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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hominy and coarser hog, with mighty little of the hot;- ; You know that the slave'.- apparel
consists of one pair of coarse brogans, and not more than one suit of clothing in a year; and
that it is such clothing as we give the felon and the pauper. That is what the slave gets for
his year's labor. And the gentleman lias the temerity to say that it is better wages than the
sewing women of the North get? 1 deny to you. my fellow-citizens, as I did when the asser-
tion was first made, that it is wages for labor at all. The slaves pay for all they eat and all
they wear, and all the medical attendance they receive by the sale of their children. The
increase of slaves every year by procreation more than pays for all the food, clothing, and
medicine the slaves on Southern plantations get. They get no wages for their work. My
God! men of America, has it come to this, that a man pleading with you for your suffrages
shall tell you that women who dare not defend their own chastity, who cannot lie married,
but are forced to bear children, and whose children are sold in their presence — daughters t©
prostitution and sons to lives of unpaid labor — are better off than our working women of the
North? He points you with horror to some alleged instance in which a sewing girl was
seduced by her employer. Oh. my God! let him enter the slave-hut and see the slave's fair
daughter — the slave with one-eighth of African blood and seven-eighths of white blood in his
veins — his daughter, the child of a woman as fair as himself, and she as fair as either. There

he sits in his "rentless hut," and bis master or his master's friend comes in. and before his
eyes proposes to enjoy the first sexual embrace of thai girl; and the poor father and mother
dare not say "no." To ravish her is nut a crime— she is but property. By the laws, as I
read them at Rlanayunk, their testimony cannot be heard ; they may nut lie examined as wit-
es; and if they strike a. white man. they arc punishable with death. Imagine the father
and mother of a poor girl in AVest Philadelphia sitting hand and tongue tied and seeing their
daughter thus outraged. Yet the gentleman tells you that the sewing women of our commu-
nity would be better off if they were only exalted to that condition. 1 do not agree with him.
Nor do J believe that your wives and daughters will. This war, on the part of the South,
was made in defence of slavery ; and if, when the war is over, we let slavery live, it will make
war on our children again. And, 1 say that every working man. whether he lie white or black;
is entitled to wages. 1 say that it is a crime to doom four millions of people to live without
marriage. 1 say that it is a disgrace to Christianity and American civilization that a wife
may lie violated in the presence of her husband and he not dare strike her violator, or have
the right to prosecute him for the wrong; and that a daughter may be sold for prostitution
from her weeping mother and ravine 1 father. And I say further that, as those who lived and
fattened by this accursed institution (which we— 1 with the rest of the Democratic party, down
to L854 — protected) have made war upon the flag, let their accursed institution die, and when
the war is over, let no man lie able to assert that our flag floats over "the land of the free
and the home of the slave!" But let it be the proud boast of every one that every American,
without regard to his complexion, has wages for his work, and may strike in defence of his
home, his wife, and his children.

I know that yon agree with me. You may be a Democrat, and yon may have believed me
to be a. " nigger worshipper," etc.; but I know that there is no man here who in the bottom of
his heart does not say. " Well, after all, Kelley is light in that." For you believe in justice ;
you believe in right; you believe in punishing the traitors who have committed the greatest
crime that the eye of God ever looked upon, in involving this great country and this happy
people in this transcendently bloody war.

Now. one quiet word with you. workingmen, on this subject. Why is it that the emigrant
ship that conies over here with laboring men from Ireland or Germany never goes into a
Southern port? Are there not unoccupied acres there? Are there not coal and iron to be
worked ? Are there not broad rivers there ? Is not the summer season longer and the winter
season shorter? Then why do not emigrants go there? Why do they crowd into cold New
England, where winter lingers for more than six months in the year? Why, instead of going
into the port of Norfolk, where they can buy laud at five and seven dollars au acre just around
the city, do they come into Portland or Boston, and travel thousands of miles over expensive
railways to get to the great Northwest ? 1 will tell you why. It is because they come here
to better their condition; it is because they come here to get wages for their work ; it is
because they come here to have their children educated in public schools, and that they may
rise from the suffering condition they have endured in the Old World; and they know
that in the South a system of unpaid labor exists; they know that they cannot go there and
labor and thrive, because there the free white laborer is looked down on with contempt, and
watched with keen eyes by jealous tyrants. Will a man, as 1 asked the other evening, em-
ploy a blacksmith at $1.50 or $2.00 per day when he can go into the market and buy a black-
smith for a thousand dollars, and make him sleep with the wenches, and keep selling his babies
to pay for what he cits and wears? You form Trades-Unions here in the North and prevent
men from working below a certain standard of prices; and you support your fellow-workmen
while they are on a strike. There in the South are four millions oi people who want to get
wages, wiio want to join your Trades-Unions, who want to open that country for wages-paid
labor; so that, instead of travelling a thousand or fifteen hundred miles over a railroad to find
a field for his labor, your cousin, when he comes here from a foreign land, can walk right into
the sunny South and settle down there. You Irishmen, especially, raise money to bring your
friends out, and you know what it costs to get them to the distant West, These Southern
laboring men. though their skins are not colored like your own, will, if they are free, want
wages for their work, and will demand them: and when the Southern aristocrat gets accus-
tomed to paying wages the white man will go in there, and the negro will go slowly down
towards the tropics, his ancestral region. He never would have come here from the burning
climate of Africa, but that despotism and violence brought him. Make him free and he will
drift down toward the tropics and dwell again in the torrid climate of his ancestors, but on
another continent. It is your interest, the interest of every laboring man, the interesl of
every man whose kindred are among the oppressed people of England, Ireland. Scotland,
Germany, or any of the nations of Europe, that this whole country, from the Aroostook to the
Del Norte, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, should be free as it is in the North, and that
the law should prevail by which every man. woman, and child that does an hour's work should
be entitled to a fair hour's wages. That is what 1 plead for. The policy of the gentleman
would shut out from these advantages the white emigrant coming from Europe, as well as the
white man of the Northern city, lie tells you that 1 speak only for the negro. Men of West
Philadelphia, am 1 not speaking for you and your rights as Pennsylvamans ? Pefer to my

printed addresses, and yon will find that if I have spoken only for the negro, as the gentleman
says, it is because he considers you and all other working men negroes; for I have steadily
spoken of and for the laboring man and woman.

Gentlemen, if I am too fond of the negro, it is because I am a Democrat and stand by the
early teachings of the Democratic party. The last Democratic State Convention, which 1 at-
tended, and which was held at Pittsburg, on the 4th of July, L849,adopted this resolution : —

•■ Resolvt </. That the Democratic party adheres now. as it ever ha- dene, to the < '(institution
of the country. Its letter and spirit they will neither weaken nor destroy; and they declare
that, slavery is a local domestic institution of the South, subject to State law alone ; and with
which the general Government has nothing to do. Wherever the State law extends its juris-
diction, the local institution can continue to exist. Esteeming it a violation of State rights
to carry it beyond State limits, we deny the power of any citizen to extend the area of bondage
beyond its present dominion ; nor do we consider it a |>art of the compromise of the < !onstitu-
tion, that slavery should forever travel with the advancing column of our territorial progress."

That was the platform of the Democratic party in 1849. Now, why was this war made?
It was because the Constitution of the United States did restrict slavery to the States ; it was
because the slaveholders could no longer control the country; it was because they feared that
white immigration might come into the South, and that under our naturalization laws and
under the clause of the Constitution which makes a citizen of one State a citizen of every
State, slavery might he interfered with by tic free laborers who would thus becom ■ citizens
of slave State-, ami have; the right to interfere with it. Therefore they began to foster and
disseminate the idea of a Southern Empire ; and they did this solely for the purpose of
excluding from the limits of the Southern States the right of the laborer to pay.

1 have shown you where the Democratic party stood in Is p.). [n confirmation id' the theory
I announce, let me turn your attention to a little fact in our history and a little paragraph in
Abraham Lincoln's Inaugural Address. When the men id' the South threatened to secede,
to establish a i lonfederacy and to make war, the men of the North — Republicans, Conservaties,
Bell-Eyeretts, all sorts of men except the Democratic leaders (and even some of them united in
it) — tried to effect a compromise. They said to the men id' the South. " We do not want to
interfere with your institution of slavery in the Stales. When you wanted to import more slaves
into the country, we, by a Constitutional provision, agreed that you should do it for twenty
years. AVe have aurested your fugitive slaves and sent them back, unpalatable to us as it has
been; we have scarcely ever asked for a President of the United States, allowing the South to
till the office nearly all the time. We have scarcely ever had a Vice President, allowing the
South to have that office too. Of the Presidents j>ri>. tern, ot the Senate, you have had more
than two-thirds. During the whole history of our Government you have had. without a single
intermission, a majority of the Judges of the Supreme Court. Of the clerks, auditors, con-
trollers, etc.. at Washington, you have always had two-thirds. Now, we will go farther than
this. We will agree to so amend the Constitution of the United States that the people of the
United States shall never be able to interfere with slavery — that it shall be left exclusively to
the people of each State, so that if all the States but one want to abolish it, they cannot force
that one to do it." The Southern leaders had professed to be afraid that by-and-by the
Northern or non-slaveholding States would get a two-thirds vote and would alter the ('(institu-
tion so as to abolislrslavery. Here was a proposition to prevent by constitutional amendment
the possibility of any such occurrence. The proposition was prepared and offered by Mr.
Thomas Corwin (a very Black Republican from Ohio!), providing for such an amendment,
and it passed both Houses of Congress by a more than two-third- vote— very largely more.
In the Senate the vote was 24 to 12; and in the House it was, I think, 133 to (!."). But even
this would not do. They went out. They said that the incoming President would not approve
•it, or something of that sort. Well, when Mr. Lincoln, having been duly elected President,
came to make his Inaugural Address, he said: —

"1 understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution (which amendment, however, I
have not seen) has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall
interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service.
To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, 1 depart from my purpose not to speak of
particular amendments so far as to say that, holding such a provision now to lie implied Con-
stitutional law, 1 have no objection to it being made express and irrevocable."

In the face of such action as this there could be no pretence that the people of the United
States would interfere with slavery in the States. What, then, was their fear? It was, as !
have said, that the flowing tide of emigration from Europe and from our great cities might
come into their States; that the great mass of white people who might thus go there would
become impatient of slavery; and that, being Virginians, they would demand that Virginia
abolish slavery; being Marybanders, they would demand that Maryland abolish slaverj ; and
that thus slavery would gradually be extinguished. Therefore, in order effectually to .-hut
out Northern men from those States — in order effectually to prevent immigration — in order
effectually to gel rid id' the naturalization laws, by which the emigrant from foreign lands
becomes a citizen of the State in which he settles — they made war upon us. Their hope and
wish was that their whole great empire might, as Mr. Stephens, the Vice President of the
Confederacy, said, " rest on the corner-stone of human slavery."

Now, can T regard the truth and escape from saying that this war is about wages ? I have
never said that it was about the negro. I deny that it is exclusively about the negro. It is
about wages : and every man who lives by the sweat of his brow and the cunning of his good
right hand — every man who expects to train sons to mechanical labor that by their ingenuity,
skill, and industry they may make honorable livelihoods — has an interest in the question in-
volved — in keeping open more than half our country to the enterprise, the industry, the
ingenuity of those children of his. It is the white man's question. It is the white man's war.
It is a war for the twenty-six millions of white men of this country and for the countless
millions in Europe who look to this land of ours as a refuge from poverty, despotism, and
oppression ; and the negroes, blessed by it as they are to be, being but four millions, are but
a drop in the bucket.

I now turn to the only one of the gentleman's questions which I have not fairly, and I
believe fully answered: " Did you vote for and are you in favor of the act of March 3, 1863,
entitled 'an act relating to the habeas corpus and regulating judicial proceedings in certain
cases,' which allows the President's order to be an answer to any proceeding at any time?" I
answer that I did vote for an act of that date relating to the habeas corpus, and will, so long
as this war lasts, if I remain in Congress, oppose its repeal. It is a law for the protection of
General McClellan for what he did, as well as of every other general who has served his
country faithfully at auy time. While Gen. McClellan was yet true to the great cause confided
to him, it became his duty to arrest the Legislature of Maryland. They were about passing
an act of secession. There were many thousands of the citizens of that State who held the
same doctrine as old Twiggs and my distinguished competitor in relation to State sovereignty ;
they would stand by their State, if she should remain in the Union, and would go against the
Union, with their State, if she should pass an ordinance of secession. It became known at
a certain time that an ordinance of secession was to be sprung upon the Legislature the next
day; and General McClellan, like a soldier, following a score of precedents of "Washington
and the one precedent of Jackson, to which I have referred, arrested the whole Legislature
and sent them to a fort, and so prevented the passage of the ordinance of secession. Now,
every member of that Legislature, on his release, might have gone before some Democratic
judge of Maryland and sued Gen. McClellan for damages, and had him tried before a packed
jury of Marylanders and mulcted in more than he was worth ; and as there is imprisonment
for debt in Maryland, they might have taken the commander-in-chief of our armies and put
him in jail — the military power being, according to the gentleman's theory, subordinate to the
civil power even in time of war.

We have a townsman, General George Cadwalader. His grandfather was a general in the
Revolutionary war ; his father was a general in the late war. He himself won the brevet of
Major-General on the bloody field of Chepultepec. Doing his duty like a patriot-soldier, when
he was in command at Baltimore, he arrested John Merriman, the man who fired the bridges
between here and Baltimore and endangered our capital. That miscreant sued General Cad-
walader, in a distant Maryland court, for damages to the amount of $50,000 for that act. and
they would have seized General Cadwalader as they would have seized General McClellan,
and taken him to their court. Then we should have sent an army to release either of them,
and there would have been such a conflict as Horatio Seymour has been trying to get up
between the State of New York and the General Government. We passed a bill, the one in
question, by which all such suits should be transferred from the State courts into the courts
of the United States. That is the great point of that bill. Now, were we right in saying
that General McClellan should not be tried in some obscure county court in Maryland, when 1
there were none but Secessionists to sit on the jury ? Were we right in saying that Cen.
Cadwalader should have the highest court known to our laws to vindicate him, or to punish
him if he had violated the law? To provide for this is the great characteristic of that, act ;'
and an additional provision is that, in any suit of this kind, the order of the President shall
be a sufficient answer. And why not? Is not every general in the army bound to obey the
Commander-in-chief? Would not any general be liable to be shot if he should refuse to obey
such an order? And should we leave General McClellan or General Cadwalader. or any
other General to be mulcted in damages for obeying, like a good and faithful officer, the
order of his Commander-in-chief? Would we allow a policeman of Philadelphia to be fined
and imprisoned for obeying an order of the Mayor ? or should we make the Mayor responsible
for his orders ? The very clause which the gentleman read has simply this effect — that if the
President of the United States gives an illegal order of that kind, lie shall be responsible for
it at the end of his term of office. The Constitution making him responsible by impeachment
at any day during his official term.

Now, gentlemen, what was there improper, unjust, or tyrannical in that law ? Yet the
gentleman is going round cackling like a hen that cannot lay her egg, over the wrongs and
tyrannies of the Government in protecting his candidate for the Presidency from as great an
outrage as ever was sought to be perpetrated. Perhaps, however, he thinks that if the mad
secessionists were to "bag" McClellan it would bring Mr. Pendleton into the Presidency at
an early day, and thus suit his purpose as well. Now, gentlemen, there is the whole of that
act, and there is my answer. I did vote for the act, and 1 will stand by it so long as the war

lasta if T remain in Congress. I will stand by every general that performs his duty; and I
will hold the President responsible for his official acts to the last dollar of his estate and to
the last letter of the Constitutional provision that enables us to impeach him for any violation
of either the law or the Constitution.

I close as I began. I am for peace — perpetual, enduring, honorable peace — peace that
shall extend from one end of the country to the other — a peace, in the enjoyment of which
each one of us may travel on foot, in carriage or on rail-car through every town, city and State
of our country — a peace under which you will be citizens, not of the nineteen Northern States,
but of the whole thirty-five States of the Union— a peace at the end of a war so grand that
the nations of Europe will say, " It will not do for us to trifle with that great people who in
a civil war have evinced a power that Europe combined cannot display" — a peace that will
forever teach ambitious men that they can make nothing by treason, and will limit their aspi-
rations to the honorable avenues to fame — a peace that shall bless every man, woman, and
child in the country. And while I am for all this. I charge unhesitatingly and unequivocally
upon my friend, that the only conclusion to be deduced from his argument to-nigh1 and on the
six preceding nights, is that he desires, prays for, and labors for the success of the Southern
Confederacy, the division of our country, the striking of fifteen stars from our flag, the denial
to you of your rights of citizenship in fifteen States, and the establishment over that vast
empire of a system of labor under which the laborer shall have no wages save his rent less
hut, the food his master may provide, and clothing such as we give to the pauper and the felon
— a system under which the husband shall have no right to his wife, and the wife no right to
her husband — under which the laboring man or laboring woman shall not have the right even
to testify as a witness in court. In other words, that over that vast region embracing more
than a million of square miles, he would reduce the men and women who follow the avoca-
tions which you, your wives and daughters follow, to the condition of things, to be sold upon
the auction-block, and to be enumerated in the bills of executor's sales in phrases such as
"horses, cows, slaves, and other cattle."


In proof of my assertions, that the Democratic leaders have been engaged in a conspiracy to overthrow
free labor and nationalize slavery as the condition of the laborer whether white or black, I submit a few
extracts from their most eminent orators and writers.

" The theory of free labor is a delusion. Slavery is the natural and normal condition of the laboring
man, white or black.' 1 '' — De Bow's Southern Review.

"The enslavement of the laborer is right in itself, and does not depend on difference, of complexion.
Experience shows the universal success of slave labor and the universal failure of free labor." — Richmond

" Slave labor, black or white, is right. Nature has made the weak in mind and body for slaves."

" Make the laboring man a slave, and he would be far better off."

"Two hundred years of liberty have made white laborers a pauper banditti." — George Filzhugh's

" The enslavement of the laborer alone can save society against the dangerous vice of legislative, inter-
meddling between the laborer and the capitalist.'''' — George McDuJf.e, Governor of South Carolina.

" The laws of all the Southern States justify the holding of white men in slavery." — Richmond Enquirer.

" Men are not born to equal rights. It would be far nearer the truth to say that some were bom with
saddles on their backs and bits in their mouths, and others born booted and spurred to ride them ; and
the riding does them good. They need the rein, the bit, and the spur. Life and liberty are not
inalienable. The Declaration of Independence is exuberantly false and y fallacious.' 1 '' —
Richmond Enquirer.

" In all social systems there must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life ;
a class requiring but a low order of intellect and little skill. This class constitutes the mudsills of
society, and of political government. The manual, hired laborers of the North — the operatives, as they
are called — are mere slaves." — Hammond, of South Carolina.

" There must be a class of men whose business is to dig the soil and tend the herds, and who must not
be allowed to have any real or personal property of their own. This class never will, never can, and never
ought to take any part in the political affairs of the country." — Hon. B. Watkins Leigh, of Virginia.

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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 17 of 20)