August 12, 1869
I shall find it impossible to make myself heard by this vast audience, unless the utmost quiet prevails. Starting out at the beginning of a sixty days that care which a prudent man bestows upon a favorite horse—use it carefully and moderately at setting out, and then, as it becomes used to exertion, it will endure greater strain. After fifteen minutes I shall be able, I have no doubt, to make myself heard even by persons sitting in the carriages.
I have to congratulate this assembly that for the first time in eight years we have an opportunity to give our attention to State affairs—to our home affairs. During all of that eventful period, the great questions respecting Liberty, Union, and reconstruction of the Union, have been such that smaller matters, as to our own towns, countries, and State, must be postponed until the Union and Liberty were made safe. But to-day we feel that at last the great cause is substantially won—that this year when there are no Congressmen to be elected, neither Senators nor Representatives, we may give our attention exclusively almost to State affairs. It is my privilege to endeavor to direct public attention to matters that have been neglected--to State affairs. I am happy to come before the people under circumstances favorable for comparing the two political parties in their action upon the important questions which are still living issues. We are gratified to know that the reconstruction of the Union is in a safe way and in safe hands. We may therefore, consider now the questions that are called financial questions; and we have an opportunity, I say, to compare the two parties, for already—although the period is short—already we are able to see how General Grant and the Republican administration is dealing with these great questions of expenditure, debt and taxation; only five months in power, yet we already see the results. On the other hand our Democratic friends have been in power in the General Assembly of the State for two years past, and we are able to see how they deal with financial questions—with expenditures—with debt—with taxation here in our State.
The most important questions which were discussed prior to the last National and State elections which still remain unsettled, are those which relate to expenditure, to debt, and to taxation. It is my purpose on this occasion to present facts and figures showing, first, the manner in which General Grant is dealing with these questions in the administration of national affairs; and secondly, the action of the Democratic majority in the last General Assembly upon the same questions in the management of State affairs.
THE NATIONAL FINANCES.
What was the condition of the national finances in November last, when General Grant was elected?
The leading popular debater of the Democratic party of Ohio, in a speech at Dayton, last year, gave the pitch of the whole difficulty about the national finances, when he said that the idea of the Democratic party could be best expressed by a paraphrase of a celebrated resolution against the royal prerogative offered in the British Parliament a hundred years ago. “The public debt,” said he, “has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.” This is the gist of the whole matter. The moment the people of the country can rest in the belief that the national debt is permanently diminishing, that moment all schemes for the repudiation of the debt, either in whole or part, will speedily come to an end.
Judge Thurman, in his campaign speech at Sandusky, on the 7th of last September, said: “On the 31st of July last the debt was over twenty-three millions more than on the first of the preceding May, the money in the Treasury bring deducted at each date. Think of that,” said he, “an increase of twenty-three millions in three months, and the increase still going on.”
President Johnson’s Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. McCulloch, in the last report says the debt increased between November, 1867, and November 1868, $35,625,102.82.
Alexander Detmar, the Democratic statistician, in a document which he published and circulated by the Democratic National Committee, predicted that the expenses of the then current fiscal year, ending June 30, 1869, would exceed $475,000,000, that the receipts would fall below $322,000,000, and that the deficiency for the year would be more than $154,000,000.
These were the predictions and these the facts on which was based the Democratic claim to be placed in power. Now what reply did Republicans make? Some general facts were undisputed. High, taxes, diminishing revenue and a growing debt. But we claimed that the fault was not in the laws, or in Congress, but in the Executive Department as administered by Andrew Johnson. We maintained that under a faithful, honest and economical execution of the laws, which might confidently be expected under General Grant, very different results would follow.
Now, bearing in mind the present Administration has been in power only about five months, too short a time for its efforts toward economy and retrenchment to have their full effect, let us see what has been accomplished. The official statements of the public debt are as follows:
Amount if debt, less cash in the Treasury:
March 1 …………….. $2,525,463,260.01
April 1 ………………. $2,525,196,461.74
May 1 ……………….. $2,518,797,391.09
June 1 ……………….. $2,505,412,613.12
July 1 ………………....$2,489,002,480.58
August 1 …………….. $2,481,566,736.29
This shows a decrease of the public debt during –
March ……………… $266,768.27
April ……………….. $6,399,070.65
May …………………. $13,384,779.97
June …………………. $16,460,779.43
July ………………….. $7,435,744.29
Total decrease since March 1, 1869 $43,896,523.72
In reply to Mr. Vallandigham’s statement of the great national problem, we say that under General Grant’s administration, the debt has decreased, is decreasing, and is likely to continue to decrease. In reply to Judge Thurman’s statement of the last year that in three months the debt had increased over $23,000,000, we say that the corresponding three months of General Grant’s administration, ending August 1, the debt has decreased over $37,000,000. Only think, an improvement of more than $60,000,000 in one quarter. In reply to Secretary McCulloch’s report showing a balance on the wrong side in one year of over $35,000,000, we feel warranted in claiming that Mr. Boutwell in his first year will show a balance on the right side of $100,000,000.
In reply to the National Democratic Committee and their statistician Detmar, now that the fiscal year is at an end, we are able to show the prodigious errors of his predictions. Instead of the expenditures exceeding, as he predicted, $475,000,000, they reached only $325,000,000. The receipts, instead of $24,000,000 as he stated, exceeded $360,000,000. He estimated the expenditures about $15,000,000 above the fact, and the receipts about $40,000,000 below the fact, and the results is, that instead of the deficiency of over $150,000,000 which he foretold, Mr. Boutwell has a surplus of between $30,000,000 and $40,000,000.
These gratifying results have been obtained without any increase of taxation, first, by retrenchment and economy, thus reproducing the expenditures; secondly, by a more thorough and honest collection of the revenues. I have before me authentic statements showing what was accomplished in some departments in the first four months of General Grant’s administration. There was expended on account of the War Department, last year, in the months of March, April, May and June, not including bounties and reconstruction expenses, $31,832,444, or a saving under General Grant in the latter period of $11,836,545. I am assured that it is safe to estimate that from March 1, 1869, to March 1, 1870, the first year of the present Administration, the actual bona fide reduction of army expenses will be fully $24,000,000, or $2,000,000 a month. The navy expenditures from March to June, 1868, inclusive, were $9,364,921. and for the same period in 1869 they were $7,482,937, a decrease in 1869 of $1,881,984. The civil and miscellaneous expenditures from March to June, 1868, inclusive, were $18,390,574, and for the same period in 1869, they were $17,574,588, showing a decrease of $815,986. In this item of expenditure as in several others, a still greater retrenchment began with the present fiscal year on the first of July last. How it is done appears in part from the following dispatch to the Cincinnati Enquirer from Washington, dated June30, 1869: “The fiscal year closed today, and all of the old appropriations expired. To-morrow the Government goes forward on reduced appropriations. The result is that several hundred officials were to-day removed. Nearly two hundred officials were in the Treasury, and fifty were in the War Department. So far some six hundred removals have been made from the Treasury Department.”
Great is the reduction of expenditures under General Grant, the increased efficiency and faithfulness in the collection of the revenue is equally gratifying. I will detain you to give but a single example. To collect honestly the “tax on distilled spirits,” commonly called the whisky tax, under Andrew Johnson, was beginning to be regarded as impossible. The monthly collections when General Grant came into office were a little more than three million dollars. Immediately afterwards the collections increased to over five millions a month. The same results appear in all directions. Without any increase of the rate taxation, the receipts of the Government are rapidly and largely increasing.
Even his political adversaries are compelled to admit the ability and success with which Governor Boutwell administers the affairs of the Treasury. When he adopted the policy of selling gold and buying bonds with the proceeds, the Cincinnati Enquirer, of May 19, 1869, said:
“The New York Times says that Secretary Boutwell will buy a million of bonds every week, and sell a million dollars of gold. If this is done, it will be the first inkling of a return to a sound financial policy. Heretofore the idea has been to increase the amount of the bonds which bear interest against the Government, and, at the same time, add to the gold on hand, which bears no interests. In other words, the idea was to increase the amount of interest the Government pays, while it derives no interest from its own funds! We more than doubt whether the Grant Administration will have the sense to pursue a contrary course. If it does, it will agreeably disappoint public expectations.”
The only comment it is necessary to make on the paragraph from the Enquirer is that Governor Boutwell is now buying not merely one million, but from two to three millions of Government Bonds ever week.
I close what I wish to say as the policy of General Grant’s administration on the great subjects of taxation, expenditure and debt, with a statement of the confident opinion that, with the same policy continued, without any increase of the rates of taxation, the debt incurred in suppressing the rebellion can be paid off in less time than was required to pay off the war debt of the war of 1812.
THE STATE FINANCES.
Having seen how General Grant is dealing with the great financial problems in the National Administration, let us now inquire how the Democratic party deals with it in our State affairs.
The Democratic party obtained control of the law-making power of Ohio at the Election of 1867. They came into power pledged to retrenchment and economy by their platform, their press, and the speeches of their public men. There were many reasons why these pledges ought to have been faithfully kept. A great deal of exaggeration has been indulged in by our adversaries when speaking of the enormous burden of taxations brought upon the people by the war for the Union. The truth is the taxes collected in Ohio, under the Internal Revenue law of the United States, are much less than the taxation for State and local purposes authorized by the legislation of our General Assembly. The total amount of taxes collected in Ohio, under State laws in 1868, was almost $21,000,000.
The amount collected in Ohio, of Internal Revenue taxes, in the same year, was $12,186,153.59, or almost $9,000,000 less than was collected under the State laws. It is also to be observed that but a very small part of the taxes collected under the Internal Revenue Laws is paid by the people of the State at large. More than half of the Internal Revenue for the year 1868 was collected from tobacco, spirits and fermented liquors. In the commercial centers, where capital has accumulated, the larger part of the Internal Revenue is collected. In this Congressional District, for example, in 1868, the taxes collected under the State laws was $854,935.70, and the Internal Revenue tax was only $183,731.70. This is considerably less than the amount of taxes collected in Clinton County alone, under the State laws, during the same year.
I have not been able to ascertain the exact amount of internal revenue taxes collected in Clinton County during the year 1868, but assuming that this county pays in the same proportion with the other counties of this Congressional District, Clinton County paid in 1868 for national purposes, under the Internal Revenue Law, only about one-fifth as much as it paid under State legislation. Theses facts show that Ohio is far more heavily burdened by State laws than by the national Internal Revenue Law, and that this county, and all counties similarly situated, bear more than four times as great a burden under State legislation as they bear under the Internal Revenue Laws of the nation. This demonstrates how important it is that the people of Ohio should give attention to the finances, expenditures, debts and taxes which depend upon the State legislation.
Again the fact is not to be overlooked that taxation, under State laws, is rapidly increasing. The total taxes collected in Ohio under State Laws was in
1860 …………… $10,817,676.34
1861 …………… $11,656,813.92
1862 …………… $10,135,285.63
1863 …………… $11.859,573.68
1864 …………… $16,595,639.35
1865 …………… $20,870,828.75
1866 …………… $16,868,437.34
1867 …………… $20,627,977.37
1868 …………… $21,006,322.44
These figures speak for themselves. They show that the taxes paid under State laws by the people of Ohio, have in six years been doubled. In this county of Clinton the increase of taxes has been in the same period proportionately as great. Ten years ago the total amount of taxes collected under State laws in Clinton County was $92,911.03, now it is $196,437.16, or an increases of more than one hundred per cent.
The total amount of taxes levied under State laws for the year 1869 is not yet known. But every man who is well informed on the subject knows that it will be largely more than was ever levied in Ohio before. In a time of profound peace, when money is scarce, and business depressed, is not this a fact which should address attention?
A leading purpose in the minds of the framers of the present Constitution of Ohio was to rid the people of all public debts. The Constitution of 1851 provided for the extinguishments of the existing State debt, and prohibited the General Assembly from the creation of new debts except for the purpose of redeeming the old, or “to repel invasion, suppress insurrection, or to defend the State in war.” Under these provisions to the State debt has been greatly reduced, until now it is only ten millions of dollars. On the subject of local debts the provisions of the Constitution have been less effectual. Their purpose evidently is to discourage, and as far as practicable prevent the creation of such debts. Article 13, Section 6, provides for the organization of cities and villages by general laws, requires the General Assembly to “restrict their power of taxation, assessment, borrowing money, contracting debts, and loaning their credit, so as to prevent the abuse of such power.”
The power to increase indebtedness for local purposes by counties and townships, cities and villages under these provisions has been restricted in various ways. One mode has been to authorize no indebtedness, or considerable expenditure by local authority until it received the approval of the people to be affected by it at an election held for that purpose. Another mode of restricting the power has been to limit the amount of debt, so that it should not exceed a certain prescribed percentage of the taxable property of the county, or city. Nevertheless local indebtedness has gradually increased, and two years ago the State Commissioner of Statistics reported the amount of local indebtedness in Ohio, at fifteen millions of dollars.
Now in view of the facts I have here presented sowing how great is the burden of taxation and of local indebtedness in Ohio, and that the burden has rapidly increased during the last few years, it has seemed to me to be wise policy in the present financial depression, while high rates of interest prevail, and while the demands of the National Government are so great that the General Assembly of Ohio rather than encourage and increase of local taxes and local debts. It is apparent that any material increase of present rates of taxation, will tend to drive away from our State both population and capital. Indeed, already facts can be given showing that several of the cities and counties of the State are suffering in this respect from excessive taxation. In a speech, accepting a renomination, made before the Republican Convention in June last, I called attention to this subject and to the action of the last Democratic General Assembly on these important questions. Judging by the comments of the Democratic press on that speech and on the resolutions of that Convention, one might suppose that the doings of the Democratic majority of the last General Assembly were approved ad indorsed by everybody except the Republicans, and that they condemn them purely from partisan motives. But this is altogether untrue. There were significant hints given, and grumblings heard from high Democratic authorities on this subject. The Dayton Ledger fearing that the legislature would never adjourn, talked in this plain way:
“The Democracy of Ohio feel in regard to our Legislature somewhat as President Grant does in respect to the present Radical Congress. Grant is anxious that Congress should cut its work short and adjourn. The best thing the Ohio Legislature can do is to finish up such matters of legislation as are imperatively demanded by the public interests, and adjourn at a very early day. The tendency of the times is for perpetual sessions—something like the long Parliaments of England.”
The independent Democrat who edits The Commoner, after the Legislature adjourned, said:
“We advise the Democratic Convention, do not attempt to carry the doings of that Legislature. They cannot be defended; their sessions to a great extent were time wasted, and laws passed in the interest of our opponents.”
One of the ablest Democratic contributors to the same journal furnishes the following sound reasons for the advise given by its editors:
“Again, we heard much about bond holders and public debts, and the recklessness of the Republicans in mortgaging the future industry of the country; but this very Legislature authorized a larger amount of public debt than any other Legislature ever did and moreover, authorized it with a free hand, for the smallest as well as the biggest objects. It allowed cities, counties, districts, and even special road and school districts, to borrow money for every conceivable object, and what is worst of all, it empowered these little localities, as well as cities, to pay higher rates of interest than customary, thereby interfering with private credit.”
“The advice of the Commoner was lost upon the Democratic State Convention. It passed three resolutions indorsing the last General Assembly, and in one of them went so far as to “return thanks to the Legislature for their economical expenditures in the administration of the State Government.”
The Republican party accepts the issue thus tendered. We say that the last General Assembly was in session too long and too often—that its legislation was excessive, expensive, unnecessary, and in some instances, unjust and oppressive. We say that it authorized expenditures, and local debts and local taxes, in a manner and to an extent that endangers the prosperity of the State. We therefore maintain that there ought to be a thorough and sweeping reform in the legislation of Ohio.
Amount those who do not agree with me as to the character of the legislation of the last General Assembly is an intelligent and estimable gentleman, an able lawyer and a politician and legislator of much experience, the Hon. Ralph Leete, the Chairman of the Finance Committee in the House of Representatives, and one of its leading members. This gentleman addressed me a letter a short time ago in reply to my remarks in the Republican State Convention, which letter I first saw in the columns of the Ohio Statesman. In that letter, prepared after two weeks consideration of the objections I made to the acts of the last Legislature, he presets an elaborate answer to my convention speech. The first thing in the letter of Mr. Leete, to which I would ask attention, is his omission to notice the first and perhaps most serious complaint which I urged against the last Democratic Legislature in connection with the State finances. I said:
“Under provisions which contemplate one legislative session in two years they held two sessions in the same year, and three sessions in their term of two years. They were in session two hundred and sixty days—longer than was ever before known in Ohio, and at an expense of $259,264.10—more than double that of their Republican predecessors.”
This statement is not denied or explained, nor even alluded to. And yet all men having experience in legislation, must acknowledge that long sessions are the fruitful source of all sorts of abuses. The increased expense is an important item, but it is comparatively a small evil. Too much legislation; combinations between the friends of bad measures, or the opponents of good ones; all schemes to influence legislation by what is termed “log rolling,” and by the “rings”, are abuses which thrive best when legislative sessions are like those of the last Legislature, of extraordinary length.
The Democratic press seems to regard over-legislation as no evil, and even boasts of the bulk of the volumes of the laws passed by the last Legislature, and of the number of the bills and resolutions introduced and acted on. The Ohio Statesman, a few days ago, made a parade of the fact that the late Democratic Legislature had before it twelve hundred and forty-six bills and seven hundred and ninety-seven resolutions, and that “the laws of the two sessions embraced in the published volumes far exceed those of any other General Assembly.” And the fact is undoubtedly so. Almost eight hundred pages of laws were enacted by that body. Laws ought to be as few, and simple, and brief as possible. In the time of General Jackson the Democratic party had for its mottoes, “The world is governed too much,” and “That government is best which governs least.” But the Democratic press make it a merit that their Legislature enacted two such ponderous volumes of laws. The voice of experience is, that the longer the session, the larger will be the burden of unwise expenditure, oppressive taxation and unnecessary debt which the people will be compelled to bear. As to this great abuse, my friend Mr. Leete is judiciously silent.
The first statement in my remarks which he notices is in regard to the creation of new offices by the last Legislature. He says:
“You state that ‘they (the General Assembly) created between thirty and forty new offices, at a cost to the people for salaries, fees, and expenses, of at least $75,000 per annum.’ They did not create any such number of offices as you state, nor at any such cost. They did create five additional judgeships, three of which were Republican, and two in Democratic districts. They also provided for an inspector of steam boilers, whose salary should be $2,000 a year.”
He then speaks of the creation of Geological Corps which I recommended, and adds, “I know of no other offices crated by the Fifty-eighth General Assembly than those above mentioned.” Instead of only five new judgeships, which would cost the State $12,000 a year, the last Legislature created eleven new judgeships, which will cost the State $27,500 a year.
How necessary these new judgeships were a few facts will enable you to judge. The Constitution of 1851 provided for twenty-seven Common Pleas Judges in the State. In sixteen years prior to the assembling of the last Legislature, six additional judgeships had been created—or less than one new judge to every General Assembly. The last Legislature made an addition of one-third to the number of judgeships in the State. It increased the number almost twice as much as the eight preceding Legislatures.
Again, Mr. Leete says: “They provided for an Inspector of Steam Boilers, at a salary of $2,000.” The law, in fact, provides for one Chief Inspector, and also for a Deputy Inspector in each of the nineteen Congressional Districts in the State, who shall receive certain fees for inspections to the amount of not more than $2,000 for each deputy, and “the sums as compensation shall be charged upon the county in which the boiler inspected shall be situated.” Thus we see twenty new offices were created instead of one, as Mr. Leete supposes. I must, therefore, respectfully say to Mr. Leete, that, as to the new offices created by the last Legislature, of which he was a leading member, he has not been well informed.
Mr. Leete next proceeds to justify the extraordinary powers conferred upon County Commissioners, in relation to debts, for the building of bridges, the erection of county buildings, the purchase of ground for county purposes, the construction of turnpike roads, and the like. In regard to these laws, it is enough to say that they authorize County Commissioners, without the consent of the people, to contract debts at unusual rates of interest with no limit as to the amount o expenditure or of the debts to be created except at their own discretion. Before these laws were passed, the people, the taxpayers, were consulted in all important measure of this character. If an expenditure of over $10,000 was proposed, it was submitted to a vote of the people. If turnpikes were to be built, those who had to pay for them had a right to be heard. If the State is not burdened with debt and taxes, under these lays it will be due to the wisdom and economy of their County Commissioners, or to the fact that the people by their representatives in the next Legislature require them to be extensively modified, or altogether repealed.
Mr. Leete gives as the ground of this extraordinary legislation that it is necessary in order to avoid special legislation. The sufficient answer to this is that the very Legislature which passed these laws also passed special laws granting larger powers to contract debts and levy taxes than were ever conferred in Ohio before. On this whole subject I repeat what I said in June: “No intelligent man can read carefully the enactments of the last General Assembly, contained in the Sixty-fifth and Sixty-sixth volume of the Laws of Ohio, and note the number and character of the laws increasing the expenses, and liabilities of the State, and authorizing additional debts and additional taxation for city and village, for county and township purposes, without having the conviction forced upon him that the gentlemen who enacted these laws hold to the opinion that the way to increase wealth is to increase taxation, ad that public debts are public blessings.”
But, says Mr. Leete, Republicans aided in the passage of these laws. I need not reply to nor explain this suggestion. The Democratic party had a majority in both branches of the Legislature and the control and the chairmanship of every important committee. It is idle now to attempt to shift the responsibility of its actions to the shoulders of the minority. If the Democratic leaders undertake to shirk the just accountability which belongs to the party in power, I submit that no better reason than that need be given for saying that the time has come when the power ought to be taken from them.
The conclusion of the whole matter is, that under the management of the financial affairs of the State by the late Democratic Legislature expenditures are increasing, taxes are increasing, and debts are increasing. The Democratic party in its convention indorses that management and thanks the last Legislature for its economy. The Republican party condemns the legislation of the last two years, and demands that it shall be reformed. Upon this issue we go confidently before the people of Ohio.
SOLDIERS’ ORPHANS’ HOME
The Republican State Convention passed the following resolution on the subject of a Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home:
“5. Resolved, That the Republican party of Ohio is in favor of a speedy establishment of a Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home in Ohio, not only as an act of justice to the many poor and helpless orphans of deceased soldiers, but as a recognition of the patriotic services of their fathers in the late war, and for the purpose of redeeming the pledges made to protect the families of those who fought and fell in the cause of human liberty and right.”
This resolution was required by the action of the Democratic majority of the last Legislature. That majority came into power strongly pledged to a liberal policy toward the soldiers and their families. During the canvass of 1867 the Republicans were charged with having used almost a million of dollar to pay the State debt, which had been raised as a relief fund for the benefit of soldiers’ families. It was charged that this was the robbery of a sacred fund, and the people were led to believe that the Democratic party, if successful, would restore the money to the soldiers. Accordingly, on one of the first days of the first session of the last Legislature, Mr. Hughes, of Highland County, a leading Democratic member, introduced a resolution looking to a restoration of the fund. No action having been taken on this resolution on t he 1st of February 1868, Mr. Hughes offered another resolution on the same subject, instructing the Military Committee of the House of Representatives to investigate and report upon it “at an early day.” On the 9th of April, 1868, the Military Committee reported that “nearly one million, to-wit: $925,000, collected for the special benefit of the families of soldiers, has been transferred to the General Revenue Find, in violation of the good faith and promise of the State.” They also reported that “the State has never as yet, in opinion of your committee, fully recognized the services of her brave soldiers, who for years generously risked their lives, and freely poured out their blood in defense of her soil and the maintenance of her constitutional obligations to the Union;” and that “justice, good faith and the Constitutional demand that the money so generously provided by the people of Ohio, for her patriotic soldiers, should be applied to their benefit; and your committee respectfully recommended that the Committee on Finance in this House cause a bill to be reported complying with this recommendation.” In the recommendation contained din this report the whole committee concurred. But the session closed and nothing was done. At the November session of 1868, again there was no action. At the third session, petitions from all parts of the State, numerously signed by soldiers and also by citizens began to pour in upon the Legislature asking for the establishment of a Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home. The fund temporarily used by the State to pay its debts was ample for the desired purpose. A bill was introduced into the Senate by Mr. Burrows, a Republican member of the Senate, which provided that “so soon as there shall be secured by voluntary contribution the means with which to provide suitable grounds and buildings for the opening of a Home, and such means or property shall have been conveyed to a Board of Managers of the Ohio Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home, said Board shall have authority to open said Home for the purposes herein contemplated.”
By this bill the Orphans’ Home was to be established by the voluntary contributions of charitable ad patriotic citizens, without expense to the State, and the State was to defray the expense of supporting the orphans at the Home. This bill was finally referred to the Committee on Benevolent Institutions, in the Senate, and nothing was heard from the committee until in May, near the end of the session, when Judge Carter, a Democrat, reported back to the bill, “and recommended its indefinite postponement.” He gave as the reasons for this recommendation, “the subject matter of the bill being amply provided for by law.” On the motion of Mr. Lawrence, a Democrat, the whole subject was laid on the table by a strictly party vote.
Now where is the ample provision for the soldiers’ orphans under existing laws in Ohio, to which this Committee referred? In other States we know what has been done. In New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin the soldiers’ orphans are adopted as the children of the State, and gathered into comfortable homes where the are educated and cared for in a manner worthy of a patriotic and grateful people. But here the Ohio Statesman, in an article opposing “the strewing of flowers over the graves of dead soldiers,” says “there are two hundred orphans, children of dead soldiers, in the county poor-houses of Ohio!”
The good people of Ohio do not wish to lie under this reproach any longer. There are, perhaps, fifteen hundred orphan children of the brave men who perished in the war for liberty and Union, whose circumstances require the beneficent care which it is the duty of the State to provide. When the heroic fathers of these orphans were enrolled as volunteers in the Union army they were assured in every form by those who remained at home that their families would not be forgotten or neglected. Let that pledge be held sacred. In the language of Mr. Lincoln, in his Gettysburg speech, “Let us strive to care for him that has borne the battle,” and especially “for his widow and his orphans.”
When I commenced preparing this speech I had for my competitor a distinguished Union General. They say, truly, too, that he is the man with whom I slept the first time I slept in a tent—a patriotic, gallant soldier’s record he had. How they came to nominate him puzzled me. He had been against them on every issue from 1861 down to the last year. How he could accept their nomination puzzled me and it puzzled him, but they told us, “it is our new departure.” And why have a “new departure?” A sound and healthy organization is proud of its past. It is fond of having its record in the future tally with its record in the past. “Why,” said the Dayton Ledger, which has the brains of the concern, “there is no use of a political party that don’t have political victories, and we must get some Republican and soldier votes, and, accordingly, we have taken a new departure. We have been in the old grooves of defeat and disaster long enough, and therefore, we will have taken his step, which will lead on to victory. While we may fight gallant fights, and the people hurrah for Pendleton and Vallandigham, we must get Republican votes or we can not succeed in Ohio. We have tried it again and again.”
So they finally, with many strugglings and shrinkings, nominated General Rosecrans for Governor, but their line of battle faced one way—their platform faced another. Their line of battle, too, was shaky, to one accustomed to look at such nominations. There was Crawford County, for example. That fellow who signs his name Shaw called a convention for the 28th of August, of all those who were Copperheads. “We want a candidate for Governor who thinks as we think.” And there were mutterings of aversion all around the camp. In Holmes and Butler, they did not enthusiastically cheer for “old Rosey.” Well, in due time along came Rosecrans’ letter. “No, I thank you. I must look after my family and my debts,” and it is not a good thing for a man who cares for his family or creditors to be running on the Democratic ticket. Thereupon the Committee met. The Convention had decided on a new departure. The Enquirer sent up word to the committee: “The committee can not mistake what people want. The people have decided to take a new course, a new route, a new departure,” and therefore suggested as the remaining man General Cary to be the proper man for the new movement. But the committee did not heed the Enquirer. They didn’t care for the new movement and the Republican votes. They said, “We had better try to keep what Democratic votes we have in Butler and Holmes.” Therefore, the committee without calling a Convention, nominated a highly respectable citizen of Ohio, a worthy man, personally, but yet who belongs to the old race, to the reactionary movement. This is going back, so that now it stands before the people of Ohio as the great issue—the platform indorses the Legislature, and the nomination indorses the action of the peace wing of the Democratic party during the last few years.
I wish to call attention to a few things in that history. When the rebellion broke out, what was its chance for success? It had just one—a divided North. A divided North was its only chance. A united North was bound to crush the rebellion within two years after the firing on Sumter. A divided North encouraged the Emperor of France to proclaim to everybody that, sooner or later, he proposed to intervene. A divided North encouraged rebel leaders to believe that, sooner or later, our armies must disband and come home.
Now I say to you that Pendleton was the selected and chosen leader of the peace party of the Northwest—the leader of the party that made a divided North. They talked of the debt and the great burden of taxation. We talked sadly of the loss of valuable lives that went down in the storm of battle. I say to you that the fact of a divided North doubled the debt and doubled the loss of valuable lives. Their leader was of the peace party of the Northwest, when the Democratic party nominated McClellan for President. It was plain that the leaders of the Peace party were not satisfied with him. They must remove that dissatisfaction as far as possible in the next candidate on the ticket. They selected as most acceptable to these George H. Pendleton, of Ohio, as the man, and he stands in history to-day as the leader of the peace faction that gives as through that great struggle a divided North. I propose during this canvass to spread before the people the record of this gentleman in that great struggle.
The strangest thing in the history of the rebellion is, that nowhere on earth, except in our own country, was the significance of this great struggle misunderstood. In Germany and England the friends of freedom knew that Lincoln and the loyal army were fighting the battles of freedom for all mankind, and were all for him. The Dukes and titled ones of England and Germany sympathized with the rebellion, for they knew that the rebellion was fighting battles for aristocracy and despotism for all the world. It is strange that only here the mistake should be made. A wise and learned gentleman, in Congress six years ago—Mr. Pendleton—was blind as a mole to what was open to the vision of the plainest man in Europe. He, from the beginning to the end, opposed the measures and policy of Lincoln, which saved this land.
Now, my friends, I say to you that until the great debt is settled and paid, until the last orphan child of our brave soldiers has been cared for in a comfortable home, I say to the people, Trust power to no man who, during that eventful struggle, was unfaithful to the cause of liberty and the Union.