August 15, 1867
It is apparent from the carefully prepared speech of Judge Thurman, that he correctly understands the issues involved in the present canvass, and in pursuing the discussion we shall keep very closely to these issues.
Having this in view, the Democratic candidate for Governor makes his speech an elaborate defense of the course of himself and his followers during the war. He very properly, seeing that the people will hold them to rigid accountability for their course when the national life was in danger, argues these issues. Judge Thurman has declared that peace might have been obtained after the battle of Antietam. He offers no proof of this. If his friends knew of any way in which peace could be established they had their opportunity to state it from their seats in Congress. One of these gentlemen, Mr. Vallandigham, in his place in Congress, did announce the method in which the war could be closed. He said, stop the fighting; declare an armistice; have no formal treaty; recall your fleets; break up the blockade, and establish free trade. This was the peace they would have obtained, simply to declare this conspiracy of rebellion to break up the Government successful.
Mr. Lincoln saw that no peace could be had then that did not sever the country into two parts, one hostile to the United States and the other the remnant of the United States.
Judge Thurman is mistaken when he says abuse and ridicule were heaped upon those who were in favor of peace before the war.
Douglas was in favor of peace before the war, but when the war came he took side with the Government and he went down to his grave with the honors of a grateful country.
Abuse and ridicule, if those terms are applicable, were heaped on those who after the war was begun were advocates of peace.
Judge Thurman is mistaken when he says peace could be had after South Mountain and Antietam. He declares that all were hunted down who were not serving. Were Grant, Sherman, Thomas, Sheridan, Mead and Howard, servants? Were they hunted down? Not by the Union men. If they were hunted it was by sympathisers with rebellion.
When Judge Thurman said peace could have been had, and McClellan was removed because he favored it, he should know of one fact to sustain the assertion. What is it? Judge Thurman, name your facts. You all recollect the case of McClellan after Antietam. There he lay waiting for shoes. Are any here who were soldiers in Sherman’s army? Did a solider of Sheridan or Sherman ever know them to wait for shoes?
Judge Thurman declares that they were a Constitution-loving party. Was it that portion of the Democratic party who were led by Calhoun into nullification, or this portion led by Jeff. Davis into session?
It was not the Constitution of our country that they loved. The Enquirer in an article on my Lebanon speech, undertakes to say that I am totally ignorant of history. Let us advert to some passages in the history of our county. In the Colonial Convention, our fathers discussed the question on what ground they should bring in their complaint against the King of England. Some were for declaring that their charters had been violated, but it was found that there was no uniformity in the provisions of their charters. Then Christopher Gadsden, of South Carolina, a noble patriot, arose, and said he was for putting it on the ground of common humanity. Said he, “I wish to hear not of New England men, not of New York men, but that noble word, “I am an American;” and that idea prevailed in the convention. How read the Declaration of Independence? “When, in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people,” &c. The authors of the Declaration then regarded us as one people.
What says the Constitution? “We, the people of the United States.” What does the name of our country mean? The rebels expressed their sentiments by the term, “Confederate States of America.” We say the United States of America.
Jackson’s proclamation to the Nullifiers declared that no part could separate from it without the nation’s consent. We declare that our highest and supreme allegiance is due to that nation, that it is entitled to a nation’s flag and seal, and whatever might have been thought before the rebellion, the war established that we are one nation.
Mr. Lincoln rightly saw of our opponents’ construction of State rights, that it was the right to rule all below it and ruin all above it.
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They may turn him [Sheridan] out, but cannot disgrace him. His place in history is fixed. It may happen, as has happened before, that the stone which the builders rejected shall become the head of the corner, and we declare that until reconstruction is completed in the Government, rebels shall take back seats and the administration of affairs shall be in loyal hands.
In the North men who, in time of peril, were unfaithful to the Union shall not have honors or trusts, or power.
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Would our opponents be as likely to oppose it [equal suffrage] if they knew the negro would vote the Democratic ticket? They are a little afraid the negro will know, as he did during the war, who his friends are, and know enough to be on the right side and on the winning side; and that is more than some of those opposed to us know.
But some say that voting is the highest duty of citizenship; say voting is indeed a high privilege, but the highest duty is that which impels a man to take his hand and go forth to fight for the life and integrity of his imperiled country. Having given that privilege, I say with General Sherman at Atlanta, that having given them bayonets, we will not withhold the ballot.
The doctrine of equal rights is the new testament doctrine of our fathers and of right. It carried us through the war, and is the only doctrine that can make us continue to be what we have hitherto been, the most prosperous and happy people on the face of the earth.