Read CHAPTER XVI. NOVELTIES IN AMERICAN REPUBLICANISM of Select Speeches of Kossuth, free online book, by Kossuth, on

[Washington Banquet, Jath, 1852.]

The Banquet given by a large number of the Members of the two Houses of Congress to Kossuth took place at the National Hotel, in Washington City. The number present was about two hundred and fifty. The Hon. Wm. R. King, of Alabama, president of the Senate, presided. On his right sat Louis Kossuth, and on his left the Hon. Daniel Webster, Secretary of State. On the right of Kossuth at the same table, sat the Hon. Linn Boyd, speaker of the House of Representatives. Besides other distinguished guests who responded to toasts, are named Hon. Thomas Corwin, Secretary of the Treasury, and Hon. Alex. H. H. Stuart, Secretary of the Interior.

A few minutes after eight o’clock, a large number of ladies were admitted, and the President of the Senate requested gentlemen to fill their glasses for the first toast, which was,

“The President of the United States.”

To this, Mr. Webster responded.

The President then announced the second toast:

“The Judiciary of the United States: The expounder of the Constitution and the bulwark of liberty regulated by law.”

Judge Wayne, of the Supreme Court of the United States, replied, and after alluding to “The distinguished stranger” who was then among them, said: I give you, gentlemen, as a sentiment:

“Constitutional liberty to all the nations of the earth, supported by Christian faith and the morality of the Bible.”

The toast was received with enthusiastic applause.

The third toast was,

“The Navy of the United States: The home squadron everywhere. Its glory was illustrated, when its flag in a foreign sea gave liberty and protection to the Hungarian Chief.”

Mr. Stanton, of Tennessee, in his reply, said:

But recently, Mr. President, a new significance has been given to this flag. Heretofore, the navy has been the symbol of our power and the emblem of our liberty, but now it speaks of humanity and of a noble sympathy for the oppressed of all nations. The home squadron everywhere, to give protection to the brave and to those who may have fallen in the cause of freedom! Your acquiescence in that sentiment indicates the profound sympathy of the people of the United States for the people of Hungary, manifested in the person of their great chief; and I can conceive of no duty that would be more acceptable to the gallant officers of the navy of the United States except one, and that is, to strike a blow for liberty themselves in a just cause, approved by our Government.

The fourth toast was,

“The army of the united states. In saluting the illustrious Exile with magnanimous courtesy, as high as it could pay to any Power on earth, it has added grace to the glory of its history.”

General Shields, Senator for Illinois, Chairman of the Committee of Military Affairs in the Senate, being loudly called for, replied in the necessary absence of General Scott, the chief of the army; and after an appropriate acknowledgment of the toast, added:

In paving this very high honor to our illustrious guest this noble Hungarian let me observe that that army which has been toasted to-night spoke for his reception by the voice of their cannon; and the cannon that spoke there spoke the voice of twenty-five millions of people. Sir, that salute which the American cannon gave the Hungarian exile had a deep meaning in it. It was not a salute to the mere man Louis Kossuth, but it was a salute in favour of the great principle which he represents the principle which he advocates, the principle of nationality and of human liberty. Sir, I was born in a land which has suffered as an oppressed nation. I am now a citizen of a land which would have suffered from the same power, had it not been for the bravery, gallantry, and good fortune of the men of that time. Sir, as an Irishman by birth, and an American by adoption, I would feel myself a traitor to both countries if I did not sustain downtrodden nationalities everywhere in Hungary, in Poland, in Germany, in Italy everywhere where man is trodden down and oppressed. And, sir, I say again, that that army which maintained itself in three wars against one of the greatest and most powerful nations of the world, will, if the trying time should come again, maintain that same flag (the stars and stripes) and the same triumph, and the same victories in the cause of liberty. [Great applause.]

The president of the evening then, after a cordial speech, proposed the fifth toast:

“Hungary, represented in the person of our honoured Guest, having proved herself worthy to be free by the virtues and valour of her sons, the law of nations and the dictates of justice alike demand that she shall have fair play in her struggle for independence.”

This toast was received with immense applause, which lasted several minutes.

Kossuth then rose and spoke as follows:

Sir: As once Cineas the Epirote stood among the Senators of Rome, who, with a word of self-conscious majesty, arrested kings in their ambitious march thus, full of admiration and of reverence, I stand amongst you, legislators of the new Capitol, that glorious hall of your people’s collective majesty. The Capitol of old yet stands, but the spirit has departed from it, and is come over to yours, purified by the air of liberty. The old stands a mournful monument of the fragility of human things: yours as a sanctuary of eternal right. The old beamed with the red lustre of conquest, now darkened by the gloom of oppression; yours is bright with freedom. The old absorbed the world into its own centralized glory; yours protects your own nation from being absorbed, even by itself. The old was awful with unrestricted power; yours is glorious by having restricted it. At the view of the old, nations trembled; at the view of yours, humanity hopes. To the old, misfortune was introduced with fettered hands to kneel at triumphant conquerors’ feet; to yours the triumph of introduction is granted to unfortunate exiles who are invited to the honour of a seat. And where Kings and Caesars never will be hailed for their power and wealth, there the persecuted chief of a downtrodden nation is welcomed as your great Republic’s guest, precisely because he is persecuted, helpless, and poor. In the old, the terrible voe victis! was the rule; in yours, protection to the oppressed, malediction to ambitious oppressors, and consolation to a vanquished just cause. And while from the old a conquered world was ruled, you in yours provide for the common federative interests of a territory larger than that old conquered world. There sat men boasting that their will was sovereign of the earth; here sit men whose glory is to acknowledge “the laws of nature and of nature’s God,” and to do what their sovereign, the People, wills.

Sir, there is history in these contrasts. History of past ages and history of future centuries may be often recorded in small facts. The particulars to which the passion of living men clings, as if human fingers could arrest the wheel of Destiny, these particulars die away; it is the issue which makes history, and that issue is always coherent with its causes. There is a necessity of consequences wherever the necessity of position exists. Principles are the alpha: they must finish with omega, and they will. Thus history may be often told in a few words.

Before the heroic struggle of Greece had yet engaged your country’s sympathy for the fate of freedom, in Europe then so far distant and now so near, Chateaubriand happened to be in Athens, and he heard from a minaret raised upon the Propylaeum’s ruins a Turkish priest in the Arabic language announcing the lapse of hours to the Christians of Minerva’s town. What immense history there was in the small fact of a Turkish Imaum crying out, “Pray, pray! the hour is running fast, and the judgment draws near.”

Sir, there is equally a history of future ages written in the honour bestowed by you on my humble self. The first Governor of Independent Hungary, driven from his native land by Russian violence; an exile on Turkish soil, protected by a Mahommedan Sultan from the blood-thirst of Christian tyrants; cast back a prisoner to far Asia by diplomacy; was at length rescued from his Asiatic prison, when America crossed the Atlantic, charged with the hopes of Europe’s oppressed nations. He pleads, as a poor exile, before the people of this great Republic, his country’s wrongs and its intimate connection with the fate of the European continent, and, in the boldness of a just cause, claims that the principles of the Christian religion be raised to a law of nations. To see that not only is the boldness of the poor exile forgiven, but that he is consoled by the sympathy of millions, encouraged by individuals, associations, meetings, cities, and States; supported by effective aid and greeted by Congress and by Government as the nation’s guest; honoured, out of generosity, with that honour which only one man before him received (a man who had deserved them from your gratitude,) with honours such as no potentate ever can receive, and this banquet here, and the toast which I have to thank you for: oh! indeed, sir, there is a history of future ages in all these facts! They will go down to posterity as the proper consequences of great principles.

Sir, though I have a noble pride in my principles, and the inspiration of a just cause, still I have also the consciousness of my personal insignificance. Never will I forget what is due from me to the Sovereign Source of my public capacity. This I owe to my nation’s dignity; and therefore, respectfully thanking this highly distinguished assembly in my country’s name, I have the boldness to say that Hungary well deserves your sympathy; that Hungary has a claim to protection, because it has a claim to justice. But as to myself, I am well aware that in all these honours I have no personal share. Nay, I know that even that which might seem to be personal in your toast, is only an acknowledgment of a historical fact, very instructively connected with a principle valuable and dear to every republican heart in the United States of America. As to ambition, I indeed never was able to understand how anybody can love ambition more than liberty. But I am glad to state a historical fact, as a principal demonstration of that influence which institutions exercise upon the character of nations.

We Hungarians are very fond of the principle of municipal self-government, and we have a natural horror against centralization. That fond attachment to municipal self-government, without which there is no provincial freedom possible, is a fundamental feature of our national character. We brought it with us from far Asia a thousand years ago, and we preserved it throughout the vicissitudes of ten centuries. No nation has perhaps so much struggled and suffered for the civilized Christian world as we. We do not complain of this lot. It may be heavy, but it is not inglorious. Where the cradle of our Saviour stood, and where His divine doctrine was founded, there now another faith rules: the whole of Europe’s armed pilgrimage could not avert this fate from that sacred spot, nor stop the rushing waves of Islamism from absorbing the Christian empire of Constantine. We stopped those rushing waves. The breast of my nation proved a breakwater to them. We guarded Christendom, that Luthers and Calvins might reform it. It was a dangerous time, and its dangers often placed the confidence of all my nation into one man’s hand. But there was not a single instance in our history where a man honoured by his people’s confidence deceived them for his own ambition. The man out of whom Russian diplomacy succeeded in making a murderer of his nation’s hopes, gained some victories when victories were the chief necessity of the moment, and at the head of an army, circumstances gave him the ability to ruin his country; but he never had the people’s confidence. So even he is no contradiction to the historical truth, that no Hungarian whom his nation honoured with its confidence was ever seduced by ambition to become dangerous to his country’s liberty. That is a remarkable fact, and yet it is not accidental; it springs from the proper influence of institutions upon the national character. Our nation, through all its history, was educated in the school of local self-government; and in such a country, grasping ambition having no field, has no place in man’s character.

The truth of this doctrine becomes yet more illustrated by a quite contrary historical fact in France. Whatever have been the changes of government in that great country and many they have been, to be sure we have seen a Convention, a Directorate, Consuls, and one Consul, and an Emperor, and the Restoration, and the Citizen King, and the Republic; Through all these different experiments centralization was the keynote of the institutions of France power always centralized; omnipotence always vested somewhere. And, remarkable indeed, France has never yet raised one single man to the seat of power, who has not sacrificed his country’s freedom to his personal ambition!

It is sorrowful indeed, but it is natural. It is in the garden of centralization that the venomous plant of ambition thrives. I dare confidently affirm, that in your great country there exists not a single man through whose brains has ever passed the thought, that he would wish to raise the seat of his ambition upon the ruins of your country’s liberty, if he could. Such a wish is impossible in the United States. Institutions react upon the character of nations. He who sows wind will reap storm. History is the revelation of Providence. The Almighty rules by eternal laws not only the material but also the moral world; and as every law is a principle, so every principle is a law. Men as well as nations are endowed with free-will to choose a principle, but, that once chosen, the consequences must be accepted.

With self-government is freedom, and with freedom is justice and patriotism. With centralization is ambition, and with ambition dwells despotism. Happy your great country, sir, for being so warmly attached to that great principle of self-government. Upon this foundation your fathers raised a home to freedom more glorious than the world has ever seen. Upon this foundation you have developed it to a living wonder of the world. Happy your great country, sir! that it was selected by the blessing of the Lord to prove the glorious practicability of a federative union of many sovereign States, all preserving their State-rights and their self-government, and yet united in one every star beaming with its own lustre, but altogether one constellation on mankind’s canopy.

Upon this foundation your free country has grown to prodigious power in a surprizingly brief period, a power which attracts by its fundamental principle. You have conquered by it more in seventy-five years than Rome by arms in centuries. Your principles will conquer the world. By the glorious example of your freedom, welfare, and security, mankind is about to become conscious of its aim. The lesson you give to humanity will not be lost. The respect for State-rights in the Federal Government of America, and in its several States, will become an instructive example for universal toleration, forbearance, and justice to the future States, and Republics of Europe. Upon this basis those mischievous questions of language-nationalities will be got rid of, which cunning despotism has raised in Europe to murder liberty. Smaller States will find security in the principle of federative union, while they will preserve their national freedom by the principle of sovereign self-government; and while larger States, abdicating the principle of centralization will cease to be a blood-field to unscrupulous usurpation and a tool to the ambition of wicked men, municipal institutions will ensure the development of local elements; freedom, formerly an abstract political theory, will be brought to every municipal hearth; and out of the welfare and contentment of all parts will flow happiness, peace, and security for the whole.

That is my confident hope. Then will the fluctuations of Germany’s fate at once subside. It will become the heart of Europe, not by melting North Germany into a Southern frame, or the South into a Northern; not by absorbing historical peculiarities into a centralized omnipotence; not by mixing all in one State, but by federating several sovereign States into a Union like yours.

Upon a similar basis will take place the national regeneration of Sclavonic States, and not upon the sacrilegious idea of Panslavism, which means the omnipotence of the Czar. Upon a similar basis shall we see fair Italy independent and free. Not unity, but union will and must become the watchword of national members, hitherto torn rudely asunder by provincial rivalries, out of which a crowd of despots and common servitude arose. In truth it will be a noble joy to your great Republic to feel that the moral influence of your glorious example has worked this happy development in mankind’s destiny; nor have I the slightest doubt of the efficacy of that example.

But there is one thing indispensable to it, without which there is no hope for this happy issue. It is, that the oppressed nations of Europe become the masters of their future, free to regulate their own domestic concerns. And to this nothing is wanted but to have that “fair play” to all, for all, which you, sir, in your toast, were pleased to pronounce as a right of my nation, alike sanctioned by the law of nations as by the dictates of eternal justice. Without this “fair play” there is no hope for Europe no hope of seeing your principles spread.

Yours is a happy country, gentlemen. You had more than fair play. You had active and effectual aid from Europe in your struggle for independence, which, once achieved, you used so wisely as to become a prodigy of freedom and welfare, and a lesson of life to nations.

But we in Europe we, unhappily, have no such fair play. With us, against every pulsation of liberty all despots are united in a common league; and you may be sure that despots will never yield to the moral influence of your great example. They hate the very existence of this example. It is the sorrow of their thoughts, and the incubus of their dreams. To stop its moral influence abroad, and to check its spread at home, is what they wish, instead of yielding to its influence.

We shall have no fair play. The Cossack already rules, by Louis Napoleon’s usurpation, to the very borders of the Atlantic Ocean. One of your great statesmen now, to my deep sorrow, bound to the sick bed of far advanced age (alas! that I am deprived of the advice which his wisdom could have imparted to me) your great statesman told the world thirty years ago that Paris was transferred to St. Petersburg. What would he now say, when St. Petersburg is transferred to Paris, and Europe is but an appendage to Russia?

Alas! Europe can no longer secure to Europe fair play. England only remains; but even England casts a sorrowful glance over the waves. Still, we will stand our ground, “sink or swim, live or die.” You know the word; it is your own. We will follow it; it will be a bloody path to tread. Despots have conspired against the world. Terror spreads over Europe, and persecutes by way of anticipation. From Paris to Pesth there is a gloomy silence, like the silence of nature before the terrors of a hurricane. It is a sensible silence, disturbed only by the thousandfold rattling of muskets by which Napoleon prepares to crush the people who gave him a home when he was an exile, and by the groans of new martyrs in Sicily, Milan, Vienna, and Pesth. The very sympathy which I met in England, and was expected to meet here, throws my sisters into the dungeons of Austria. Well, God’s will be done! The heart may break, but duty will be done. We will stand our place, though to us in Europe there be no “fair play.” But so much I hope, that no just man on earth can charge me with unbecoming arrogance, when here, on this soil of freedom, I kneel down and raise my prayer to God: “Almighty Father of Humanity, will thy merciful arm not raise up a power on earth to protect the law of nations when there are so many to violate it?” It is a prayer and nothing else. What would remain to the oppressed if they were not even permitted to pray? The rest is in the hand of God.

Sir, I most fervently thank you for the acknowledgment that my country has proved worthy to be free. Yes, gentlemen, I feel proud at my nation’s character, heroism, love of freedom and vitality; and I bow with reverential awe before the decree of Providence which has placed my country into a position such that, without its restoration to independence, there is no possibility for freedom and independence of nations on the European continent. Even what now in France is coming to pass proves the truth of this. Every disappointed hope with which Europe looked towards France is a degree more added to the importance of Hungary to the world. Upon our plains were fought the decisive battles for Christendom; there will be fought the decisive battle for the independence, of nations, for State rights, for international law, and for democratic liberty. We will live free, or die like men; but should my people be doomed to die, it will be the first whose death will not be recorded as suicide, but as a martyrdom for the world, and future ages will mourn over the sad fate of the Magyar race, doomed to perish, not because we deserved it, but because in the nineteenth century there was nobody to protect “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.”

But I look to the future with confidence and with hope. Manifold adversities could not fail to impress some mark of sorrow upon my heart, which is at least a guard against sanguine illusions. But I have a steady faith in principles. Once in my life indeed I was deplorably deceived in my anticipations, from supposing principle to exist in quarters where it did not. I did not count on generosity or chivalrous goodness from the governments of England and France, but I gave them credit for selfish and instinctive prudence. I supposed them to value Parliamentary Government, and to have foresight enough to know the alarming dangers to which they would be exposed, if they allowed the armed interference of Russia to overturn historical, limited, representative institutions. But France and England both proved to be blind, and deceived me. It was a horrible mistake; and has issued in a horrible result. The present condition of Europe, which ought to have been foreseen by those governments, exculpates me for having erred through expecting them to see their own interests. Well, there is a providence in every fact. Without this mistake the principles of American republicanism would for a long time yet not have found a fertile soil on that continent, where it was considered wisdom to belong to the French school. Now matters stand thus: that either the continent of Europe has no future at all, or this future is American republicanism. And who can believe that two hundred millions of that continent, which is the mother of such a civilization, are not to have any future at all? Such a doubt would be almost blasphemy against Providence. But there is a Providence indeed a just, a bountiful Providence, and in it I trust, with all the piety of my religion. I dare to say my very self was an instrument of it. Even my being here, when four months ago I was yet a prisoner of the league of European despots in far Asia, and the sympathy which your glorious people honours me with, and the high benefit of the welcome of your Congress, and the honour to be your guest, to be the guest of your great Republic I, a poor exile is there not a very intelligible manifestation of Providence in it? the more, when I remember that the name of your guest is by the furious rage of the Austrian tyrant, nailed to the gallows.

I confidently trust that the nations of Europe have a future. I am aware that this future is vehemently resisted by the bayonets of absolutism; but I know that though bayonets may give a defence, they afford no seat to a prince. I trust in the future of my native land, because I know that it is worthy to have one, and that it is necessary to the destinies of humanity. I trust to the principles of republicanism; and, whatever may be my personal fate, so much I know, that my country will preserve to you and your glorious land an everlasting gratitude.

A toast in honour of Mr. Webster, the Secretary of State, having then been proposed, that gentleman responded in an ample speech, of which the following is an extract:

Gentlemen, I do not propose at this hour of the night, to entertain you by any general disquisition upon the value of human freedom, upon the inalienable rights of man, or upon any general topics of that kind; but I wish to say a few words upon the precise question, as I understand it, that exists before the civilized world, between Hungary and the Austrian Government, and I may arrange the thoughts to which I desire to give utterance under two or three general heads.

And in the first place I say, that wherever there is in the Christian and civilized world a nationality of character wherever there exists a nation of sufficient knowledge and wealth and population to constitute a Government, then a National Government is a necessary and proper result of nationality of character. We may talk of it as we please, but there is nothing that satisfies the human being in an enlightened age, unless he is governed by his own countrymen and the institutions of his own Government. No matter how easy be the yoke of a foreign Power, no matter how lightly it sits upon the shoulders, if it is not imposed by the voice of his own nation and of his own country, he will not, he cannot, and he means not to be happy under its burden.

There is not a civilized and intelligent man on earth that enjoys entire satisfaction in his condition, if he does not live under the government of his own nation his own country, whose volitions and sentiments and sympathies are like his own. Hence he cannot say “This is not my country; it is the country of another Power; it is a country belonging to somebody else.” Therefore, I say that whenever there is a nation of sufficient intelligence and numbers and wealth to maintain a government, distinguished in its character and its history and its institutions, that nation cannot be happy but under a government of its own choice.

Then, sir, the next question is, whether Hungary, as she exists in our ideas, as we see her, and as we know her, is distinct in her nationality, is competent in her population, is also competent in her knowledge and devotion to correct sentiment, is competent in her national capacity for liberty and independence, to obtain a government that shall be Hungarian out and out? Upon that subject, gentlemen, I have no manner of doubt. Let us look a little at the position in which this matter stands. What is Hungary?

Hungary is about the size of Great Britain, and comprehends nearly half of the territory of Austria.

[According to one authority its population is 14 millions and a half.]

It is stated by another authority that the population of Hungary is nearly 14,000,000; that of England (in 1841) nearly 15,000,000; that of Prussia about 16,000,000.

Thus it is evident that, in point of power, so far as power depends upon population, Hungary possesses as much power as England proper, or even as the kingdom of Prussia. Well, then, there is population enough there are people enough. Who, then, are they? They are distinct from the nations that surround them. They are distinct from the Austrians on the west, and the Turks on the east; and I will say in the next place that they are an enlightened nation. They have their history; they have their traditions; they are attached to their own institutions institutions which have existed for more than a thousand years.

Gentlemen, it is remarkable that, on the western coasts of Europe, political light exists. There is a sun in the political firmament, and that sun sheds his light on those who are able to enjoy it. But in eastern Europe, generally speaking, and on the confines between eastern Europe and Asia, there is no political sun in the heavens. It is all an arctic zone of political life. The luminary, that enlightens the world in general, seldom rises there above the horizon. The light which they possess is at best crepuscular, a kind of twilight, and they are under the necessity of groping about to catch, as they may, any stray gleams of the light of day. Gentlemen, the country of which your guest to-night is a native is a remarkable exception. She has shown through her whole history, for many hundreds of years, an attachment to the principles of civil liberty, and of law and order, and obedience to the constitution which the will of the great majority have established. That is the fact; and it ought to be known wherever the question of the practicability of Hungarian liberty and independence are discussed. It ought to be known that Hungary stands out from it above her neighbours in all that respects free institutions, constitutional government, and a hereditary love of liberty.

Gentlemen, my sentiments in regard to this effort made by Hungary are here sufficiently well expressed. In a memorial addressed to Lord John Russell and Lord Palmerston, said to have been written by Lord Fitzwilliam, and signed by him and several other Peers and members of Parliament, the following language is used, the object of the memorial being to ask the mediation of England in favour of Hungary.

“While so many of the nations of Europe have engaged in revolutionary movements, and have embarked in schemes of doubtful policy and still more doubtful success, it is gratifying to the undersigned to be able to assure your lordships that the Hungarians demand nothing but the recognition of ancient rights and the stability and integrity of their ancient constitution. To your lordships it cannot be unknown that that constitution bears a striking family-resemblance to that of our own country.”

Gentlemen, I have said that a National Government, where there is a distinct nationality, is essential to human happiness. I have said that in my opinion, Hungary is thus capable of human happiness. I have said that she possesses that distinct nationality, that power of population, and that of wealth, which entitles her to have a Government of her own; and I have now to add what I am sure will not sound well upon the Upper Danube; and that is, that, in my humble judgment, the imposition of a foreign yoke upon a people capable of self-government, while it oppresses and depresses that people, adds nothing to the strength of those who impose that yoke. In my opinion, Austria would be a better and a stronger Government to-morrow if she confined the limits of her power to hereditary and German dominions. Especially if she saw in Hungary a strong, sensible, independent neighbouring nation; because I think that the cost of keeping Hungary quiet is not repaid by any benefit derived from Hungarian levies or tributes. And then again, good neighbourhood, and the goodwill and generous sympathies of mankind, and the generosity of character that ought to pervade the minds of Governments as well as those of individuals, is vastly more promoted by living in a state of friendship and amity with those who differ from us in modes of government, than by any attempt to consolidate power in the hands of one over all the rest.

Gentlemen, the progress of things is unquestionably onward. It is onward with respect to Hungary. It is onward everywhere. Public opinion, in my estimation at least, is making great progress. It will penetrate all resources; it will come more or less to animate all minds; and in respect to that country, for which our sympathies to-night have been so strongly invoked, I cannot but say that I think the people of Hungary are an enlightened, industrious, sober, well-inclined community; and I wish only to add, that I do not now enter into any discussion of the form of government which may be proper for Hungary. Of course, all of you, like myself, would be glad to see her, when she becomes independent, embrace that system of government which is most acceptable to ourselves. We shall rejoice to see our American model upon the Lower Danube, and on the mountains of Hungary. But that is not the first step. It is not that which will be our first prayer for Hungary. The first prayer shall be, that Hungary may become independent of all foreign power, that her destinies may be entrusted to her own hands, and to her own discretion. I do not profess to understand the social relations and connections of races, and of twenty other things that may affect the public institutions of Hungary. All I say is, that Hungary can regulate these matters for herself infinitely better than they can be regulated for her by Austria, and therefore I limit my aspirations for Hungary, for the present, to that single and simple point HUNGARIAN INDEPENDENCE:

“Hungarian independence; Hungarian control of her own destinies; and Hungary as a distinct nationality among the nations of Europe.”

The toast was received with enthusiastic applause.

The President then announced the next toast

“The rights of states are only valuable when subject to the free control of those to whom they appertain, and utterly worthless if to be determined by the sword of foreign interference.”

Mr. Douglas of Illinois, one of the Candidates for the Presidency, in responding, spoke at length, and denounced the injustice and folly of England. In the close he said:

He regarded the intervention of Russia in the affairs of Hungary as a palpable violation of the laws of nations, that would authorize the United States to interfere. If Russia, or Austria, or any other power, should interfere again, then he would determine whether or not we should act, his action depending upon the circumstances as they should then be presented. In the mean time, however, he would proclaim the principle of the laws of nations: he would instruct our ministers abroad to protest the moment there was the first symptom of the violation of these laws. He would show to Europe that we had as much right to sympathize in a system of government similar to our own, as they had in similar circumstances. In his opinion, Hungary was better adapted for a liberal movement than any other nation in Europe.

In conclusion, Mr. Douglas begged leave to offer the following sentiment:

“Hungary: When she shall make her next struggle for liberty, may the friends of freedom throughout the world proclaim to the ears of all European despots, Hands off, a clear field and a fair fight, and God will protect the right.”

The toast was received with the greatest applause.

Colonel Florence submitted the following sentiment:

“The American Minister to France, whose intervention defeated the quintuple treaty.”

General Cass replied in a very energetic speech, in which he stated that he was approaching the age of three score years and ten. Turning to Kossuth, he said:

Leader of your country’s revolution asserter of the rights of man martyr of the principles of national independence welcome to our shores! Sir, the ocean, more merciful than the wrath of tyrants, has brought you to a country of freedom and of safety. That was a proud day for you, but it was a prouder day for us, when you left the shores of old Hellespont and put your foot upon an American deck. Protected by American cannon, with the stars of our country floating over you, you could defy the world in arms! And, sir, here in the land of Washington, it is not a barren welcome that I desire to give you; but much further than that I am willing to go. I am willing to lay down the great principles of national rights, and adhere to them. The sun of heaven never shone on such a government as this. And shall we sit blindfolded, with our arms crossed, and say to tyranny, “Prevail in every other region of the world?” [Cries of “No, no!”] I thank you for the response. Every independent nation under Heaven has a right to establish just such a government as it pleases. And if the oppressed of any nation wish to throw off their shackles, they have the right, without the interference of any other; and, with the first and greatest of our Presidents the father of his country I trust we are prepared to say, that “we sympathize with every oppressed nation which unfurls the banner of freedom.” And I am willing, as a member of Congress, to pass a declaration to-morrow, in the name of the American people, maintaining that sentiment.

A toast was then proposed:

“Turkey: Her noble hospitality extended to a fallen patriot, even at the risk of war, proves her to be worthy of the respect and friendship of liberal nations.”

Kossuth replied as follows:

Sir, I feel very thankful for having the opportunity to express in this place my everlasting gratitude to the Sultan of Turkey and to his noble people. I am not a man to flatter any one. Before God, nations, and principles I bow before none else. But I bow with warm and proud gratitude, before the memory of the generous conduct I met in Turkey. And I entreat your kind permission to state some facts, which perhaps may contribute something to a better knowledge of that country, because I am confident that, when it is once better known, more attention will be bestowed on its future.

Firstly, as to myself. When I was in that country, and Russia and Austria, in the full pride of their victory, were imposing their will upon the Sultan, and claiming the surrender of me and my associates, it is true that a grand divan was held at Constantinople, and not very favourable opinions were pronounced by a certain party opposed to the existing government in Turkey, whereby the Sublime Porte itself was led to believe that there was no help for us poor exiles, but to abandon our faith and become Mohammedans, in order that Turkey might be able to protect us. I thereupon made a declaration, which I believe I was bound in honesty to make. But I owe it to the honour of the Sultan to say openly, that even before I had declared that I would rather die than accept this condition before that declaration was conveyed to Constantinople, and before any one there could have got knowledge that I had appealed to the public opinion of England in relation thereto before all this was known at Constantinople, when the decision of that great divan was announced to the Sultan to be unfavourable to the exiles, he out of the generosity of his own heart, without knowing what we were willing to accept or not to accept, declared: “They are upon the soil; they have trusted to my honour, to my justice to my religion and they shall not be deceived. Rather will I accept war than deliver them up.” That is entirely his merit. But notwithstanding these high obligations which I feel towards Turkey, I never will try to engage public sympathy and attention towards a country towards a power upon the basis of one fact. But there are many considerations in reference to Turkey which merit the full attention of the United States of America.

When we make a comparison between the Turkish Government and that of Austria and Russia in respect to religious liberty, the scale turns entirely in favour of Turkey. There is not only toleration for all religions, but the government does not mix with their religious affairs, but leaves these entirely to their own control; whereas under Austria, although self-government was secured by three victorious revolutions, by treaties which ensured these revolutions, and by hundreds of laws; still Austria has blotted out from Hungary the self-government of the Protestant church, while Turkey accords and protects the self-government of every religious denomination. Russia (as is well known) taking religion as a political tool, persecutes the Roman Catholics, and indeed the Greeks and Jews, in such a manner that the heart of man must revolt against it. The Sultan, whenever a fanatic dares to encroach on the religious freedom of any one at all in his wide dominions, is the inexorable champion of that religious liberty which is permitted everywhere under his rule.

Again, I must cite from the history of Hungary this fact; that when one-half of Hungary was under Turkish dominion, and the other half under Austrian, religious liberty was always encouraged in that part which was under the Turkish rule; and there was not only a full development of Protestantism, but Unitarianism also was protected; yet by Austria the Unitarians were afterwards excluded from every civil right, because they were Unitarians, although our revolution restored their natural rights. Such was the condition in respect to religious liberty under the Austrian and under the Turkish dominion.

Now, in respect to municipal self-government, Hungary and all those different provinces which are now opposed to the Austrian empire, if indeed an empire which only rests upon the goodwill of a foreign master, can be said to exist, or even to vegetate, all those different provinces are absorbed by Austria. There was not one which had not in former times a constitutional life, not one which Austria did not deprive of it by centralizing all power in her own court. Such is the principle of Christian rule!

Take, on the other hand, the Turk. In Turkey I have not only seen the municipal self-government of cities developed to a very considerable degree, but I have seen administration of justice very much like the institution of the jury. I have seen a public trial in a case where one party was a Turk, and the other party a Christian; where the municipal authorities of the Christian and of the Turkish population were called together to be not only the witnesses of the trial, but mutually to control and direct it with perfect publicity. But more yet: there exist Wallachia and Moldavia, under Turkish dominion; and the Turkish nation, which has conquered that province and is dominant, yet, out of respect for national self-government, has prescribed to its own self not to have the right of a house to dwell in, or a single foot of soil in that land. In all the domestic concerns of the province which for centuries has had a charter, by which the self-government of Wallachia and Moldavia was ensured it is worthy to mention that the Turk has never broken his oath. Whereas in the European continent there is scarcely a single dynasty, whether king, prince, duke, or emperor, which has not broken faith before God and man. Now, the existence of this Turkey, great as the present power of Europe is, is indispensable to the security of Europe. You know that in the Crimea, in the time of Catherine, Potemkin wrote the words, “Here passes the way to Constantinople.” The policy indicated by him at that time is always the policy of St. Petersburg; and it is of Constantinople that Napoleon rightly said, that the power which has it in command, if it is willing, is able, to rule three-quarters of the world. Now, it is the intention, it is the consistent policy of the Russian cabinet, to lay hold of Constantinople; and therefore to protect the independent existence of Turkey is necessary to Europe: for if Turkey be crushed, Russia becomes not only entirely predominant, as she already is, but becomes the single mistress of Asia and of Europe. And to uphold this independence of Turkey, gentlemen, nothing is wanted but some encouragement from such a place as the United States. Since Turkey has lost the possession of Buda in Hungary, its power is declining. But why? Because from that time European diplomatists began to succeed in persuading Turkey that she had no strength to stand by herself; and by and bye it became the rule in Constantinople that every petty interior question needed European diplomacy. Now I say, Turkey has vitality such as not many nations have. It has a power that not many have. Turkey wants nothing but a consciousness of its own powers and encouragement to stand upon its own feet; and this encouragement, if it comes as counsel, as kind advice, out of such a place as the United States, I am confident will not only be thankfully heard, but also very joyfully followed. That is the only thing which is wanted there.

And besides this political consideration that the existence of Turkey, as it is, is necessary to the future of Europe, there are also high commercial considerations proper to interest and attract the United States. The freedom of commerce on the Danube is a law of nations guaranteed by treaties; and yet there exists no freedom. It is in the hands of Russia. Turkey, to be sure, is very anxious to re-establish freedom; but there is nobody to back her in her demands. Turkey can also present to the manufacturing industry of such a country as the United States a far larger and more important market than all China, with her two hundred and fifty millions of inhabitants.

But one consideration I can mention and though it has no reference to the public opinion here, I beg permission to avail myself of this opportunity to pronounce it and give it publicity and that is, that I hope in the name of the future freedom and independence of the European nations, those provinces of Turkey which are inhabited by Christians will not, out of theoretical passion, and out of attachment to a mere word, neglect that course of action which alone can lead them to freedom and independence. Gentlemen, I declare that should the next revolutionary movement in Europe extend to the Turkish provinces of Moldavia and Servia, and should Turkey hereby fall, this would not become a benefit to those provinces, but would benefit Russia only; because then, Turkey no more existing, all those provinces will be naturally absorbed by Russia; whereas, to hold fast to Turkey that Turkey, which respects religious liberty, gives them entirely and fully self-government.

So much, gentlemen, I desired to express. I believe you will excuse me for the inappropriate manner in which I have acquitted myself of this, which I considered to be my duty in expressing my thanks to Turkey. I declare before you that I am fully convinced of the identity of interest between Hungary and Turkey. We have a common enemy therefore Hungary and Turkey are by natural ties drawn into a close alliance against that enemy. I declare that not only out of gratitude, but also out of a knowledge of this community of interest, I will never in my life let an opportunity escape where I in my humble capacity can contribute to the glory, welfare, and happiness of Turkey, but will consider it the duty of honour toward my country to be the truest, most faithful friend of the Turkish empire.