The most striking characteristic of Hayes as a soldier was his personal intrepidity. Anthony Wayne, Francis Marion, and Ethan Allen were called brave men in the Revolution, and so they were; but we look in vain in their histories for as numerous proofs of unsurpassable daring as the hero of Cloyd Mountain, Cedar Creek, and South Mountain, has given us. Four horses shot under him; four wounds in action; fighting after he fell; a hundred days exposed to death under fire—these are the evidences of as lofty a courage as is yet known among men.
As a regimental, brigade, and division commander, his most striking quality as a leader was his impetuosity. General Crook used to say that Hayes fought infantry as other men fought cavalry. He was always wanting to move forward, to charge, to get at the enemy with cold steel. His favorite step was the double-quick; his choice of distance two paces; and his preferred mode of fighting, the hand-to-hand grapple. This meant business, was decisive, and was soon over.
Another characteristic was his constant care for the comfort of his soldiers. He was much in the hospitals, cheering up the wounded, writing letters for them, and sending last messages from the lips of the dying to wives, mothers, and friends. He shared his blanket, his last crust, his last penny, with the neediest of his men, and abstained from food when they had none.
His house is to-day, and has been since the war, a soldiers' home, where all who served with him are invited to come at all times and partake at his own table with his wife and children. Seldom is this generous hospitality imposed on by the members of his large military family. Once, only, a pseudo-soldier, whom the children called the "Veteran," having served two days and a half in the army, remained just double the term of his military service under the governor's roof. He doubtless found that the rations at this camp were good.
As a civil magistrate, Governor Hayes has developed executive and administrative abilities of the highest order. He has a practical, common-sense, direct way of doing things. He first finds what things ought to be done, and then how. When his own party has been in a minority, he has made friends with a few of the most reasonable men in the opposition, and through them, as instruments, has accomplished his purposes.
He is a discriminating judge of human nature, and is magnetic enough to make legislators follow his lead, as his soldiers followed him.
He has fixed rules of official conduct to which he adheres in all cases. For example, if he has a judge to appoint—and he has appointed many to fill vacancies—his simple inquiry is, Whom do the members of the legal profession want, who live in the judicial district to be provided for? When that fact is accurately ascertained, the appointment follows as a matter of course, even though the lawyer preferred may be his personal enemy. In the interests of learning, higher education, human benevolence, and equal rights, Hayes has accomplished more than any governor Ohio has yet had. We make this statement with the honorable records of old Jeremiah Morrow, Corwin, Chase, Tod, Brough, and Cox spread before us.
In a word, Governor Hayes is square-built, solid and sound, mentally, morally, and physically. His integrity is a proverb; his fidelity to his convictions is recognized by political enemies; his record is of unassailable soundness; and there is absolutely nothing vulnerable in his character. He has a Lincoln-like soundness of judgment, and is as inexorably just as old John Marshall. He is a man absolutely free from eccentricities and affectations; he neither walks nor talks on stilts. His manners have the warmth and grace that sincerity and simplicity give. In bearing, he is animated and thoughtful, manly and refined. His firmness, while it does not amount to obstinacy, marks the clear-cut individuality and decision of his character. He has the guiding faculty and the power of containing himself. He takes a just measure both of himself and of other men. If the country will do this, his future is as secure as his past. If president, he would do the right thing at the right time, in the right way. His election will give us, not a "solid South" or a solid North, but a solid Union!
Since experience has taught us how essential it is that the representative of the women of America in the executive mansion should worthily represent all that is best and most elevated in our social life, a word in regard to the companion of Governor Hayes may not be out of taste. If any public man in our history has been more fortunate and happy in his home surroundings and family relations, we are not aware who he may be. If the voice of the people should decree the transplanting of the ideal home of this family from the capital of Ohio to the capital of the Republic, the pure and elevating influences radiating from such a home would pervade and purify the social life of the National city, if not of the land. A severer simplicity would mark the inner and the outer life of the president's household. Extravagance in dress and living, wastefulness in vain displays and in ambitious entertainments, would find no encouragement from the mistress of the Nation's mansion. The lessons of truth and piety, of purity and virtue, of charity and benevolence, of sincerity and self-forgetfulness, would be taught by example. A whole people could here find in illustration the sacredness of the family and the holiness of home.
A union of rare accomplishments, social and domestic, with beauty of features, manners, and character, may yet be found in a successor of Mrs. Madison.
A doctor of divinity and a doctor of laws, the president of the Ohio Wesleyan University, bears this weighty testimony, in a public address, to the correctness of what we have hereinbefore recorded:
"It is in no spirit of partisanship, nor with the slightest reference to merely political ends, but simply in illustration of our subject that we add, already there are hopeful signs of reformation in our National life. It is a sign of progress that the suspicion of sullied purity is beginning to be fatal to a public man. It is an omen of good when in a large and representative convention, with the names of many distinguished men before it, one is borne above them all on the tide of popular enthusiasm and with ringing peals of applause is presented to the American people, without effort of his own, as a candidate for the highest office in the Nation, not only because of his eminent ability, but largely because of the transparent purity of his character and his high, manly, moral worth.
"It is doubtless a cause of honest pride to the citizens of this town, irrespective of political creeds and preferences, that the man thus highly distinguished is a native of your classic city. By reason of its youth this university can not claim him as a son, but it regards with maternal pride his not less worthy companion, who, after graduation at one of the best female colleges in the State, indicated her rare good sense by passing through much of the college curriculum of our university here.
"If, by the decree of the people and the providence of God, this worthy pair, honored graduates of Ohio's higher schools of learning, shall be lifted to the highest position and power and influence in the Nation, we have reason to believe that they will illustrate the salutary influence of that cultured goodness of which we have spoken, and that the National capital and the entire National domain will enjoy a purer atmosphere."
Speech of GENERAL R. B. HAYES, delivered at Lebanon, Ohio, August 5, 1867.
President Lincoln began his memorable address at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery with these words:
"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new Nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
This was Abraham Lincoln's opinion of what was accomplished and what was meant by the Declaration of Independence. His idea was that it gave birth to a Nation, and that it dedicated that Nation to equal rights.
Now, so far as the performance of duty in the present condition of our country is concerned, "this is the whole law and the prophets." The United States are not a confederacy of independent and sovereign States, bound together by a mere treaty or a compact, but the people of the United States constitute a Nation, having one flag, one history, "one country, one constitution, one destiny." Whoever seeks to divide this Nation into two sections—into a North and a South, or into four sections, according to the cardinal points of the compass, or into thirty or forty independent sovereignties—is opposed to the Nation, and the Nation's friends should be opposed to him.
Washington, in his Farewell Address, says:
"The unity of government, which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquillity at home, your peace abroad; of your safety, of your prosperity, of that very liberty which you so highly prize.... The name of American, which belongs to you in your National capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have, in a common cause, fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels and joint efforts—of common dangers, sufferings, and successes."
The sentiment of Nationality is the sentiment of the Declaration of Independence; it is the sentiment of the fathers; it is the sentiment which carried us through the war of the Revolution, and through the war of the late Rebellion; and it is a sentiment which the people of the United States ought forever to cultivate and cherish.
The great idea to which the Nation, according to Mr. Lincoln, was dedicated by the fathers is expressed in the Declaration in these familiar phrases: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
An intelligent audience will not wish to hear discussion as to the import of these sentences. Their language is simple, their meaning plain, and their truth undoubted. The equality declared by the fathers was not an equality of beauty, of physical strength, or of intellect, but an equality of rights. Foolish attempts have been made by those who hate the principles of the fathers to destroy the great fundamental truth of the Declaration, by limiting the application of the phrase "all men" to the men of a single race.
But Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration leaves no room to doubt what he meant by these words. The gravest charge he made against the King of Great Britain in the original draft of the Declaration of Independence was the following:
"He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people, who never offended him, capturing and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain, determined to keep open market where MEN should be bought and sold."
In this sentence the word "men" is written by Jefferson in capital letters, showing with what emphasis he wished to declare that the King of Great Britain was making slaves of a people to whom belonged the rights of men.
Unfortunately for our country, that King, and others who "waged cruel war against human nature itself," had already succeeded in planting in the bosom of American society an element implacably hostile to human rights, and destined to become the enemy of the Union, whenever the American people, in their National capacity, should refuse assent to any measures which the holders of slaves should deem necessary or even important for the security or prosperity of their "peculiar institution."
I need not, upon this occasion, repeat what is now familiar history—how, by the invention of the cotton-gin, and the consequent enormous increase of the cotton crop, slave labor in the cotton States, and slave breeding in the Northern slave States, became so profitable that the slaveholders were able, for many years, largely to influence, if not control, every department of the National Government. The slave power became something more than a phrase—it was a definite, established, appalling fact. The Missouri controversy, South Carolina nullification, the Texas controversy, the adoption of the compromise measures of 1850, and the repeal of the Missouri compromise in 1854, were all occasions when the country was compelled to see the magnitude, the energy, the recklessness, and the arrogance of the slave power.
Precisely when the men who wielded that power determined to destroy the Union it is not now necessary to inquire. Threats of disunion were made in the first Congress that assembled under the constitution. Upon various pretexts they were repeated from time to time, and no one doubts that slavery was at the bottom of them. In 1833 General Jackson wrote to Rev. A. J. Crawford: "Take care of your nullifiers; you have them among you; let them meet with the indignant frown of every man who loves his country. The tariff, it is now known, was a mere pretext ... and disunion and a Southern Confederacy the real object. The next pretext will be the negro or slavery question." General Jackson was no doubt right as to the existence of a settled purpose to break up the Union, and to establish a Southern Confederacy, as long ago as 1832. But why was there such a purpose? On what ground did it stand?
Great political parties, whether sectional or otherwise, do not come by accident, nor are they the invention of political intrigue. A faction born of a clique may have some strength at one or two elections, but the wisest political wire-workers can not, by merely "taking thought," create a strong and permanent party. The result of the Philadelphia Convention last summer probably taught this truth to the authors of that movement. Great political movements always have some adequate cause.
Now, on what did the conspirators who plotted the destruction of the Union and the establishment of a Southern Confederacy rely? In the first place, they taught a false construction of the National constitution, which was miscalled State rights, the essential part of which was that "any State of the Union might secede from the Union whenever it liked." This doctrine was the instrument employed to destroy the unity of the Nation. The fact which gave strength and energy to those who employed this instrument was that in the southern half of the Union, society, business, property, religion, and law were all based on the proposition that over four millions of our countrymen, capable of civilization and religion, were, because of their race and color, "so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." The practice, founded upon this denial of the Declaration of Independence, protected by law and sanctioned by usage, was our great National transgression, and was the cause of our great National calamity.
In a country where discussion was free, sooner or later, parties were sure to be formed on the issues presented by the slaveholders. The supporters of the Union and of human rights would band together against the supporters of disunion and slavery. For many years after the struggle really began, the issues were not clearly defined, and neither party was able to occupy its true and final position, or to rally to its standard all who were in fact its friends. Old parties encumbered the ground. Men were slow to give up old associations and leave the discussion of obsolete, immaterial, or ephemeral issues.
At last the crisis came. In 1860, Mr. Lincoln, who was unfriendly to slavery and faithful to the Union, was elected president. The party of disunion and slavery were prepared for this event. Their action was prompt, decisive, and defiant. They proceeded to organize southern conventions, and formally to withdraw from the Union, and undertook to establish a new government and a new Nation on the soil of the United States.
Prior to 1860 the party calling itself Democratic had gathered under one name and one organization almost the whole of the secessionists of the South and a large body of the people of the North, many of whom had no sympathy either with secession or slavery. In 1860 the secessionists were so arrogant in their demands that the great body of the Democratic party in the North refused to yield to them, and supported Mr. Douglass in opposition both to Mr. Lincoln, and to the disunion and slavery candidate, Mr. Breckenridge. But it was well known that many leading Democrats who supported Mr. Douglass leaned strongly toward the southern Calhoun democracy, and that their sympathies were with slave-holding or at least with slaveholders.
The evidence of this is abundantly furnished in their recorded opinions. The most distinguished and perhaps the most influential Democrat now actively engaged in politics in Ohio, who presided over and addressed the last Democratic State Convention held at Columbus, Mr. Pendleton, delivered a speech in the House of Representatives on the 18th of January, 1861.
You will recollect how far the slaveholders had progressed in their great rebellion at that date. Mr. Pendleton himself says:
"To-day, sir, four States of this Union have, so far as their power extends, seceded from it. Four States, as far as they are able, have annulled the grants of power made to the Federal Government; they have resumed the powers delegated by the Constitution; they have canceled, so far as they could, every limitation upon the full exercise of all their sovereign rights. They do not claim our protection; they ask no benefit from our laws; they seek none of the advantages of the confederation. On the other hand, they renounce their allegiance; they repudiate our authority over them, and they assert that they have assumed—some of them that they have resumed—their position among the family of sovereignties, among the nations of the earth.... To-day, even while I am speaking, Georgia is voting upon this very question. And unless the signs of the times very much deceive us, within three weeks other States will be added to the number."
Mr. Pendleton might also have said that prior to that date, forts, arsenals, dock-yards, mints, and other places and property belonging to the United States, had been seized by organized and armed bodies of rebels; the collection of debts due in the South to Northern creditors had been stopped; South Carolina had declared that any attempt to reinforce Fort Sumter by the United States would be regarded by that State as an act of hostility against her and equivalent to a declaration of war; the Star of the West, an unarmed vessel, with the American flag floating at her mast-head, carrying provisions to the famishing garrison of Fort Sumter, had been fired on and driven from Charleston harbor; in short, at that date the rebels were engaged in actual war against the Nation, and the only reason why blood had not been shed was that the National government had failed in its duty to defend the Nation's property, and to maintain the sacredness of the National flag.
At that crisis Mr. Pendleton delivered and sent forth a speech bearing this significant motto: "But, sir, armies, money, blood, can not maintain this Union—justice, reason, peace, may." The speech was according to its motto. Accustomed as he is to speak cautiously, and in a scholarly and moderate way, we can not be mistaken as to his drift. On the authority of the National government he says:
"Now, sir, what force of arms can compel a State to do that which she has agreed to do? What force of arms can compel a State to refrain from doing that which her State government, supported by the sentiment of her people, is determined to persist in doing.... Sir, the whole scheme of coercion is impracticable. It is contrary to the genius and spirit of the Constitution."
These extracts sufficiently and fairly show Mr. Pendleton's notion of the duty and authority of the Nation in that great crisis. He held the States rights doctrines of Calhoun and Breckenridge, and not the National principles of Washington and Jackson.
As to the treatment of rebels already in arms, and as to the "demands" of the slave power, consider this advice which he gave to Congress and the people:
"If these Southern States can not be conciliated; if you, gentlemen, can not find it in your hearts to grant their demands; if they must leave the family mansion, I would signalize their departure by tokens of love; I would bid them farewell so tenderly that they would be forever touched by the recollection of it; and if in the vicissitudes of their separate existence they should desire to come together with us again in one common government, there should be no pride to be humiliated, there should be no wound inflicted by my hand to be healed. They should come and be welcome to the places they now occupy."
Thus we see there were those who, with honeyed phrases and soft words, would have looked smilingly on, while the great Republic—the pride of her children, the hope of the ages—built by the fathers at such an expense of suffering, of treasure, and of blood, was stricken by traitors' hands from the roll of living Nations, and while an armed oligarchy should establish in its stead a nation founded on a denial of human rights, and under whose sway south of the Potomac more than half of the territory of the old Thirteen Colonies—soil once fertilized by the best blood of the Revolution—should, for generations to come, continue to be tilled by the unrequited toil of slaves.
The best known, the boldest, and perhaps the ablest leader of the peace Democracy in the North is Mr. Vallandigham. He was chairman of the committee on resolutions in the last Democratic State Convention in Ohio, and reported the present State platform of his party. He, probably, still enjoys in a greater degree than any other public man the affection and confidence of the positive men of the Ohio Democracy, who, from beginning to end, opposed the war. On the 20th of February, 1861, he delivered a speech in the House of Representatives in support of certain amendments which he proposed to the Constitution of the United States. In an appendix to that speech, he published an extract from a card in the Cincinnati Enquirer of November 10, 1860, from which I quote:
"And now let me add that I did say, ... in a public speech at the Cooper Institute, on the 2d of November, 1860, that if any one or more of the States of this Union should at any time secede, for reasons of the sufficiency and justice of which, before God and the great tribunal of history, they alone may judge, much as I should deplore it, I never would, as a representative in Congress of the United States, vote one dollar of money whereby one drop of American blood should be shed in a civil war.... And I now deliberately repeat and reaffirm it, resolved, though I stand alone, though all others yield and fall away, to make it good to the last moment of my public life." Here was another strong man of large influence solemnly pledged to allow the Union to be broken up and destroyed, in case the rebel conspirators chose that alternative, rather than forgo their demands in favor of oppression and against human rights.
On the 23d of January, 1861, the Democratic party held a State Convention at Columbus. Remember, at that date the air was thick with threats of war from the South. The rebels were organizing and drilling; arms robbed from the National arsenals were in their hands; and the question upon all minds was whether the Republic should perish without having a single blow struck in her defense, or whether the people of the loyal North should rise as one man, prepared to wage war until treason and, if need be, slavery went down together. On this question, that convention was bound to speak. Silence was impossible. There were present war Democrats and peace Democrats, followers of Jackson, and followers of Calhoun. There was a determined and gallant struggle on the part of the war Democrats, but the superior numbers, or more probably the superior tactics and strategy, of the peace men triumphed.
The present candidate of the Democratic party for Governor of Ohio, Judge Thurman, a gentleman of character and ability, a distinguished lawyer and judge and a politician of long experience, succeeded in passing through the convention this resolution:
"Resolved, That the two hundred thousand Democrats of Ohio send to the people of the United States, both North and South, greeting; and when the people of the North shall have fulfilled their duties to the constitution and to the South, then, and not until then, will it be proper for them to take into consideration the question of the right and propriety of coercion."
In support of this famous resolution, Judge Thurman addressed the convention, and, among other things, is reported to have said:
"A man is deficient in understanding who thinks the cause of disunion is that the South apprehended any overt act of oppression in Lincoln's administration. It is the spirit of the late presidential contest that alarms the South.... It would try the ethics of any man to deny that some of the Southern States have no cause for revolution.... Then you must be sure you are able to coerce before you begin the work. The South are a brave people. The Southern States can not be held by force. The blacks won't fight for the invaders.... The Hungarians had less cause of complaint against Austria than the South had against the North."
When we reflect on what the rebels had done and what they were doing when this resolution was passed, it seems incredible that sane men, having a spark of patriotism, could for one moment have tolerated its sentiments. The rebels had already deprived the United States of its jurisdiction and property in about one-fourth of its inhabited territory, and were rapidly extending their insurrection so as to include within the rebel lines all of the slave States. The lives and property of Union citizens in the insurgent States were at the mercy of traitors, and the National flag was everywhere torn down, and shameful indignities and outrages heaped upon all who honored it.
This resolution speaks of fulfilling the duties of the people of the North to the South. The first and highest duty of the people of the North to themselves, to the South, to their country, and to God, was to crush the rebellion. All speeches and resolutions against either the right or the propriety of coercion merely gave encouragement, "moral aid and comfort," more important than powder and ball, to the enemies of the Nation.
Do I state too strongly the mischievous, the fatal tendency of these proceedings? The resolution adopted by the peace Democracy of Ohio is addressed in terms "to the people of all the States, North and South," and in fact was sent, I am informed, to the governors of all the States.
In the South, Union men were laboring by every means in their power to prevent secession. Their most cogent argument was that the National government would defend itself by war against rebellion. To this, the rebel reply was, "There will be no war. Secession will be peaceable. The peace party of the North will prevent coercion. If there is fighting, it will be as Ex-President Pierce writes to Jefferson Davis, 'The fighting will not be along Mason and Dixon's line merely. It will be within our own borders, in our own streets.'"
For the evidence of the correctness of this opinion, the rebels could point confidently to such speeches and resolutions as those we are now considering. Governor Orr, of South Carolina, in a recent speech at the Charleston Board of Trade banquet, is reported to have said:
"I know there is an apprehension widespread in the North and West that, after the reconstruction of the Southern States, we shall fall into the arms of our old allies and associates, the old Democratic party. I say to you, gentlemen, however, that I would give no such pledges. We have accounts to settle with that party, gentlemen, before I, at least, will consent to affiliate with it. Many of you will remember that, when the war first commenced, great hopes and expectations were held out by our friends in the North and West that there would be no war, and that if it commenced, it would be North of Mason and Dixon's line, and not in the South."
Without pausing to inquire how much strength accrued to the rebellion in its earlier stages by the encouragement it received from sympathizers in the North, let us pass on to the spring and summer of 1861, after the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter, and when the armies of the Union and of the rebellion were facing each other upon a line of operations extending from the Potomac to the Rio Grande. The most superficial observer could not fail to discover these facts.
In the South, where slavery was strongest, the rebellion was strongest. Where there were few slaveholders, there were few rebels. South Carolina and Mississippi, having the largest number of slaves in proportion to population, were almost unanimous for rebellion. Western Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, East Tennessee, had few slaves, and love of the Union and hatred of secession in those mountain regions was nearly universal.
The counterpart of this was found everywhere in the North. In counties and districts where the majority of the people had been accustomed to defend or excuse the practice of slave-holding and the aggressions of the slaveholders, there was much sympathy with the rebellion and strong opposition to the war. Men who abused and hated negroes did not usually hate rebels. On the other hand, anti-slavery counties and districts were quite sure to be Union to the core.
In Ohio, as in other free States, the Democratic party could not be led off in a body after the peace Democracy. Brough, Tod, Matthews, Dorsey, Steedman, and a host of Democrats of the Jackson school, nobly kept the faith. Lytle, McCook, Webster, and gallant spirits like them, from every county and neighborhood of our State, sealed their devotion to the Union and to true Democracy with their life's blood.
They believed, with Douglass, in the last letter he ever wrote, that "it was not a party question, nor a question involving partisan policy; it was a question of government or no government, country or no country, and hence it became the imperative duty of every Union man, every friend of constitutional liberty, to rally to the support of our common country, its government and flag, as the only means of checking the progress of revolution, and of preserving the Union of the States."
They believed the words of Douglass' last speech: "This is no time for a detail of causes. The conspiracy is now known. Armies have been raised, war is levied to accomplish it. There are only two sides to the question. Every man must be for the United States or against it. There can be no neutrals in this war—only patriots and traitors."
As the war progressed, the great political parties of the country underwent important changes, both of organization and policy. In the North, the Republican party, the great body of the American or Union party of 1860, and the war Democracy formed the Union party. The Democracy of the South, for the most part, became rebels, and in the North those who did not unite with the Union party generally passed under the control and leadership of the peace Democracy.
At the beginning of the war, the creed of the Union party consisted of one idea—it labored for one object—the restoration of the Union. Slavery, the rights of man, the principles of the Declaration of Independence, were for the time lost sight of in the struggle for the Nation's life. As late as August, 1862, President Lincoln wrote to Mr. Greeley: "My paramount object is to save the Union, and not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that."
Slowly, gradually, after repeated disasters and disappointments, the eyes of the Union leaders were opened to the fact that slavery and rebellion were convertible terms; that the Confederacy, according to its Vice-President, Alexander H. Stephens, was founded upon "exactly the opposite idea" from that of Jefferson and the fathers. "Its foundations," said he, "are laid, its corner-stone rests upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition." Mr. Lincoln and the Union party, struggling faithfully onward, finally reached the solid ground that the American government was founded on the broad principles of right, justice, and humanity, and that, for this Nation, "Union and liberty" were indeed "one and inseparable."
The leaders of the peace Democracy were for a time overwhelmed by the popular uprising which followed the attack on Fort Sumter, and were not able during the year 1861 or the early part of 1862 to mark out definitely the course to be pursued. But, like the Union party, they gradually approached the position they were ultimately to occupy.
Their success in the autumn elections of 1862 encouraged them to enter upon the pathway in which they have plodded along consistently if not prosperously ever since. Opposition to the war measures of Mr. Lincoln's administration, and in particular to every measure tending to the enfranchisement and elevation of the African race, became their settled policy. By this policy they were placed in harmony with their former associates, the rebels of the South. The rebels were fighting to destroy the Union. The peace party were opposing the only measures which could save it. The rebels were fighting for slavery. The peace party were laboring in their way to keep alive and inflame the prejudice against race and color, on which slavery was based.
The abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, the repeal of the fugitive slave law, Mr. Lincoln's proclamation of emancipation, in a word, every step of the Union party toward enfranchisement of the colored people, the peace Democracy opposed. Every war measure, every means adopted to strengthen the cause of the Union and weaken the rebellion, met with the the same opposition. Whatever Mr. Lincoln or Congress did to get money, to get men, or to obtain the moral support of the country and the world—tax laws, tariff laws, greenbacks, government bonds, army bills, drafts, blockades, proclamations—met the indiscriminate and bitter assaults of these men. The enlistment of colored soldiers, a measure by which between one and two hundred thousand able-bodied men were transferred from the service of the rebels in corn-fields to the Union service in battle-fields—how Mr. Lincoln and the Union party were vilified for that wise and necessary measure! But worse, infinitely worse, than mere opposition to war measures, were their efforts to impair the confidence of the people, to diminish the moral power of the government, to give hope and earnestness to the enemies of the Union, by showing that the administration was to blame for the war, that it was unnecessary, unjust, and that it had been perverted from its original object, and that it could not but fail.
I need not go beyond the record of leaders of the Ohio Democracy of to-day for proof what I am saying. Mr. Pendleton, usually so gentlemanly and prudent in speech, lost his balance after the victories of the peace Democracy in 1862. At the Democratic jubilee in Butler county over the elections, Mr. Pendleton is reported as saying:
"I came up to see if there were any Butternuts in Butler county. I came to see if there were any Copperheads in Butler county, as my friends of the Cincinnati Gazette and Commercial are fond of terming the Democracy of the country. I came up to tell you that there are a good many of that stripe of animals in old Hamilton. I have traveled about the country lately, and I assure you there is a large crop of Butternuts everywhere: not only that, but the quality and character of the nut is quite as good as the quantity."
Of course, Mr. Pendleton was applauded by his audience; and he returned to his place in the House of Representatives at Washington prepared to give expression to his views with the same plainness and boldness which marked the utterances of his colleague, Mr. Vallandigham.
On the 31st of January, 1863, he made an elaborate speech against the enlistment of negroes into the service of the United States, in which he said:
"I should be false to you, my fellow-representatives, if I did not tell you that there is an impression, growing with great rapidity, upon the minds of the people of the Northwest that they have been deliberately deceived into this war—that their patriotism and their love of country have been engaged to call them into the army, under the pretense that the war was to be for the Union and the Constitution, when, in fact, it was to be an armed crusade for the abolition of slavery. I tell you, sir, that unless this impression is speedily arrested it will become universal; it will ripen into conviction, and then it will be beyond your power to get from their broad plains another man, or from their almost exhausted coffers another dollar."
In the same speech he says:
"I said two years ago, on this floor, that armies, money, war can not restore this Union; justice, reason, peace, may. I believed it then; I have believed it at every moment since; I believe it now. No event of the past two years has for a moment shaken my faith. Peace is the first step to Union. Peace is Union. Peace unbroken would have preserved it; peace restored will, I hope, in some time reconstruct it. The only bonds which can hold these States in confederation, the only ties which can make us one people, are the soft and silken cords of affection and interest. These are woven in peace, not war; in conciliation, not coercion; in deeds of kindness and acts of friendly sympathy, not in deeds of violence and blood. The people of the Northwest were carried away by the excitement of April and May. They believed war would restore the Union. They trusted to the assurances of the president and his cabinet, and of Congress, that it should be carried on for that purpose alone. They trusted that it would be carried on under the Constitution. They were patriotic and confiding. They sent their sons, and brothers, and husbands to the army, and poured out their treasures at the feet of the administration. They feel that the war has been perverted from this end; that the Constitution has been disregarded; that abolition and arbitrary power, not Union and constitutional liberty, are the governing ideas of the administration. They are in no temper to be trifled with. They think they have been deceived. There is danger of revolution. They are longing for peace."
Need I pause to inquire who would receive encouragement, or whose spirits would be depressed, on reading these remarkable sentences? Imagine them read by the rebel camp-fires, or at the fire-sides of the rebel people. What hope, what exultation we should behold in the faces of those who heard them! On the other hand, at Union camp-fires, or by the loyal fire-sides of the North, what sorrow, what mortification, what depression such statements would surely carry wherever they were heard and believed!
The course of the peace Democracy of Ohio during the memorable contest of 1863, between Brough and Vallandigham, is too well known to require attention now. Judge Thurman was one of the committee who constructed the platform of the convention which nominated Mr. Vallandigham, and was the ablest member of the State Central Committee which had charge of the canvass in his behalf during his exile.
The key-note to that canvass was given by Mr. Vallandigham himself in a letter written from Canada, July 15, 1863. That letter contained the following:
"If this civil war is to terminate only by the subjugation or submission of the South to force and arms, the infant of to-day will not live to see the end of it. No, in another way only can it be brought to a close. Traveling a thousand miles and more, through nearly half of the Confederate States, and sojourning for a time at widely different points, I met not one man, woman, or child, who was not resolved to perish rather than yield to the pressure of arms, even in the most desperate extremity. And whatever may and must be the varying fortune of the war, in all which I recognize the hand of Providence pointing visibly to the ultimate issue of this great trial of the States and people of America, they are better prepared now every way to make good their inexorable purpose than at any period since the beginning of the struggle. These may be unwelcome truths; but they are addressed only to candid and honest men."
The assumption of the certain success of the rebellion, and that the war for the Union would assuredly fail, was the strong point of these gentlemen in favor of the election of Vallandigham and the defeat of Brough. Fortunately, the patriotic people saw the situation from another standpoint, and under the influence of different feelings and different sympathies.
In the elections of 1863, the peace Democracy of Ohio and other States sustained defeats which have no parallel in our political history. But, notwithstanding their reverses, the year 1864, the year of the presidential election, found the Ohio leaders possibly sadder, but certainly not wiser nor more patriotic than before.
At the National Convention at Chicago, in August, Mr. Pendleton was nominated for vice-president, Judge Thurman was a delegate of the State of Ohio at large, and Mr. Vallandigham as a district delegate, and as a member of the committee on platform, was the author of the following resolution adopted by the convention:
"Resolved, That this convention does explicitly declare, as the sense of the American people, that, after four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war, during which, under pretense of military necessity, or war power higher than the constitution, the constitution has been disregarded in every part, and public liberty and private rights have been alike trodden down, and the material prosperity of the country essentially impaired, justice, humanity, liberty, and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities, with a view to an ultimate convention of all the States, or other peaceable means, to the end that at the earliest practicable moment peace may be restored on the basis of the Federal Union of the States."
This resolution does not seem to require explanation or comment. But as General McClellan's letter accepting the nomination for president did not square well with this part of the party platform, Mr. Vallandigham, in a speech at Sidney, Ohio, September 24, 1864, explained it at some length. In that speech, he said:
"I am speaking now of the fact that this convention pronounced this war a failure, and giving you the reasons why it is a failure.... What has been gained by this campaign? More lives have been lost, more hard fighting has been done, more courage has been exhibited by the Federal as well as the Southern soldiers than in any former campaign, and what has been accomplished? General Grant is nearer to Richmond, occupying a territory of perhaps eleven miles, which was not in the possession of the United States when the campaign began, from City Point to the suburbs of Petersburg. To secure that he gave up all the country from Manassas down to Richmond and a large part of the valley.... How about the Southern campaign? General Sherman, through the courage of the best disciplined, best organized, and most powerful army that has been seen since the campaigns of the first Napoleon, has taken Atlanta—a town somewhat larger than Sidney. It has cost him sixty thousand men and four or five months of the most terrible campaign ever waged on this continent or any other, or any other part of the globe. He occupies from two to five miles on each side of a railroad of one hundred and thirty-eight miles in length. He has penetrated that far into Georgia. What has been surrendered to obtain that? All of Texas, nearly all of Louisiana, nearly all of Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and a part of Tennessee, which were in possession of the Federals on the first of May. Kentucky has been opened to continual incursions of the Confederate armies. All this has been surrendered in order to gain this barren strip of country on the line of the railroad. The war, then, has been properly pronounced a failure in a military point of view. The convention meant that it has failed to restore the Union, and there is not a Republican in the land who does not know it."
In the Sidney speech, Mr. Vallandigham says, also:
"What will you have now? Four years more of war? What guaranties of success have you? Do you want two million more of men to go forth to this war as the Crusaders went to the sepulcher at Jerusalem? The beginning of this administration found us with very little debt, comparatively no taxation, and peace and happiness among the States; and now look at the scene! Four more years of war, do you tell me, when the first four, with every advantage, has failed? Now, too, that the hearts of one-half of the people are turned away from war, and intent upon the arts of peace? What will be the consequence? Four thousand millions more of debt, five hundred millions more of taxation, more conscriptions, more calls for five hundred thousand men, more sacrifices for the next four years. All this is what Abraham Lincoln demands of you in order that the South may be compelled not to return to the Union, but to abandon slavery."
All this logic, this eloquence, this taxing the imagination to portray the horrors of war, failed to deceive the people; Lincoln was re-elected; the war went on, and a few short months witnessed the end of the armed rebellion, and the triumph of liberty and of Union.
Now came the work of reconstruction. The leaders of the Peace Democracy, who had failed in every measure, in every plan, in every opinion, and in every prediction relating to the war, were promptly on hand, and with unblushing cheek were prepared to take exclusive charge of the whole business of reorganization and reconstruction. They had a plan all prepared—a plan easily understood, easily executed, and which they averred would be satisfactory to all parties. Their plan was in perfect harmony with the conduct and history of its authors and friends during the war. They had been in very close sympathy with the men engaged in the rebellion, while their sympathy for loyal white people at the South was not strong, and they were bitterly hostile to loyal colored people both North and South. Their plan was consistent with all this.
According to it, the rebels were to be treated in the same manner as if they had remained loyal. All laws, State and National, all orders and regulations of the military, naval, and other departments of the government, creating disabilities on account of participation in the rebellion, were to be repealed, revoked, or abolished. The rebellious States were to be represented in Congress by the rebels without hindrance from any test oath. All appointments in the army, in the navy, and in the civil service, were to be made from men who were rebels, on the same terms as from men who were loyal. The people and governments in the rebellious States were to be subjected to no other interference or control from the military or other departments of the general government than exists in the States which remained loyal. Loyal white men and loyal colored men were to be protected alone in those States by State laws, executed by State authorities, as if they were in the loyal States.
There were to be no amendments to the constitution, not even an amendment abolishing slavery. In short, the great rebellion was to be ignored or forgotten, or, in the words of one of their orators, "to be generously forgiven." The war, whose burdens, cost, and carnage they had been so fond of exaggerating, suddenly sank into what the Rev. Petroleum V. Nasby calls "the late unpleasantness," for which nobody but the abolitionists were to blame. Under this plan the States could soon re-establish slavery where it had been disturbed by the war. Jefferson Davis, Toombs, Slidell, and Mason could be re-elected to their old places in the Senate of the United States; Lee could be re-appointed in the army, and Semmes and Maury could be restored to the navy. Of course this plan of the Peace Democracy was acceptable to the rebels of the South.
But the loyal people, who under the name of the Union party fought successfully through the war of the rebellion, objected to this plan as wrong in principle, wrong in its details, and fatally wrong as an example for the future. It treats treason as no crime and loyalty as no virtue; it contains no guarantees, irreversible or otherwise, against another rebellion by the same parties and on the same grounds. It restores to political honor and power in the government of the Nation men who have spent the best part of their lives in plotting the overthrow of that government, and who for more than four years levied public war against the United States; it allows Union men in the South, who have risked all—and many of whom have lost all but life in upholding the Union cause—to be excluded from every office, State and National, and in many instances to be banished from the States they so faithfully laboured to save; it abandons the four millions of colored people to such treatment as the ruffian class of the South, educated in the barbarism of slavery and the atrocities of the rebellion, may choose to give them; it leaves the obligations of the Nation to her creditors and to the maimed soldiers and to the widows and orphans of the war, to be fulfilled by men who hate the cause in which those obligations were incurred; it claims to be a plan which restores the Union without requiring conditions; but, in conceding to the conquered rebels the repeal of laws important to the Nation's welfare, it grants conditions which they demand, while it denies to the loyal victors conditions which they deem of priceless value.
In the meantime, President Johnson having declared that "the rebellion, in its revolutionary progress, had deprived the people of the rebel States of all civil government," proceeded by military power to set up provisional State governments in those States, and to require them to declare void all ordinances of secession, to repudiate the rebel debt, and to adopt the thirteenth amendment of the constitution, proposed by the Union party, abolishing slavery throughout the United States. The Peace Democracy opposed all conditions, and, instinctively unsound upon human rights, opposed the amendment abolishing slavery. The elections of 1865 settled that question against them, and deprived them of New Jersey, the last free State which adhered to their fallen fortunes.
At the session of Congress of 1865-66, the president, finding that his co-called State governments in the rebel States—created by military power alone and without the sanction of the legislative power of the government—had accepted his conditions; insisted that those States were fully restored to their former proper relations with the general government, and that they were again entitled to representation in the same manner with the loyal States. This plan accorded with the wishes of all unrepentant rebels, and as a matter of course received the support of their allies of the Peace Democracy.
The Union party, at the sacrifice of all of the power and patronage of the administration they had elected, firmly opposed and finally defeated this project. They required, before the complete restoration of the rebel States, that the fourteenth amendment of the constitution should be adopted, which was framed to secure civil rights to the colored people, equal representation between the free States and the former slave States, the disqualification for office of leading rebels, the payment of the loyal obligations to creditors, to maimed soldiers, and to widows and orphans, and the repudiation of the rebel debt, and of claims to payment for slaves. On the adoption of this amendment turned the elections of 1866. After the amplest debates before the people the Union party carried the country in favor of the amendment, electing more than three-fourths of the members of the House of Representatives. They also secured the adoption of the amendment in twenty-one out of the twenty-four States now represented, which have acted upon it by an average vote in the State legislature of more than four to one.
In striking contrast with this was the action of the rebel States. Tennessee alone ratified the amendment. The other ten promptly and defiantly rejected it by an average majority in their State legislatures of more than fifty to one. When, therefore, the Thirty-ninth Congress met in the session of 1866-67 they found the work of reconstruction in those ten States still unaccomplished.
Now, in what condition were those ten rebel States? In the first place all political power in those States was in the hands of rebels, and for the most part of leading and unrepentant rebels. Their governors, their members of legislature, their judges, their county and city officers, and their members of Congress, with rare exceptions, were rebels. Such was their political condition.
What was their condition with respect to the preservation of order, the suppression of crime, and the redress of private grievances? After the suppression of the rebellion the next plain duty of the National government was to see that the lives, liberty, and property of all classes of citizens were secure, and especially to see that the loyal white and colored citizens who resided or might sojourn in those States did not suffer injustice, oppression, or outrage because of their loyalty. Loyal men, without distinction of race or color, were clearly entitled to the full measure of protection usually found in civilized countries, if in the nature of things it was possible for the Nation to furnish it.
Inquiring as to the condition of things in the South, I waive the uniform current of information derived from the press and other unofficial sources from all parts of the South, and rely exclusively on the official reports of army officers like Grant, Thomas, Sheridan, and Howard—officers of clear heads, of strong sense, and of spotless integrity, whose business it is to know the facts, and who all united in warning the Nation that Union men, either white or colored, were not safe in the South.
General Grant says that the class at the South who "will acknowledge no law but force" is sufficiently formidable to justify the military occupation of that territory.
General Sheridan, in an official report, says the "trial of a white man for the murder of a freedman in Texas would be a farce; and, in making this statement, I make it because truth compels me, and for no other reason.... Over the killing of many freedmen nothing is done." General Sheridan cites cases in which our National soldiers wearing the uniform of the Republic have been deliberately shot "without provocation" by citizens, and the grand jury refused to find a bill against the murderers. Even in Virginia, General Schofield was compelled to resort to a military tribunal because "a gentleman" who shot a negro dead in cold blood "was instantly acquitted by one of the civil courts."
General Ord reports in Arkansas fifty-two murders of freed persons by white men in the past three or four months, and no reports have been received that the murderers have been imprisoned or punished.... "The number of murders reported is not half the number committed."
General Sickles says that in South Carolina, "in certain counties, such as Newberry, Edgecombe, and Laurens, so much countenance was given to outrages on freedmen by the indifference of the civil authorities and by the population, who made themselves accomplices in the crimes, that other measures became necessary."
In Mississippi, General Thomas calls attention to the legislation in regard to colored people. "It is oppressive, unjust, and unconstitutional." The laws as to buying real estate, bearing arms, making contracts, and the like, are of such a character "that the constitutional gift of freedom is not much more than a name."
General Sheridan, speaking of Louisiana, says: "Homicides are frequent in some localities. Sometimes they are investigated by a coroner's jury, which justifies the act and releases the perpetrator; in other cases, ... the parties are held to bail in a nominal sum; but the trial of a white man for the killing of a freedman can, in the existing state of society in this State, be nothing more or less than a farce."
General Thomas, in February last, in relation to the display of the rebel flag in Rome, Georgia, said: "The sole cause of this and similar offenses lies in the fact that certain citizens of Rome, and a portion of the people of the States lately in rebellion, do not and have not accepted the situation, and that is that the late civil war was a rebellion, and history will so record it.... Everywhere in the States lately in rebellion treason is respectable and loyalty odious. This the people of the United States who ended the rebellion and saved the country will not permit; and all attempts to maintain this unnatural order of things will be met by decided disapproval."
Upon these official reports, showing not merely that atrocious crimes were everywhere committed against loyal people, but that the civil authorities did not even attempt to prevent them by the punishment of the perpetrators, it became the plain duty of Congress to adopt measures "to enforce peace and good order in the rebel States, until loyal and Republican State governments could be legally established." How well this duty was performed will appear from a brief examination of the reconstruction acts which were passed by Congress in March last, and by the auspicious results which followed their adoption and execution.
By these acts, the ten rebel States were divided into five military districts, subject to the military authority of the United States; and it was made the duty of the president to assign military officers, not below the rank of brigadier-general, to command each of said districts, and to detail a sufficient military force to enable such officers to perform their duties. The duties of military commanders were defined as follows, in the 3d section of the act:
"Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of each officer assigned as aforesaid, to protect all persons in their rights of person and property, to suppress insurrection, disorder, and violence, and to punish, or cause to be punished, all disturbers of the public peace and criminals; and to this end he may allow local civil tribunals to take jurisdiction of and to try offenders; or when, in his judgment, it may be necessary for the trial of offenders, he shall have power to organize military commissions or tribunals for that purpose; and all interference, under color of State authority, with the exercise of military authority under this act shall be null and void."
The act also sets forth the manner in which the people of any one of the rebel States could form a State constitution, and the terms on which the State would be fully restored to proper relations with the Union. The most important provisions are those relating to the qualifications of voters, and the one requiring the adoption of the amendment to the constitution proposed by the Thirty-ninth Congress, known as article fourteen. The right of suffrage is given to all men of suitable age and residence, without distinction of race or color, except a limited number who are excluded for participation in the rebellion.
In pursuance of these acts, the district of Louisiana and Texas was placed under the command of General Sheridan; Arkansas and Mississippi under General Ord; Alabama, Georgia, and Florida under General Pope; North Carolina and South Carolina under General Sickles; and Virginia under General Schofield. The merits of this plan are obvious.
1. It places the rebels again under the control of the power which conquered them, and of the very officers to whom they surrendered.
2. It is well calculated to afford protection to all loyal people, white or colored, against those who would oppress or injure them on account of their loyalty.
3. It places the new State governments of the South upon the solid basis of justice and equal rights.
This plan received in Congress the support of many members of Congress who did not uniformly vote with the Union party, and was acceptable to some of its most distinguished adversaries. In the Senate, Reverdy Johnson, a Maryland Democrat, voted for it, and made effective speeches in its support. The loyal press of the North, without exception, upheld it.
In the South, its success was everywhere gratifying and unexampled. Its enemies had said that it would organize anarchy in the rebel States—that it would immediately inaugurate a war of races between whites and blacks—and compared the condition of the South under it to the condition of India under English oppression, and to Hungary under the despotism of Austria.
But the course of the public press, and the conduct, the letters, and speeches of public men in the rebel States, vindicated the wisdom and justice of the measure. I will quote only from rebel sources.
In Virginia, the Charlottesville Chronicle addressed its readers as follows:
"FOR WHITE FOLKS AND COLORED FOLKS.—Every colored person may now go where and when he pleases. He is a free man and a full citizen. This is not all; by another bound they have become voters. They will take part in the government of the country. No people was ever so suddenly, so rapidly lifted up.
"Shall we all live happily together, or shall we hate each other, and quarrel and bear malice?
"Let us all try and get on together. The land is big enough. Let the whites accommodate themselves to the new state of things. Let them be polite and kind to all, and be always ready to accord to every man, whether white or colored, his full rights. We make bold to say that the behavior of the colored people of this State, since they were set free, has surprised all fair-minded white people. We do not believe the white people, under the same circumstances, would have behaved so well by twenty per cent. They have shown the greatest moderation. They have passed from plantation hands to freedom and the ballot without outward excitement."
The Richmond Examiner, the organ of the fire-eaters, says of the colored people:
"This class of our population, as a general thing, manifest a disposition to prepare themselves for the altered political condition in which the events of the past two years have placed them. The sudden abolition of slavery did not, as most persons expected, turn their heads. They have been, in the main, orderly and well behaved. They have not presumed upon their newly-acquired freedom to commit breaches of the peace or to be guilty of any acts calculated to sow dissension between the two races. The utmost good feeling is felt by the white people of this city toward the negroes. There is not one particle of bitterness felt for them."
In South Carolina, Wade Hampton addressed a mixed assembly of whites and colored people at Columbia, in which he quoted from a former speech to his old soldiers:
"There is one other point on which there should be no misunderstanding as to our position—no loop on which to hang a possible misconstruction as to our views—and that is the abolition of slavery. The deed has been done, and I, for one, do honestly declare that I never wish to see it revoked. Nor do I believe that the people of the South would now remand the negro to slavery, if they had the power to do so unquestioned.
"Under our paternal care, from a mere handful, he grew to be a mighty host. He came to us a heathen; we made him a Christian. Idle, vicious, savage in his own country, in ours he became industrious, gentle, civilized. As a slave, he was faithful to us; as a freeman, let us treat him as a friend. Deal with him frankly, justly, kindly, and, my word for it, he will reciprocate your kindness. If you wish so see him contented, industrious, useful, aid him in his efforts to elevate himself in the scale of civilization, and thus fit him not only to enjoy the blessings of freedom, but to appreciate his duties."
After stating the provisions of the "military bill," as he calls the reconstruction law, he said to the colored people:
"But suppose the bill is pronounced unconstitutional; how then? I tell you what I am willing to see done. I am willing to give the right of suffrage to all who can read and who pay a certain amount of taxes; and I agree that this qualification shall bear on white and black alike. You would have no right to complain of a law which would put you on a perfect political equality with the whites, and which would put within your reach and that of your children the privilege enjoyed by any class of citizens."
In Georgia, the prevailing sentiment is indicated by the following. The Atlanta New Era says:
"We freely accept the Sherman platform as the only means whereby to rescue the country from total destruction, and if we mistake not, our backbone will prove sufficiently strong to enable us to look the issue full in the face, without a shudder. It is our bounden duty, and that of every other patriot and well-wisher of the South, to at once signify an unconditional acceptance of the measures perfected by Congress for our restoration to the Union, and heartily co-operate with the United States authorities in securing that most desirable end."
The Augusta Press, alluding to the recent meeting of negroes at Columbia, S. C., and the fact that speeches were made by General Wade Hampton and others, states that—
"All good citizens all over the South entertain precisely the same kind feelings for the colored people that were exhibited by these eminent Carolinians, and it is unfortunate that these sentiments are not more widely manifested in meetings for public counsel with them. 'Representative men' in every community should be prompt and earnest in signifying their wish to co-operate with the colored people in the administration of the laws and the preservation of harmony and good will. To this end, we deem it our duty to urge that in every community public meetings be held, in which the two races may take friendly counsel together."
In Florida, Hon. R. S. Mallory, a former Democratic United States Senator, is reported to have said, at a large meeting composed of whites and blacks, in Pensacola, that—
"The recent legislation of Congress ought to be submitted to in good faith; that, as the negro was now entitled to vote, it was the interest of the State that he should be educated and enlightened, and made to comprehend the priceless value of the ballot, and the importance to himself and to the State of its judicious use.
"Let us fully and frankly acknowledge, as well by deeds as by words, their equality with us, before law, and regard it as no less just to ourselves and them than to our State and her best interests to aid in their education, elevation, and enjoyment of all the rights which follow their new condition."
Governor Patton, of Alabama, says:
"It seems to me that it is the true feeling of the Southern people to contribute their best influence in favor of an early organization of their respective States, in accordance with the requirements of the recent reconstruction act. Congress claims the right to control this whole question. In my humble judgment, it is unwise to contend longer against its power, or to struggle further against its repeatedly expressed will."
* * * * *
"The freedmen are now to vote the first time. We should cherish against them no ill-feeling. The elective franchise is conferred upon them; let them exercise it freely, and in their own way. No effort should be made to control their votes, except such as may tend to enable them to vote intelligently, and such as may be necessary to protect them against mischievous influences to which, from their want of intelligence, they may possibly be subjected. Above all things, we should discourage everything which may tend to generate antagonism between white and colored voters."
In Mississippi, Albert G. Brown, a former Democratic United States Senator, and a rebel, says:
"To those who think it most becoming men in my situation to keep quiet, I am free to say 'that is very much my own opinion.'"
"As I speak reluctantly, you will not be surprised if I say as little as possible."
* * * * *
"The negro is a fixture in this country. He is not going out of it; he is not going to die out, and he is not going to be driven out. Nor is his exodus from the country desirable. I am frank in saying if they, every one of them, could be packed in a balloon, carried over the water, and emptied into Africa, I would not have it done, unless, indeed, it were already arranged that the balloon should return by the way of Germany, Ireland, Scotland, etc., and bring us a return cargo of white laborers. If the negro is to stay here, and it is desirable to have him do so, what is the duty of the intelligent white man toward him? Why, to educate him, admit him, when sufficiently instructed, to the right of voting, and as rapidly as possible prepare him for a safe and rational enjoyment of that 'equality before the law' which, as a free man, he has a right to claim, and which we can not long refuse to give."
The Mississippi Index says:
"There are some laws on our statute-book respecting negroes that are of no practical use, and will have to be done away with some day. The sooner we dispense with them the better. But in the matter of educating the negro we can accomplish more toward convincing the people of the North that we have been misrepresented and slandered than by legislative action. Let us take the work of education out of the hands of the Yankees among us. We can do this by encouraging the establishment of negro schools and placing them in the charge of men and women whom we know to be competent and trustworthy."
In Louisiana, General Longstreet, one of the most distinguished of the rebel Generals, says:
"The striking feature, and the one that our people should keep in view, is, that we are a conquered people. Recognizing this fact fairly and squarely, there is but one course left for wise men to pursue—accept the terms that are offered us by the conquerors. There can be no discredit to a conquered people for accepting the conditions offered by their conquerors. Nor is that any occasion for a feeling of humiliation. We have made an honest, and I hope that I may say, a creditable fight, but we have lost. Let us come forward, then, and accept the ends involved in the struggle.
"Our people earnestly desire that the constitutional government shall be re-established, and the only means to accomplish this is to comply with the requirements of the recent Congressional legislation."
* * * * *
"The military bill and amendments are peace offerings. We should accept them as such, and place ourselves upon them as the starting-point from which to meet future political issues as they arise."
"Like other Southern men, I naturally sought alliance with the Democratic party, merely because it was opposed to the Republican party. But, as far as I can judge, there is nothing tangible about it, except the issues that were staked upon the war and lost. Finding nothing to take hold of except prejudice, which can not be worked into good for any one, it is proper and right that I should seek some standpoint from which good may be done."
Quotations like these from prominent Democratic politicians, from rebel soldiers, and from influential rebel newspapers, might be multiplied indefinitely. Enough have been given to show how completely and how exactly the Reconstruction Acts have met the evil to be remedied in the South. My friend, Mr. Hassaurek, in his admirable speech at Columbus, did not estimate too highly the fruits of these measures. Said he:
"And, sir, this remedy at once effected the desired cure. The poor contraband is no longer the persecuted outlaw whom incurable rebels might kick and kill with impunity; but he at once became 'our colored fellow-citizen,' in whose well-being his former master takes the liveliest interest. Thus, by bringing the negro under the American system, we have completed his emancipation. He has ceased to be a pariah. From an outcast he has been transformed into a human being, invested with the great National attribute of self-protection, and the re-establishment of peace, and order, and security, the revival of business and trade, and the restoration of the Southern States on the basis of loyalty and equal justice to all, will be the happy results of this astonishing metamorphosis, provided the party which has inaugurated this policy remains in power to carry it out."
The Peace Democracy generally throughout the North oppose this measure. In Ohio they oppose it especially because it commits the people of the Nation in favor of manhood suffrage. They tell us that if it is wise and just to entrust the ballot to colored men in the District of Columbia, in the Territories, and in the rebel States, it is also just and wise that they should have it in Ohio and in the other States of the North.
Union men do not question this reasoning, but if it is urged as an objection to the plan of Congress, we reply: There are now within the limits of the United States about five millions of colored people. They are not aliens or strangers. They are here not by the choice of themselves or of their ancestors. They are here by the misfortune of their fathers and the crime of ours. Their labor, privations, and sufferings, unpaid and unrequited, have cleared and redeemed one-third of the inhabited territory of the Union. Their toil has added to the resources and wealth of the nation untold millions. Whether we prefer it or not, they are our countrymen, and will remain so forever.
They are more than countrymen—they are citizens. Free colored people were citizens of the colonies. The Constitution of the United States, formed by our fathers, created no disabilities on account of color. By the acts of our fathers and of ourselves, they bear equally the burdens and are required to discharge the highest duties of citizens. They are compelled to pay taxes and to bear arms. They fought side by side with their white countrymen in the great struggle for independence, and in the recent war for the Union. In the revolutionary contest, colored men bore an honorable part, from the Boston massacre, in 1770, to the surrender of Cornwallis, in 1781. Bancroft says: "Their names may be read on the pension rolls of the country side by side with those of other soldiers of the revolution." In the war of 1812 General Jackson issued an order complimenting the colored men of his army engaged in the defense of New Orleans. I need not speak of their number or of their services in the war of the rebellion. The Nation enrolled and accepted them among her defendants to the number of about two hundred thousand, and in the new regular army act, passed at the close of the rebellion, by the votes of Democrats and Union men alike, in the Senate and in the House, and by the assent of the president, regiments of colored men, cavalry and infantry, form part of the standing army of the Republic.
In the navy, colored American sailors have fought side by side with white men from the days of Paul Jones to the victory of the Kearsarge over the rebel pirate Alabama. Colored men will, in the future as in the past, in all times of National peril, be our fellow-soldiers. Tax-payers, countrymen, fellow-citizens, and fellow-soldiers, the colored men of America have been and will be. It is now too late for the adversaries of nationality and human rights to undertake to deprive these tax-payers, freemen, citizens, and soldiers of the right to vote.
Slaves were never voters. It was bad enough that our fathers, for the sake of Union, were compelled to allow masters to reckon three-fifths of their slaves for representation, without adding slave suffrage to the other privileges of the slaveholder. But free colored men were always voters in many of the Colonies, and in several of the States, North and South, after independence was achieved. They voted for members of the Congress which declared independence, and for members of every Congress prior to the adoption of the Federal Constitution; for the members of the convention which framed the Constitution; for the members of many of the State conventions which ratified it, and for every president from Washington to Lincoln.
Our government has been called the white man's government. Not so. It is not the government of any class, or sect, or nationality, or race. It is a government founded on the consent of the governed, and Mr. Broomall, of Pennsylvania, therefore properly calls it "the government of the governed." It is not the government of the native born, or of the foreign born, of the rich man, or of the poor man, of the white man, or of the colored man—it is the government of the freeman. And when colored men were made citizens, soldiers, and freemen, by our consent and votes, we were estopped from denying to them the right of suffrage.
General Sherman was right when he said, in his Atlanta letter, of 1864: "If you admit the negro to this struggle for any purpose, he has a right to stay in for all; and, when the fight is over, the hand that drops the musket can not be denied the ballot."
Even our adversaries are compelled to admit the Jeffersonian rule, that "the man who pays taxes and who fights for the country is entitled to vote."
Mr. Pendleton, in his speech against the enlistment of colored soldiers, gave up the whole controversy. He said: "Gentlemen tell us that these colored men are ready, with their strong arms and their brave hearts, to maintain the supremacy of the Constitution, and to defend the integrity of the Union, which in our hands to-day is in peril. What is that Constitution? It provides that every child of the Republic, every citizen of the land is before the law the equal of every other. It provides for all of them trial by jury, free speech, free press, entire protection for life and liberty and property. It goes further. It secures to every citizen the right of suffrage, the right to hold office, the right to aspire to every office or agency by which the government is carried on. Every man called upon to do military duty, every man required to take up arms in its defense, is by its provisions entitled to vote, and a competent aspirant for every office in the government."
The truth is, impartial manhood suffrage is already practically decided. It is now merely a question of time. In the eleven rebel States, in five of the New England States, and in a number of the Northwestern States, there is no organized party able to successfully oppose impartial suffrage. The Democratic party of more than half of the States are ready to concede its justice and expediency. The Boston Post, the able organ of the New England Democracy, says:
"Color ought to have no more to do with the matter (voting) than size. Only establish a right standard, and then apply it impartially. A rule of that sort is too firmly fixed in justice and equality to be shaken. It commends itself too clearly to the good sentiment of the entire body of our countrymen to be successfully traversed by objections. Once let this principle be fairly presented to the people of the several States, with the knowledge on their part that they alone are to have the disposal and settlement of it, and we sincerely believe it would not be long before it would be adopted by every State in the Union."
The New York World, the ablest Democratic newspaper in the Union, says:
"Democrats in the North, as well as the South, should be fully alive to the importance of the new element thrust into the politics of the country. We suppose it to be morally certain that the new constitution of the State of New York, to be framed this year, will confer the elective franchise upon all adult male negroes. We have no faith in the success of any efforts to shut the negro element out of politics. It is the part of wisdom frankly to accept the situation, and get beforehand with the Radicals in gaining an ascendancy over the negro mind."
The Chicago Times, the influential organ of the Northwestern Democracy, says:
"The word 'white' is not found in any of the original constitutions, save only that of South Carolina. In every other State negroes, who possessed the qualifications that were required impartially of all men, were admitted to vote, and many of that race did vote, in the Southern as well as in the Northern States. And, moreover, they voted the Democratic ticket, for it was the Democratic party of that day which affirmed their right in that respect upon an impartial basis with white men. All Democrats can not, even at this day, have forgotten the statement of General Jackson, that he was supported for the presidency by negro voters in the State of Tennessee.
"The doctrine of impartial suffrage is one of the earliest and most essential doctrines of Democracy. It is the affirmation of the right of every man who is made a partaker of the burdens of the State to be represented by his own consent or vote in its government. It is the first principle upon which all true republican government rests. It is the basis upon which the liberties of America will be preserved, if they are preserved at all. The Democratic party must return from its driftings, and stand again upon the immutable rock of principles."
In Ohio the leaders of the Peace Democracy intend to carry on one more campaign on the old and rotten platform of prejudice against colored people. They seek in this way to divert attention from the record they made during the war of the rebellion. But the great facts of our recent history are against them. The principles of the fathers, reason, religion, and the spirit of the age are against them.
The plain and monstrous inconsistency and injustice of excluding one-seventh of our population from all participation in a government founded on the consent of the governed in this land of free discussion is simply impossible. No such absurdity and wrong can be permanent. Impartial suffrage will carry the day. No low prejudice will long be able to induce American citizens to deny to a weak people their best means of self-protection for the unmanly reason that they are weak. Chief Justice Chase expressed the true sentiment when he said "the American Nation can not afford to do the smallest injustice to the humblest and feeblest of her children."
Much has been said of the antagonism which exists between the different races of men. But difference of religion, difference of nationality, difference of language, and difference of rank and privileges are quite as fruitful causes of antagonism and war as difference of race. The bitter strifes between Christians and Jews, between Catholics and Protestants, between Englishmen and Irishmen, between aristocracy and the masses are only too familiar. What causes increase and aggravate these antagonisms, and what are the measures which diminish and prevent them, ought to be equally familiar. Under the partial and unjust laws of the Nations of the Old World men of one nationality were allowed to oppress those of another; men of one faith had rights which were denied to men of a different faith; men of one rank or caste enjoyed special privileges which were not granted to men of another. Under these systems peace was impossible and strife perpetual. But under just and equal laws in the United States, Jews, Protestants, and Catholics, Englishmen and Irishmen, the former aristocrat and the masses of the people, dwell and mingle harmoniously together. The uniform lesson of history is that unjust and partial laws increase and create antagonism, while justice and equality are the sure foundation of prosperity and peace.
Impartial suffrage secures also popular education. Nothing has given the careful observer of events in the South more gratification than the progress which is there going on in the establishment of schools. The colored people, who as slaves were debarred from education, regard the right to learn as one of the highest privileges of freemen. The ballot gives them the power to secure that privilege. All parties and all public men in the South agree that, if colored men vote, ample provision must be made in the reorganization of every State for free schools. The ignorance of the masses, whites as well as blacks, is one of the most discouraging features of Southern society. If Congressional reconstruction succeeds, there will be free schools for all. The colored people will see that their children attend them. We need indulge in no fears that the white people will be left behind. Impartial suffrage, then, means popular intelligence; it means progress; it means loyalty; it means harmony between the North and the South, and between the whites and the colored people.