PRESIDENTIAL SOUTHERN TOUR, ADDRESS AT THE LAMAR HOUSE

 

September 21, 1877

Knoxville, Tennessee

 

MY FRIENDS OF KNOXVILLE AND EAST TENNESSEE:--I congratulate you on the beautiful day, contrasting as it does so greatly with the gloom of yesterday.  I am glad to have heard the address of the distinguished gentleman to whom we have just listened.  You are entirely right in intimating that, in the vast number that we see around us, are united men of all political parties, and that the first point in the welcome is that it is respect for the office which, for the time being, it is my fortune to occupy.  This multitude has assembled to show respect to the office of Chief Magistrate of the country, and exhibit their patriotism to the Nation, to the laws and the Constitution.  They expect also to show their attachment to freedom of speech, of which we have examples from time to time.  And, my friends, it adds immensely to the satisfaction of this meeting to know that as an assembly of men of both parties, and also of both armies, and citizens, such an assembly meeting, as you do, with the utmost good feeling and friendship towards each other, is proof that the general course of the Administration, or, if not, the general intent, the general purpose of the Administration, in regard to the pacification of the whole country, is here heartily approved.  And, my friends, why should we not approve a policy which seeks the speedy restoration of national harmony?  If we regard business, if we regard commercial interests and all other interests, are they not best promoted by friendship, by peace on behalf of National Government and State Government, peace between the different sections of the country, peace between different classes in the promotion of enterprise, of the development of progress and happiness in every department of life.  My friends, I have been during the last two weeks so frequently upon this general discussion without preparation that I cannot but repeat the same in substance from place to place; and I find the feelings and personal opinions of the people everywhere so similar upon this subject that there is no occasion for a change of topics, even if it were possible to do so.  When a committee comes to me of workingmen, I am glad to receive them.  If a committee of colored men, I have the same feelings for them.  If Democrats, I give the same attention to them, and with Republicans it is the same.  For we believe that the Government of the United States ought to regard alike the rights and interests of all races of men.  Now, again, upon this there is no longer any cause of separation.  Washington announced that the Constitution made us one people.  Mr. Webster, coming after, said we have one Constitution. We have one Union.  We have one destiny.  Let us, my friends, bear in mind these great ideas.  We may separate from each other as to the currency, as to the tariff, as to internal improvements, but, my friends, we must all agree with Jackson, that the Union must and shall be preserved.  We can look into the faces of this audience and see no doubt the faces of soldiers of the Federal and soldiers of the Confederate army.  We have met before.  And as I demand respect from the man I found fighting against me for my convictions, I yield the same measure of respect to him who fought for his convictions.  I want the people of all sections to be better acquainted.  I want the people of all sections to be introduced to each other, not exactly as the soldiers have been, but to be friends as the soldiers here are friends; and one of the great objects of this tour is to encourage intercourse between the different sections of the country.  We want you in New England and Ohio and New York.  I want the men of Tennessee to be as much at home on the soil of Vermont as in any State of the South.  I want the people of Ohio to feel as much at home in the South as in any State north of the Ohio river, to be united in duty and united as citizens of different sections.  Then shall we be a happier people to the end of our career.