Democratic party. New Jersey.

Address of the New Jersey Democratic state central committee to the voters of the state online

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emocratic ^tatc Central Committee


Fellow Citizens : —

In view of the coming election, wbicli will be one of more than
ordinary importance, the Democratic State Central Committee
desire to address you. •

The State Convention which met in September,' and nominated
a candidate for Governor, adopted a seriesof resolutions express-
ing the sentiments of the party and the principles on which they
were called to place themselves in the ensuing contest. These
principles we heartily adopt. They breathe the spirit of ardent
devotion to the Union and the Constitution. They assure to
the National Administration cordial support in suppressing, by
all Constitutional means, the rebellion which political madness has
brought upon us. They condemn all unlawful assumptions
of power, all infringements of the rights of the people under the
Constitution, and they entirely reject the idea that the civil war
which now afflicts us shall be waged for the purposes of emanci-
pation. This is the substance of the resolutions, and in what we
shall say to you on this occasion, we shall do little more than
attempt to bring them more prominently before you, and urge
upon you their importance.

The resolutions, as you will see, indicate the character of the
coming contest and the great issues which fill the public mind.
The rebellion, the civil war, the mode in which it is conducted,
its objects and consequences, the integrity of the Constitution
and the safety of our own personal rights. These are the great
themes which call for our most earnest consideratioa.


Grave difficulties have existed for many years, as we all know^
between the Northern and Southern sections of our Union, grow-
ing out of difference of habits, interests and institutions. They
have given rise to doubts as to the permanency of our system of
government. They have sometimes risen so high as to threaten
our safety. Fortunately, on these occasions we have had wise
men in our councils, endued with a spirit of compromise and
peace, and by the blessing of Providence the danger has been
averted. But it was only for a time. Designing men on both
sides renewed the quarrel, and passion became more and more
excited. The result was a secession from the Union by several
of the Southern States, and a civil war. This war, we firmly
believe, might have been avoided, even after some of the States
had seceded, had the same spirit prevailed which proved so ef-
fectual in 1850, through the wisdom of Clay and Cass and Web-
ster and Douglas. An honorable and probably a permanent ad-
justment might have been effected. That we, as a party, that
the Democracy throughout the country, and especially in the
free States, together with many conservative men who were in
the Republican ranks, urged such an adjustment, and labored
earnestly to bring it about, is known to all. That it was not
accomplished is not our fault. We are clear of the responsibility
of the war. Radical politicians everywhere opposed the adjust-
ment. The Union men in the border States were earnest in
their entreaties. They foresaw and foretold with almost pro-
phetic distinctness what would be the results of a failure. The
Crittenden resL.lutions, the propositions of the Peace Convention,
either, if agreed to by Congress, might have saved the country.
But secessionists in the South opposed them. The radicals of
the North and East opposed them. The great Republican party
everywhere, with some honorable exceptions, were unwilling to
abandon their platform. They insisted it should be carried out
to the letter, no matter what might be the consequences. Some
assured the people that there was no danger, — that everything
would be quieted in thirty days, or a few weeks ; others did not
hesitate to say that blood-letting would be of service to the na-
tion. And you all remember how the Republican party in our
own State resisted the efforts that were made for the healing of

sectional clifficultles and tlie preservation of peace ; how we were
ridiculed as peace men and Union savers, and taunted for our
honest fears. We recall these matters not to excite feeling, but
to show that the Democratic party, and those who acted with
them, are not responsible for the consequences that ensued.
There is a book open, in which posterity will M'rite up a fearful
judgment, against those who shut the door of reconciliation and
hope on that occasion. Open rebellion and war followed as an
almost necessary result, and the country is now in the midst of
a- conflict which may well fill us with dismay, and which the
civilized world is looking upon with astonishment.

In this state of things our position and duty ar6 plain.

We disclaim the doctrine of secession, upon which the South-
ern States have placed themselves. It is a political heresy
which finds no place in the Constitution, and is subversive of
the principles of our government. Secession is but another
term for revolution, and when sought to be maintained by force,
is rebellion. In regard to this there is but one opinion among
us. The rebellion must be put down — the rightful power of the
government must be restored. The Democratic party is con-
servative ; "it stands now, and has ever stood since the forma-
tion of the government, for the Union, the Constitution, and
the enforcement of the laws," and it will maintain that position
to the end. And we have, in common with all conservatives,
acted upon this principle. We yield to none in attachment and
devotion to the Union ; nor do we rest in mere professions. We
have responded with cheerfulness to every call that has been
made for men or means ; we have submitted in common with
others, to taxes and privations without a murmer. Our sons,
our brothers and friends are now in the field ready to fight and
die in defence of their country ; and many of us mourn the loss
of those who have already fallen in the contest. In common
with the Democracy of other States we have testified our earnest
desire for a speedy and successful termination of the conflict.
We have thrown no obstacles in the way of enlistments, nor
have we interfered with our Generals in the field, or undertaken
to dictate to the President the terms on which we would give
him our support. Although not honored with the confidence of

the administration, and treated almost as aliens and strangers,
we have felt that we were citizens of the Repuhlic and inheritors
of a glorious freedom, and we have manfully maintained the

But there are mighty questions in connection with this warj
which arc now agitating the public mind very deeply, and
creating anxiety everywhere. For what purpose is it now
waged, and how and upon what principles should it be con-
ducted, and when should it cease ? These are matters which
vitally affect the interests of the country, and the safety of our
private and political rights, and upon these it becomes us to
speak and to act. We claim the right as free citizens to
commune with one another. We are upon the eve of an impor-
tant election, and at such a time, if ever, we should examine
into the conduct of our public servants and inquire how the
government has been administered.

The sole purpose of the war, as asserted by Congress and
approved by the administration, is to suppress rebellion, estab-
lish the authority of the Constitution, and restore the Union.
This being accomplished, the war is to cease. The fact that
such a declaration was made by Congress showed plainly that
doubts had been entertained upon this subject, and you well
remember that such doubts were expressed, and it was charged
that other purposes were to be accomplished by this war. But
Congress gave its solemn pledge, and it was understood by the
country that it was not to be carried on with a view to subju-
gation or conquest, or to destroy State institutions or blot them
out of existence. It was to be a war not against States, but
against the rebellious people of the States, to bring them back
to their rightful allegiance. It could have no other legitimate

But the events of the last eighteen months have exposed
many secrets. It is now perfectly well known that strong
efforts have been made to turn the war from its avowed and just
purpose and make it an abolition war — a war for general eman-
cipation. Of this there can be no doubt ; and it is no wonder
that conservative men are alarmed, and that the country is

alarmed. A war with such an object would cut off every hope
of restoring the Union.

We regret, but are not surprised, that such efforts have been
made, even in view of such consequences. Unfortunately we
have in our midst a party who are bent upon this purpose.
They do not wish to see the war ended or the Union restored
on the principles of the Constitution. They insist that it shall
be so prosecuted as that emancipation shall be a necessary conse-
quence— slavery must be abolished. This, as we all know, is
not a new idea. We. have- long had fanatics in the North who
have denounced slavery in the States as a national sin, and the
Constitution of the United States, which recognizes it, as a
covenant wth darkness and infamy. At first these were looked
upon as agitators and disturbers of the national peace. They
were marked as such ; friends of the Union and of order every
where avoided them. Yet they persevered; they organized;
they set themselves up as a party : they took hold of the ultra
and radical spirit which always exists in a greater or less degree
in a free government, and turned it to their benefit. They
found sympathizers among Whigs, but the Whig party, as a
great national party, refused to affiliate with them or adopt
their principles. They nevertheless distracted it and impaired
its unity and strength until, in 1856, they succeeded in destroy-
ing it and forming out of the two a new party under a new
name — a party entirely and intentionally sectional. Every
Southern State and Southern man was necessarily excluded
frok the platform that was adopted. A large portion of the
Whig party of that day, and among these were very many of
the purest and best men of the country, refused to participate
in this unholy connection. They predicted the consequences
that must necessarily ensue, and which have fallen upon us
earlier than they anticipated. But the connection was con-
summated — the Republican party was the issue. The Whig
party was extinguished and the abolitionists were satisfied.
They had a new stand point ; and under the cover of a respec-
table name, they could work with effect. What they wanted
was to get the leaven fairly in the lump — and in this they suc-


No one has failed to see with what sleepless energy they have
piu'sued their advantage since that unpropitious event,- until
they have acquired influence in their own party and thus direct
its course of action. They claim now to be a power in the
State, and seek to mould the legitimate purposes of the admin-
istration to suit their views. Since the breaking out of this
rebellion they have become more bold and confident in their
purposes, and their eftorts to accomplish them have been un-
ceasing. Step by step they have made their advance ; now
flattering the administration for what they had done, and then
abusing it for not doing more. The plan of prospective abo-
lition with compensation did not satisfy them — it was too
slow. They were afraid the war would end before their object
was attained. Every symptom of yielding on the part of the
administration only brought on renewed and severer pressure.
Threats and menaces even to the withholding of troops, •vN'ere
resorted to, until at length the President, as we hope against
his better judgment, issued his proclamation decreeing freedom
to slaves after the 1st of January, 1863, unless the rebel States
should before that time return to their allegiance.

The joy with which this proclamation was received by the
radicals and by the Republican party, with some exceptions,
was almost unbounded. They serenaded the President and gave
utterance to their feelings in the most extravagant demonstra-
tions. They hailed it as the dawn of a new era. And one of
the orators of the night (a man of no mean pretensions,) o-penly
thanked God that the issue between liberty and slavery had
come at last ! In view of all this is there not reason to fear
that under the pressure of such influence the war is to be carried
on for other purposes than the restoration of the Union.

But you are told that emancipation is not an object of the
war, that it is only a means adopted to crush the rebellion and
restore peace to the country. Now in regard to this we would
remark, that as such a means it is simply unconstitutional.
No power to free slaves in the South has been given to the
Executive. There seems to be no dispute upon this point.
The most ardent supporter of the measure does not pretend to
justify it on that ground. Nor can it be justified as a war

power, if indeed any such power can exi&t outside the Constitu-
tion in a government like ours. There is no power of that
kind which can justify the President, as the military head of
the nation, to blot out of existence the institutions of whole
States, and destroy the private property of the innocent people
of those States along with the guilty, and that too by mere
. proclamation, upon -the plea that such property and institutions
help to sustain the rebellion.

There is no necessity for the exercise of any such war pow^r,
or for any violation of the Constitution. We believe this rebel-
lion can be subdued by constitutional mfeans, faithfully and
honestly applied. Let peculators, and plunderers, and all who
fatten upon the spoils of war and have an interest in its con-
tinuance, be dismissed and punished ; let all who seek to pervert
the war from its true and avowed purpose, all who stir up divi-
sions among our military commanders, holding them up to cen-
sure and ridicule or disgrace, that they may be superseded by
others, for political purposes, and who seek to make this a party
war; let all such be put away and dealt with as they deserve.
It is by these that the nation's arm lias been paralyzed and its
energies distracted. Let not the governors of States attempt
to impose terms ami conditions as the pi-ice of their support.
Let there be one heart, one mind, one purpose ; and there will
be found power enough in the Constitution to ensure success.
Surely it cannot be said, and it ought not to be said, that the
North and West, with more than twenty millions of freemen,
with an established government, an extended and profitable
commerce, and a soil unsurpassed for productiveness, cannot
overcome less than half their number in the South, of whom
four millions are slaves. Such a confession of inferiority ought
not to be made to our enemies and the world.

And there are strong reasons which present themselves to
every reflecting mind against the policy of this measure. It is
offensive to the border slave States, who, amid divisions and dis-
couragements, are striving manfully to sustain the Union. If
the proclamation is of any avail, arid the rebellion subdued, of
what value is their property. They ask that while standing by
the Union they shall not be stricken down themselves.


We believe that if this proclamation is to go. into effect, it will
create divisions and dissensions everywhere, prolong and embit-
ter the war, and render a reunion impossible on the basis ^of the
Constitution. If at any time the people of the South should
wish to return to their alleo-iance to the United States; and the
States should claim to take their place in the Union, with their
privileges and institutions, what is to be done ? Can the decree
which has gone forth be annulled ? Can the government repu-
dijite it, to the prejudice of those in whose behalf it was made ?

A.nd what is to become of these three or four millions of col-
ored persons suddenly emancipated and let loose upon the coun-
try ? If they remain in the South they can only secure their
actual freedom by force, — by a servile insurrection, which, if
once commenced, would sweep over the land with all its untold
horrors, sparing neither age, sex or condition. If they should
escape to the North it would be ruinous to free labor, and we
should be loaded with intolerable burdens.

We cannot believe that such a measure can be either neces-
sary or expedient.

But whether emancipation is to be considered as an object of
the war or as a means of carrying it on, it is a clear, subjection
of the civil to the military power. It is a declaration that the
Constitution is insufficient for the purposes for wfiich it was
made, and that it must yield to the claims of a supposed neces-
sity. The South has set it at defiance and abjured it. Our
purpose is to vindicate it, to restore its authority, and to bring
rebellious people to submit to its rule. In doing so shall we
ourselves become its violators ? If the South repudiates the
right of the Constitution to restrain them, and we of the North
admit that it is powerless to enforce obedience, where do we
stand ? What becomes of the Constitution ? If means outside of
it may be resorted to for particular ends, who is to judge when
and how and for what purposes this may be done ? These are
subjects of grave import, and we ask for them the consideration
of reflecting men. There are those among us who deride the
idea of danger. They are jvilling to trust all power to the ad-
ministration or almost any one to carry on the Avar and crush
the rebellion ; and they brand as disloyal those who will not adopt


their views. Such men are fanatics ; they are the radicak of
the day, and we cannot be safe under their rule. They forget that
without Law there is no liberty, and that in this country there is
no protection to life, liberty or property save under the Consti-

There are other matters connected with the moile of prose-
cuting this war which demand an honest expression of sentiment
on this occasion.

In the Constitution to which we have so often referred, our
fathers of the revolution prescribed the form of government and
the powers it might exercise. They intended it should contain
ample safeguards for the protection of all personal and political
rights. It provided among other things, that Congress shall
make no law " abridging the freedom of speech or of the press ;"

• " The rights of the people to be secure . in their persons,
houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and
seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but
upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, and par-
ticularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or
things to be seized."

" That no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property
without due process of law."

And also, that in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall
enjoy the right of a speedy and public trial, to be informed of
the nature and cause of the accusation, and to be confronted
with the witnesses against him.

These provisions will be found among the amendments to the
original instrument ; without them it could not have been rati-
fied. This shows the watchful jealousy of oppression and law-
less power which pervaded the public mind at that day. This
was seventy years ago. We have passed through wars and in-
surrections ; violence and strife have at times shaken our institu-
tions and caused us to fear for their safety. But amid all these
the personal rights of the people have been held sacred. Free-
doni of speech and the press has been protected and enjoyed.
But how is it now ? Within the last eighteen months we have
seen citizens of loyal States seized by the strong a.rm of power,
without warrant or authority, torn from family and friends, car-


ricd" out of tlie States to "which they owed allegiance and where
they might hope for protection, and lodged in military fortresses,
whether for safe keeping or for punishment, or both, we know
not. There thej'' have been held, ignorant who were their accu-
sers or what accusations were made against them, without trial or
even opportlmity of being heard ; held at the pleasure of those
W'ho placed them there, and set force at their discretion. We
have seen citizens even of our own loyal State, carried forcibly out
of her jurisdiction, almost in the face of her public authorities,
and in defiance of her laws. And why was this ? The people
of New Jersey have a right to ask why was this. If these per-
sons were guilty of treason, or of any other known crime against
the laws or Constitution of the United States, 'she would have
given them no protection. The courts were open ; the course of
justice was unobstructed ; there was no reason to doubt the.fidel-
ity of judges or judes. Why was it, then, that the Constitution
in its most vital "parts was openly disregarded, ami the security
of the citizen trampled under foot ?

In Europe they have what are called political offences. These
are proceeded against by arrest and imprisonment, without ac-
cusation or trial. All is dark and secret. The grave cannot be
.more so. The dungeons of Spain and Austria are full of vic-
tims, many of whom will never again see the light of day. In
England such a system has no place. In our country it has
ever been denounced, and the first approximation to it should re-
ceive, as it deserves, the reprobation of a free people.

But, fellow citizens, unlawful arrests might be borne, and even
imprisonments tolerated, if we were but allowed the privilege of
the writ of Habeas Corpus. This writ compels the arresting
party to bring up the prisoner, and shoAV the grounds of his ar-
rest. If they are lawful, he is remanded to prison for trial ;
if they are unlawful, he is discharged. It is the great writ
for the protection of personal liberty, guarding it on every side
as Avith a flaming sword ; and hence it became necessary that
parties arrested in certain cases should be deprived of its benefit.
And it has been so done ; the privilege of the writ has been sus-
pended, and that too by the President, without the authority of
Congress. You all remember that a year ago or more the Chief


Justice of the United States, acting 'under his high authority,
directed a writ of habeas corpus to General Cadwalader, of the
United States Army, directing him to produce before him John
Merryman, then confined in Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, and
give the reasons of his detention. The officer refused to produce
the body, acting under orders from the President. The Chief
Justice issued no attachment against the officer for contempt
in not obeying the writ. He could not contend against a mili-
tary order supported by force of arms. From that time the writ
of habeas corpus has become practically a nullil;y.

The Constitution of the United States provides for the sus-
pension of the writ by Congress. Its language is peculiar : —
" The' privilege of the ,writ of habeas corpus shall not be sus-
pended unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public
safety may require it." A case of rebellion or of invasion does
not of itself authorize the suspension of the writ ; but in addition
the public safety must require it. The danger must be plain
and pressing, and the suspension should be limited as to the time
and place and cause.

The privilege of the writ should be preserved with scrupulous
care ; and it has been always done so heretofore. It has not
been suspended in England for nearly two hundred years;
and the attempt to suspend it there would be successfully re-
sisted. In our own country it has never been suspended until
now. In the time of Burr's conspiracy, about 1807, a strong
effort was made for a suspension, but it failed. In the war of
1812, when our country was invaded by a foreign foe, and when
blue lights on the coast invited the enemy to his prey, and trea-
son was perfecting its work in one of our Eastern cities, there
was no suspension of the writ. All history shows how sacred
the privilege has been regarded.

But what most excites our fears in this matter is, that the
power to suspend the privilege of this writ is clain^ed and exer-
cised by the President, and as we believe without authority and
in violation of the Constitution. We do not say intentionally
so. He had the opinion of the law officer of the government,


Online LibraryDemocratic party. New JerseyAddress of the New Jersey Democratic state central committee to the voters of the state → online text (page 1 of 2)