« PreviousContinue »
that “the gods themselves cannot recall their gifts.” But even if other gifts may be recalled, the gift of Freedom cannot; for its recall would be the sacrifice of human rights. Every slave declared free by that Proclaination is entitled to his freedom as much as you and I. The President himself, empowered to confer freedom, is impotent to make a slave. Look at the question as you will, in the light of morals or of jurisprudence, and the answer is the same. There is the promise of the Proclamation, by which the public faith of the country is irrevocably pledged that certain slaves “shall be henceforward free,” and their freedom shall be “recognized and maintained"; and this promise, according to morals, cannot be taken back. Still more, according to jurisprudence, it cannot be taken back; for “Once free, always free" is a prevailing maxim, and no court, sitting under the Constitution, and inspired by the Declaration of Independence, can venture to limit or restrain a proclamation of freedom, made in the exercise of war powers for the suppression of rebellion. It is vain to say that the slaves are not now in our power. This is a proper argument for the enemy, but not for any court of the United States. Every such court refusing to recognize the act of the President will stultify itself and shock the judicial conscience of mankind. It is enough that the Proclamation has declared the slaves free. There is not a slave in the Rebel region who may not look to it for protection, while it overarches all like a firmament, which human effort will strive in vain to drag down. [Applause.]
Do you need authority for this principle ? Let me read you the emphatic and well-considered words of Postmaster-General Blair ::
“The people once slaves in the Rebel States can never again be recognized as such by the United States. No JUDICIAL DECISION, NO LEGISLATIVE ACTION, STATE OR NaTIONAL, can be admitted to reënslave a people who are associated with our own destinies in this war of defence to save the Government, and whose manumission was deemed essential to the restoration and preservation of the Union, and to its permanent peace.”] [Applause.]
This is noble doctrine; and it is none the less noble because from a member of the Cabinet sometimes supposed to hesitate where Freedom is in question.
See, then, into what denial of just principles, as well as inconsistencies, you are led, when you follow the Democratic candidate in rejecting Freedom as the corner-stone of Union.
But I have said enough. The case is too plain for argument. Let me give it to you in a nutshell.
A vote for McClellan will be first and foremost, a vote for Slavery, at a time when this crime has plunged the country into the sorrow and waste of war.
It will be, also, a vote for the Rebellion, at a moment when the Rebellion is nigh to fall.
Also, a vote for Disunion, at a moment when the Union is about to be made inseparable.
But disunion, when once started, cannot be stopped ; so that a vote for McClellan will be a vote to break this Union in pieces, and to set each State spinning
It will be a vote for chronic war among fellow-citizens, ever beginning and never ending, until the fate of Mexico will be ours.
i Speech at Cleveland, May 20, 1863: Comments on the Policy inaugurated by the President, p. 11.
Also, a vote for the repudiation of the national debt, involving the destruction of property and the overthrow of business.
Also, a vote for anarchy and chaos at home.
On the other hand, a vote for Abraham Lincoln will be, first and foremost, a vote for Freedom, Union, and Peace, that political trinity under whose guardianship we place the Republic. It will be a vote, also, to fix the influence and good name of our country, so that it shall become the pride of history. It will be a vote, also, for civilization itself. At home it will secure tranquillity throughout the land, with freedom of travel and of speech, so that the eloquence of Wendell Phillips may be enjoyed at Richmond and Charleston as at New York and Boston, and the designation of . “ Border States,” now exclusively applicable to interior States, will be removed, so that our only “Border States” will be on Canada at the North and Mexico at the South. Doing all this at home, it will do more abroad; for it will secure the triumph of American institutions everywhere. [Great applause.]
Surely all this is something to vote for. And you will not hesitate. Forward, then, - in the name of Freedom, Union, and Peace! Crush the enemy everywhere. Crush him on the field of battle. Crush him at the ballot-box. And may the November election be the final peal of thunder which shall clear the sky and fill the heavens with glory! [Prolonged cheers.]
SLAVERY AND THE REBELLION
ONE AND INSEPARABLE :
ISSUES OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
SPEECH BEFORE THE NEW YORK Young Men's REPUBLICAN UNION,
AT COOPER Institute, November 5, 1864.