Fellow-citizens:--In reply to the cordial welcome which has just been tendered to me, through your chosen organ — in reply to what has been said by the gentleman chosen by you to bid me welcome to Cincinnati
— I have not language adequate to express my feelings of gratitude.
I cannot find language to thank you for the tender of good fellowship which has been made to me on the present occasion.
I came here without any expectation that such a reception was in store for me. I had no expectation of being received and welcomed in the language, I may say the eloquent and forcible language of your chosen organ.
I am deserving of no such tender.
I might conclude what little I am going to say by merely responding to, and endorsing every single sentence uttered on this occasion in welcoming me in your midst.
For myself, I feel that while I am a citizen of a Southern State--a citizen of the South
and of the State of Tennessee
, I feel at the same time that I am also a citizen of the United States
(Applause.) Most cordially do I respond to what has been said in reference to the maintenance of the Constitution of the United States
, in all its bearings, in all its principles therein contained.
The Constitution of the United States
lays down the basis upon which the Union
of all the States of this Confederacy can and may be maintained, and preserved, if it be literally and faithfully carried out. (Applause.) So far as I am concerned, feeling that I am a citizen of the Union
--that I am a citizen of the United States
, I am willing to abide by that Constitution.
I am willing to live under a Government that is built upon and perpetuated upon the principles laid down by the Constitution
, which was formed by Washington
and his compeers, after coming from the heat and strife of bloody revolution.
I repeat, again, that I have not language adequate to express my gratitude for the appreciation of the kindness which has been manifested in regard to my humble self.
I cannot sufficiently thank you for the manifestation of your appreciation of the course I have pursued, in regard to the crisis which is now upon this country.
I have no words to utter, or rather I have words which will not give utterance to the feelings that I entertain on this occasion.
(Applause.) I feel, to-day, a confidence, in my own bosom, that the cordiality and the sympathy and the response that comes here from the people of Ohio
is heartfelt and sincere.
I feel that in reference to the great question now before the people, those whom I see before me are honest and sincere.
(Applause.) I repeat again, and for the third time, that I have no language in which I can express my gratitude to you, and at the same time, for which I can express my devotion to the principles of the Constitution
and the flag and emblem of our glorious Union of States.
I know that there has been much said about the North
, much said about the South
I am proud, here to-day, to hear the sentiments and the language which have been uttered in reference to the North
and the South
, and the relations that exist between these two sections.
(Applause.) I am glad to hear it said in such a place as this that the pending difficulties — I might say the existing war — which are now upon this country do not grow out of any animosity to the local institution of any section.
(Applause.) I am glad to be assured that it grows out of a determination to maintain the glorious principles upon which the Government
itself rests — the principles contained in the Constitution
— and at the same time to rebuke and to bring back as far as may be practicable, within the pale of the Constitution
, those individuals, or States even, who have taken it upon themselves to exercise a principle and doctrine at war with all government, with all association — political, moral, and religious.
I mean the doctrine of secession, which is neither more nor less than a heresy — a fundamental error — a political absurdity, coming in conflict with all organized Government, with every thing that tends to preserve law and order in the United States
, or wherever else the odious and abominable doctrine may be attempted to be exercised.
I look upon the doctrine of secession as coming in conflict with all organism, moral and social.
I repeat, without regard to the peculiar institutions of the respective States composing this Confederacy; without regard to any Government that may be found in the future or exists in the present, this odious doctrine of secession should be crushed out, destroyed, and totally annihilated.
No Government can stand, no religious, or moral, or social organization can stand, where this doctrine is tolerated.
(Applause.) It is disintegration — universal dissolvement — making war upon every thing that has a tendency to promote and ameliorate the condition of the mass of mankind.
(Applause.) Therefore I repeat, that this odious and abominable doctrine — you must pardon me for using a strong expression — I do not say it in a profane sense — but this doctrine I conceive to be, hell-born and hell-bound
and one which will carry every thing in its train, unless it is arrested and crushed out from our midst.
In response to what has been said to me here to-day, I confess when I lay my hand upon my bosom, I feel gratified at hearing the sentiments that have been uttered — that we are all willing to stand up for the constitutional rights guaranteed to every State, every community — that we are all determined to stand up for the prerogatives secured to us in the Constitution
as citizens of States composing one grand Confederacy, whether we belong to the North
or to the South
, to the East
or to the West
I say that I am gratified to hear such sentiments uttered here to-day.
I regard them as the most conclusive evidence that there is no disposition on the part of any citizens of the loyal States, to make war upon any peculiar institution of the South
, (applause,) whether it be slavery or any thing else — leaving that institution, under the Constitution
, to be controlled by time, circumstances, and the great laws which lie at the foundation of all things which political legislation can control.
While I am before you, my countrymen, I am in hopes it will not be considered out of place for me to make a single remark or two, in reference to myself as connected with the present crisis.
My position in the Congress of the United States during its last session, is, I suppose, familiar to most, if not all of you. You know the doctrine I laid down then, and I can safely say that the opinions I entertain now on the questions of the day, are as they were then.
I have not changed them.
I have seen no reason to change them.
I believe that a Government without the power to enforce its laws, made in conformity with the Constitution
, is no Government at all. (Applause.) We have arrived at that point or that period in our national history, at which it has become necessary for this Government to say to the civilized, as well as to the pagan world, whether it is in reality a Government, or whether it is but a pretext for a Government.
If it has power to preserve its existence, and to maintain the principles of the Constitution
and the laws, that time has now arrived.
If it is a Government, that authority should be asserted.
I say, then, let the civilized world see that we have a Government.
Let us dispel the delusion under which we have been laboring since the inauguration of the Government
in 1789--let us show that it is not an ephemeral institution; that we have not imagined that we had a Government, and when the test came, that the Government
frittered away between our fingers and quickly faded in the distance.
(Applause.) The time has come when the Government
reared by our fathers should assert itself, and give conclusive proof to the civilized world that it is a reality and a perpetuity.
(Applause.) Let us show to other nations that this doctrine of secession is a heresy; that States coming into the Confederacy
, that individuals living in the Confederacy
, under the Constitution
, have no right nor authority, upon their own volition, to set the laws and the Constitution
aside, and to bid defiance to the authority of the Government
under which they live.
I substantially cited the best authority that could be produced upon this subject, and took this position during the last session of Congress.
I stand here to-day before you and advocate the same principles I then contended for. As early as 1833, (let me here say that I am glad to find that the Committee
which have waited upon me on this occasion, and have presented to me their sentiments through their organ — I am glad to find that they represent all the parties among which we have been divided;)--as early as 1833, I say, I formed my opinions in reference to this doctrine of secession in the nullification of the laws of the United States
I held these doctrines up to the year 1850, and I maintain them still.
I entertained these opinions, as I remarked before, down to the latest sitting of Congress, and I then reiterated them.
I entertain and express them here to-day.
In this connection, I may be permitted to remark that, during our last struggle for the Presidency, all parties contended for the preservation of the Union
Without going further back, what was that struggle?
of the State of Illinois
was a candidate.
His friends presented him as the best Union man. I shall speak upon this subject in reference to my position.
's friends presented him to the people as the Union
I was one of Mr. Breckinridge
men presented the claims of the Hon. John Bell
for the Presidency, upon the ground that he was the best Union candidate.
The Republican party, so far as I understand them, have always :been in favor of the Union
Then here was the contest; between four candidates presented to the consideration of the people of the United States
And the great struggle between them and their advocates was, who was entitled to pre-eminence as a man in favor of the preservation of the Union
of these States.
Now where do we find ourselves?
In times gone by, you know we had our discussions and our quarrels.
It was bank and anti-bank questions, tariff and anti-tariff, internal improvement and anti-internal improvement, or the distribution of the money derived from the sale of public lands, among the several States.
Such measures as these we presented to the people, and the aim in the solution of all was how best to preserve the Union
of these States.
One party favored the measures as calculated to promote the welfare of our common country; another opposed them, to bring about the same result.
Then what was the former contest?
Bringing it down to the present times, there
has been no disagreement between Republicans, Bell
men, and Breckinridge
men, as regards the preservation of the Union of States.
Now, however, these measures are all laid aside — all these party questions are left out of consideration, and the great question comes up whether the Constitution
, as adopted by the old articles of Confederation and afterwards reaffirmed in the adoption of the Constitution of the United States
--I say now, when the great question arises, involving the preservation and existence of the Government
of the United States
, I am proud to meet this vast concourse of people, and hear them say they are willing to lay aside all party measures — all party considerations, and come up to join in one fraternal hug to sustain the bright Stars and broad Stripes of our glorious Union--all willing to unite, I repeat, in one fraternal hug — all willing to co-operate for the consummation of a sublime purpose, without regard to former party differences — that we are all determined to stand fast by the Union
of these States.
So far as I am concerned I am willing to say in this connection, that I am proud — I am gratified to stand here among you as one of the humble upholders and supporters of the Stars and Stripes that have been borne by Washington
through a seven years revolution — a bold and manly struggle for our independence — and separation from the mother country.
That is my flag — that flag was borne by Washington
Under it I want to live, and under no other.
It is that flag that has been borne in triumph by the Revolutionary fathers over every battle-field, when our brave men after toil and danger laid down and slept on the cold ground, with no covering but the inclement sky, and arose in the morning and renewed their march over the frozen ground, as the blood trickled from their feet — all to protect that banner, and bear it aloft triumphantly.
I repeat that I am proud to be in your midst — am amongst this vast number to uphold the flag that was borne by Washington
— the emblem of the Union of States.
(Applause.) I have intimated that I should make some allusion to myself.
I have indicated to you what were my opinions and my views from 1838 down to the moment I stand before you. With the facts in relation to the contest which took place recently in the State of Tennessee
, you are all familiar.
No longer ago than last February there was an extra session of the Legislature called.
There was then a law passed authorizing a Convention to be called.
The people of that State voted it down by a majority of sixty-four thousand.
In a very short time afterwards, another session of the Legislature was called.
This legislature went into secret session in a very short time.
While the Southern Confederacy, or its agents, had access to it, and were put in possession of the doings and proceedings of this secret session, the great mass of my own State were not permitted even to put their ears to the keyhole, or to look through a crevice in the doors, to ascertain what was being done.
A league with the Southern Confederacy has been formed, and the State
has been handed over to the Southern Confederacy, with Jeff. Davis
at its head.
We, the people of Tennessee
, have been handed over to this Confederacy, I say, like sheep in the shambles, bound hand and foot, to be disposed of as Jefferson Davis
and his cohorts may think proper.
This Ordinance was passed by the Convention
with a proviso that it should be submitted to the people.
The Governor was authorized to raise 55,000 men. Money was appropriated to enable him to carry out this diabolical and nefarious scheme, depriving the people of their rights, disposing of them as stock in the market — handing them over completely, body and soul, to the Southern Confederacy.
Now you may talk about slaves and slavery, but in most instances when a slave changes his master, even he has the privilege of choosing whom he desires for his next master; but in this instance, the sovereign people of a free State have not been allowed the power or privilege of choosing the master they desired to serve.
They have been given a master without their consent or advice.
No trouble was taken to ascertain what their desires were — they were at once handed over to this Southern Confederacy.
here gave a statement of the provisions of the Tennessee
secession ordinance, etc. The eastern portion of the State
, he said, had rejected the ordinance by a large majority, and would always remain firmly opposed to it. He referred to the refusal of Gov. Harris
to furnish arms to East Tennessee
, unless the people would agree to fight for the State Government
Speaking of the persecution of the Union
men in Tennessee
, he said:
But while this contest has been going on, a portion of our fellow-citizens have been standing up for the Constitution
and the Union
, and because they have dared to stand upon the great embattlement of constitutional liberties, exercising the freedom and the liberty of speech, a portion of our people have declared that we are traitors; they have said that our fate was to be the fate of traitors; and that hemp was growing, and that the day of our execution was approaching — that the time would come when those who dare stand by the Constitution
and the principles therein embraced, would expiate their deeds upon the gallows.
We have met all these things.
We have met them in open day. We have met them face to face — toe to toe — at least in one portion of the State
We have told them that the Constitution of the United States
defines treason, and that definition is, that treason against the United States
shall consist only in levying war against the General Government
of the United States
We have told them that the time would come
when the principles of the Constitution
and the law defining treason would be maintained.
We have told them that the time would come when the judiciary of the Government
would be sustained in a manner that it could define what was treason under the Constitution
and the law made in conformity with it, and that when defined, they would ascertain who were the traitors, and who it was that would stretch the hemp they had prepared for us. (Applause.)
I know that in reference to myself and others, rewards have been offered, and it has been said that warrants have been issued for our arrest.
Let me say to you here to-day, that I am no fugitive, especially no fugitive from justice.
(Laughter.) If I were a fugitive, I would be a fugitive from tyranny — a fugitive from the reign of terror.
But, thank God, the county in which I live, and that division of the State
from which I hail, will record a vote of 25,000 against the secession ordinance.
The county in which I live gave a majority of 2,007 against this odious, diabolical, nefarious, hell-born and hell-bound doctrine.
The speaker continued in a strain similar to the above for about fifteen minutes longer.
He made many humorous allusions to the “bravery” of the secession soldiery, and wound up with a heart-stirring appeal for the preservation of the Union