The Road to Peace — a Solid, Durable Peace
|The Road to Peace — A Solid, Durable Peace
|Speech delivered at Library Hall, Chicago, Illinois, September 19, 1868, as recorded by Frederic Bancroft, ed., Speeches, Correspondence and Political Papers of Carl Schurz, Volume I, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1913, pp. 419-472.|
Mr. President and Fellow-Citizens: — What the country stands most in need of is a final settlement of the difficulties connected with our civil war. The people of this country want peace — a solid, durable peace. This want is acknowledged by both political parties, and both speak of peace as the true end of their respective policies. But while they profess to agree as to the object to be accomplished, they widely disagree as to the means to be employed. First, the Republican party steps before you and points out to you what it has accomplished. It speaks thus: “See here what we have done. We have carried on a great war against those who wanted to disrupt the Republic for the purpose of making slavery the corner-stone of a new empire. We have reconstructed the disorganized rebel States upon the basis of universal liberty and equal rights. We have enabled the whole people thereof to set up governments of their own; and behold eight of these States have already resumed their old places in the Union; only three are still behind, and in a short space of time those three will also have gone through the required preliminary process, and then the great work for which we have struggled and labored so long will be consummated. We offer you peace, therefore, upon the basis of a restored Union, of results already accomplished and of a state of things already existing.” Thus speaks the Republican party. The Democrats hold a different language. They say: “All you have done, since the close of the war, for the restoration of the Union counts for nothing. Your reconstruction measures are unconstitutional, revolutionary and void.” In the words of the Democratic candidate for the Vice-Presidency, which are but a violent construction of the Democratic platform, “these laws must be trampled in the dust, the army must be sent into the South, and disperse the newly erected State governments with the bayonet, and the Senate of the United States must be compelled to submit to our dictation. We offer peace to the people, not on the basis of accomplished results, of an existing state of things, but the existing state of things must first be overturned, by force of arms if need be, and upon its ruins we shall commence again to build up something which, after new struggles and conflicts, shall give peace to the country.” This, as its platform and the manifestoes of its candidates clearly show, is the purpose of the Democratic party. It is evident that the Republicans, placing themselves upon the ground of results already accomplished, have the advantage in argument; for the Democrats will not persuade the prudent and patriotic people of this Republic to overthrow that which exists and to launch into new struggles, troubles and uncertainties, unless they clearly show that that which has been accomplished is intrinsically bad, and that they have something better to put in its place. Permit me, then, first, to pass in review the reconstruction policy carried out by Congress, and the objections to it brought forward by the Democratic party.
If a true, durable peace was to issue from the struggles of our civil war, it was above all things necessary that the causes of strife should be removed. But what were these causes? They consisted in two facts. First, that in the South there existed a peculiar interest and institution — namely, slavery and the aristocratic class government inseparable from involuntary labor, which in its very nature was antagonistic to the fundamental principles upon which our democratic system of government rests; and, secondly, that the Southern people cherished that institution and interest peculiar to themselves far above those they had in common with the rest of the American people. Those are the sources of the irrepressible conflict. The slave-power demanded supreme control in our National Government, which it justly deemed necessary for its existence. Free-labor society justly refused to yield that supreme control, because such a surrender would have been incompatible with its highest interests. The irrepressible conflict ripened into a crisis, and the civil war ensued. It was, therefore, the logical tendency of the war, as carried on by free labor, to stop the sources from which the conflict had sprung — that is, to destroy slavery and to break the power of aristocratic class government in the South. That logic was followed; slavery was abolished; but by the mere overthrow of the rebellion and the abolition of slavery, only the destructive part of the great problem was solved.
Now, something was to be put in the place of slavery; a new organization of a positive character was to be given to Southern society, so as to prevent the return of aristocratic class government with its evil consequences. Here commenced the constructive, creative part of the problem to be solved. What new organization of society was that to be? If it was to prevent the growing up again of local interests and institutions antagonistic to those of the rest of the American people; if it was to obviate the recurrence of irrepressible conflicts; if it was to lay the foundation of a durable and solid National peace, it had to be such as to secure entire harmony between the social and political institutions of the different sections of the country and the controlling principles of our democratic system of government. What are these controlling principles? We find them laid down in the grand old charter of American liberty — “All men are created equal, and have certain inalienable rights,” and “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” What does this mean in its practical application? It means that society shall impose no duties unless they be coupled with corresponding rights; that no class of people shall have the exclusive privilege of governing another class; that every human being is entitled to a measure of liberty and of political rights, which enables him to pursue his own happiness in every legitimate way, which secures to him all necessary power to protect himself against usurpation and which opens to him the way to obtain that development of his mental and moral faculties which he may be capable of. In one word, in the place of slavery the system of free labor was to be planted, surrounded with the political institutions necessary to guarantee its existence and development. This was the great problem to be solved by what is called the work of reconstruction. When attempting this business, we had, above all things, to consider one of the most important circumstances. According to our Constitutional system, the National Government could not, like the Emperor of Russia after the emancipation of the serfs, permanently hold the progress of the new order of things in its protecting hand. It could only start and give direction to the movement, then turn it over with certain restrictions to the local majorities in the several States, to the operation of local self-governments. The character and propensities of the different elements of the Southern people became then a matter of great concern. The population of the South could be divided into three classes: First, the large majority of whites, who were long pro-slavery men, and who had directly or indirectly taken part in the rebellion for the perpetuation of slavery. Second, the white Union people, who, during the war, had supported the Government and had gradually adopted its anti-slavery policy, but who were too weak in numbers to exercise any considerable political influence. And, third, the colored people, who had been emancipated by the war, and whose interests were, therefore, most closely identified with the new order of things. The question naturally arose, in what manner can the new order of things, free labor and the democratic organization of society, be safely committed to a population so composed?
The first proposition broached was that the master class of the South, the whites, should, within certain loose limitations, have the exclusive control of political power in the Southern States and, therefore, of the development of the new order of things. It was first brought forward in one of the military capitulations concluded between General Sherman and the rebel General Joe Johnston, one of the main stipulations of which was that the rebel general should surrender his army on the express condition of the restoration to office of the rebel governors, legislatures, State and municipal officers.
Do you remember the cry of indignation which arose all over this land when the news of this treaty went abroad? Mark well; I do not mean to say anything against General Sherman. He committed then an error which those are most liable to commit who are capable of the highest virtues. It was an error of over-generosity to a beaten enemy. He has since recognized that error, and that he has done so he proves most clearly by now going hand in hand with General Grant, and using what influence he has at his disposal to make General Grant President of the United States. When we now pronounce the name of Sherman we do not think of the error he committed, but we think only of the magnificent deeds he has performed for this Republic, and of the profound gratitude we all owe him. But although the people had rejected that treaty with so much emphasis, the same idea was taken up and has been adhered to with wonderful tenacity by a man who is so unfortunate as to consider every favor of accident a deserved tribute to his genius, and who construes his rise from the position of alderman at Greenville, Tennessee, to the Presidency, as a Divine commission, unmistakably commanding him to assume the special direction of the universe — a man whose belief in his own powers and wisdom is so intense that he candidly thinks if the universe does not commit itself to the opinions he proclaims as his, that universe will make itself most egregiously ridiculous, and ought to be held to account for its indecent exposure. I mean Andrew Johnson. And from his hands the proposition went boldly into the Democratic platform.
When that piece of boastful inconsistency, which he called his “policy,” had been for some time in operation, Mr. Johnson said in one of his messages, that the people of the South (meaning the Southern whites) had, on the whole, done as well as could be expected. I candidly declared I was then, and am now, of the same opinion — yes, “the Southern States have done as well as could be expected.” Let us now see what we had a right to expect of them. Look back with me to the close of the war. The present generation of Southern whites had, from early childhood, been taught that slavery was not only right, but necessary. They had, on their own ground, never seen any other system of labor in operation. It was the only one they understood. With it all their doings and hopes of success were inseparably connected. All their ways of thinking, their social habits, their political theories and aspirations, and even their religious doctrines, revolved around slavery as the great central axis. They believed in it — they idolized it — they clung to it with a sort of religious superstition — they shut out from their minds all progressive ideas hostile to it, and their imagination was utterly incapable of realizing a condition of things in the South without it. The Presidential election of 1860 at last dealt a fatal blow to that political ascendancy of the South, without which they felt that slavery could not prosper in the Union. They did not hesitate a moment; they staked at once their all on the cast of war. After a fierce struggle of four years, they succumbed. They had sacrificed their peace, the prosperity of their country, their all, for slavery. They lost the battle and lost slavery with it.
What, then, could we, after all this, expect of them? Had we a right to expect that they would all at once drop their life-long notions, their inveterate prejudices, their violent propensities, their lawless habits and their whole love of slavery, while they were still denouncing the act of emancipation as an act of robbery, as a crime against the very order of nature? Had we a right to expect that they would, in good faith, welcome the system of free labor which they did not understand, of whose blessings they knew nothing and which had come down upon them as would a thunderbolt, first making itself known by its destructive force? And if, indeed, they might have been made to submit to all this under the relentless pressure of power and necessity, had we a right to expect that they would, in good faith, secure and develop what was so strange and distasteful to them if we put the power over it into their own hands? There never was a privileged class which gave up its privileges of its own free will and choice; there never was one that made important concessions unless they were extorted from it; there never was one which, after being compelled to surrender its privileges, did not take advantage of every available chance to recover them? Is there anything in the character of the Southern whites to make them an exception to this rule? Whatever their good qualities may be, the only three things which might have induced them to abandon their privileges without irresistible necessity are just those which they are most deficient in — a just regard for the rights of others, a correct appreciation of the spirit and tendency of this age and common-sense generally.
In saying this I am not indulging in mere speculation. In 1865 and 1866 we had occasion to witness the doings of the Southern legislatures, elected by the Southern whites, under the auspices of Mr. Johnson's policy. The results are before us as matter of history. And what are they? No sooner did the master-class feel in possession of authority and power again than it sought at once a chance for a reaction in the direction of its old pro-slavery notions, and it availed itself of that chance with refreshing alacrity. Here vagrance laws were enacted calculated to tie the colored laborer to his late owner by the most arbitrary legal obligations. There the negro was forbidden to acquire real estate and thus to have a home for himself and his children. In another place contract laws were devised compelling the colored man virtually to sell himself for a certain specified time under severe penalties. In still another State the old slave code was boldly restored to force, and so on. Is that free labor? And after all this, Andrew Johnson, in one of his messages, congratulated the country upon the fact that the Southern people had done even better than he had expected. Heaven knows what his expectations may have been; they must have been even worse than mine. But what did all this prove? It proved that the Southern whites, instead of securing and developing free labor, endeavored only to find a new form of slavery, another peculiar institution. Instead of placing society upon a democratic basis, they sought only a new foundation for aristocratic class government. I repeat, these are not mere speculations. These are hard, incontestable facts; but facts which might easily have been foreseen. “Lead us not into temptation,” is the text of the prayer. But the gift of exclusive power to the Southern whites was bound to lead them into a temptation which might have become dangerous to virtue itself, and which naturally proved irresistible to those who desired nothing better than an opportunity to sin. Yes, they surely have done as well, under the circumstances, as we had a right to expect; but they did not do as well as it was our duty to demand. And just here is the “rub.” If nothing better could be expected of the Southern whites than that they would take advantage of every chance to build up another peculiar institution, an interest antagonistic to the fundamental principles of democratic government, and thus plant the seeds of another irrepressible conflict to disturb the future of this Republic, then it was folly, it was absurdity, it was a crime, to place in their hands exclusively all political power in the Southern States. The Southern gentleman showing himself unfit to secure the establishment of free labor and the harmony of our institutions, which is necessary for the peace of the country, the American people could not afford to jeopardize the peace of the country for the Southern gentleman's accommodation. It was our solemn duty to look out for other classes of the Southern people, of whom we had a right to expect that they would accomplish the end.
Congress at last took the work of reconstruction out of Andrew Johnson's hands into its own. It was indeed high time. That sublime ruler of the universe was making a wonderful muddle of it. It cannot be said that Congress proceeded with haste and harshness in the matter of reconstruction. It gave Andrew Johnson's hopeless experiment a fair trial, and only when it had become manifest that the restriction of the suffrage to the whites would lead to a decided reaction in favor of involuntary labor and aristocratic class government, Congress slowly groped its way toward a logical, efficient and clearly defined policy.
The question to be decided put itself to Congress in a very simple form: If for the harmony and peace of the Republic it is necessary to establish free labor in the South, and to secure and develop it through the operation of self-government, you must not put the political power, the right of suffrage, into the hands of pro-slavery people who do not want free labor, excluding from it a majority of those who do want free labor. If you want to establish democratic government in the South, and to prevent the return of aristocratic class rule, you must not confine the right of suffrage to one class, but you must extend it over the masses of the people without arbitrary distinction. And, finally, assuming a sincere devotion to the fundamental principles of our government to be the essential condition of true loyalty to the Republic — if you want to have loyal governments in the South, you must not appoint disloyalists, by habit and disposition, to lord it over the loyal men, but enable the loyal men en masse to counteract the power of those who are inclined to be traitors. Such were the considerations by which Congress in its reconstruction policy was governed. Are they not as logical and self-evident as the rule of three? Can conclusions be more imperative? The manner in which Congress acted upon these conclusions was equally simple. First, it kept the whole rebel country under the immediate control of the National Government, through its military arm, for the purpose of restoring the disturbed order of society, of protecting persons and property, and of enforcing rights and redressing wrongs, where no other efficient means for that end could be found. Then Congress called upon the people of the South to form State constitutions in harmony with the new order of things, and to rebuild upon that basis their State and municipal governments. Congress called upon the Southern people, I say; not like Mr. Johnson, upon one class of the people, and that class, too, the same which in its majority had made the rebellion for the perpetuation of slavery; but Congress, according to good democratic doctrine, appealed to the whole people of the South — high and low, white and black — to give themselves a political organization in which free labor might be safe, and to take their governments into their own hands. Then the Southern people went to work to rebuild their State governments, and no sooner was the political organization of the State perfected according to the conditions prescribed, and the local authorities fairly constituted, than Congress withdrew the protecting and controlling arm of the military power and turned the affairs of the reconstructed State again into the broad channel of self-government. This, then, is the sum and substance of the reconstruction policy of Congress. These are the principles upon which it rests, these the means it has employed, these the ends it has designed to reach. Thus eight of the late rebel States have been restored to their old places in the Union. The three yet behind will regain their places in a short period of time, and the great end, so devoutly wished and so laboriously struggled for, the restoration of the American Union, upon the basis of universal liberty, impartial justice and equal rights, will be a grandly consummated fact. Upon this we offer peace to the country, and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we confidently and proudly appeal to the enlightened judgment of the American people and the sympathies of civilized mankind.
If there is a Democrat within the reach of my voice who will only throw off, for a single moment, the shackles of party prejudice, and whose ear is still open to the voice of conscience and reason, I appeal to him. Let him look at what has been done with an unclouded eye. Are not the principles upon which this work of reconstruction is based reasonable, sound, just and eminently democratic? Were not the conclusions drawn from these principles logical and absolutely imperative? Were not the means employed for their execution, proper and even necessary? Can that Democrat tell me how, after the close of the war, when on Southern soil bloodshed and persecution were the order of the day, when class seemed to be arrayed against class, and man against man, how, then, the disturbed order of society could be righted without the interference of the military power? Can he tell me how the relations between the late master and the late slave, which, by sudden emancipation, had been thrown into chaos, could be prevented from degenerating into bloody conflicts, without the benevolent interposition of the National Government? Can he tell me how the development of free labor in the South could be insured except by giving the laborer that share of political power, without which he could not protect and defend his rights against the attacks of the late master-class which acrimoniously disputed them? Did he ever think of this: that Congress had absolutely no choice but such governments as this, based on impartial suffrage, and the governments of Southern whites exclusively, which means governments of the pro-slavery rebel majority; yes, that there was this inevitable stubborn alternative which admitted of no shirking or subterfuge — either these governments or rebel governments? Does the honest, patriotic Democrat hear that? And when this alternative is put before him plainly, bluntly, stubbornly, and he has to choose between the two, where will his choice fall? Where will his reason and conscience as a man, where his duty as a patriotic citizen, where his devotion to human liberty, and where his love of peace, lead him?
But here the voice of his party summons him, declaring that the reconstruction measures of Congress are unconstitutional, usurpations, null and void, frightening him with negro supremacy, with the most atrocious despotism the world ever saw, that had been established over the South — telling him, in the language of the Democratic candidate for the Vice-Presidency, that these laws must be trampled into the dust; that all that has been done for the restoration of the Union, since the close of the war, must be destroyed again, and that the Democratic President, to be elected, must send the army into the South to drive out the reconstructed State governments at the point of the bayonet. Indeed, if a proposition so atrocious, jeopardizing the peace of the country and the very existence of the Republic, does not find an excuse in the most conclusive, the most irresistible reasons, we shall be justified in regarding it as the hallucination of a madman, or as a criminal plot of malicious enemies to their country.
Let us see what these reasons are. They shall have our candid consideration. First, then, the Congressional policy of reconstruction is denounced by the Democratic party as unconstitutional. This is not the first time that the Democratic party has flourished this favorite weapon, which it seems to claim as all its own. Do you remember the winter and spring of 1861, when the rebellion first raised its head, and when every true man, following the warm impulse of patriotism and the voice of conscience, jumped forthwith at the conclusion, “If the life of the Republic is attempted by force, force must be used to save it”? Do you remember it? Then you remember, also, how the Democracy then gave vent to its patriotism in this profound Constitutional conundrum — “The Southern States may not have the Constitutional power to secede from the Union, but the Government of the Republic has no Constitutional right to keep them in the Union.” Had not the matter been so terribly serious, the world would have been convulsed with laughter when a great political party, with solemn air, blurted out so unfathomable and shameless an absurdity. But so it was. The great Constitutional argument against coercion enunciated by the Democratic President, Buchanan, and sustained by the party leaders and organs, with the criminal threat that if the soldiers of the Union marched out to coerce the rebellious South, a fire would be kindled in their rear.
Such was the Democratic construction of the Constitution then. What would have been the consequence if the American people had accepted it! The American people would have acknowledged, before the whole world, that this Government had no right and no power to defend its own existence. It would have presented the doleful and ridiculous spectacle of a government tumbling to pieces at the first show of resistance, from inherent constitutional inconsistency. This boasted experiment, this beacon-light of liberty-loving humanity, would have become the laughing-stock of the whole world, and for centuries the advocates of despotism would have triumphantly pointed to this most ridiculous failure as often as a friend of liberty dared to pronounce the word Republic.
The South would have gone her own way after her first success; she would have proved an insolent and exacting neighbor. War would have been the inevitable consequence. No national bonds would then have held together the East and the West; conflicts of interests would have led to new separations; these, to new collisions. Despised abroad, the little republics would have exhausted and ruined one another by incessant warfare among themselves, and America, once the hope of the oppressed, the pride of the free and the terror of the devotees of despotism, would have become the sport of foreign powers. Such would have been the inevitable consequence had the American people accepted the Democratic construction of the Constitution in 1861. And what is the Democratic construction of the Constitution now? It is exactly the same in spirit, only different in terms: That the rebel States immediately after, and by the very fact of the defeat of the rebellion, became at once just as rightful and competent States in the Union again, as though they had never rebelled; that the Government of the Republic had, after the rebellion, no other authority over the rebel States, than to recognize them as reinstated in all their rights and powers as States of this nation. In other words, that the Government of this Republic had no right to provide for its future security by dictating terms of peace to a defeated aggressor. I need not go into a legal argument on this point. I will not quote decisions of the Supreme Court, nor attempt a new definition of the powers the Constitution confers upon Congress when it authorizes it to receive new States, and enjoins upon the United States to guarantee to the several States a republican form of government. The country has already been overwhelmed with legal ingenuity upon this subject. I will address myself simply to your common-sense.
What does it mean that rebel States, after and by the very fact of the defeat of the rebellion, were at once restored to all their rights, privileges and powers in the Union just as if they had never rebelled? Nobody will pretend that, while the rebel States were actually making war upon the Government of this Republic, they were then entitled to any Constitutional privileges and any exercise of Constitutional powers in that Government. But the Democrats do pretend that the rebels, as soon as they were coerced by force of arms to cease their resistance, lapsed, by the very fact of their defeat, again into these Constitutional privileges and powers. Thus rights forfeited by successful resistance were regained by defeat. In other words, you, brave soldiers of the Union, thought you had whipped the rebels into submission, but how mistaken you are! It turns out that you have whipped the rebels only into power again. Did you understand it so? The victorious party, just because it is victorious, has no other authority over the defeated aggressor than to recognize him as an equal in rights, privileges and powers, just because that aggressor is defeated. Is not this absurd on its very face? Is it possible that the Government of this Republic should, after a war, have no right to provide for its future safety by imposing terms of peace upon a defeated aggressor? True, this may not be, in so many words, stated in the Constitution, neither is the right of the Government to coerce seceding States granted there in express terms. But is there no such thing as a power inherent in a government, as such, as a vital condition of its existence? Are there no rights and powers arising from the law of nature that may be applied to governments, from the necessity of things? Is there a Democratic jurist in this assembly — I summon him as a witness. Can he point out to me in a single textbook, from the beginning of legal literature down to the present day, a single sentence in which the faintest doubt is expressed as to the right of a government after a war — no matter whether an international war or a war between a government and its rebellious subjects — to provide for its future safety by dictating terms of peace to a defeated enemy? If there is a Democratic historian in this assembly, will he point out to me a single instance in the annals of the world, where, after a war, the victorious government did not claim the right, and where its right was not recognized, to dictate terms of peace to the defeated enemy? Why, look at two men fighting on the street. One has been assailed by another; he wrestles with him and throws him down; and he will not let him up again until the defeated assailant is so disabled that he can inflict no further injury, or until he promises that he will not attempt it again. What is that man doing? He exercises the natural right to provide for his future security by dictating terms of peace to his defeated aggressor.
The Democrats are in the habit of prating to us about the wisdom of the great men who formed the Constitution of the United States. Yes, the Fathers of the Constitution were great men. They were among the wisest of their generation. And now the Democrats will make us believe that these same Fathers of the Constitution were such consummate blockheads as to deprive the Government of this Republic of a right which every government has possessed and exercised since mankind had a history, and which every government, from the very necessity of things, will possess and exercise until the end of things. Nay, a right which every loafer on the street will claim and exercise as a natural right when assailed by another loafer. In support of such a right we do not need the authority of Vattel, Puffendorf and Grotius. We do not need a broad display of legal ingenuity or of metaphysical reasoning. We hear it asserted by the common-sense of mankind. We find it confirmed in the nature of things. We see it written in the book of manifest necessity. It is a right which a government must have, if it has a right to exist at all.
And this the Democrats undertake to deny. Where would the acceptance of their doctrine lead us? Just to the same consequences into which the country would have drifted had, in 1861, the American people accepted the doctrine that the Government of the Republic does not possess the right to coerce rebellious States. I repeat, the two doctrines, although different in terms, are essentially the same in spirit. They mean, simply, that the Government of this Republic has no right to defend its own existence against aggression organized upon a large scale. If you run this doctrine to its logical consequences, then a State can, as such, not be held to account for an act of rebellion, for a rebellion is the act of individuals, while individuals ought not to be held to account for an act of rebellion if, in committing it, they merely followed their allegiance to the State. Who, then, is to be held to account for the rebellion? Nobody; for the State is covered by the responsibility of the individual, while the responsibility of the individual is covered by the State. Accept this position, and rebellion will be a mere pastime, which can result only in the acquisition of new rights by success, and the preservation of old rights by failure. The National power will be a mere football, to be tossed about at pleasure by daring sectional minorities. Disputed questions of general concern will not be decided by the largest number of votes, but by the greatest fighting capacity of this or that political faction. And the Republic must insensibly drift into disgrace, ruin and the chaos of universal anarchy, Yes, the principle the Democrats now maintain is identical with the doctrine of the unconstitutionally of coercion, which, logically, means nothing but the right of secession. And well may the Southern leaders say — as they boastfully tell us every day — if the Democratic construction of the Constitution prevails, they have, even after their defeat, at last won what they fought for. What then, is the great Democratic Constitutional doctrine? It is an attempt to twist the Constitution into a rope with which to strangle the Republic. There I will leave it, to the contemplation of a patriotic people. The next great objection raised by our opponents against the Republican policy consists in the assertion that Congress has subjected the South to the most odious and oppressive military despotism the world ever saw. Upon this subject that mournful statesman from Wisconsin, Senator Doolittle, who affords himself and the world so much amusement by his sepulchral wit, as well as his exhilarating profundity, has grown particularly eloquent. In a speech made by him in the city of Washington some time ago, he delivered himself of the following wonderful disclosures:
They (meaning the Republicans in Congress) have established from the Potomac to the Rio Grande a military despotism more absolute than any other in any civilized country within the last two hundred years. If you sit down by the grave of Washington you sit in the shadow of a military government more despotic and absolute than any in Poland or Hungary or Ireland. They have heaped upon the people of the South more of oppression and of indignity than can be found in all the history of Europe since the barbarous proceedings of the Duke of Alva against the Dutch Republic.
When such childish nonsense is uttered by a sensational penny-a-liner, or a little demagogue at a ward meeting, or Andrew Johnson, we let it pass; but when a grave Senator of the United States, who pretends to respectability, rises before the people and compares the military governments in the South with the atrocities committed in Hungary and Poland, he deserves chastisement. He must be either more ignorant than the merest schoolboy ought to be, or have a fondness for wilful misrepresentation incompatible with the character of a gentleman. I understand Senator Doolittle has been travelling in Europe. It appears he might have spent the time very profitably in requesting some little German boy to give him a bit of elementary information upon European affairs. He might then have learned that, after the failure of the Hungarian revolution, a long row of gallowses was erected, on which the most prominent of the Hungarian generals were hung. He might have learned that, after the downfall of the Polish insurrection, the Russian sword raged among the helpless victims without mercy; that every whisper against the victorious government was punished with death; that immeasurable chain-gangs of men and women were driven across thousands of miles of sterile country, to drag out their miserable lives in the snows of Siberia. He might have learned that even in civilized France, after the wholesale butchery of the 2d of December, 1851, hundreds of men were transported, to find a speedy death in the miasmas of Cayenne. That is military despotism in Europe. Where has the Senator his ears and his eyes that he knows nothing of this? If the military governments in the South had been like the military despotisms in Hungary, Poland and France, men like the rebel Generals Preston and Forrest would long ago have expired on the gallows instead of presuming to give a Vice-President to the United States. Wade Hampton would have been moldering under the ground instead of dictating Democratic platforms and trying to starve loyal negroes into voting the Democratic ticket. Henry A. Wise's redoubtable tongue would now be food for worms instead of proclaiming the approaching victory of the lost cause, and thousands of Southern ladies and gentlemen would now be shivering among the icebergs of Alaska, instead of killing negroes and spitting in the faces of Southern Unionists. Military despotism, indeed! Show me a single gallows, in this great Republic, where a single man expired for participation in the rebellion — for the miserable Wirz was not hung because he was a rebel, but because he had murdered thirteen thousand of our brave boys by starvation. Show me a single prison where a single man has been held captive for treason! Yes, there was one, Fortress Monroe, where Jefferson Davis was fed on fried oysters and spring chickens, and where the hall before his prison-cell was covered with a thick carpet, lest the step of the sentinel should disturb the sweet slumbers of the rebel chief. But even he is now released, to have his ears tickled with the cheers of the blockade runners of Liverpool. There is Mr. Doolittle's military despotism. Does that Senator really mean to lie when he prates about the atrocities of Hungary and Poland? No, I acquit him of that; he possesses in an eminent degree the faculty of talking nonsense in perfect good faith. He has succeeded in fortifying his native stupidity with a bulwark of ignorance which I recognize as fairly impregnable. I will leave him to his glory. Military despotism! You will search the annals of the world in vain for a rebellion, after the failure of which the vanquished were treated with such merciful mildness, with such boundless generosity by the conquerors, as they were here. The very insolence with which those who, but yesterday, strove to destroy the Republic, insist upon ruling it to-day, is irrefutable proof of the fact.
But I am, indeed, willing to admit that our military governments in the South may be called despotisms, if we apply to them the Democratic standard of liberty. Since the Democratic party identified itself with the slave-power, it has always held this as one of its fundamental doctrines: That true liberty consists in the right of one man to strip another man of his rights. The Southern Democrat did not consider himself a free man if he was not permitted to “wallop a nigger” whenever it pleased him, and the Northern Democrat insisted that this inalienable privilege be scrupulously respected. That one man should have a right to hold another man as his slave was, in the opinion of the Democrats, one of the essential conditions, without which free institutions could not exist; and that this right of one class of society over another should be extended over the Territories of this Republic was demanded by the Democracy in the name of self-government. The abolition of slavery has not yet succeeded in curing the Democratic party of this atrocious notion. Still they maintain that true liberty consists in the right of one man, especially a Southern man, to deprive another of his rights — and just this is the reason for their opposition to our military governments in the South. For what was the object of these military governments? Not to assert an undue governmental authority over the people of the Southern States, but to prevent one class of Southern people from asserting an undue and tyrannical authority over another class. What a terrible thing! The inalienable right of the Southern Democrat to “wallop the nigger” has been ruthlessly invaded, and more than that; as from his right to whip a negro, the Southern man derived his right to hang an Abolitionist, so he now derives from his right to rebel against the Republic a new right to persecute and shoot a Radical; but this right, too, has been most provokingly interfered with by the military authorities. What a fearful innovation! Hence the rage of the Democracy. Hence the cry about the most atrocious despotism the world ever saw. Hence the doleful lamentation that the Constitution is now surely going to the dogs. It is the raving wrath of baffled tyranny; it is the furious howl of the wolf against whose cruel voracity the lamb is sheltered by the shepherd. Do you want proof? You have heard of the nine hundred and thirty-nine murders committed in Texas in an incredibly short space of time. You remember, also, that under Sheridan's military administration, by the vigorous watchfulness of that faithful patriot, the number of murders was signally reduced. You remember, further, that under Hancock's administration the number of murders fearfully increased. This is a matter of history. And for protecting the victims glorious Phil. Sheridan was denounced as a tyrant, while Hancock was praised as a second Washington for respecting the Democratic liberty of the assassin.
If you want to measure the effect which this nefarious doctrine — that true liberty consists in the right of one man to deprive of his rights another — has had upon the political development of the country, see what it has made of the Democratic party itself. No sooner had that party wedded itself to that atrocious heresy than it became at once incapable of any progressive idea. The world marched on, but that party remained lashed to its savage idol with a chain it could not break. Look at its platforms from year to year, from decade to decade. Not a single proposition for the intellectual and moral advancement of society. Not a thought for the elevation of human nature. Nothing but a dreary and hopeless repetition of the old song, that one class of men must have the freedom to tyrannize over another, and that when one man deprives another of his rights nobody has a right to interfere. This year some credulous men and women deluded themselves into the belief that the Democratic party could become an engine of progress. Preposterous expectation! The temptation was indeed great, the prospect enticing, but there is the New York platform, and the candidates manifestoes, and what do you behold? Ranting denunciations of Congress, because it contrived to secure the rights of the emancipated slave against the rapacity of the master-class and the fierce demand that that master-class must be reinstated, even at the point of the bayonet, if need be, in the Constitutional right to strip of his right whomsoever it pleases. No, I will not be unjust to the Democratic platform; it does recognize the fact that secession has been defeated and slavery abolished. Aye, indeed, four years — which in days like these amount to half a century — four years it hobbles painfully after the greatest events of our times, and reluctantly comes at last to the conclusion that something has happened which can not be denied. If that is progress, the Democratic party has shown something like a progressive spirit. If it goes on at that rate, it will, at the end of the nineteenth century, recognize the fact that a locomotive is a better engine of transportation than a wheelbarrow, and a steamboat a swifter conveyance than Noah's ark. But even the poor acknowledgment of great consummations contained in the New York platform is already fiercely repudiated by the Southern Democrats, and it is loudly proclaimed there that the right of secession holds as good as ever, and that if slavery has been abolished, it was a great wrong, and ought to be remedied. So you see the true spirit of the Democracy which lives in the South stands aghast at the folly of this progressive feat, and confidently proclaims that those are fools who think it could improve. It is this Democratic doctrine of true liberty that has been the great curse of the Republic. It has poisoned our political life by leading the popular mind into channels of vicious logic, and debauching the hearts of the multitude with its artful defense of wrong. It has made man the enemy of man, and thus produced an irrepressible conflict. It has stirred up all the bitter contests of the last thirty years, and plunged the country into the bloodiest civil wars, and it will do so again unless we at last cut out and eject this prolific abomination from our political system. In the war the first cut was made, and our military governments only followed up the surgical operation.
I would be the last man on earth to sound the praise of military rule, as such. I would denounce it even in this case, had it not been the necessary means of transition from the reign of wrong to the reign of right. To give security and order to Southern society in a period of chaotic confusion; to render possible the appeal which was taken to the whole Southern people, without distinction of class or color, and to disappear again as soon as these people had given themselves a political organization — such was the purpose for which it was instituted, and such the end it has accomplished. Nowhere on the face of the earth has military rule been devoted to such a glorious cause as this to wipe out that most pernicious of atrocities, that, in the name of liberty, one man should claim the right to deprive of his rights another; to clear the track for the government of the people, for the people, and by the people, on every inch of ground on which the American flag throws its shadow. Only the friends of tyranny will call this despotism; but it will stand blessed in the memories of coming generations as the pioneer of order, freedom and justice.
The third great Democratic objection to the Republican policy of reconstruction is that we have oppressed the Southern people, by bestowing the elective franchise upon the colored men of the South, while the negro is still so very stupid. Yes, it is true that Congress has secured the right of voting to the colored people of the South, and it is also true that in point of intelligence and education the negro stands below the average of the whites. Why did Congress secure to the negro the right of voting? I have said it already: Because there was no other alternative but between governments of the rebel majority on one, and governments based upon impartial suffrage on the other hand; because it was necessary to protect free labor, which could be done only by giving the laborer the political means with which to protect his own rights. Now, as to the intelligence and education of the negro, is it not a little singular that the Democratic party has suddenly become so very fastidious with regard to the intellectual qualifications of voters? I never heard of it that the Democracy had refused admission to their party to a man on the ground that he was too stupid for them. On the contrary, it is a well-known fact that the Democrats insist upon the right of a certain class which notoriously does not shine by its intelligence, to vote at every election not only once, but four or five times, and the more stupid the man, the oftener he is to vote. Now, I will readily admit that an intelligent exercise of the suffrage is a most desirable thing, but I deny that it is the most important consideration, when we have to determine what class of people shall, and what class shall not, vote. The strength of the democratic system of government does not consist in the whole mass of voters clearly and minutely understanding every question submitted to them in all its bearing, most desirable as such understanding may be. The strength of the democratic system of government consists in the fact that the whole mass of citizens have the right to vote; that this right to them is a stimulus to inform themselves and to take a lively interest in public affairs, and thus becomes a powerful engine of popular education; that they have in their hands the means to preserve and enforce the equality of all before the law, and thus prevent the growth of privilege and monopoly and aristocratic class government which might settle themselves upon the neck of the people. The vote of the individual is guided in a great measure by instincts, his traditions, the nature of his nearest interests and the circumstances under which he lives. And it is not difficult to show that these agencies may sometimes impel the most ignorant to vote more wisely than the shrewdest and most accomplished. Take this example: If, in 1861, the people of the Southern States voted upon the question whether those States should secede from the Union for the purpose of perpetuating slavery; if then in the South the vote of the blacks had been taken with that of the whites, do you think the negroes would have voted for secession, that slavery might be preserved? Stupid they may be, but they would not have been stupid enough for that. No; following their irresistible instinct, they would have voted that the Union remain together and that slavery be abolished. And in voting thus they would have voted ten thousand times more wisely and patriotically than the wisest heads of the rebel aristocracy whom you might have seen assembled the other day in the Democratic Convention at New York. See what would have been the result of negro voting then. The Union would not have been disrupted; the five hundred thousand brave young men, whose blood has soaked the battlefields of the Union, would still be among us, and the country would not now groan under a National debt of twenty-five hundred millions of dollars. I appeal to any Democrat who may hear me, if he could recall those days of 1861, if he could avert from this Republic the calamities we have gone through, if he could thereby save the lives of half a million of our noblest sons, if he could spare the country the embarrassments springing from our burden of debt — if he could do that by permitting the negro to vote, would he not willingly cast aside all his haughty prejudice of race, his specious scruples about the negro's ignorance, and say to the black man: “Go, in the name of God, and vote.” He would be a monster in human shape, and would deserve to be spurned from human society, if he did not sink upon his knees and thank Heaven for the chance. For this, unfortunately, it is too late. But should not every good man eagerly grasp at a similar possibility as it presents itself to-day? What are the negroes of the South doing with their suffrage now? It is one of those false impressions which have for years been assiduously disseminated by the Democrats that we, the Republicans, have nothing in our heads but the negro; that all we have done we did for the exclusive benefit of the black man. Is this true? I for one am free to confess that if there had been no other object in view, I should have been no less zealous in striving to vindicate the outraged dignity of nature in the meanest child of the human family and to lift the yoke of cruel injustice from his neck. But is it true? Look at our past history. In 1856 and 1860 we Republicans fought for the exclusion of slavery from the territories. We conquered. See what has become of those territories. They have grown up into rich, civilized, powerful, progressive States, inhabited by an intelligent, prosperous, progressive, happy people. And who are these people who are now enjoying the benefit of our victory? Are they negroes? No; they are white people like you and myself. We saved the territories for the white laborer in saving them from slavery; and then we were taunted with having nothing in our heads but the interests of the black man. So it was when we emancipated the slaves. Is there a sane man now who will deny that the abolition of slavery is a great blessing, not to the negro alone, but to the whole people, and will be a greater blessing still to our children and our children's children? We liberated only four millions of blacks, but we delivered thirty millions of whites from the odious yoke of grasping aristocracy. We did care for the negro, not as a negro, but as a wronged member of the human family. We were wronged in him. In righting him, we only righted ourselves. Ask yourselves, was not the vote given to the colored man in the South that he might render us all a great service at the ballot-box of the South? What is he voting for? He votes that the whip which tortured him while in slavery may remain away from his back. He votes, therefore, that free labor be permanently established and successfully developed; that the equality of the rights of all before the law be maintained; that the restoration of aristocratic class government in the South, and of similar things at war with true democratic government, be prevented. He votes, therefore, to help us in extinguishing the germs of other conflicts, and in securing the necessary harmony between the social and political institutions of the several States, and the fundamental principles of our democratic system. In doing that, does he not thereby give us his most valuable, nay, indispensable, aid in laying down broad and deep the only safe and durable basis for national peace, good understanding and prosperous development? Are not the colored voters of the South, therefore, in preventing new irrepressible conflicts, in helping us to secure a solid peace, rendering the country as inestimable a service as they would have rendered us in 1861, had they then been permitted by their votes, to avert civil war with all its calamities? Would it not be folly, criminal folly, to reject this service? Can we afford to reject it? Free labor must be established; the restoration of aristocratic class government, with its disloyal tendencies, must be prevented. The interests of the American people, the peace of the country, imperatively demand it. The pro-slavery whites will not help us to accomplish this object; we must have the help of the colored element. There is no choice. What sane, patriotic man can hesitate? Let me say to you, this great American Republic — and were she ten times greater — cannot afford to despise a necessary service, which can only be rendered by the poorest of her children and Heaven forbid that she should. Great as she is, she will honor herself by readily accepting and thankfully acknowledging it.
But is it not just because the colored people of the South are to render the Republic this great service, that the Democratic party so strenuously objects to their having the right to vote? See how the case lies: The colored people of the South, desirous to keep their newly acquired rights unimpaired, have mostly come to the very natural conclusion that the same men who gave them their liberty can be best relied upon to secure it to them. They are, therefore, strongly inclined to vote Republicans into power, and in doing this, every fair-minded man will admit, they show eminent good sense. But it is just this evidence of good sense which makes the Democrats so very savage in denouncing the colored people as unworthy the right of suffrage. In fact, the Democrats do not want to deprive the negro of his vote because he does not vote intelligently enough, but because he votes, in the main, altogether too intelligently for them. On the other hand, a negro who votes the Democratic ticket for the purpose of raising pro-slavery men, the natural enemies of free labor, to office and power, must evidently be a very stupid fellow — unless he is dishonest enough to trade his vote away for a consideration. But just such Democratic negroes are received by the Democrats with open arms. Even Wade Hampton, the very flower of the Southern chivalry, condescends to fraternize with them, and you all have heard of the negro Democrat Williams, from Tennessee, who had a seat in the National Democratic Convention, and who was no longer treated as the despised “nigger” Williams, but was called “Mr.” Williams, while some went so far as to call him “The Honorable Mr. Williams.” Since they thus receive negroes, who have so little sense or honesty as to support the enemies of their own rights, with open arms, it is no longer a qualification of intelligence for the negro voter which the Democrats insist upon, but it is evidently a qualification of stupidity. To the intelligent negro voter they object, but when a negro is only stupid enough to support his enemies by voting the Democratic ticket, the Democrats are ready, apparently, and for the present at least, to welcome him as a man and a brother.
I know very well there is a strong ingredient of deviltry in these professions of friendship for the colored Democrat. The Southern chivalry, with characteristic candor, ask the confiding negro for his vote that they may disfranchise him afterward. “Be my friend, colored brother, and give me power that I may rob thee of thy rights.” I do not think that this game of deception is particularly chivalrous; but whatever the ultimate designs of the Southern Democrats may be, it will, under the present circumstances, have a good effect. This is not the first time that the devil, without knowing it, has served the church. The Southern Democrats indulge in the delusion that by means of the negro vote they can carry some of the late rebel States, and thereby defeat the Presidential candidate of the Republican party. For this purpose they fervently embrace the negro in order to squeeze Democratic votes out of him. Perhaps they have reason to chuckle over this or that colored man who has gone into the trap. But the calculation of the Southern Democrats is wrong in one important point. We have votes enough in the North to elect Grant and Colfax. The Democrats will not have the power to disfranchise the negroes again, and in the meantime the Southern chivalry is gradually falling into the habit of embracing the colored brother to obtain his vote — all of which is very proper. As soon as by another Republican victory the reconstruction policy of Congress has once become an irreversible fact, so that the colored population can not again be stripped of its rights, it will not matter how large a proportion of the negro vote goes to the Democracy; for the great cause of free labor and equal rights will then have achieved a decisive triumph by the mere fact of the negro having become a universally recognized voter, and each party bidding for his vote by supporting his rights and interests.
The rights of the emancipated class being out of danger, the negro vote will then naturally divide itself between the different parties, and there is the solution of that fearful question of the war of races, with which the Democrats have endeavored to frighten our nervous brethren. Political parties will no longer think of a war of races when they think of gaining negro votes for their respective tickets. The Southern Democrats are now going through a preparatory course, and for a beginning they do admirably well. At present, to be sure, there is a great deal of knavery in the background. But another Republican victory, and they will swear, and believe it themselves, that they never thought of disfranchising the negro. They will ask for negro votes in good faith — and welcome all they can obtain. Free labor will be safe, and the races will live in peace. The chivalry will have deceived and cheated itself.
But, negro supremacy! Our opponents tell us that colored suffrage must, necessarily, result in negro supremacy in the South. Horrible, most horrible to contemplate! Let us look this spectral apparition calmly in the face. There are in the Southern States 9,000,000 whites, and there are 3,500,000 negroes. The whites, as the Democrats assure us, are the superior, and the negroes the inferior race. And now the same Democrats come to tell us that 3,500,000 of the inferior race of negroes will surely trample into the dust 9,000,000 of their superiors. Well, if that really were so; if the whites of the South were really such a miserable set that 9,000,000 of them could be trodden under foot by 3,500,000 poor negroes, then they would not deserve anything better, and we can hardly pity them. Is it not astonishing? What a tremendous fellow the negro has suddenly become! Formerly we heard it said that a Southern gentleman was equal to at least five Northern men. Now it turns out, on Democratic authority, that a Southern gentleman is not the equal of one half of a negro. Oh, how are the mighty fallen! This is indeed a most melancholy state of things. I apprehend our philanthropic friends in Boston will have to move in the matter, and try to get up a “New England Southern gentlemen's relief and protection society” — president, Wendell Phillips. But if we may believe some Democratic authorities, the case is still more desperate than I have stated it. General Frank P. Blair gives us to understand, in the speech with which he accepted his nomination, that the supremacy of the whole white race in this Republic is in peril to be upset by the negroes, and something must speedily be done to avert so dreadful a calamity. This, certainly, is still more alarming. The whole population of the United States amounts to about forty millions — thirty-six millions of whites and four millions of blacks. Nobody will deny that, under such circumstances, the supremacy of the white race is in the most imminent danger. What shall we do? Where shall we turn for help? Fortunately, every great crisis brings forth its great man, and the great man of this crisis is found. He is there to put himself into the breach for the white race. General Frank P. Blair himself is going to do it. He has said so; and he is as good as his word. He will march boldly and fearlessly at the head of the thirty-six millions of whites, and then let the four millions of blacks come on! We defy them! There has been some anxious and profound speculation in this country as to what the Blair family is intended for in the order of the universe. It is discovered now. The Blair family is destined to rescue the thirty-six millions of proud Caucasian whites in this country from the atrocious tyranny of four millions of blacks. Yes, the Blair family will do it — or perish in the attempt.
Seriously speaking, when the Democratic leaders sound the alarm about the dangers of negro supremacy, what a glorious confidence they must have in the unfathomable stupidity of their followers! If it is true that in two or three of the Southern States the colored people outnumber the whites, while in all the others the whites are in an overwhelming majority, and that a number of whites are disfranchised for participation in the rebellion, is it not equally true that the whites possess nearly all the real property, all the capital, all the social influence, all the advantage of education, all the political experience, and that of this vast enginery of social and political power the colored people, just emerged from slavery, are almost wholly destitute? And yet, in spite of all this, the blacks are to tread the whites in the dust? If, indeed, the nine millions are not enough to stand their ground against the three and a half millions of blacks, we are ready to send them a reinforcement of carpet-baggers to help them maintain their white preponderance. I do not say this jokingly; I am in earnest. Is not every man who emigrates to the South from the Northern States or from Europe, a white man? The negroes do not find the Ku-Klux atmosphere of the South so pleasing as to be attracted by it. Yes, every emigrant Southward-bound is a white man, and he helps to fortify the ascendancy of the white race there. And if the Southern people were not so foolish as to drive away new-comers who do not agree with them in politics, with petty annoyances and persecutions, and even bloody threats and violence, there would probably have been an increase of the white population in the South of one or two millions since the close of the war.
Indeed, it is a singular sort of infatuation, of lunacy, I might almost say, which possesses the Southern people in this respect. What they want for the restoration and development of their prosperity is immigration, capital, industry, an influx of new and stirring elements. They recognize this in the abstract; but when immigrants do present themselves, the Southern whites demand that the new-comers shall think and act just as they do; and if these new-comers entertain and express principles and ideas materially differing from those traditional in the South, they are denounced as vile carpet-baggers and rascally scalawags, and threatened with expulsion by force if they do not go voluntarily. But if those new-comers really did accommodate themselves to the traditional Southern ways of thinking and acting, what would they be good for? Look at the Northern States, from which the most useful of those immigrants come. The people of the Northern States have attained their high degree of prosperity and civilization just because they do not think and act as the Southern people are wont to do. They owe their culture, their wealth, their social advancement to the very fact that, unlike the Southern people, they admit and encourage the utmost freedom of inquiry and discussion; that they recognize and protect the dignity of labor in the meanest laborer; that no class of society can claim rights and privileges for itself which are not also granted and secured to the other classes. If, now, as the Southern people will have it, immigrants coming from the North give up all these principles and rules of action, their main value to the South will be lost, their energy and enterprise will be hampered, their capacity for progressive improvement will be emasculated. What the Southern people want is not an increase, not a reinforcement of their old stock of ideas and habits of life; they have entered upon a new order of things, and they want new thoughts, new impulses, new energies, new rules of action. They want what differs from their traditional notions, just because it differs from them.
Under such circumstances, it sounds so sadly ludicrous when we hear them indignantly complain that their “first men,” their old tried statesmen, are thrown aside for new-comers. Well, what is the damage? What have their old and tried Southern statesmen — their Davises, their Toombses, their Slidells, and their Masons — what have they done for the South? They have simply shown their utter incapacity to comprehend the irresistible tendency of this age against slavery and all kindred systems of social organization. Modern Don Quixotes, they insisted upon perpetuating and raising to dominant power institutions which were manifestly doomed to destruction by the progressive spirit of the nineteenth century. To this crazy infatuation they have sacrificed the peace, the prosperity, even the lives, of hundreds of thousands of the Southern people. They have been the ruin of their country. And now the Southern whites insist upon digging them up again from their political graves to the ruin of their country once more. What a senseless idea! The merest adventurer of the class they contemptuously call “carpet-baggers,” if his interests and sympathies are in any way identified with the new order of things, is of ten times more real value to the South than the most renowned of the old and tried statesmen, who, with incorrigible stubbornness, are still worshipping their old broken idols. The Southern people ought to remember that, as the Scripture says, “new wine should not be put into old bottles, lest the old bottles burst and the new wine be spilled.” And methinks most of those old Southern bottles have already done such an amount of bursting that they ought to be let alone. Nay, instead of repelling with barbarous fierceness what they really need, let the Southern people welcome every man who comes to them to identify his interest with theirs. Let them welcome him the more heartily if he brings new ideas and new energies to supply their deplorable deficiencies. Let them not complain that among the first comers there are many adventurers, for it is always the adventurer who has to blaze the track where men are called upon to launch into uncertainties. In this, as in many other cases, the adventurer forms the vanguard of civilization. Not until they can settle down in safety, the solid and cautious men will follow to risk their fortunes. Do they want to know what carpet-baggers can do? Let them look at that towering monument, that crowning glory of progressive and enterprising carpet-baggerdom — the city of Chicago. In this way the white race in the South will receive a wonderful strength of reinforcement reinforcements of men who will not permit the blacks to trample into the dust the whites, and are much less afraid of it; nor will they permit the whites to trample into the dust the blacks, but they will see to it that both races work harmoniously together, respecting one another's rights, and thus promoting the civilization and prosperity of all. The fear of being trodden under foot by 3,500,000 negroes may then cease, even with the most tremulous of the nine and more millions of whites, and the harrowing spectacle of the tragic and bloody self-sacrifice of the Blair family may then safely be spared us. So much for that silliest of all party humbugs — the Democratic cry about negro supremacy.
Finally, the last great argument of the Democratic party is, that the Republican policy can not give peace to the country, because the majority of the Southern whites will not submit to it. Ah, indeed, they will not submit! I am by no means inclined to judge harshly of the Southern whites. I have treated them here without passion or prejudice, as a fit subject of pathological inquiry. As we pity a sick man for his bodily ailments, so we give our sympathy, and, if possible, our aid to those who are afflicted with mental and moral infirmities for which they are not entirely responsible. The notions, habits and influences under which the present generation of the Southern whites have grown up, are not of their own making. They have come upon them as traditions and their effects were but natural. We may regard them less as crimes than as misfortunes, but we must deal with them as facts. The South is our “sick man.” For his disease we must find a remedy, and the remedy we select must correspond with a careful diagnosis of the ailment. The disease in this case has been an inordinate craving for unlawful power and dominion. This craving was stimulated by the intoxicating influence of flattery and subserviency on the part of the Northern Democrats, and by the hope of success, to such an extent that it at last resulted in the delirium tremens of the secession movement. The victories of the Union army broke the fit, and the patient, when the intoxicating cup of pride and great expectations was taken away, showed some symptoms of improvement. But, unfortunately, the “sick man” has been operated upon by Democratic doctors once more. The worst stimulant imaginable in such a case is false hope; and false hope has been administered to him without stint — the false hope of a return to controlling power, of a reaction in the direction of aristocratic class government, founded upon a new system of serfdom — the false hope of restoration and revenge. Yes; the Democratic doctors seem to have acted upon the theory that this patient, inclined , to delirium, can best be cured by pouring alcohol down his throat by the gallon. No wonder that the disease approaches another crisis, and it is high time that the rational system of cure should be resumed. And what is this rational system? In diseases of this nature, false hope is poison. Nothing is better calculated to cure the most vicious appetite than the evident impossibility of its gratification, and, fortunately, the medicine is in our hands, and the physician stands ready to administer it.
Indeed, the Democrats tell us that our policy will not produce peace, because the Southern whites will not submit to it. Is this not rather disingenuous? Have not the Democrats told their Southern friends day after day for three years: Do not submit to this Radical tyranny! You would be cowards, you would be unworthy to be called freemen if you did submit! Have not the Democrats besought, implored them: Resist, resist to the last! We will help you! And after having addressed to them these frantic invocations they coolly turn round to us and say: “You see, your policy must fail, for they will not submit to it at all, at all.”
Ah, the late rebel will not submit, then, at all, at all, to what the American people are likely to resolve upon. It appears to me this argument is a little out of date. Seven years ago there might have been some point in it, but since then we have learned that the white people of the South can be made to submit to things which do not entirely suit their fancy. And we have a modest gentleman at the head of our Presidential ticket who has practically proved that, in an emergency, he knows exactly how to do it. His name is Ulysses S. Grant. You remember a certain day in April, 1865, when General Lee fell back with his army upon Appomattox Courthouse, and when General Grant demanded of him an unconditional surrender. What! General Lee, the proud Southern, the very chieftain of the Southern chivalry, looking down upon the rest of mankind with so much high-born contempt; General Lee throw down his sword and surrender his invincible Southern legions to that poor little Northern mud-sill, a late tanner from Illinois! Do you think it suited his fancy? Neither his nor that of his followers. Why, then, did he surrender? Because he felt that Grant had thrown his mighty arm around him, ready to squeeze out of him the last breath of life, if he showed the least hesitation. He submitted because he knew that it was impossible to resist. Thus we have learned from the history of our own days, that even Southern gentlemen will submit to evident necessity. Should we not profit by the lesson? Let us show the Southern reactionists that the loyal people who fought a four years' war for Union, liberty and equal rights, are still alive, and that they still are the same people; that they still cherish the same principles, and still march under the same flag; that no threats can frighten and no seductive allurements swerve them from the path of right. Let us show the Southern people this, by elevating upon our shields once more the very man who led us through war to victory, and who will lead us through victory to peace — and they will soon grow as tired of resisting, as after the fall of Richmond they grew tired of fighting; they will, after a little explosion of rant, submit as gracefully as General Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse. The late rebels of the South may all be as brave as Lee — and yet they will submit as soon as they see that the loyal people in their righteous demands are as firm as Grant. Here, indeed, is the medicine for the sick man of the South, ready for use. It is not yet too late for a cure.
Let it not be said that this means a brutal reign of physical force. It is the application of an irresistible moral power by the imposing assertion of an unbending National will. And no fitter man than General Grant could be found to serve as its representative. Let me repeat what I said of him at the commencement of the campaign: “He knows the Southern people and they know him. They have been in rather close and lively contact, and understand one another. He has given them evidence of his unbending determination in a conflict, and of his generosity after victory. They know that when he demanded an unconditional surrender, he meant it to be unconditional; they know also that he treated the vanquished with magnanimous forbearance. The people of the South will therefore have no reason to fear that he will act with the vindictive spirit of an exasperated partisan, and no reason to hope that iniquity and factious resistance will meet from him with weak indulgence.” They know that he is not a man of extreme notions, of extravagant fancies; that he will impose nothing upon the people which is unjust, improper, unreasonable or oppressive. But they know, also, that when he has once conceived, in accordance with the popular will, what is right, down he will plant his foot, and neither the power of all rebeldom, nor the very gates of hell, will stagger him. As Andrew Johnson and the Democratic party stirred up the most vicious elements of Southern society to new hope and activity, so Grant's election will put a tremendous damper upon all reactionary aspirations, and give new encouragement and moral power to those men who, in the spirit of peace and justice, strive to confirm the new order of things. Yes, a firm and faithful people, and at their head a firm and faithful leader, that is the true medicine for the sick man of the South. I repeat, in disease of this nature, nothing is better calculated to cure the most vicious appetite than the evident impossibility of its gratification. There will be boisterous incorrigibles, no doubt, but they will gradually mope, and rant, and swear, and drink themselves to death. They will die by self-combustion. And peace to their ashes! But those elements of Southern society which have vitality in them will rise up to new life. All men of sense will cut loose from false hopes, will throw behind them the past, and turn their eyes upon the future. The spirit of persecution will have to yield to the spirit of improvement. In a country like this, habits form quickly, and, before Grant's Administration is over, the new order of things will have deeply entered into the habits of Southern society. Then even the carpet-bagger will soon be welcomed in the South for the new ideas and energies he brings, and all sores will presently be forgotten in a new common prosperity. Such is the peace which the firmness of the loyal people promises and which it is bound to achieve.
Wade Hampton tells us that this will be for the South “the peace of the graveyard.” Aye, Wade Hampton, it will be a graveyard in one sense, and we mean to dig the graves broad and deep. In that graveyard will be buried the pro-slavery aristocracy of the South, with its foolish fancies and its grasping pretensions of superiority and dominion. There will be buried the false civilization of the South, which elevated the few upon the neck of the oppressed many. There will be buried that most abominable of all heresies, that true liberty consists in the right of one class of men to deprive of their rights another class; and let us hope that the corpse of the Democratic party will be laid by its side. There will be buried the irrepressible conflict, which, during so many years, has disturbed the peace of the country and swallowed up a million of lives and untold millions of treasure. There will be buried out of sight and memory, this age of blood and tears, of violence and injustice, to make room for a new and better order of things. A graveyard, indeed; but from those graves will spring up free labor with its abundant fields and busy workshops. There will spring up the school-house for all the children of the people to join all classes of society together for mutual improvement in the onward march of a common civilization. There will spring up that progressive public spirit which will recognize that one part of the people will best promote its own interest by aiding in the advancement of all others. There will spring up true loyalty to the Republic, for then the interests and institutions most cherished by the South will be just those it has in common with the rest of the American people. And finally, upon the grave of iniquity, will grow the flower of peace, that true and enduring peace of common liberty and rights mutually respected.
What do the Democrats offer us for this? Look at their platform. Indeed, it promises you peace, but before that peace is to come they mean to go through some preliminary operations. And what are they? A trifle. The reconstruction measures of Congress, the laws of the land, are only to be trampled in the dust. The Southern State governments are only to be dispersed by force of arms. The Senate of the United States is only to be coerced into submission, so General Blair tells us, and all this to put all political power in the Southern States again into the hands of the whites of the South, an overwhelming majority of whom were active participants in the rebellion, and life-long enemies of free-labor society, based upon equal rights. These are the Democratic preliminaries of peace. Indeed! Is this all? And do not say that I exaggerate; for General Blair's letter, by which he secured his nomination, is but the logical construction of the Democratic platform. What can it mean, that denunciation of the reconstruction measures of Congress as unconstitutional, revolutionary and void, if it does not mean that the results of these measures are to be set aside at any price, even at the price of a forcible revulsion! Trample into the dust the laws! Disperse the Southern State governments at the point of the bayonet! Restore the late rebels to power in their States by force! Compel the Senate to submit! Look at it calmly and dispassionately. This is not a quiet legislative process. For this there is but one name — it is a counter-revolution in the fullest sense of the term. Do you know what that signifies? Look into the history of the world. Counter revolutions mean revenge. They are the explosion of resentments long laid up; of hate and vindictiveness panting for action. You may know where they begin, but you cannot tell where they will end. They are propelled by passion, and passion outruns control. If you want to understand the full bearing of the Democratic program of counter-revolution, look at the men who are to execute it. There is Horatio Seymour. He, a respectable gentleman! Pleasant, plausible, smooth. Not a man of a ferocious temper by any means; but scan his political career from its first commencement to the present day, and what do you find? A sickly shrinking from great responsibilities; a continual effort to reach his ends by small means, by petty contrivances; a lack of true manhood. He has not even courage enough to say what he wants, and obtains his nominations for office by declining. He has never another word to say for his own expressed convictions of right as soon as he finds them overruled by his friends. He made an emphatic declaration in favor of paying the bonds in gold but a few days before the Democratic Convention, and then accepted the greenback platform without a murmur, as a matter of course. He loudly proclaimed himself a dishonored man if he should take the Democratic nomination for the Presidency, and then he very politely took it. He has been accused of wilful, mendacious misrepresentations of facts — facts open to everybody, but I candidly declare I believe he has not moral force enough to distinguish truth from falsehood. In one word, he is made to be the tool of a stronger will. In private life a sweet-tempered, kind-hearted gentleman, he is, in a position of power, just the man to be swayed by the passions of other people. If President, he would perhaps recoil before the counter-revolutionary program of his friends, but at the decisive moment he would feel that his delicate constitution needed a washing in the surf at Newport, or the strengthening perfumes of the far-off pineries in Wisconsin. The stern business of the hour he would leave to men of stronger will and fiercer disposition. He would be like potter's clay in their hands. And certainly men of stronger will and fiercer disposition would not be wanting around him.
There is General Blair. True, his lucubrations on negro supremacy are ludicrous enough, but it will not do to speak lightly of his ability. There is power in his organization. He has that stuff in him which, developed by a high moral sense, might have made him a Brutus, but which, turned into the channel of unprincipled ambition and bitter vindictiveness, is well apt to make him a Catiline. He is essentially a revolutionary character; a mind fertile of expedients, a reckless determination which stops at nothing, and all the dangerous incentives springing from a situation in which he has all to gain and nothing to lose. I can hardly conceive of a counter-revolutionary leader more daring, reckless and dangerous than he. Preston and Forrest knew well what they were doing when they proposed and seconded his nomination. What will Horatio Seymour be with such a man at his elbow? Such a man will bend or break him like a reed across his knees.
But there would be even stronger powers than Blair ready and eager to take the counter-rebellion in their own hands. Who made the Democratic platform and the nominations? Vallandigham, Wade Hampton, Preston, Forrest. Do you know them? Did you not hear the old rebel yell which greeted the counter-revolutionary program in the New York Convention? Do you not hear it now ringing over the Southern country? Do you not hear the leaders of the late rebellion openly proclaim that a Democratic victory will be a victory of the “lost cause”; that their will must again rule the land, and that as they have fought once they are ready to fight again? Did you not read what the bloody Forrest said to a Northern journalist, that, if another conflict occurred, there would be no quarter for any Radical within his reach, and measures would be taken that not a victim would escape him. Do you not hear all over the South threats no less savage than these?
You may be told that these are fanciful exaggerations. Alas! no. Look at the more prudent of the Democratic leaders, how they grow pale at the indiscreet sincerity of their Southern friends. Upon their troubled faces you read the proof of what I say. Listen to them, how they, with nervous anxiety, whisper “Hush! hush!” lest the ardent Southerner betray too much of what is to come, and the people, forewarned, should block the game! It is in vain. The tendency of a counter-revolution is a thing too big for concealment. Lee and Beauregard may roar even more gently than sucking doves — the rebel element of the South has shown its hand again, and we have seen the dagger in the sleeve. Is it not natural after all? Can it be otherwise? May not Andrew Johnson say, again, that the late rebels are doing just as well as we have a right to expect of them? Look at that fearful spectacle in the Democratic National Convention. The Democratic party clamoring for the overthrow of the laws! For the restoration to uncontrolled sway of the rebel majority in the Southern States! Promising them, as Wade Hampton kindly informs us, that they shall have all, all they desire, much more than they openly dare to express! Nay, the Democratic candidate for the Vice- Presidency formally appealing to the arbitrament of arms, of another fight, and assuring them that the government of the Republic once in Democratic hands, he will take the lead! Is it a wonder that the morbid imagination of the Southerner eagerly seizes upon these appeals and promises, and that, intoxicated with new hopes, they seriously speak of the “lost cause” regained? Is it surprising that the insane invocation of force against the reconstructed governments should have violently stirred up the worst impulses, the fiercest passions of the Southern populace, like the rallying cry of another rebellion?
And these men, with the reckless habits of slave society, with all their pent-up wrath, their violent resentments, their wild vindictiveness, excited to fever heat by the promise of victory, and the prospect of undivided power, these are the men to take into their hands the counter-revolution in their own States, and to unite with the most unscrupulous class of Northern demagogues in the control of the National Government. Where would they stop? I will not attempt to predict what atrocities their hot thirst of revenge will bring forth in the Southern States. There we have already witnessed things which humanity must blush for, and which, for the honor of the American name, we would be happy to hide from the eyes of the world. But which of those great conquests for the cause of liberty and human rights, which we consider the most glorious results of the war, would be safe? Would free labor be safe? Which of the laws enacted for its protection would be respected? The laws passed by Southern legislatures, or the civil rights act? They have already been denounced as unconstitutional and void. The fourteenth Constitutional amendment? Already a Northern lawyer has been found to perform for the South the menial service of pronouncing it invalid, because its ratification was brought about by the agency of the military governments. The Constitutional amendment, abolishing slavery? The same reasoning brought against the fourteenth amendment will be urged against it, and already the late slaveholders are eagerly calling over the rolls of the late slaves, determined to reclaim them as property, or have compensation for them in money. Will the National debt be safe? Already we hear it denounced as an accursed debt, contracted in the unholy cause of oppression, and you can not read the Democratic platform with an unprejudiced mind without seeing in its financial propositions the hideous design of repudiation grinning out between every two words. Will you say that this is mere speculation? I do not speak of things that will, but that have been already threatened and attempted. Will you say that the Senate will stand in the way? General Blair tells you plainly that the Senate will be compelled to submit, and the late rebels proclaim, with fierce exultation, that they stand ready to respond to another appeal to arms. What safeguard then of free labor; what obligation of the National honor will be safe? The counter-revolution is ready to roll over them all with the force of an avalanche, and nothing is required to set it in motion but that you should put power into the hands of those who are ready to commence the terrible work. If the Democratic platform means anything, it means this. This is its logic. It can mean nothing else.
Is this a promise of peace? The threatened overthrow of all the most glorious results of this grand period of our history, an attempt to disgrace the American name in the eyes of all mankind by the spoliation of the National creditor, the power of the Republic wielded by the most turbulent elements in the land — a reign of greed and revenge — can that be peace? You ask me whether I think that they can ultimately succeed in all they contemplate? No; thank Heaven — it cannot be; not as if the desire were wanting, but I am confident, as long as but one spark of love of liberty, of honesty, of self- respect, of National pride, is alive in the hearts of the American people, such enormities cannot ultimately succeed. Even if the American people should now so far forget themselves as to fall into the ignominious trap, the burning shame would give them no rest, and in four years they would certainly sweep this party of conspirators from the face of the earth. Succeed, no; but you put power into their hands, and it will surely be attempted. Do you know what that means? Neither did the rebellion succeed; but do you remember what the mere attempt has cost us? American patriots, have you already forgotten the terrors of the battlefield, the agonies of the prisoners camp, the rivers of blood and the sea of tears? Have you forgotten the untold millions of treasure you have poured into the gulf of the great conflict? And now you would permit and encourage the attempt again? Are we little children? are we a people of lunatics, that we should wantonly reopen all those fearful questions again, which have staggered the Republic on its foundations, covered the land with calamity and distress, plunged the Nation in mourning, and sorely tried the spirit even of the bravest — reopen them again, wantonly, recklessly, when at one blow we can close them forever?
Merchants, manufacturers, fanners, laboring men, shall I speak to you of the public debt, our National credit, of the currency, of the taxes you pay, of our material prosperity? I have not pronounced these words, perhaps, and yet, have I not spoken of these things all the time? Is there a man, understanding his own interests, so insane as to believe that the burdens which weigh upon us can be lightened, that credit and confidence can be restored, that our prosperity can be promoted by putting power into the hands of men who are so reckless of the peace of the country? You want peace, order and undisturbed development of our National resources; you want the Southern markets to open, and the whole South again to become an addition to the wealth of the land. How can you, then, think of placing at the helm of affairs the very men whose avowed purpose is to reopen the questions which have so long been disturbing our repose, to continue the wild agitations which so long have been prostrating credit, confidence and prosperity, and to make the South again, for years to come, the theater of desolating civil commotions? Can you be crazy enough to embark your fortunes on a sea of uncertainty like this, the whole sky overhung with threatening storm-clouds? And if you belonged to those whose patriotism is tied up in their pockets, and whose hearts have never been warmed by generous emotions, remember — and the most selfish of you should write it in indelible letters upon your strong box — you cannot endanger the peace of the country without plotting your own ruin.
Democrats of the North, a last appeal to you. Not for ourselves will I speak, but to you I will say a word for the poor South, whose friends you profess to be. Did you ever consider what your friendship has made of that unfortunate country? For more than a generation you have excited and stimulated the worst pro-slavery passions in the Southern people. You, children of the free North, could not love slavery for its own sake; you could not believe that so flagrant an abomination could success fully resist the progressive spirit of the nineteenth century, and yet did you not encourage that insane resistance — resistance to the last — with your insidious acclamations and your promises of aid? Is it not true that, but for that artful encouragement the Southern people would have recognized the impossibility of perpetuating slavery, and that, abandoning their false hopes, they might have long ago commenced, by a gradual and peaceable reform, to accomplish that which has now been accomplished by the terrors of revolution and war? That the peaceable and salutary course of reform was not commenced in time, you, Northern Democrats, you are responsible for it. But more. Brave as the Southern people may be, they would scarcely have dared to raise their hands in rebellion against this Republic had they not been assured that the people of the North would not fight, or, if they did, that there would be Northern people enough to rise in aid of the rebellion. You, Northern Democrats, caused them to indulge in this fatal delusion; you goaded them on to the path of rebellion, blood and destruction. But, still more. In 1864, when the back of the rebellion was already broken, and when speedy submission might have spared us many grievous sacrifices, you, Northern Democrats, then declared the war a failure on our side; you then encouraged the Southern people to persevere, to hope, to fight on. And thus the slaughter and destruction continued. But still more. At last the rebellion was vanquished, and the Southern people lay prostrate at the feet of the conqueror exhausted, impoverished, lacerated, bleeding. So far your friendship had brought them. There was but one way for them to rise to new life, peace and prosperity. It was by giving up all those old wild dreams of sectional power; by abandoning all thought of the possibility of a reaction; by accepting readily all the new order of things would bring; by devoting themselves, without looking back, to the reparation of their losses; by averting their eyes from the past and turning them full upon the future. And who will deny that after the first stunning effect of their defeat such was their disposition, and that this disposition would have been strengthened by a firm and uncompromising attitude on the part of the North? Thus their wounds might have been quickly healed, and their life restored to health and vigor. But what did you do, Northern Democrats? No sooner was there a chance for their regeneration than you hastened again to pour into their minds the poison of false hope. You stimulated their pride with flattery. You stirred up their feverish imaginations by showing them the deceitful picture of a possible reaction. By wild harangues you excited them to stubborn resistance to the new order of things. You inflamed their worst passions by appealing to their worst prejudices; and, alas! they believed you once more. And now see what you have done. The South, in a new attack of that delirium which the defeat of the rebellion had happily abated, and the repulsive manifestations of which you yourselves now vainly endeavor to restrain; the old terrorism, the old violence, the old mania for the exercise of unrighteous power; and thus three years since the end of the war have been wantonly squandered — three years, which might have given them peace, but for you. And yet, if you are not blind to the signs of the times, you know that all the hopes you have excited are vain. You know what they are struggling for can never be restored, and what they are struggling against is bound to come. You must know that this will be a Republic of free labor and equal rights. And yet you are still pouring oil into the flame of their madness — nay, you are urging the sword into their hands, which you know they can raise only for self-destruction. Democrats of the North, are your consciences dead? Have you no hearts, no pity for your Southern victims! Have their destroyed cities, their devastated fields, have the hundreds of thousands of their sons whose blood they have sacrificed at your instigation, not yet given you your fill? Shall the agony of those whom you have goaded on from error to error, from crime to crime, from disaster to disaster, be continued forever? Will you never give them a chance to return to reason? What have the poor Southern people done to you, that you should never cease to persecute them with your cruel, relentless, murderous, fiendish friendship? Is it not as if the policy of your party were born of the love of mischief for mischief's sake? When contemplating this appalling spectacle, does it not appear questionable to yourselves which was the most terrible curse for the South, the institution of slavery or the friendship of the Democratic party? Is there no human feeling in your hearts which moves you — no voice of conscience which compels you to desist from this most cruel wickedness?
If there is not, then we, Republicans, have to find the remedy. As we delivered the South of slavery, so we have now to deliver the Southern people of the most malicious of their enemies — who call themselves their friends; of a friendship whose very touch is disaster and disgrace, whose continuance would be death. And this will be the crowning consummation of all our conquests. How shall we accomplish it? Republicans, no man can read the signs of the times to-day, without feeling that this struggle is already decided, and our victory certain. Already the glorious guns of New England are reverberating with increased volume. We hear the irresistible tramp of the old grand army of freedom again, and the whole American sky rings with the triumphant shout: “We are coming! We are coming!” Against this invincible power the very hosts of pandemonium will rear themselves up in vain. Ah, how contemptibly silly are those who dared to dream that the great American Nation would be cowardly enough to throw away, with wanton levity, the great fruits of their grandest struggle for liberty and justice. Yes, success is certain; but take care lest that very certainty diminish our efforts and deprive our triumph of its highest value.
Mark what I say. One of those meager victories which leave the beaten enemy the hope of a future revulsion of fortune, will not suffice now. We must strike down the wicked faction opposed to us with such crushing force that even the most sanguine of them can never expect again to revive it under the load of universal condemnation; that even the most credulous of Southern reactionists must recognize every Democratic promise of aid as a piece of impotent deception, and that the whole Southern people must open their eyes and behold their treacherous seducers in the North so deeply accursed by the enlightened opinion and the patriotism of the American Republic that, whatever their desire for mischief may be, their power is annihilated forever. Only then we shall take away from the Democracy their greatest faculty for evil, their ability to cheat their victims, with a show of strength. Only then we shall deliver the poor South of the most terrible of curses, their false friends. Only then we shall rid this country of the most dangerous element of trouble: a conspiracy against the vital principles of our Government, nourished by false hopes.
American patriots, now is your time! Your duty calls you with trumpet tones. Let no true man to whom speech is given now be silent. Let none whose heart ever was fired by the divine breath of liberty, now stand idle. There are those who are still wavering between right and wrong. Not a moment let there be lost. Speak to them the language of great principles; assault their understanding with irrefutable arguments; storm their hearts with solemn appeals. The greatest victory ever achieved is within our grasp. It rests with us to make it the final one. Up, then, and be doing! Now is the time to make the American people brothers once more, by writing upon the very frontispiece of this Republic in characters of burning light, that even the wickedest must read it and bow his head; that even the blind must feel the electric flash, the great law of our future: Liberty and Equal Rights for all and forever! Peace through Justice.
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