Page images
PDF
EPUB

WALKER'S REPLY TO SLIDELL.

I2I

repudiation of the debt of Mississippi, was the leader of a rebellion founded upon the nullification doctrines which Walker had always opposed. Walker's labors through the press, on the hustings, and in personal appeals against the rebellion, were wonderful.

The sagacious Lincoln, fully convinced that the war for the Union could not be carried to success without the aid of the Douglas Democracy-and who would have conferred upon Stephen A. Douglas, if he had lived, one of the most important commands in the army-called Robert J. Walker to his aid, and sent him forth to Europe, in 1863, for the purpose of presenting our country's cause to the people of the Old World, and especially for the purpose of spreading before them incontestible proofs of our ability to maintain ourselves, and of our inexhaustible financial resources. One of his first acts was to print in the London Times a caustic reply to John Slidell, then Jefferson Davis's Minister at Paris, who attempted to vindicate his master against the charge of having assisted in the repudiation of the State bonds of Mississippi. As I write I have before me this magnificent paper; and now that the great brain that conceived and the ready hand that penned it are silent in the grave, it deserves to be laid as an enduring wreath upon his tomb :

“Here, then, are eight judges, all chosen by the people of Mississippi, concurring in 1842, as well as in 1853, as to the validity of these bonds, and yet Jefferson Davis justifies their repudiation. The judges of Mississippi all take an oath to support the Constitution, and it is made their duty to interpret it.

“The Legislature is confined to law-making, and forbidden to exercise any judicial power; the expounding this supplemental law, and the provisions under which it was enacted, is exclusively a judicial power, and yet the Legislature usurps this power, repudiates the bonds of the State, and the acts of the

three preceding Legislatures, and the decision of the highest tribunals of the State. Jefferson Davis sustains this repudiation, and the British public are asked to take new Confederate bonds, issued by the same Jefferson Davis, and thus to sanction and encourage and offer a premium for repudiation. These so-called Confederate bonds are issued in open violation of the Constitution of the United States; they are absolute nullities, they are tainted with treason, they never can or will be paid, and yet they are thrust on the British public under the sanction of the same great repudiator, Jefferson Davis, who applauds the non-payment of the Mississippi bonds, and thus condemns hundreds of innocent holders, including widows and orphans, to want and misery. Talk about faith, about honor, about justice, and the sanctity of contracts; why, if such flagrant outrages, such atrocious crimes can be sustained by the great public of any nation, small indeed must be the value of their bonds, which rests exclusively on good faith."

Now read the following appeal to the English government and people, and remember that the very men here denounced are once more engaged in an attempt to seize the government of the Union :

“The blasphemous doctrine of the divine right of kings was discarded by England in the Revolution of 1688. The British throne reposes now on the alleged basis of the welfare and happiness of the people. What form of government will best promote that end? This is the only question. I believe it is ours -but only with slavery extinguished, and universal education --schools-schools—schools—common schools—high schools for all. Education the criterion of the right of suffrage, not property. I do not believe in a government of ignorance, whether by the rich or poor, the many or the few. With the constant and terrible opposing element of slavery, we have certainly achieved stupendous results in three fourths of a century; and to say that our system has failed, because slavery now

WALKER'S REPLY TO SLIDELL.

123

makes war upon it, is amazing folly. Why predict that, when reunited and with slavery extinguished, we would bully the world? Who were our bullies? Who struck down Charles Sumner, the Senator from Massachusetts, the eminent scholar and orator, on the floor of the Senate, for denouncing the horrors of slavery? A South Carolina member of Congress, while all slavedom approved the deed. Who endeavored to force slavery on Kansas by murder and rapine, and the forgery of a constitution? Who repealed the Missouri Compromise, in order to force slavery upon all the Territories of the United States? Who are endeavoring now to dissolve the Union, and spread slavery over all this wide domain? Who conspired to assassinate the American President on his way to Washington? Who murdered, in Baltimore, the men of Massachusetts, on their way to the defense of the Capital of the Union? Who commenced the conflict by firing upon the starving garrison of Sumter, and striking down the banner of the Union which floated over its walls? Who, immediately thereafter, announced their resolution to capture Washington, seized the national arms and forts and dock-yards and vessels and arsenals and mints and treasure, and opened the war upon the Federal Government? There is a plain answer to all these questions. It is the lords of the whip and the chain and the branding-iron who are our bullies; who insist upon forced labor, and repudiate all compensation to the toiling millions of slaves—who repudiate among slaves the marital and parental relation, and class them by law as chattels—who forbid emancipation—who make it a crime to teach slaves to write or read, aye, even the Bible—who keep open the inter-State slave-trade (more horrible than the African, making Virginia a human stock-farm), tearing husband from wife, and parents from children-founding a Government boldly announcing the property in man based avowedly on the divinity, extension, and perpetuity of slavery— these are our bullies, and when they are overthrown we shall commence a new career of peaceful progress and advanced civilization. And why sow the seeds of international hatred between England and America ? Is war really desired between the two countries, or is it supposed that we will yield to foreign intervention without a struggle? No; the North will rise as one man, and thousands even from the South will join them. The country will become a camp, and the ocean will swarm with our privateers. Rather than submit to dismemberment or secession, which is anarchy and ruin, we will, we must fight until the last man has fallen. If the views of a foreign power have been truly represented in Parliament, and such an aggression upon us is contemplated, let him beware, for in such a contest the political pyramid resting upon its apex, the power of one man, is much more likely to fall than that which reposes on the broad basis of the will of the people."

This first article was a bombshell in the ranks of the conspirators sent to Europe to poison our credit and blast our fame, and it was followed by a number of even greater force and ability, in one of which he said :

“Why, the legal-tender notes of the so-called Confederate government, fundable in a stock bearing eight per cent. interest, are now worth in gold, at their own capital of Richmond, less than ten cents on the dollar (two shillings on the pound), while in two thirds of their territory such notes are utterly worthless; and it is treason for any citizen of the United States, North or South, or any alien resident there, to deal in them or in Confederate bonds, or in the cotton pledged for their payment. No form of Confederate bonds or notes or stock will ever be recognized by the Government of the United States, and the cotton pledged by slaveholding traitors for the payment of the Confederate bonds is all forfeited for treason, and confiscated to the Federal Government by act of Congress."

On the 26th of November, 1863, at a great Thanksgiving dinner of the loyal Americans in London, in accordance with

SLAVERY ABOLISHED.

125

the proclamation of Abraham Lincoln, of which Robert J. Walker was president, he used the following inspiring language, which I quote, not only to revive the recollection of his great services, but as most pertinent at the present hour:

“This day has been set apart by the President of the United States for thanksgiving to Almighty God for all the blessings which he has vouchsafed to us as a people. Among these are abundant crops, great prosperity in all our industrial pursuits, a vast addition, even during the war, to our material wealth, and augmented immigration to our shores from Europe. Our finances have been conducted with great ability and success by the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Chase, who has also succeeded in giving us, for the first time in our history, a uniform national currency, which, as a bond of union and as an addition to our wealth and resources, is nearly equal to all the expenses of the great contest. [Loud cheers for Mr. Chase.] During the present year nearly four hundred million dollars of the six per cent. stock of the United States has been taken at home, at or above par, while within the last few months European capitalists, unsolicited by us, are making large investments in the securities of the Union. But, above all, we have to thank God for those victories in the field which are bringing this great contest to a successful conclusion. This rebellion is, indeed, the most stupendous in history. It absorbs the attention and affects the political institutions and material interests of the world. The armies engaged exceed those of Napoleon. Death never had such a carnival, and each week consumes millions of treasure. Great is the sacrifice, but the cause is peerless and sublime. [Cheers.] If God has placed us in the van of the great contest for the rights and liberties of man; if he has assigned us the post of danger and of suffering, it is that of unfading glory and imperishable renown. (Loud cheers.] The question with us, which is so misunderstood here, is that of national unity (Hear, hear], which is the vital element of our

« PreviousContinue »