Samuel Clarke Pomeroy.

Speech by Hon. S. C. Pomeroy, on the platform and party of the future online

. (page 1 of 2)
Online LibrarySamuel Clarke PomeroySpeech by Hon. S. C. Pomeroy, on the platform and party of the future → online text (page 1 of 2)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

'\ "-y^/ '^^''\ %^^/ J'^^^ ^yiv^.* ^'

°^ *'-° A° <^ "' <?• ..



r>> . » •

./•.- .V

c^. • • , ' *U ^

r ^ ^ • o^



V*^''\/^ "q,. -*.To

.,• ,/ %, ".^^%'^/ . *^

t • - *


5>^ ^

.* ^^^ '^.t- ^v^^.* A*^^ >. '-''ia^.* ^v ^^^ -:

r - ' • o.

^^ - ^


*• A

0^ ^^ 'O . i


- /V IW^*' A^^\ V



ON •''

The Platform and Parlij of the Future, and National Freedom secured
hu an Amended Constitution.


MARCH 10, 1864.

Mr. rOMEROY said :

Mr. President : I do not propose to reply very minutely to the
argument of the Senator from Kentucky. I did not listen to his ar-
gument, and it has not appeared in the Glohe.

As the discussion is not very closely confined to the subject before
the Senate, I propose to address a few remarks upon topics of general

Some curiosity has been manifested, here and elsewhere, as to the
authority and genuineness of a Circular issued by me, as chairman of
the National Executive Committee.

Such curiosity is very laudable, and I take an early opportunity to
say, that I did issue that circular, and that it embodies the views of
the National Committee upon the subject presented. The committee
was instituted in the usual manner, at a public meeting convened in
this city in the month of January last. That meeting comprised
members of Congress and citizens from nearly every loyal State in
the Union. The committee is composed of members of Congress
and other citizens of the United States ; all of them, so far as I am
advised, of the most unquestioned loyalty, and devoted to the Union,
and to Freedom as the best means for restoring and ineserving the

The object of the committee is to unite the sentiment of the
country in the support of men and measures suited to the times. It
issued a letter, called by some a circular, which it has distributed, as
also the speeches of members of Congress on the engrossing topics
of the day.

There was nothing secret in, or about the letter, unless some person
wrote "private" or "secret" upon it in order to attract attention and
secure a wider circulation. The only motive for its dissemination at
all, was to notify the country of the existence of such a committee, and
of the purpose of its organization. Copies were sent by mail to the
President of the United States, to the judges of the courts, the Gov-
ernors of the States, and other distinguished persons in the loyal
portion of the country.

I do not know that the Secretary of the Treasury was consulted in
reference to the organization of the committee. So far as I am in-
formed, he was ignorant as to the persons composing that committee,
as also of its action.

This is the era of drafting men into the service of their countr}-,
without notice, and in that spirit he was drawn for the service. And


because we believed the Secretary of the Treasuiy to be a suitable
person, he was named as a candidate for the Chief Magistrate of the
nation. We still beliov^e him to be the man whom the people will
delight to honor.

And I find that many other men in the country think as we do in
this matter. Indeed, I have yet to find the man friendly to freedom
who does not concede that our choice would deposit the responsi-
bilities of the Executive Government in able and safe hands.

Mr. President, the National Executive Committee still lives, and
in my humble judgment bids fair to establish the fact of its existence
on the page of the future. Indeed, its existence has now become
almost a "military necessity." Through it we hope to stimulate,
encourage, and combine the loyal men of the country, for a more
vigorous and successful prosecution of the war; believing that a
speedy issue to a three years doubtful conflict, will save the credit
of the nation, the lives of the army, and the very hope of a free Gov-
ernment among men !

Great and radical changes are transpiring in this country. The-
ories of long standing are exploded ; and positions believed to have
been well taken, are abandoned — rendered obsolete by the events of
a single year ! From the nature of things political parties cannot be
immutable. During a period of revolution in public sentiment and
established institutions, the}'- must necessarily change. The commu-
nity is made up of at least three distinct classes: The one, earnest,
hopeful, radical, comprises the party of progress, and is the party of the
future. Another, time-serving, toadying to power, glorifying only the
present, is the party of to-day. The fossil and decaying elements of
the social structure, wdio are wrapped in the most gloomy apprehen-
sions of the future, and can descry nothing bright or glorious save
in the dead records of the olden time — these compose the vanishing
party of the past, sighing for what it will soon obtain, retirement
from public duties, and leisure to sigh over the dead and buried relics
of a forgotten history.

In the absence of any other national political organization, fully
representing our views, this was thought a most opportune period —
while the nation is emerging from the blood and toil of a three years
war — to initiate an organization of thorough and earnest men, who,
gathering inspiration for the present and strength for the future
from the lessons and discipline of the past, should' become the safe,
successful, and contK)lling party of the future. Old party lines
and platforms are superceded by living issues, which have sprung
into being since any party has held a national convention. And this
is equally true of all parties, whether their platforms were laid at
Charleston, Baltimore, or Chicago. It is in behalf of a higher,
purer, and freer democracy, than comes down to us from the past,
that we now appeal to the loyal heart of the nation.

It is no part of my purpose to criticise the past measures of this
Administration. No human foresight could have divined and pro-
vided for all the emergencies of the war ; and to sow discord
among ourselves would be a poor way to prepare for the exigencies
of the future. I propose to build up rather than pull down, to unite

and to prevent, if possible, a division of the loyal and radical senti-
ment of tbc country.

Tfie influence of parties must not be ingnored or ligbtly estimated
in this country. While "one goeth and another cometh," it must
not be forgotten, that each has its mission ; and when its day is
passed, it must be absorbed in the advancing column or retire before
it. Political parties are a neccssitj^ in a representative government,
and are time-honored, as are also the fundamental principles of the
Republic. They form and concentrate public sentiment, and are
mediums of political action and political power. No administra-
tion can properly perform its functions and achieve its ends, if not
supported by an efficient party organization, and measurably ad-
herent and respectful to part}' fidelit3^

While the war has changed the channels of commerce and trade,
and in some cases opened new and better ones : while an unknown
and uncertain currency has been displaced by a known and national
currency, so, too, the old political organizations, having been formed
for other times and other issues, have had to give way to the one
party and the one sentiment of progress, of nationality, of free-
dom !

All parties have taken a hand in trying to make something out of
slavery. Its vote being generally a unit in national politics, has been
bidden for by every aspirant for office, and has as surely wrought
the ruin of those whom it elevated to power, when they were no
longer available to promote its ends.

The old AVhig party with its gifted and immortal leaders struck
upon this rock and was rent in fragments. And while memory lives
to cherish an Ashland and a Marshfield, there will be an undying
record of the ingratitude of slavery !

The Democratic party — in its early days the friend of freedom and
the rights of man — became ultimately the ally of the slave power
and the embodiment of its interests, but held its discordant elements
together until the Charleston convention, in 18G0. In the canvass of
that year — running two candidates, neither of whom was for free-
dom — the two factions struck against each other and were destroyed
in the concussion. Since then we have known no National Demo-
cratic party.

The mission of the Republican party was ended when its work
was accomplished. That work was to stay the progress of slavery
and preserve the public domain to freedom. It never pretended to
aim at more. But it made two splendid campaigns and died in its
last triumph ! It struck one telling blow for freedom and against
slavery; so the reminiscenses of its short and eventful career shall
forever remain tender and interesting.

The first achievement for freedom as against slavery, was upon the
soil of my own State. The slave party triumphed in the legislation
of Congress, carried the Missouri compromise of 1820, and the com-
promise measures of 1850, and the Kansas-Nebraska bill of 1854.
It had triumphed in Congress, in the national conventions, in the
elections which followed, and in the decisions of the Supreme Court.
Everywhere had this power been successful until it undertook to

make a practical use of this legislation, and build np theinstitiition
on the soil of my own State ; and then it yielded only after a three
years' struggle and the disgrace of two administrations! Sir, I have
seen and felt enough of slavery to hate it. I have no confidence in
any man's freedom, if his title to it is held at the mercy of this slave
power. Compromises settle nothing. They are only temporary
adjustments, and always liable to be broken. There is no compro-
mising with an inherent wrong. There is no peace where freedom
and slavery are housed together. This conflict is natural as well as
"irrepressible." It is the great law of the case, the " higher law,"
for it exists in the nature of things, that no great wrong can any-
where rest. It is itself aggressive, making war upon the right, and
it must live in triumph, or die by extermination ! The case is fairly
made up before the American people w^hether their Government
shall live or whether slavery shall die ? And this position was
reached in the triumphs of freedom and the defeat of slavery in the
canvass of 1860.

At the period of this triumph, the long threatened conflict between
slavery and freedom culminated in open war. It had been tending
to this issue for nearly half a century ; and now, maddened by polit-
ical defeat, it struck the threatened blow, and during the waning days
of its last and chosen administration selected its own battle-fleld.
Secession, the forerunner of war, commenced at the opening of the
last Congress of Mr. Buchanan's administration. On the 20th day
of December, 1860, South Carolina "seceded," as she said, from the
American Union. It was the falling of a star of doubtful brilliancy
and more than suspected loyalty. Four days later her whole delegation
withdrew from Congress, and left Washington in order to prosecute
their schemes of treason ; three days more, and the Palmetto flag —
that rag of rebellion and treason — floated over Charleston and Forts
Moultrie and Pinkney; two days later and Mr. Floyd, having first
stolen the Treasury poor, tendered his resignation, and received from
Mr. Buchanan an aflectionate and tearful farewell ! On the fifth day
of January following, that delectable body, the South Carolina con-
vention, adjourned, having laid the corner-stone of the southern
confederacy deep in the quicksands of slavery. On the 7th day of
January, Mr. Toombs made in this Senate Chamber, and standing in
this very place, a most treasonable speech in behalf of slavery and
secession, and left Washington unhung! On the 9th, only two days
later, that gallant old ship, "Star of the West," w^hile entering Char-
leston harbor on an errand of mercy which an angel miglit have en-
vied, was fired upon and compelled to return 1 and on the 28th day
of the same month South Carolina demanded the surrender of Fort
Sumter. On the 4th of February, 1861, the first confederate con-
vention was held at Montgomery, Alabama; on the 8th a constitution
was adopted and a provisional government organized ; on the very
next day, February 9th, Mr. Jefterson Davis was elected president of
the southern confederacy, and on the 12th day of April the batteries
of Charleston opened upon Fort Sumter, which was compelled on the
loth to surrender !

Thus, step by step, in quick succession, slavery committed the

overt acts of rebellion and treason, and thus opened the war during
the first days of the present Administration. And what could have
been clearer than the cause of the rebellion? What easier than then
and there to have pronounced upon the means for its overthrow ?
But how slow it was to learn the lesson of events, to comprehend the
magnitude of the struggle, or the manner and means for its successful
termination ! It was early and hastily proclaimed that the relations
of the Government to slavery and of slavery to the States shoukl re-
main unchanged, as if amid the wreck of State governments and
State sovercigntj'' slavery alone was entitled to stand ; that whatever
else might perish, that at least should be preserved. So little was
the crisis understood that it was pronounced a " ninety-day " affair, and
this ended, the States were all to be restored and the institution of
slavery remain undisturbed. It was unhesitatingly announced that
this was no war for freedom and the rights of man, but for the Con-
stitution and the rights of the States in the restored Union ; and to
make this position doubly sure, a joint resolution was dragged through
Congress to secure it against further question. No wonder that we
suffered the teachings of adversity, or that our course lay over many
well-fought battle-fields of doubtful triumph ! No wonder, I repeat,
that with such declared purposes and z'mpolicies we have been called
to weep over the slaughter of thousands, and find the pathway of
national success to be "by the way of the wilderness and the Red
Sea !" For a year and a half, with the blindest fanaticism, it fol-
lowed in the wake of slavery, for that interest led, both in the coun-
cil and in the field. But, by the discipline of sorrow and the teach-
ings of adversity, the heart of the nation has been reached ; and
rapidly reorganizing, the people are preparing for an edict of eman-
cipation, made legal and irrepealable by an amendment of the Con-
stitution, as provided for and anticipated in the instrument itself.

Entertaining these views, and in order to save this Government to
freedom, and that the hope of its founders may become fully realized,
we are for organizing a party with a well-defined platform and policy;
for in periods of national convulsion it becomes the solemn duty of
the people to increase their vigilance, and to acquire new strength
for the support of their cherished institutions.

The Revolution of 1776 produced the noblest political declaration
ever made to the world, and on which was afterward founded our
Federal Constitution. But the inevitable progress of ideas made it
impossible that slavery should long continue to exist in a free repub-
lic, and the death-struggle of that institution has nearly resulted in
the destruction of the nation itself. This struggle has rendered ob-
solete the old fallacy of a political compromise between liberty and
slavery, on which our Union, otherwise admirable, was insecurely
based; and it has proved the necessity of such amendments of our
Constitution as shall enlarge its spirit, and make certain the way of
emancipation, and guaranty us from any future rebellion of a class
against the people, who are, and of right should ever continue to be,

In the present conflict, I repeat, all political parties have been
destroyed. Partisan democracy early perished through the alliance

and corruption of its leaders witli slavery; partisan repnblicanisra,
aiming only at the restraint of slaver}^ and never once asking its ex-
tinction, was shattered by the first gun aimed at Sumter.

Mr. DOOLITTLE. If my friend from Kansas will allow me, I do
not know that I understand precisely some of the statements he has
made. Am I to understand him as organizing a new political party ?

Mr. POMEROY. I will allow the ''Senator to answer me at full
leno'th in a few minutes.

The VICE PRESIDENT. The Senator cannot be interrupted
unless he gives way.

Mr. DOOLITTLE. I only wished to understand the Senator.

Mr. POMEROY. I was saying that partisan democracy early
perished through the alliance and corruption of its leaders with
slavery, partisan republicanism aiming only at the restraint of slavery,
and never once asking its extinction, was shattered by the first gun
aimed at Fort Sumter. No party now exists which has ever been
seen in a national convention. And after three years of fearful and
exhausting conflict, the country is still menaced by dangers, which
can onl}^ be averted by instant and intelligent political action on the
part of the people, and a marching to triumph and victory on the
part of the army. To save the nation from demoralization and dis-
graceful bankruptc}^, and also from the threatened perils of oflicial
usurpations, a contest of ideas is inaugurated for the promotion of
just principles, and not for the aggrandizement of men. To this
end the aid of all citizens should be invoked who desire a speedy
restoration of the Union upon the principle of universal freedom
secured by an amended Constitution, inviting all to unite in advo-
cating and maintaining a political organization embracing the vital
issues of tlie present day.

1. The immediate suppression of the rebellion, by using and con-
trolling, if need be, for the time being all the civil and all the mili-
tary power of this nation, without premature oflers of pardon by
proclamation of amnesty to traitors, but reserving to a triumphant
people the right to determine to ^Yhat extent mercy shall be tempered
wath justice.

2. Such amendments to the Federal Constitution as shall prohibit
slavery wherever the flag of the Union floats, with suitable encour-
agement to a general system of education, in order that suft'rage shall
be hitelligent as well as free, thus furnishing additional guarantee for
the perpetuity of our liberties.

3. The maintenance of the Monroe doctrine, by which the despot-
isms that atflict the Old World shall be denied any additional foot-
hold in the New, thus guarding our country against the encroach-
ments of tyranny, and dedicating this American continent to the
development of popular institutions.

4. The organization of a rigid economy in the administration of
public aflairs, in order both to relieve the burdens of the people and
to insure the financial credit of the nation.

5. The confiscation of the property of leading rebels, and inaugu-
ration of republican governments in all the districts in rebellion ,

whensoever the loyal inhabitants shall voluntarily acquiesce in and
adopt the same.

6. Tlio perfection of a sound system of national currency, made
stable and sure by a pledge of the wealth and resources of the whole
country, thus protecting the people from the evils of an issue of un-
guaranticd paper currenc}', and supplying them with a safe and con-
venient medium of commercial exchange in a national currency of
uniform value in all parts of the country, and convertible into gold
without loss.

7. Such subordination of the several States to the General Gov-
vernment as shall secure a homogeneous and undisputed nationality,
while not destroying the rights reserved to the States, so that alle-
giance to the National Government shall always be regarded as the
highest fealty, and the title of an American citizen the proudest that
can be borne, believing him to be an American who has an American
heart in his bosom, no matter where may have been the accident of his
birth or education, for he is as likely to be as truly an American who
becomes one from choice as he who is compelled to be one from

8. A general adherence to the usage of the Government for thirty
years past in the one term principle as applied to the office of the
Presidency, believing that the policy of a second and third election is
fruitful of temptations, and tends to impair the purity and patriot-
ism of his administration, and to surround him with influences fatal
to the use of a free and unbiassed Executive patronage, and highly
dangerous to popular libertj', which he was chosen to protect.

9. Thorough protection to individual rights, including those of
the writ of habeas corpus, and the liberty of speech and publication,
while at the same time, there are suitable safe-guards against a
treasonable, subsidized, and corrupted press.

10. The support of a liberal and protective system of foreign emi-
gration, which shall attest our sympathies with the struggling people
of Europe, while it shall replenish the wastes of the present destruc-
tive war, stimulate our injured commerce, supply the demand for
labor, and develop those immense resources of our country, on which.
we must so greatly rely for the speedy extinguishment of the national

11. The extension of suitable aid for the construction of a rail-
way across the continent, for the better union of the Atlantic and
Pacific States, and their easier defense against possible foreign ene-
mies, as w^ell as to hasten the development of the rich mining regions
of the continent, which we have reason to believe, are destined to
control the commercial values of the world.

Mr. President, I need not add more. The earnest and loyal men
of the countrj' are awakening and uniting upon these issues. We
have had enough of hesitating and uncertain policies. Enough of
indecisions, and of wrong decisions. Enough of coldness and neg-
lect given to the friends of the Government, while favor and kindness
have been meted out to its enemies. The voices of the multitude,
like the mingling of many waters, are calling for vigor, progress, and
success. This appeal is urged by the sad memories of an unsatisfied

record of the past, by doubtful and uncertain movements of the pres-
ent moment, and by the most fearful apprehensions of the future;
and f'lilJt in progress and triumph of the right, must not be left to
languisli witliout works. One blow for freedom by an edict of le-
gislative emancipation, made efficient by a cordial and decided
executive enforcement, would make "our light to rise in obscurity,"
and we should expect success in no other way. And, sir, wo are
urged to commence this work only in this way, by a remembrance of
every martyr to liberty since the foundation of the world, and especially
by the fathers of tbis Republic, who cradled its infancy making it the
day-dream of their hopes, while it " inspired their songs in the night."

We are impelled to it by a sight of the weeds of sorrow, that are
indicative of the mourning of ten thousand hearts, in households
now and hereafter to be forever desolate. We must accomplish this
work in tbis way to strengthen the arms of our brave men in the
field, who are perilling their lives for their country, theirGovernment,
and mankind. And, above ail, and more than all, by the recollection
of fifty thousand northern and western freemen who have gone down
to early and unmonumented graves > .. the soil of slavery, and because
of it, trusting, as I hope they did, that the "spirit of liberty" would
early rise from their ashes, and linger there, as the guardian of free-
dom, restoring man to his manhood, making it doubly certain that
in the union that is to be, Liberty and Union shall be forever one and
forever inseperable.

Sir, to close the war in this way will be most gratifying to man-
kind ; for we stand to-day in the face of the world. The present gen-
eration, the millions to come after us, are interested, equally with us,
in this struggle. Let the news go through the nations, that with the
triumph of the Union, liberty has triumphed, every fetter has been
broken, the oppressed go free, and, sir, every dungeon of tyranny in
the Old World will be illuminated for the hour, and joyous tears of
gratitude falling upon the wasting limb of the captive, will soften


Online LibrarySamuel Clarke PomeroySpeech by Hon. S. C. Pomeroy, on the platform and party of the future → online text (page 1 of 2)