Its original cost was incalculable. The money that was expended in its construction, by our fathers, might perhaps be reckoned. How many dollars and cents they gave and loaned to the State and borrowed for it, in order to build the massive structure of popular sovereignty and freedom, and cement this Union, might possibly be computed. But they also gave for it what has no material equivalent. And if one wishes to have even a faint idea of what this government cost, let him go to Lexington and Concord, to Breed’s Hill and Saratoga, to Brooklyn, Bennington and Yorktown, to Cowpens and Eutaw Springs, and to all those places famed in American History, where the blood of our father’s flowed like water, as the price which was paid not simply for our liberty, but chiefly for our Law, for our Government.—They counted nothing dear unto them if only they might rear a political fabric unlike and more glorious than all others.

Within this temple of freedom, purchased with money, when money was the price, and with blood when blood was the price, our fathers enthroned Liberty and Law, and secured for us a citizenship which combines for us the privileges of authority with the attributes of subjection and obedience. No other Government can be so strong, because it represents the will of the people; none so free, because it enlists their hearts. Its cost was inestimable, but its value infinitely exceeds the cost. What are the treasures paid for it, the sufferings and hardships and lives given to it, compared with what it has been worth to our fathers as a possession and to their children as a heritage[?] Valley Forge, Bunker’s Hill, Brandywine and Germantown, were all a small price for so strong, so free, so glorious institutions as those under which we have lived.

But its worth has been augmenting every day. In all material advantages and splendors it has been gaining with an unparalelled speed. It has overspread a continent with its blessings. It has filled the world with its fame. On all seas and in all countries its “star spangled banner” has commanded respect, persuaded admiration, and been the beacon of struggling nations. It has waved in the fore front of the advancing movement of the world’s inhabitants in their tidal progress toward popular freedom, purified and strengthened by submission to law. Its memories are knit into the hallowed past. Its bonds hold together the living and the dead. It connects us with Washington[,] our national father, and with all those noble names of heroes, statesmen, warriors and patriots, which are inscribed in luminous letters on the scroll of our country’s history. It is associated with all that we have known and loved and honored. It has impressed its value upon all our interests and estates, upon our domestic security and happiness, upon our science and art and literature, upon the graves of our ancestors, and upon the hopes with which we anticipate the generations of the future. It has wound itself around our hearts, our homes, our persons, our altars, and all that we cherish and ‘prize, by a thousand cords of sympathy and affection. It is more to us than houses or lands or commerce; more than father or mother or wife or children; more than life itself, for in its preservation and permanence, these all have protection and security and continue to be blessings beyond price. It is more to us than any other earthly good, because in its embrace and care all other earthly good resides. It is the best heritage we can leave to our children, for it is the only power that will secure to them and guard for them any other inheritance we may leave. Its continued and permanent existence is the only guarantee of the wealth, the happiness, the earthly welfare of the myriads who shall derive from us their being, their names and their mortal destiny. It is the citadel of every hope, every joy and honor, of all virtue and all love.

And now what is it worth? If a foreign foe should ask this question with sword in hand, we should give no less an answer than our blood. And is it worth less when the hands of those it has fostered, aim their blows at its very heart and life? Is it worth less when those who have fought and won renown under its flag, clamor for its overthrow and exult in its anticipated destruction?—Will we give less to secure it from treason than from foreign ambition? No! to us, it is wealth, security, protection—To us it is honor, fireside, religion—To us and to the unborn generations who come after us, it is Liberty and Law. It is the fortress of our safety. It is the temple of our freedom, of our obedience and praise, of our reverence and love, where we have worshipped, and where the coming ages will worship unless God has forsaken us. Confiding in his strength, we tell the armed traitors who conspire its overthrow, and who have lifted their sacreligious hands against its honor and its flag, that we—though it be worth nothing to them—will give for it and to it, all and more than our fathers gave; that we will defend it to the last; that there is no treasure in our coffers and no blood in our hearts, that we will not give for that which is priceless, and we will thus purchase and transmit it to our children, as their best heritage.

In this contest let not Vermont be behind her sister States. Vermont owes a great debt to the Union, and let her meet the first installment in men and money, with a unanimous generosity. The hours are precious.—Waste no time in talk! Act! When the issue presents itself as now, Government or no Government—Law or no Law, Liberty or Anarchy—let there be no questioning as to “What is all this worth?”