August 17, 1869
Republican mass meeting in
park adjourning the Court House
MR. PRESIDENT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: -I regard it as fortunate for all interested, that we are able to agree with our opponents as to what are the proper subjects for discussion during the present canvass. On last Saturday evening the Democracy held a ratification meeting in Cincinnati. At that meeting they were addressed by a distinguished lawyer, politician and statesman, the law partner of Mr. Pendleton, who may be regarded as spokesman for that gentleman. They were also addressed by a Mr. S. F. Cary, who appeared for the first time in Ohio as a Democrat. It is fortunate that I am able to agree with those gentlemen as to what are the subjects of the most interest to the American people today. We might differ somewhat in the details, but not as to the general topics.
As to the question of negro suffrage, Mr. Cary says: It is not negro suffrage which I so much deprecate, but the dishonest and fraudulent way of changing the fundamental law of the Republic. It was probable that the day was not distant when, by the free and voluntary act of each State, every man, of whatever color, would be permitted to vote for State and municipal officers, and then, by the terms of the Federal Constitution, they would also vote for members of Congress and Presidential Electors. Rather new doctrine, my friends, to be heard in a Democratic meeting.
What Mr. Pugh says is not unlike unto it. I agree with these gentlemen on this only: I think they need not have postponed the settlement for even a few years.
I think that these utterances of these gentlemen may be taken as significant, that the question is already to be regarded as substantially settled. I am content, therefore, to leave that question where these gentlemen have left it. I agree with them that financial questions are of particular interest at this time. As to reconstruction, the Democracy in Congress, by their vote on the reconstruction of Texas, Virginia and Mississippi, have themselves accepted the legislation of Congress. When that vote was taken it so happened that four of the Democratic members from Ohio were absent; the other two Democratic members, Messrs. Morgan and Dickinson, voted with the Republicans on this question, as did the Democrats generally in the House, under the lead of Messrs. Woodward, of Pennsylvania, and Brooks, of New York; hence we may say that the reconstruction measures are substantially settled on the principles involved in the legislation of Congress. I therefore agree that the question now for consideration is the financial question.
We are opposed to all schemes that are calculated to weaken or destroy our system of public schools. We are opposed to educating children on the tenants of any sect at the public expense.
When the press of any party are compelled to say that the public acts of their candidate are dead issues, it is evident that such acts need examination. Mr. Webster, in the great contest with Hayne, defended his record, and was proud of it; so did Lincoln, in Illinois, defend his record.
Few men ever had such opportunities as Mr. Pendleton. He was elected to Congress by a district that would have defended him to the utmost in taking a high and patriotic course. He begun by denouncing coercion, and throughout the struggle with the rebellion maintained a course encouraging to the enemies of the Government and calculated to divide the North. Was it wise to say, during the struggle, that you could not put the rebellion down? Later in the contest he said the war was a deception and a fraud, and just before its close he goes upon a platform that pronounces the war a failure. Was it wise? Was it patriotic?
You and I remember, soldiers, the night we got the news of the Chicago Convention. We were with Sheridan, and had been for ten days without the news. When we got the papers we did not linger long over the declaration, in the platform of Mr. Pendleton, that the war was a failure, for in another column we read in great head lines that Sherman had taken Atlanta.
If we had not been required by divisions at home to send troops to New York, to Illinois, to Holmes County, we should have closed the struggle much sooner. Lee’s army never would have straggled back over the Potomac, after the battle of Gettysburg. Of all men who were responsible for a divided North, who now have a shadow of hope for the Presidency, Mr. Pendleton is most responsible; and he asks your votes as a stepping-stone to the Presidency.
John Bright, the great English leader, had in our dark struggle another and a brighter vision for our country. Let us work throughout to make good and realize the splendid vision of John Bright.