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[18]

Then our condition will be worse than it has ever been. Confidence will be gone-respect for each other will be changed for disgust-and we will abandon forever all hopes of peace under our free government.

Fear will drive us to take shelter under despotism, that we may secure repose by the force of some imperial will-having failed to obtain peace by the honorable consent of our brethren, based upon a candid survey of the past, and a good understanding for the future.

If we agree that the peace, that we now hail with rejoicing, is the result of a final conclusion of the people that the States are to have and enjoy within the Union and under the Constitution as it is — the right of local self-government as it now exists, that peace will be enduring.

If, otherwise, the right is claimed for the Federal Government to reconstruct the States, as occasion may offer, through the war-making power of the President, or Congress, so as to conform their laws, constitutions, and official rosters to the will of the dominant party in the Union, we will have strife that will end in destruction.

I have faith in the peace of 1877. It is just, reasonable, honorable, and constitutional; and for these reasons it is commended to the hearts of strong men North and South, who intend to stand by it, and see that it is maintained.

Conflicts of opinions and of interests may again arise between the sections of the country, divided by lines of latitude or longitude; but we have all learned that forbearance is a virtue. The people have deliberately reviewed all the grounds upon which the peace of 1877 is founded, and after many tests of the ballot since 1865, they have finally decreed that it is fixed, permanent, and inviolable.

The volunteer armies of 1861 to 1865, in the main, have sustained the peace which they conquered and declared. But while they were hanging up their arms and furling their banners at the close of the war, men took possession of the civil power and eagerly broke the solemn covenant of blood, not a drop of which had ever flowed from their opened veins, and to them the country now justly attributes the calamities and disorders of the past ten years.

They were heartless politicians, who would reap the harvest of victory where they had not sowed the blood of the battle-field.

They gained the sympathies and support of a confiding people by appealing to the sentiments anrd passions that were quickened by the horrors of warfare, and, as a reward for their simulated griefs, were placed in offices that gave them the power to crush the helpless and to plunder them under the forms of law and in the name of the United States. Once in power they quickly did their work, and improvised a new army of enlisted men to sustain them in measures at which the true armies of the North, who had gone home in triumph, would have revolted.

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