Andrew Jackson Hamilton.

Speech of Hon. Andrew Jackson Hamilton, of Texas, late representative of Texas, in the 36th Congress, on the condition of the South under rebel rule online

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E 458


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Late Representative of Texas, in the 36th Congress,


ConMtion of t|c ^outji unhr %M fulc,





In response to an invitation of the National War Commit-
tee, the Hon. A. J. Hamilton, the eloqnent Union refugee
from Texas, delivered an address in the large hall of Cooper
Institute, on Friday evening, October 3d, 1862. The hall
was densely filled. Hon. Hiram Walbridge, chairman of the
committee of arrangements, called the meeting to order.
He said :

Fellow-citizens : The National AVar Committee has assigned
to mc the duty of calling to order this vast, patriotic and in-
telligent assemblage. Without office, without honors, with-
out emoluments, without patronage, they find their author-
ity only in the rectitude of their intentions, in the imminence
of the public danger, and they rely with confidence on the re-
gard and esteem of their countrymen. No sane man believes
that this gigantic rebellion, which fairly shakes the earth be-

neatli our feet, can ever be quelled, unless the Federal governr
3nent shall furnish opportunity for the loyal patriotic Union
men of the South to demonstrate their valor, their intrepidity,,
and their devotion to the Constitution, the Union and the su-
premacy of law. That Constitution and the government it
guarantees sprung from the hearts of the American people. It
was baptized in their blood, and it will be defended by their
hands, so long as treason shall seek to ignore the flag, which
has borne the glories of the American character into every
part of the habitable globe, I nominate, gentlemen, as pre-
siding office]-, our eminent chief magistrate, the Hon. George

Mayor Opdyke said : My friends, we are here to listen
to a distinguished citizen of the South, a friend of the Union
and of the old flag, who has been compelled to flee from the
iron despotism which the Confederate traitors have estab-
lished. It is rarely that we are favored with an oppor-
tunity of obtaining information from that region from a
source at once so trustworthy, so enlightened and. so elo-
quent. The orator of the evening is a gentleman of distin-
guished social position and eminent public service, having
represented his State in the Congress of the United States
with marked ability ; and I trust the day is not far distant,
when he will again be called upon to serve his fellow-citizens
in the same capacity. lie will be able to portray to us, in
truthful colors, the sad efi'ects of the rebellion in his own
State, as well as the wrongs and outrages that he and all
other true loyalists have been compelled to sufi'er at the hands
of its wicked authors and abettors. He will thus furnish us
with fresh incentives to persevere in the contest in which we
are engaged, and intensify our efforts to crush out at once
and forever a usurpation that has borne such bitter fruits.
I have the honor to present to you Col. Audi'ew Jackson
Hamilton, of Texas.



fellow-citizens of the City of New- Yorlc :

Could I, by the exercise of some supernatlftal power, pre-
sent to those I left behind me the scene upon which I now
gaze, and could I bring- back their answer as it would spring
from every heart that throbs with loyal feeling to the govern-
ment of their fathers, you would be thanked as alone is proper
for this generous reception tendered, not to me, but to the
cause in which, I trust, we are mutually engaged.

I remember well, as I entered your magnificent harbor a
few days past, for the first time in my life, I could not but be
impressed with the evidence before me of the magnitude, the
progress, and the greatness of our country, as reflected by
even one single spot of its territory. But there was connected
with it a painful throb, and it arose from the reflection that
it was now all being imperiled ; and whatever you, fellow-
citizens, may have supposed with regard to the progress of
this rebellion, or its extent, so far as territory is concerned,
or the integrity of the people of any section of the country ;
satisfied, as you may be in your own minds, that it cannot
go beyond the States of the South, I entertain a difierent
opinion. I mean to be understood that if it is to succeed
where it is already attempted, in my humble judgment, it
will not stop there ; in short, that if the government of the
United States, as it existed before the rebellion was attempt-
ed, is not maintained in all its integrity, we may look forward
to a period, perhaps not so remote that some present will not
see it, when it will give way here as well. It is not because
of any distrust I feel as to your loyalty of heart at this mo-
ment. It is not because of any want of men or means to
prosecute the war. It is still less on account of any supposed
defect of your general intelligence, or want of general intel-
gence among the masses of the people here. But, as I have
had occasion to remark elsewhere, the moral efiect and power
exercised by the name of the government of the United States,
and the feeling which has pervaded every heart that loved
free government, here and elsewhere, and the hopes of its

perpetuity aucl capacity to maintain itself, based, as it is,
upon the intelligence and loyalty of its people, will Lave been
lost, and lost for ever. In short, if the government of the
United States fails to crnsli this first attempt at rebellion
against its jn^anthority, you must rest assured it is not the
last effort that will be made ; because, he that supposes that
a government will exist, (until the character of man is
changed,) containing no citizen within its limits who would,
for selfish purposes, disrupt or tear it down, imagines what is
an impossibility. Tliere can be no such government. There
cannot be one so free ; there cannot be one so paternal ; there
cannot be one so exalted and so full of blessings for man, as
that there will not be some men who, for the purpose of tem-
porary elevation, to gratify personal ambition, would will-
ingly, gladly tear it down.

Encouragement, it is unnecessary to argue, has been already
given to the rebellion by its having progressed so long, and
because, too, of the powerful effort made to make it success-
ful, far beyond what many intelligent men in the country
sujDposed possible, within the compass of those States engaged
in it.

Origin of the Rebellion.

But, fellow-citizens, it is our duty to inquire now what
caused the rebellion ; and, ascertaining that fact, we w^ill un-
derstand better how to apply a remedy to prevent a recur-
rence of the same thing : in short, we shall take care it shall
not originate again from the same cause.

I have not the time, fellow-citizens, to explain how the
masses in the Southern States were controlled by the few — ■
for they were the few — who engaged in the effort to disrupt
the government of the United States. I know at the first
blush it seems strange that a large majority should be con-
trolled, coerced, cowed, overcome and trodden down by an
inferior number, in reference to the highest interests and the
fairest hopes possessed by the majority ; and yet it is true.
They were deluded, many of them ; they were outwitted,
many of them. They were made to believe that secession
would necessarily compel the people of the North to hasten

to extend to them further security for Southern institutions,
or rather one Southern institution. That was the arp^uraent.
It is true, fellow-citizens, that the largest portion of the peo-
ple of the South were not personally interested in the institu-
tion ; but they were as " loyal," (to use a favorite expression
in the South,) they were as loyal to that institution as those
who were personally interested in it. They were as ready to
aid in its preservation ; they "vrere as ready to resist attacks
from within or from M'ithout as others ; and they had been
made to believe that there were aggressions that were annoy-
ing, which, if they progressed from year to year, and were con-
tinued in, would bring serious trouble, and they were anxious
to avoid it. They loved the government of tlie United States,
and if the proposition had been seriously made to the people of
the South to go out of the Union, with a view of remaining
out, I doubt if a solitary State, save and except South Caro-
lina, would have ventured upon the experiment.

To give you an evidence of this fact, the candidates for the
convention in the State of Texas, in their printed addresses,
without exception, so far as I knew them, argued the neces-
sity of immediate action, with a view to early reconstruction.
They went before the peoi)lc, pledging themselves that they
were in favor of reconstruction, and desired to adopt that
measure as a means of securing their rio-hts under the jrovern-
ment of the United States, which they believed could not be
secured in any other way. But, fellow-citizens, with all that,
the majority of the people were not deceived. One-third only
of the popular vote of the State of Texas was cast in that elec-
tion, testing the sense of the people, or pretending to test it,
as to their desire to sever their connection with the United
States. Two-thirds of the body politic believed it their duty
to stand aloof from the thing, to give it no recognition, fear-
ing it would be an implied recognition of the regularity of
the proceeding even to go to the polls and cast a vote. It is
easy to see, then, how the proposition to secede was carried at
the ballot-box.

Another thing you cannot realize as I do. After the or-
dinance of secession had been enacted, they really did not be-
lieve the fact, that they were out of the Union of their fathers.


They seemed to regard it as one of those temporary iipheavings
of popular excitement, whicli would pass away as all others
they had witnessed had passed away ; that it was a species of
madness that would run out and spend its force, and that
reason would resume its sway over the minds of the people.

Slavery antagonistic to Democracy.

But, fellow-citizens, they failed to understand the object ;
they failed to comprehend the spirit at the bottom of this
movement. They did not know that the darling object in the
hearts of these men was not merely to cut loose from the non-
slaveholding States of the Union, not merely to cease agita-
tion on the subject of slavery in the government under which
the institution existed, but it was to create a new order of
government, one not resembling that from which they had
severed. It was, in short, fellow-citizens, to dejpress the
masses and to elevate the few. No intimation was given by
those engaged in it, because in some shape the name of the
people that were sought to be depressed, that were sought to
be deprived of their birthright, must be used. If what has
been said since secession has been accomplished, if the decla-
rations of their leading men, made within the last twelve
months, had been offered from an. authoritative source by some
man taking a leading part in the rebellion, when first inaugu-
rated, it would have been crushed and strangled at home
upon the very spot where it first had its origin.

1^0 man then dared to say to the people, " this thing of de-
mocracy will not do. This thing of republican government is
a failure. This thing of men without property participating
in government, being represented in the political department
of the government, is a failure !" I say, no man uttered senti-
ments like these until the thing had been accomplished, and
until it had been accomplished so far that the arms of the
people of the country were in the hands of the conspirators,
until the powder and the lead, the means to resist, were lost to
them ; until, in short, they were bound, and could make no
resistance. Then, and not till then, you could hear it upon the
streets, in the hotels, at the social board, in the parlor, every-


where yon went, " Republican government is a failure ! We
want a stronger government ; we intend to have a stronger
government. We will steer clear of the danger emanating
from the democratic masses, who are wielding, in fact, the
power of the government of the United States."

The argument of Mr. Spkatt, of South Carolina, is tlie pop-
ular argument now with every man in the South who is in-
doctrinating the public mind. They know that the masses
will never be in love with it. But what care they for them ?
There are some who have engaged in secession who are not
prepared for this, but tliey must be indoctrinated. You per-
ceive, say these men, it is a failure. Why ? Because the
United States government has failed, and it failed on account
of democracy. Says Mr. Spratt, " you have failed in Mont-
gomery in incorporating the provision to re-open the Africaa
slave-trade, and from that evidence I see you are likely to
make a failure in establishing the government we intended
when we severed from the United States." " I am ashamed,"
says he, " of any man South, who aspires to the name of a
statesman, who supposes that the cause of our separation was
in consequence of aggression by the ISTorth on the slave-
power." And he adds, "the great ISTew-York statesman,
Wm. H. Sewakd, never uttered a truer sentiment, than when
he said there was an irrepressible conjiict. It is tnie ; it is
philosophically true. We must get rid of the people of the
Worthy hecause they are democratic in the organisation of
their society. The working-men in the non-slaveholding
States are the power in the government. They vote at the
ballot-box, and they are vastly in the majority." •" All power
in the government, when properly conducted, (he says,) must
rest in the head of society. The head of society is composed
of the men who direct labor. It will fail if placed in the
heels of society, which are constituted of the laboring masses."
" In short," says Mr. Spratt, " you perceive from the premi-
ses that slavery and democracy cannot live together^ " We
have not accomplished the object of separation," he adds.
" You are already backing down from it ; you are afraid, per-
haps, that the people will not bear it. If you shrink from it
T^Qyj^ it will involve the necessity of another revolution, and

we will have it, altliougli it sliould be bloodier than tliis, in
which we shall accomplish the great, the leading, the only ob-
ject we had in this — getting rid of the last and least remains
of democracy in our own midst.'''' And then, in order that
he might not be misunderstood bj any one, added, " We
must have a slave aristocracy.''''

This was a letter addressed to the Hon, Mr. Perkins, of
Louisiana, who was sitting in the convention in Alabama.
It was published in the Charlest07i Mercury, reproduced
among the leading journals of the South, and commented
upon favorably ; and to this good hour no man has lifted up
his voice against it throughout all rebeldom, that I have
heard. ]S"o man in his paper, or in a public address, has
done so. Indeed, now there are no other sentiments pub-
lished than those closely followiug the leading of Mr. Spratt.

" We must have a stronger government." The only reply
that I ever made to these arguments, as long as I was permit-
ted to hear them, was simply this : " Gentlemen, by the time
you have got through with Uncle Sam, you will think, per-
haps, it is strong enough for common use."


I desire to be brief Allow me to pass rapidly on, for I
find I will consume too much of your valuable time to-night.
[Cries of " Ko, no— go on."] Having ascertained the cause
of the rebellion, the question arises, and the only one with
which we ought to deal : How is that rebellion to be crushed ?
and how are we to see to it that the cause of that rebellion
shall never bring forth the same bitter fruit ?

In giving you my humble views, let me preface them by
saying, that two years past I was what I suppose would have
been called a " loyal" man to the institution of slavery, al-
though greatly suspected by them. I dreaded to see, what I
believed inevitable at some distant period, the conflict be-
tween slavery and democracy. I never doubted but it would
come, but I was selfish enough, I will admit, to hope it
would not be in my day, or during the period of my child-
ren's lives. I did not perceive how I, with my humble

powers, could ercadicatc the evil, if I had thought proper to
engage in the work. I rested in the comfortable retlcction
that it having been permitted by Providence to grow up,
doubtless for some wise, but, to us, inscrutable purpose, that
same Providence would look to it that it would be disposed
of also in accordance with the w411 of the Great Kuler of the

I never would have quarreled with the men who owned
that property. Indeed, I would have assisted in protecting
them in their legal rights to retain it, so long as it was an in-
stitution under the laws and constitution of the respective
States where it existed. But the very moment it sought to
tear away from me the only protection I have ever had, or
hope to leave my posterity — the flag of my fathers— for the
purpose of building another government upon slavery, as its
chief corner-stone — that moment I changed my relations to
the institution of slavery ; and I warned them in advance,
that they would make me, what I had felt was an unmerited
reproach, when it had been hurled at me in times past — an
abolition sympathizer. I told them they would make me,
not merely a symjpathizev^ but they would make me an active^
practical abolitionist.

I told them more ; I said to them, " the moment you enter
" upon this experiment you have already drawn a line ; you
"have dug a gulf — an impassable one, between yourselves
" and the non-slave owners of the South. You do not realize it
" now, but I know that you do not make the new government
" a liberal one. You can never do it, for the simple reason, that
" the men who are deluded by you to-day will not have expe-
" rienced the blessings of this new government for two years,
" until they will want no man to reason with them, for the
" purpose of provhig that the old was the better government.
" Their experience will have taught it to them. They will find
" themselves disrobed of their birthright. You will limit the
"right of sufirage. You will require property qualification.
" You know that I know you intend to do it. "When you have
" done that, will you allow these men you have disfranchised
" to have arms, a right guaranteed to them under the constitu-
" tiou of the United States ? You dare not do it. The strong


*' arms and stout hearts of tliis people would crush you in one
" single day, the moment tlie scales drop from their eyes, and
" they see they are no longer free men, if you do not keep
" them in your grasp. That being the truth, it is impossible
" for you to make this a liberal government. Tou cannot do
" it. Tou will then have challenged every lover of freedom
" throughout the world, to resist a government built upon
" slavery, for the purpose of elevating the slave-owners, at the
" expense of the aggregated millions. Can you sustain slavery
" under such circumstances ? Tou have already destroyed it,
"in my judgment ; and if you have not destroyed it by the
" moral force brought against it, I would actively'' war with
" you, while my life lasts, to reclaim the freedom of my child-
" ren at the expense of your negroes, and slavery based upon

Inutility of Conciliation.

I fear there are those all over the country who still believe
that by some peace measure, by some conciliatory step on
the part of the government, these disloyal States can be re-
claimed. No greater fallacy can creep into the mind of man.
Why, fellow-citizens, the loyal masses of the South need no
conciliation. Tliey demand none ; but they are this night
sending up their prayei-s to the Great Kuler of the universe
for aid and assistance to come back to the Union uncondi-
tionally. They have not the new government in their hands,
however. They have no power to give direction to its policy.
"Who, then, are you to conciliate in order to cause the rebel-
lion to cease ? Jefferson Davis. Ah ! he will ask you, " will
you allow me to be made President of the United States,
ever?" If not, you have not given the first reason on earth
why he can be conciliated. Are you willing, in short, to
place him back in the same social and political status that he
occupied before he inaugurated this rebellion ? If you are,
I am not. I do want to see the old government, when it shall
have re-asserted its authority and power, make a wise and just
discrimination between the guilty and the deluded. I do want
the real responsible traitors punished, but I would have the


down-trodden, the suffering, the ignorant, (if you will,) who
have been made instruments in the hands of these vile men,
brought back. Let them come, — although they may have
aided in secession,— come back, like the prodigal son, and
forgive them.

If we cannot conciliate these men, then, fellow-citizens,
what can we do ? Need I ask such an auditory as this ? Is
it possible— shall history record it— that twenty-seven mil-
lions of free men and women, and children, have not the
moral and physical power to strangle treason in the hands of
fifteen hundred thousand ? Is Eepublicanism to fail, because
twenty-seven millions are not sufficiently conscious of their
duty to themselves, to the government of their fiithers, to
humanity the wide world over, to realize.that this rebellion can
alone be crashed by physical force ? I have not a doubt but
that peace propositions will come from the Confederate gov-
ernment ; but they will not come in the shape of an uncondi-
tional proposition, to cease hostilities, and resume their old
position in the government of the United States, leaving all
their citizens with the same rights that they had under the
old Constitution. They will not come in that shape. We
have seen, already, from particular presses, what would be
the conditions upon which hostilities would be abandoned ;
but I do not believe we have seen in the papers what would
emanate from the cabinet (if I may be allowed to use the ex-
pression) at Kichmond. It must be something more than
that. They never will yield the idea of building up a gov-
ernment in which their power will be perpetuated. And why ?
Because they know if the government of the United States
shall, in its mercy, pardon their offences, and restore them to
their rights under the Constitution, that their own fellow-
eitizens, who have been their victims, would spurn them
away, and they would be as effectually cut off from all future
power as if they were convicted for high treason. They never
will do it ; and the very desperation with which they now
struggle ought to prove to you, and to the world, that they
will never stop while they can get men to bleed. They will
never cease to fight as long as there is a hope of success, for
it is the only hope of salvation to them.


They have not at heart, as you have, — they do not feel for the
sufferings of their wives and children that are made widows
and orphans by this unholy war. It has never entered the
mind of one man engaged in this rebellion, who understood
its object, to shed a single tear for all the suffering that has
been brought upon the country. They did know it would
involve bloodshed ; they did know it would involve misery
and woe ; but the object was dearer to their hearts than any
other in life ; they had solemnly determined to make the
venture ; and having made it, they are cut off from all sym-
pathy with men that love free government the wide world
over; and they must, if they occupy a position that gives
them respectability in the future, occupy it in a government
not such as this.

Now, fellow-citizens, if you think such men can be con-
ciliated or brought back to a love of the government they
have so much wronged ; if you believe they can ever live in
good neighborhood with you whom they have so much
abused by word and deed, you are more deluded than even
the poor miserable people of the South, who were made to
believe that the new government would be a new Jerusalem.
Ko ! TUq war must he prosecuted. The rebellion must ie


Online LibraryAndrew Jackson HamiltonSpeech of Hon. Andrew Jackson Hamilton, of Texas, late representative of Texas, in the 36th Congress, on the condition of the South under rebel rule → online text (page 1 of 2)