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Benjamin F. (Benjamin Franklin) Butler.

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197


THE TRIBUNE WAR TRACTS,




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HOW TO P30SECDTE AND HOW TO END THE WAR.



SPEECH



MAJ.-GEN. BENJAMIN F. BUTLER,

AT TDB

ACADEMY OF MUSIC,

THURSDAY EVENING, APRIL 2, 18C3.



Th« magtiiGcent assemblage of the choicest of
the city, which gathered on Thuisday evening.
April 2, in the Academy of Music, to greet the hero
of the Gulf, has seldom been paralleled in the his-
tory of this continent. The house was completely
filled in every part long before the hour of com-
mencement. While waiting for that hour —

Major-Gen. Wool, upon advancing to take his
§cat on the platform, was recognized by the au-
dience, and greeted with applause, which he ac-
knowledged in a few firm and patriotic words.

At 7 1-2 o'clock precisely Senator Morgan, ac-
compnnieJ by several gentlemen, conducted Gen.
Butler upon the stage. Immediately there began
a cry of enthusiasm and a scene of excitt-'ment
wiiich very few people in this city have witnessed.
W'iih the thunders of applause, shouts of admira-
tion, waving of hats, bouquets and liandkerchiefs,
the whole interior of the Academy e.\cept the
roof was alive and in motion. For several min-
utes this continued. At last, when it had partially
subsided, Seuator Morgan presented Gen. Butler
to the Mayor. The presentation was but a panto-
mime, for the cheering was yet so great that the
Senator's words could not be heard.

Tl.e Mayor th^n welcomed Gen. Butler, in an
escecJingly pertinent and happy addre.-s, which
was enlliufiastically received, — the General, who
was in citizen's dress, standing the while. When
the Mayor had concluded —
^ Gen. Butler advanced, and, after the tumultuous
•jppliuse vith which he was again giCKted bad
subsided, he said ;

Mr. Mayor, with the profoundest gratitude for
the too natieiing commendation of my adminis
tration of the various trusts committed to me by
the Governmtrnt, which, in behalf of your asso-
ciates, you have been pleased to tender me. I ask
you to receive my most h<iartfelt thanks. To the



citizens of Xew Tort here asyemMed in kind ap-'
preciation of my services supposed to have beea
rendered to the country, I tender the deepest ae-
knowledgments [Applause.] I accept it all,
not for myself, but for my brave comrades of the
Army of the Gulf. [Renewed applause.] I re-
ceive it as an earnest of your devotion to the coi
try, an evidence oi your loyalty to the constitutii
uud'-r which you live and under which you hop
to die. In order that the acts of the Army of the
Gulf may be understood, perhaps it would be well,
at ft little length, with your permission, that; soma
dt-tail should be given lo the tiiesis upon wui-h we
administered our dutiea The first qu-^stion then,
to be ascertained is. Wiiat is tliis cosiest in which
the country is engaged? At the risk ol being a
liltlrt tedious, at the risk even of cailijg your at-
tention to what miglit seem otherwi-e too elemen-
tary, I propose to run down tlirou a tl;e history
of ihe contest to see whni it is tl.at the whole
country is about at this day and this hour. That
we are in the midst of civil commotion, oU know
But what is that commotion t Is it a not ? h it
an in -uriection ? Is it a rebellion? Or is it a
revolution? And pi ay, si-, aithouLrh it may seem
btiU more elemeniary," What is a not? Ariot.it*
I understand it, is simply an outburst of ihe pav
sioii of men for the nion.ent in or. ach of the law
to be put down nml subdued by the civil amhori-
lies; if it goes further, to be dealt with bv (he
military auilioriiies. But you say, sir, "Why
treat us to a definition of a riot xjpoa this occa
sion ? Wliy, ofall things, should you undeitaka
to instruct a Xew York audience in what a riot
is?" [Laughter.] To that I answer, because Ilia
Administration of Jlr. Buchanan dealt with Ihia
great change of aft'.iiis as if it were a riot, be-
cause his Government officer cave the opinion that
in Chaijeston it was but a riot; and ns tliere was
no civil authority tiirre to chU out tlie military,
therefore Sumter must be given over to the riot-
ers ; and that was the beiiinning of '.his slriiggla.
Let us see how it grew up. Ideal not now ia
i causes but in effects — in facts. Lirecily after th*
guns of the Rebt-ls hid turned upon feumter, lh«
various States of the South, in Convention a«.«em-
bled, inaugurated U series of movements which
took out from the Union divers States; and u
each waa attempted to be taken out, the riot wa*




BO longer found \n tVirm.lmt tliey became insur-
rectioimi-y ; and tlie Aiiministiation, upon the 15tli
of April, 18G1, dealt wiMi it a* an inBurrection,
and called out tlie niiiitia of tlie United States to
Bubdiie an insuiTrction. I wns CHlifd at that time
into the service, to administer the laws in putting
down an insurrection. I found « riot at Bilti-
more. They burned l.ridges; but they had hardly
arisen to the digriity of an insut-rection, because
the Siiite had not moved as an organized com-
munit}'. A few men were rioting at Baltimore;
and as I marched there at the head of United
States troops, the question came up before me,
•what have I before me. You will remember that
I offered then to put down all kinds of insuri-ee-
tions so long as the State of Maryland remained
loyal to the United States. Transferred from
thence to a wider sphere at Fortress Monroe, I
found that the Slate of Virginia through its organ-
iz\tion liad taken itself out of the Union, and was
endeavoring lo erect for itself an Independent Gov-
ernment; and I dealt with that State as being in
rebellion, and thought the property of the Rebels,
of whatever name or nature, should be dealt with
as rebellious property and contraband, [Great
applause.]

I have been thus careful in stating the various
Btops, because, although through your kindness
replying to eulogy, I am here answeiing every
charge of inconsistency and wrong of intention for
my acts done before the country. Wrong in judg-
ment I may have been, but, I insist, wrong in in-
tention or inconi^istent, never. Upon the same
theory upon which I felt m\-self bound to put down
insurrection in Maryland while it remained loyal,
whether that insurrection consisted of blacks or
whites, by the same loyalty to the Constitution
and laws I felt bound to confiscate slave property
in tlie rebellious State of Virginia. [Applause]
Pardon me, sir, if right here I say that I am a little
seusiiive upon this subject I am an oid-fnshioned
Andrew Jackson Democrat of twenty years' stand-
ing. [Applause. A voice: "The second hero of
Kew Oi leans." Renewed applause, culminating in
thiee ciieers.] And so far as I know, I have never
swerved, so help me God, from one of his teachings.
[Great apphiu^e.] Up to the time that disunion
took place, I went as far as the furthest in sustain-
ing liie constilu'ional rights of the States, however
biiter or however distasteful to ne were the obli-
gations my fathers had made for me in the com-
promises of the Constitution, and among them it
was not for me to pick out the sweet from the bit-
ter; and, fellow-Democrats, I took them all [loud
cheers], liecause they were constitutional obliga
tioDS [applause]; and, taking them all. I stood by
the Soulii, and by Southern ri^'hts under the Con-
stitution, until I advanced and looked into the very
pit of disunion, and not liking the prospect I quiets
iy withdrew. [Immense aj^phiuse and laughter]
And we were fioni that hour apart, and how far
apart you can judge when I tell you that on the
2Sth Dceonibcr, 1860, I shook hands on terms of
pcrsonul frieiulsliip with Jefferson Davis, and on
vhe 2SLh Decemher, 1862, I had the pleasure of
reading his proclamation that I was to be hanged
at eiglit. [Great applau.ee and laugliter.] And
row, my friends, if you will allow me lo pass on
for a nioment in this line of thought, as we come
up to the point of time when their men laid down
their constitutional obligations: What were my
lights, and what wore tlieiis?" At that hour they
repudiated the Consiitution of the United States,
by solemn vote in sokma convention; and not



only that, but they took arms In their hands, and
undertook bj' force to rend from the Government
what seemed to them the fairest portion of the her-
itage which my faliiers had given to me as a rich
legicy to my children. When they did that, they
abiogated, abnegated, and forfeited every consti-
tutional right, and released me from every constitu-
tional obligation. [Loud cheers.] And when I was
thus called upon to siiy what should be my
action with regard to slavery, I was left to the
natural instincts of mj' heart, as prompted bv a
Christian education in IS'ew England, and I dealt
with it accordingly, as I was no longer bound-
[Immense applause.] Then I undertook earnestly
and respectfully to maintain, with the same sense
of duty to my constitutional obligations and to
State rights, so long as they rem-uned under tho
Constitution, that required me to support the svis—
tom of slavery — and the same sense of duty and
right, after they had gone out from under that
Constitution.caused me to follow the dictates of my
own conscience untrammeled. [Cheers.] So, my
friends, you see, however misjudging I may have
been — and I speak to my old Democratic friends —
I claim we went along, step by step, up to that
point, and we should still go along, step by step;
for, except the right to hold slaves was made a
part of the compromises made by our fathers in
the Constitution, and if their J^tate rights were to
be respected because of our allegiance to the Con-
stitution and our respect to Staie rights, yet, when
that sacred obligation was taken away, and we ns
well as the negroes were disenthralled, why should
not we follow the dictate of God's law and hu-
manity? [Tremendi)u« applause, and cries of
"Bravo, Bravo."] By the exigencies of the public
service, removed once more to another sphere of
action, at Kew Orleans, I found this problem to
come up in another form, and that led me to exam-
ine and see how fir had progressed this civil
commotion, now carried on by force of arms. I
found, under our complex system of States and an
independent government, and the United States
covering all, that there can be treason to the State
and not to the United StHtes, and revolution in the
Slate and not as regards the United States, and loy-
alty to the State and disloyalty to the Union, and
loyalty to the Union and disloyalty to the organized
government of the Siate. And, ns an illustration,
take the troubles which almost lately arose in the
State of Rhode Island, where there was an attempt
to rebel against the S aie government, nnil to
change the form of State government. All of you
are familiar with the movements of Mr. Dorr;
there was no intent of disloyalty against t lie Uni-
ted Slates, but a great deal against the State gov-
ernment I, therefoi'e, in Louisania, found a State
government that had entirely chnnged its form,
iiiid had revolutionized itseU so far as phe could;
created courts and imposed taxes; and I found, so
far as this State government was concerned, it. was
no longer in and of itself one of the United States
of America. Ii had, so f-tr as it couM, changed if^
State government, and by solemn act. had lorever
seceded from the United States of America, ait
attempted to join the Confederate States; and 1
found, I respectfully submit, a revolutionized State I
There had heen a revolution licj-ond an insurrec-
tion and infraciion of the law; beyond the ab-
negation and setting aside of the law, and a new
StHte government formed, that was being support-
ed by force of arms.

^'ow, upon what thesis shall I deal with thesa
people 7 Organized iato a community under foim%



ft



of law, tlicy hnd seized a portion of the territory of
the United Slates; and I respeeifuUy submit I must
deal with lliem ns alien enemies. [Oreiit applause.]
They liad forever passed the boundary of wayward
Bisters [great laughter and applause], unless indeed
they ened as Cuin did against his brother Abel.
They had passed be3"oiid ihut and outside of that.
Aye, and Louisiana had done this in the strongest
possibe way, for she had seized on territory which
the Government of the Unite! States had bought
and paid for. Therefore 1 dealt with them as alien
enemies. [Applause ] And what rights have alien
enemit^s ciiptured in war? They have the right,
•o long as I hey behave thnmselves and are non-
combatants, to be free from personal violence ; they
have no other rights; anJ, tiierefore, it was my
duty to see to it, and I believe the record will show,
I>iKl see to it. [Great applause and loud cheers.]
I did see to it tlnit order was jirescrved, and that
every man who beliaved well, and di 1 not aid the
Confederate States, should not be molested in his
person. I held everything else that they had was
ftt tile mere}' of the comjueror [cheers]; and to give
you an idea of it, permit me to state the method in
■which their rights were defined by one gentleman
of my staff, lie very coolly paraphrased the Dred
Scott decision, and said they liad no rights which a
negro was bound to respect. [Loud and prolonged
laughter and che-rs.] And dealing with them, I
took care to protect all men in personal safety.
Now 1 heard a friend behind me sny, But how did
that affect loyal men? The difficulty with that
proposition is this: in governmental action the
Government, iu making peace and carrying on
■war, cannot deal with individuals, but with organ-
ized communities, whether organized wrongly or
rightly [cheers], and all I could do, so far as my
judgment taught me, for tlie Inyal citizen, was to
Bee to it that no e.xietion should be put upon him.
No property should be taken away from him that
•was not absolutely necessary for the success of mill
tary operations. I know nothing else that I could
do. 1 could not alter the carrying on of the war,
because loyal citizens were, unfortunately, like Dog
Tray, found in bad company [laughter] ; and to
their persons, and to their property, even, all possi-
ble protection I caused to be afforded. But let me
repeat — for it is quite necessary to keep it in mind,
and I am afraid that the want of this is why some
of my old Democratic friends have got lost, in get-
ting frrtin one portion of the country to the other,
in their thoughts and feeling's — let me repeat that,
in making war or making peace, carrying on gov-
ernmental 0|i^r:ition3 of any sort, governments and
their representaiives, so far as I am instructed, can
deal only with organized communities, and men
must fall or rise with the communities in which
they are sitnaied. You in New York must Ibllow
the Guveriinient, as cxpiessed by the will of the
majoriiy of your State, until yo'i can revolutionize
ugninst that Government; and those loyal at the
South must, until ihis contest comcs into processof
Be'tlement, also follow tliC action of the organized
mnjorilies in which their lot has been cast; and no
■•hiaii, no set of m»-n, can s- e tiie solution of this or
any other governmental problem, as effecting
Slates, except upon this basis. Now, then, to pass
from the pa titular to the general, to leave the
detail in Loniiana, wiiich I have run down the ac-
count of railier as illustrating niy meaning than
otlKrwise, I come to ilie propo:itiun, What is the
contest with all the States that are banded together
in the s^vcalled Confederate States? Into what
form hai it coma ? li stoi-ted in ius unection ; it



grewoipa rebellion; it has become a revolution,
and carrying with it all the r'lshu of a revolution.
And our Government has deilt with it upon that
ground. When they blockaded their poi ts, they
dealt with it as a revolution ; when they sent oit
cartels of exchanijo of prisoners, they dealt with
these people no longer as cimple insnrrectioi.ista
and traitors, but as organized revolutionists, who
had set up a government for themslves upon the
territoi-y of the United States. Let no man sny to
me, sir, let no man say to me, " why then vou ac-
knowledge the rights of revolution in these' ni<-n I"
I beg your pardon, sir; I only acknowledge the
fact of revolution — what had iiappened. I look
these things iu the face, and I do not dodge them
because they are unplensant; I find this a revolu-
tion, and these men are no lonijer, 1 repeat, our
erring brethren, but they are our alien enemies, for-
eigners [cheers] carrying on war against us, at-
tempting to make alliances against us, attemi>ting
to get into the family of nations. 1 agree, not a
successful revolution, and a revolution never to be
successful [loud cheers] ; pardon me, I was speak-
ing of a matter of law, — never to be successful un-
til acknowledged by the parent State. And now,
then, I am willing to tinito with you in your
cheers when you say, a revolution which we
never will acknowledge. [Cheers.] Why,
sir, have I .been so careful in bringing down
with great distinctness these distinctions? Because,
in my judgment, there are certain logical conse-
quences following from them as necessarily as
various corollaries from a problem in Euclid. If
we are at war, as I think, with a foreign country
to all intents and purposes, how can a man here
stand up and say he is on the side of that forciga
country and not be an enemy ? [Cheers.] Amaa
must be either for his country or against hia
country. [Cheers.] He cannot be throwing im-
pediments all the time in the way of the progress
of his country under pretense that he is help-
ing some other portion of his country. If a maa
thinks that he must do something to bring back
his erring brethren, if he likes that form of plirase,
at the South, let him take his musket and go down
and try it iu that way. [Cheers.] If he ii still of
a different opinion, and tliinks that is not the best
way to bring them back, but he can do it by per-
suasion and talk, let him go down with me to
Louisiana, and I will set him over to Mississippi,
and if the Rebels do not feel for his heartstrings,
but not in love, I will bring him back. [Cheeia,
loud and prolonged, "Send Wood down first! "]
Let us say to him : " Choose ye this day whom ye
will serve. If the Lord thy God be God, serve
him; if Baal be God, serve ye him." [Cheers.]
But no man can serve two masters, God and Jlam-
mon. ["That's so."] Again, there are other log-
ical consequences to flow from this view which I
have ventured to take of this subject, and that ia
with regard to past political action. If they are
now alien enemies, I am bound to them by no ties
of jiariy fealty. They have passed out of that, and
I think we ought to go back a moment and exam-
ine and see if all lies of party allegiance and party
fealty as regards tliem are uot broken, and that I
am now to l"ok simply to my country and to its
service, and have them lo look to the country they
are attem[iting to erect and to its service, and tbea
let us try the coneluiion between us. ilark, by
this I gave up no leiritory of the United States.
Every foot that was ev^r circumscribed on the
map by the lines around the United States belongs
to us. [AppUuse.J ^oue the le^s bec»U9» bad



men have attempted to organize -w^orse Govern-
ment upon various portions of it And it is to
be drawn in under our laws and onr Govei-nment
as soon as the power of tli« United States can be
exerted forthat purpose; and therefore, my friend?,
you see the next set of logical consequences that
must follow: that we iiave no occasion to carry on
the fight for the Con-titulion as it wa«. [Cheers.]
I beg your pardon, the Constitution as it is. Who
is interfering with the Constituiion as it is? Who
is interlering with the Constitution? AVho makes
any attacks upon the Constitution if We are fi^ht-
ins; witli those whi have gone out and repudiated
the Con-til ution. [Cheers.] And now, my friends,
I do not know but I sliall use some heresy, but
as a Democrat, as an Andrew Jackson Democrat, 1
am not for the Union as it was. [Great cheering.
" Good ! " " Good !"] 1 say, as a Democrat, and an
Andrew Jackson Democfat, I am not for t'le Union
to be ngaiu as it was. Understand me: I was for
tlie Union as it was, because I saw, or thought I
caw, the troubles in the future which have hurst
■upon us; but havinc; underi^one tho^e troubles,
liaving spent all this blood, and this treasure, I do
not mean to go back again and be cheek by jowl
Trith South Carolina a< I was before, if I can help
it. [Cheers. "You're right."] Mark me niiw, let
no man misunderstand me, and I repeat lest I may
be misundersLoO'l — there are none so slow tounder-
efand a* liiose who do not wan', to — mark mp, I say
I do not mean to give up a single inch of the soil
of South Carolina. If 1 had been alive at that time,
and hail had the position, the will, and the ability,
I would have dealt with Sontli Carolina a" Jackson
did, and kept her in the Union at all hazards, but
Bow she has gone out, and I will take care that
vhen she comes in again she comes in better be-
haved [clu-ei-o] ; that she shall no longer be the
firehrau'i of the Union; aye, and that she
shall enjoy, what her peoj^le never yet have en-
joyed, the lilessings of a Republican form of gov-
ernment. [Api>lau«e.] And, therefore, in that
view, I am not for the recon-tructioa of the Union
OS it was. Yet I have spent treasure and blood
enough upon it, in conjunction with my fellow-
eitizens, to make it a Lttle better. [Cheers.] It
•was good enough if it had been left, alone. The
old house was good enough for me, but as they have
pulled down all the L part, I propose, when we
build it up, to build it up wiiii all the modern
improvements. [Prolonged laughter and ap-
plause]

Another of the loiieal consequences, it seems to
me, that follow with inexorable and not-to-be-
ehunned couise upon this proposition that we are
dealing wiih alien enemies, is in our duties with re-
gard to the confiscation of their property; and that
•would seem to me to be easy of settlement under
the Constitution, and without any discussion, if my
first proposition is right. Has it not been held,
from the beginning of the world down to this diiy,
from the time the Israelites took possession of the
Land of Cannan, which they got from alien ene-
mies, has it not been held that the whole proper-
ty of those siYion enemies belonged to the con-
qiieror, and that it has been at" his mercy »nd
his cleuienny what should be done with if For
one, I would take it. anil give the loyal moa who
-was loyal in the heart of the South euonsrh to make
him as wei; as he was l.elore, and I would take the
balancf' of it and distribute it among the volunteer
eoldi^r- who have g., no— [the remainder of the
sentence was drowned iu a tremeudoua burst of
applrtusv.] And no lar as 1 know them, U ive



should settle Sontli Carolina irith them, in the
course of a few years I should be quite willing to
receive her back into the Union. [Renewed ap-
plause.] That leads us to deal with another prop-
osition : What shall be done with the slaves f
Here, again, the laws of war have long settled,
with clearness and exactness, that it is for the con-
queror, for the aovernment which has maintained
or extended its direction over the territory, to deal
with slaves as it pleases, to free them or not as it
chooses. It is not for the conquered to make
terms, or to send their friends into the conquering
country to make terms upon that subject.. [Ap-
plause.] Another corollary follows from the
proposition that we are fighting with alien ene-
cnies, which relieves us from another difficulty
which see'ns to trouble some of my old Democratic
friends; and that is in relation to the question of
arming the negro slaves. If the States are nlien'
enemies, is there any objection that j'ou know of,
and if so state it, to our arming one portion of tlie
foreign country agtinst the other while they are
fic,htingus? [Applause?, and cries of " No," " No."]
Suppose that we were at war with England. Who
would get up here in New York and say that we
must not arm the Irish, lest they should liurt some
of the Eutrlish ? [Applause.] At one time, not
very far gone, all tiiose Englishmen were our
grandfathers' brothers. But we are now sepanite
nations. 'I'here can be no objection, for another
reason, because there is no intei'nationnl law, or
any other law of government action that I know
of, which prevents the country from arming any
portion of its citizens; and if the slaves do not
lake part in the rebellion they become, simply, our


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Online LibraryBenjamin F. (Benjamin Franklin) ButlerHow to prosecute and how to end the war → online text (page 1 of 3)