Sherman Democrat Report of Picnic August 1885 contd. [abbr: continued]
But without the annexation of Texas, there would have been no "even and
systematical development" of the great republic, from ocean to ocean and from the
great lakes to the gulf, as we now behold it. Annexation was the sole and direct cause of
the war with Mexico, which shed so much lustre upon American arms, and ended in the treaty
of Guadaloup Hidalgo. By that treaty supplemented by the purchase of Messilla valley, and
the extinguishment of the claims of Great Britain to the Oregon territory, the United
States extended their jurisdiction, by an undisputed title over the vast extent of the
territory, reaching from the Sabine to the Pacific ocean--a territory greater than that
of the original thirteen states, and exceeding that of the Louisiana Purchase. It brought
us many fertile valleys and rich plains and a wide sea coast, with the beauty and grandeur
of lofty mountains and deep canyons. It brought us the fruits and the gold of California,
the silver of Nevada and Colorado, together with unknown millions of wealth that lie
hidden in the rock-ribbed mountains of Arizona and New Mexico. It placed us in almost as
close juxtaposition with the nations of Asia as we were in with the nations of Western
Europe. And the blessings which shall flow to mankind, from the utterance of the benign
institutions of the United States, thus enlarged, and from the products of her inventive
genius and industry, thence send abroad over the globe, are beyond the power of finite man
to computate. I stand appalled at the thought, and exlaim with one of old, "O God!
have I not see the glory of thy handiwork?"
Thus we trace that train of events of such vast moment to the human race, directly to the Texas Revolution, and to the little battle one afternoon on the flowery banks of San Jacinto. With all its blood and its carnage, its gloom and its sorrow, it was a well-spring of happiness to the human race. The men of San Jacinto never smile in speaking of the achievements of tht day. It was too pregnant with fate--it was too shadowy with the arms of Omnipotence. Solemnly, like Henry of Monmouth after the brittle of Agincourt, those heroic spirits felt, as we feel to-day, that to God alone was the victory due.
"The San Jacinto river told,
The story to the sea,
And Europe, listening from afar,
Proclaimed young Texas free,
And over sea and over land,
Her beauty shone [corr: shown] afar,
And lords and princes came to view
The new republics star."
But I have not mentioned all the consequences that flowed from this prolific source. There is but little doubt that one of the purposes of an inscrutible Providence, in hiding this continent for so many ages from the eyes of civilized men was, that they might penetrate the jungles of the "Dark Continent," and bring hence a darker race, that we might humanize and exalt them from their native barbarism. At least they were brought here, but as slaves, and property in them was guaranteed by the constitutin of the fathers. Thus they were made the instrument by which two great opposing principles of our government--the Isis and Osiris of our institutions--were brought into deadly conflict. The war with Mexico was not yet ended, but it was forseen that it would terminate in the acquisition of territory to the United States, when a measure was introduced into congress, known as the "Wilmot Proviso," prohibiting the extension of slavery into any of the territory that might be acquired at the termination of hostilies. Then began that fatal agitation which shook this government from center to circumference and culminated in the greatest civil war that history has recorded. Thus it may be seen that San Jacinto was but the forerunner of Appomattox. Victory there, with its corallary, the acquistion of southern territory, roused the sleeping gods of contest, and hastened the "irrepressible conflict." But without it the miracle of sudden freedom to eight millions of the black race might still have slep in the bosom of the Divine Purpose. At least, without the great weight of Texas and chivalrous and warlike character of her people, there would have heen no Southern Confederacy, to spring up, like a comet, and as suddenly disappear.
But over this period of our history we have drawn a veil of oblivion' and the sections have at last "shaken hands across the bloody chasm." I mention it only to show the influence of Texas and Texans in shaping the destiny of this continent, and through it, the fate of mankind.
It can be said that through it all Texas was true to herself, her history and traditions, born as she was in rebellion and fonded in annexation. And while the flag she loved went down in sorrow she can potin today, with undimmed eyes, to the hand of God in history and exclaim, "Thy will, not mine, be done!" With joy she sees a common flag, of many stars and of exceeding beauty, floating over a Nation of freemen only, reaching from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean, and from the great lakes of the north to the waters of her own grand gulf that that roll on and on forever. We pray God that the poems of peace may be co-eternal with the murmurings of her ceaseless waves, and that the demon of discord may never again enter our happy union--the paradise of freedom.
But remember, O, men of Texas, that a state is never without use for its patriots. Still sleep upon your shields lest a stealthy foe glide into the camp. "Eternal vigilence is the price of liberty." Wilst you have conquered the land and subdued the wilderness, tamed the savage and driven back the Mexican--whilst you have passed through the throes of a mighty civil war, where the life of the Nation stood in the balance, remember that the severest test of your institituions is yet to come. They are benign beyond all precedent and potent when brought into play, but they possess an inherent weakness common to all things that are good. It was prophesied years ago that the true test of our system would occur when the public lands were all occupied and our population became dense as it is in the East. The framers of our form of government did not see and provide for the achievements of modern science and the marvelous effects of inventive genius and of organized capital and industry. They did not contemplate the intimate commerce and intermingling of the sectsons, over this immense area of territory, knit together by railroads and telegraph. They were strangers to that greatest foe of our liberties, the hydra-headed monopoly. they did not conceive of the possession of princely power by an individual, nor yet by a corporation or secret society, greater than that of a sovereign state.
The truth is the material progress of the age is outgrowing the forms of law. It is an age of iron and the dust of machinery has obscured the vision of men. The moral atmosphere is becoming murky and a thunder clap of destiny may at any moment startle the world into amazement. So true it is, as Rufas Choate has said, "the complete education of a nation requires the baptism of blood and of fire."
It is a sublime spectacle as we contemplate it, but fraught with infinite woe and distress to the human race. The enormous capital of the nation, controlled by syndicates, all drifting into more intimate undion,--what a grand spectacle it is! Like two grat armies asleep on the battle field, waiting for daylight to begin the work of horror and destruction.
May the God of battles avert the catastrophe, but if it should come let us not forget the history and traditions of "blood-bought, beautiful Texas--the land of heroic glory--the land of exceeding beauty." It is the divine will, that in the solid convservatism of an agricultural and peace loving south, shall rest the future hope of the republic. So when the flood comes let us seize the constitution, which the fathers baptised with their blood, and flee with it into the wilderness, as the Ark of our Covenant. And when the storm has passed and the clouds are rifted, let all the world come and behold the true romance, which the south exists to realize, and that is the final preservation of constitutional liberty in America.
The address of Mr. Dean speaks for itself. It was listened to with deep attention, and during its delivery he was frequently applauded.
At the conclustion of Mr. Dean's remarks, Capt. [abbr: Captain] J. D. Woods announced that the remainder of the day would be taken up in handshaking and the renewal of old friendships. Those who remained on the grounds during the afternoon enhoyed themselves each after his own fashion.
There was a new registration of the Old Settlers this afternoon in a now book prepared for that purpose.
Old Settlers Association (Grayson County, Tex.). Old Settler's Association of Grayson County, Vol. 1.. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth11279/. Accessed March 2, 2015.