty supplies as by the utmost exertion could be collected, were thrown into the common stock. The very day before the battle, expresses were sent out through the farm-houses to gather lead, "urgently needed," said the Council. The woods were on fire. Not with the transient blaze that sweeps through the dry leaves and is gone, but with the deep unquenchable combustion that burns in the roots and the earth.

Of the stores that had been previously gathered at Bennington, much has been said, and but little is known. Their importance has probably been exaggerated. That Burgoyne needed them, such as they were, and desired still more to deprive his enemy of them, maybe time. But they were by no means the principal object of the expedition he sent out, altogether disproportioned to so small a matter. He saw as clearly as Stark did, that his left was the dangerous quarter. It was not the feeble resistance before him that he was afraid of, which had not yet fired an effectual shot. It was what he well called "the gathering storm that was hanging on his left." He perceived that he must strike a blow in that quarter which would put down opposition, and make safe his flank and his rear. He meant to mount his dismounted dragoons on horses obtained in the Grants, and to occupy and secure that ground. The troops he sent out were therefore choice and well commanded, and followed by a strong support. And their orders were, not merely to capture Bennington, but to cross the country to Rockingham, and thence march to Albany.

The British commander proceeded with the caution the importance of his expedition demanded. When he found that he must fight, and perceived the resolute and thorough soldiership of Stark's movements, he chose a position with excellent judgment, entrenched himself strongly, and placed his troops and his guns to the best advantage. Stark could not wait as he would have done, for his enemy's advance. He was unable to subsist his ill-provided forces long, nor could he keep them from homes that were suffering for their presence. His only chance was to attack at once, and his dispositions for it, most ably seconded by Warner, his right-hand man, were masterly beyond criticism. He had no artillery, no cavalry, no transportation, no commissariat but the women on the farms. Half of his troops were without bayonets, and even ammunition had to be husbanded. He lacked everything but men, and his men lacked everything but hardihood and indomitable resolution. Upon all known rules and experience of warfare, the successful storming, by a hastily organized militia, of an entrenched position at the top of a hill, held by an adequate regular force, would have been declared impossible. But it was the impossible that happened, in a rout of the veterans that amounted to destruction. History and literature, eloquence and poetry have combined to enshrine in the memory of mankind those decisive charges, at critical moments, by which great battles have been won, and epochs in the life of nations determined. I set against the splendor of them all, that final onset up yonder hill and over its breastworks, of those New England farmers, on whose faces desperation had kindled the supernatural light of battle which never shines in vain. That field was the last hope of the Hamp shire Grants. They were fighting for all they had on earth, whether of possessions or of rights. They could not go home defeated, for they would have had no homes to go to. The desolate land that Burgoyne would have left, New York would have taken. Not a man was there by compulsion, or upon the slightest expectation of personal advantage or reward. The spirit which made the day possible, was shown in that Stephen Fay of Benning ton, who had five sons in the fight. When the first-born was brought home to him dead, "I thank God," he said, "that I had a son, willing to give his life for his country."

Such, in merest and briefest outline, was Bennington. Its story, imperfectly preserved, comes down to us only in flashes, but they are flashes of glorious light. Its consequences were immediate and far-reaching. It was the first success of the Revolution which bore any fruit. Its guns sounded the first notes in the knell which announced that the power of Great Britain over the colonies she had created and had sacrificed, was passing away. Burgoyne heard it, and knew what it meant. Washington heard it, and hearing took heart again. Confidence replaced despair. Gates succeeded Schuyler in command at Saratoga, and the militia poured into his camp. The invincibility of the British commander was gone. He fought desperately but in vain. On the 17th of October, he surrendered.

If Bennington had not been fought, or had been fought without success, the junction between Clinton and Burgoyne could not have been prevented, and his surrender would not have taken place." If I had succeeded there," he wrote to his Government, "I should have marched to Albany."

But Bennington was only an episode in the early life of Vermont. Striking, heroic, conspicuous, yet still but an episode. The outbreak of the Revolution found the people of the Hampshire Grants already engaged in a contest with the powerful colony of New York, which had for ten years taxed their u most resources. The first to occupy the unbroken wilderness which is now Vermont, they had taken and paid for their titles to the lands, as a part of the Colony of New Hampshire, under regular grants from its Governor as vicegerent of the British Crown. They had organized townships, built roads, cleared forests, and established their homes. Up to that time the territory had been universally regarded as a part of New Hampshire, and the early maps so laid it down. New York for more than a hundred years from the date of her charter, had attempted no jurisdiction over it. But after the New Hampshire grants had been made and occupied, New York set up the claim that her eastern boundary was the Connecticut River. The line between that province and New Hampshire was so loosely defined in the charters, issued when the geography of the country was almost unknown, that it was impossible to be determined by their language. The charters were in fact conflicting. The greater influence of New York, and her better means of prosecuting her case before the Privy Council, obtained from the Crown, in 1764, an order establishing the Connecticut as the dividing line. But this was only the arbitrary adjustment of a boundary, incapable of other settlement. Its legal effect was prospective, not retroactive. It established jurisdiction, it did not invalidate titles previously vested, under which a prior and adverse possession existed, and which had been derived from the com mon source of title, the King, of whom the contesting governors were alike the agents, and while the territory was de facto a part of New Hampshire. Nor was it the intention of the Crown or of the Privy Council that it should have such an effect. When in 1767, three years later, the settlers, resisting the efforts of New York to confiscate their lands, succeeded by great exertions in bringing the case again before that body, upon its unanimous and emphatic judgment further grants by New York of lands granted by New Hampshire prior to 1764 were positively prohibited by the King.

Notwithstanding this explicit order, the Colonial Government of New York continued to make grants, in large quantities, of lands occupied adversely under the New Hampshire titles, with out the least regard to the rights of the inhabitants, or the distressing consequences in which they would be involved. These grants were made not to settlers, but to speculators and political favorites, upon payment of enormous fees to the Governor. Not even compensation was offered for the improvements which had given the lands all the value they had, rescued them from the savage and the wild beast, and made them habitable by man. No greater outrage had been attempted under the forms of English law since the days of Jeffries. It would not only have been in violation of fundamental principles if it had been done by the Crown, but it was in direct contravention of the orders of the Crown, based upon the judgment of the Privy Council.

The occupants of the Hampshire Grants had no means of legal resistance. They were without money, without counsel, without influence. They made one effort at defense in a suit tried at Albany, but soon found they had no justice to expect in that quarter. Then they set the authority of New York at defiance, and resolved to protect themselves. Sheriffs who came into the Grants to execute writs, were turned back. Militia sent to support them, were repulsed. Rights which the law should have defended, were maintained by force.

But with the first guns of the Revolution, the people of the Grants threw themselves into that struggle, without regard to its effect upon the contest, to them much more important, in which they were already engaged. Ticonderoga was taken by Ethan Allen, and Crown Point by Warner. They marched in force upon the disastrous expedition against Canada, where Allen was left a prisoner. They turned out on the approach of Burgoyne to garrison Ticonderoga, in such strength that men enough were not left at home to transport the supplies, which out of their slender resources they poured into that fortress. They were with Arnold in his desperate battles on Lake Champlain. They fought under Warner at Hubbardton before Bennington, and with Gates at Bemis Heights and Saratoga afterwards. They pursued the British who retreated from Ticonderoga after Burgoyne's surrender, capturing the last prisoners, and firing the last shots at the remains of that expedition.

When the authority of Great Britain was thrown off by the Declaration of Independence, the organization of a separate government by the inhabitants of the Grants became unavoidable. The jurisdiction of New Hampshire over them had ceased after the Royal order of 1764, and with New York they were at war. As early as July 1776, in Convention assembled at Dorset, they adopted articles of association for the purposes of the war as well as of domestic government. In January 1877 they resolved to form an independent state under the name of New Connecticut, declaring it to be necessary for protection against the British, as well as against New York. In June 1777, a committee was appointed to draft a constitution, and the name of Vermont was adopted. In July following, the constitution was ratified, and at the first election held under it, Thomas Chittenden was made Governor.

That first constitution of Vermont cannot be read without admiration. I pity the man who, in view of the time and the circumstances of its composition, can read it without sensibility. Framed by a rural people, in hardship and poverty, a foreign enemy at their very gates, a still more inveterate foe in the sister province that should have been their protector. Its authors neither statesmen nor lawyers, untrained in political science or literary accomplishment; but one of them having ever sat in a legislative assembly before. They were only doing their best under every discouragement, with such slender acquirements as they had, toward the foundation of a government that might command the respect of mankind. The constitution of Pennsylvania, adopted the year before, was doubtless in a considerable degree their model. But there was much in their work that was original. And it displayed a breadth and elevation of view, a profound sagacity, an independence of thought, and a sublime faith, not reasonably to be looked for in such an assembly. It would be an interesting task to review this constitution, if the flying hour allowed. Two or three points only can be most briefly touched.

It contained the first prohibition of slavery ever put forth on this continent, through all parts of which the institution was at that time legal. The language is worthy of quotation.

"That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent and unalienable rights; amongst which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing and protecting property; and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. Therefore, no male person born in this country or brought from oversea, ought to be holden by law to serve any person as a servant, slave or apprentice, after he arrives to the age of twenty-one years; nor female in like manner after she arrives to the age of eighteen years ; unless they are bound by their own consent after they arrive to such age ; or bound by law for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs or the like."

I may pause to read one other paper, on the same subject, that has found its way down to us like a scattered leaf from the foliage of a departed year. When in November 1777 a slave woman and her child fell into the hands of a company of Vermonters, commanded by Ebenezer Allen, who had fought with great distinction at Bennington, he gave her this writing, and set her free.

"To whom it may concern, know ye: whereas Dinah a negro woman with her child of two months old was taken prisoner on Lake Champlain with the British troops the 12th day of inst. November by a scout under my command; and according to a resolve passed by the Honorable Continental Congress that all prizes belong to the captivators thereof, therefor she and her child become the just property of the captivators thereof: I being conscientious that it is not right in the sight of God to keep slaves: therefore obtaining leave from the detachment under my command to give her and her child their freedom. I do therefore give the said Dinah and her child their freedom, to pass and repass anywhere through the United States of America, with her behaving as becometh, and to trade and traffic for herself and child, as though she were born free, without being molested by any person. 

In witness whereunto I have set my hand and subscribed my name, Ebenezer Allen, Capt. in Col. Herrick's Regt. of Green Mountain Boys."

There is not much lawyership in the form of this document. It is neither elegant in style, nor faultless in orthography. But perhaps it has found record where such deficiencies are over looked. 

Another article in that first constitution should not be passed by in silence. Its authors appear to have seen with a prophetic eye, when they founded free government, that its greatest danger was like to be the greed for office which turns places of public trust into the spoils of party, and the opportunities for plunder. And they adopted this clause:

"As every freeman to preserve his independence (if without a sufficient estate,) ought to have some profession, calling, trade or farm whereby he may honestly subsist, there can be no necessity for nor use in establishing offices of profit, the usual effects of which are dependence and servility unbecoming freemen in the possessors or expectants, faction, contention, corruption and disorder among the people. But if any man is called into public service to the prejudice of his private affairs, he has a right to a reasonable compensation; and whenever an office through increase of fees or otherwise becomes so profit able as to occasion many to apply for it, the profits ought to be lessened by the Legislature."

We have lived to see the prohibition of slavery in the earliest constitution of Vermont become a part of the fundamental law of this nation. May the time be not far off, when its declaration against that other and more widespread curse which corrupts and degrades free government, shall be likewise put in force by the body of the American people.

One more provision in this instrument may be quoted. From each representative in the Legislature was required before taking his seat, this declaration: "You do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the Universe, the rewarder of the good and punisher of the wicked. And you do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration: and do own and profess the Protestant Religion." 

Under this constitution, Vermont, already for thirteen years an independent community, became an independent State, subject to no national jurisdiction. She exercised from 1777 to 1791 all the powers of sovereignty, and maintained herself against New York, against Congress, and against the Union. She fought through the Revolution on her own account, and with the help of Massachusetts and New Hamp shire defended herself. The State flag that still flies over us, was the flag of that earliest day. No other State in the American Federation save Texas, ever had an independent existence. All others were in their beginning either colonies of a foreign power, or territories of the United States. Till the very last, both during and after the Revolution, the majority of Congress was against her, swayed by the power and influence of New York. Represented neither in Congress nor in the Legislature of New York, and without means or influence to make herself felt in either body, recognition of her independence and her admission to the Union were continuously refused, and the title of her people to the homes they occupied denied. The contest of the Colonies in the Revolution was against taxation without representation. That of Vermont, through the war and for eight years afterwards, was against confiscation without representation. No oppression charged upon Great Britain by America, approachedthat sought to be visited by Congress and New York upon Vermont, while she was fighting side by side with them, to her last man and last dollar, in the struggle for national independence.

The history of the early life of Vermont is a grand and inspiring history. No words of mine in these brief moments can justly characterize it. We find it difficult at first, in trying to understand it, to raise ourselves to its plane, and to view it in the light of its own time rather than of ours. Accustomed to see self-interest predominant, and individual success the universal goal, we are involuntarily groping after motives and springs of action in the builders of our State, which had no existence among them. We do not rightly comprehend what they did, until we come gradually to realize the absolutely unselfish devotion, the genuine and unalloyed patriotism, the ardent love of liberty, of those plain, unassuming, upright, resolute, God-fearing men, who were striving to the uttermost, not for place or distinction or wealth or power, but to achieve self-government, to establish homes, to ere are civil institutions that should betruly free, salutary, and enduring. The more closely we study their lives and their works, the greater is our admiration for their character and their capacity.

In 1791, Vermont's long controversy reached an end. The justice of her cause gradually made itself felt, both in Congress and in the Legislature of New York. It came to be seen that her right to self-government ought not to be denied, nor her institutions overthrown, nor the lands of her people taken from them, and that such results could only be attained by a war of extermination. Her demands were finally conceded. An amicable adjustment was made with New York, and a hundred years of unbroken friendship between these neighboring States has long obliterated all trace of the old-time bitterness. On the 18th of February 1791, an Act unanimously adopted by Congress for the admission of Vermont to the Union, was signed by the hand of Washington.

So came Vermont at last, a hundred years ago, into the sisterhood of the States. Latest of existing commonwealths to join it; first accession to the old Thirteen. No remnants of colonial magnificence adorned her approach. No traditions of old-world aristocracy gave distinction to her presence, or grace to her society. No potency in national politics attracted the parasites of the hour. The luxuries of wealth were unknown to her. For the elegance of high culture she had found little opportunity. Rustic and shy, but picturesque, shadowed by the memories of a trying experience, unconquerable in spirit, proud of her untarnished history, and half reluctant to surrender the independence that had cost so much, and been cherished so long. But she came to remain. She has sought no divorce from the Union to which on the altar of the new Constitution she then plighted her troth. When those who had been among the foremost in creating that Union, and should have been the last to assail it, yet essayed its destruction, thirty-four thousands of her young manhood, almost a tithe of her people, went out in its defense. And in all that widespread and terrible conflict, there was no battle ground on which her children are not buried. Her life, whether in peace or in war, through all the century that now closes upon us, has been not only in the Union, but for the Union. The high places, the distinctions, the ambitions, the emoluments of the National Government, have been chiefly for others; not for her. She has neither claimed them, nor sought them, nor desired them. Content to stand and to wait, and when service was demanded, never to be found wanting. Less affluent in production than lands that lie nearer the sun, she has been the nursery of men ; who have carried into other commonwealths the strength of her hills, and have fertilized by their intelligence, their energy, and their character, all the States whose gathering stars now fill to overflowing the field of the national ensign. It is not on this spot alone that these memories are revived. The sons of Vermont are not all here. The multitude that surrounds us is but a handful. In all the cities and hamlets of the Western plain, on savannah, and prairie, and river, and hill side, in fields innumerable, golden with the harvest, wherever on this continent there is work to be done or enterprise to be carried forward, there they are, and there will this day and its ceremonies be remembered, and its inspiration felt. 

And now my fellow citizens, our task draws to its conclusion. The public spirit and the persistent efforts of all these years have found their reward, in the structure that stands before us. Many, alas how many, of those who in its foundation have shared our labours and guided our counsels, and who looked forward with us hopefully to their consummation, have not waited for this day, but are gone on before. The circle that is left to exchange these congratulations, is painfully narrowed. But the work is done. Committing it now to the care of the State with whose existence we trust it will be coeval, our concern with it terminates, and our duty is discharged. Its stately proportions rise away from us into the upper air. Our monument no longer. Not for us nor for our time is it henceforth raised on high. Long before it shall cease to be reckoned as young, we and our children will have disappeared from the scene. It is our messenger to posterity. Here it shall wait for them, while the successive generations shall be born and die. Here it shall wait for them, through the evenings and the mornings that shall be all the days that are to come. Crowned with the snows of countless winters; beautiful in the sunlight and the shadows of unnumbered summers; companion of the mountains which look down upon it, whose height it emulates, whose strength it typifies, whose history it declares. 

The earth is studded with monuments. From the earliest period of recorded time, mankind has striven for a language more durable than words, in which human memories might be perpetuated. They have found it chiefly in the symbolism of monumental architecture. But for the employment of that language there must be sentiments to be transmitted, worthy of its grandeur. In those lie the appeal to futurity, not in the medium of expression, however powerful or impressive. And therefore it is, that the most imposing and venerable of such structures known to the world, only stand silently over the grave of the dead past. They have no history to relate, no lesson to teach. Solitary relics of a race that is extinct, a civilization that has perished, institutions that have disappeared, cities and temples that have returned to the dust, to research and to imagination they are equally dumb. The desolation of the desert surrounds them. We regard them with wonder, but without instruction. 

Not such the destiny of the memorial we dedicate here. Its grand silence shall be perpetually eloquent; its teaching shall never cease. It shall carry forward the history of those early days; of all that made Bennington heroic, and all that Bennington brought to pass. It shall tell the story not only of Stark and Warner and Chittenden and Symonds, the Aliens and the Fays and the Robin sons, and their compeers, but of that multitude of their humbler associates, less conspicuous, but just as devoted, who lived and who died for Vermont, whose names are only written in the memory of God. The child shall learn from these stones the first instincts of patriotism. The wayfarer to whose ear our English tongue conveys no sense, shall not fail of their meaning. And all the dwellers upon the soil, as the years go on, shall be reminded and admonished, what manner of man an American ought to be.

One final thought still presses upon us. We have recalled the past ; what shall be the future? The gift of proph ecy is mercifully withheld from man. Hope, kindlier than prophecy, stands in the place of it, the just and reasonable hope, instructed by what has gone be fore. The emotions of this day raise us far above the jargon and turmoil of the poor quarrels of the hour, whose out come we are wont to await with so much solicitude, and which seem to our impatient vision to oppose to us obstacles so dangerous. We look down upon them, and we see how temporary and ephemeral they are. We perceive that we need not on their account despair of the republic, which patriotism and devotion have more than once brought out resplendent, from darker days than we shall ever know. Gazing forward, in the light of the afterglow of the dying century, we are able to discern with the eye of faith and of hope, what this sentinel pile shall look out upon, in the days that are before it. 

It will look out upon Vermont: on whose vallies and hill sides the seed time and the harvest shall never fail. A land to which its people shall still cling with an affection not felt for the surface of the physical earth, by any but those who are born among the hills; hallowed to them as to us by its noble traditions ;  sacred for the dead who rest in its bosom. The beautiful name which the mountains have given it will abide upon the land forever. Vermont, always Vermont!

And it will behold a society, where the great principles of civil and religious liberty on which it is founded, shall be slowly but certainly working themselves out, to their final maturity. A prosperity, more and more widely diffused among common men. An advancing civilization, not without the vicissitudes, the blemishes, the mistakes, the sorrows, through which humanity's path must always lie, but in which the gain shall still surpass the loss, and the better surmount the worse; enlightened, from generation to generation, by an increasing intelligence, a broader knowledge, a higher morality; alleviated and illuminated, as it was in the beginning, by the inexhaustible blessing of our fathers' God. 

 

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