William D. (William Darrah) Kelley.

Speeches of Hon. William D. Kelley. Replies of the Hon. William D. Kelley to George Northrop, Esq., in the joint debate in the Fourth Congressional District online

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Online LibraryWilliam D. (William Darrah) KelleySpeeches of Hon. William D. Kelley. Replies of the Hon. William D. Kelley to George Northrop, Esq., in the joint debate in the Fourth Congressional District → online text (page 10 of 20)
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the Lincoln party passed, and if you can show one of them that goes as far as you allege,
hold me responsible lor it. 1 went to Congress determined to sustain the government, and I
voted for every act that a majority of its friends adopted; and in so far I am responsible for
all those acts which go to ameliorate the condition of the negroes, abandoned by their mas-
ters, and all those who, under our flag, are helping us whip the rebels who involved as in war
by invading our country. There are 200,000 stalwart negroes fighting our battles. I voted
to enlisl them: I voted to equip them; I voted to pay them; and I do not see now, my fellow
citizens, that it is not better for each of you that those colored men should be there fighting
than that you should be. I do not see why you, young man. should be dragged from your
home, your profitable employment, and the girl of your heart, to save the rebel's slave from
death. 1 do not see, father, why you should surrender your son, when there is a stalwart
negro, now digging and ploughing for the rebellion, who is willing to take his musket and
fight to save your son's life and our country. Yes, I voted to put the negroes under arms; I
voted to pay and clothe them. I voted for orphans' asylums and for infants' homes, and for

schools for youth, thai history might not point at us us a nation who had used a race of men
to light our battles, and permitted their neglected wives and children to starve or freeze to
death upon the public highway.

The second question is in these words: " Do you regard as constitutional, and do you ap-
prove of, the exercise of the military and civil power of the Federal Government, to create
and establish new States out of parts of the old ones ["

The military power has never been so used. The military power has never been so at-
tempted to be used. When the people of any large body of territory— large enough for a
State, and having on it sufficient population for a State— determine to come back into the
Uuion, I do believe in allowing them to organize a State government, to elecl United States
Senators and Eepresentatives in the usual mode; and if there should come before the next
Congress a State made up of a part of Smith Carolina, a part of Georgia, a purl of North
Carolina, and if it were possible, a part of Virginia, embracing territory upon which there
were half a million of people living, who had succeeded in establishing their freedom from the
rebellion, as the people of West Virginia have done — if such a body of people thus situated
should come and ask us to accept them as a State and accept their constitution as a constitu-
tion, I would vote for the admission of that State. I would not say to the people who lived
in that part of South Carolina. " No. you must go back and enjoy the tender mercies of your
old masters, the tyrants of South Carolina." I would not say to the people of the other
States, " No, we won't take you until you can coax all the rebels to come in." 1 am for re-
constructing just as rapidly as possible, until we gel the whole territory that belongs to us
covered by States — States made up of loyal men, who will stand by the flag, the Constitution
and the unity of the country ; ami 1 will not, to gratify a few aristocratic South Carolinians,
or Virginians, or Mississippians, say to five hundred thousand loyal people, " No; you are the
slaves of those rebels ; and for fear of offending them we will not recognize you." I will not
do it, sir, and I do not believe that the people of the Fourth District would approve of the
act of their representative who might do it.

1 am for reconstruction by the free volition of the people, and I care not whether they
maintain old State lines or make new ones; whenever the people want to come back, lay down
their arms, organize a State Government, adopl a Constitution, elect Senators and Repre-
sentatives to the Congress of the United States, invite us to send our custom system and our
postal system into their territory, I am in favor of readmitting them; and God send that at
the next session all of them may come back in that way! And if Grant goes on as he has
been doing, if Sheridan goes on as he has been doing, if Sherman goes on as in the letter I
have read to-night he declares his purpose to do, I believe, so help me Cod. that before the
next session of Congress rises more than half of the rebel territory will be organizing for
peaceful reconstruction. The only hope that is sustaining the rebels is a pledge that, if
Mc< 'lellan be elected, they are to have, for a period of months or a year, what M cClellan gave
Lee's army at Antietam — an armistice. When the sun went down, Lee was whipped, and in
a position from which he could not escape. Fitz John Porter's corps of thirty thousand men
had not tired a gun; their ammunition was intact; no one of them was wearied by a day's
fighting; and had that corps been brought into action, Lee's whole army must have surren-
dered. Hut the General at the head of our forces gave them an armistice for twenty-four
hours ; and when he came to look for them at the end of that time, they were like that flea
of which my friend spoke — they were 1 not there. They had gone. Yes, the only hope that
the rebels have sustaining them in this hour of trial is that McClellan may be elected, that
his partisans may be elected to Congress in October, and that then, as the leaders promised
Lord Lyons more than two years ago, there will be an armistice, which is equivalent to the
recognition of the independence of the Southern Confederacy.

Under certain circumstances. I say. I do approve of the exercise of the civil power of the
Federal Government to admit into the Union States established by the people ou1 of pari of
the territory of any one State, or pari of the territory of several States. The military power
has never attempted to organize a State, and I therefore protest against the clause of the
question that contains such an assertion.

The fourth question is in these words: "Are you prepared to declare yourself in favor of
the military power as superior to the civil power, on the plea of military or any other ne-
cessity ?"

I have already answered that question very fully. I am unwilling, except in cases of qi
sity, to supplant the civil by the military power. Where the civil power is adequate to
meet the difficulty, I am in favor of meeting the difficulty by the civil power. But 1 remem-
ber that Washington suspended the civil power over and over and over again. I remember
that, by his authority, many of the most distinguished people of Philadelphia were sent
seventy miles into the interior (not by railroad), because they were believed to be in sympathy
with Great Britain. Washington suspended the habeas corpus, and suspended civil rights
time and time and time again ; and he expelled from Philadelphia, sending them seventy miles
into the interior, the grandfathers of some of the leading Peace Democrats of to-day, hecause
tiny were peace men in that day. and wanted to go back into subjection to the British
Government. Jackson, as I have shown you, suspended the civil power. Douglas defended

that act, and I will make no argument in its defence. I will simply urge you to read the
thrilling sentences of Douglas in the remarks which ! addressed to you. the other night, and
which are now in pamphlet. There has never been a patriot in a country involved in war,
who did not believe that, under " necessity." the civil power must at times be suspended.

The gentleman did not give me any additional light on his proposition in reference to " re-
volution." He says that resistance to the Government is revolution. I tell him that resist-
ance to the Government is rebellion, and it never becomes revolution until the Government is
overturned. Revolution means going round ; and, until a rebellion is successful, it is rebellion,
and not revolution.

" Treason never prospers. What's the reason ?
Whene'er it prospers, none dare call it treason."

When it prospers it is revolution ; and, until it does prosper, it is rebellion. With a rebellion
we are fighting; and that rebellion, if we want peace, honorable and lasting peace, we must

Speech of Hon. Wm. D. Kelley, in the Northrop-

Kelley Debate.



Fellow-citizens: We have had, as my friend lias said, four evenings of discussion elsewhere.
I have not had, nor shall T during the debate, have occasion in give assurance to my aud
that I am not apologizing for the Southern rebellion, as my friend has once or twice assured
you. You will not so misapprehend my arguments as to suppose that they are uttered in
advocacy of the rebellion. 1 shall apologize for no unconstitutional act of the rebels. I
shall, so far as in roe lies, vindicate the supreme majesty of the Constitution of our country.
I shall demand the maintenance of the nation's unity from the Aroostook to the Rio
Norte, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. I am for peace throughout the country — an
honorable peace — an enduring peace — such a peace as can only be had when we shall have
whipped Jeff. Davis and his minions, so that they shall lay down their arms and cry, as the
Democrats of the North now do, for peace on any terms. And when we shall have done this,
we will not only have peace in the country, but peace that will endure through all time; for
ambitions men will then remember the fate of the rebels of 1861. "We shall also have ;
with foreign nations; for they will appreciate the convincinir evidence of our power when we
shall have conquered twelve millions of people, living upon their own soil, with a sea-coast
more than two thousand miles in extent, in a war which they began when we were without an
army, ours having been handed over by the Democratic administration to ear enemies— with-
out a navy, twenty-seven of our largest and best ships having been handed over to cur ene-
mies, by that same Democratic Administration, and the remaining vessels, all but the four
smallest, having been sent to the most distant stations to which our naval vessels are ever
sent; and without national credit, but with a bankrupt treasury. For during the last year of
James Buchanan's Administration, it became necessary to borrow live millions of dollars to
carry on the Government until the fourth of March. We had a little while before been pay-
ing our debt at a premium. We had been offering every bondholder twenty per cent, to allow
us to cash his bond. Our country had been so prosperous that gold had flowed into our
treasury beyond our ability to expend in constitutional a%d legal methods. Financiers and
statesmen feared a commercial crisis as the result of the immense and increasing accumula-
tion of gold in our treasury ; and the Government, to prevent this, had offered a premium of
twenty per cent, to every man who would bring forward his bond and have it cashed in gold.
Yet, in less than one little year from that time, under Democratic rule, our treasury was ex-
hausted, and it became necessary to borrow five millions of dollars to carry on the Govern-
ment to the end of the term of that administration. Howell Cobb, the Democratic Secretary
of the Treasury, advertised for a loan of that amount. Did he offer four per cent, interesl on
the loan? Ours is the most magnificent country God has over given to any people. We
had paid the Revolutionary War debt ; we had paid the debt of the late war: we had bei n
giving the people a premium to bring in the Mexican War debt, and have it paid. With all
our resources, and with the credit that might have been expected as the consequence of the
fact 1 hat we were the only nation of the world that had ever paid off its debt, did the Secretary
of the Treasury offer four per cent, interest? Did he offer five per cent ? For we had often
borrowed money at both these rates? Or did he offer six per cent., the common rate of in-
terest with us? No, my fellow citizens. In order to get money to pay his own salary, he
offered to pay twelve per cent, interest for a loan of five millions of dollars. And how was
it responded to? Did European capitalists take it all? Did Chestnut and Third streets ami
our banks monopolize it? Or did Wall street or State street step in and cut them out ? No;
every one of you remembers that we could not borrow the five millions from ourselves or the
world at twelve per cent. There is not a business man here who does not know that the
Democratic party in its last four years had so wrecked our credit that at the high rate of one
per cent, a month the world would lend the United States Government hut two millions and a
half of dollars. Beginning this war, I repeat, with our army in the hands of the enemy; with
our navy beyond our reach, or delivered to the enemy; with our Treasury bankrupt ; with our
credit destroyed, we have created an army and a navy; we have re-established our credit, so
that when the Government the other day advertised for a loan of thirty-one millions of dollars,

sixty-five millions were offered, and the Government obtained the whole amount required
at a premium of four per cent. People, even in the midst of our great war, have such confi-
dence in the Administration, that they are willing to give $104 for a hundred-dollar certificate
of United States Loan. We have blockaded two thousand miles of sea-coast. We have con-
quered mure territory than any other nation ever conquered in a Avar of ten years. And when
we shall have finally conquered peace, the nations of the world will note what we have done,
and say, " We must let those people of the United States alone." So that, when we attain the
peace that 1 want, we shall have a peace which will be as enduring as our mountains, lakes,
and rivers. I am for war as the only road to peace — war so long as an armed rebel desecrates
our laud. I have, on a previous occasion, ladies, come into this town of industry, to beg your
husbands and sons to go to the field and fight for our common country, its Constitution and
its flag: and God forbid that, having encouraged them to engage in this glorious work, I
should be willing to surrender their graves to a foreign nation, so that in the hereafter their
children would be obliged to crawl to them uuder a foreign flag. No ! as God is my judge, I
will, if the power be given me, support the prosecution of this war until every grave of a
Pennsylvania soldier, whether it be in Louisiana, or in Texas, or upon the borders of our own
State, shall be recognized as within the limits of the country of his children, and lie protected
and illuminated by the stars of their country's flag. No, I never will consent to sell the
graves of your husbands and sons for a dastardly peace.

The gentleman told you that he has argued certain propositions, one of which is to the
effect that a violation of the Constitution by a department of the Government is revolution.
Then he went on to say that Mr. Lincoln has some how or other violated the Constitution.
He has not, however, on any of the five evenings on which he has spoken, ventured to show
the particular act by which it had been violated. I hope that he will be more generous here,
and in his concluding remarks point out the violations of which he complains. He
enunciates the proposition to which I have referred in the name of the Democratic party. I
have broughl with me a volume of the writings of the founder of that party, Thomas Jeffer-
son, to show that he, with his eyes wide open, well knowing the fact, deliberately violated the
Constitution to save the country from future war. and that he asserts that such acts must be
done by the Executive at times. The gentleman would surrender to our enemies all the
country lying south of the Potomac, and would then try to coax the traitors who have in-
volved us irfthiswar to reconstruct a Union. He would first surrender to them, and then
say, '-Well, now, what will you take to reconstruct?" Does not the gentleman know that
before they undertook to divide the country, they said, " Give us a blank sheet of paper agree-
ing that we may write the terms on which we will remain with you, and we will not accept
yo*ur proposition." They spurn you and me. They spurn you, laboring men of the North,
as the ■•mudsills" of society— as "greasy mechanics"— as people more abject than their
slaves. They have said all this in Congress. And they want to get rid of all connection with
men like myself who have passed from the workshop to the floor of Congress, and like you
who hope in your own persons, or in those of your sons, to rise in the social, political, or
pecuniary scale of life. And they who thus hate us and denounce us as " mudsills" and
"greasy mechanics," and who insolently told us that if we would let them write their own
terms they would not consent to live with us — the gentleman would coax hack, after we shall
have surrendered to them at discretion and recognized their independence.

It was to acquire pari of the territory my friend would thus surrender, that Thomas Jeffer-
son violated the Constitution. 1 speak of what was known as the Louisiana territory. I
have here the fourth volume of Jefferson's Complete Works, from which 1 will read you a
brief extract from a letter written by Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Breckinridge, of Kentucky— not
him who. as a leader of the Southern wing of the Democratic party, is now at the head of a
division of the rebel arm v who, finding that he could not beat us by voting, is trying to do
it by fighting. Bad luck' he lias had at that business in the Shenandoah Valley. I tell you !

On page 498 will be found the following: —

" Momicki.i.o, Aug. 12, 1803.— Peak Sib : The inclosed letter, though directed to you, was
intended to me also, and was left open with a request that, when read, 1 would forward it to
you. It gives me occasion to write a word to you on the subject of Louisiana, which, being
a new one. an interchange of sentiments may produce correct ideas before we are to act on


'•Our information as to the country is very incomplete. We have taken measures to obtain
it full to the settled part, which 1 hope to receive in lime for Congress. The boundaries which
1 deem not admitting question, are the high lauds on the western side of the Mississippi,
incloshi" all its waters, the Missouri of coarse, and terminating in the line drawn from the
northwestern point of the Lake of the Woods, to the nearest source of the Mississippi, as
lately settled between Great Britain and the United Stab: s. We have some claims to extend
on the sea coast westwardly to the Rio Norte or Bravo, cud better, to go eastwardly to the
Rio Perdido, between Mobile and Pensacola, the ancient boundary of Louisiana. These
claims will be a subject of negotiation with Spain, and if, as soou as she is at war. we push
them strongly with one hand, holding out a price in the other, we shall certainly obtain the
Floridas, and all in good time."

Now, you have an idea of the territory in question. On page 500 he goes on to say : —

"The Constitution has made no provision for our holding fori ign territory, still less for in-
corporating foreign nations into our Union. The Executive, in seizing the fugitive occur-
rence which so much advances the good of their country, hav id the Con-
stitution. The Legislature, in casting behind them metaphysical subtleties ani them-
selves like faithful servants, must ratify and pay for it. and throw themselves on their country
for doing for them unauthorized what we know they would have done for themselves, had
been in a situation to do it. It is the case of a guardian investing the money of his ward in
purchasing an important adjacent territory; and saying to him, when of age, "1 did this for
your good ; I pretend to no right to bind you ; you may disavow me. and .1 must get out of
the scrape as I can; I thought it my duty to risk myself for you.' Bui we shall not be dis-
avowed by the nation, and their act of indemnity will confirm and not weaken the Constitu-
tion, by more strongly marking out its lines."

I quote Thomas Jefferson's deliberate letter to prove that tin 1 greal founder id' the Demo-
cratic party whose word to-day goes farther with it. oral least with honest Democrats — 1 will
not say with the party, for its leaders and managers have abandoned all its doctrines -than
the word of any other man to show that he knew he was violating the Constitution when he
acquired Louisiana territory; but he knew also that he was saving the future peace of the
country. Through the Louisiana territory flowed the Mississippi river, which, with its branches,
extends more than 50,000 miles, one of these branches taking its rise in our own Slate. It,
drains the whole valley of the Mississippi. At that day there were no railroads; and that
greal valley, capable of supporting with comfort 300,000.000 of people, had no other outlet,
no other means of commercial connection with the world than that river. While a foreign
power held command of that river it could cripple this vast country and drive us to Mar at.
any time by doing what the Democratic party of the South have done— erecting fort-; along
its banks at Vicksburg, Fort Hudson, and elsewhere, and arresting the whole commei
the Northwest. It was. therefore, necessary to the permanent peace and prosperity of the
country that this territory should be acquired ; and Thomas Jefferson, transcending the
powers of the Constitution, and acting in conflict with it. acquired it. You will also find by
the remarks which 1 made on the second evening of this discussion, which have been printed,
and I trust distributed among you, that Abraham Lincoln, though conducting a war (<i' infi-
nitely greater magnitude, has done nothing that Andrew Jackson did not do during the war
of 1812; and that by vindicating the constitutionality of Jackson's acts. Stephen A. Dou-
glas made himself the leader of the Northern Democracy. 1 pass now to the general subjed of
discussion, ami you will find that before I conclude, I will notice, though not in detail, all the
gentleman has said to-night.

What is this war about, and between whom is it? It is about the question whether man
shall have wages for his labor. It is not between political parties. In the early days of our
country there was a powerful anti-slavery party in the South. Washington was an anti-slavery
man, and by his last will emancipated every slave that belonged to him. In his correspondence
with American and foreign citizens he continually expressed the hope that the institution of
slavery would be abolished at an early day. Thomas Jefferson was an anti-slavery man. and
said, among many other such things, that, in view of the wrongs of the slaves, "he trembled
for his country when he remembered that. Cod was just.*' dames .Madison was an anti-slavery
man, and when it was proposed to insert the word " slave" in the Constitution, he substituted
the phrase "persons held to service or labor;'' and his argument was that slavery was -eon
to pass away under the enlightened civilization of our country, and that the word ••slave"
ought not to be inserted in our Constitution to remind our posterity that so odious an insti-
tution had ever existed in our country. The leading men of Virginia at that time were anti-
slavery men. Some of the most eloquent utterances made in the Convention that framed the
Constitution came from slaveholders, speaking in opposition to the institution of slavery: but,
by the invention of the cotton-gin ami the larger use of cotton, slavery became more profitable,
and the great men of the South were succeeded by a. generation who were inferior to them,
and who forgot their precepts and the Declaration of Independence, which my friend seems
to despise and dread so much, but which I hold, next to my Bible, as the creed of an American
citizen. Forgetting the teachings of those great men and of that great document, they l>ecame
the propagandists of slavery.

In 1847, as I have stated at former meetings, Mr. Calhoun, as the organ of modern Southern
sentiment, introduced into the Senate of the United States resolutions contemplating the
nationalizing of slavery ami the forcing of it upon the free States. His resolutions were
tabled. Mr. Yancey, Calhoun's ablest disciple, at the Democratic Convention held in Balti-
more in 1852, introduced a resolution contemplating the same end, viz., the nationalizing of
slavery; and though every Congressional district in the Southern Stales was represented in

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Online LibraryWilliam D. (William Darrah) KelleySpeeches of Hon. William D. Kelley. Replies of the Hon. William D. Kelley to George Northrop, Esq., in the joint debate in the Fourth Congressional District → online text (page 10 of 20)