Edward Everett

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Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army...

Edward Everett (11 April 179415 January 1865) as an American politician and orator, who served as a US Congressman, US Senator, Governor of Massachusetts, US Secretary of State, and as President of Harvard University. On 19 November 1863 he was the main speaker at Gettysburg, whose two-hour oration has been eclipsed in history by President Abraham Lincoln's brief Gettysburg Address. He was the father of congressman William Everett and the great uncle of Edward Everett Hale.

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The great object of all knowledge is to enlarge and purify the soul...
It is with hesitation that I raise my poor voice to break the eloquent silence of God and Nature...
  • When I am dead, no pageant train
    Shall waste their sorrows at my bier,
    Nor worthless pomp of homage vain
    Stain it with hypocritic tear.
    • "The Dirge of Alaric, the Visigoth" In The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal Vol. V, No. 25 (January-June 1823), p. 64.
  • You shall not pile, with servile toil,
    Your monuments upon my breast,
    Nor yet within the common soil
    Lay down the wreck of power to rest,
    Where man can boast that he has trod
    On him that was “the scourge of God.”
    • "The Dirge of Alaric, the Visigoth" In The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal Vol. V, No. 25 (January-June 1823), p. 64.
  • Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army. If we retrench the wages of the schoolmaster, we must raise those of the recruiting sergeant.
    • As quoted in The Common School Journal and Educational Reformer (1852), edited by William B. Fowle, p. 28.
  • The great object of all knowledge is to enlarge and purify the soul, to fill the mind with noble contemplations, to furnish a refined pleasure, and to lead our feeble reason from the works of nature up to its great Author and Sustainer. Considering this as the ultimate end of science, no branch of it can surely claim precedence of Astronomy. No other science furnishes such a palpable embodiment of the abstractions which lie at the foundation of our intellectual system; the great ideas of time, and space, and extension, and magnitude, and number, and motion, and power. How grand the conception of the ages on ages required for several of the secular equations of the solar system; of distances from which the light of a fixed star would not reach us in twenty millions of years, of magnitudes compared with which the earth is but a foot-ball; of starry hosts—suns like our own—numberless as the sands on the shore; of worlds and systems shooting through the infinite spaces
  • No gilded dome swells from the lowly roof to catch the morning or evening beam; but the love and gratitude of united America settle upon it in one eternal sunshine. From beneath that humble roof went forth the intrepid and unselfish warrior, the magistrate who knew no glory but his country’s good; to that he returned, happiest when his work was done. There he lived in noble simplicity, there he died in glory and peace. While it stands, the latest generations of the grateful children of America will make this pilgrimage to it as to a shrine; and when it shall fall, if fall it must, the memory and the name of Washington shall shed an eternal glory on the spot.
    • Oration on the Character of Washington (1856); as published in A Library of American Literature from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time Vol. V (1888) by Edmund Clarence Stedman and Ellen Mackay Hutchinson.
  • I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near the central idea of the occasion in two hours, as you did in two minutes.
  • The admission to Harvard College depends upon examinations; and if this boy passes the examinations, he will be admitted; and if the white students choose to withdraw, all the income of the college will be devoted to his education.
    • On admission of the first black student to Harvard University, as quoted in Edward Everett, Orator and Statesman (1925) by Paul Revere Frothingham, p. 299.
  • We are blessed with a faith, which calls into action the whole intellectual man; which prescribes a reasonable service; which challenges the investigation of its evidences; and which, in the doctrine of immortality, invests the mind of man with a portion of the dignity of Divine intelligence.
    • Edward Everett, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 140.
  • We have now in our possession three instruments of civilization, unknown to antiquity. These are the art of printing; free representative government; and, lastly, a pure and spiritual religion, the deep fountain of generous enthusiasm, the mighty spring of bold and lofty designs, the great sanctuary of moral power.
    • Edward Everett, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 141.
  • Though a hundred crooked paths may conduct to a temporary success, the one plain and straight path of public and private virtue can alone lead to a pure and lasting fame and the blessings of posterity.
    • Edward Everett, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 352.

Gettysburg Oration (1863)[edit]

Full text of Everett's Gettysburg Oration (19 November 1863)
  • Standing beneath this serene sky, overlooking these broad fields now reposing from the labors of the waning year, the mighty Alleghenies dimly towering before us, the graves of our brethren beneath our feet, it is with hesitation that I raise my poor voice to break the eloquent silence of God and Nature. But the duty to which you have called me must be performed; — grant me, I pray you, your indulgence and your sympathy.
  • "The whole earth," said Pericles, as he stood over the remains of his fellow-citizens, who had fallen in the first year of the Peloponnesian War, — "the whole earth is the sepulchre of illustrious men." All time, he might have added, is the millennium of their glory. Surely I would do no injustice to the other noble achievements of the war, which have reflected such honor on both arms of the service, and have entitled the armies and the navy of the United States, their officers and men, to the warmest thanks and the richest rewards which a grateful people can pay. But they, I am sure, will join us in saying, as we bid farewell to the dust of these martyr-heroes, that wheresoever throughout the civilized world the accounts of this great warfare are read, and down to the latest period of recorded time, in the glorious annals of our common country there will be no brighter page than that which relates the Battles of Gettysburg.

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