A Plea for Peace
October 25, 1872 — Cooper Union, New York City
Is the war ended? Stripped of all sophistry, with extraneous personal matters, brought down to the naked fact, that is the question the people are to answer on the 5th of next November. Is the war ended?
Mr. Morton told us at Philadelphia that, so far from being ended, the old battle is going on between the Boys in Gray and the Boys in Blue. Mr. Gerrit Smith tells us that there is an absolute necessity for the reëlection of Gen. Grant, since the anti-Slavery contest is not yet ended. Mr. Morton McMichael told us that the Republican party had no new policy to advance; its present and its future policy would be based upon its action or policy of the last 10 years. That policy has been a war policy, based on the necessities of war growing out of the needs of war. Therefore, if the future policy and the present policy is to be what the past policy has been, it must be because the people believe that the need is not yet ended, that the war still exists; else why continue the methods of war in time of peace. Surely the people must believe this if they are to sustain the men who make these declarations, and the men these men sustain.
Twenty-two prominent delinquents in the Internal Revenue Department, 39 prominent Post-Office culprits, 30 other market thieves in other departments of the Government; two millions and a half of the people’s money stolen unblushingly and with open hand, and with the two millions and a half mark down the half not told! Such men as Morton of Indiana, Cameron in Pennsylvania, Carpenter in Wisconsin, and Conkling in New-York, with the rings surrounding them, to be continued and supported in power! Nobody believes in these men. The most ardent Republican in the land will not stand in his place to advocate a cause on the merits alone of the lives of these men as individuals. What even the most ardent Republicans and administration supporters assert is, that these men must e sustained because they sustain Gen. Grant; that these men must be supported, so as to continue the present Administration, because the continuance of the present President in office and the carrying out of the present policy of the Administration are essential to the preservation of the Republic. What else save a clear and absolute faith in such assertions as these could induce men of honesty, men of honor, men of integrity to sustain and support this same Administration in part, at least, of its policy?
A tree is known by its fruits. What fruits has this Administration borne and is it bearing to-day? “A man,” says the old proverb, “is known by the company he keeps.” What company does our honorable President keep?
I come from Pennsylvania. I am sorry to say it just now. I com from Pennsylvania. It has elected a Governor by 35,000 majority. Who and what is this Governor? A man who, as Auditor-General of the State, connived at, if not actively engaged in, the robbing of the State Treasury, and the use of the bonds of the sinking fund for purposes of gambling. Who and what is this Governor, and how is he elected? Hand-in-glove, arm-in-arm with men serving out their time in our State Prison. Who and what is this Governor over whom the Administration journals are rejoicing with his $5,000? Out of a cell of the State Penitentiary at Cherry Hill, fresh-clad in the stripes of a convict, comes his old friend and convict to say, “I indorse this man,” and before the words are cold on his lips Gen. Grant steps to the front and says, “I desire the election of this man.” The two pillars of support that have borne up in the place of Governor of Pennsylvania this man are are a State’s convict on the one hand and the President of the United States on the other. One may well say in all humility, and with one’s mouth in the dust, “God Save the Republic!”
What else save an absolute faith in the assertion that the war still continues, that we must sustain those who will fight the war out as we desire it to be fought out — what else can explain the style of defense to which the people listen in connection with this same President of ours. Mind! it is not I who accuse him, and I don’t mean to accuse him this night. He is accused, and of what? He is accused of seaside loiterings, of greater fondness for the smoke of a cigar and the aroma of the wine glass, than for the duties of the White House, and the responsibilities of the Government of the country. “That accusation being made,” says Mr. Morton McMichael as he comes to the front in the Philadelphia Convention, “what matter?” Tried as he has been, bearing the fatigues of a soldier’s life, as he has borne it for years, the people will see to it that he has as many cigars as he chooses to smoke, as much wine as he chooses to drink, as many palace-cars as he desires in traveling to and from horseraces and watering-places. What else? The admirable sheet that supports him in this city, on the 6th of last July I think it was, saw fit to commend him. Commend the President, praise him, praise him to the full — for what supreme act of self-denial? For leaving the horserace at Long Branch to attend a Cabinet meeting at Washington. He is accused of accepting gifts and placing the givers in high places. How could he do otherwise? Did he accept no man to a place in office in this State who did not give him a gift, the State of New-York would be officerless — a consummation in that case devoutly to be wished. He is accused of outraging constitutional and international law, seizing war powers, intimidating and beating down a weak sister nation. What matter? The nation is weak on the one side. What matter? We are strong and desire to be stronger on the other side. He’s accused of keeping men in place and power who are thieves — thieves of the people’s money. Well, says one of the honorable gentlemen from Massachusetts, “Well, grant that the office-holders do steal so many millions; count it down, and divide it out, it would amount to about two and a half cents apiece for the people to pay. The American people are not so mean as to cry out over such a small stealing from their pockets.”
THE PRESIDENT AND HIS APOLOGISTS.
He is accused of putting relatives in place, of using his great power given him for the benefit of the Republic to put fat places and rich offices in the hands of his relatives. They are very few, says one. The number is variously estimated at from 13 to 47. Well, certainly, the President must be very rich in parents, for the one thing constantly said concerning these 13 or 47, or the number between, is, “The President is mindful of the good old Bible law, ‘that whoever honors his father shall be found long in the land.’
The lowest point of political degradation has been reached. There is no deeper depth to sound when men stand before the people and admit, and the people consent to listen to their assertions so standing, that these things are so; that they don’t deny them, but even excuse and defend them. Your own Senator stood upon this platform some time ago, and what did he assert? I will do him no injustice. I will quote by the card: “ Suppose,” he says, “All the slurs and flings and vile accusations against Grant are true? Suppose you admit the whole of them, what do they signify? Put it all together, and what of it? If you want a man to pilot a ship, or lead an army, or try a cause, or build a house, or run a locomotive, what do you care what manner of man he is so long as he does his work well? All these things are aside from the purpose. Has he made a good President? That is the question.”
“If you want a man to pilot a ship, you do not care what manner of man he is,” says this honorable gentleman from New-York, with a string of other questions of like kind. When one chooses a man to pilot a ship if he is moving on strange waters, he wants one not alone who keeps a firm hand on the help, who understands tides and channel and rocks, he wants a man so honorable as to make it sure he will not give over the ship into the hands of pirates. “Or to lead any army?” When a nation selects a man to lead its army, we can tell the honorable gentleman from New-York, it wants not alone a General and Captain able to lead it to victory, but a man of sufficient honor not to allow scamps and thieves and bummers and camp followers to destroy all we gain. When it wants a judge to try a cause it wants not merely a man wise and learned in the letter of our laws, it wants a judge whose ermine is without stain, and who has never accepted the shadow of a bribe. When it wants an architect to build a house — the honorable gentleman from New-York himself, when he secures an architect to plan his house — he wants to make sure not only that the architect is skillful and knows how to plan, but that the man himself is honorable and will not sublet his contract to miserable jobbers.
REPUBLICANS FALSE TO THEIR DUTY.
What manner of man the engineer may be who is to run the locomotive, the accidents, so-called, in nine cases out of ten, have not come from skillful engineers, but drunken men. The honorable gentleman has forgotten, if he ever knew, that in the long run moral attributes are as essential to thorough success as professional ability or intellectual powers. None of these things are new accusations; none of these things said concerning our President have been said for the first time since the meeting at Cincinnati. They are old accusation. Who so put his ear to the keyhole of any committee-room at Washington, who so listened where prominent Republicans gathered themselves together in any place for the last — not six months — twice at this. One of his most ardent and brilliant supports in Connecticut, one of his most ardent, brilliant supporters in Ohio — men who shall be nameless, since the honor of their past shall cover the shame of their present — such men as they said their say and said it persistently, last Winter — nay, last Summer — but unlike him who had rather suffer by speaking the truth than that the truth should suffer through his silence, these leading Republicans were incapable of rising to the needs of the occasion. When the public good demanded that they should speak out, for fear of compromising themselves they held their peace, or spoke in such language as not to be understood. They might have regenerated the great party — the party with its splendid record and its sublime memories. They might have saved the party, healed the wounds, bound up the bruises, sent it out on fresh battle-grounds to nobler contests.
They might, but they would not. Other men than they, who held the Republic dearer than party, then said: “If reform cannot be accomplished within, it shall be without!” Other men, who held truth dearer than the success of any organization, said: “This tide of reform has risen. If it cannot sweep through the door of government, which ought to be open hospitably, it shall make a breach, beat down the walls, and wash them away.” Reform we will have — in the party if needs be and can be, out of the party if must be!
THE LIBERAL PIONEERS.
So these men, full of their earnest purpose, went down to Cincinnati. “A handful,” says some one — a handful and to be sneered at accordingly. So were the Apostles and Disciples a handful, so have the prophets and martyrs who have led in good causes in all ages been a handful. Nay, let us remember that these these same men have stood a handful before, said Mr. Sumner. Said Mr. Sumner in 1850, mark you: “In the consciousness of right, I am willing to stand alone!” Said Mr. Sumner in 1872, having led a great army to victory, “In the consciousness of right, I am willing to stand alone!”
Not only a handful, but a handful of “soreheads,” to use the elegant parlance of the people who delight to criticise them — people who, as General Burnside said at Pittsburgh, “run into the party when the war began, and whom the party would be well rid of.” Where an who and what was Gen. Burnside or the men who stood by his side to repeat such criticisms as this, when Banks and Palmer and Blair and Schurz and Trumble and Greeley stood at the front — men of whom it can be well said, speaking of them in connection with the course of humanity and the great idea the Republican party has embodied — men of whom it can be said as of Ney in connection with France, that they have fought a hundred battles in the defense of a good cause and not one against it.
So these men who went down to Cincinnati did their work well. They were borne up by a mighty tide of public opinion. There was plenty of eager and hearty sentiment behind them to sustain them and urge them on.
Why, then, did this sentiment stand still? Why, in many cases, did it run back? Why? There are plenty of men in the Republican organization — eleventh-hour men — not the men Gen. Brunside has singled out as such, but the men who entered to the worse passions of the republic and the bitterest and worse impulses of the people against the black men, for their own gain, men who fostered hatred to the “nigger” so long as they could gain office and power thereby, and were only faced about when to continue this thing was not only not to return them to power but to displace them. Such men have found ample welcome and a liberal reception at the hands of the Republican party. They are the leaders and controllers of it this day. The man who is selected as preeminently the mouth-piece of the President in Massachusetts voted, down to the last gasp before the Rebellion, 54 times for Jeff. Davis and the Charleston Convention. And the man who is chosen mouth-piece in Wisconsin said in my hearing, standing on a platform facing 3,,000 people in Chicago: “If by cutting the throat of every black man, woman, and child in the South the war could be spared its continuance for six months, I am in favor of such cutting!”
MERE POLITICIANS POWERLESS AT CINCINNATI.
Here is a humanitarian for you! This class of men who have come to the front looked at this same Cincinnati movement, considered it on all sides, meditated whether they should get on to this train and run this locomotive. Fortunately, they were certain of what they had and uncertain of what they might get, and so being sure of what was in hand, they stayed where they were. We thank them. They have saved us the shame of an alliance. So, not coming to this side, they stand to fight it to the death — on what plan? ON the assertion that the war has not yet ended; that the needs of loyalty and liberty are too great to stand against the aggressive power that still exists in the South, and that the proof of this same thing lies in the Cincinnati Convention and its movement, its action. Why? What is the explanation of this? Because, they say, with the worst class of politicians in the country to enable them to clamber back into place and power; because it is engineered and led and controlled by them, and has been from the beginning. Never was, I think, an assertion falser. If the selfish politicians of the Republican party were ever effectually beaten down they were beaten down at the Cincinnati Convention; if the selfish politicians of the Democratic party were ever thoroughly beaten down they were beaten down at the Baltimore Convention — by a public feeling so strong that nothing could stand against it.
A cut and dried thing, the resolutions understood!” Good! My friends, the speakers could speak, and the politicians could lay the planks of the platforms, and the hired members and attorneys could defend and carry them through, but it was the heart of the Southern people that at the close of the whole thing sang the Battle-cry of Freedom. The politicians had nothing to do with that.
“Well, then; these masses themselves,” say these same critics and opponents, “These masses themselves — the Southern people if not the Southern politicians — are carrying out this movement. To what end? To the end that they can send their representatives to the Senate Chamber, that they can place judges and legislators in power; to the end that through these means they can indemnify themselves for the losses of the war, reestablish some system of Slavery, beat down the 4,000,000 people once slaves, and to-day citizens; to the end that they can adjourn a battle in which they have been beaten with bayonets to the battle-field of ballots; from a war of cannons to a war of words.”
THE REAL QUESTIONS AT STAKE.
Is that so? The naked proposition at which voters have got to look for their soul’s sake and their country’s sake, and at which they ought to look is, “Are these things true? Are these Southern masses in earnest in their assertions, and being in earnest are they to be trusted?” I hope there are some Republicans here to-night who are sitting in that most exceedingly uncomfortable position commonly known as astride the fence. I hope plenty of men are here who are hesitating and delaying and paltering with the supreme interests of the hour. I want them to listen to one word I have to say to them. I is pure cowardice to seek safety in negations. The American citizen who does not cast his vote on the 5th of net November ought to be branded soul-deep with the word: “Coward!” Multitudes and multitudes of men cannot put themselves to the supreme labor of thought. Men who fought through four bloody years, men who beggared themselves to sustain a good cause, will not sit down and in the secret communion of their own soul with God and their consciences, away from all the trouble and turmoil of the outside world, say, “What ought I to do?” and answer the question.
Why, I do not walk along the street or get into a car or move up and down in my manifold wanderings without hearing men say, “I won’t vote for Grant, but I do not know about Greeley.” Well, you ought to know about him. I am afraid, therefore, that the politicians who do nothing but think about politics, and the ignorant and the indifferent, who do not think of anything at all, are the only ones who will vote at the coming election.
WHAT NOT VOTING MEANS.
You will not vote; that is to say, that you will decitizenize yourself for the time — expatriate yourself — and that you will destroy the power put into your hands, and for which you ought to be held accountable. “I will not vote for Grant; I do not believe in him; I believe the country is suffering under his rule, and that it will suffer in the time to come; but I am not sure that I ought to vote for Greeley, and I will stay at home” — and meantime, your neighbor is sure that he ought to vote for Grant, and he casts his vote; you cast yours, and one stands against the other; you keep your vote at home, and there is none against his, and you have given two votes to the man you have denounced. Such men as these, who do not believe in Grant and the present Administration, will have no right during the next four years, if the President is reelected, to lift the voice of criticism; who, when they had the opportunity of speaking effectually, were silent; though the country will have a right to hold them guilty of their sin; the sin being greater of omission than of commission, in this case. There is no issue, you say. It is not worthy of the labor of thought. There is a vital issue. The question is: is the war ended? If it is not, then it is the duty of every man to cast his vote so as to sustain the Administration that will fight out the war to its close. Is it ended? Then, since the continuance of a war policy is carried out in peace time, it is equally the duty of every man who loves the Republic to see that the Republic is saved from its enemies.
HOW A NATION MAY DIE.
No danger, you say, because we do not hear the thunder of cannon and are not blinded by battle-smoke and scorched by battle-flames — people can die of consumption as well as apoplexy. Nations as well as individuals die undermined as well as struck down. No danger? No issue? because we are not in the throes of dissolution as eight years ago? He who runs to extinguish the flames of a house when the house is burning, does well; he who checks the flow of water when the flame is extinguished, does also well, because the water, continuing, swamps the house, ruins the furniture, and brings decay and rot into the house. No decay? No rot? No danger of any kind? Never, say you, was a nation more prosperous — never was a country in better condition or more to be congratulated. I am not going to stop to argue the question of finances, for I may as well say here that I do not know much about them — and I will not ask whether this assumed prosperity is assumed or veritably real; but I shall go on a step beyond. The country never more prosperous than now? Why, in the very sentence we draw a dividing line between the North and the South, and continue the differences and distinctions of sections and of nationalities. Because Boston and Philadelphia and New-York and Chicago in spite of its flames, are successful and prosperous, is therefore the country so, when one sees the grass growing in the streets of Charleston and the harbor empty in New-Orleans, and decay and impoverishment from end to end of the South? When one member suffers all the members suffer with it. Look at the South, exhausted by the war storm, tempest-driven, lying stripped and bare, without the power of recuperation that comes from free institutions? I wish every man who doubts the assertions of the truth as regards the Southern people, would hunt up the Boston newspapers of last week and see what Gen. Bradley Jonhson has to say of slave labor and the destruction of the recuperative energies of the Southern land. So stripped, without reactionary power, surely the punishment of its guilt has been heavy.
WRONGS OF THE SOUTHERN STATES.
You say, are we to strip ourselves further in their behalf, with mountains of heavy debt to be reduced, must we put our hands in our pockets to pay their debt and to meet their further needs? Not we. I do not say so. What I do say is, that they being stripped and bare we ought to have the decency to cry out to the cormorants: “Stop; cease striping those stripped, to the inexorable end.” What were the debts of the Southern States before the war? $76,415,490, in round numbers seventy-six and a half millions of dollars on the ten States in rebellion. What are their debts to-day? $212,626,196, or two hundred and nineteen and a half millions of dollars in round numbers. The increase alone in the debts of the Southern States has been $215,000,000. The entire debts of the States not in rebellion, of the 27 States outside, is $203,000,000. Counting in the debt before the war, and all the debts piled on by the war, the increase of debt in the 10 States in rebellion is alone $12,000,000 more than the entire debt, past and present, of the accumulations of the 27 non-rebellious States.
In North Carolina — rebellious North Carolina — out of which the good cause was cheated a month ago, the proportion of rebellious North Carolina for school purposes — the assertion is constantly made that they desire to keep the negroes in ignorance and to keep them in a state of servitude — they voted $534,000 for a school fund, and how much of it went to the schools? Thirty-nine thousand was spent that way, the remaining half million being put into the pockets of the men who manipulated the last election to make sure of the election for President. These men succeeded, with the military power at their back, in electing themselves Governors, in electing themselves to the Senate, and to the House of Representatives, and to the Legislatures. They voted great sums of money for internal improvement, republican institutions, and the rest of it, and to build new prisons and school-houses. Ah! What capacious pockets they must have. They have plundered the substance of a great section of the country. They have piled up debts that will place a mortgage on the labor of future generations; they have piled up taxes that amount to confiscation and destruction, and they have been sustained in all these things by the power of the General Government. The administration in these States began in usurpation, and ended in rapine.
A FEW CROAKERS ANSWERED.
It is a bad thing for a central power to stretch out its hands on local works. France had centralization enough, and stands as an example and a warning to-day of its results. The hollow crater into which that great empire toppled a few years ago was that same assertion that the General Government knew better what was for the good of the people than the people themselves. Were the General Government a Birareus, with a hundred hands to assist the people, it would be bad enough, since it is centralization; but it is not that, but a hydra with a hundred mouths to devour, and it is doing its work effectually, and that is another story. The South is not only suffering in backwardness of employment, its young men and women are growing up in the midst of a state of society full of ignorance and idleness and anarchy, and controlled by a strong centralizing power, fostering neither the building of houses, nor railways, nor furthering any scheme of enterprise whatever. And beyond that they are growing up into a state of law which they not only hold in contempt, but justly hold in hatred — justly hold in hatred.
A dismal picture, this? I know it. Well, you say, it serves them right! They are eating the tree of their own planting; they are gathering the harvest of their own sowing. You who make that assertion, if I am not mistaken, are one of the men who voted year after year to let the South have whatever it desired in the way of legislation. You, who are so loud in saying that the South is served right, were one of the men, if I mistake not, who said: “Give the South whatever it demands, that we may have peace and quietness to carry on our mercantile speculation and banking interests.” You let the South go its own way and helped it on, for the benefit of your banking account and the weight of the purse in your pocket; and when it lunged into this gulf of Rebellion, which you led it to suppose would never come, you drew back; and now you say, “They eat of the harvest of their own sowing, but as for us we have stood on the right side and have fought the good fight, and we will sit in plenty at our own tables and devour the fruits of our own righteousness” — selfishness enthroned as patriotism.
Oh, but you say, they are not to be trusted. There is a necessity for beneficial legislation for the white people and for special legislation on behalf of the colored people. For many years the declaration was, “We must enfranchise the blacks and put the ballot into their hands to defeat them, and then let them go their own way;” but when that is done the cry is: “The General Government must have the power to make them secure.” These blacks were slaves, then freemen, then citizens. Before the law they stand, on a level with the whitest white man here. That being the case there is no need and there should be no excuse for special legislation for any special class of people, since there is none such in the Republic. Having the power of the ballot, with their immense numbers, with the majority in Mississippi and a handsome minority in the other States, and an administration Government set up, if they cannot defend themselves and exercise their right at the polls, then either we are in a state of war, and actual war power is brought to bear against them, and we ought to declare war and fight it out; or we are at peace, and being so, if millions of voters are unable to defend themselves, and Republican law and the forms of our old legislation and Democracy are to be destroyed to help them in fighting, we might as well confess that the experiment of the Republican Union is ended.
MORALLY WRONG, POLITICALLY WRONG.
The only thing for these people to secure them a just government and the unmolested enjoyment of their rights, is an advanced state of right feeling and of civilization and Christianity; and that is not to be brought about in the South by means of tyranny. Whatever is morally wrong cannot be politically right, and if the law which we are enforcing there is morally wrong, it must be a political blunder.
Let those old masters stand on their own feet, and legislate after [their] own fashion. What should they do? Vote these men back to servitude? No; the Southerners are not fools. Do you imagine that men, seeing the political power of millions of voters, would cast them into servitude, and take the ballot out of their hands? What would they do? Frame such a system of laws as to make every black man vote their ticket at the next election. That is what you want to avoid, say you. “Oh,” said a leading Republican to me the other day, when I made such an assertion, “The monstrous ingratitude of the blacks voting against the party that gave them freedom.” A party that gave freedom when it saw that it would die unless it gave it. The ingratitude of negroes voting against the party that gave them freedom! The ingratitude of tens of thousands who fell on Southern battle-fields that the same party and its cause might endure gave a receipt in full for all that the party ever did for them.
There are only two ways by which a community can be governed — by public opinion or the sword. Which will you have in the South? The law is a dead letter until public opinion blows into it and inspires it with the spirit of life. Trust to these men, trust to public opinion, and you will see that it will work out the benefit of the Republic by working out their own self-interest.
They are not to be trusted? “They are not to be trusted,” says Mr. Gerrit Smith; “they are liars and have been liars from the beginning, and are not to be trusted.” “They are not to be trusted,” said Mr. Gerrit Smith; “they cannot repent; not till the present generation dies out.” One-half of the men who are to vote never voted in a Presidential election before. Long before these boys are old men, long before this generation has died out, another generation and yet another generation will grow up, and in their minds this statement of bitterness, this legislation of wrong. The present generation will remember that they did fight against the Republic, will remember that those battle graves laid out in their harvest fields were filled with their bullets, that the Union flag was torn and trampled by their hands, and they will think perhaps that this is a just retribution.
PUT FAITH IN THE SOUTH.
But the boys, who never did anything, who were not born when the war began, those boys, and those men, have no such recollection, have no memories of combining against the Republic. All that they see is the wrong and bitterness of the Government which rules over them. This generation that fought us, fought us without excuse. If this bitterness and wrong bring on another conflict, the men who fight for justice, and against wrong, will not then be in the North, but in the South. “Not to be trusted!” They say they are ready now to accept the results of the war. They come to us with outstretched hands. By accepting the fruits of the war, they say: “You are right.” They say, by their action, we were wrong, and utterly wrong. If they are not to be trusted at this election, when are they to be trusted? Now, my friends, if a man comes to you with outstretched hands, and says: “Let me be your brother,” and you spit in his face, if the tables are turned, and you stand with outstretched hand, he will meet it, and honorably, with a clenched fist. Still you say they are not to be trusted. Says Senator Conkling: If they are really in earnest, they will prove it by voting for the Republican party and the man at its head.
There is no difference in principles in the platforms of Philadelphia and Baltimore; the difference is wholly in the men who stand upon them. The difference between the men! I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word. The difference is simply between the men. Who, then, could hesitate. Why, says someone, plucking me by the sleeve, I should think you yourself would hesitate. You, a woman, supporting a man who has used his newspaper and power to trample down your rights and to scoff at your desires! Say the Administration newspapers, no woman’s voice has yet been raised in behalf of the man who talks against them. What has this man? A man whose interest was the first centered in a tan-yard; second in the blood he shed; and third in his cigar. What has this man done to deserve the gratitude of dignified American women. [A voice, “Who saved the country?”] Who saved the country? The people of the country. The men, aye, the men who fought under Gen. Grant, who learned their lessons of loyalty through twenty-five years of the columns of THE NEW-YORK TRIBUNE. That is enough, my friends, I think I have silenced him.
ELOQUENT TRIBUTE TO HORACE GREELEY.
I wish to come to Horace Greeley. Granting that he has not used his newspaper nor opened his lips in behalf of woman’s suffrage — granting that; but I cannot grant it. In April 1860, he said: “When the women of the United States shall desire this, not merely as a privilege, but as a responsibility, then I am willing to give it.” Until women as a body are ready for it, I am not willing to grant it. We have enough supine and lazy and careless voters already. But Horace Greeley, who has used the power of that pen, tipped with gold and with diamond, who has used the power of that newspaper, who has stood for 25 years a supreme power in American journalism, has used all this to make smooth paths for weak feet to travel over. He has striven to have the doors of schools and the gates of colleges opened to all hands that knocked and cried for admission. He has used that power to say that there should be only one law of compensation for the workers, men or women. I face him, unbonnet to him, incapable of expressing the praise I would offer. There are some things about which it is better to be silent than to say too little.
Putting all questions of the ballot one side, I am simply incapable of expressing the gratitude which burns in my heart toward this man for what he has done for me and mine. “Simply the difference between men,” says Mr. Conkling. Horace Greeley carried the banners of the Republicans down to the time the chains were struck from 4,000,000 of slaves. He believes in the supremacy of the civil power of the military. Can any one hesitate for a moment for which box he will reach when he drops the ballot? No, never! Above all, I can see why the South, nay, in passing, I can see why the Democrats of the North, should accept Horace Greeley rather than Grant. I can see that the South can vote for Greeley and cannot vote for Grant. They are quite ready to accept Republicanism when it is best form [for them]. They are not willing to accept the spurious Republicanism which has been given them for the last four years. If they vote to accept Gen. Grant, they vote to accept a centralized government. If they vote for Horace Greeley, they vote for a constitutional government. If they vote for Gen. Grant, they kiss the chains which bound them. If they vote for Horace Greeley, they strike hands with the men who struck off those chains and say: “let us work together in the good cause as brothers.” If they vote for Gen. Grant they are as a Christian turning Turk, who spits upon his cross — a scandalous and shameful transaction. If they vote for Horace Greeley, they simply turn their backs to the wrong and go forward to the better day dawning.
SINCERITY OF SOUTHERN LIBERALS.
“They must recant, they must recant,” say some. They must show and assert their repentance. I should care to be neither the friend nor the enemy of any man who lays down this rule. He would have them lick the dust at his feet. I would infinitely rather have the friendly, unquestioning, and beseeching looks, and the outstretched hands, than the humble descent to the knees, of any friend of mine who had offended me. Not to be trusted. They take him, I think, for the chivalrous sense of honor he has shown. “He has been our friend and we will be his friend.” They choose him because he stood up in the darkest hour of their lives to sustain the cause of justice and law, in the presence of a man who was friendless, save among Rebels.
“Oh, yes, we understand that they like him because he bailed Jefferson Davis.” That is perfectly true. Because, “as the friend of law and order,” he had said; “I have fought you down to the death with tongue and pen. As the friend of law and order I signed this bail-bond, that justice might be done. I think the bitterness in the South has gone by. I think what they honestly desire and request is a good government, a just law, and the supremacy of the civil authorities. They believe they will have these things with Horace Greeley. “A tool for them to use,” say some. No! Their support lies in this fact — that he has had faith in them. These people are earnest in their belief, and if they were not they cannot go back. Shame would prevent. The Republican party asserts that the ends of justice will be served by its being continued in power. God’s instruments are fitted to some distinctive ends. I believe that this extraordinary attitude of the Democratic party before the country is only the legitimate closing of the war. It is a singular thing for me, standing here, to say that the men they fought are finishing their work. Strange it is, but true. The struggle into which they entered was for party power. They fought for the life of Republicanism and the freedom of mankind. This war that is waging this day upon their graves is for truth and right. If I had to walk over these graves, I would walk over them, since it would be for a great cause and a great country. “Not that I love Cæsar less, but Rome more.” The old Union-savers were in the habit of talking about the Union cemented by the blood of the Fathers. “The Union of the Fathers must be preserved entire.” It was a foul thing they had put in its stead. They covered over hideous realities with beautiful idealisms. The republicanism of those 100,000 men, over whose graves we tread lightly, was not a republicanism of proscription, and hatred, and wrong. Nay, and who so asserts it, blasphemes the dead in their graves. They fought for justice for all.
The world will perish. History will write its record concerning us. Nay, the last sentence not having yet been put down of this war record, History waits for it; waits as the sentinel in the stillness and darkness of the night, placed at his castle door, hearing a stealthy step approach, cries aloud, “Who goes there?” “Friend, with the countersign,” is the answer, and the sentry, still pausing, demands, “Advance, friend, with the countersign;” and the intruder, advancing, approaching his lips to the listener’s ear, whispers the magic word. The sentry, dropping his lifted bayonet replies, “The countersign is correct, pass on.” So with this final sentence of the war record to be written, History pauses. Pausing with uplifted pen, over the blank and untouched page, cries to America, as it advances on the 5th of November, “Who goes there?” “Friend with the countersign,” is the answer. And History, still pausing, cries out,” Advance, friend, with the countersign,” and America, advancing, responds, “Liberty for all and justice for every man!”
And History, dropping her pen, writing in characters of everlasting light and glory, makes answer, “The countersign is correct; pass on!” and, sounding on through the ages and the centuries, echoing and reechoing, goes the cry, “Pass on I pass on! oh, latest and grandest and best of nations. Pass on, America, to the throne and empire of the world!”
Source: New-York Tribune, October 26, 1872, pp. 1, 7.