The Union party believes that the general welfare requires that measures should be adopted which will work great changes in the South. Our adversaries are accustomed to talk of the rebellion as an affair which began when the rebels attacked Fort Sumter in 1861, and which ended when Lee surrendered to Grant in 1865. It is true that the attempt by force of arms to destroy the United States began and ended during the administration of Mr. Lincoln. But the causes, the principles, and the motives which produced the rebellion are of an older date than the generation which suffered from the fruit they bore, and their influence and power are likely to last long after that generation passes away. Ever since armed rebellion failed, a large party in the South have struggled to make participation in the rebellion honorable and loyalty to the Union dishonorable. The lost cause with them is the honored cause. In society, in business, and in politics, devotion to treason is the test of merit, the passport to preferment. They wish to return to the old state of things—an oligarchy of race and the sovereignty of States.
To defeat this purpose, to secure the rights of man, and to perpetuate the National Union, are the objects of the Congressional plan of reconstruction. That plan has the hearty support of the great generals (so far as their opinions are known)—of Grant, of Thomas, of Sheridan, of Howard—who led the armies of the Union which conquered the rebellion. The statesmen most trusted by Mr. Lincoln and by the loyal people of the country during the war also support it. The Supreme Court of the United States, upon formal application and after solemn argument, refuse to interfere with its execution. The loyal press of the country, which did so much in the time of need to uphold the patriot cause, without exception, are in favor of the plan.
In the South, as we have seen, the lessons of the war and the events occurring since the war have made converts of thousands of the bravest and of the ablest of those who opposed the National cause. General Longstreet, a soldier second to no living corps commander of the rebel army, calls it "a peace offering," and advises the South in good faith to organize under it. Unrepentant rebels and unconverted Peace Democrats oppose it, just as they opposed the measures which destroyed slavery and saved the nation.
Opposition to whatever the Nation approves seems to be the policy of the representative men of the Peace Democracy. Defeat and failure comprise their whole political history. In laboring to overthrow reconstruction they are probably destined to further defeat and further failure. I know not how it may be in other States, but if I am not greatly mistaken as to the mind of the loyal people of Ohio, they mean to trust power in the hands of no man who, during the awful struggle for the Nation's life, proved unfaithful to the cause of liberty and of Union. They will continue to exclude from the administration of the government those who prominently opposed the war, until every question arising out of the rebellion relating to the integrity of the Nation and to human rights shall have been firmly settled on the basis of impartial justice.
They mean that the State of Ohio, in this great progress, "whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuits for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life," shall tread no step backward.
Penetrated and sustained by a conviction that in this contest the Union party of Ohio is doing battle for the right, I enter upon my part of the labors of the canvass with undoubting confidence that the goodness of the cause will supply the weakness of its advocates, and command in the result that triumphant success which I believe it deserves.
Speech of GENERAL R. B. HAYES, delivered at Sidney, Ohio, Wednesday, September 4, 1867.
Mr. President and Fellow-Citizens:
It was very plain at the beginning of the pending canvass in Ohio that the leading speakers of the peace party of the State were desirous to persuade the people that at this election they were to pass upon different issues from those which have been considered in former elections. They undertook at the beginning, generally, to discuss questions which have not heretofore been much considered. They told the people that the old issues were settled, and that in this canvass in particular, there would be no propriety in discussing the record made by men during the war; that the war was over; that bygones ought to be permitted to be bygones; and they started a considerable number of subjects for discussion, which I claim are either unimportant matters, or are matters which are in no sense party questions. For example, Judge Ranney, in a very elaborate speech at Mansfield, of great length, discussed perhaps a dozen or fifteen topics, almost all of which are in no sense party questions. For example, he talked about the land grants that had been made to the railroads, particularly to the Pacific Railroad, during the last few years, and of the subsidies of money that by law have been given to the railroad companies. Now, this is but a specimen of the topics discussed by Judge Ranney. It is enough to say, in regard to the railroads, that they were voted for indiscriminately by Union men and by Democrats—peace Democrats and war Democrats—and that they were finally made laws by the signature of Andrew Johnson. They are in no sense, therefore, party issues; and the only purpose of discussing them is, so far as I can see, to mislead the people, and to withdraw their attention from the main issues before them.
Judge Thurman has discussed the subject of a standing army. He has spoken of the great expense of keeping up a standing army, and, as I think, has greatly exaggerated the sum requisite—naming two hundred and fifty millions as the annual expense of it. I suppose that is three or four, or perhaps five times as great as the actual amount: but I do not stop to argue that matter with him. I say to him, in regard to it, that Democrats voted for it in both houses, and it became a law by the signature of the president whom he supports. It is not, therefore, a party issue.
I can not, in any reasonable length of time, even name the various topics that have been discussed in this way. Perhaps none has attracted more attention than the subject of finances, and the main issue presented by our Democratic friends on that subject has been this—namely, that it is for the interest of the people to pay off the whole of the present bonded debt by an issue of greenbacks. At the beginning of the canvass, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and, I think, the leading peace party paper at Columbus, and Mr. Vallandigham, presented this as the leading question before the people. The Enquirer told us that Democratic conventions in forty counties had resolved in favor of it; and certainly if any one of the topics which have been presented in this way may be regarded as a party topic, that is one. If they have succeeded in making a new issue, that is one. On the 20th of last month, I spoke at Batavia, and I referred to that subject. I said that Judge Thurman was plainly committed against the issue of more greenbacks; that when we were in the midst of the war, and the necessities of the country were such that it was necessary to get money by every means in our power, he had told the people there was no constitutional authority to issue greenbacks. I said further, that in his speech at Waverly he had spoken of this currency as a currency of rags; and that, therefore, I was authorized to say he was opposed to this new scheme of the Cincinnati Enquirer. That speech of mine was reported in the Cincinnati Commercial of the next morning. On the following day, the 22d of August, the Enquirer noticed my speech. I will read you the whole of the Enquirer's article on that subject. I do this because I think, in this county as well as elsewhere, Democrats are claiming the votes of Union men on the ground that it is wise to pay off the bonded debt by an issue of greenbacks, and I wish to show that Judge Thurman is opposed to the scheme. Therefore, it is no party issue, because no party State convention has resolved in favor of it, and the peace party candidate for governor is against it. The Enquirer says, under the caption of "Judge Thurman and the bondholders:"
"In his speech at Batavia, Clermont county, on Tuesday, General Hayes, while discussing the payment of the public debt question, said:
"Judge Thurman has not yet spoken distinctly on this question. But his well-known opinion, that even the necessities of the war did not authorize, under our constitution, the issue of the legal-tender currency, coupled with the fact that he speaks of it in his Waverly speech as a currency of 'rags—only rags'—warrants me in saying that he is probably opposed, on grounds both of constitutional law and of expediency, to the financial scheme of Mr. Vallandigham and of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Judge Ranney and Judge Jewett are also evidently unwilling to accept the inflation theories of the Enquirer. They are both opposed to taking up the greenbacks now in circulation by an issue of bonds bearing interest, and repeat the same arguments against this policy of Johnson's administration which were urged by the Cincinnati Gazette and by Thaddeus Stevens and Judge Kelley, with much more cogency, a year or two ago."
Commenting on the above, the Enquirer says, editorially:
"This will render it necessary for Judge Thurman to do what he ought to have done in his first (Waverly) speech, define his position distinctly on this question. As one of his friends and supporters, we call upon him to put a stop to these representations of General Hayes by giving the people his views.
"Is he for the bondholders or the people? Does he believe that the debts due the bondholders should be paid in any other than the government money, which pays all other debts and liabilities, even those which were contracted in gold?
"Is he for one currency for the bondholders and another and different currency for the people?
"The Democracy of more than forty counties in Ohio have spoken out on this question, and we have no doubt the example will be followed by every county in the State. In some counties no other resolutions have been passed.
"The time has passed when the people kept step to the music of candidates. The latter must now march with and not against the people. Will Judge Thurman define his position, for thousands of votes may depend upon it?"
On the 27th of August, at Wapakoneta, Judge Thurman made a speech, which I hold in my hand—as you see, a very long speech, covering all of one side of the Commercial, and parts of two others. One would suppose that, a week having elapsed since the speech to which his attention was called had been made, that in this speech, at least, if this was an important issue of the canvass, we should have his position plainly and clearly defined. Of that long speech he devotes to that important question, which the Enquirer says is the real question, and which many of your speakers doubtless here say is the real question, precisely eleven lines—one short paragraph. And the pith of that paragraph is contained in these two lines: "I am sorry that what I have to say on that subject for publication I must reserve for some future time."
I think that this satisfactorily shows where my friend Judge Thurman stands on that issue, and that we therefore need no longer discuss it—in short, that, as a party question, it is abandoned by the candidate of the Democratic party. There is another phase of the financial question. Judge Ranney and Judge Jewett are telling the people that it is the policy of Secretary McCulloch to take up the greenback currency and issue in its stead interest-bearing bonds, not taxable, principal and interest, both payable in coin at the option of the secretary. That is true. That was the policy, and is the policy of Secretary McCulloch. But they go further, and say they are authorized to say that this is the policy of the Union party. I take issue with them on that statement. They offer no proof that it is true, except the fact that it is the policy of the Johnson administration; and I submit to an intelligent audience that the fact that Johnson and his administration are in favor of a measure is no evidence whatever that the Union party supports it. It is not for me to prove a negative, but I am prepared, nevertheless, to prove it. The very measure which was intended to carry out this policy of Secretary McCulloch to enable him to take up the greenback currency with interest-bearing bonds was introduced in Congress in March, 1866. I have here the votes upon that question, and I say to you that the Democratic party in both houses—all the members of the Democratic party in both houses—voted for Senator McCulloch's plan, and that Mr. Julian, Judge Schofield, Mr. Lawrence, all of whom I see here, and myself, a majority of the Republican members of Congress, voted against the scheme, and it became a law because a minority of the Union party, with the unanimous vote of the Democratic party, supported it; and because, when it was submitted to Andrew Johnson, instead of vetoing it, as he did all Union party measures, he wrote his name, on the 12th of April, at the bottom of it, "Approved, Andrew Johnson." Now, it is under that measure, and by virtue of that law, voted for by Mr. Finck and and Mr. LeBlond, of the Democratic party of Ohio, in the House of Representatives; it is by virtue of that law that to-day Secretary McCulloch is issuing interest-bearing bonds, not taxable, to take up the greenback currency of the country. I think, then, I am authorized in saying that these gentlemen are mistaken when they accuse the Union party of being in favor of taking up the greenback currency and putting in the place of it interest-bearing, non-taxable bonds.
This investigation of two or three of the leading questions presented to the people at the beginning of this canvass by the advocates of the peace party of Ohio is, I think, sufficient to warrant me in saying that all of the side issues presented are merely urged on the people to withdraw their minds from the great main issue which ought to engage the attention of the American Nation. What is that great issue? It is reconstruction. That is the main question before us, and until it is settled, and settled rightly, all other issues sink into insignificance in comparison with it. Fortunately for the Union party of Ohio, events are occurring every day at Washington which tend more and more clearly to define the exact question before the people, showing that the main question is whether the Union shall be reconstructed in the interests of the rebellion or in the interests of loyalty and Union; whether that reconstruction shall be carried on by men who, during the war, were in favor of the war and against the rebellion, or by men who in the North were against the war, and who in the South carried on the rebellion. On one side of this question we see Andrew Johnson, Judge Black, and the other leaders of the peace party of the North and the unrepentant rebels of the South; and on the other side is the great war secretary, Stanton, with General Grant, General Sheridan, General Thomas, General Howard, and the other Union commanders engaged in carrying out the reconstruction acts of Congress. This presents clearly enough the question before the people. General Grant, in one paragraph of his letter to the president, said to him:
"General Sheridan has performed his civil duties faithfully and intelligently. His removal will only be regarded as an effort to defeat the laws of Congress. It will be interpreted by the unreconstructed element in the South—those who did all they could to break up this government by arms, and now wish to be the only element consulted as to the method of restoring order—as a triumph. It will embolden them to renewed opposition to the will of the loyal masses, believing that they have the executive with them."
This presents exactly the question before the people. We want the loyal people of the country, the victors in the great struggle we have passed through, to do the work; we want reconstruction upon such principles, and by means of such measures that the causes which made reconstruction necessary shall not exist in the reconstructed Union; we want that foolish notion of State rights, which teaches that the State is superior to the Nation—that there is a State sovereignty which commands the allegiance of every citizen higher than the sovereignty of the nation—we want that notion left out of the reconstructed Union; we want it understood that whatever doubts may have existed prior to the war as to the relation of the State to the National government, that now the National government is supreme, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding. Again, as one of the causes of the rebellion, we want slavery left out, not merely in name, but in fact, and forever; we want the last vestige, the last relic of that institution, rooted out of the laws and institutions of every State; we want that in the South there shall be no more suppression of free discussion. I notice that in the long speech of my friend, Judge Thurman, he says that for nearly fifty years, throughout the length and breadth of the land, freedom of speech and of the press was never interfered with, either by the government or the people. For more than thirty years, fellow-citizens, there has been no such thing as free discussion in the South. Those moderate speeches of Abraham Lincoln on the subject of slavery—not one of them—could have been delivered without endangering his life, south of Mason and Dixon's line. We want in the reconstructed Union that there shall be the same freedom of the press and freedom of speech in the States of the South that there always has been in the States of the North. Again, we want the reconstructed Union upon such principles that the men of the South who, during the war, were loyal and true to the government, shall be protected in life, liberty, and property, and in the exercise of their political rights. It becomes the solemn duty of the loyal victors in the great struggle to see that the men who, in the midst of difficulties, discouragements, and dangers in the South were true, are protected in these rights. And, in order that our reconstruction shall be carried out faithfully and accomplish these objects, we further want that the work shall be in the hands of the right men. Andrew Johnson, in the days when he was loyal, said the work of reconstruction ought to be placed absolutely in the hands of the loyal men of the State; that rebels, and particularly leading rebels, ought not to participate in that work; that while that work is going on they must take back seats. We want that understood in our work of reconstruction. How important it is to have the right men in charge of this work appears upon the most cursory examination of what has already been done. President Lincoln administered the same laws substantially—was sworn to support the same constitution with Andrew Johnson—yet how different the reconstruction as carried out by these two men. Lincoln's reconstruction in all the States which he undertook to reorganize gave to those States loyal governments, loyal governors, loyal legislatures, judges, and officers of the law. Andrew Johnson, administering the same constitution and the same laws, reconstructs a number of States, and in all of them leading rebels are elected governors, leading rebels are members of the legislature, and leading rebels are sent to Congress. It makes, then, the greatest difference to the people of this country who it is that does the work.
This, my friends, brings me to a proposition to which I call the attention of every audience that I have occasion to address, and that is this, that until the work of reconstruction is complete, until every question arising out of the rebellion relating to the integrity of the Nation and to human rights has been settled, and settled rightly, no man ought to be trusted with power in this country, who, during the struggle for the Nation's life, was unfaithful to Union and liberty. That is the proposition upon which I go before the people of Ohio. At the beginning of the canvass, as I have said, the gentlemen who are engaged in advocating the claims of the peace party of Ohio did not desire to have this record discussed. I am happy to know by this long Wapakoneta speech of Judge Thurman that at last they have found it necessary to come to the discussion of the true question. Judge Thurman, in that speech, invites us to the discussion of it. He says:
"I give all of them this bold and unequivocal defiance, that there is no one act of my life, or one sentence ever uttered by me that I am not prepared to have investigated by the American people; and I wish them to stand up to the same rule, that I may see what is in their past record, and see how it tallies with what they say to the American people at the present time."
He proceeds to do this. He proceeds to examine the record of various gentlemen connected with the Union party. Now, I am not in the habit of giving challenges or accepting challenges, but I desire, for a few minutes, to ask the attention of this audience to the record of my friend, Judge Thurman. He under-takes to justify the course he took as a leader of the peace party of Ohio, by telling us what Mr. Lincoln said in 1848. Now, what is it that Mr. Lincoln said? He made a speech during the Mexican war as to the title which Texas had to certain lands in dispute between the State of Texas and Mexico, or rather between the United States and Mexico. He laid down the doctrine that a revolutionary government is entitled to own just as much of the property of the former government as it has succeeded in conquering; and he says, in the course of that speech, that it is the right of every people to revolutionize; that the right of revolution, in short, belongs to every people; that it was the right exercised by our forefathers in 1776. Now, that is all true—that is all correct; but how does my friend Judge Thurman find any justification for the rebellion in that? What is the right of revolution? It is the right to resist a government under which you live, if that government is guilty of intolerable oppression or injustice, but not otherwise. And that is the doctrine of Abraham Lincoln. Now, in order to make that a precedent for the rebellion, Judge Thurman is bound to take the position that, in the case of the rebel States, there had been acts of intolerable oppression and injustice done to that part of the country which went into rebellion. I know that the rebels, for the most part, did not put the rebellion upon that ground; but Judge Thurman now does it for them. He makes it out—or must make it out to sustain himself—that it was a case of revolution, growing out of the exercise of that right which our fathers exercised in 1776. Now, if Judge Thurman can show that there was justification for the rebellion, he has made out his case. If that rebellion was not justified by such circumstances—if there was no such intolerable injustice and oppression—he has failed in his precedent. He goes further, and says that Mr. Wade, Chief Justice Chase, Secretary Stanton, and General Butler all held sentiments before the war the same as the sentiments which he held then, and holds now, on the subject of the rights of the States. Suppose they did—suppose they belonged to the same party before the war—is that any defense of his conduct during the war? They saw fit, after the war had broken out, to rally to the side of their country, notwithstanding any notions or theories they might have held with regard to the rights of the States.
I do not stop now to discuss the correctness of Judge Thurman's opinions as to the course of these men prior to the war. It is enough for me to say that the question I make—the question which the people of Ohio make—is, What was your conduct after it was found that there was a conspiracy to break up the Union, after war was upon us, and armies were raised—what was your conduct then? That is the question before the people. And I ask of an intelligent audience, what was the duty of a good citizen after that war for the destruction of the government and the Union had begun? Need I ask any old Jackson Democrat what is his duty when the Union is at stake? In 1806, Aaron Burr proposed this matter to Andrew Jackson, of making a new confederacy in the Southwest. Jackson said:
"I hate the Dons, and I would like to see Mexico dismembered; but before I would see one State of this Union severed from the rest, I would die in the last ditch."
That was Jackson's Democracy. Douglass said:
"This is no time for delay. The existence of a conspiracy is now known; armies are raised to accomplish it. There can be but two sides to the question. A man must be either for the United States or against the United States. There can be no neutrals in this war—only patriots and traitors."
There is the Douglass doctrine. But I need not go back to Jackson and Douglass. I have the opinions of the very gentlemen who now lead the peace party on this subject. Let me read you a resolution, introduced and passed through a Democratic convention, in 1848, by Clement L. Vallandigham:
"Resolved, That whatever opinions might have been entertained of the origin, necessity or justice, by the Tories of the revolutionary war, by the Federalists of the late war with England, or by the Whigs and Abolitionists of the present war with Mexico, the fact of their country being engaged in such a war ought to have been sufficient for them and to have precluded debate on that subject till a successful termination of the war, and that in the meantime the patriot could have experienced no difficulty in recognizing his place on the side of his country, and could never have been induced to yield either physical or moral aid to the enemy."
I will quote also from Judge Thurman himself. In a speech lecturing one of his colleagues, who thought the Mexican war was unnecessary, he says:
"It is a strange way to support one's country, right or wrong, to declare after war has begun, when it exists both in law and in fact, that the war is aggressive, unholy, unrighteous, and damnable on the part of the government of that country, and on that government rests its responsibility and its wrongfulness. It is a strange way to support one's country right or wrong in a war, to tax one's imagination to the utmost to depict the disastrous consequences of the contest; to dwell on what it has already cost and what it will cost in future; to depict her troops prostrated by disease and dying with pestilence; in a word, to destroy, as far as possible, the moral force of the government in the struggle, and hold it up to its own people and the world as the aggressor that merits their condemnation. It was for this that I arraigned my colleague, and that I intend to arraign him. It was because his remarks, as far as they could have any influence, were evidently calculated to depress the spirits of his own countrymen, to lessen the moral force of his own government, and to inspire with confidence and hope the enemies of his country."
He goes on further to say:
"What a singular mode it was of supporting her in a war to bring against the war nearly all the charges that were brought by the peace party Federalists against the last war, to denounce it as an unrighteous, unholy, and damnable war; to hold up our government to the eyes of the world as the aggressors in the conflict; to charge it with motives of conquest and aggrandizement; to parade and portray in the darkest colors all the horrors of war; to dwell upon its cost and depict its calamities."
Now, that was the doctrine of Judge Thurman as to the duties of citizens in time of war—in time of such a war as the Mexican war even, in which no vital interest of the country could by possibility suffer. Judge Thurman says that General Hayes, in his speech, has a great many slips cut from the newspapers, and that he must have had some sewing society of old ladies to cut out the slips for him. I don't know how he found that out. I never told it, and you know the ladies never tell secrets that are confided to them. I hold in my hand a speech of Judge Thurman, from which I have read extracts, and I find that he has in it slips cut from more than twenty different prints, sermons, newspapers, old speeches, and pamphlets, to show how, in the war of 1812, certain Federalists uttered unpatriotic sentiments. I presume he must have acquired his slips on that day in the way he says I acquired mine now.
Now, my friends, I propose to hold Judge Thurman to no severe rule of accountability for his conduct during the war. I merely ask that it shall be judged by his own rule: "Your country is engaged in war, and it is the duty of every citizen to say nothing and do nothing which shall depress the spirits of his own countrymen, nothing that shall encourage the enemies of his country, or give them moral aid or comfort." That is the rule. Now, Judge Thurman, how does your conduct square with it? I do not propose to begin at the beginning of the war, or even just before the war, to cite the record of Judge Thurman. I am willing to say that perhaps men might have been mistaken at that time. They might have supposed in the beginning a conciliatory policy, a non-coercive policy, would in some way avoid the threatened struggle. But I ask you to approach the period when the war was going on, when armies to the number of hundreds of thousands of men were ready on one side and the other, and when the whole world knew what was the nature of the great struggle going on in America. Taking the beginning of 1863, how stands the conflict? We have pressed the rebellion out of Kentucky and through Tennessee. Grant stands before Vicksburg, held at bay by the army of Pemberton; Rosecranz, after the capture of Nashville, has pressed forward to Murfreesboro, but is still held out of East Tennessee by the army of Bragg. The army of the Potomac and the army of Lee, in Virginia, are balanced, the one against the other. The whole world knows that that exhausting struggle can not last long without deciding in favor of one side or the other. That the year 1863 is big with the fate of Union and of liberty, every intelligent man in the world knows—that on one side it is a struggle for nationality and human rights. There is not in all Europe a petty despot who lives by grinding the masses of the people, who does not know that Lincoln and the Union are his enemies. There is not a friend of freedom in all Europe who does not know that Lincoln and the loyal army are fighting in the cause of free government for all the world. Now, in that contest, where are you, Judge Thurman? It is a time when we need men and money, when we need to have our people inspired with hope and confidence. Your sons and brothers are in the field. Their success depends upon your conduct at home.
The men who are to advise you what to do have upon them a dreadful responsibility to give you wise and patriotic advice. Judge Thurman, in the speech I am quoting from, says:
"But now, my friends, I shall not deal with obscure newspapers or obscure men. What a private citizen like Allen G. Thurman may have said in 1861 is a matter of indifference."
Ah, no, Judge Thurman, the Union party does not propose to allow your record to go without investigation because you are a private citizen. I know you held no official position under the government at the time I speak of; but, sir, you had for years been a leading, able, and influential man in the great party which had often carried your State. You were acting under grave responsibilities. More than that, during that year 1863, you were more than a private citizen. You were one of the delegates to the State convention of that year; you were one of the committee that forms your party platform in that convention; you were one of the central committee that carries on the canvass in the absence of your standard-bearers; and you were one of the orators of the party. No, sir, you were not a private citizen in 1863. You were one of the leading and one of the ablest men in your party in that year, speaking through the months of July, August, September, and October, in behalf of the candidate of the peace party. You can not escape as a private citizen.
Well, sir, in the beginning of that eventful year, there rises in Congress the ablest member of the peace party, to advise Congress and to advise the people, and what does he say?
"You have not conquered the South. You never will. It is not in the nature of things possible, especially under your auspices. Money you have expended without limit; blood you have poured out like water."
Now, mark the taunt—the words of discouragement that were sent to the people and to the army of the Union:
"Defeat, debt, taxation, sepulchers—these are your trophies. Can you get men to enlist now at any price?"
Listen again to the words that were sent to the army and to the loyal people:
"Ah, sir, it is easier to die at home."
We knew that, Judge Thurman, better than Mr. Vallandigham knew it. We had seen our comrades falling and dying alone on the mountain side and in the swamps—dying in the prison-pens of the Confederacy and in the crowded hospitals, North and South. Yet he had the face to stand up in Congress, and say to the people and the world, "Ah, sir, it is easier to die at home." Judge Thurman, where are you at this time? He goes to Columbus to the State convention, on the 11th of June of that year, in all the capacities in which I have named him—as a delegate, as committeeman, and as an orator—and he spends that whole summer in advocating the election of the man who taunted us with the words, "Defeat, debt, taxation, sepulchers—these are your trophies."
In every canvass you know there is a key-note. What was the key-note of that canvass? Who sounded it? It came over to us from Canada. On the 15th of July, 1863, Mr. Vallandigham wrote, accepting the nomination of that convention of Judge Thurman's. He said, in his letter:
"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 of 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."
That was the key-note of the campaign. It was the platform of the candidate in behalf of whom Judge Thurman went through the State of Ohio—all over the State—in July, August, and September, up to the night of the 12th of October—making his last speech just twenty-four hours before the glad news went out to all the world, over the wires, that the people of Ohio had elected John Brough by over one hundred thousand majority, in preference to the author of the sentiment, "Defeat, debt, taxation, sepulchers."
And how true was that sentiment which had been endorsed by the peace party. I do not question the motives of men in any of my speeches. I merely ask as to the facts. "Better prepared," said he, "than ever before," on the 15th of July. On that theory, they went through the canvass to the end. What was the fact? On the 15th of July, 1863, Grant had captured Vicksburg. That gallant, glorious son of Ohio, who perished afterward in the Atlanta campaign, and whose honored remains now sleep near his old home on the lake shore, General James B. McPherson, on the 4th of July, had ridden at the head of a triumphant host into Vicksburg. On the 7th of July, Banks had captured Port Hudson. A few days afterward, a party of serenaders, calling upon Mr. Lincoln, saw that good man, who had been bowed down with the weight and cares of office; they saw his haggard face lit up with joy and cheer, and he said to them: "At last, Grant is in Vicksburg. The Father of Waters, the Mississippi, again flows unvexed to the sea."
On the 15th of July, what else had happened? The army of Lee, defiantly crowding up into Pennsylvania, and claiming to go where it pleased, and take what it pleased, only doubting whether they would first capture Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, or New York, and concluding finally that it was a matter of military strategy first to capture the Army of the Potomac—that army, which had invaded Pennsylvania under such flattering auspices, was, on the 15th of July, when Mr. Vallandigham's letter was written, straggling back over the swollen waters of the Potomac, glad to escape from the pursuing armies of the Union, with the loss of thirty thousand of its bravest and best, killed, wounded, and captured, and utterly unable ever after during the war to set foot upon free soil except in such fragments as were captured by our armies in subsequent battles. That was the condition of the two great armies when Mr. Vallandigham uttered that sentiment; and on that sentiment my friend, Judge Thurman, argued his case through all that summer.
But wisdom was not learned even at the close of 1863 by this peace party. Things were greatly changed in the estimation of every loyal man. We had now not merely got possession of the Mississippi river—we had not merely driven the army of Lee out of Pennsylvania, never again to return, but the battle of Mission Ridge and the battle of Knoxville had been fought. That important strategic region, East Tennessee, was now within our lines. From that abode of loyalty, the mountain region of East Tennessee, we could pierce to the very heart of the Southern Confederacy. We were now in possession of the interior lines, giving us an immense advantage, and we were in a condition to march southeast to Atlanta and northeast to Richmond; yet with this changed state of affairs, where is my friend Judge Thurman? Advising the people? What is he advising them to do? He says Allen G. Thurman was a private citizen. Not so. He held no official position, I know, under the government. Fortunately for the people of this country, they were not giving official positions in Ohio to men of his opinions and sentiments at that time. [A voice, "They won't now, either."] But he was made delegate at large from the State of Ohio to the convention to meet at Chicago to nominate a president and form a platform on which that nominee should stand. Mr. Vallandigham was a district delegate and one of the committee to form a platform, and he drew the most important resolution. The principal plank of that platform is of his construction. You are perfectly familiar with it. It merely told the people that the war had been for four years a failure, and advised them to prepare to negotiate with this Confederate nation on our Southern borders. Well, when this advice was given to the Nation, we were still in the midst of the war, and were prosecuting it with every prospect of success. What had been accomplished in 1863 enabled us, with great advantages, to press upon the rebellion. I remember well when I first read that resolution declaring the war a four years' failure. It came to the army in which I was serving on the same day that the news came to us that Sherman had captured Atlanta. We heard of both together. The war a four years' failure, said the Chicago convention. I well remember how that evening our pickets shouted the good news to the pickets of the enemy. What good news? News that a convention representing nearly one-half of the people of the North had concluded that the war was a failure? No such news was shouted from our-picket line. The good news that they shouted was that Sherman had captured Atlanta.
This, my friends, is a part of that record which we are invited to examine by my friend Judge Thurman. I ask you to apply to it the principle that whoever, during the great struggle, was unfaithful to the cause of the country is not to be trusted to be one of the men to harvest and secure the legitimate fruits of the victory, which the Union people and the Union army won during the rebellion. In the great struggle in 1863 in Ohio, I had not an opportunity to hear the eloquent voice of John Brough, which I knew stirred the hearts of the people like the sound of a trumpet, but I read, as occasion offered, his speeches, and I saw not one in which he did not warn the young men—warn the Democrats of Ohio—that if they remained through that struggle opposed to this country, the conduct particularly of leading men would never be forgotten, and never forgiven. Now, in this canvass, I merely have to ask the people to remember the prediction of honest John Brough, and see that that prediction is made good.
It is not worth while now to consider, or undertake to predict, when we shall cease to talk of the records of those men. It does seem to me that it will, for many years to come, be the voice of the Union people of the State that for a man who as a leader—as a man having control in political affairs—that for such a man who has opposed the interests of his country during the war, "the post of honor is the private station." When shall we stop talking about it? When ought we to stop talking about that record, when leading men come before the people? Certainly not until every question arising out of the rebellion, and every question which is akin to the questions which made the rebellion, is settled. Perhaps these men will be remembered long after these questions are settled; perhaps their conduct will long be remembered. What was the result of this advice to the people? It prolonged the war; it made it impossible to get recruits; it made it necessary that we should have drafts. They opposed the drafts, and that made rioting, which required that troops should be called from all the armies in the field, to preserve the peace at home. From forty to a hundred thousand men in the different States of this Union were kept within the loyal States to preserve the peace at home. And now, when they talk to you about the debt and about the burden of taxation, remember how it happened that the war was so prolonged, that it was so expensive, and that the debt grew to such large proportions.
There are other things, too, to be remembered. I recollect that at the close of the last session of Congress, I went over to Arlington, the estate formerly of Robert E. Lee, and I saw there the great National cemetery into which that beautiful place has been converted. I saw the graves of 18,000 Union soldiers, marked with white head-boards, denoting the name of each occupant, and his regiment and company. Passing over those broad acres, covered with the graves of the loyal men who had died in defense of their country, I came upon that which was even more touching than these 18,000 head-boards. I found a large granite, with this inscription upon it:
"Beneath this stone repose the remains of two thousand one hundred and eleven unknown soldiers, gathered, after the war, from the field of Bull Run and the route to the Rappahannock. Their remains could not be identified, but their names and deaths are recorded in the archives of their country, and its grateful citizens honor them as of their noble army of martyrs. May they rest in peace. September, 1866."
I say to those men who were instrumental and prominent in prolonging the war, by opposing it, that when honeyed words and soft phrases can erase from the enduring granite inscriptions like these, the American people may forget their conduct; but I believe they will not do so until some such miracle is accomplished.
That is all I desire to say this afternoon upon the record of the peace party of Ohio. A few words upon another topic that is much discussed in this canvass, and that is the proposed amendment to the constitution of the State of Ohio. At the beginning, I desire to say, that there may be no misunderstanding—and I suppose there is no misunderstanding upon that subject—that I am in favor of the adoption of that amendment, and I trust that every Union man, and every Democrat too, will vote for it next October. And why do I say this? Let us discuss it a moment. It consists of four parts. First, it disfranchises any man who becomes a resident of the State of Ohio, or who was a citizen of Ohio, who fought in the rebellion against the country. Isn't that right? If you want that to go into your constitution, vote for the amendment. It disfranchises every man who, being liable to the draft, when the country needed them at the front—when the soldiers doing their duty at the front were anxiously looking for their aid—it disfranchises every man who, at such time, ran away to escape the draft. Isn't that right? In the next place, it disfranchises every man who deserted his comrades at the front, and ran away to vote the peace party ticket at the rear. Isn't that right? It disfranchises him whether he voted that ticket or not, I may observe. If you want these provisions in your State constitution, vote for the amendment. In the next place, it gives the right of suffrage to all the negroes of Ohio. Mark the phrase: I have not said impartial suffrage or manhood suffrage. I wish to be understood. It gives the suffrage to the negroes of Ohio upon the same terms that it is given to white men. The reason I am in favor of that is because it is right.
Let me have the ears of my Democratic friends on that question a moment. If Democracy has any meaning now that is good—any favorable meaning—it is that Democracy is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is a government in which every man who has to obey the laws has a part in making the laws, unless disqualified by crime. Then the proposition I am for is a Democratic proposition. Again, it is according to the principles upon which good men have always desired to see our institutions placed, namely, that all men are entitled to equal rights before the law. They are not equal in any other respect. Nobody claims that they are. But we propose to give to each man the same rights which you want for yourself. It is, in short, obeying the rule of the Great Teacher: "Do unto others as ye would that others should do unto you." Abraham Lincoln said: "No man is good enough to govern another without that other man's consent." Is not that true? Good as you think you are, are you good enough absolutely to govern another man without that other man's consent? If you really think so, just change shoes with that other man, and see if you are willing to be governed yourself, without your consent, by somebody else. The declaration of independence says governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Now, don't you see there is no way by which one man can give consent to be governed by another man in a republican government except by the ballot? There is no way provided by which you can consent to give powers to a government except by the ballot. Therefore every man governed under our system is entitled to the ballot.
So much for principle. One word now as to why our Democratic friends oppose it. I remember their opposing the extension of suffrage once under circumstances that made many of us think they were doing wrong. During the years 1861, 1862, 1863, and 1864, I was a citizen of the Fifteenth ward, in Cincinnati; I had lived there ever since it was a ward. All the property I had in the world was taxed there, real or personal; and there was a party in Ohio of loyal Union men, who said I and others who were with me ought to have a right to vote, although I was not in the Fifteenth ward, but was serving the country in the field against the rebels. The Democratic party in Ohio—these very peace men—said no. Why did they say I should not vote? I never heard but one good reason, and that was the apprehension they had that if the soldiers did vote, they wouldn't vote the Democratic ticket. That's what's the matter. Now, I suspect we have the same difficulty on this proposition; I suspect that the real trouble is that they fear if the colored man has a vote, they have dealt so hardly with him these last few years that when he comes to vote he will vote against the Democratic party. That's what's the matter. Why, for the sake of political power, these Democrats of Ohio have not been unwilling to look kindly toward the colored man. Do you remember we once had black laws in Ohio which kept the colored men out of the State? Who repealed those laws? Why did they do it? The Democratic party did it, because they could get political power by it. I suspect that if it were quite certain that the colored vote would elect Allen G. Thurman Governor of Ohio, our Democratic friends would not object to it at all. What, then, do I say to the Union men? This objection may be very good for the Democrats, but it is not a wise one for you.
I commend to you Union men who are a little weak on this question, or perhaps I should say a little strong, the example of the Union men of the country during the war. Abraham Lincoln thought, in 1862, it was wise to proclaim freedom to the slaves. Many good Union men thought it was unwise—thought Mr. Lincoln was going too far or too fast—but the sequel justified the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln. Again, he thought it was wise that colored men should be placed in our armies. There were good soldiers and good Union men who thought it was unwise. They feared that Mr. Lincoln was going too fast or too far, but events justified it. Now, everybody agrees that in both cases Abraham Lincoln was right. Now, the example I commend to our Union friends who are doubting on this great question is the example of those Union men during the war who doubted the wisdom of these other measures. Greatly as they were opposed to the proclamation of Abraham Lincoln, strongly as they were opposed to the enlistment of colored soldiers, I say to you I never heard of one good Union man, in the army or out of it, who left his party because of that difference with Mr. Lincoln. I commend that example to the Union men who now doubt about colored suffrage. The truth is, that every step made in advance toward the standard of the right has in the event always proved a safe and wise step. Every step toward the right has proved a step toward the expedient; in short, that in politics, in morals, in public and private life, the right is always expedient.
I thank you, fellow-citizens, for your kind attention.
Speech of GOVERNOR HAYES, on his re-nomination, delivered June 23, 1869.
Twice since the organization of existing political parties the people of Ohio have trusted the law-making power of the State in the hands of the Democratic party. They first tried the experiment twelve years ago, and such were the results that ten years elapsed before they ventured upon a repetition of it. Two years ago, in a time of reaction, which was general throughout the country, the Democratic party, by a minority of the popular vote, having large advantages in the apportionment, obtained complete control of the legislature in both of its branches. They came into power, proclaiming that the past ought to be forgotten; that old issues and divisions should be laid aside; that new ideas and new measures required attention; and they were particularly emphatic and earnest in declaring that the enormous burdens of debt and taxation under which the people were struggling made retrenchment and economy the supreme duty of the hour.
These were their promises, and the manner in which they were kept is now before the people for their judgment. Disregarding the well-known and solemnly-expressed will of Ohio, they began the business of their first session by passing fruitless resolutions to rescind the ratification of the 14th amendment to the constitution of the United States.
They placed on the statute book visible admixture bills, to deprive citizens of the right of suffrage—a constitutional right long enjoyed and perfectly well settled by repeated decisions of the highest court having jurisdiction of the question.
They repealed the law allowing, after the usual residence, the disabled veterans of the Union army to vote in the township in which the National Soldiers' Home is situated; and enacted a law designed to deprive of the right of suffrage a large number of young men engaged in acquiring an education at "any school, seminary, academy, college, university, or other institution of learning." To prevent citizens who were deprived of their constitutional rights by these acts from obtaining prompt relief in the Supreme Court, they passed a law prohibiting that court from taking up causes on its docket according to its own judgment of what was demanded by public justice, in any case "except where the person seeking relief had been convicted of murder in the first degree, or of a crime the punishment of which was confinement in the penitentiary."
I believe it is the general judgment of the people of Ohio that the passage of these measures, unconstitutional as some of them are, and unjust as they all are, was mainly due to the fact that the classes of citizens disfranchised by them do not commonly vote with the Democratic party. The Republican party condemns all such legislation, and demands its repeal.
On the important subject of suffrage, General Grant, in his inaugural message, expresses the convictions of the Republican party. He says: "The question of suffrage is one which is likely to agitate the public so long as a portion of the citizens of the Nation are excluded from its privileges in any State. It seems to me very desirable that this question should be settled now, and I entertain the hope and express the desire that it may be by the ratification of the fifteenth amendment to the constitution."
During the canvass which resulted in the election of the late Democratic legislature the Republicans were charged with having used $800,000, raised for the relief of soldiers' families, to pay the State debt, and this charge was insisted upon, notwithstanding a majority of the Democratic members had supported the measure. The idea was everywhere held out that if the Democratic party were successful this money would be restored to the relief fund and expended for the benefit of the soldiers. The failure to redeem this pledge is aggravated by the fact that the legislature, by a strictly party vote in the Senate, refused to provide for the support of soldiers' destitute orphans at homes to be established without expense to the State by the voluntary contributions of patriotic and charitable people.
But of all the pledges upon which the Democratic party obtained power in the last legislature, the most important, and those in regard to which the just expectations of the people have been most signally disappointed, are their pledges in relation to financial affairs—to expenditure, to debt, and to taxation. Upon this subject the people are compelled to feel a very deep interest. The flush times of the war have been followed by a financial reaction, and for the last three or four years the country has been on the verge of a financial crisis. The burdens of taxation bear heavily upon labor and upon capital. The Democratic party, profuse alike of accusations against their adversaries, and of promises of retrenchment and reform, were clothed with power to deal with the heaviest part of these burdens, viz: with the expenditures, debts, assessments, and taxes which are authorized by State legislation. The results of their two years of power are now before the people. They are contained in the 65th and 66th volumes of the Laws of Ohio. Let any Republican diligently study these volumes, and he will fully comprehend the meaning of Job when he said, "Oh, that mine adversary had written a book." No intelligent man can read carefully these volumes, and note the number and character of the laws increasing the expenses and liabilities of the State and authorizing additional debts and additional taxation for city and village, for county and township purposes, without having the conviction forced upon him that the gentlemen who enacted these laws hold to the opinion that the way to increase wealth is to increase taxation, and that public debts are public blessings.
When the late Democratic Legislature assembled they found the revenue raised yearly in Ohio by taxation to pay the interest on the State and local debts and for State and local expenditures was $20,253,615.34. This is at the rate of almost forty dollars for every vote cast in the State at the last election, and exceeds seven dollars for each inhabitant of the State. Of this large sum collected annually by direct taxation less than one-fifth or $3,981,099.79 was for State purposes, and more than four-fifths or $16,272,515.34 was for local purposes. The increase of taxation for State purposes during the last few years has been small, but many items of taxation for local purposes are increasing rapidly. The taxation, for example, in the thirty-three cities of the State has increased until, according to the report of the auditor of State, "in several the rates of levy exceed three per cent, and the average rate in all is but little short of three per cent." In this condition of the financial affairs of the State, and in the embarrassed and depressed condition of the business of the country, the duty of the legislature was plain. They were to see that no unnecessary additional burdens were imposed upon the people—that all wholesome restraints and limitations upon the power of local authorities to incur debts and levy taxes should be preserved and enforced, and especially that no increase of liabilities should be authorized except in cases of pressing necessity.
Now consider the facts. These gentlemen professed to be scrupulously strict in their observance of the requirements of the constitution. Yet under provisions which contemplate one legislative session in two years they held two sessions in the same year, and three sessions in their term of two years. They were in session two hundred and sixty days—longer than was ever before known in Ohio, and at an expense of $250,624.10—more than double that of their Republican predecessors.
They created between thirty and forty new offices at a cost to the people for salaries, fees, and expenses of at least $75,000 per annum. They added to the State liabilities for various purposes about $1,500,000. In order to avoid an increase of taxes levied for State purposes they diminished the sum levied to pay the State debt, and increased the levy for other State purposes almost $600,000.
The acts of the last legislature in relation to local debts and local taxes are of the most extraordinary character. These acts relate to raising money for county purposes, for township purposes, for city and village purposes, and for special purposes. These taxes or debts are levied or incurred under the direction of county commissioners, township trustees, or of city or village councils, who derive their authority exclusively from State legislation. The State legislature has therefore the control of the whole matter. Now, the general statement which I wish to make, and which I believe is sustained by the facts, is, that the late Democratic legislature authorized greater local pecuniary burdens to be imposed upon the people of Ohio, without their consent, than were ever before authorized by any General Assembly, either in peace or war, since the organization of our State government.
Sixty or seventy different acts were passed authorizing debts to be contracted, amounting in the aggregate to more than $25,000,000. A large part of them bear eight per cent interest, and a very small part bear less than seven and three-tenths per cent interest. And they passed seventy or eighty acts by which additional taxes were authorized to the amount of over $10,000,000.
Now it is to be hoped, as to a considerable part of the local debts and local taxes authorized by the late Democratic legislature, that the people will not be burdened with them. It is to be hoped that county commissioners, city councils, and other local boards, will show greater moderation and economy in the exercise of their dangerous and oppressive powers under the laws than was exhibited in their enactment. But in any event, nothing is more certain than that the people of Ohio have great reason to apprehend that the evil consequences of these laws will be felt in their swollen tax bills for many years.
It is probable that many of the acts to which I have alluded, creating additional offices, incurring State liabilities, and authorizing local debts and taxes were required by sound policy. But a candid investigation will show that the larger part of these enormous burdens of expenditure, debt, and taxation could and ought to have been avoided.
The last legislature afforded examples of many of the worst evils to which legislative bodies are liable—long sessions, excessive legislation, unnecessary expenditures, and recklessness in authorizing local debts and local taxes. These evils "have increased, are increasing, and ought to be diminished." Let there be reform as to all of them. Especially let the people of all parties insist that the parent evil—long legislative sessions—shall be reformed altogether. Let the bad precedent of long sessions, set by the last legislature, be condemned, and the practice of short sessions established. With the average rate of taxation in the cities and large towns of the State—nearly three per cent.—legitimate business and industry can not continue to thrive, if the rate of taxation continues to increase. With the rates of interest for public debts ranging from seven and three-tenths per cent to eight per cent, the reckless increase of such debts must stop, or will seriously affect the prosperity of the State. These are subjects which deserve, and which, I trust, will receive, the profound attention of the people in the pending canvass.
It is said that one of the ablest Democratic members of the last legislature declared at its close that "enough had been done to keep the Democratic party out of power in Ohio for twenty years." Let the Republican press and the Republican speakers see to it that the history of the acts of that body be spread fully before the people, and I entertain no doubt that the declaration will be substantially made good.
It is probable that the discussions of the present canvass will turn more upon State legislation and less upon National affairs than those of any year since 1861. Neither senators nor representatives in Congress are to be chosen. But it is an important State election, and will be regarded as having a bearing on National politics. The Republicans of Ohio heartily approve of the principles of General Grant's inaugural message, and are gratified by the manner in which he is dealing with the leading questions of the first three months of his administration.
Under President Johnson, Secretary McCulloch hoarded millions of gold, to enable him to maintain a wretched rivalry with the gold gamblers of New York city. The Nation was defrauded of its just dues, and the National debt increased from November 1, 1867, to November 1, 1868, $35,625,102.82. General Grant began his financial policy by revoking his predecessor's pardons of revenue robbers, and by cutting down expenses in all directions; and Secretary Boutwell disposes of surplus gold in the purchase of interest-bearing bonds to the amount of two millions a week, and in his first quarter reduces the National debt more than twenty millions of dollars.
The two Democratic Johnsons, Andrew and Reverdy, furnished their ideas of a foreign policy in the Johnson-Clarendon treaty. They undertook to settle the American claims against England on account of the Alabama outrage by the award of a Commission, one-half of whose members were to be chosen by England and the other half by the United States; and, in case of a disagreement, an umpire was to be chosen by lot. That is to say, a great National controversy, involving grave questions of international law, and claims of undoubted validity, amounting to millions of money, was to be decided by the toss of a copper! The administration of General Grant crushed the disgraceful treaty, and proposes to deal with England on the principle laid down in General Grant's inaugural. The United States will treat all other Nations "as equitable law requires individuals to deal with each other;" but, "if others depart from this rule in their dealings with us, we may be compelled to follow their precedent."
On the great question of reconstruction, in what a masterly way and with what marked success has General Grant's administration begun. Congress had fixed its day of adjournment, and all plans for reconstructing the three unrepresented States had been postponed until next December. At this junction General Grant, on the 7th of April last, sent to Congress a special message recommending that before its adjournment it take the necessary steps for the restoration of the State of Virginia to its proper relations to the Union. As the ground of his recommendation he said: "I am led to make this recommendation from the confident hope and belief that the people of that State are now ready to co-operate with the National government in bringing it again into such relations to the Union as it ought as soon as possible to establish and maintain, and to give to all its people those equal rights under the law which were asserted in the declaration of independence, in the words of one of the most illustrious of its sons."
The message of the president was referred, in the House of Representatives, to the Committee on Reconstruction. That committee the next day reported a bill for the reconstruction of Virginia, and also of Mississippi and Texas. The character of the bill sufficiently appears by the first two sections relating to Virginia:
"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States, at such time as he may deem best for the public interest, may submit the constitution which was framed by the convention which met in Richmond, Virginia, on Tuesday, the 3d day of December, 1867, to the registered voters of said State, for ratification or rejection; and may also submit to a separate vote such provisions of said constitution as he may deem best.
"SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That at the same election the voters of said State may vote for and elect members of the General Assembly of said State and all the officers of said State provided for by the said constitution, and for members of Congress; and the officer commanding the district of Virginia shall cause the lists of registered voters of said State to be revised and corrected prior to such election, and for that purpose may appoint such registrars as he may deem necessary. And said election shall be held and returns thereof made in the manner provided by the election ordinance adopted by the convention which framed said constitution."
It will be seen that by this bill the people of Virginia were to proceed in the work of reconstruction at such time as the president might deem best, and that such reconstruction in all its parts was to be on the basis of equal political rights. The constitution to be submitted was framed by a convention, in the election of which colored citizens participated, and of which colored men were members. The "registered voters" who are to vote on its ratification or rejection, and also for members of the General Assembly, for State officers and for members of Congress, include the colored men of Virginia; and if the constitution is adopted, it secures to them equal political rights in that State. The remaining sections of the bill provide for the reconstruction of Mississippi and Texas on the same principles, and left the time and manner to the discretion of the president.
This bill was reported to the House of Representatives and unanimously agreed upon by a committee, of which four members were Democrats. The most distinguished Democratic representatives of the States of New York and Pennsylvania advocated its passage. Out of about seventy Democratic members of the House, only twenty-five voted against it, and the only Democratic members from Ohio who voted on the passage of the bill, voted for it.
It thus appears that upon the recommendation of General Grant even the Democratic party of Ohio, by their representatives in Congress, voted for equal political rights in Virginia, Mississippi, and Texas! And to-day the great body of the people of those States, Democrats and Conservatives as well as Republicans, have yielded assent to that great principle. In view of these facts I submit that I am fully warranted in saying that General Grant has begun the work of reconstruction in a masterly way and with marked success.
Again thanking you for the honor you have done me, I repeat, in conclusion, what I said two years ago. The people represented in this convention mean that the State of Ohio in the great progress, "whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuits for all, and to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life," shall tread no more steps backward. I shall enter upon my part of the labors of the canvass believing that the Union Republican party is battling for the right, and with undoubting confidence that the goodness of the cause will supply the weakness of its advocates, and command in the result that triumphant success which it deserves.
Speech of GENERAL R. B. HAYES, delivered at Zanesville, Ohio, Thursday, August 24, 1871.
The change of principles which a majority of the late Democratic State Convention at Columbus decided to make, commonly called the new departure, lends to the pending political contest in Ohio its chief interest. Indeed, there is no other salient feature in the Democratic platform. Resolutions in the usual form were adopted on several other political topics; but the main discussion, and the absorbing interest of the convention, was on the question of accepting as a finality the series of Republican measures which is generally regarded as the natural and legitimate result of the overthrow of the rebellion, and which is embodied in the last three amendments to the constitution.
Certain influential Democratic leaders in Ohio had become satisfied by the repeated defeats of their party that no considerable number of Republicans would ever aid the Democratic party to obtain power until it fully and explicitly accepted in good faith, as a final settlement of the questions involved, the leading Republican measures resulting from the war. They were convinced that Republicans generally regarded these measures of such vital importance that, until they were irrevocably established, other and minor questions would not be allowed to divide that great body of patriotic people who rallied together in support of the government during its struggle for existence. The important principles which Republicans claim should be accepted as settled are:
1. That the National power is the Supreme power of the land, and that the doctrine that the States are in any proper sense sovereign, including as it does the right of nullification and secession, is no longer to be maintained.
2. That all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, are citizens thereof, and entitled to equal rights, civil and political, without regard to race, color, or condition.
3. That the public debt resulting from the war is of binding obligation, and must be fully and honestly paid.
Mr. Vallandigham, with that boldness and energy for which he was distinguished, undertook the task of forcing his party to take the position required to make success possible in Ohio. In this work, he was encouraged, and probably aided, by the counsel and advice of that other eminent Democratic leader, Chief Justice Chase. The first authentic announcement of the new movement in Ohio was made by the Montgomery County Democratic Convention, held at Dayton, on the 18th day of May last. The speech and resolutions of Mr. Vallandigham in that body contained much sound Republicanism. He still clung to a general assertion of the State rights heresy, but accepted the last three constitutional amendments "as a settlement, in fact, of all the issues of the war," and "pledged" the Democratic party to the faithful and absolute enforcement of the constitution as it now is, "so as to secure equal rights to all persons, without distinction of race, color, or condition." On the subject of the National debt, and of currency, he was equally explicit. He declared "in favor of the payment of the public debt at the earliest practicable moment consistent with moderate taxation; that specie is the basis of all sound currency; and that true policy requires a speedy return to that basis as soon as practicable without distress to the debtor class of people."
Surely, here was a long stride away from the Democracy of the last ten years, and toward wholesome Republican ideas. If a Democratic victory could be gained by adopting Republican principles, the framer of the Dayton platform was not lacking in political sagacity. Unfortunately for the success of the scheme, no Ohio Democrat of conspicuous position, except Mr. Chase, is known to have approved Mr. Vallandigham's resolutions as a whole. The chief justice wrote to Mr. Vallandigham the well-known letter of May 20, in which he warmly congratulated him on the movement which was to return "the Democratic party to its ancient platform of progress and reform."
This was perfectly consistent with the previous opinions and public conduct of Mr. Chase. He had supported the three amendments to the constitution, and notwithstanding the censure of his Democratic associates, he had been signally active and influential in procuring the ratification by Ohio of the fifteenth amendment. In addition to this, he was probably the only prominent Western Democrat who was for the payment of the public debt in coin, and in favor of a speedy return to specie payments.
When the convention assembled, on the first of June, neither the talents and energy of Mr. Vallandigham nor the great name and authority of the chief justice were sufficient to carry through, in all its parts, the Dayton programme. The financial resolutions were stricken out and the oft-defeated greenback theory, slightly modified, was inserted in its place. Other important paragraphs of Mr. Vallandigham were also omitted, in which "secession, slavery, inequality before the law, and political inequality" were described as "belonging to the dead past" and "buried out of sight." This left as the new departure two resolutions, which were adopted only after strong opposition.
"1. Resolved, by the Democracy of Ohio, That denouncing the extraordinary means by which they were brought about, we recognize as accomplished facts the three several amendments to the constitution, recently adopted, and regard the same as no longer political issues before the country.
"2.... The Democratic party pledges itself to the full, faithful, and absolute enforcement of the constitution as it now is, so as to secure equal rights to all persons under it, without distinction of race, color, or condition."
The Democratic managers claim that by this movement they have taken such a position that, at least equally with the Republicans, they are entitled to the confidence and support of the early and earnest friends of the principles of the three recent constitutional amendments. They claim at the same time, in the same breath, that they are entitled also to the confidence of the Democratic people whom they have hitherto taught that the amendments were ratified by force and fraud; that they are revolutionary and void, and that they are a dangerous departure from the principles of the fathers of the republic, and destructive of all good government.
Now, the important question presented is, whether it is safe and wise to trust these amendments for interpretation, construction, and execution to the party which, from first to last, has fiercely opposed them. The safe rule is, if you want a law fairly and faithfully administered, entrust power only to its friends. It will rarely have a fair trial at the hands of its enemies. These amendments are no exception to this rule.
What the country most needs, and what good citizens most desire in regard to these great measures is peace—repose. They wish to be able to rest confidently in the belief that they are to be enforced and obeyed. They do not want them overthrown by revolutionary violence or defeated by fraud. They do not wish them repealed by constitutional amendments, abrogated by judicial construction, nullified by unfriendly legislation, State or National, or left a dead letter by non-action on the part of law-makers or executive officers. Has the time come when the country can afford to trust the Democratic party on these questions? Consider the facts.
The new departure is by no means generally accepted by the Democratic party, and where accepted the conversion is sudden and recent, and against the protest of a large element of sincere and inflexible Democrats.
The only State touching the borders of Ohio which has been reliably Democratic for the last five years is Kentucky. She sends to Congress an undivided Democratic delegation of two senators and nine representatives. At the late election, notwithstanding the heroic efforts of her Republicans under the splendid leadership of General Harlan, the Democratic organs are able to rejoice that they still hold the State by from thirty to forty thousand majority. Where did the Democrats of Kentucky, in their canvass, stand on the new departure? They marched in the old Democratic path. They turned no back somersault to catch Republican votes. On the very day that the Ohio Democracy were wrangling in convention over the bitter dose, Governor Leslie, addressing the Democracy of Lewis county, said: "As to the new amendments, I am out and out opposed to them. I care not who in Indiana, Ohio, or elsewhere may be for them. Those amendments were engrafted upon the constitution of the country, and proclaimed to the country as part and parcel of the constitution by force and by fraud, and not in the legitimate way laid down in the constitution. Ten States of this Union were tied hand and foot, and bayonets were presented to their breasts to make them consent against their will to the passage of these amendments. The procuring of these amendments was a fraud upon this people, and upon the people of the whole United States, and having been thus obtained, I hold that they ought to be repealed. There may be some Democrats who are not for their repeal, but the great body of our party is for it."
The Democratic candidate for lieutenant-governor, Mr. Carlisle, was equally decided. Said he: "In the first place, I do not think that the resolution passed by the Ohio Democracy, declaring that these constitutional amendments are no longer political issues before the country, will have the effect which they appear to have supposed it would.
"Instead of withdrawing them as subjects of political discussion, it will give them far more prominence than they ever had heretofore, and they will be confronted with them throughout the entire canvass. The only way in which any question can be withdrawn from the arena of political discussion is for both parties to ignore it altogether.
"This can not be done as to these amendments, because they present real living issues, in which the people feel a very deep interest. They are not dead issues, and politicians can not kill them by resolutions. The Ohio Democrats seem to recognize this to some extent at least, for they have simply attempted to turn the discussion away from the validity and merits of the amendments themselves to the question of their construction. In this I think they have made a grievous mistake."
In Indiana, the last authoritative Democratic utterance on this subject, was the passage, in January last, by the Senate of that State, of the following resolution, offered by Mr. Hughes, every Democrat supporting it:
"Resolved, That Congress has no lawful power derived from the constitution of the United States, nor from any other source whatever, to require any State of the Union to ratify an amendment proposed to the constitution of the United States as a condition precedent to representation in Congress; that all such acts of ratification are null and void, and the votes so obtained ought not to be counted to affect the rights of the people and the States of the whole Union, and that the State of Indiana protests and solemnly declares that the so-called fifteenth amendment is not this day, nor never has been in law, a part of the constitution of the United States."
It is not necessary to go to neighboring States for Democratic authorities, to show how far the new departure is from modern Democracy.
When this question was last debated before the people of Ohio, the Democratic position on the principle of the fifteenth amendment, and on its constitutional validity, if declared adopted, was thus stated:
Speaking of the principle of the amendment, Judge Thurman said: "I tell you it is only the entering wedge that will destroy all intelligent suffrage in this country, and turn our country from an intelligent white man's government into one of the most corrupt mongrel governments in the world."
On its validity, if declared adopted, General Ward said: "Fellow-citizens of Ohio, I boldly assert that the States of this Union have always had, both before and since the adoption of the constitution of the United States, entire sovereignty over the whole subject of suffrage in all its relations and bearings. Ohio has that sovereignty now, and it can not be taken from her without her consent, even by all the other States combined, except by revolutionary usurpation. The right to regulate suffrage as to the organization of its own government, and the election of officers under it, is an inalienable attribute of sovereignty, which the State could not surrender without surrendering its sovereign existence as a State. To take from Ohio the power of determining who shall exercise the right of suffrage is not an amendment of the constitution, but a revolutionary usurpation by the other States, in no wise constitutionally binding upon her sovereignty as a State."
These opinions are still largely prevalent in the Democratic party. When a new departure was announced at Dayton, the leading organ of the party in this State said:
"There are matters in the Montgomery county resolutions which, it is very safe to say, will not receive the approval of the State convention, and which should not receive its endorsement. They have faults of omission and commission. They evince a desire to sail with the wind, and as near the water as possible without getting wet. The Democracy everywhere believe that the constitution was altered by fraud and force, and do not intend to be mealy-mouthed in their expression of the outrage, whatever they may agree upon as to how the amendments should be treated in the future, for the sake of saving, if possible, what is left of constitutional liberty."
After the scheme was adopted in convention, the common sentiment was well expressed by the editor who said that "the platform was made for present use, and is marked with the taint of insincerity."
The speeches of Colonel McCook and other Democratic gentlemen exhibit, when carefully read, clearly enough the character of the new departure.
In accepting his nomination, Colonel McCook said: "Let me speak now upon the fifteenth amendment, which confers the right of suffrage upon the blacks. It was no legitimate consequence of the war; it was no legitimate consequence of secession; but it was passed in the exigency of a political party, that they might have control as much in Ohio as in those States in the South. I opposed it, as I did the fourteenth, from the beginning, and I have no regrets over that opposition. But now a word more upon it. If it contained nothing but this provision for suffrage there would be but little objection in it; but it contains a provision intended to confer power upon Congress which is dangerous to the liberties of the country, and the dangers can only be avoided by having Democratic Congresses in the future, who will trust no power to the executive which bears the purse and sword to interfere with our elections."