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[439] in the nomination of Mr. Pugh as your candidate for Lieutenant-Governor and President of the Senate. A scholar and a gentleman, a soldier in a foreign war, and always a patriot; eminent as a lawyer and distinguished as an orator and a statesman, I hail his acceptance as an omen of the return of the better and more virtuous days of the republic.

I indorse your noble platform — elegant in style, admirable in sentiment. You present the true issue and commit yourselves to the great mission just now of the Democratic party--to restore and make sure, first, the rights and liberties declared yours by your constitutions. It is vain to invite the States and people of the South to return to a Union without a constitution, and dishonored and polluted by repeated and most aggravated exactions of tyrannic power. It is base in yourselves and treasonable to your posterity to surrender these liberties and rights to the creatures whom your own breath created and can destroy.

Shall there be free speech, a free press, peaceable assemblages of the people, and a free ballot any longer in Ohio? Shall the people hereafter, as hitherto, have the right to discuss and contemn the principles and policy of the party — the ministry — the men who, for the time, conduct the government — to demand of their public servants a reckoning of their stewardship, and to place other men and another party in power at their supreme will and pleasure? Shall Order Thirty-eight or the Constitution be the supreme law of the land? And shall the citizen any more be arrested by an armed soldiery at midnight, dragged from wife and child and home to a military prison, thence to a mock military trial, thence condemned, and then banished as a felon for the exercise of his rights?

This is the issue, and nobly you have met it. It is the very question of free, popular government itself. It is the whole question — upon the one side liberty, on the other despotism. The President, as the recognized head of his party, accepts the issue. Whatever he wills, that is law. Constitutions, State and federal, are nothing; acts of legislation nothing; the judiciary less than nothing. In time of war there is but one will supreme — his will; but one law — military necessity, and he the sole judge.

Military orders supersede the Constitution, and military commissions usurp the place of the ordinary courts of justice in the land. Nor are these mere idle claims. For two years and more, by arms, they have been enforced. It was the mission of the weak but presumptuous Burnside — a name infamous for ever in the ears of all lovers of constitutional liberty — to try the experiment in Ohio, aided by a judge whom I name not, because he has brought foul dishonor upon the judiciary of my country.

In your hands now, men of Ohio, is the final issue of the experiment. The party of the Administration have accepted it. By pledging support to the President, they have justified his outrages upon liberty and the Constitution, and whoever gives his vote to the candidates of that party commits himself to every act of violence and wrong on the part of the Administration which he upholds; and thus, by the law of retaliation, which is the law of might, would forfeit his own right to liberty, personal and political, whensoever other men and another party shall hold the power. Much more do the candidates themselves. Suffer them not, I entreat you, to evade the issue; and by the judgment of the people we will abide.

And now, finally, let me ask, what is the pretext for all the monstrous acts and claims of arbitrary power which you have so nobly denounced? “Military necessity.” But if indeed all these be demanded by military necessity, then, believe me, your liberties are gone and tyranny is perpetual. For if this civil war is to terminate only by the subjugation or submission of the Southern force and arms, the infant of today will not see the end of it. No, in another way only can it be brought to a close. Travelling a thousand miles or more, through nearly one half of the confederate States, and sojourning for a time at widely different points, I met not one man, woman, or child who was not resolved to perish rather than yield to the pressure of arms even in the most desperate extremity.

And whatever may and must be the varying fortune of the war — in all which I recognize the hand of Providence pointing visibly to the ultimate issue of the great trial of the States and people of America — they are better prepared now every way to make good their inexorable purpose than at any period since the beginning of the struggle. These may indeed be unwelcome truths, but they are addressed only to candid and honest men. Neither, however, let me add, did I meet any one, whatever his opinions or his station, political or private, who did not declare his readiness, when the war shall have ceased and invading armies been withdrawn, to consider and discuss the question of reunion. And who shall doubt the issue of the argument?

I return, therefore, with my opinions and convictions as to war or peace, and my faith as to final results from sound policy and wise statesmanship, not only unchanged but confirmed and strengthened. And may the God of heaven and earth so rule the hearts and minds of Americans everywhere, that with a Constitution maintained, a Union restored, and liberty henceforth made secure, a grander and nobler destiny shall yet be ours than that even which blessed our fathers in the first two ages of the republic.

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