Mr. President, and Members of the "Central Mich. Ag'l Society:"
Ladies and Gentlemen: Remote from the theatre of action in the late rebellion, Michigan has experienced comparatively few of the evils that followed immediately in its path. The usual pursuits of peaceful life, were here scarcely disturbed, and by the permission of a Gracious Providence, the industry of the inhabitants of our State was but little diverted from its legitimate channels. Nevertheless, while so many of her patriot sons were engaged in the deadly strife of Southern battle-fields, and the result of the struggle was in the uncertain future, a sombre cloud could not fail to brood over our daily life, interfering with the full enjoyment of the blessings we retained.
Now, however, the roar of cannon and the noise and tumult of war is no longer heard in our land; the scenes of carnage and blood which our once peaceful and happy country has recently witnessed are at an end; the turmoil and strife of armed hosts in deadly conflict have ceased; the public mind is no longer excited, and the hearts of the people are no longer pained, by the fearful news of battles fought, and of the terrible slaughter of kindred and friends. Social order again invites us to renewed efforts in our respective labor and callings; and we are permitted "to beat our swords into plow-shares and our spears into pruning-hooks."
Like the calm and quiet repose of peace when it follows the clamor and din of war, so is the delightful, cheering and invigorating approach of spring, as it succeeds the chilling blasts and pelting storms of dreary winter.
The truth of this is verified to us on the present occasion. We have come together at this delightful spot, and on this beautiful spring day, not only for the enjoyment of a festive season, but also for the improvement of our minds and the increase of our present stock of knowledge on subjects with which our several interests and our respective tastes are more or less identified.
At your request and upon your kind invitation, I am here to contribute my share—small though it be—to the general fund. I should, however, have much preferred the position of a quiet learner to that of an incompetent teacher—to have listened rather than to have spoken. But being here, it will be my purpose—by your indulgence—to speak, in general terms, upon such topics as seem to me appropriate to the occasion. I shall not presume to theorize, or to speculate; neither shall I travel through unexplored fields with no other guide than imagination; nor shall I attempt to entertain you with any rhetorical flourishes, or figures of speech; but in a simple manner endeavor to give briefly my own views on the several subjects discussed.
The occasion is undoubtedly one affording a wide field for profitable discussion; yet the space which your greatest indulgence can be expected to allow me will render it necessary that I confine myself to a very few topics, and will barely permit a hasty glance at some of those only which may be considered appropriate in this address....