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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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family ties, of education, of self-defence."

Now, my fellow-citizens, lei me ask you whether you think, and believe that your wives and
daughters think, their condition would be improved were they put under a code of that kind.
Yet, where slavery exists, such laws are inevitable. Under a monarchical government, the
subject cannot testify against the king: it is treason to imagine the king's death. And
slavery has been in all time and is everywhere equally intolerant of criticism. Therefore it
is that' you cannot maintain and enforce Hie Constitution, with slavery existing in our country.
Slavery, in spite of the Constitution, will "abridge the freedom of speech."

The gentleman said that under Democratic rule, you would have free speech; and he com-
plains that traitors, and spies, -and scoundrels, who have cheated t/hc Government in contracts,
are picked up and sent to foil Lafayette, lie finds fault with everything that the govern-
ment does, it has done no one act toward putting down this rebellion, that is not in his
opinion unconstitutional, unwise, and tyrannical. Bui he tells you that you shall have free-
dom of speech under Democratic rule. I say to you that you never have had freedom of



speech in this country. T say that if, years before this rebellion broke out, you had gone
anywhere south of the Potomac or Ohio, and had said that slavery was wrong, you would
have been mobbed, scourged, and put to death without trial by jury. For twenty-five years
it has been the prevailing custom of the slave country to treat anti-slavery men thus ; and we
of the North have submitted to it ; and American citizens who entertaind anti-slavery senti-
ments have been afraid to travel through portions of their own country. Even my friend
will admit .this.

I turn again to Mr. Owen's book to establish the truth of what I say. and to show you that,
if you want freedom of speech in this or any other country, you must first extinguish slavery.
On page L66, 1 find a ([notation from a speech made by Senator Preston, of South Carolina,
in the United States Senate in L838. These are his words : " Let an Abolitionist come within
the borders of South Carolina, if we can catch him, we will try him. and notwithstanding all
the interference of all the governments on earth, including the Fedt nil Gov< rnment, we will
hang him." In 183S, twenty-six years ago, that was proudly said in the Senate of the United
States. Senator Hammond, of South Carolina, the same man who denounced us as " mudsills,''
especially those of us who labor or have labored, said in 1836 : "If chance throw an Aboli-
tionist in our way, he may expect a felon's death."

Mr. Owen says, on page 165 : —

"As in despotic monarchies it was found necessary to declare it to lie treason, punishable
as a capital offence, to question the divine right of kings, so in a slave empire they see it to
he indispensable to forbid, on pain of death, all opinions touching the usefulness, or inconsis-
tency with religion, of slavery. Twenty-five years ago they declared from their places in
Congress, that, in spite of the Federal Government, every Abolitionist they caught should die
a felon's death. It was no idle menace, as numerous murders, for opinion's sake, committed
in the South, before the war, terribly attest.

" Let us not blame the men. except it be for seeking to uphold the monstrous system handed
down to them by their forefathers. They must resist the Federal authority to maintain that
system. They must violate the Constitutional provision which forbids to abridge 'the liberty
of speech or of the press :' self-defence and its necessities compel them. They found this
necessary before the war. in order to save slavery from destruction; the necessity will be in-
creased beyond measure if slavery remain after its close. Now that the President's Procla-
mation of Emancipation has stirred up. in every Southern plantation, the latent longing for
freedom, the dangers to their slave system from propagandism will be increased a hundred
fold.

"It follows that in this Republic, if reconstructed half slave, half free, no man known to be
opposed in principle to slavery will be able to cross Mason and Dixon's line without immi-
nent risk of life. South of that line the Constitutional provision touching the liberty of
speech and of the press will remain inoperative. A felon's death will await every resident or
traveller in the South who prints or who utters, in public or in private, any denial that slavery
is just and moral, any assertion that religion does not sanction it. The Constitution guaran-
tees the right thus to print, thus to speak. The Federal Government is bound to maintain
that constitutional right. But it cannot maintain it in a Republic half slave, half free. What
then? Slavery and the Constitution inviolate cannot coexist. We must give up the one or
the other."

It has long been the policy of Southern men to confine free labor to the cold North. They
saw that they must protect slavery against, among other things, the influence of trades
unions. They feared the presence of many free workingmen lest they might come to say.
" Your slaves shall not underwork us ; we support white men at the North when they cannot
get fair wages, and we won't let these slaves underwork us." Tt was to secure the exclusion
of free labor, and to save slavery, that they undertook to destroy our Constitution and steal
one half of our territory.

Now, men of the Fourth District, the question for you to settle at the coming election is whether
you want a representative to go to Congress and defend slavery with all its horrors; to with-
hold the blessing of wages from more than one-half of your country ; to deny to the laborers
south of the Potomac and the Ohio the advantages of schools; or whether you want one who
will maintain that every man, whether he be the legitimate or the illegitimate son of his mas-
ter, or a stranger to his blood, is entitled to wages for his work ; whether you want a man who
would hand back into slavery the 200,000 stalwart negroes who are to-day in camp or bivouac,
or fighting for your Constitution, your freedom, your system of civilization, or one who will
say, " Brave boys, you have fought nobly ;'go forth free men; earn wages; rear your families.
enjoy homes and be men."

'• But," says the gentleman. " you want the darkey to come up here." He said to yon last
night — -" So soon as you make the negroes free, they will come up here and take your wages
from you." Now, I do not believe that the negro is a bit more ingenious or skilful than you ;
the truth is. I do not believe that he is so capable. You have learned your trades ; you have
worked at them for years. When 1 finished my apprenticeship of six years and more, 1 was
a pretty good workman ; but when, four years later, I quit the workshop, I was still more ex-
pert and skilful. You have each improved by every year you have labored at your trade.



And yet so inferior does my friend think yon, that lie believes and tolls you that the I' darkey,"
who all his life has dune nothing but hue corn and cotton— who "cannot tell B from a bull's
foot" — who dues not know one from a thousand— is so superior to you that if you make him
free, he will come up here and take your bread out of your mouths by depriving you of work,
and will drive you to that Almshouse which he thinks is before you. There is his argument
handed back to you legitimately. 1 say that the slave from a plantation in the South is not
the equal of the Northern mechanic, and that the manufacturers who now employ you would
as readily turn a mad bull into many of their departments as place them in charge of one of
those " big-fisted" negroes from the cotton and sugar plantations of the South. Do not be-
li !ve my friend in this — the negro is not better nor more skilful than you. Your skill and
knowledge will protect you against his interference with you in your several branches. What
do you think of the Democratic party when it defends itself by such insults to you, right to
your face ?

But there are other reasons why the negro will not come to the North. Why don't you
raise oranges in your garden? Is there a soldier here who has served in the Army of the
Gulf? Let him tell me whether, when the wintry winds are howling round us. and our rivers
are ice-bound, the fields of Louisiana are not green, and the air fragrant with the odor of the
orange-blossom, the magnolia, the rose, and other most highly colored and perfumed flowers?
If there is such a soldier here. 1 ask him whether he was not fascinated by the spring month
of February in Louisiana, and he will tell me that lie was. I ask him, then, why he does not
plant around his Northern home the same delicious flowers, and have the orange bloom in
February here? He answers, "It is against nature; nature has something to do with that."
Pray, has nature nothing to do with the negro, or was he made by magic, to gratify the con-
stitutional scruples of the Democratic party? I have an idea that nature has something to
do with the negro, too. Like the orange and the other tropical plants, he comes from near
the sun, and was made to live in warm climates. You punish the negro when you doom him
to a climate, in which there are long, cold winters. He thrives in the South. There, where
we lose our teeth early — where we become yellow-skinned, bilious beings — want wigs at thirty,
and totter to our graves, old men, at fifty — the negro lives to be eighty and a hundred, and
carries a head white as the driven snow; but here, in the cold North, we live long and prosper,
and have large families. Abolish slavery to-morrow, and the colored people would all tend
southward at once. Nature invites them to go there. There they would have companionship,
because more than half the population of South Carolina, and nearly half that of other States,
is composed of negroes. At the time of the breaking out of the war about 000,000 out of
the 900,000 people of South Carolina were colored.

••Why, then," you ask me, "have they come North?" They have come to escape the
wrongs of slavery. They have run away, at the risk of limb or life, in order that they might
own themselves and the wages they earn. They have run away that they should not live in
violation of (bid's law. but that they might be married to wives, and be recognized as the
fathers of their own children. They have run away from the taskmaster's lash, and from the
law that would not allow them to testify against those who ravished their wives and daughters,
or struck them down. They have come here to enjoy the common blessings of civilization.
Make the South free, and there are not a thousand negroes in Pennsylvania who would not
leave it. It is a Democratic humbug to say that you could coax a negro to live in cold New
England, or upon the hillsides of Pennsylvania, during our winter, if he could go into the
warm States with freedom and safety.

[Mr. Northrop follows in a speech of an hour and a half.]

.Indue Kelley, in replying, said: —

My friend has given you a number of quotations from a book written in the interests of
the Southern Confederacy, called " The Cotton Trade : its Bearing upon the Prosperity of
Greal Britain and the Commerce of the American Republic, considered in Connection with
the System of Negro Slavery in the Confederate States. By George McHenry."

M r. Northrop— Of Philadelphia.

Judge Kelley — Yes, George McHenry, a native of Philadelphia, but at present one of the
representatives of the Confederacy in England.

I could not understand how it was that my friend read the other night, at the Spring Gar-
den Institute, a quotation from John Quincy Adams which made him vindicate the right of
secession, while, when I came to examine the passage in the original, its purport was the very
reverse, and was opposed to the right of secession. 1 now understand it. The author from
whose work he had quoted the passage had garbled it, because he is in the pay of the Southern
Confederacy as its foreign commercial representative. I brought here last night a volume of
the Globe, containing the article, to show that the portion quoted was a part of a passage
designed to support the very opposite doctrine to that which the gentleman cited it as advo-
cating. In other words, the language of Mr. Adams had been subjected to the same process
which was applied to the Bible when a man attempted to prove from it that "there is no
Cod." There were those very words contained in a passage of Holy Writ; but immediately
preceding them were the words, "The fool hath said in his heart."

I now understand how the gentleman was misled; and all the quotations which he has



given from that reel-covered book to which he has resorted almost every night, are quotations
collected and manipulated, probably garbled and falsified, by George McHenry, the Liverpool
agent of the Confederate States. I never learned the title of that book until to-night.

The gentleman says that New England prosecuted the slave-trade, and that through her
entreaties it was continued till L808. What says Alexander H. Stephens, the Yice-President
of the Southern Confederacy ? In the speech which I had just read, he says : " "When we of the
South wished to continue the slave-trade, or the importation of Africans for the cultivation
of our land, did they not yield the right for twenty years?" Yet the gentleman brings you
a book prepared and published in England for the purpose of making sentiment against our
country in foreign lands, a book in which the statements are maliciously and infamously
garbled to make foreign nations believe that New England, and not the South, began the
war.

He tells you that he is "the white man's friend." Then why. in God's name, has he
steadily resisted the use of the black man as sailor and soldier? '"The white man's friend !"
Then why not let the black man fight ? " The Northern white man's friend !" Then why not
let the Southern States send their quota into our army? Why force Pennsylvania and her
Northern sisters to furnish all the men for our armies? I claim to be the friend of Man, to
stand by the Constitution of my country, and I believe that this war is to maintain for you
and your posterity the whole of your country; and 1 also believe that, by fighting it out to a
just settlement, we shall preclude the possibility of war again in your time, or till the latest
generation of your posterity. The gentleman wants peace and proposes to secure it by estab-
lishing along our whole border on the line of the Potomac and the Ohio an armed Confederacy,
a formidable military power, so that we shall have to keep along the whole line an army to meet
the force they may at any time send over to burn our cities and villages, as they burned Cham-
bersburg, and as they threatened to burn Philadelphia, if they had not been stopped at Get-
tysburg by Meade and our great army. Did they not avow their purpose to burn Philadelphia
and New York ! and would they not have clone it, 1 again ask, had not Meade and his noble
army checked their progress ? Yet the gentleman, being " the white man's friend,"' would not
• let the negro take a musket to resist their approach or aggressions! He is so much "the
white man's friend" that he would take from you and your posterity the public land lying in
all the .Southern States, and give it to the slave-drivers ! Where is the evidence of friendship
for the white man in facts like these ?

Are you, my fellow citizens, willing to acknowledge the independence of the Southern
Confederacy ? If you are not, you will say that we must carry on the war. And if we carry
on the war, must it not be carried on by men ? And if it must be carried on by men, is it not
better for the white men of the North that the negroes should carry it on than that you should
do it ? The gentleman must mean one of two things : He means, either that you must fight
to save the negro and your country both, or that your country must be divided, and the gra ves
of your brothers and sons who have fallen in the service lie under a foreign Hag and in a
foreign land. One of these two things he must mean, and 1 ask you who have heard him to
say which.

He has spoken for an hour and a half— spoken, I grant, with eloquence, with learning, with
dignity, with wit, with humor; but has he told you how he is going to save the country? He
says he is for peace ; and he wants to " save the white man." Is it saving you to rob you of
your patrimony ? Is it saving you to dishonor the memory of your Revolutionary forefathers ?
Is it saving you to give away your country? Is it saving you to establish along a thousand
or fifteeu hundred miles of frontier, a foreign nation, against which we shall always have to be
armed and prepared ? How does he propose to save you ? He has attempted to play upon
your prejudices against the negro and the abolitionist; he has been humorous at my expense;
but he has been as careful to avoid all legitimate argument, all statement of the manner in
which he proposes either to accomplish peace or save the Union, as a burnt child is to avoid
the fire. He has never come to the question or near it.

lie has dwelt upon "the coming man," and insisted that I think the negro greater and
better than any one else. Any child in your public schools who can read the speech of mine
which he quoted would understand from it that I meant that if we could overcome the
Democratic prejudice and take the negro as a soldier, he would till our armies and enable us
to drive the rebels from the field. His manhood had been denied, and I saw that it was about
to be admitted, and spoke of him as the " coming man." But my distinguished friend and the
other Democratic leaders were then, as now, engaged in firing your prejudice against the
negro, and urging you not to consent to his enlistment. In the passage he cited 1 lauded
Grant, Meade, Banks ; and every General of whom I spoke, even Butler, whom the gentleman
denounces as a " beast."

Mr. Northrop — Did I apply that term to General Butler?

Judge Kelley — I do not know whether the gentleman used that precise term ; but at the
Spring Garden Institute he spoke of the odiousness of Gen. Butler and strove to overwhelm
his name with terms of ignominy, though he may not have applied to him the epithet " beast."

In the speech referred to 1 lauded all the Generals who had then distinguished themselves



in commanding our armies; but I said there was work which thev could not do because 1h-v
are not ubiquitous, and went on to tell how negroes could be obtained in Mississippi and the
other Southern States, and how by making those States furnish their quota, we should ?et the
men we required, and should thus be enabled to put down the rebellion. I ..sorted the rnm-
hood oi the negro, and his fitness to be a soldier, and I asked that he might thenceforth be
recognized as a man. I hat I repeat, is what I meant by the phrase, -'the coming man."
And ye1 the gentleman played on that phrase for ten or fifteen minutes, to make you believe
that I love the negro better than the white man. I leave the matter to your judgment

He tells you that Mr. Pettigrew, of South Carolina, stood up for the Union until Mr Lin-
coln s Emancipation Proclamation crushed out all his hope. I do not know how often the
gentleman corresponds with Mr. Pettigrew or other distinguished gentlemen of South Caro-
lina T never had any acquaintance with old Mr. Pettigrew; I do not know whether he is
dead or alive; but I do know that the public papers, quoting from the journals of South
Carolina, old us of his death and burial before Abraham Lincoln issued that Proclamation
qnnTw-il Davis said over and over again that the only basis of peace to which the

South wil consent is the recognition of Southern independence? Every one who sneaks
authoritatively and officially for the Confederacy declares that terms of place to be const
dered by them, must acknowledge Southern independence. And thev claim that their Con-
federacy embraces Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Virginia. Let me ask vou whether
yon are m favor of putting Maryland out of the Union, of putting Kentucky, Tennessee and
Missouri onto the Union by transferring them to a foreign Confederacy/to bring its' line
closer to your doors, and to strengthen its martial power ? No ; the gentleman is wrong-it
is not I resident Lincoln s Proclamation, but Calhoun's dogma of State rights adopted into
the creed of ^Democratic party ; it is the devotion of the Southern people to slavery, and
the contempt of Northern Democratic leaders for the laboring masses, to which we are to
ascribe our difficulties. At the coming November election let it be seen that every State in
the North goes solidly for Abraham Lincoln and the prosecution of the war and '-'that old
coon, the Southern Confederacy, will say, as its prototype did to Captain Scott • " There is
no use firing your gun; I will come down. I thought that McClellan would be the man "
I he Chicago platform promises them independence; the Chicago platform condemns the war
as a allure; the I hicago platform promises an armistice-the resort to the speediest means
for the suspension of the war. That which nerves the armies of the Southern rebels more
powerfully than musket or sword, cannon or ammunition, is their knowledge that there are
able men like my competitor, going all over the North pleading their cause, and their hope
is that the North will yield to them on election day. and that thev will thus secure by the
ballots of he Democratic party what they have not been able to win by the bullets of their
soldiers— the independence of their Confederacy.

. The -. gentleman says that Mr. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation destroyed the last ves-
tige of Union sentiment in the South by "inviting the negroes to rise in armed insurrection
and cut their master's throats." I know the gentleman did not make that statement delibe-
rately. You can all read that Proclamation, and I ask any and all of vou to call at the build-
ing of the Union League, in Chestnut street, Philadelphia, and obtain a coin- of it In that
document the President, after proclaiming freedom to the slaves and promising them the pro-
tection of our flag, expressly enjoins them against any acts of unnecessarv violence If we
had continued to refuse all sympathy for the slave, and' if the war had gone on until the fiVht-
mg power of the whites of the South had been exhausted, there was danger of armed insur-
rection among the slaves and free blacks; and in order to avoid that, the President in that
Proclamation did what Alexander II. Stephens warned the people of the South it would be
the President s duty to do-invited the people of the South, white and black, to come to the
Hag of the country; he offered them all arms, and he expresslv warned the slaves whom by
that instrument he freed, that they should not unnecessarilv commit any act of violence.

Now what is the use of misrepresenting a great State paper to intelligent people like you?
Most of you have read it, and all of you can get it. I promise to send to the postmaster of
tliis town a hundred copies, that any of you who wish a copy may get it.

The gentleman tells you that 17,000 Northern men have 'been' arrested. T deny it- but if
such were the fact, and if they were all as guilty as the scoundrel towards whom his svmpathy
flowed out so freely when he told you how the detective officer had tracked him* they all
deserved to be arrested. The incident to which the gentleman referred occurred, if I remem-
ber rightly, in one branch of the Gilchrist case, in which certain men were detected in sending
great quantities of percussion-caps to the rebels from New York and Philadelphia
Mr. Northrop— That was not the case I referred to.

Judge Kclley— That is the only case of the kind I have ever heard of. The rebels were
short ot percussion-caps, and there was organized here in the North a conspiracy by which
they were to get them. A detective officer wenl to one of the men concerned in this con-
spiracy, and, by a little lying, wormed the secret out of him. Thus we got an immense quan-
tity ol percussion-caps, to be used by our army in shooting rebels, instead of their being used
by rebels to shoot our soldiers. I think that the result quite justified the artifice.



The gentleman objects to police officer?. Why, T see all through your village these men
with stars ou. When a murder has been committed, the Mayor of the city and the Chief of
Police gather about them their officers, and they devise every means to discover the murderer.


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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 14 of 20)