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Title: "Rise and Destiny of the Union," Senior Speech of Eli. W. Hall, March 1847 : Electronic Edition.
Author: Hall, Eli West, 1827-1865?
Editor: Erika Lindemann
Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Erika Lindemann and Karen Jacobson
Images scanned by Mara E. Dabrishus
Text encoded by Amanda Page
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 39K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2005
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text
The electronic edition is a part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English Latin
Revision history:
2005-06-01, Amanda Page finished TEI/XML encoding
Part of a series:
This transcribed document is part of a digital collection, titled True and Candid Compositions: The Lives and Writings of Antebellum Students in North Carolina
written by Lindemann, Erika
Source(s):
Title of collection: Eli West Hall Papers (#2443-z), Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: "Rise and Destiny of the Union," Senior Speech of Eli. W. Hall, March 1847
Author: Hall, Eli West, 1827-1865?
Description: 10 pages, 11 page images
Note: Call number 2443-z (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Politics and Government/Constitution of the United States
Politics and Government/Political Issues
Examples of Student Writing/Senior Speeches
Religion and Philosophy/Other Philosophies
Social and Moral Issues/Other Social and Moral Issues
Editorial practices
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 5 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Originals are in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved.
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Any hyphens occurring in line breaks have been removed, and the trailing part of a word has been joined to the preceding line.
Letters, words and passages marked as deleted or added in originals have been encoded accordingly.
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All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as ".
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Indentation in lines has not been preserved.

For more information about transcription and other editorial decisions, see Dr. Erika Lindemann's explanation under the section Editorial Practices.

Document Summary

Hall's senior speech argues that, given the course of history, the young American union of states under a constitution is destined for greatness.
"Rise and Destiny of the Union," Senior Speech of Eli W. Hall , March 18471
Hall, Eli West, 1827-1865?



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Rise and Destiny of the Union
With the dawn of the sixteenth century was ushered in2 the moral intellectual and political regeneration of mankind. The maxims of sages wise in their own times were deemed unfit for the then Present, and a new order of things was about to be instituted. Greece, the land of science and of song, had fulfilled her high, yet melancholy destiny. Rome had sat upon her seven hills dictating laws to a conquered world, and waving her triumphant eagle over earths remotest nations; and upon her shrine too, had Philosophy and Poetry and Science lain3 their offerings. But in the plenitude of her glory, the Goth, the Hun and the Vandal came, and yielding to their assault She fell, and was crushed beneath the weight of her own power. Beneath4 the barbarian flood all traces of her civilization and learning were soon obliterated, and upon her ruins was reared that stupendous fabric—the Feudal system. Then ensued the5 ages of mental darkness and moral depravity; The lamp of Learning seemed was well nigh extinguished. War seemed to be mans natural occupation; and amid a people groaning

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under the oppression of lords and nobles, civil liberty scar[c]e existed even in name. But the spirit of freedom was not ever6 to be repressed;7 and causes were ere long in opperation to effect slowly but surely8 the emancipation of man from this unnatural thraldom. The necessity of civil law became apparent from the increasing and more complicated interests which began to exist among between man and his fellows. These laws were to be expounded and applied; and thus learning became a pathway through which the diligent, however humble, might wend their way to stations of distinction in the state. Commerce too, and the mutual jealousy of the king and nobles tended vastly to elevate the people in the scale of national existence. The Printing9 Press by diffusing the triumps of mind, excited a spirit of intellectual inquiry, And the Reformation while it priviledged10 men to enquire investigate matters of Religion, and taught them of equality in Heaven,11 induced them to speculate upon matters of Government, and to indulge the idea of an equality upon earth. Thus stood the world at the advent of the century to which we have alluded.
The germ of civil liberty which in

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the beginning had been planted by the hand of the creator,—but which striking root in a soil of ignorance and choked by the noxious weeds of kingly prerogative and lordly power had well nigh perished—now, under the genial rays of the sun of civilization, had sprung into a sturdy and vigorous plant. And it was this plant lopped of its imperfections and pruned of its excrescences that was borne by a hardy few, across the trackless ocean, and deposited in the soil of the new world. Where tended by the care, and nurtured by the prayers of that pilgrim band, it struck deep its roots, and has extended its branches far and wide, until now, beneath its grateful shade millions of freemen repose in conscious security peace and happiness.12
It is the boast of most nations that the history of their origin is to be read only by the dim twilight of antiquity; and with pride they ofttimes trace their lineage through a noble ancestry of warlike kings and valiant princes, until History falters amid the darkness of the Past, and Fable points, as their source to some bright alien of yon blissful abode. But America glories in her youth.

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Her origin and progress are not told in wild romantic legends, nor13 the fictitious lays of the minstrel; nor do the mouldering ruins of14 ivy-clad battlements of baronial castles testify to her existence as a nation in ages long since past. And although unlike Minerva, she cannot lay claim to an instaneous existence,15 yet in less than the space of16 two centuries, the feeble colonies scattered on her coast had merged17 into a great and mighty Republic unparalleled in its growth—unrivalled in its system of civil polity—unequalled in the equity of its laws—and unsurpassed in the happiness of its people.
To trace the growth of those early colonies, and their final formation into the present Union, would seem, before an American audience, to be a work of supererogation. The Union was the child of necessity—nourished by patriots blood—nurtured in the lap of freedom—and baptized in the tears of the oppressed; and under the guardianship of wisdom and of virtue it has grown up to be the prolific parent of blessings innumerable. While in the midst of that great and glorious struggle for freedom, which eventually

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terminated so successfully, Congress, being convinced that to ensure the duration18 of the Union it was essentially necessary19 that the powers and the rights of the general Government, and the obligations, duties, and residuary sovereignty of the states should be precisely defined and limited, proceeded to prepare articles of confederation. But after the independence of our country had been acknowledged and she had assumed her place among the nations of the earth, experience soon taught her people that the form of government which had been adopted was indeed but "a frail and tottering edifice ready to fall upon their heads and crush them beneath its ruins".20 It was reserved for the Constitution unanimously adopted in 1790 to heal those marks of21 corruptions which had begun to pollute the body politic—to quell the tumult of conflicting interests—to silence the boastings of state pride by placing the federal government upon a sure and solid foundation, and by its admirable system of checks and balances to dispel forever the fear of consolidation or federal usurpation.22
Under that noble constitution

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—the seemly monument of the wisdom of its authors—our country has existed for the space of sixty years. Every day has brought with it fresh proofs of its innate excellence and worth. And although at times a stormy cloud of popular rage may have been seen to gather about its summit, yet the lightning of its wrath has but gilded the capitals of the pillars, while23 the bolts of its anathemas have but served to rivet more firmly the joints of the stately edifice. Through its influence the resources of our country have been brought into successful operation,24 and freedom of speech and action been vouchsafed to all, And25 under its shelter and protection ours has become emphatically the "land of the free and the home of the brave".26 Willingly would we yet linger amid the shades of the Past, and lend a willing ear to its voice as it recounts the events of our short but glorious history, and sings in gladsome numbers of deeds of heroic daring & self-sacrificing patriotism—of battles nobly fought and victories dearly won. But it is our province to scrutinize the Present, and so far as we may be able27 to survey the dim outlines of the Future And to one who takes a deliberate survey of the condition of things as they now exist

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in our nation, just apprehensions may arise of the existence of causes, which though they possibly may not obstruct yet may impede our country in its progress to28 that goal which should ever be kept before the vision of the true patriot, and be made the object around which his fondest hopes should cluster.
Although at the present day it cannot be expected that our people should conform to the puritanical rigour which signalized the institutions of our ancestors, yet their29 almost total departure from the republican simplicity which characterized the manners of our fathers may well create just alarm. Office seems to be sought not that the sphere of doing good may be widened, but that the elevation consequent to its possession may tickle the vanity or minister to the self-interest of its holder.30 Our public press in its unrestrained license, hurls its denunciations against the pure and spotless, and brands as traiterous the honest, though possibly mistaken, convictions of our highest functionary in power. And while the spirit of superficialism31 casts its withering blight upon the youth of our land who are soon to stand in the

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high places of our government; that of Utilitarianism,32 vociferating its everlasting "cui bono"33 would banish from the inner sanctuary of our minds the ideal, the good, and the beautiful and would prostrate man's noblest and loftiest aspirations at the grovelling footstool of a material Utility. Party spirit too has reared its Gorgon head in our midst, chilling34 the spontaneous and honest convictions of the heart—engendering personal hatred and malice—and reducing35 our people to yield their assent36 not37 to the dictates of their own judgment, but to the "ipse dixit"38 of their oft-times selfish leaders, or incur the odious imputation of proving recreant to their faith. And the lawless thirst for acquisition of territory has already become a distinguishing characteristic of the American people, unmindful as they are of the fact that the bond which secures our Union may snapped39 by too great tension; and that the powers of a government, like the rays of the sun, acquire tenfold vigour and efficacy by being concentrated into one focus and cast upon a limited surface. If it were consistent with our duty, gladly would we close our eyes upon the remaining evil, which in its magnitude threatens speedily to subvert the very foundations of our

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confederacy. We allude to the recent indications of the existence of40 an intention among our northern neighbors to violate constitutional obligations—to crush the peculiar institutions of the south—and ruthlessly to trample upon her rights. The language of recrimination and threatening should be refrained from so41 long as possible. But the syren voice of delay should lull no longer. The time has almost come when not to resolve to resist42 is to resolve to yield. And although linked together by the ties of interest, kindred and association, and looking back with common pride upon the glorious struggle which secured our existence—, we should make many sacrifices and concessions, yet if the crisis must come it will be seen that the same spirit of resistance to oppression which animated our fathers still burns brightly in the bosoms of their sons, who with trumpet tongues will proclaim the rights they know, and, knowing, with valiant hearts will dare maintain them.43
But believing, as we do that many of the evils to which we have alluded are necessarily incident to the comparative infancy of our country, and that others are to be ascribed rather to

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the age in which we live, than to any radical defects in our people or government, we may still confidently hope that a noble and exalted destiny awaits us. And that in the halts which our nation makes in her advance to44 the "prize of her high calling",45 she but concentrates her powers and acquires renewed strength for another and more protacted46 movement.
Let a spirit of amity and mutual forbearance be cherished by the states. Let our rulers but lend a listening ear to the persuasive whispers of those ministering angels Virtue and Intelligence. In a word, would47 our people but be true to themselves, and our Union, embraced in the golden bonds of the constitution, will ever stand "against the winds and weathers of time" the asylum of the oppressed, the guardian of science, and the home of happiness. And here then in this new Atlantis may be realized an approximation to that ideal republic which dazzled the enraptured vision of Plato. And those flowers springing from the exuberant imaginations of a Harrington and a More 48, and which for so long time have been destined to waste their sweetness upon the desert air of an Oceana and an Utopia may yet be transplanted to dispense their fragrance through the length and breadth of this—"our own, our Native land."49

Back cover page

Endnotes:

1. Eli West Hall Papers, SHC. The speech is written on six sheets measuring ten by sixteen inches, folded in half, and sewn together in three places at the left margin to form a booklet. The verso of the last leaf contains the following information in Hall's hand: "Eli West Hall / Chapel Hill, March 1847." To the right of this inscription, near the binding, someone has written "Speech Chapel Hill." At one time the speech was folded into thirds. Hall's speech shows corrections written in ink in the hand of Professor William Mercer Green , professor of rhetoric and logic from 1838 to 1849. Green customarily circled words that Hall should delete and underlined or circled words and phrases that needed revision, sometimes providing language to substitute for Hall's .

2. Green underlined "was ushered in" and wrote commenced above the phrase.

3. Green struck through the n of lain and wrote d above the word.

4. Green underlined Beneath and wrote In above the word.

5. Green circled the.

6. Green circled ever.

7. Green inserted forever above repressed.

8. Hall wrote surely on top of slowly.

9. Green circled Printing.

10. Green struck through the d in priviledged.

11. Green underlined "equality in Heaven" and wrote ? above the phrase.

12. Someone, probably Green , underlined "security peace and happiness."

13. Green struck through the n in nor.

14. Green wrote & on top of of.

15. Green underlined "instaneous existence."

16. Green circled "the space of."

17. Green circled merged and wrote started above the word.

18. Green underlined duration and wrote perpetuity above the word.

19. Green circled "ly necessary."

20. Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist , No. 15 (1788): "Each State, yielding to the persuasive voice of immediate interest or convenience, has successively withdrawn its support, till the frail and tottering edifice seems ready to fall upon our heads, and to crush us beneath its ruins."

21. Green circled "marks of."

22. Green revised Hall's text by circling or and inserting words so that the phrase reads "fear of consolidation on the one hand and federal usurpation on the other."

23. Hall wrote while on top of several unrecovered characters.

24. Green underlined "brought into successful operation" and wrote "gradually developed" above the phrase. He placed a wavy line to the left of this passage (beginning with wrath and ending with operation), perhaps to remind himself that the mixed metaphors needed discussion with Hall .

25. Green circled All.

26. Francis Scott Key, "The Star-Spangled Banner" (1814).

27. Green circled "be able."

28. Green circled "in its" and to, added 's to country, and wrote toward above to. His revision reads "may impede our country's progress toward that goal. . . ."

29. Green circled their and wrote our above the word.

30. Green circled "its holder" and wrote "the incumbant" above the phrase.

31. Green circled ism and wrote ity above the suffix.

32. Hall's first senior speech, also marked by Green , discusses "Utilitarianism" (Eli West Hall Papers, SHC). Though undated, the speech probably was delivered in Fall 1846.

33. "cui bono": Latin for "to whose advantage," the principle that probable responsibility for an act lies with someone who stood to gain from it.

34. Green underlined chilling and wrote petrifying above the word.

35. Green underlined reducing and wrote compelling above the word.

36. Green circled "their assent."

37. Hall wrote not on top of to.

38. "ipse dixit": Latin for "he himself said it," an assertion made on someone's authority but not proved.

39. Hall first wrote snap, then added ped but evidently forgot to insert be to complete the passive construction.

40. Green circled "the existence of."

41. Green underlined "refrained from so" and wrote "forborne as" above the phrase.

42. Green underlined "not to resolve to resist" and wrote "to withhold resistance" above the phrase.

43. Green underlined "the rights they know, and, knowing, with valiant hearts will dare maintain them" and wrote "We know our rights, and knowing dare maintain them" above the phrase.

44. Green circled to and wrote toward above the word.

45. Mary Wollstonecraft, The Rights of Women , Chapter 2 (1792).

46. Green circled protracted and wrote successful above the word.

47. Green circled would and wrote let above the word.

48. James Harrington (1611-77) published The Commonwealth of Oceana in 1656; Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) published Utopia in 1515-16.

49. Sir Walter Scott, "Lay of the Last Minstrel" (1805): "This is my own, my native land."