American History

Speech of Gen. James A. Garfield Delivered to the “Boys in Blue”

A campaign speech by General James Garfield, who became the 20th President of the United States a few months later. Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Printed Ephemera Collection.

New York, August 6, 1880

Comrades of the “Boys in Blue” and Fellow-Citizens of New York: I cannot look upon this great assemblage and these old veterans that have marched past us, and listen to the words of welcome from our comrade who has just spoken, without remembering how great a thing it is to live in this Union and be a part of it. [Applause.] This is New York; and yonder, toward the Battery, more than a hundred years ago, a young student of Columbia College was arguing the ideas of the American Revolution and American union against the un-American loyalty to monarchy, of his college president and professors. By and by, he went into the patriot army, was placed on the staff of Washington, [cheers,] to fight the battles of his country, [cheers,] and while in camp, before he was twenty-one years old, upon a drum-head he wrote a letter which contained every germ of the Constitution of the United States. [Applause.] That student, soldier, statesman, and great leader of thought, Alexander Hamilton, of New York, made this Republic glorious by his thinking, and left his lasting impress upon this the foremost State of the Union. [Applause.] And here on this island, the scene of his early triumphs, we gather to-night, soldiers of the new war, representing the same ideas of union, having added strength and glory to the monument reared by the heroes of the Revolution.

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