Soldiers of the 148th Ohio: I am most happy to meet you on this occasion.
I understand that it has been your honorable privilege to stand, for a
brief period, in the defense of your country, and that now you are on your
way to your homes. I congratulate you, and those who are waiting to bid
you welcome home from the war; and permit me, in the name of the people,
to thank you for the part you have taken in this struggle for the life
of the nation. You are soldiers of the Republic, everywhere honored and
respected. Whenever I appear before a body of soldiers, I feel tempted
to talk to them of the nature of the struggle in which we are engaged.
I look upon it as an attempt on the one hand to overwhelm and destroy the
national existence, while, on our part, we are striving to maintain the
government and institutions of our fathers, to enjoy them ourselves, and
transmit them to our children and our children's children forever.
To do this the constitutional administration of our government must
be sustained, and I beg of you not to allow your minds or your hearts to
be diverted from the support of all necessary measures for that purpose,
by any miserable picayune arguments addressed to your pockets, or inflammatory
appeals made to your passions or your prejudices.
It is vain and foolish to arraign this man or that for the part he has
taken, or, has not taken, and to hold the government responsible for his
acts. In no administration can there be perfect equality of action and
uniform satisfaction rendered by all. But this government must be preserved
in spite of the acts of any man or set of men. It is worthy your every
effort. Nowhere in the world is presented a government of so much liberty
and equality. To the humblest and poorest amongst us are held out the highest
privileges and positions. The present moment finds me at the White House,
yet there is as good a chance for your children as there was for my father's.
Again I admonish you not to be turned from your stern purpose of defending
your beloved country and its free institutions by any arguments urged by
ambitious and designing men, but stand fast to the Union and the old flag.
Soldiers, I bid you God-speed to your homes.
August 31, 1864