Clement Lairds Vallandigham.

The record of Hon. C. L. Vallandigham on abolition, the union, and the civil war.. online

. (page 1 of 34)
Online LibraryClement Lairds VallandighamThe record of Hon. C. L. Vallandigham on abolition, the union, and the civil war.. → online text (page 1 of 34)
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Devoted to the I'ninn Bramthe beginning, I will ao1
deserl ii now, in ilns the hour of its sorest trial '.'









■'Do right; asd trust to God, and truth, and tub people. Perish office, perisii honors,


to Time, and right nobly hath toe Avenger answered me."— Speech of January 14, 1863.






Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1863, by


ia the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, for the Southern
District of Ohio.


This work offers, in a convenient form, the principal speeches of Hon.
C. L. Vallandigham, on the Constitution, the Union, and the Civil War.
Extracts from other speeches are added; also, a variety of facts and inci-
dents. The object is to furnish the means of forming a correct judgment
in relation to a man who, through the malignant assaults of his enemies,
and the esteem of his friends, has become one of the most generally
talked-of men of these times.

This Record shows why Mr. Vallandigham has so many enemies, and
all of one class — why negrophilistic fanaticism includes, as one of its essen-
tial qualities, an intense hatred of Vallandigham. This fact is explained
by showing that, not only his six years in Congress, but his whole public
life, has been a clear, uniform, and unequivocal expression of a deep and
true love of his country, the Union, and that he has ever been among the
foremost to stand by and defend its institutions and laws.

In the darkest and most trying hours of the great national conflict,
still pending, Mr. Vallandigham has never deviated a moment from the
old and true principles of Democracy, whereby the Union was formed
and preserved, and by which alone it can be saved from destruction,
restored, and perpetuated. If his words and acts have been treason, then
was the Government itself, through the whole period of its history, down
to the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, one continued act of treason. In
common with all democratic and conservative statesmen, he had, before the
commencement of the war, uniformly, maintained that the principles
around which the Abolition party was organized, were hostile to the
Union, and would endanger its peace and perpetuity, if permitted to get
control. Those warnings were not heeded, and the fatal mistake was com-
mitted of placing in power men whose cherished principles were enemies
of the Union. A deadly national conflict ensued; and then Mr. Vallan-
digham did differ from many in whom the people had reposed full faith
and confidence. He stood by his principles, held his position unmoved,


while the strong current of a raving fanaticism, that swept by and around
him, bore off many of his old companions, knocked from their feet.

Of the war, its causes and attending circumstances, many have said
more than Mr. Vallandigham; but few, if any, have said so much that
comes square up to the record of event3, as history unfolds them. The
doctrines announced by him, and the few who have stood with him, arc
rapidly forming themselves into the public sentiment of the country.
The conviction that those men have been right thus far, gives value to
their opinions in relation to the probable course of coming events.

Those who have been accustomed to denounce Mr. Vallandigham as a
traitor and disunionist, will not take a favorable interest in this Record,
for they will find their slanderous accusations nailed to the wall, and
hung up to the gaze of the public. This work will, however, be gladly
welcomed by a large number of honest men, who have hitherto been de-
ceived by false reports, continuously and persistently circulated. They
will discover a pure, able, consistent patriot, a devoted friend and de-
fender of the Union, in one, whom, through slander and misrepresenta-
tion, they had been led to regard as a traitor, to whom permission to
live was an extra and unmerited allowance. To that immense circle of
friends who, with inflexible firmness, have adhered to Mr. Vallandigham,
amidst all the malignant and deadly assaults of his enemies, this Record
will be a sure testimony that their confidence has not been misplaced.
And they will here be furnished with the means, not only to correct the
misjudgments of those who have been honestly deceived, but to silence
the slanders of those who delight in falsehood and injustice.

The above remarks tell why this Record has been prepared, and is now

offered to the public.

J. W. & CO.

Cincinnati, April 13, 1863.







OCTOBER 29, 1855.

We open this Record with a copy of the speech delivered by Mr.
Vallandigham, at a Democratic meeting held in Dayton, on the
evening of the 29th of October, 1855, a few days after the election
which resulted in the choice of Salmon P. Chase as Governor of
Ohio. Three hundred and one thousand votes had been cast at that
election, of which Mr. Chase, the " Free Soil " candidate, received
one hundred and forty-six thousand, being less than half, but enough
to elect him. The Democratic candidate received one hundred and
thirty-one thousand, and the remaining twenty thousand were given to
Mr. Trimble, whom the old-line Whigs supported. The Democratic
party being thus temporarily defeated, and thrown out of power, an
excellent opportunity was offered for giving the history of the causes
which led to the defeat, and for indicating, also, the means which
would " restore it to sound doctrine and discipline, and, therefore, to
power and usefulness. 11 This task was performed by Mr. Vallan-
digham, on the occasion referred to, in a speech characterized by
extraordinary logical accuracy and clearness of statement, as well as
extensive and thorough historical research. The general purpose for



which the meeting had convened was to consider " The PRESENT


After some preliminary remarks, explanatory of the object of the
meeting, and the reasons why it was proper and expedient thus early
to discuss before the people the great question which must make up
the chief issue in the campaign of 1856, and to organize preparatory
thereto, Mr. Vallandigham said that he proposed as the text or
" rubric " of what he had to say to-night, the following inquiries :

Why has the Democratic Party suffered defeat in Ohio?
Why is it so greatly disorganized? What will restore
it to sound doctrine and discipline, and, therefore, to
power and usefulness?

These, Mr. President, are grave questions. I propose to answer
them plainly — boldly — not as a partisan, but as a patriot ; and for
the opinions which I shall this night avow, I alone am responsible.
I speak not to please, but to instruct, to warn, to arouse, and, if it
be not presumption, to save, while to be saved is yet possible. The
time for plain Anglo-Saxon out-speaking is come. Let us hear no
more the lullaby of peace, when there is no peace; but rather the
sharp clang of the trumpet stirring to battle ; at least, the alarm
bell in the night, when the house is on fire over our heads. Or,
better still, give us warning while the incendiary is yet stealing,
"with whispering and most guilty diligence," and flaming torch,
toward our dwelling, that we may be ready and armed against his

First, then : The Democratic party of Ohio suffered defeat because
it became disorganized ; and it was disorganized because it held not,
in all things, to sound doctrine, vigorous discipline, and to true and
good men. It began to tamper with heresy and with unsound men —
to look after policy, falsely so called, and forget sometimes the true
and honest; not mindful, with Jackson, that the right is always
expedient — at least, that the wrong never is ; and that an invigorating
defeat is ever better than a triumph which leaves the victor weaker
than the conquered. This is a law of nature, gentlemen, and we
may claim no immunity from punishment for its infraction. I speak
of the Democratic party of Ohio, because we are our own masters,
and have a work of our own to perform. But the evil, in part, lies
outside the State. It infects the whole party of the Union, as such.
It ascends into high places, and sits down hard by the throne. But
I affect the wise caution of Sallust, remembering that concerning Car-
thage it is better to be silent, than speak too little. Yet we, as mem-
bers, must partake of the weakness and enervation of other parts of
the system ; and atrophy is quite as fatal, though it may not be so
speedy, as corruption and gangrene.

The inquiries, gentlemen, which T have proposed, assume the
truth of the facts which they imply. Are they not true ? That we


have been defeated, is now become history. But defeat did not
disorganize us. Had not discipline first been lost, we could not
have been overpowered. I know, indeed, that some have affirmed
that we, too, are an effete party, ready to be dissolved and pass away.
It is not so. Dissolution and disorganization are wholly different
things. The Democratic party is not a thing of shreds and patches,
organized for a transient purpose, and thrown hap-hazard together, in
undistinguishable mass, without form, consistency, or proportion, by
some sudden and temporary pressure, and passing away with the
occasion which gave it being ; or catching, for a renewed, but yet
more ephemeral existence, at each flitting exigency, as it arises in
the State ; molding itself to the form of every popular humor, and
seeking to fill its sails with every new wind of doctrine, as it passes,
either in zephyr or tempest, over the waves of public caprice — born
and dying with the breath which made it. No, sir. The Demo-
cratic party is founded upon principles which never die : hence it
is itself immortal. It may alter its forms ; it must change its meas-
ures — for, as in principle it is essentially conservative, so in policy it
is the party of true progress — its individual members and its leading
spirits, its representative men, can not remain the same. But
wherever there is a people wholly or partially free, there will be a
Democratic party more or less developed and organized. But no
party, gentlemen, is at all times equally pure and true to principle
and its mission. And whenever the Democratic party forgets these,
it loses its cementing and power-bestowing element ; it waxes weak,
is disorganized, is defeated — till, purging itself of its impurities, and
falling back and rallying within its impregnable intrenchments of
original and eternal principles, it returns, like " eagle lately bathed,"
with irresistible might and majesty, to the conflict, full of hope, and
confident in victory. Sir, it is this recuperative power — this vis
medicatrix — which distinguishes the Democratic party from every
other ; and it owes this wholly to its conservative element, fixed
political principles. I say political principles — principles dealing
peculiarly with government — because it is a political party, and
must be judged according to its nature and constitution. Becog-
nizing, in their fullest extent, the imperative obligations of personal
religion and morality upon its members, and also that, in its aggre-
gate being, it dare not violate the principles of either, it is yet
neither a Church nor a lyceum. It is no part of its mission to set
itself up as an expounder of ethical or divine truth. Still less is
it a mere philanthropic or eleemosynary institution. All these are
great and noble, each within its peculiar province, but they form no
part of the immediate business and end of the Democratic party.
And it is because that party sometimes will forget that it is the first
and highest duty of its mission to be the depositary of immutable
political principles, and steps aside after the dreams and visions of
a false and fanatical progress — sometimes political, commonly phil-
anthropic or moral — that it ceases to be powerful and victorious ;
for God has ordained that truth shall ever, in the end, be vindicated,
and error chastised.


Forgetting the true province of a political party, the Democracy
of France and Germany has always failed, and ever must fail. It
aims at too much. It invokes government to regenerate man, and
set him free from the taint and the evils of sin and suffering ; it
seeks to control the domestic, social, individual, moral, and spiritual
relations of man ; it ignores or usurps the place of the fireside, the
Church, and the lyceum : and, emulating the folly of Icarus, and
spreading its wings for too lofty a flight into upper air, it has
melted like wax before the sun. Indirectly, indeed, government will
always, sir, affect more or less all these relations for good or evil.
But departing from its appointed orbit, confusion, not less surely or
disastrously, must follow, than from a like departure by the heavenly
bodies from their fixed laws of motion. And, indeed, the greater,
and by far the gravest part of the errors of Democracy everywhere,
are to be traced directly to neglect or infraction of the fundamental
principle of its constitution — that man is to be considered and dealt
with by government strictly in reference to his relations as a polit-
ical being.

These reflections, Mr. President, naturally lead me to the first

Personal dissension : a turning aside after mere temporary and
miscalled expediency ; a faith in and following after weak, or uncer-
tain, or selfish, or heretical men ; neglect of party tone and disci-
pline as essential to the morale, and hence the success of a party,
as of an army, and just as legitimate ; these, and the like minor
causes of disorganization and defeat, I pass over. They are inci-
dent to all parties, and although never to be too lightly estimated,
yet rarely occasion lasting or very serious detriment. Commonly,
indeed, sir, they are but the diagnostic, or visible development of
an evil which lies deeper — just as boils and blotches upon the sur-
face of the body show that the system is tainted and distempered
within. Neither do I pause, gentlemen, to consider how far the final
inauguration of the grand scheme of domestic policy, which the Dem-
ocratic party so many years struggled for, and the consequent pros-
tration and dissolution of the Whig party, have contributed to the
loss of vigilance and discipline ; since an organization healthy in all
other things must soon recover its wonted tone and soundness. Sir,
the Democratic party has principle to fall back upon ; and it has, too,
a trust to execute not less sacred, and almost as difficult, as its first
work. It is its business to preserve and keep pure and incorrupt
that which it has established. And this, along with the new polit-
ical questions which, in the world's progress, from day to day spring
up, will give us labor enough, and sweat enough, without a wild
foray into the province of the benevolent association, the lyceum,
or the Church ; to return thence laden, not with the precious things,
the incense, and the vessels of silver and gold from off the altar, but
the rubbish and the offal — the bigotries, the intolerance, the hypoc-
risies, the persecuting spirit, and whatever else of unmixed evil ha^
crept, through corruption, into the outer or the inner courts of the


I know, indeed, gentlemen, that every political party is more or
less directly affected, as by a sort of magnetism, by all great public
movements upon any subject; and it is one of the peculiar evils of
a democracy, that every question of absorbing, though never so
transient interest — moral, social, religious, scientific, no matter
what — assumes, sooner or later, a political shape and hue, and
enters into the election contests and legislation of the country.
For many years, nevertheless, sir, questions not strictly political
exerted but small influence upon parties in the United States. The
memorable controversies which preceded the American Revolution,
and which developed and disciplined the great abilities of the giants
of those days — founded, indeed, as all must be, upon abstract prin-
ciples drawn from the nature of man considered in his relation to
government — were yet strictly legal and political. The men of that
day were not cold metaphysicians, nor wicked or mischievous enthu-
siasts — else we had been subjects of Great Britain to this day.
Practical men, they dealt with the subject as a practical question ;
and deducing the right of revolution, the right to institute, alter,
or abolish government, from the " inalienable rights of man," the
American Congress summed up a long catalogue of injuries and
usurpations wholly political, as impelling to the separation, and
struck out of the original draught of the Declaration of Independ-
ence the eloquent, but then mistimed, declamation of Jefferson
against the African slave-trade. Sir, it did not occur to even the
Hancocks and the Adamses of the New England of that day, that
the national sins and immoralities of Great Britain could form the
appropriate theme of a great state paper, and supply to a legisla-
tive assembly the most potent arguments wherewith to justify and
defend before the world a momentous political revolution. Discov-
eries such as these are, belong to the patriots and wise men — the
Sewards, the Sumners, the Hales, and the Chases — of a later and
more enlightened age.

Our ancestors went to war, indeed, about a preamble and a prin-
ciple : but these were political — the right of the British Parliament
to tax America. And they did not stop to inquire whether "war
was humane and consistent with man's notion of the Gospel of
Peace. Their political rights were invaded, and they took up, arms
to repel the aggression. Nor did they, sir, in the temper and spirit
of the pharisaic rabbins and sophistcrs of '55, ask of each other
whether, morally or piously, the citizens of the several Colonies
were worthy of fellowship. They were resolved to form a polit-
ical union, so as to establish justice and to secure domestic tran-
quillity, the common defense, the general welfare, and the blessings
of liberty to themselves and posterity. And the Catholic of Mary-
land and Huguenot of Carolina, the Puritan Roundhead of New
England and the Cavalier of Virginia — the slavery-hating, though
sometimes slave-trading, saint of Boston and the slave-holding sin-
ner of Savannah — Washington and Adams, Butledge and Sherman,
Madison and Franklin, Pinckney and Ellsworth, all joined hands
in holy brotherhood to ordain a Constitution which, silent about


temperance, forbade religious tests and establishments, and provide,
for the extradition of fugitive slaves*

The questions which engaged the great minds of Washington and
the men who composed his cabinets were, also, purely political.
" Whiski/,' 1 indeed, sir, played once an important part in the drama,
threatening even civil war ; but it was as the creature of the tax-
gatherer, not the theme of the philanthropist or the ecclesiastic.
Even the Alien and Sedition Laws of the succeeding administra-
tion — renascent now by a sort of Pythagorean metemp>sychosis, in
the form of a secret, oath-bound conspiracy — were defended then
solely on political grounds. "The principles of '98," which, at that
time, convulsed the country in the struggle for their predominance,
were, indeed, abstractions, though of infinite practical value — but
they were constitutional and political abstractions. Equally is it
true that all the capital measures, in every administration, from '98
to 1828 were of a kindred character, except only the Missouri
Question, that "fire-bell in the night" which filled Jefferson with
alarm and despair. But this was transient in itself; though it left its
slumbering and treacherous ashes to kindle a flame, not many years
later, which threatens to consume this Union with fire unquenchable.

But within no period of our history, gentlemen, were so many
and such grave political questions the subject of vehement, and
sometimes exasperated, discussion, as during the administrations of
Jackson and his successor, continuing down, many of them, to
1847. Among these I name Internal Improvements, the Protective
System, the Public Lands, Nullification, the Removal of the Indians,
the United States Bank, the Removal of the Deposits, Removals
from Office, the French Indemnity, the Expunging Resolutions, the
Specie Circular, Executive Patronage, the Independent Treasury,
Distribution, the Veto Power, and their cognate subjects. Never
were greater questions presented. Never was greater intellect or
more abundant learning and ingenuity brought into the discussion
of any subjects. And never, be it remembered, was the Democratic
party so powerful. It was the power and majesty of principle and
truth, working out their development through machinery obedient
to its constitution and nature. True, Andrew Jackson was then at
the head of the party, and his name and his will, moving all things
with a nod, were a tower of strength. But an hundred Jacksons
could not have upheld a party one day which had been false to its

Within this period, indeed, Anti-masonry rose, flourished, and
died ; the first, in the United States, of a long line of third parties —
the tertium quid of political sophisters — based upon but one tenet,
and devoted to a single purpose. But even in this, the professed
principle was solely political.

Following the great questions of the Jackson era, came the Annex-

Online LibraryClement Lairds VallandighamThe record of Hon. C. L. Vallandigham on abolition, the union, and the civil war.. → online text (page 1 of 34)