Saturday, July 26, 2014

Great Freemasons: Charles Henry Hardin (July 15, 1820 – July 29, 1892)

It becomes the American people in each annual round to
commemorate the day of their national birth. The}' owe it
to themselves to assemble in there luxuriant groves and upon
these silvery streams to refreshen the deeds and great inci-
dents of that day and period. They owe it to the soldiers
statesmen and brave spirits, that they celebrate with be-
coming respect and a noble gratitude the era in which they
ndvocated liberal principles, engrafted them into the con-
titutious of the American communities, and pledged theirs
chivalry for their defense, endured toil, suffering and the
winter's storm for their promotion and elevation. They owe
it to that glorious freedom which, centuries before taking
her flight from the shrines of European governments, retired
to the sequestered bowers of these American forests. Strong
emotions, a burning patriotism, a dignified love of noble
deeds, should on this day characterize the American heart.
Every heart should be filled with grateful sentiments, every
mind utter the language of its glowing thoughts, and every
altar erected to justice and law, should be crowned with
garlands of rejoicing and festivity. The great people should
come from their blessed farms and cottage homes -should
gather in from the valley and from the mountains to commemorate the era of their national existence. This day, 67
years ago, there sprang into being, the germ of a mighty constitution and people- That great charter of our liberties-
that great shield, broad and round as the moon, covered with
the thick bases of liberal rights— that proud instrument, the
declaration of American independence, was proclaimed from
the continental congress and went forth to arouse brave
hearts and stir the flames of war; It "was read from the pulpit, and prayers went up for the Divine countenance" — it was
read under the quiet roof, and tender youth and decrepit age,
rubbing up his dusty eye, went forth to the throng of battle-
it "was read at the head of the army, every sword was drawn
in its defense and vows were made to live under the declaration," or fall on the field of blood and of carnage.

By British tyrants it was spurned and despised. Freedom was treated as a vagary of the brain, patriotism and the
endearments of the native soil, as the hypocrisy of faction, as
the murmurs of rebellion. Proclamations went forth that
all were traitors and rebels to a merciful throne, that the
eloquent statesmen and patriot spirits of Americans were to
be conquered or bowed in death. Brazen navies hovered within the headlands and British legions, rattled their
urnioiy upon the hills and marshalled their hosts upon the
plains. But "thi'ice is he armed who hath his quarrel just,"
and young America wrestled with the powers that came to
conquer and to enslave. She triumphed upon land and upon
sea. Upon land a thousand bloody scenes marked the
strength of her courage and the splendor of her arms. Upon
the sea her sails rode before the gules of victory, and the
British lion growled humble submission at the feet of the
American eagles. Eight years of toil and suffering, of woe
and anguish. Eight years of dark, blood}' and angry revolution, rent in twain the colonies and the mother country, leaving the sweet waters, green pastures and fair cities of the
western shore to be enjoyed by the sons and daughters of
freedom and liberal laws.

When peace was restored, when chaos, ruin and revolution assumed the elements of order and subordination, the
colonies found themselves in a weak, shattered state.
Drained of blood, exhausted in treasure, they began to fit up
the affairs of civil polity, of law, of constitution. Experience soon taught the lesson that the Old Confederation was
inadequate to fulfill the design intended. It was too frail an
arch to uphold a score of young and powerful sovereign
states, that would evidently, sooner or later, wield an influence, moral and political, tantamount to that of the most
splendid principalities and powers. It was a covenant that
was not sufficiently binding upon the contracting parties, as
either to hold them in awe of national omnipotence, or of
teaching a reverence for the functions of the supreme political government. Fears of external force and oppression had
driven them into the ties of sisterhood, yet in the bowers of
peace and amid the charms of quiet, political bickerings and
heart-burnings, injuries and the supposed invasions of rights,
might induce them to blow the coals of strife and corrupt
the virtues that triumphed over British courage and Hessian
butchering. Lest these Confederated States might split upon
the same rock — might live over the same mournful tale of
woe with ancient confederacies and modern leagues, it was
determined that out of the Old Confederation there should be
hewn a more noble and stupendous framework— an organization constructed out of the liberal principles of past and
present governments, but softened, blended and diluted with
the glowing features of this age and of the reformation. In
view of this, the constancy, ability and wisdom of the land
assembled in 1787 at Philadelphia and after six months of
toil and patience, of agony of mind and body, the American
Constitution was uttered to the world. The people of the
several States, assembling in conventions and adopting it as
that by which the American States were willing to be governed, organized under it and became once more sisters and
members in the same great Republic, and formed according to
the letter and spirit of that instrument, a "more perfect
union." Under these auspices did the political sun of Freedom's land gain the ascendant of the eastern heaven, threw
cheering influences around the homes of sorrow and lamentation, and flooded forth more glowing light upon the frame and
policy of States and Government, Under the guiding star of
Washington and his vigorous cabinet, the United States
began their career of prosperity, of utility, of glory and of
greatness. He who had proven himself a "storm in war, now
shone a sunbeam in council."' This administration readily
proposed leading measures of policy, of liberal law, of national amity, and as promptly pressed them into practice.
Treaties and leagues of friendship were entered into with the
prominent powers of the earth — commerce, with its thousand
sail, skimmed the waters of every sea — golden harvests filled
the granaries of the Atlantic shore, and the din of husbandry
sounded from the valleys of the West. Our country still
prospered and strengthened. Other administrations succeeded that of Washington. The thirteen stars of the Old
Confederation rose higher and shone more brightly from the
political empj-rean, whilst newly created constellations, peering from the low horizon, came and stood with their sisters in
the beautiful blue home of their glory. Each annual round
put our country further forward on the road to honor, to
felicity, to intellectual and political splendor. Still new
States came into and added strength to the union. Westward
as a swelling sea, streams of civilization rolled upon the hills
and upon the lowlands. And at this day, in one age from the
publication of the Declaration, our country is broad as an
empire, strong as a bolstered mountain, and with the glowing
brilliancy of setting suns, pours streams of light and truth
upon the globe.

But though we may all be ever ready to sound the praise
of our land, yet still we are dispassionate enough to observe
that it is and has for a time been laboring under checks and
adversities. The sad experience of the last ten years has
taught us that this beautiful sisterhood of states is subject to
all the ailings, imprudence and untoward measures of any
other political fabric. Americans had grown vain of their
government, thought it free of the frailties of human institutions and never dreamed that the unpalateable tales of the
slumbering nations might be traced in its history. Thiey were
blinded amid the glare of prosperity. "Even the humblest
were degraded into the vices and follies of kings. They lost
all measures between means and ends, and their headlong desires became their politics and morals." The cool ballast of
reason gave way before the meltings of pride — the magnitude
of enterprise swelled beyond the power that controlled— the
crude theoretics of politicians were substituted for the
weighty measures of statesmen. And such a course of policy
has for the past few years, paralyzed the national energy,
devastated the means of both civil and political action, tarnished honor and credit before every State in Europe, and "giving immense power to aristocratical opinions, to the enemies of free institutions." (Rev. Sidney Smith.)

The ecclesiastical world is even stained and checkered
with all the hues and colors that man could soften, dilute or
blend. Yet there are still in daily erection stately institutions, magnificent temples dedicated to the virtues— to all the
moral and religious affections and purposes. There are
the purest streams of sympathy, of charity, of philanthropy,
of religion, flowing over the broad land and forcing their out-
lets in the heathen lands of the Sandwich Isles, of Africa, or
of the cold North. And in all the communities there are
holy divines, pious pastors, eloquent Christian teachers,
chastening humanity and satisfying earth with the morals
of heaven. In America religious instructions is more universal than in all other climes.

Another feature in the aspect of our day is that of a corrupt state of morals. Perhaps our country never before witnessed as at present such a want of confidence, of veracity —
never before recorded such a host of violations of pledges, of
contract, of covenant, either in the natural person, in the representative, in corporations, or in State — never before witnessed such schemes of villiany, such a list of felonies and
misdemeanors. For this land of justice, of honor, of law,
these are lamentable facts and startling circumstances. They
have been enacted not only in one community", but in every
circle of our great country. Nor have they been performed
by madmen alone, but by tender youth, by the private man,
by men of rank and wealth, who have long lived in confidence
and reputation. They are sad evidences of the declining
state of our morals. And if it is, as it is said, that the citadel
of our glory and our liberty is erected on the rock of virtue
it doth behoove the guardian spirits of our country to
shield it from the decaying influences of vice, of treachery
and violated faith, But they should not alone be of the few,
but the whole people should make up the guardian spirits. The influence of the few, though great and good-will ever be
drowned by a countertide of the many. Cicero and his
friends in patriotism could not alone preserve their Rome
against bad morals and the thousand handmaids of vice who
ran riot and fed upon the vitals of both individual and national existences. Insubordination, treason, felony and base
ambition deadened the moral stamina of the people and
reaching the army, dismantled the walls of the empire of
their strength and durability- Then chaos, ruin and consternation mingled their elements. And the sun that shone
upon Rome's early liberty, fair as light and pure as mountain
air, set behind the waves of a sea of blood that rolled from
the springs of ignorance and corrupt morals. So throughout
the nations a like sequence follows a like cause. The products of mind are infamous if mind is sown with the seeds of
infamy. And virtue, even to be stable, should never be
touched with corrodings of vice. And if our country is to
stand a dazzling light for the globe, an example to nations, a
model to constitutions, it must and should ever be virtuous.
Good morals should characterize every circle and class, every
craft and profession, should characterize every person, high
or low, rich or poor, from the executive personage through
all the departments of State, through all private life, through
every sub- order and grade of citizenship. Good morals must
and ought to be the choicest flower in the national diadem.
Then our land would be truly blest, worthy alone of its people and of those who nestled upon the bosom of the storm,
gave order, structure and brilliancy to the republic and
pointed to coming ages the way to honor, faith and greatness.
A third feature in the affairs of the day is the instability
of politics, or rather the factions, spirit and whimsical minds
of our politicians and statesmen. The same could perhaps
have been said of any age or country, and perhaps justly,
too, of the palmiest days of our young republic. Yet, these
days do seem afflicted with more than their appropriate
deserts. The bad state of the national morality, affecting
the heart, surely plunges the brain of the politician into all
the vertigo of mental derangement, and the man swims loose
from patriotism and steady principle into the great whirl of
political chicanery and popular manoeuvre. The desires and
interests of the nation are made to conform to the dreamy
views of men— principles of government are made to bend to
the will and construction of some wayward mind — necessary
measures are treated as obsolete shams, and then the beautiful, but grand machinery of our government is brought at
odds and ends with itself. Were it innocent error there
would be consolation of soul, but broken pledges, violated
faith, intrigue and political corruption make the lover of
country plead for the freedom and peace of his people.
Would that politics were more stable. Yet, men are sliding
and measures are changeable as the shadows of the fields.
Politicians without firmness and integrity are far more
dangerous than traitors; for whilst they apparently labor for
country, yet for aggrandizement they subserve any purpose,
any measure, any cause, any party; be that subservience
fraught with honesty, with political juggling or with deep
moral corruption. They change on the political stage with
every annual round of the sun, with the statistics of every
popular election, with the current of every presidential mes-
sage. The principles of mid-life are not akin to those of
early manhood and the principles advocated in the evening
of their days are at broad variance with those of any former
period. Politicians without firmness and integrity make
men, not principles* the landmarks of their action. In their
highest aspirations they aim for the mountain heights of
affluence and power rather than tug higher to those golden
temples of honor and enduring fame.

Would there were a greater consistency in the affairs of
State. The times of a Greek Olympiad mark the life and
burial of old principles, and the rise of new mark the change
and varied advocacy of sentiment and opinion, mark entire
revolutions in the views and actions of men and States.
Hence the partj-isms in the national family, hence the
diversity of arguments and contrariety of action, hence the
jarring elements of faction and discord, hence the woes, the
misery, oppressions of our people, hence the jargon, the
wrangling and contentions about measures, laws, and constitution, hence the fears, the distrust, the dispair, foreign and
domestic, with respect to the issue of our national affairs and

Our nation, in order that it may assume a more splendid
station and become the happiest among the powers that be,
must ever adhere to a constant, fixed and wise policy. Its
ministers, officers and servants must ever be beyond the pale
of petty politics and the tamperings of unsteady politicians.
They must not swerve from high duties because of the influences of friends, must never be moved by the persuasions
of party, nor yield to the popularity of measures new and untried. Such patriotism, magnanimity and fixidity of purpose
would ennoble party contentions and zeal, would lift the acts
and policy of civil ministers and officers above the dust and
vulgarism of abuse, would make government as it ever should
be, the true representative and honest administrator of the
will, wants and wishes of a great Christian nation.

There is another sign of the times that makes all hearts
tremble. As yet it is a dark cloud, lying low upon the distant horizon, and may heaven avert its ever o'erspreading the
blue but peaceful canopy of our skies. That sign is an offensive intermeddling with other's rights, which policy and government vested in them. The spirits of 76 were, morally,
religiously, civilly and politically impelled to break up the
ties that bound them to their king, and to raise their country
to a station among the nations. So are we by the same magnanimous principles boixnd to maintain our rank and preserve this grand Confederacy of States. Theirs was a most splendid triumph of concession, of compromise, of patriotism,
of intellect. To preserve this union can never require less
concession, less compromise, less patriotism, less intellect —
can never be a less splendid triumph). Then let all the noble
principles of our nature have their sway and influences.
And then, away with the bones of sore and dangerous contention. Let it pass from the hearts of men as the mist from
the hills, and let these States and this people bind stronger
still the ligaments that course tho great body politic, and let
them dispel the moral infections that would gather a deep
gangrene around the vital parts of their existences. If not,
we shall be gone, not even to drivel out the few ages of a
Roman republic or Grecian confederacy. Then this great
day will be but a pleasing remembrance in the great circumstances of time. Its glories will be known but to make
patriots weep over the blasted wreck of the constitution of
Madison and Washington.

Yet while we have observed upon some of the darker
shades, we shall but fulfill our duty in contrasting the
brighter colors of the picture of the present. Though there
are many things to fear, yet everything is to be hoped for
and all may be gained. We are 67 years from the date of
the declaration, 56 from the constitution, and already in this,
the morning of our days, we have surpassed most of the nations and stand proudly abreast with the first. Our country
is acknowledged to be the friend and equal of every people.
Her influence is courted by tribe and by nation. Her light
and knowledge are fast dispelling the moral night that has so
long hung upon heathen and pagan mind. Her commerce is
borne to the stalls and shops of every trading people; in re-
turn vast treasures flow as great rivers into our coffers. And
her citizens, as did the Romans, make the national name a
means of free passport in every sea voyage or extended peregrination. The reputation of her statesmen is borne upon
the winds of every continent, their principles are seeping
into the hearts of monarchies, they are now beinff sown
around the thrones of despotisms. And to use the language
of foreigners (as written by Rev. Sidney Smith) America "is
looked upon as the ark of human happiness and the most
splendid picture of justice and wisdom that the world has yet

At home we are quiet as it could be expected of active
talents and restless passions. The broad bosom of our society is as the bosom of the grand ocean; at one time it is covered with summer waves, at another it is flooded with angry
tides; on one day it lies in a beautiful, but golden repose; on
another storms that would upturn mountains lash deeply the
elements of its being. But the peace of that ocean has yet
ever healed the wounds of its madness. Under the olive of
peace we are passing the dark lines of the American desert
and are fast hastening to the verge of the western wave.
Within these broad limits every avocation, craft and profession that the genuis of Americans can conceive are pursued
with skill, with industry, with honor. All the wants and desires that humanity could imagine may be gratified; all the
luxuries that mind or appetite ever feasted upon may be
served from the elements that compose our soil and our government. With these advantages our nation should be great,
our people should be happy. They are indeed aiming and
advancing to a more delightful state. Their active talents
and bold enterprise are working anew the materials of past
intellect; they are advancing in discovery and in the luxuriant fields of invention and conception. The brightest
page in fie history of the present is the great improvement
in letters and science. Practical science is and has been carried to as high a state of perfection in this as in any other
land. At home we reap daily the rich harvests and splendid
efforts made in its advancing state. And our hearts swell
with pride and exultation when we learn the enviable reputation which our countrymen possess abroad for their profundity in this branch of useful knowlege; when we learn
that they are constructing rail cars for the Russias, erecting
steamboats on the Seine, bearing away the palm in the statuary art in Italy equaling the most splendid specimens of
painting at Westminster, teaching the arts of war to the
wandering Beduoin and drawing maps and charts of the
newly discovered continents and seas of the South Pole.
They are advancing farther. They are ranging the wide uni-
verse of mind and matter and subjecting the whole to their
plastic hand. They are enlarging and improving the beautiful but sublime fields of physics and philosophy, creating
anew their principles, establishing better theories in science
and making more correct classifications in morals and meta-

In the universal diffusion of knowledge our people excel
any other— nay, all the nations united. It is said that 1,400
printing presses are in constant operation within our national
limits, whilst but 1,000 or 1,100 make up the aggregate of
presses in the rest of the world. And there are more in the
city of New York alone than in all the immense population
of Asia. What a commentary on the energy of American
minds, on the mental torpor and darkness that pervade those
of the Asiatics. What a contrast between the institutions of
freedom and those of the land of despotism.

Grecian statesmen, either to be independent of all for-
eign means or to rely more confidently on the knowledge to
be gained, traveled into other states and, returning, more
correctly and generally taught their people the perfection of
foreign letters, goverments and institutions. To our countrymen, either from like reasons, or from magnificence, or
from a zealous pursuit of knowledge, do not confine them-
selves to their own national limits, but have ranged and are
ranging the round globe and living air for materials for com-
position and mental action, Leslie domesticated himself in
England and Ireland for the sake of delineations of their
aristocracy and commonalty; for the purpose of observation
upon the wealth, the magnificence, the moral and political
bearing; the former in contrast with the woes the misery, the
moral, physical and intellectual condition of the latter.
Dwight and others interested and instructed their country-
men with delineations of the scenery and states of the Rhine,
with the geopraphical, social political and religious state of
the laud of the Holy Sepulchre. Wilde quitted the theatre
of the American Congress and sought, as it was thought, a
will-o-the-wisp among the mansions of Northern Italy. He
found on a wall, a hundred times coated over, the long-
sought-for likeness of the great Dante and is now preparing
for the honor of his country a complete work of the writings
with a life of this splendid poet and eminent man of the
modern Italian republics. Prescott burned the midnight oil
over the archives and time-worn manuscripts of old Spanish
libraries ere he consecrated to his country his "History of
Ferdinand and Isabella," which is not surpassed in mastery
of language, beauty of style, range of thought and magnitude
of learning. Irving read from the same musty scrawled
writings with Prescott. His life of Columbus is an honor to
the age, combining all the ornaments and useful requisites
that a reading people could desire. He sought the solitude
of the Alhambra, that monument of Moorish skill and life.
In the brilliancy of his genius he peopled its solitudes and
gave eloquence to its shadows. Stephens and Norman have
but yesterday edified the world with their adventures amid
the wilds of Yucatan. They have laid before it their interpretations of the hyeroglyphics, their surveyings of the
mouldering cities and crumbling temples, and their philosophizings upon the origin and race of the slumbering nations.
These and a thousand other labors in foreign parts have
added and are adding beauty, strength and diversity to our
literature and science. If in no other particular, America
will be great in science and letters; will form an aristocracy
of intellect surpassed by none. (For the sake of brevity
omitted my remarks upon the national judiciary and other

Such are our remarks upon the darker and brighter aspects of this glorious land of liberty. It is remarkable for
the stirring nature of its scenes, for the splendid virtues of
its institutions, for the bold spirit of its people. Let the
sons and daughters of freedom be proud of it. Let them
condemn its vices, love its strong pillars, cherish its institu-
tions, reverence its constitution and it will stand undivided
during the washings of its rivers, during the growth of its
forests. Let them stand as a host for the preservation of
the Union. For there is beauty in a firm sisterhood of
States — in firm sisterhood of States of kindred interests, of
kindred feelings— in a firm sisterhood of States of the same
constitution, language, institutions and laws. And as Sir
William Blackstone said of the British constitution say we
of the glorious heritage of our fathers, esto perpetua — be thou

From "The Life and Writings of Governor Charles Henry Hardin"

Charles Henry Hardin (July 15, 1820 – July 29, 1892) was a politician and governor from Missouri, and one of the eight founders of Beta Theta
Pi fraternity.

(Fulton Lodge 48, Fulton, MO)

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