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Doc. 161.-Senator Bayard on secession.

To the People of the State of Delaware:
Fellow-citizens :--Though, like all men who have mingled actively in political contests, I have often been subjected to misrepresentations and calumnies, under no past circumstances have I ever felt it necessary to reply to merely personal attacks, but have been content to let my general character and course of action be the answer to my assailants. From occurrences, however, within the last ten days, and the excited state of popular feeling, which seems to accept the falsest and most absurd charges as truths, it is due to myself to make to you the following statement, which, though it will not satisfy the bitterness of partisan hostility or the malignity of personal hatred, will, I trust, vindicate, in the opinion of the mass of my fellow-citizens, both my motives and my acts, though I may differ from many of them in my political opinions.

In the speech which I made in the Senate in March last, you have my views and opinions expressed frankly and without reserve on the present unhappy and distracted condition of our country, and the course which I believed the happiness and welfare of the people of the United States required should be adopted by the General Administration. The views and opinions then expressed were the result, of grave consideration and positive conviction, and subsequent events have not changed but confirmed that conviction. I preferred peaceful separation of a part of the States from the Union, leaving that Union unbroken as to the far greater number, and the Federal Government as the Government of a powerful and great nation, to the alternative of civil war. Time and the progress of events will, I confidently believe, vindicate the wisdom of my counsel. If the arguments and views presented in that speech and my past course cannot convince you of my attachment to the Union, it would be hopeless to urge others now.

On the 8th of April last, I left home on a short visit to New Orleans, solely for social and business purposes — a visit I had contemplated and promised to make more than a year before, but which my professional and public duties had compelled me to postpone. I had no political purpose or object in view in making that visit, nor did I, during my absence, engage in any political arrangement or consultation intended or calculated to affect the action of the people of Delaware in relation to their allegiance and fidelity to the Union. I trust you have known me long enough, and I am sure you ought to have known me well enough, to be certain that, whatever political action I contemplated, I would openly and boldly avow and advocate before you. If I err in this, then it will be a vain hope for any public man to expect, however candid and open may have been his past course, that his fellow-men will justly estimate his character. When I left home, though the political horizon was clouded, no excitement existed beyond the ordinary conflict of party warfare, and I neither did nor could anticipate the events which occurred after my departure, or my visit certainly would not have been made. I took the Southern route, and reached Montgomery on Friday afternoon, the 12th of April, remained there till Sunday following, and left that day on the steamer for New Orleans. I saw many persons in Montgomery whom I had known well and intimately in Washington, but I had no political arrangements to make with them, nor were any proposed to me. After reaching New Orleans, in consequence of the rapid progress of events, I remained but three days, cut short my visit, and returned home as speedily as practicable up the river, though I had originally intended to return by sea to New York.

I make this statement, because I have been told that many fair-minded and well-intentioned men have attributed my visit to the South to political objects, and it is only to such it is intended to be addressed.

I reached home on Saturday, the 4th of May, and was met by a telegram, purporting to be from Middletown to Philadelphia, in which it was stated that I had been two weeks at Montgomery, in consultation with the leaders of the Confederate States. My answer is, that the telegram is utterly and unqualifiedly false, and whether it came from Middletown or elsewhere, it was the mere coinage of a reckless political partisan or a personal enemy. This was followed by an announcement placarded in Wilmington, and published in the papers, that a Prince of the Golden Circle had returned home, or some such absurd stuff. On principle, I never had the slightest connection with any secret association in my life; and, in my connection with the Democratic party, I have never been even a member of a club. I was told, also, that rumors had been spread in my absence, such as that I had gone to Montgomery to sell my State, and others of like kind. I paid little attention to these things, as I believed I could live them down, for I was not aware of the extent of passionate excitement to which the public mind had been strung, and still less did I dream that there was a deliberate intention by such means, to induce personal violence against me here, in my native town, or in Philadelphia. [241]

I was mistaken in this, and have become satisfied that there was a deliberate conspiracy to make me the victim of a mob on the first occasion on which I went to Philadelphia. I have no knowledge of the parties engaged in this conspiracy either here or in Philadelphia, nor do I fear the ruffians who would instigate such action here, because I have confidence that in the people of Delaware, however decided may be their dissent from my political views, the love of order and law is too deeply implanted to tolerate lawless violence.

Without the slightest anticipation of any intended violence, I left home in the morning train for Philadelphia, on Tuesday last, and arrived at the Prime station about half-past 8 A. M. There was no mob or assemblage at the station and I took my seat in the second passenger railway car, which, after it, had turned into Catherine street, was stopped by a police officer, and the inquiry made, “Is Senator Bayard here?” I answered affirmatively, and the reply was, “Come here if you please, we want you.” I left the car at once, and it went on, and the officer said immediately, “There is a mob ahead waiting for you, and you had better go with us,” alluding to another officer who had joined him.

Having no desire to encounter or be the victim of a mob, I assented, and walked on with them down Catherine street for three or four squares. One of the officers then turned off, aid I went with the other to the Mayor's office. During our walk I had some conversation with the officer, and expressed my utter surprise at the existence of the mob, and my then belief that it had been instigated by the false statements in the telegrams and newspapers as to the object of my recent visit to the South. The officer also told me he had arrested inc for my own protection. I remained at the Mayor's office till the arrival of Mr. Henry, with whom I had a short conversation, and then left with a friend.

I must add that the conduct .of the police officers was both courteous and judicious, and not having a sufficient force at the station to disperse or control a mob, they protected me from its violence by wisely evading it.

I did not see this mob, but from the statement of others, it was between two and five hundred in number. That it was prearranged in consequence of a communication from Wilmington, cannot be doubted, for it had organized for the sole purpose of assaulting me, and selected its position on Fifteenth street, about three squares from the station, where I should, in a passenger car, have been entirely defenceless. It was utterly impracticable that such a mob could have been so collected and arranged between the time of the arrival of the train, and the few minutes afterward when I was called by the officer out of the passenger car, without previous information that I was coming in the train.

The car was stopped for a moment, about two squares from the place I left it, and I was inquired for, and, being told that I was at the station, it was permitted to proceed without further interruption. I have no knowledge as to the further action of my intended assailants.

I am well aware that in cities and large towns, there will always be men ready to instigate and embark in lawless action, but it can scarcely be considered, evidence of strong attachment to the Union, when a mob can be collected in the city of one State to assault a citizen and representative of another, on the false statements of unknown persons by telegraphic or other communications in the newspapers. That I escaped a danger greater than I then realized, I cannot doubt, but I do not hold the deluded men who composed this mob in Philadelphia, as morally culpable as I do the Press of Philadelphia, for the mode in which it sought in its reports of this affair to slur over, palliate and encourage, and in some papers even to justify such mob action.

It is true that, in a single paper, such action is condemned in an editorial, but in the same paper to its report of this lawless attempt, is appended a statement relating to my political action on two previous occasions, utterly false, and intended as justification of the action of the mob in the particular case.

Perhaps, when one of their own citizens has become the victim of an outrage similar to that intended to be perpetrated upon me, the people of Philadelphia will begin to realize the dangers attendant upon these reckless and mendacious slanders upon individuals, which are now so common in the papers of that city, induced generally by partisan bitterness, but not unfrequently by personal enmity.

At a time when there is so much excitement in the community, I do not expect to escape personal defamation either here or there; but Wilmington is my residence, and though I may avoid personal violence in Philadelphia, I shall meet it, if attempted here, as best I may. I know my duties, both as a citizen of Delaware and of the United States, and am conscious of no violation of them; but I know also my rights, and shall not shrink from maintaining them.

The object of this address, fellow-citizens, has been to give a general refutation to groundless calumnies accumulated during my absence in part springing from political motives, with a view merely to political effect, and in part from the malevolence of personal enemies. Having done this, I shall rest hereafter, as hitherto, on my character, my past course, and my future actions as the surest safeguards against either class of assailants.

My standard of duty and of action has always been conscious rectitude of purpose, and, though many may misjudge me now, I shall leave to time and the progress of events, the correction of present errors of opinion.

I am one of your representatives in the Sen. ate of the United States, and my term of office [242] does not expire until March, 1863. I view, however, the relation of constituent and representative as one of confidence, and when I am satisfied that civil war cannot be averted, and find that the public sentiment of my State prefers such a result to the peaceful separation of those States which have withdrawn from the Union, I shall cheerfully and gladly resign into your hands an office which I obtained without solicitation, and which neither my sense of duty nor my self-respect would permit me to hold, when I ascertain that I differ in opinion with you on so momentous and vital a question as peace or war. It can require but few days after Congress has assembled to determine whether the last hope of peace has fled, if, indeed, the hope can linger until then; and before that time I shall become fully satisfied as to your will. Do not fear that I will betray the confidence you have reposed in me, or be capable of misrepresenting that will. If I cannot conscientiously obey your mandate, I will not use the position I occupy as your representative, to prevent its performance by another agent. But the right of private opinion and its expression, is a personal right, beyond public control. It is secured to every freeman under a government of laws, and a Republic must be a government of laws alone, or it will end in anarchy or despotism. I have no faith either in the government of the sword or the mob, and shall resist the establishment of either.

James A. Bayard. Wilmington, May 13, 1861.

--N. Y. Tribune, May 20.

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