James Mitchell Ashley.

Duplicate copy of the souvenir from the Afro-American League of Tennessee to Hon. James M. Ashley, of Ohio online

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God our Father, Christ our Redeemer, Man our Brother.



Hon. J, M. Ashley SouDenir.

As he Appeared in the Thirty-sixth Congress.








i v


" That flag means more to you and to me to-night than ever it did
before. = . . .

" 1t means that never again, on the land or on the sea, can it be a flag of
1 stripes ' to any of God's children, however poor or however black." p. 746.
" No more its flaming emblems wave
To bar from hope the trembling slave ;
No more its radiant glories shine
To blast with woe one child of Thine."

Page 384.


One of the Bishops of the A. M. E. Church,






Introduction 3

Report of Publication Committee g

Correspondence with Afro-American League 9

Speech at Cranesville Banquet _ 13

Answer at Charloe to Senator Stephen A. Douglas's Squatter Sov-
ereignty Demagogism , 22

Banner Presentation, German Township, Fulton Co 31

Address at the Wigwam in Toledo 38

First Speech in Congress _ 44

Second Speech in Congress 116

Letter protesting against the army being used to capture and return

fugitive slaves 165

Address at College Hall, Toledo 171

Speech for the Abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia 213

Speech for the Organization of the Territory of Arizona 226

Letter of Congratulation on Mr. Lincoln's Proclamation of Emancipa-
tion, January 1, 1863 240

Speech at White's Hall, Toledo 248

Speech at Wood County Union Convention 257

Speech on Eeconstruction 264

Speech when renominated for Congress 298

Letter to the Officers and Soldiers of the Union Army 305

Address at the Oliver House Banquet 309

Address at Napoleon, Ohio 315

History of the Bill for the Abolition of Slavery and the Thirteenth

Amendment 328

Speech on Reconstruction, with Senator Sumner's Resolutions 333

Copy of the First Reconstruction Bill ; 359

Speech on Reconstruction at San Francisco, Cal. 370

Speech on Reconstruction at Sacramento, Cal 385

Congressional Speech on Impartial Suffrage and Reconstruction 392

Congressional Speech on Reconstruction 415

Remarks on Impeachment of the President 436

Congressional Speech on Amendment of the National Constitution 459

Address on Renomination in 1868 505

Congressional Speech on the Amendment providing for the Modifica-
tion of the Veto Power 519

Speech on Grant and Greeley . 5GO

Centennial Oration 578



Speech at Montpelier, 1856 601

Speech at Bowling Green, 1862 _ 630

Speech at Gilead, 1865 634

Oration on the Death of Hon. Owen Lovejoy, of Illinois 638

Oration on the Death of Hon. Thaddeus Stevens, of Pennsylvania 640

Oration on the Death of D. E. Locke ("Nasby") 646

Oration at the Centennial of Daniel O'Connell 651

Eulogium on Daniel O'Connell 657

Letter and Rules on Co-operation and Profit-sharing 661

Address to the International Train Dispatchers' Convention 667

Address in the Congressional Campaign of 1890 675

Memorial Address at Wauseon 681

Address to Pioneers 685

Address before the Ohio Society of New York on the Abolition of
Slavery in the District of Columbia and the Passage of the Thir-
teenth Amendment 692

Address before Grand Army Posts in Toledo 714

Address on Lincoln before the Ohio Republican League at Toledo 747

Address before the Ohio Society of New York in favor of Nominat-
ing and Electing the President and U. S. Senators by direct vote 767


The name of Honorable James M. Ashley revives the
most exciting- events in the conflict between freedom and
slavery in the United States. It brings to mind that grand
uprising- ag-ainst the extension of slavery, which opposed the
annexation of Texas, the repeal of the Missouri Compromise,
and the Missouri border ruffian raids into Kansas ; which
witnessed the capture by John Brown of Harper's Ferry, the
election of Abraham Lincoln, the war of the Union, the
assassination of Lincoln, the reactionary rebellion of Andrew
Johnson, and the battle for the enfranchisement and citizen-
ship of the negro. In every phase of that conflict James M.
Ashley bore a conspicuous and honorable part. He was
among the foremost of that brilliant galaxy of statesmen
who reconstructed the Union on a basis of liberty. He was,
so to speak, ever far out on the skirmish line, in the most ex-
posed position. He was the subject of the most violent
attacks, and, though he went down in the contest, the cause
which he championed was largely indebted for its triumph
to his courage and advocacy upon the floor of the House of
Representatives. His eloquence and power in debate were
clearly recognized and appreciated by hi party, and he was,
therefore, often put forward to do a work which many of his
comrades felt reluctant to undertake.

With many others (the present writer included), Mr.
Ashley plead the cause of the slave with poetic fervor. His
speeches on the slavery question were enriched by splendid
quotations from Whittier's burning verse.

In this he showed his appreciation of the profound in-
sight and sublime ethical conscience by which that humane

(3) .


poet was guided in all lie had to say on this question, and in-
deed on all others where human rights were concerned.

Honorable James M. Ashley early caught the living
faith and prophetic spirit of Whittier. He felt and fully
understood the flagrant sin of slavery. This will appear
vividly to all who shall read the addresses and orations which
have been compiled by his negro friends and published in this
volume. It was given to Mr. Ashley prior to and after the
outbreak of the war of the rebellion, to point out the line of
policy to be pursued in forum and field, for the salvation oi
the nation.

Conversant as I am with our anti-slavery literature foi
over half a century, and with the speeches and orations o1
our ablest anti-slavery leaders, I am warranted in saying
that, among them all, there are few, if any, more worthy oi
preservation than are the prophetic speeches and orations
contained in this book.

Remembering that truth is many-sided, and that fev
men, even with the best intentions, are able to see it excep'
from its single or narrow side, the abundant charity to b<
found in Mr. Ashley's speeches becomes the more marked, an(
attests the nobility of the man.

To Mr. Ashley, as to few other great legislators, it wa:
given to grasp with a firm understanding the problems in
volved in our great battle with slavery and in the reconstruc
tion of the government after the war. Like Sumner, Wilson
Wade, and Thaddeus Stevens, he saw the necessity of arm
ing the negro with the panoply of the elective franchise.

He was foremost in the debate for this great measure, an<
did not hesitate to risk the success of his own election, b;
the prominent part he took in face of formidable opposition
Nor was this opposition confined to the members of the oppo
site party. There were timid Republicans in those days, a
there have been since, and this timidity was shared by hi
State and the people of his district, as well as by mem
bers of Congress, and it is no marvel that his prominence i:
furtherance of this measure of enfranchisement, caused hi

With the aid of the Tribune Almanac, I am able to giv
the facts and figures in this case.

In 1867 Ohio astonished the country by voting- against
the granting- of the ballot to her own colored citizens. No
wonder, then, that Mr. Ashley, who championed the cause of
enfranchisement, incurred the concentrated enmity of all
those who hated the negro, and by their votes refused him
the right of the ballot.

The vote of Ohio, in 1867, stood 255,344 against grant-
ing- the ballot to the negro, and 216,987 in its favor.

The majority against the measure, on the vote actually
cast for and against, was 38,353. The number of those not
voting on the question was 12,276.

As the Constitution of the State of Ohio requires an
affirmative majority of all the votes cast at such an election,
the proposition to adopt this measure was defeated by a ma-
jority of 50,629. At all elections for amending the Constitu-
tion of that State, each blank ballot cast is counted against
the proposed amendment.

In Mr. Ashley's own district, of the votes cast for and
against giving the negro the ballot, a majority of 965 was
against it, and 1,057 electors voted blank; so that in his dis-
trict, the constitutional majority against the amendment was
2,022. At the State election, on the same day, the Republi-
can party elected Rutherford B. Hayes governor, by the
slender majority of 2,883, and the Republican State ticket
had, in Mr. Ashley's own district, a majority of 975.

These figures disclose the fact that there was a formi-
dable faction in the Republican party in Ohio, and also in
Mr. Ashley's district, against granting the ballot to the

Notwithstanding this astonishing vote, Mr. Ashley
steadily battled in Congress and on the stump, as his speeches
in this volume testify, for granting the ballot to the negro,
and by an amendment to our national Constitution, as the
records of Congress show, he materially aided in securing in
all the States and Territories of the republic, the right of
the negro to vote, and because of his fidelity to the cause of
the negro, a fidelity maintained in despite of violent opposi-
tion, the negroes of Tennessee have prepared this " sou-
venir " volume, and have requested me to write this introduc-
tion to it.

A number of Mr. Ashlej^'s congressional speeches and
platform addresses in favor of negro suffrage, notably the
one delivered in 1865, in- San Francisco, California, will be
found in this volume and read with interest. For ability
and broad statesmanship these speeches impress me as being,
beyond question, the master effort of his public life.

I do not believe that any intelligent man who reads
these speeches can point to one important proposition intro-
duced or advocated by Mr. Ashley, in Congress or on the
stump, whether by bill or resolution, which is fundamen-
tally wrong either in morals or politics; and if he cannot,
then all men must conclude that they are fundamental!}

Mr. Ashley's patriotic Centennial oration in 1876; hi:
splendid orations on O'Connell (the early and steadfas
friend of the negro) ; his touching and tender testimony a
the grave of his friend, David R. Locke ("Nasby"); hi
address on Lincoln; his speech on Memorial Day at Wauseon
his noble tribute to Columbus, in his address to the earl
pioneers; and especially the grand speech made by him a
Montpelier in 1856 all stamp him as a remarkable platf orr
orator. But of higher significance is the fact, that in all o
his speeches, he puts the rights of humanity above ever
other right and, as inseparably connected with the rights c
all races of men, he includes the rights of labor, and claim
that humanity and labor have rights which are above an
superior to the material interests of capital or governments
Above tariffs and commerce, above financial interesl
and so-called vested rights, he places the rights of man!

He makes his plea for the protection of the weak again*
the combinations of capital, and with eloquence and powc
he denounces the spirit of caste and all special legislation f c
the benefit of any one class at the expense of labor and tt
rights of humanity. His address to the Train Dispatcher
Association of America is a generous appeal for the rights (
labor, and his plea for the organization of all labor
worthy of careful study and of adoption by all prudent at
thoughtful laboring men.

Conspicuous in the character and in the public life <
Mr. Ashley was his moral courage. He never lacked tl


courage of his convictions. "What he believed, that he spoke
and acted. Words were never allowed by him to conceal his
thoughts and it was never his misfortune to be misunderstood.
In the language of Abraham Lincoln, "He followed the
right as God gave him the ability to see the right." Neither
ridicule nor denunciation, though both were employed against
him, could swerve him from his course.

He showed this quality in a remarkable degree while
dealing with Andrew Johnson, who, when President, under-
took to array the executive against the leigslative department
of the government and to substitute his own will for the
policy of Congress. Johnson was no man with whom to
trifle. There was in him much more of the lion than of the
lamb. When his will was crossed he did not hesitate to use
the whole power of the presidential office to punish offenders.
He had little regard to consequences. His battle with Con-
gress concerning reconstruction, was bold, fierce and bitter,
and was even a menace to the peace of the country.

It became necessary for Congress to assert its power and
curb this lion, and Mr. Ashley, as one of its members, dared
to lead Congress in this perilous duty. There is no power in
the American government, the employment of which is more
dangerous than is that of the power of impeachment. It is
emphatically a last resort, and when it is used by one party
against another, the whole fabric of government is imper-
iled. And yet there are times when its employment is
essential to the salvation of government.

Such a crisis was precipitated by Andrew Johnson, and
though he escaped impeachment, the threat of this chastise-
ment proved highly beneficial. I think in connection with
this controversy that Mr. Ashley rendered, in the part he
took, one of his best services to liberty and to the republic,
yet it has happened to him, as it has happened to many other
good men, to have his best work in the world least appre-
ciated and commended by the world.

It is not necessary here to dwell upon the part which
Mr. Ashley has taken in the great conflict with wrong.

His speeches contained in this volume are his best com-
mendation, and I leave them to speak for themselves.



President Afro- American League of Tennessee.

DEAR SIR : The undersigned, on behalf of the Publication
Committee, beg- leave to report that they have carefully com-
piled and caused to be published, the great anti-slavery
speeches, orations and papers of public interest contained in
this book.

We did this in pursuance of the plan adopted by the
committee having in charge the preparation and publication
of the "Souvenir," which the officers of the Afro- American
League of Tennessee directed to be prepared and presented
to Hon. James M. Ashley, of Ohio.

In discharging that agreeable duty, we have taken special
care to collect such matter as we believed to be of historic
interest to the public and especially to our race.

Our work has been a labor of love, and is herewith re-
spectfully submitted.



Bishop BENJAMIN "W. ARNETT, Chairman, Wilberforce, O.
Bishop BENJAMIN F. LEE, Waco, Texas.

Rev. CHARLES S. SMITH, Nashville, Tenn.
Pres't I. T. MONTGOMERY, Grand Bayou, Miss.
Bishop W. J. GAINES, Atlanta, Ga.

Rev. J. C. E^IBRY, Philadelphia, Pa.

Rev. A. H. Ross, Cynthiana, Ky.

Prof. B. W. ARNETT, JR., Little Rock, Ark.

, TENN., March 8, 1892.
HON. JAMES M. ASHLEY, Toledo, Ohio.

DEAR SIR : The American negro has, time and again,
been charged with ingratitude toward his public benefactors
and an incapacity to appreciate the public acts of the states-
men whose life-work has been directed toward securing him
the full enjoyment of American citizenship.

In view of these facts, and in view of the further fact
that your life has been an incessant warfare against the
invidious distinctions which have been embodied in the cus-
toms and fundamental law of the American people ; but
which, happily for all, have been expunged from the or-
ganic law of the land by the enactment of the Thirteenth
Amendment to the Constitution of the United States : we,
the undersigned citizens and members of the Afro- American
League of Middle Tennessee, have determined, on behalf
of the Afro-American League of this country, to present
to you some kind of testimonial, in recognition of your
distinguished services to the cause of liberty, in the dark
days of slavery and reconstruction.

To the end that the passing generation may take new
hope for its progeny, in having recounted to it the triumphs
which your unselfish devotion in behalf of human liberty
aided in accomplishing ; and that future generations may
have in their homes and schools a perennial fountain of
inspiration ; and that other men with noble aspirations
may be encouraged to urge on "the harvest of the golden
year, when all men's good shall be each man's rule," we ask
that you grant us the privilege of publishing, in book form
of convenient size, the prophetic and now historic speeches
made by you in the Congress of the United States against
the crime of slavery, and to include with said speeches such


-10)- .

of your orations and public addresses and articles from your
pen, of historic interest to us and to all lovers of human liberty.
We desire to present to you, your family and friends, a book
which shall be an acceptable and historic souvenir.

If our plan shall meet your approval, you will do us a
great favor if you and your friends will place at our com-
mand such papers, orations and public addresses as may
have been preserved, which are not to be found in public
libraries, as their possession will materially facilitate our

With great respect we await your early reply.





S. A. McEwEi,.










We approve and endorse the above


Prest. National Leag-ue


TOLEDO, OHIO, March 19, 1892.

GENTLEMEN : Your esteemed favor of the 8th inst. is
before me. I would not disguise the fact that your com-
munication stirs my heart with pleasurable emotions. In-
deed it is a source of unalloyed satisfaction to me to know
that the officers and members of the " Afro- American
League" of Tennessee remember me and my work in be-
half of their race, at a time when they were held in cruel
bondage and could neither speak nor act as they can now, and
that they voluntarily propose to honor me in the manner in-

When the liberation of every slave beneath our flag was
officially decreed by Abraham Lincoln's emancipation proc-
lamation, it became our bounden duty as a nation to confirm
and make perpetual that act of liberation, so that in the land
of Washington a slave would be as impossible as a king.

In common with, many others I did no more than my
duty in that great historic battle. But I do not attempt to
conceal from any one that I am proud of my anti-slavery
record, and grateful for the evidence which your letter gives
me, of its recognition by the colored citizens of Tennessee.

If you compile, as proposed, from official or authenticated
sources, any utterrnces of mine, touching the enslavement of
men, I am confident that from whatever page you may
select, you will not find a word, act, or vote of mine, which
either you or any of my friends could wish to change or blot.

In consenting to your request, I am not without hope
that I may thus contribute, as you suggest, some word or
thought that may aid in the advancement of your race.

I regret, however, that I can supply you with but little
matter of personal or historic interest outside of the public
records. My library, and all my valuable official and private
papers, were destroyed some years ago by fire, so that I


cannot furnish you with papers which were to me personally
of great historic interest. But such addresses and papers as
I have been able to collect from friends, tog-ether with a halj
dozen or more public addresses made since I was in Congress,
I shall be ready to place in your hands whenever you or youi
authorized agent may call for them.
I have the honor to be,

Very respectfully yours,




and others,


Letter from Rev. J. C. Price, President of Livingston College, Salis-
bury, N. C.

DEAR SIR : Your letter and circular are received. I read with
interest and pleasure the pamphlets of the Hon. James M. Ashley,
which you so kindly sent me. I heartily endorse the movement
that has in view a " testimonial" in recognition of Mr. Ashley's dis-
tinguished services in the interest of human liberty and of the
equality of all men before the law. It seems to me not only a patri-
j. c. PRICE. otic but a grateful endeavor as well.

I am yours sincerely, J. C. PRICE.


JANUARY 27th, 1859.


On Friday of last week, says the Paulding Eagle, Hon.
J. M. Ashley visited Cranesville, in this county, and stopped
with General Curtis. The citizens of Crane and Mark town-
ships, Defiance county, turned out en masse to welcome him.
They came up feeling" they were to see a man who would
maintain their rights and endeavor to redress their wrongs.
General Curtis had prepared an excellent dinner, after partak-
ing of which, Esquire Hutchinson of Mark township was
called to the chair, and Lewis S. Gordon appointed secretary,
when the following toast was read :


Lucas, entitled to our confidence by his services in defense of
our cause when there appeared no hope of success ; we wel-
come him with pride as our guest, and pledge him that the
citizens of Paulding county, who were first to invite him to

Letter from Hon. James Hill, Postmaster, Vicksburg, Miss.
The first three addresses which appear in this book were deliv-
ered, as the reader will observe, after Mr. Ashley's first election, and
prior to taking- his seat in Congress, and two years before President
Lincoln's first election. Mr. Ashley was then a young man, and
had never been in public life. When the time and circumstances are
remembered under which these addresses were delivered, it will be
f conceded that they are remarkable, as well for their patriotic
thought as for their breadth and depth, and for the clearness and
JAMES HILL, hopefulness of their prophecy. The address at Archibald is a plat-
form in itself, and will stand for all time as an epitome of republican principles. The
address at Charloe is a masterly answer to the pro-slavery sophistry of Stephen A.
Douglas, as delivered in a speech at Memphis, Tennessee, December 1, 1858. In this ad-
dress, Mr. Ashley put Douglas's own words in the mouth of the Emperor of China
with a force and truthfulness that could not be successfully answered then, nor now.




the leadership, will be the last to desert him while he is faith-
ful in the maintenance of the Union, and true to the princi-
ples of freedom. Again we say, we welcome him here."

After which General Ashley made the following- address :

I will be more than compensated, Mr. President, for all my
past labors in the ranks of the Republican party, if, while
representing- this district at Washing-ton, I shall be able to re-
tain the g-ood opinion and unwavering- friendship heretofore
shown me by the people of Paulding- county. And if I am ever
false to principle, unfaithful to duty, or should cease to defend
and maintain a reverential regard for the union of these States,
may you forg-et the past and condemn me as an unworthy
and unprofitable servant.

I come to participate with you, ladies and g-entlemen, in a
social g-athering-, and not to make a speech, but in person to
thank most cordially my fellow-citizens of this county for the
support given me at the recent election. I am indeed greatly
indebted to the true democracy of little Paulding- for the
past and present manifestations of their reg-ard and confi-

Over five years ag-o, and when comparatively a strang-er
in the district, it was you who first united in requesting- me
to become your standard-bearer ; you who first publicly ex-
pressed sympathy with me in the eif orts I (in common with
others) was making- to organize, without regard to past

Online LibraryJames Mitchell AshleyDuplicate copy of the souvenir from the Afro-American League of Tennessee to Hon. James M. Ashley, of Ohio → online text (page 1 of 77)