PRESIDENTIAL SOUTHERN TOUR
September 19, 1877
The Capitol Building
It is a very great gratification, fellow citizens, to meet this large assemblage of the people of Tennessee.
The terms in which I have been welcomed by your Governor seem to require of me a preparation greater than any circumstances have allowed me to make, and I regret that I am compelled to be content with talking in a plain conversational way, in regard to a few topics which it seems to me may be appropriately discussed on this occasion.
I understand that I am in the presence of men of all political parties--of both parties--of both races and of the brave men of both armies. I am very glad so to meet the people of Tennessee, as what I have to say, I would prefer to say to both races, to both parties and to the men of both armies.
It has been my fortune during the past ten days to mingle quite largely with the veterans of the Union army. I judge from what I know and from what I have seen and heard that I am now in the presence of more men of the Confederate than of the Union army. We at least understand each other. Between us there is no shadow to-day. The members of the Cabinet and myself have traveled to different parts of the country, impelled by a variety of motives. We are glad to see this flourishing city and beautiful country, and it is not disagreeable to us to be relieved for a time from our duties at Washington.
But, my friends, we hope that something may be done also by our mingling with the people to promote the cause which has brought this assemblage together. The cause of the Union, the cause of the constitution, the cause of harmony, the cause of friendship, the cause of peace. We trust that our visit in the different States will perhaps, in some degree, increase social intercourse between them; perhaps, will tend also to increase business intercourse between them; will tend somewhat by the report of the proceedings to increase the knowledge of the people of all the States. And to know each other is, I am sure, to increase our friendship for each other.
It is because the soldiers of the two armies know each other better than other people, that they are more ready to clasp hands with each other. I said at Louisville, in speaking of this subject, one thinks that the reporters, who labored under more difficulties than those now before me, did not get quite fully. I undertook to explain my view of how it happened that the war between us turned out as it did. It was a matter that we understand protty well; yet I will give you my view of it. I said to them there that when the war began our Southern adversaries were a little better prepared for it than we. We had good marksmen; we had good horsemen; but in proportion to numbers, you had a great many more good marksmen and a great many more good horsemen than we had. You were educated as soldiers. We had to learn to ride and to shoot. But gradually, you know, we got to learn how to shoot and how to ride. Then the struggle came to be between Greek and Greek; and here comes in what my friend, the reporter at Louisville, overlooked. Everybody knows that when the issue comes to that, Greek against Greek, that army will conquer which has the most Greeks.
Well, we found out, and the thing is ended. And now, you and I and more people, the virtuous people of the world. You want in Tennessee and Alabama and Mississippi to come to your States the power, the strength, the wealth and the population they can support. You want the population here as they have in Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and even Texas. Let labor and capital come and prosperity spreads. Let it be understood that peace reins here, that there is no quarrel, that all men are free to come and go, and the attractions of this glorious Southern country will bring you the very best immigrants the world produces; the best from the North and the best from Europe. With these your prosperity is assured. About education, it is simply this: Let the Scotchman, the Swede, the German, or any other of the best foreign people that come to this country, understand that their children can be freely educated in public schools, and it is a better advertisement for your State than any you can get for the amount of money it will cost. This, I believe, is the idea of Tennessee, hence it is that in Nashville you have such schools, such institutions of learning. I say, education brings immigration of the best kind. Let it have your support, and with this, and with peace prosperity is yours.
I have talked longer than I expected; but the truth is, I have seen so much that is gratifying to me, so much real, genuine merit and patriotism exhibited in conversation and everywhere since I have come to Kentucky and Tennessee, that I would be glad to leave some words of counsel that would be useful to you. And now I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your cheers for the Union, the Constitution and the old flag. I believe you are destined to go on and be the home of freedom and a refuge to numbers of every clime to the last record of time.
PRESIDENTIAL SOUTHERN TOUR
September 19, 1877
I will respond to both these addresses in one. Since all men are equal before the law, and have all equal rights, there is no need of my making two addresses, one to the white men and another to the colored men; therefore I propose to speak to the colored men just as I speak to the white men and the white men just as to the colored. I speak to the people of Tennessee just as I spoke to the people of Vermont.
My thought has been that the interest of this country and the prosperity of this country require that every just cause of discontent in any body or any class of people ought to be removed, if it can be. We had a large part of the country not in content with the condition of things. It was believed, or it was claimed, that the colored people of the country would not be safe in their interests and their rights if the Federal troops were withdrawn from the Southern States. I believe that the time has come when the colored people of the South would be safer with no troops anywhere in the South undertaking to protect them than they would be with such troops trying to protect them. -- I believe then, as now, after almost six months' trial, that the majority of the people of the South--the white people of the South--have no desire to invade the rights of the colored people so as to make it at all necessary to have Federal bayonets in their midst. I think the colored people are safer to-night with their rights, in Tennessee, with no Federal bayonets undertaking to protect them, than they were when there were armies here trying to protect them.
Another thing, the Southern people were in that condition of dissatisfaction that all could see that their attention was withdrawn from agriculture, from commerce, from manufactures, and from business by political discussion. My friends, there is a time for political discussion, but it is not all the time. At least an important part of the time of every community should be given up to business and to industry, and if, by any measure of government content can be rectored, quiet can be restored, peace and satisfaction be restored, I believe that is the wise policy to pursue; and I think this is the key to the whole matter that has been done. As I said at Cincinnati, what has been done was not merely because of the need of our doing it, but we did it because, under our oaths registered in heaven, we believed that it was just and right to do it.
All I have to say to you is that I wish to be able to carry to the Northern people the information that every right secured by the amendments to the colored people by the Constitution, will be cheerfully accorded to them. Let us understand that peace at last reigns supreme and unbroken throughout this whole country. With that era prosperity dawns upon the Southern country such as we have never seen since the slavery agitation began.
If the industry of any part of the country is neglected the whole country has to suffer. The prosperity of the whole country is the prosperity of all its parts--of all sections -- of all States. This seems to me, is the large and literal view.
Now you have, as I said to-day, a good basis, a comparatively thinly-peopled country; you have minerals, building material, lumber, a salubrious climate, fertile soil, and all that is wanted to be added is more believe that there is no real cause of quarrel in this country left remaining.
We believe in the maxim that I saw over the gate down there, "Peace on Earth and Good Will toward Men." We have seen enough of war. There is some difference between us and our more aged fellow citizens who have not had the opportunities we have. I heard from a distinguished Union General that the most eminent statesman, perhaps, at Washington, had very confident ideas as to the brevity of the war. Ninety days was the first period set. He said to General Scott, "The moment that we have a victory that is complete and general, there will be peace--that will be the end of it--the war will end with a victory." Gen. Scott says, "No." He had the idea that when the victory was complete, the soldiers would be at peace. But said he, the trouble will be, it will take the government some years to get the belligerent non-combatants to keep the peace. So, my friends, perhaps it turns.out. But now I think the time has come when soldiers and citizens, the men who fought and the non-combatants will all agree that this is the day of peace. And I rejoice that this city of Nashville is doing so much for the cause of peace. I look around, and I know not how many institutions of learning are within reach of my vision. I know that you have made much provision for the education of the whites, and of the colored people also. Now, my friends, this is precisely the thing which of all others, in my judgment, will do the most to bring about the exact condition we want in this country. Every interest you have will be promoted by that mingling and intercourse which belongs to emigration and to immigration, and to the exchange of populations between States.
We have now reached, in the West, my friends, the very margin of that rainless region where no agriculture can succeed except by irrigation; therefore, Mr. Greeley's advice, "Young man go West," in my judgment ought now be changed to "Young man go South." For here you have that salubrity of climate, that fertility of soil, those resources most conducive to immigration, and I take it that all the wise men in Tennessee desire immigration. Desiring it, what will you do to obtain it, and what will best induce the best immigration from Europe and from the North? I think I have the secret of it. Let there be a little school house in every neighborhood on every side hill, on some side of it--the shady if possible--and obtain a teacher nine months in the year. Such school houses scattered everywhere will be a better advertisement of your country than any other that costs the same amount of money, which can be contrived. Therefore, my friends, I rejoice that you are doing so much in Nashville for the cause of education. But my friends, you will see by the size of this great crowd, by the noise that comes up to us from all parts of it, that they are not hearing what I say--that I am speaking to these reporters and a small circle around me. It is very interesting to me, but I fear it is not very interesting to the rest of you.
I thank you, Governor and friends, for the very warm and very hearty and, I am sure, the very sincere welcome you have given us. You welcome us, I think, because you think we are sincerely in favor of that peace and harmony and union which you are in favor of. I now give place in order that others may address you.
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