Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Plea to Enlist

Today's entry is excerpts from a proclamation made by Governor Richard Yates, of Illinois on August 17th, 1861 urging military enrollments, as found in The Rebellion Record:  A Diary of American Events, Volume II, 1862 edited by Frank Moore.

. . . Illinoians!  the war is on your hands -- the enemy now in large numbers is marching toward your borders.  Every prominent point on your rivers is threatened with attack.  Shall it be said that the numbers, whose object it is to sustain a Government as good as ours, are not one-third so large as those which are in arms to put it down!  Shall the handful of our first volunteers be required to oppose vastly superior numbers?  How long shall the brave Siegel in the unequal contest be forced to retreat?  How long shall the blood of the noble Lyon cry from the ground unavenged?  How long shall the fatal blunder and foul blot of Manassas stain our escutcheon?  

The cause in which you are to engage is a holy one.  You are to fight for a Government you love; the very best Government on earth, endeared to you by the boundlessness of the blessing it confers; which has protected and nursed you with all the fondness of a mother for her child; which has secured our country respect at home and abroad, and made the title "American citizen" prouder than that of "Roman citizen" in the days of the Scipios and Caesars.  What undying memories cluster around it!  What joys, what fears, what tears, what smiles, and destinies, what hopes are associated with it!  The gift of Washington -- the hope of our children -- the asylum of the oppressed of every nation on earth; to aim for its perpetuity is the loftiest summit of patriotic aspiration -- and to vindicate it, the most shining height of human achievement.  To fight for -- to live for -- to die for such a Government -- is glorious.
Richard Yates, from the Library of Congress Collection

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