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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 11 of 20)
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the Convention, the resolution received but 36 votes. But onward and onward and onward
proceeded this movement for the extension of slavery. A system of terrorism was established
and practised till the whole South was made pro-slavery, and we in the North seemed to find
nothing but slavery in our politics, and were taught by mob violence that it was a crime to
speak against it.



Thus yon see this war is not between parties, for at the time it broke out. or for ten years
before, there was no anti-slavery party in the South. There had been none permitted there.
If a man did not profess to believe in slavery, the supporters of that institution drove him
out. Did they not send John C. Underwood' from the home of his ancestors in Virginia
because he was a free-soil man? Did they not expel from Kentucky John G. Fee and the
whole of the little town of pious people to whom he ministered, because they were opposed
to slavery? When that poor Irish stonemason Power, while working on the capitol in Co-
lumbia, South Carolina, said that every man ought to be paid for his work, did they not tie
him to a cart, put a huge slave on each side of him with a whip, and whip him till the blood
trickled from his neck to his heels? And did they not then coat him with tar and sand, and
shave his head, and send him North? He was a Democrat who had resided in the First Con-
ional District of Philadelphia, and voted for Thomas B. Florence and James Buchanan ;
but that did not save him when he uttered in a slave State the theory that every man who
works is entitled to wages. Have you not read the stories of the manner in which delicate
women from the North, tempted to the South to pursue the avocation of teachers, have been
scourged, because there had been found among their papers letters expressing anti-slavery
sentiments, or copies of the Independent or some other Northern paper containing something
against slavery? You know that there was no anti-slavery party in the South.

The gentleman talks about the suspension of the habeas corpus and the violation of the
rights of the individual. Why, if. during the last eight years of Democratic rule, he had gone
into any slave community of the South and said, " J believe in the Declaration of Indepen-
dence; 1 believe that all men are born free; and have certain inalienable rights, among
which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," what would have occurred? Would
there have been an argument? No; there would have been a hanging. He might have
protested that he was a Democrat; that he would not use such language to the slaves, but
would simply argue the epiestion among gentlemen, and it would have availed him nothing.
They would have hung him, and would have done it deliberately.

This is not, then, 1 repeat, a war between political parties. Nor is it a war between States.
For there were certain parts of the Southern States where slavery did not thrive. It does not
thrive among the mountains, it does not thrive in a region where hands cannot be worked in
gangs. It is upon the broad savannah, in the rice, the cotton, the tobacco, and the sugar
field that slavery thrives. Parts of Maryland, Virginia, and Tennessee are mountainous and
bill of coal and iron. At the breaking out of this rebellion, the lower, flat, rich eastern part
of Maryland was for the rebellion; ami the soldiers of Massachusetts were shot in the streets
of Baltimore by rebels and secessionists. The western part of that State was at that very
time as true to the Union as it is to-day, and elected Governor Frank Thomas, a Union man,
to Congress by an almost unanimous vote.

Von know the story of Fast Tennessee better than I can tell it. You know the story of
Andrew Johnson. Parson Brownlow, Horace Maynard, and the other devoted Union men of
thai section. You know how long Brownlow lingered in a felon's cell for adhering to the
Union. You know how men were hung to their own roof-trees — murdered in the presence of
their pleading wives and daughters, and how yet they clung to the constitution, the country,
and the flag. You know, too, that in West Virginia the people adhered to the Union.

And here let me tell you part of what .1 meant when I said that it was impossible to bring
the States back with all their old rights. The people of West Virginia have made a free
State. They have come to Congress, and asked to be admitted into the Union, and have been
admitted, and they have abolished slavery. There is not one of you who would say that it
was wrong to admit a State with territory twice as Large as Maryland, and with a population
sufficient to .-end three members to Congress: that it was wrong to readmit them into the
Union, because the slave-owning traitors of Easl Virginia did not want them to he admitted.
V\ ha1 ! shall we punish loyal men and keep them out of their rights, until the Las1 rebel shall
to US, •' We are content ; yon may take them back ?" 1 am for punishing treason and
rewarding loyally. 1 want every man throughout the South to see that, if he is a traitor, he
the risk of death, and that, if he stands by the country or submits to its power, the
country will protect him in all his right-.

This free State of West Virginia, the gentleman, under his theory, would extinguish. The
Democratic leaders at Chicago would not admit the delegates from that State into their Con-
vention. Those delegates presented themselves to that Convention because there are
Democrats even in West Virginia. There are some fools to he found in every community ;
and though the people of that Slate have been scourged almost to death, there were some
men there who were willing to go to the Democratic Convention. They were, however,

kicked away from the door, as though they had been " niggers." because were the ( 'olivention

to acknowledge Wesl Virginia as a State! it might offend Gen. Robert E. Lee and other dis-
tinguished Virginia rebels.

This is not, then, a war between States, because those three States divided— Western
Maryland for the Union, Pastern Maryland for the Confederacy; Pastern Tennessee for the
Uuion. Western Tennessee for the Confederacy; Pastern Virginia for the Confederacy,
Western Virginia for the Union. If then it is not a conflict between parties ; is not a con-



flict between States, between whom or what is it waged ? "Why, my fellow-citizens, it is a
conflict between two orders of civilization : and the weaker order made the war. It is, on
the part of the Government, a war in defence of free institutions. It is a war against free-
dom and the right of the laborer to wages, on the part of the Confederacy, which my friend's
arguments so defend that he has constantly to say, "Though I seem to be defending ihe
rebellion, I do not mean to do it." But let me illustrate the truth of my assertion. On the
1 7th of September, L856, there was a great Democratic meeting, or convention, as it was called,
held in the State House Yard, in the city of Philadelphia, in commemoration of the adoption
of the Constitution. That was eight years ago — four years before the rebellion began.
Among the distinguished speakers at that meeting was Herschel V. Johnson, of Georgia,
who was, in 1848. a Democratic Senator in the Congress of the United States, and who is now
a Senator from the State of Georgia, in the Congress of the Confederate States. In address-
ing that meeting, he said: "The difference between us, gentlemen, is this; you believe it
better that capital should hire its labor, while we believe it better thai capital should own its
labor."

Those brief sentences involve the essential question of this war.

It is from the fact that the Democratic leaders believe that capital oughl to own its labor.
that you are spoken of as "mudsills" and as "greasy mechanics." The Southern leaders of
the party despise any man who labors for his living. They have been accustomed to owning
men and women, and selling them and their children, in families or apart ; and they look with
contempt on any man who labors, or who has ever labored. This is. as I have said, a war
between two orders of civilization ; and so Mr. Herschel V. Johnson defined it in his incipi-
ency. No free State has gone into the rebellion ; and there was no slave State that had qi ;
at the beginning of the war a powerful party trying to take it into the rebellion. But for the
efforts of General Lyon, Missouri would have been carried out of the Union. Had not Gen-
eral McClellan, by the most arbitrary act ever perpetrated within the limits of our country
(and yet, as I have shown, a perfectly justifiable act), arrested the members of the .Maryland
Legislature when they were about to pass an ordinance of secession. Maryland would have
been taken out of the Union. Was it constitutional to seize a whole Legislature and send
them to a fort ? It was the Democratic candidate for the presidency who did it. He did
just what General Jackson would have done, what Douglas has thoroughly vindicated as
constitutional, and what every patriot says was right. He saved the country from war with
Maryland by sending to a fort the men who were about to pass an ordinance of secession, and
giving the ■• sober second thought" of the people a chance to operate.

Kentucky at the beginning of the war proposed to occupy a position of neutrality. 1 was
with the President of the United States when he received the response of Governor Magoffin,
of Kentucky, to his appeal for Kentucky's quotaof the seventy-live thousand men with whom
to respond to the assault on Fort Sumter. The Governor replied to the President that he
should not have a man for such a wicked purpose. That State tried for a while to occupy a
position of neutrality. But she is all right now. As a slave State she was more against the
Union than for it. So was every slave State, while every free labor State was unqualifiedly for
the Union.

Now let us look somewhat at the characteristics of the conflicting orders of civilization.
Our Northern system is characterized by two great features. The first is a system of public
education ; and the second, a system of laws, by which every man who works is entitled to
wages for his work. Thus in Philadelphia we provide out of the common funds for the main-
tenance of public schools. The gentleman would exclude negroes from the schools in the
District of Columbia. Do we exclude them from the public schools of Philadelphia? No,
he knows we have fifteen schools for negroes in Philadelphia: and let me ask. by way of
parenthesis, whether the gentleman will tell you that he is opposed to their maintenance. Will
he tell you that if he had his way, he would shut up those fifteen negro schools and doom the
children who attend them to the ignorance of slaves, who are not permitted to learn to read
the Lord's prayer? If the gentleman will not tell you this, let him not lind fault with me
because I have aided in establishing in the capital of our country schools for colored children
to enable them to read the Lord's prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Constitution of
our country.

Under our Northern system of civilization, as I was saying, we build at the public expense
sehool-houses ; we provide teachers; we furnish books and stationery, light and fuel. How-
ever poor may be the father or the widowed mother, there is for the child an open school-house
and the teacher. " A fool for luck," says the maxim, " and a poor man for children." — Go on
my good man. The country wants soldiers : and though you have twenty children, there shall
be a desk in the school-house for every one of them. Every child who comes into the com-
monwealth, whether by birth or emigration, has the right under our laws to learn to read, and
write, and cipher, and though he be the child of the poorest laborer, if he has intellect, and
if his parents will simply feed and clothe him, he may win his way into the high school, and
through it, may walk out of it, as many a poor boy has done, an accomplished scholar
ready for the best offices and the highest duties of the land. We propose by our civilization
to do for every child what a benevolent man did for an unfortunate bug — a green-backed gold
4



bug, that had fallen on his back and was kicking upwards. He got his stick under the insect
and gave it a toss, and it fell on its feet. "Now, go, poor devil. " said he, " hoe your own
road. You have just as good a chance as any other bug of your kind.'' Our civilization
proposes to give every child in the commonwealth the mastery of the English language, which
holds all the treasures of poetry, fiction, science, philosophy, and religion, that the world has
garnered. We mean to give to every boy sufficient knowledge of numbers to enable him to
keep his accounts with the world with which he is to buffet— the ability to write, that he may
embody his thoughts and send them to his distant friends, or transmit them to posterity, if
they have sufficient value to carry them so far. When we have given him this education we
say to him, " Now, go forth — not poor devil, but brave boy — Go forth ! The world is all before
you. The highest honors in the land are open to you — its greatest wealth, its proudest posi-
tions. Your I'ather'was poor, and your home humble ; and your clothes but indifferent while
you were attending school; but that must not depress you. You are in a land of freedom,
and at this very hour one who in his boyhood worked on a flat-boat, and in his manhood split
rails, wields the helm of state of the proudest and greatest nation the world ever saw in its
grandest crisis ; and as he, a laboring boy, rising from poverty, has won and honors that posi-
tion, so may you." Our system does more than this. It stimulates the industry of every
child. The smallest girl who tends a loom or spindle in yonder factory, is entitled to wages
for every hour's work she does. She may be of foreign birth ; she may not speak our language ;
she may be a cripple ; but if she has industry and ability to tend one of your simplest machines,
the law steps in and secures her wages for her work.

Let me give a familiar illustration as to the operation of our law on the subject. You live
in a pretty village, and some of you are carpenters, fence-makers, etc. One of yon may live
near to a wealthy neighbor, who is not very generous, but who is a clever old fellow in his
way. He wakes up some morning and finds that his fence has been blown down. He sees
you walking about with your hands in your pocket, and falls into conversation with you. You
say, "Mr. Jones, your fence is down." "Yes, John," he replies, ''and I am almost too old
input it up. By the way, you are doing nothing; suppose you put it up." "Yes, Mr.
Jones," say you, " I will do it gladly," and you go to work and put up his fence. From time
to time neighbors pass and see you at work. When the job is done you go to Mr. Jones and
say, " I have finished your fence." " Well, John," he replies, " I am very much obliged to you,
1 will go and look at it." He examines the work and says, '• This is very capitally done ; 1 think
that the fence is better than it was before ; T am really very much obliged to you." " But, M r.
Jones," say you, "I didn't put it up for thanks. It is my trade to do this sort of work, I don't
mean to charge you much ; but I have been so many days working at it, and my bill will be
so much." "But," says he, "I didn't agree to pay you a dollar. I didn't think of such a
thing. If I had known that you would charge me for it, I would have tried to do it myself;
you had no work to do, and were loitering about here, and I thought that I was merely asking
a friendly turn by suggesting it to you." You reply. "Mr. Jones, pay me for my work. If
you think that I charge too much, call in two or three disinterested men, and let them say
what the work is worth. I only want the value of my labor." He refuses to pay, and you
bring suit before a magistrate. In that suit what are you required to prove ? Not that he
agreed to pay you for the work, but simply that he asked you to do it; that you did it, and its
value. You prove by your neighbors who saw you laboring from time to time, that you did
the work, and establish by two or three judicious men the value of the work; and the
alderman gives judgment in your favor; because the law of the State, yes, of every free-labor
State, declares that every man, woman, and child who works shall have wages for that work.
Mr. Jones may take his appeal to court. But when the case comes before the court, you
prove the same facts, and the judge tells the jury what the law is, and the jury give you a
verdict. They thus say that a man cannot violate the law of Pennsylvania by robbing the
laborer of his hire, and by their verdict he is obliged to pay the alderman's costs and the
court costs as a penalty for having tried to violate the law.

But, aentlemen, our system docs more than this, it stimulates the inventive powers of our
people, by securing to the poorest man who discovers a principle or invents a process the ex-
clusive enjoyment for a long term of years of the results of his invention or discovery. It
does everything possible to stimulate our iudustry, our energy, our ingenuity. Thus it obtains
from every child born or brought into the Commonwealth the most and best that he or she is
able to do. It expands and quickens its intellect; it stimulates its energy, its industry,' its en-
terprise. Thus the free people of the North became wealthy, educated and powerful, and are
coming to lie recognized by all nations as the grandest people that have ever occupied any
portion of God's earth. Thus 1 have hastily characterized one of the conflicting orders of
civilization ; that under which capital hires its labor. Now let us go to that portion of our
land where the other order under which capital owns its labor prevails.

That which is owned can own nothing, even the patent cannot give him the results of his
invention. When the slave earns a dollar he only adds that amount to his master's wealth.
A master may agree with his slave that if he will pay him so much he shall have his freedom,
and the slave may earn or beg the amount, the whole amount, and pay it, and the master
alter receiving it may legally ignore the whole transaction and still hold him as a slave ; be-
cause the law of the Slave States is that a slave, being a thing— being property— cannot



make a contract. Thus the slave can have nothing. A slave who was charged with stealing
his master's pig denied it. " Why," said the witnesses. •■ how dare you say that yen did Qot
steal it? Didn't we see you carrying it off? Didn't we smell you cookingit ? Weren't you eat-
ing it when we arrested you ?" " Yes." re) died the negro, " thai is all true : 1 nit 1 didn't steal
tlic pig. Don't I belong to massa ?" "Certainly you do." " Didn't the pig belong to massa ?"
•■ Yes," •■ Well, then, don't the pig belong to massa just as much when it is in me as it did
before?" Thai is the other side of the case. When you, laboring men. have done your
week's work — and a hard week's work it may have been, upon the roads or the streets, in the
blacksmith shop or the factory— you go to your little home a happy man on Saturday night
carrying your wages. When you kiss that wife <>l' yours, you may not thrill as you did when
your lips first touched hers ; but you are prouder id' her and love her more tenderly than then,
because it was she who gave you those bright boys and blooming girls. It is she who, though
hers is the last watch at night, is prompt in the morning to get the cozy breakfast. It is she
who sees those little ones oil' to school, in clean clothes, though they he " well patched." It
is she who makes a proud man of you on Sunday as you and she wend your way to church,
or while you rest from the week of weary labor, sees that the children go clean and in their
last new suit to Sunday school and church, as proud as the children of your proudest neigh-
bors. You plan with her what you are to do, and of the bright future that hope tells you is
before each child. You talk with her of what you will do with the money that you are saving.
She shares the dream of going some day West or South, and under that beneficent act, the
homestead law. settling on 120 acres of public land for you and her and ten for each of your
little ones. That by the way is one id' those odious laws which the " Lincoln Congress" have
passed, and which, though Andy Johnson had pressed it before a Democratic Congress for
twenty-tive years, had always been defeated, and which, when at last it was passed under a
Democratic Administration, James Buchanan vetoed. That law, as you know, gives to each
of you who is a single man eighty acres of public land, and to each of you who is a married
man one hundred and twenty acres, with ten additional acres for each of your children. You
dream of going and settling upon those public lands, and your good wife shares your dream.
You are only waiting till you save enough money to pay the passage of yourselves and the
little ones. That wile you love ; and it would be worth the measure of the best man's life in
the world to dare to insult her in your presence. What would be the worth of the life of the
man who would dare to offer outrage to that fair daughter of yours in your home. But the
laboring man or woman who is owned has no home. The laborer who is owned has no wife.
The father and the mother of slave children have no children to honor them in obedience to
the Divine command. The wife may be put upon the block and sold before the eyes of the
husband. The child may be put there while the father and mother plead that somebody who
is to buy it will buy them also, that they may still be near the little thing. Do you think.
men of Manayunk, that your condition would be improved by having a benevolent master to
own yon — to outrage your wife and daughter at will — to sell your children from you upon the
auction block? Yet thai has been the condition of four millions of people in the Southern
State-, and the question at issue is simply whether that system is better than ours. And the
gentleman, in defending his side of the issue, complains because Congress gave the widows of
the freed slaves who have been killed while fighting our battles the benefit of what is and has
been for years the law of Pennsylvania, lie says that the widow of a white soldier, who can-
not produce the certificate of her marriage, must go without a pension. That is not so. The
pension laws require her to prove that she was the soldier's wife. The law of Pennsylvania is.
that cohabitation and reputation make a man and woman, for all legal purposes, husband
and wife. Who says the ceremony at a Quaker wedding? Let any man and woman in this
assemblage get up and say. " We are man and wife." and then go and live together for a week,
and let that man be killed in the military service of the United States, and you will see whether
that woman cannot gel a pension as his widow, by proving that they were married according
to the laws of Pennsylvania. Now, these people who have been owned, and bought and sold
— whose masters would not allow them to be married — are fighting our battles, and because
we have given them the benefit of the law of Pennsylvania, and declared that if a woman can
prove 8he has been acknowledged as a man's wife for the period of two years next preceding
his death, and is the mother of bis children, she shall, in case of his death in the military ser-
vice, lie regarded as his lawful widow, and shall, with her children, receive a pension. The
gentleman quarrels with that act because these people have '■ skins not colored like his own,"
and are thus escaping from bondage into the light of our free civilization. 1 shall show you,
before I get through, that many of these people, whom the gentleman talks about as " negroes,"
are white us himself or I, and are the kinsmen of the leaders of the Southern Confederacy.
We have freed the colored children of Jefferson Davis and his brother Joseph. The daugh-
ter of General R. E. Lee is a woman 1 have often seen at Washington. She is not of her
father's color; she is about midway between his and that of her colored mother.

But to return from a digression. Where the man is owned he can earn nothing for himself.
He can have no wife or child to call his own — none that can be more sacred to him than the
calf or sheep that his master owns and may sell. Where laborers are owned there are no
public schools. Why should the slave be taught ? When the children of Israel were in



bondage, their oppressors provided ghat no smith should be among them, lest he might fashion


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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 11 of 20)