Copyright
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

. (page 2 of 20)
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 2 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Abraham Lincoln is bound to preserve the Union, and every honest Democrat should sustain
him in the effort, for every inch of that Union is our country, and over all the Constitution
which he has sworn to maintain and defend is the supreme law. The truth is. my fellow-
citizens, that since 1847 the Democratic party has abandoned its old faith. I belonged to
that party. I grew to manhood in it. and devoted the best years of my life to its interests,
and on the very day when I ran as an independent candidate I'm' Judge I voted for William
Bigler and the whole Democratic ticket except that for the judiciary. In 1852 I worked and
voted for the election of Fierce and King. It was not till I discovered that the doctrine of
Calhoun, which Jackson supposed he had crushed, had trot control of the party, that 1 aban-
doned it and went forth to resist its great power tor evil.

1 have, however, only shown you what the doctrines of that party were. Now lei me show
you the practical effects of those doctrines, how. by withholding the support of the Govern-
ment from the Union people of the South, the Democratic party forced the contemplated
separation of our country. When the eight States met to organize a Confederate Govern-
ment, they represented 2.656,948 white people, and 2,312,046 slaves. The Southern States
that did not go with them at that time contained 5,633,005 white people and 1,638,297 slaves.
So that of the people, who composed that Confederacy, black and white, bond ami free, there
were 4,968,994, while of those who then refused to go into it there were 7,271,302. And
had James Buchanan and the Democratic party adhered to the old Jacksonian Democratic
doctrine, and announced that the Union must he preserved, that the Constitution was the
supreme law of the land — had President Buchanan ordered General Scott, old as he was. to
concentrate the army in the North, and to reinforce Sumter and all other forts on the Southern
coast, and ordered the Secretary of the Navy to concentrate the Navy on our coast — said to
the Union men of the South, as Jackson did in his proclamation, stand true to your country,
its Constitution and its flag, and we will sustain you. no State would have seceded— no foreign
( lonfederacy would have been reared upon our soil — no war would have deluged it with blood.
That was the time to prevent war. This was the way to prevent it. But the new faith of



these new leaders of the party would not permit them toad thus. Wha1 did they do? South
Carolina, us I have said, seceded on the '21st of December, I860. When the news was earned
to Mr. Buchanan, did he, as old Jackson did, straighten himself up, point to the heavens, and
swear by the Eternal that the Union should be preserved ? No; take up the files of your
Democratic newspapers and read. and. you will find that he sat in the executive chamber like
an old woman crying. Every day the telegraph brought us intelligence of the new floods of
tears that the Democratic president was shedding. He assumed the attitude and aspect of
a dejected old woman, and cried: "Oh, dear me ! you ought not to do it ; but oh. dear me !
I have not the power to prevent or to punish you." So the work of the attempt to sever
the grandest country God ever gave to man, and to abolish that miracle of modern civiliza-
tion, the Constitution of the United State-, went on.

But more than this, that Democratic Administration, with the sanction of the party that
brought it into power and sustains the Chicago platform and nominees, armed the rebels and
gave them a navy. John B. Floyd, of Virginia, was Secretary id' War, and had charge of
our arsenals and our armories. He sent into the seceding States from every Northern
arsenal and armory every available gun. pistol, cannon, sword, or set of uniform. Don't you
remember, my friends, that the last heavy guns thai were being shipped were stopped by the
patriotic citizens of Pittsburg, among them the venerable Judge Wilkins — that distinguished
Democrat, whose career in the United States Semite still reflects lustre upon our State— that
distinguished statesman, now tottering toward the grave, presided over the meetings of citizens
that stopped those cannon. They were law-abiding citizens of Pennsylvania, and they tele-
graphed to the President, sayiDg that they had arrested certain heavy guns, in transitu.
because they believed they were being sent to a Confederacy that was being established upon
our own soil in violation of our Constitution, and they were determined that those guns
should not go for any such purpose. What did Messrs. Buchanan and Floyd, speaking for
the Democratic administration, reply? They replied that the guns in question were on their
under the orders of the Secretary of War, to a new fortification on Ship Island. Now.
let me ask whether there is a soldier here who has been to Ship Island? If there is. I wish
him to say so, for I want him to make a brief part of my speech. There is no fortification
on Ship Island ; there was no fortification on Ship Island; there was no contract for a forti-
fication on Ship Island; there had never been an order issued to build a fortification on Ship
Island. The story was a lie. It was one of the nefarious practices by which the people of
the eighteen States of the North were stripped of arms and the rebels of the South furnished
with tic means to overawe and intimidate the Union men of the Southern and Border States,
and ultimately make war on us.

What did your Secretary of the Navy do — your Democratic Secretary of the Navy? He
is a Northern man; he is a son oi d New England — the "land of Abolitionists!"

And here, by the way. 1 must make a brief digression ; I must, as a Pennsylvanian. pro
against my friend robbing Pennsylvania of the brightest jewel in her coronet and throwing it
at the feet of New England.

The doctrine of man's absolute right to wages for work did not spring from New England ;
1 claim it as a great Pennsylvania truth. AVhile yet the Revolutionary war was pending —
on the 1st -if March, 1780, three years before the declaration of peace — the Legislature oi'
Pennsylvania passed an act by which slavery was "extinguished and forever abolished"
within the limits of the Commonwealth. It was done in grateful recognition of God's good-
ness in securing the near prospect of speedy freedom to all the people of that State. And
in the literature of America, there is no prouder oi' grander chapter than the preamble to
t'n.,; law which secures to every laboring man. woman, and child within the limits of our own
den- Pennsylvania, wages lor their work— which secures to all the people of the State the
rite of marriage, and raised from their degradation, thousands of women who were com-
pelled to live in prostitution thai their wealthy owners might, sell their children like sheep at
the shambles. To Pennsylvania, our own State, sir. belongs the honor of establishing, by
special law. human freedom, and the right of the laboring man to his wages; and 1 wiil
not. without an earnest protest, allow any man to deprive my ancestors of their share in so

an honor. Bui to resume; What did your Secretary of the Navy — a son id' des]
New- England — do? Our navy consisted of 69 vessels, manned by 7000 men, exclusive of
i and marines. It carried 250 guns of different calibre. What did your Secretary of
the Navy do with them— vessels, men. guns and all'.' Knowing that a foreign government
organizing within the limits of our country; knowing that John B. Floyd avowed his
allegiance to it and had armed it ; knowing that he had handed over your army to it as pris-
oners (for under Twiggs he surrendered one half, and under Canby he compelled the surrender
of nearlj the other half, so thai before Abraham Lincoln became President, the Confed

had some eight, ten, or twelve thousand prisoners, whom they paroled) what. I ask. under these
circumstances, did this Democratic Secretary of the Navy do to maintain the Constitution
and unity id' our country'.'' Did he -end the largest vessels of the navy into the Delaware or
the Hudson, or to Charlestown, Mass., or to Littery and Portsmouth, upon the confix
the two State- nf Maine and New Hampshire? Oh. no. my fellow citizens: he was iu the
conspiracy to divide and dishonor your country. He was of the cabinet that agreed to James



Buchanan's message of December, 1860, announcing to the Union men of the South that the
government would aot proted them. Under his direction, the twenty seven largesl vessels of
our navy were dismantled or laid up in ordinary in Southern yards, within the limits of the
proposed ( lonfederacy. Thus did James Buchanan and his Democratic cabinet, their conduct
being approved by the Democratic party, hand over our patrimony and the means of defend-
ing it. to avowed conspirators who were forming a foreign government on our soil. Bu1 what
did the Democratic Secretary of the Navy do with the rest of our vessels? Did he send
them into our Northern yards ? No ; he sent them to the coast of A frica ; to the far Pacific ;
to the Mediterranean; to the Indian ocean; in a word, to the mosl distant stations to which
armed vessels had ever borne the flag of our country : so that, when A braham Lincoln became
President, he had at his immediate command in the yards of the North, bu1 the four smallest
vessels of our navy, manned by 250 out of the 7,000 men. and carrying less than 25 out. of
the more than li T> ( > onus.

The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land; but you must not
enforce it. for fear you offend the people of the South ! That is tie- doctrine of the Peace
Democracy. The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land; but,
but, hut. you must not enforce it. If you will only coax the men of the Southern Con-
federacy abjectly enough, ihey will come back to the Union without this war! At least we
think they will, and we are prettj sure they will, if you will go for the ■■ I nion as it was."
without New England. General Jackson did not talk that way — he said : '"Tl □ titution

is the supreme law of the laud: and if you attempt to trample upon it. I will blow you into
eternity/' Jackson'3 is the Lincoln doctrine of to-day. We mean to maintain the supremacy
of the Constitution; and when the war is over, if it. needs amendment, we will do whal
Republican party proposed to do before this war began. My friend forgets that, to app
these people whom the Democratic party v\' the North were hissing on to war whom the
Democratic, party were arming and providing with a navy— we united in a resolution to
amend the Constitution, so that by no future amendment could slavery ever possibly ho
interfered with by the people of the North. That proposit ion passed both houses <<\' < longress,
many Eepublieans in both houses voting for it. ft passed tic Senate by 24 to L2 and the
House by L33 to 65, largely more than the requisite two-thirds vote, and by th
support of the Republican party. 1 claim to belong to the Abolition section of the Repul -
lican party. I do not believe that any man ha o good a rich! to a babe as the woman who
carried it for nine months, and suffered th if maternity in giving it birth. 1 believe

that every man. whether his father under the barbarous laws of the Soul hern States might sell
him on the auction block or not, is entitled towages for all the work he does. I di
believe that one man has a right to lie lord and master, ami hold other.- as his slaves. And
I despise the' system under which a heartless and sensual aristocracy have been in the habit
of selling their daughters into whoredom and their sons to lives of unrequited toil. Insofar.
1 am what they call an abolitionized .Republican ; and many members of the wing of the
party to which I belong, in tin 1 hope of securing peace, sustained the pi mendment,

whereby the Constitution would have been peaceably amended, and if would have been made
impossible through all time, for the people of theNorth to free a slave.

My friend's third proposition is that " Whenever any department of Government exercises
any power beyond or antagonistic to the Constitution, it is revoluti

This is certainly novel, and rather startling doctrine. It comes from the modern sch
Democrats. There used to be great discussions about the i Jonstitution bo i ween 1 lenry < 'lay and
Daniel Webster on the one. hand, and certain Democrats of the Calhoun school on the other;
and in those good old days, the theory was that if Congress or any administration should at
any time adopt an unconstitutional measure, the people would rally in their might al the
election and turn out of office those who had made the mistake or perpetrated the wrong;
and that in the meantime those who thoughl the act unconstitutional and were injured by it
should raise the question before the Supreme Court of the United States and have it, de<
Now sir, what is the Supreme Court of the United State,- tor. and why have we elections re-
curring at such short intervals if the object be not to guard againsl any enduring reason for
rebellion or revolution? The object in limiting the Presidential term to four years and the
Congressional to two was that, if anybody who mighl get into power should behave badly, we
might have an early opportunity to turn him out. The Supreme Court was provided, so that
if Congress should pass an unconstitutional law. and the President approve it. that tribunal
might declare it unconstitutional an I .So the patriots who framed our ( Jonstitution

vainly imagined that they had made a frame of Government under which rebellion and revolu-
tion would be impossible. Not so, according to the doctrine of m_\ distinguished adversary.
lie argues that whenever an unconstitutional law is passed.it is revolution, and anarchy
follows, and war is the just consequence. If that be i N' si I doctrine, pray what is the use of
the Supreme Court ? It has no place in his theory of our Government. My friend hi
a string of questions to me. and he will allow me to put one to him: Aci i his theory,

what is the use of the Supreme Court of the United States, and why have we provided for elec-
tions at intervals, in no case greater than four year.- ? I say that the framers of the Constitution
never dreamed that a doctrine such us that announced by him would be propounded by any



party in the country. They gave the people frequent flections, an ample and beneficent
judicial system, and provided methods by which the Constitution could be peaceably amended,
and supposed that they had made the internal peace of the country enduring as its mountains.
The thought of secession, rebellion or revolution never disturbed them. John 0. Calhoun, in
Is IT. introduced it into the Senate of the Tinted States, embodied in certain resolutions, which
Col. Benton moved at once to lay on the table. Calhoun looked at him with that calm eye of
his. and said : " I am happy to hear from the gentleman ; 1 shall know where to find him."
"Yes, sir," replied Old Bullion, "you may always know where to find me. You will always
find me on the side of my country. I am glad you know it, sir."

In 1848 the Democratic Convention assembled at Baltimore, and I went there to help make
the nominee. I saw Wm. L. Yancey, Calhoun's ablest disciple, arise in that Convention and
submit to its consideration Mr. Calhoun's dogma, which had been so promptly tallied at the
previous session of the Senate. 1 saw the question brought to a vote in that grand Democratic
Convention, which embraced delegates from every Southern State — South Carolina, Mississippi.
Arkansas, Georgia, and all the resl ; yet among them all there were but 36 Southern men to
vote for the doctrine which my friend propounds as the doctrine of the Democratic party
to-cluy, to wit: that the Constitution of the United States contains the seeds of its own
destruction ; and that any State that may believe an act to lie unconstitutional need not wait
till the Supreme Court has passed upon the question, but may go out of the Union, and may
rob you of your interests under the Homestead Law, and under the Constitution of the United
States, which gives you citizenship in each and every State.

The despised and rejected heresy of 1847-8 is the ruling doctrine of the Democratic party
to-day, and when, in the Chicago Convention, they pledge themselves with " unswerving fidelity
to the Union muh r the Constitution," they avow to all knowing men just that doctrine. They
declare that "in the future, as in /In- past" (mark you, as in the past), "we will adhere with
unswerving fidelity to the Union under the Constitution, as the only solid foundation of our
strength, security, and happiness as a people, and as a framework of government equally
conducive to the welfare and prosperity of all the States, both Northern and Southern."
Now, we of the Administration party are for the Union unconditionally until this war lie
terminated ; and then, if any man has violated the Constitution, we will take him before the
courts of the land, and punish him. But while there is war-making upon us, our great object
is to maintain our country; for it is no odds what the Constitution is, if we have no country
for the Constitution to operate upon. Therefore, in order to have the benefit of the Consti-
tution, we mean to maintain the integrity of the country, that our posterity, dwelling in that
country, shall enjoy the benefit of the Constitution.

I have shown you, fellow citizens, that James Buchanan, and John B. Floyd, and Howell
Cobb, and Isaac Toucey, and Jeremiah S. Black talked about "the Union under the Consti-
tution ;" they had sworn, all of them, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. I have
read you Mr. Buchanan's reasoning as to what are the powers of the government under the
Constitution. I have read you his attorney-general's opinion on that subject, and thus shown
you that the phrase " the Union under the Constitution" means the Constitution as the Demo-
cratic party understand it; that is, with the right of secession in it. Is it not so ? Do they
mean "the Union under the Constitution," as Webster understood it, as Clay understood it,
as Jackson and his cabinet understood it — the Union with vital power in the Constitution to
defend the Constitution and maintain the Union? or do they mean "the Union under the
Constitution" as it was understood by James Buchanan, and Howell Cobb, and Jeremiah S.
Black, and John B. Floyd, and Isaac Toucey, and as it is understood by my competitor here,
who has no fault to find with Mr. Buchanan's Administration? If they mean "the Union
under the Constitution." as they understood it, why shall they make war now to maintain
what they would not. make war to keep ? Why shall they not give to the rebels what they
regard as their territory? Did they not give them arms to defend it? Did they not
give them a navy to defend it ? Did they not surrender to them the United State- army,
lest it mighl lie used to deprive them of that territory? Did they not strip you of arms,
ammunition, soldiers, and ships ? Why will they not, then, adhere in the future to the same
policy which they practised in L860, let the whole thing go, and declare that the Constitution
is a rope of sand ?

When my distinguished friend shall have answered my questions as to when the Constitu-
tion was so amended that its powers were restricted to the territory lying north of .Maryland,
"Virginia. Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri, 1 will proceed to consider the questions he has
done me the honor to propound to me.






Speech of Hon. Wm. D. Kelley in the

North ■op-Kelkij Debate,

AT SPEING GARDEN INSTITUTE, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26.



PHONOGRAPHIC REPORT BY D. WOLFE BROWN.

Fellmo-Citkens— I hope you will preserve the same good order to-nighl thai character-
zed your proceedings on Friday night. We are engaged in an important work In
^JE^^&S^™** C - tit »-ies, -1 it defends upon you ,o Zt

My | distinguished competitor opened Ids leading remarks by propounding five propositions
and closed them by submitting seven interrogatories to me. In his closing femark I - . 1
to complain that I had not answered all his propositions and interrogatories I .this he
a little unjust. I am here by his invitation, and the invitation whirl, he addressed me
tamed no one of those propositions or interrogatories

It invited me to enable yon to judge between us with reference to our principles and their
app '- i.». o the , , ueg of th day Had i( conta . ned the 1 • . I,

tones I might have filed some cross-mterrogatories holme we brought the case to an

1 shall however as the debate proceeds, reach all his propositions and tion For the

present, I prefer to follow the line of argument with which I be ff an

In ol !' tifp ni ng * demo f trated - « t™ 8 * satisfactorily to you, that the organization now

known as the Democratic party has abandoned the faith of its fathers, has adopted the d ma

of Calhoun, which was scouted rom the Senate by the Democratic party in 1847 and In,
the Democratic Convention at Baltimore in 1848, and that by abandoning he „ in ,1 ' '
Jefferson and Jackson and adopting thus,, of Calhoun and the fire-eatefs i\ has been led
to become co-conspirator in organizing and arming the rebellion , fa we are now at

' the T)r CeeC V n0W *? Sh r! h ^ Abniham LinC0lD aQd h " f "»ds stand wheTe ■ I,

TtlilW :^" they S ] and where Jackson stood-where Dougla stood
W ii nl ui , lo 7, l he cons / nted - !° gl0ve the maiIed hand of ^r, and pass his

time in playing the peaceable game oi presidential politics. I mean to show that bv this

d "otTthe VX?X hU i ,limi f 1 tbG 1^ t0 wWch »* ^' 1,h and ea4 manh od'wer
Be i I V,i h r.'i n , ! r 7sht ih,,n.s, vc S to believe and teach the doctrines by which

o fthen In wh« „n ? i "i f ,n ' a r U ' the d0Ct, ' in " S " n,K ' P eace men ofthe * ar ° f L812,and
Spin t£ fields of Mexico? " ^ ^ WL ' Ut ' U> S ™ ^^ and ^'> ' ' soldiers

of tlns"^!!;;;;'^'';!:!,! 1 ! lt t £"? g *? e administration of Mr. Buchanan a portion of the Si
o mis union seceded, the Southern Confederacy was formed, the public oronertv in the

and • i;;; s ;;?i •' the r ™^r :y r Uy se P arate states - : "" 1 "-> "' ■ SS Vw ig g

saril^ from tt fZ t U w en + t ered A7 tha " 1 " 1 - '' T f J ^ S ™ lu ntarily, .hat under Canby a,
Sportation Administration had withheld from it supplies, arms, and

hanroVZ'h Wl1 to f . thefourth f March, 1861, when the Government passed out ofthe

shino/s. f =ratic party, and Abraham Lincoln assumed the helm of the -rand old

address STt a : the [ "' , " ,, T^ J pr °P 0Se t0 read , ">"" portions of his inaugural
KSi^nSt 7 0U ™ ays r whe ? e ; h ^ a ^ rl y acce P tedthis ^r. or whether he strove.

. ! JP;' 1 a ? ams1 he Government. My distinguished friend said, "let him

H fcoiT) v Vi? at ; L ' r -, i,m • ".'.^ ™ rd f or if. we can have peace." If he ha, the word

I n h i,i , n C ; , ' ! h ». rt may have some value; but I shall show you that

livulus^rp,;™ CulU Called anarm 7 lfl to existence to quell the rebellion he prayed its

a cnST. ri n enS v', Sa i d Abraham LincolQ i' 1 beginning his inaugural, - in compliance with
a custom as old as the Government itself, I appear before you to address vou briefly, and to

b the P si'w S3 V a ^P re ^' il - ll ^ ,1 ''' ( '^titution of t he.un,ed\s,a,e,,o'i,e taken
by the President before he enters on the execution of Ids office

do not consider it necessary at present for me to discuss those matters of administration
about which there is no special anxiety or excitement.

sion of!! 1 '!!' 11 !!" S "Ti t0 ° XiSt am0DS the P e °P le 0f the Southern States that by the acces-
sion ol a Republican. Administration, their property and their peace and personal security are



to be endangered. There lias never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. In-
deed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed, and been open to
their inspection. It is i'ound in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses
you. I do bu1 quote from one of those speeches when 1 declare that,'] have no pur

directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists.
1 believe I have no lawful right to do so. and I have no inclination so to do.' Those who
nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar
declarations, and had never recanted them. And more than this, they placed in the platform
for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution


2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

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 2 of 20)