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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instruments of iron with which they would strike for freedom. All through the Southern

States the laws, in the like spirit and for the same object, have provided that there shall be
no schoolmaster among the slaves. By the law of every Slave State it has been made a
felony to teach a colored person to read — they have not said in their acts " to read the Word
of (iod ;" but the child who can read nothing cannot read that. While the Southern people
have been contributing in a small way to missionary societies, etc., they have held four
millions of human souls in the bondage of profoundest ignorance, and have imprisoned as a
felon any man or woman who might undertake to teach any of them to read the Word of God.
So. too, they have shut out all education from the poor white men of that section, not by
statute, it is true, but as effectually. Your children cannot go to school if they are obliged
to walk many miles; and where one man owns a plantation of three, five, or ten thousand
acres, and has it worked by his three, five, or seven hundred, or his thousand slaves, the poor
people living on little patches of ground have no chance for public schools. And outside of
the city of lJaltimore I do not know of a single public school in a slave State for white or black
children — not one. In this way 1 he poor white men are driven out of the South. If they
want to have their children educated, they must leave their homes, sell their little property
to their wealthy neighbors, and come to a Northern State, where there is a system of public
education. Hence you find that Indiana and Illinois and the Northwestern States generally,
are full of poor people, who have escaped from the oppression of the slave States, who have
sold the graves of their fathers and the homes of their childhood to come North, where there
is social equality for the poor man and education for the poor man's child.

This war is, I aver, between these two conflicting systems of civilization. One system
acknowledges matrimony between man and woman. It propose- to train up children in
accordance with the commandment to "honor their father and their mother that their days
may be long in the laud which the Lord their God giveth them." It is a system in accordance
with Christianity — a system under which the poor emigrant sees in his child the proud
American citizen, the aspirant for wealth and honors, whether social or political, 'the other
system denies to the laboring classes all their rights. "Ah!" but says my friend, "you are
talking now about niggers — at least 1 was talking about niggers." I ask the gentleman
whether the Almighty had the right to make his children of what color he pleased. He nor
I, nor the slavemonger made the negro. The negro did not select his own color. If the
Almighty had told him in advance what sort of a place America was. and advised him of the
prejudice its people have against dark colors, and that he was going to send him here, and
had asked him what color he would prefer, 1 have no doubt that the negro would have chosen
to be of the white race. The Lord, my Father, made him. He made him in his own image,
and he points him through the Scriptures to the Gross to which 1 go for my highest hopes.
I have no right, black and ugly though my Father's child be, to wrong and oppress him
because of the act of that Almighty Father m giving him a color not like my own.

But I tell the gentleman that he is abusing the children id' his friends ; and I will show him
to how large an extent these people, for whom he says we legislate too largely, are such. In
answering, in Congress, arguments of the same drift as those presented by the gentleman, I
had occasion to go to the census to show who and what the colored people of the South are.
1 beg leave to read a short extract from that speech. The charge was. not only that we
wanted to give the negroes civil rights, but that you men of the North wanted to intermarry
with them. I repudiated that charge, and answered it thus: —

" It is not the men of the North who have been enamored by that complexion which is
described as the 'shadowed livery of the burning sun.' It is not the men of the North who
have laid their ' snowy hands' in ' palms of russets;' or 'hung Europe's priceless pearl that
shames the Orient on Afric's swarthy neck ;' or realized experimentally the truth of the poet's
aphorism, that —

'In joining contrasts lieth Love's delight.'

"These exquisite and delicate sources of enjoyment have been in the exclusive possession
of the Southern Democracy, the colaboreis in politics of the gentleman who charges them so
wantonly upon the people of his own section. He has never seen the white Northern man
choose his companion from that race. I have by me the picture of a band of slaves sent
North by General Banks, four of whom are as white as we who hold this discussion. They
come from the colored schools recently established in New Orleans. They are children of
Southern Democrats; bom in Virginia and Louisiana, they were owned or sold by their
fathers as negro slaves.

" I look, sir, upon that picture of Washington's companion in the Revolution [pointing to
the picture of La Fayette] and his fit associate in this Hall, and 1 remember that when on
Ins tour through this country in L824 he visited the Southern States, he very publicly ex-
pressed his surprise at finding the complexion of the negro population in the cities so largely
changed from what it had been at the close of the revolutionary war.

" lint a few weeks ago, in conversation with a distinguished son of Kentucky, himself a
slave-holder, upon the question now under discussion, he said to me that in J849, he was at

school at Danville. Kentucky ; that there was there, on an average, three hundred young- men,
and that though the colored population of the town numbered six hundred, there were but
six of pure African blood. The students at that school were not Northern Abolitionists
or Republicans. They were the wealthy and educated young gentlemen of the Democratic

"But, sir, let this question not rest upon isolated instances or narrow localities. Let us
look at the census of 18(>0. 1 find by it that more than half a million of the colored people
of that section are, as I have already said, the kindred of the white race of the South. Thus,
in Louisiana, of the free colored people, si. 2'.) per cent, are of mixed blood, while in Penn-
sylvania only 36.67 are of mixed blood. And here let me say that the latter are nearly all of
Southern birth.''

I then recalled an incident occurring in a Philadelphia court, where there were fifty wit-
nesses, all colored, from Charleston and its vicinity, and among them all neither a white nor
a black man; they were all of mixed blood.

Again, in 1850, the census shows there were among the slaves seven and three-tenths percent.
of mixed blood. In ten years the percentage had increased to ten and forty-one one-hundredths
percent. I have seen slave girls as fair as the fairest among us ; 1 have seen slave men as
white as the whitest among you. Their complexion makes no difference in their rights, so
long as the mother is a slave. The condition of the child of a slave follows that of the

Now, my friends, we are in a war between these two orders of civilization. That war is
made by the rebels to divide and destroy our country. They claimed first, by peaceful but
unconstitutional means, to force their accursed system of unpaid labor upon us; ami when
they could not do that, and found we resisted it. they organized a rebellion, and undertook to
snatch from us by war more than half our country. We determined that they should not do
it. "We called out armies and sent them to the field; we created a navy; and all this while a
large body of men. all those who loved the Democratic organization better than their country,
remained at home finding fault with every act of the government. You know well that when
1 was in this town pleading for recruits to swell our army, the Democratic orators were going
about the country denouncing the conscription, denouncing the suspension of the habeas
corpus, asserting that the war was " Lincoln's war for the nigger," and thus trying to keep
men from joining the army to crush the rebellion ; and what was more, inspiring ever) Southern
rebel, whether civilian or soldier, with a hope that there would be a diversion in their behalf
intheNorth. The rebels would have surrendered long ago but forthe hope that the Democratic
sympathy for them in the North would become practical and effective. They would surrender
before a week, but that they hope the Democratic party, which holds the doctrine of my friend
and is in such close sympathy with them, will achieve a victory at the coming election.

Now, what wrong thing have we done ? Are we not right in maintaining our country ? Do
you want to maintain for yourselves and posterity your rights and interests in the Southern
States ? The Constitution gives you the right of citizenship in each one of those Mates. Do
you desire to see the sunny South, with its fertile fields, its broad rivers, and the many bless-
ings which it promises to you and your children, dissevered from your country? Are you
willing that an alien confederacy shall be established whose boundary shall divide our country
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, that may make war upon you at any and at all times ? Some
of you have come from the Old World, and you know that while France keeps up an army,
England must keep up an army; and that while England and Prance keep up standing armies,
the Germanic States must do so ; and while these do so, Russia must pursue the same policy.
In other words, you know that, in time of peace, all Europe is one immense camp. You know-
that the first-born boy of nearly every poor family is taken for the standing army or the navy.
You know that the laboring people are taxed to maintain those standing armies and navies.
Why? Because those countries are comparatively small, and each one is afraid to disarm,
lest, if it should do so. some of the others may ass-ail it.

Recognize a Confederacy on the south of us, and from that time forward we musl maintain
an army of half a million men, because our Southern neighbors would maintain such an army.
By merely acknowledging their independence we should be brought to the condition of Europe,
with a standing army and an immense navy, to support which the laboring men of the country
would be eaten up. You know that there could not be peace between two countries divided
by no mountain range, no broad sea — divided by nothing but an imaginary line, requiring
for its discovery a surveyor with his instruments. What line is there to divide the so-called
Southern Confederacy from the United States? Can von. as you go down the Baltimore
Railroad, tell when you pass from Pennsylvania into Delaware, or when you pass from Dela-
ware into Maryland? No. not one of you can. Nor can you tell when you pass from Iowa
into Missouri, or from Pennsylvania into Maryland in the valley. There is no natural line of
division. Every slave who might cross our lines would be followed by a master armed to
seize him. This invasion of our territory would be resisted or resented, and so every slave
who escaped would make a cause of war. If we could not live in peace under the Constitu-
tion, in God's name, how can we hope to live in peace as two armed Confederacies, watching
and taunting each other from day to day ? To acknowledge the independence of the rebel-

lions States is to make war perpetual, and to doom ourselves and children to all the exactions
and oppressions of European despotic life.

"But," says the gentleman, "you have put the negro on an equality with the white man by
taking him as a soldier." My friends, from the outstarl 1 have supported the policy of making
the negro help fight this war. I could not see that he was a bit better than the white man.
And I ask you, mother, was it not better that we should take the rebel's slave and put him in
the ranks of our army to fight, than that we should take your son and put him there? I ask
you, young wife, was it not better that we should take the rebel's slave, put a uniform on him
and a musket in his hand, and say to him, " Now fight for our country and your freedom," than
that we should take that young husband of yours and send him, under General McClellan, into
the swamps of the Chickahominy ? Men of Manayunk, are you jealous of those negroes who
are fighting, day by day, around Petersburg, to put down the rebellion? Do you, father,
regret that it was not your son who was put to death at, Fort Pillow, crucified by those
towards whom the sympathies of the gentleman flow out so exuberantly? '"No." say you,
"we must put down this rebellion, and you were right in taking the rebel's laborer to do it."

Let me turn to a work that I wish every one of you would read. It is from the pen of a
distinguished Democrat, a gentleman who represented Indiana for four years in Congress, and
who was Mr. Buchanan's Minister at the Court of Naples. It is entitled "The Wrong of
.Slavery, the Right of Emancipation, and the Future of the African Race in the United States,
by Robert Dale Owen." Its motto is, "Over the entire surface of the globe, the races who
compel others to labor, without laboring themselves, fall to decay."

When the war began, we of the North were eighteen millions of people; the rebels were
but eight millions of white people; yet they had nearly as much laboring and fighting power
as we, as 1 shall show from this book. The slave girl and woman do the work each of a man.
But to Mr. Owen's book: —

" We had need of all our resources, even to the uttermost. Had we at that time employed
them all? Had we not, up to that time, left in the hands of our enemies, with scarcely an
effort to disturb it, one of the chief elements of their military strength? — nay, an element so
overwhelmingly influential in its practical results, that, according to its management against
us or in our favor, might be the ultimate issues of the war — defeat if we neglected it, victory
if we employed the opportunity ! Let us look closely to this.

"By the census of i860, the number of white males between the ages of eighteen and
forty-five was, iu the loyal States, about four millions; in the disloyal Slates, about a million
three hundred thousand — let us say about three to one. The disparity seems great ; but as
a basis of military strength* the calculation is wholly fallacious; for the disloyal States con-
tained, when the insurrection broke out. three millions and a half of people, who were not
insurgents, who did not voluntarily assist in the rebellion, but who were compelled by force
to render it most efficient aid.

" Out of the above four millions, the North had to provide soldiers and (with inconsiderable
exception, not usually extending to field-labor) laborers also.

"Not so in the South. Her million three hundred thousand had more than their own
number to aid them in military as well as agricultural labor; for, as among slaves both sexes
are employed from an early age to a late period in life in the field, the number of laborers out
of three millions and a half of slaves may fairly be put at two millions. Let us estimate
three hundred thousand of these as employed in domestic service and other occupations fol-
lowed by women among us, and we have seventeen hundred thousand plantation-hands, male
and female, each one of whom counts against a Northern laborer on farm or in workshop, or
a Northern soldier laboring on intrenchment or fortification ; each one of whom, staying at
home to labor liberates a white man for active military duty in the field.

"To one million three hundred thousand add one million seven hundred thousand, and we
have throe millions total in the insurgent States of numerical force available in this war; that
is, of soldiers to light and laborers to support the nation while fighting.

■• Then supposing the negroes all loyal to their masters, or at least remaining to labor for
them, the comparative military strength, so far as it is indicated by population, was as four
iu the North to three in the South.

" If we take into account that ours were the invading and attacking forces, while the insur-
gents had the advantage of acting upon their own territory, near to their supplies, with short
inside lines of communication, and on the defensive, it need not surprise us that, after the
lapse of a year and eight months of unintermitting war, the scale still remained in the balance,
neither side yet hopelessly depressed.

" Under such a condition of national affairs, when there was a question of claims held by
the enemy, upon which rested his powers to supply his armies with the necessaries of life, it
was incumbent upon us to go much further than to inquire whether the commander-in-chief
had the right to take and declare forfeited these claims. The true and fit question is. whether,
without a flagrant violation of official duty, he had the right to refrain from taking them.

" You have no oath," our present Chief Magistrate said, addressing, in his Inaugural, the
insurgents already in arms against lawful authority — "you have no oath registered in Heaven

to destroy this government; while I have the most solemn one to preserve, protect, and de-
fend it."

These facts were palpable. Yet every man in the North who sympathized with the rebel-
lion, and who was against the country, cried out, "Yon shall not use the negro." The men
of that class turned to the laboring people and said to them, as my friend has said to you,
"They are trying to make the negro your equal." Why was it? It was because they knew
that, so long as the rebels had those four millions to do their work, they could put every able-
bodied white man in the field to fight ; and that while our poor white soldiers were dying by
hundreds and thousands when working night and day, throwing up entrenchments, the white
soldiers of the Southern army lav about, while their negroes dug the entrenchment and built
the fortification. From the first I called on the Government " to take negroes, and make them
dig, and work, and fight, and save the white men of the North." My friend and the leaders
of his party said. " For God's sake don't touch the negro ! You are violating the Constitu-
tion, and will irritate our southern friends." Then they turned to you and said, " Don't you
see that these Lincolnites are trying to make the negro your equal — trying to pass laws to
make him as good as you are?" My God! were we not saving you from the perilous battle
field, and malarious swamp ? Were we not saving you from the labor which the negro could
perform, that you might meet and vanquish the army that was shooting you, your sons and
your brothers? And were they not pleading and working for the rebellion, who were calling
upon you to embarrass us, because we wanted to use the negro to put it down ?

Yes, we have used them. Thank God, we now have 200,000 stalwart negroes, who are not
hoeing corn or cotton, or building entrenchments fur the rebels, but carrying United States
muskets, and driving their rebel masters freely as their masters used to drive them. They
carry with them the American flag. They will aid in bringing back the country covered by
the Confederacy. And that is what I meant when I said that they were the " coming man."
We had able generals, but they had not soldiers enough ; and these Democratic leaders had
so excited your prejudices against the negro that you would not let the Government use him.
And there, on that Gtk of July, I was surrounded by a body of black and white people, and
was pleading with the negro to enlist and carry forward the flag. 1 told my hearers that the
negro was the coming man; that if they would recognize his manhood, and give him arms
and equipments, and a flag to carry, and officers to command him, he would take Vicksburg
and Port Hudson, and would aid the white man in taking Petersburg and Richmond. That
is the sense in which I meant that he was the "coming man." And I ask any soldier here
to-night, who has fought on the same field with a negro regiment, whether the negroes are
not men, and do not make good soldiers, and die fearlessly for their freedom and our country
and its flag? If you want the black soldiers stricken from your armies — if you want to go
and save them — then support for Congress a man who is opposed to using them as soldiers ;
for if you re-elect me, I shall go for enlisting every able-bodied negro we can get; and if we
can get half a million of negroes, I shall go for bringing home every white private soldier who
wants to come home; for half a million of brave and well-disciplined soldiers will conquer
what little is left of the Confederacy. So that if you feel that the life of your son or brother
is not so sacred to you as the life of the rebel's slave, you will vote for my opponent. But if
you believe that it is the duty of the Government to use all the resources at its command —
that it is its duty to make South Carolina furnish her quota, and Mississippi furnish hers, and
every other rebel Stale furnish hers, you will vote for me; for 1 shall not be content until (if
tli' 1 war lasts long enough) every rebel State has furnished as many loyal soldiers, black or
white, according to her population, as Pennsylvania has been called to furnish.

There you have one of the issues that divide my friend and me. I am not for the negro
before the white man. But 1 am for giving every man his rights — wages for his labor, the
right to defend his wife and daughter, and the right to seat his children in a school, that they
may lenru to read the Constitution of the United States and the Word of God, given us for
our guidance here and our salvation hereafter.

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



My Fellow-citizens: My friend opened the discussion last night, and occupied your atten-
tion an hour and a half. He discussed some of his propositions; he gave you a list of the
names of certain laws to which he objects, and stated his judgment of their general purpose;
and made some tolerably fair hits at me personally; but he said not one word against the
rebellion — not one in favor of putting it down — not one in favor of strengthening the armies
that are battling for the unity of our country and the maintenance of our Constitution. He
endeavored to excite your prejudices against the negro. He told you that slaves were hap-
pier aud more secure than you. He reminded you — no, not reminded, but told you that you
were all liable, to go to the almshouse in your old age, while slaves were certain not to go there.
I cannot say that he reminded you of this, for it is not the fact, aud he cannot point to the case
of one honest, temperate, industrious workingman who has gone to the almshouse from Mana-
yunk. But he told you that the slaves were better off; for the Northern workingman had the
almshouse staring him in the face, while the benevolent owner of the slave would take care of
him in old age and sickness.

The implication of his entire discourse was that we of the North had begun this war. In-
deed, he said expressly, that as early as 1790 New England had begun to antagonize slavery,
and hence the war. He deprecates the horrors of war, and tells you that if he and his party
get inlo power you shall have peace. Does he mean to say that they will fight the war to a
successful issue more rapidly than we are doing? I ask this question, and I request him to
answer it. Does he mean to say that they will fight this war to a successful issue more
rapidly than we are doing? or, does he mean that if they get into power, they will give the
rebel leaders their way, and so procure peace ? I ask him to tell us precisely how he and his
party will redeem the promise which he made last night, that if you would elect them to office
they would give you immediate peace.

1, on the other hand, charge that this war was made by the South — that it was made with
the encouragement of the Democratic leaders of the North. I have shown in my earlier
addresses, as you will find by reading them, that the rebellion was organized during Mr.
Buchanan's administration: — that South Carolina seceded 76 days before Mr. Lincoln was
inaugurated — that the Confederacy was organized, and Jeff. Davis elected President and
Alexander H. Stephens Vice-President early in the month of February preceding the 4th of

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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 12 of 20)