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TREASON AND ITS TREATMENT.



OF



HON. JOSEPH HOLT,

AT A DI:N^NER I]S^
OH ARLESTOlSr, S. C,

ON THE EVENING OF THE Utii OF APRIL, 1865,

AFTER THE FLAG RAISING AT FORT SUMTER.

f



NEW YORK YOUNG MEN'S REPUBLICAN UNION.
1865.



Extract from a lett«r published in the New York Commercial Adtertiser of April
•32nd, 1865.

Charleston, S. C, April 15th.
The Fort Sumter celebration was brought to a close last night by a din-
ner, given to the Government's guests by General Gillmore at the Charles-
ton House, followed by a ball arranged under the auspices of General
Hatch's staff. At the dinner, when the viands had been discussed, we lis-
tened to ebullitions of pure patriotism and unfettered sentiment in which
Generals Gillmore, Anderson, Doubleday and Townsend, and Messrs- Holt,
Kelley, Dougherty, Tilton, Hoxie, Thompson and Garrison took active
and eloquent part. By common consent the speech of Judge Holt was
adjudged to be a masterpeice of oratory, in its conciseness, felicity of dic-
ticHi, breadth of views, and loyal statesmanship. Its effect was electrical.
During its rapid delivery, every eye was fixed on the orator, every ear
anxious to catch each uttered word, and as each sentence, faultlessly rounded
off, reached its termination, the applause was deafening and prolonged. So
far as is known, no full report of Judge Holt's remarks was made at the
time, but it is understood that the request for their publication has since
been so general and urgent as to lead to the expectation that a copy will be
furnished for public perusal. Taking into consideration the circumstance
that the dinner was laid and the speeches made in the dining hall of the
hotel where nullification, secession and treason have, in their time, had full
sway, and where freedom, loyalty and patriotism have been prohibited sea-
timents, this fit conclusion of the day's ceremonial is worthy of note, as
being an added nail in the cc^ffin of rebellion, driven home in the very room
where the foul diablerie was cradled.

Note. — At the urgeiil solicifatiiju of the New York Young Men's Republican
Union, Judge HoLTliaw pciiiiittt-il the publication of the remarks which were, deserv-
edly, received with such eiitiuisiasm in Charleston. Their more extended circulation, in
the present form, cannot but be productive of good throughout the loyal North.



NEW YORK YOUNG MEN'S REPUBLICAN UNION.

1856—1860—1864.

61505 ,



»05 J



OFFICERS.



Mark Hoyt, President.
Dexter A. Hawkins, Vice-President.
Frank W. Ballard, Corres/ionding Secretary.
Charles T. Rodgers, Treasurer.



BOJJBD OF CONTROL.



Cephas Brainerd, Chairman.
Mark Hoyt.
Dexter A. Hawkins.
Frank W. Ballard.
Charles T. Rodgers.



Benjamin F. Manierre.
Thomas L. Thornell.
William M. Franklin.
Charles C. Nott.
George H. Mathews,



JUDGE HOLT'S REMARKS.



Major-General Anderson havifig, in response to a toast, referred to the
noble and patriotic manner in which he had been sustained, dnring his perilous
expenence in Fort Sumter, by Messrs. Holt, Stanton and Di.v, then n einbers
ot the Buchanan Cabinet at Washington, Judge Hoi,T was called upon to reply ;
when, after an euthu.siastic reception, he spoke, in substance, as follows:

Ladies and Gentlemen —

While I am most grateful for the kind words of Major General
Anderson, and for the generous reception which has been given to them,
I f(!el little able to speak to you to-night, much as you have encouraged
me to do so. As my feet pressed the ruins of Sumter to-day, amid the
memories and associations which cluster there, and as I looked out upon
its historic surroundings, and upon that magnificent panorama of events
which stretches away from its crumbling walls, I experienced emotions
too profound for utterance, and was deeply conscious that silence would
best express the awe, and wonder, and admiration, and thanksgiving
with which I was tilled ; and so I feel now.

We all thank the President of the United States for that delicate
and earnest appreci.ition of the cravings of the popular heart, which
prompted him to order that the flag which four years ago Avas lowered
before an insolent and treacherous foe should, by the hands of the then
gallant commander of that fort, be to-day flung to the breeze, saluted
and honored by imposing ceremonies on the part of both the land and
naval forces of the republic. It was an epoch, truly a proud epoch in
our lives, to have been privileged to witness this intensely dramatic
and poetic triumph of the symbol of our country's honor and indepen-
dence. Seen in the light of the gigantic struggle in which the nation
has since been engaged, Sumter and its heroic garrison stand trans-
figured before us, and we realize at once the grandeur of the role they
played, and the vastness of the influence which their courage and faith-
fulness have exerted upon our subsequent history. The cannonades
since heard upon more than a hundred fields of battle are but the mul-
tiplied echoes of the guns of Sumter, while the brilliant daring, the
Spartan fortitude, and the irrepressible enthusiasm which have marked
the progress of our conquering army and navy, are but answering pul-
sations to the sublime spirit that there met and defied the first shock
of the rebellion. The wave of war first rolled away from the walls of
that fort, and swept on from stronghold to stronghold, and from State
to State, ever swelling and surging in its course until, in its gory circuit,
it came back to Sumter again, bearing high upon its crest the banner
on which we have looked with gladdened eyes to-day ; not a star lost,
not a glory dimmed — emblematic in its entirety and lustre of the future
of our beloved country, as are the blackened and shattered ramparts
over which it floated, emblematic of the fortunes of the rebellion, whose
death rattle is now heard on the plains of traitorous and desolated
Virginia.

1 share the satisfaction common to you all that General Anderson,
and a part of his command, embracing that loyal and fearless man of
God, the then chaplain of Sumter, have been spared to jjarticipate iu



4 TREASON AND ITS TREATMENT.

the rejoicmg:s of to-day, and to be with us to-night. Those august
ceremonies derived a new grace and dignity from the presence of these
well-tried patriots. There is not a brick or stone in those walls which
did not speak to us in their praise, while to my vision that glorious old
flag, vindicated and redeemed at last, seemed to flutter in the sunlight
the more proiidly for having been unfurled by him who had so conse-
crated it by his valor. Of this true soldier I may speak with confi-
dence, as I shall with pleasure, since I had some personal knowledge
of his bearing amid the trying scenes to which the celebration in which
you have been engaged so distinctly pointed.

In the world's history it has occasionally happened that wicked
statesmen and rulers have made great, and, for themselves, fatal mis-
takes in the choice of the instruments of their crimes. But of all the
blunders of this class which have occurred, probably the most complete,
the most disastrous for the plans of him who made it, was that com-
mitted by the traitor Floyd, when he selected then Major, now Major-
General, Anderson to command the forts of Charleston Harbor. This
was the more remarkable since Floyd rarely mistook his men, as is suf-
ficiently shown by his assignment of Twiggs to the Department of
Texas, and by other appointments and adjustments of the military
service, looking to a lubrication of the machinery of the rebellion, on
which I will not pause to comment. Great, too, have been the surprise
and terror of these wicked rulers, when they have found their trusted
instruments failing in their hands ; biit perhaps few of these exhibitions
have equalled that which was witnessed at Washington when the un-
faltering fidelity of Major Anderson and his little command was first
fully manifested. When intelligence reached the Capital that by a bold
and dexterous movement this command had been transferred from
Moultrie to Sumter, and was safe from the disabled guns left behind,
the emotions" of Floyd were absolutely uncontrollable — emotions of
mingled mortification and anguish and rage and panic. His fury
seemed that of some baflied fiend, who discovers suddenly opening at
his own feet the gvdf of ruin which he had been preparing for another.
Over all the details of this passionate outburst of a conspirator, caught
and entangled in his own toils, the veil of ofiicial secrecy still hangs,
and it may be that history will never be privileged to transter this
memorable scene to its pages. There is one, however, whose absence
to-day we have all deplored, and to whom the nation is grateful for
the masterly ability and lion-like courage with which he has fought this
rebellion in all the vicissitudes of its cai-eer — your Secretary of War —
who, were he here, coidd bear testimony to the truthfulness of my
words. He looked upon that scene, and the country needs not now to
be told that he looked upon it with scorn and defiance. {Here the au-
dience, rising to their feet, gave three cheers for Secretary Stanton.)

With all that the garrison at Sumter endured you must be familiar.
Uncheered, beleagured, without provisions or adequate munitions of
war, taunted and threatened by day and by night, they were compelled
to witness from hour to hour the construction of a girdle of batteries,
slowly rising and pointing their guns on the fort, without the authority
on the part of its brave inmates to lift a hand to resent these insults or
to resist these deliberate and formidable preparations for their destruc-
tion. When, however, the conflict came, and the blood of this handful
of soldiers was demanded as a cement for the Southern Confederacy,
then the country sprang like a giant from its lethargy, and was at once
filled with impulses and purposes as grand as they were irrepressible.



TREASON AND ITS TREATMENT. 5

But wliile tlie nation rushed almost en masse to meet the enemy, it must
be confessed that it did so with but dim and imperfect perceptions of the
field of duty that was opening before it. When, however, the progress
of events unmasked the true character of the rebellion and laid bare in
all their ghastliness its inherent barbarisms and atrocities, as well as
its ultimate aims, gradually at first, but rapidly at last, light was poured
upon the national mind and conscience, as the timid dawn kindles
blazingly into day; and now, the whole land, in council and in the field,
has, as under a resistless hispiration from on high, seized the clanking
fetter of the slave, and the bloody lash of his driver and has flung them
scornfully full into the face of the rebellion.

In answer to the graceful and generous compliment of our friend
Major General Anderson, permit me to say, that from the first moment
this conspiracy disclosed its cloven foot in the Capital until now, I have
never doubted of my own duty, and had the entire race of man con-
fronted me on the question, my convictions in regard to that duty would
not have been the less complete. Nor did I ever doubt of the final
success of the Government in putting the accursed rebellion under its
feet — though 1 knew not how long we might be fated to toil, to suffer,
to bleed, and to die on field of battle and in the loathsome prisons of
the South; still the assurance has never forsaken me, that sooner or
later, when purged of our national sins, we would be accepted of Him,
in whose hands are the issues of all our plans and of all our yearnings.
For weary months and years His face seemed hidden from us, and
though the land was furrowed with graves, our standard stood still.
But now that, under the leadership of your true-hearted Chief Magis-
trate, tile country has made a sincere and earnest endeavor to purify
itself from this great transgression against the cause of human freedom,
the cloud has been dissipated, and that face, so long hidden, is looking
down upon us, through the startling events of the last few weeks, with
a smile in its brightness, above the sun shining in his strength. In
these events, so entrancing for us all, and in those which must rapidly
follow, may be found proof, well nigh conclusive, that the republic which
was born on the 4th day of July, 1776, was born not for death, but for
immortality, and that though its bosom may be scarred by the poignards
of conspirators, and though its blood may be required to flow on many
fields, yet that neither the swords nor the bayonets of traitors can
ever reach the seat of its great and exhaustless life. *

While in these events there is ground for boundless gratitude to the
Father of us all, and to our unconquerable armies and navy, there is
also ground for boundless rejoicing and exultation. We exult in no
unhallowed or merciless spirit. Before Him who sitteth on the circle
of eternity we bow our heads in adoring thankfulness, for these proofs
that he still rules among the children of men, and that we are still the
people of his care; but before the world we exult and shout aloud for
joy — joy with a thousand tongues and a thousand songS: — that this
rebellion with all its crimes, with all its fetid and pustulous baseness,
is at length being trodden down — down to the hell from which it came.
We accept this as evidence that the demon of all evil seen in the
apocalyptic vision in chains, has not yet broken his fetters, and the
ruined fortresses and devastated cities of the rebellion, its palaces and
homes in ashes, its people exhausted and impoverished, we hail these

"* It is a iioteworl.Iiy coincidence that President Lincoln's assiussiuation occurred on tbe
evening, and almost within tha horn-, duiius; which Judga HoU waa epeakiug at the
CiuQ-leMuu U«tu«i



6 TREASON AND ITS TREATMENT.

as the footprints of Him who dwelleth among the seraphim, and who
hath said : " Vengeance is mine and I will repay." Woe to that people
who, under the promptings of a charitable humanity shall presumptu-
ously throw themselves between that vengeance and its victims.

Victory is often attended with dangers for the victors, quite as great
as those that marked the battle, though of a totally different character.
The crfsis which the American people are now approaching cannot fail
to present these dangers as belonging to those all-absorbing questions
which must arise on the overthrow and dispersion of the rebel armies.
The triiimph which is being achieved by the republic is not one of mere
material forces, but it is the triumph of truth, of justice, of honor, of
loyalty, of freedom, and of civilization itself, and the very airs which
kiss our flag are luminous with the moral glories which are inseparable
from these victories. From every church and pra}ang household, aye,
and 'from every devout heart in the land, a continual prayer should go
up that the fruits of this prolonged and sanguinary conflict may not be
suffered to perish and that nothing may be done to abate the moral
grandeur of the sacrifices which have been made, or to fling contempt
upon the memories of those martyred armies which have so nobly died
that liberty might live. But if the work is to pause while treason is
only scotched, not killed ; if the knife is to be stayed while there remains
a single root of that cancer of slavery which has been eating into the
national vitals, then in vain shall we have expended thousands of
millions of treasure, and in vain will the country have offered on the
red altars of war the bravest of its sons. It is the duty of the Govern-
ment, not by words, for they are already found in our Constitution and
laws, but it is its duty by stern and implacable actioji to stamp upon
this monstrous crime against our national life, and upon the parricides
who have committed it, the brand of an undying infamy — an infamy
so black and loathsome that the generation to which we belong shall
shrink from it with horror, and those which are to follow us will recall
it with a shudder. Let us beware, lest, under the impulses of a mis-
called magnanimity, we impiously assume to be wiser than God in
claiming that crime can be repressed without punishment.

Let it then be our fond and solemn trust that the Government will
maintain to the end the position which it has occupied from the begin-
ning — that this is, in very deed, a war upon crime and criminals —
criminals with whom we cannot fraternize, with whom we can make
no compromises, without, in the judgment of mankind, and at the bar
of history, becoming criminals ourselves ; without giving an absolute
respectability and a new growth to the sentiment of treason in the
South, and turning loose in these distracted States a band of anwhip-
ped malefactors, with their hands ffUed with the seeds of another rebel-
lion, 10 be by them scattered and planted at their will. As for the
masses, the ignorant, deluded masses, who have blindly followed the
standard of tins revolt, let there be full and free pardon, if you will,
on their sincere return to their allegiance ; though it does seem to
me that it would be but decent to allow these thrice guilty rebels a
little time in which to wash the blood of our brothers from their hands
before we hasten to offer them our own. But as for the original con-
spirators and leaders who, through long years in the Capital, in the
cabinet, and in the army too, deliberately prepared this rebellion ;
who, without the pretense of wrong or provocation, traitorously set it
on foot; who have pressed it forward wit . all the malignity of fiends,
and with all the cowardly, revolting cruelty of savages j who, through



TREASON AND ITS TREATMENT. 7

perjixry, and rapine and arson, and butchery, have made our once
happy country one ^-oat house of mourning, and from whose skirts,
in the sight of the Eternal, there is now dripping the blood of near
half a million of our people — for these miscreants, the Iscariots of the
human race, may God in His eternal justice, forbid that tliere should
ever be shown mercy or forbearance.

You must well remember that while Sumter was besieged, and daily
threatened with bombardment, rebel commissioners went up from this
city — the political Sodom from which all our son-ows have come — to
Washington. They were sent to announce to the Government of the
United States the terms on which it could have peace with the slave
aristocracy of tlw South, and they went with all the hauteur and inso-
lence of the Roman ambassadors of old, who claimed to carry the desti-
nies of nations in the folds of their robes. It was a long and weary time
before your excellent President was able to organize a commission
responsive to this. Great was his embarrassment in finding the right
men, and, when fomd, great was his embarrassment still in getting them
into the right places. At length, however, he succeeded in constituting
the commission, and for a good while these peace commissioners, with
all necessary credentials, and plenary powers, have in a most becoming
manner and with entire success been treating with the public enemy
throughout the South. Though these commissioners are well known to
you, it may not be invidious or improper for me to name a part of them.
They are Grant and Sherman, and Sheridan, and Farragut, and our
noble host who sits to my right, Major-Gen. Gillmore — God bless him —
and a long line of illustrious commanders, who, on many hard-fought
fields, and in "the imminent deadly breach," have displayed those lofty
qu.alities of courage and incorruptible loyalty, Avhich must crown this
generation of our people with an imperishable halo. More unselfish,
more patriotic commissioners never set out in pursuit of a Jiation's peace.
Rest assured that the work which they are doing will be well done.
The peace which they shall make will not be a Avretched hollow truce,
patched up between cowards on the one hand and traitors on the other,
and which, based on the shattered fragments of our dismembered
country, Avould be broken by the first whipped slave, who, escaping
from his master, should seek an asylum on the soil of the free. No, the
peace they are conquering will be negotiated on the field of battle amid
the triumph of our arms, and with the Stars and Stripes streaming as
a meteor over the head of the commissioners. Such a peace, and such
only, will endure, because it will rest, not on the perfidious promises
of red handed conspirators, but on the broken swords and dismantled
fortresses of the rebellion.

Such a peace as must follow from the overthrow of the military power
of the rebellion being secured, the obligation will then press upon the
nation, not only to strike the last fetter from the limbs of the last slave,
but also to see that guarantees are created against the re-establishment
of slavery, through some cunningly devised system of tutelage, which,
enforced by state law, would entail upon this oppressed race the same
ignorance, and poverty, and social, and political disfi-anchisement to
which they have heretofore been subjected. That the lingering senti-
ment of disloyalty in the South, added to ancient prejudices, and to the
treacherous and savage instincts known to be inspired by this institu-
tion, will, under a changed nomenclature, seek to accomplish this result,
can scarcely be doubted. Upon the solution of this momentous ques-
tion of reconstruction, the American pc ople can well afford to wait, and



8 TREASON AND ITS TREATMENT.

it is their duty to wait, lest by precipitation false steps should be taken
which could never be retrieved. There should be the utmost patience
and circumspection, but no haste. The country Avants no more traitors
in the Capitol, and no more State governments into whose organizations
the spirit of treason has been breathed. If a loyal population cannot
be found to put the machinery of State government into operation, then
let us wait and see if the next will not be a wiser and better generation.
In the meanwhile, let these former States be subjected to military i-ule.
They constitute part and parcel of the territory of the republic, and no
apology is to be made for holding them and governing them as such.
While the ballot box is the rightful source of authority over loyal men,
the legitimate and reliable foiindation for the authoi-ity of the Govern-
ment over traitors, is the sword.

With peace restored, and Avith the duties it must impose performed,
upward towards Him who, from the councils of eternity, hath declarpdr-
that " the laborer is worthy of his hire," Ave niay turn our eyes, and in
humble confidence iuA^oke his blessing; because through carnage and
sacrifices of CA-ery kind Ave shall at last haA^e had the courage to do
unto others as Ave Avould haA'e rhem do unto us, and shall haA^e lifted up
to the high plane of our OAvn christian civilization and political rights
millions of human beings on whom the wrongs and sorrows of centu-
ries have been pressing. Then, too, we Avill be able to look the nations
of the earth in the face Avithout a blush, because Ave shall liaA^e faitli-
fixlly acquitted ourseh^es of the solemn trust that humanity has com-
mitted to our hands, and by restoring the republic, in despite of all the
poAver and crimes of the enemies within its bosom, we Avill have afford-
ed a demonstration of the capacity of oiu* race for self-government,
transcending far in its impressiA'eness eA'en that furnished by our fathers
in founding our institutions. On the issue of this struggle has been
staked, as I A^erily believe, the concentrated fruits of the battles for free
government in all ages and climes of the world, and we shall haA^e pre-
sei-ved them; and this extended land, which, in its soU and climate, in
its riA^ers and lakes and mountain ranges, seems to have been fashioned
by the hand of the Almighty as a temporal paradise for his people, we
shall proudly present to the nations of the earth as no longer disfigiu-ed
and degraded by the mockery of institutions which, while claiming to
be free, rest theii" foundation on the enormities and spoils of servitude.
And then, both on laud and ocean, and ujjAvard to the sky, our national
anthem Avill rise, mounting higher and higher, and SAvelling grander
and grander, and groAviug yet Avilder and wilder in its exultant strains,
because for the first time in our national history, these strains AviU be
unmingled Avith the moan of human bondage.

And then, my countrymen, with your starry banner undimmed and
untorn, and floating on every breeze from Maine to the Gulf, and from


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Online LibraryJoseph HoltTreason and its treatment (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 2)