the Hon. James Guthrie
rose amid tremendous cheering.
He said: Fellow-citizens, my voice is not very strong, and I fear it cannot be heard all over this great assemblage, but I will try to make it heard.
Events press upon us with haste, and we scarcely know what is to come next.
When Mr. Lincoln
was elected President
we all felt that the
remedy for a sectional President
was in the Union
and under the Constitution
We knew we had a Senate against him, and hoped that we had the House
against him; and there would have been if all men had stood at their posts as Kentucky
But certain States chose to take the remedy into their own hands, and dissolve their connexion with the Union
; South Carolina first, and then seven other States followed.
They have organized a separate Government, and one exercising governmental authority.
spoke early, decidedly, and firmly against a sectional party in the Union
, and under the Constitution
We had a Legislature called; we have had a Peace Conference at Washington
, and both failed; the result of the deliberations of both Houses of Congress failed to find a remedy for secession.
The Peace Conference at Washington
was equally unsuccessful in solving this dangerous question.
He gave us his inaugural.
It was construed as an inaugural of peace and as an inaugural of war. His chosen friends did not know how to take it, and his opponents were divided as to its meaning.
I suspected it; for, like the serpent, it spoke with a forked tongue!
[Cheers.] Then the troops were to be withdrawn from Fort Sumter
, and then not, but were to be furnished with supplies only.
Now, in the action of the Southern Confederacy and that of Mr. Lincoln
, the friends of both parties find excuses for them; but when it was the peace of the country, and the saving it from war and bloodshed, then there should have been no interference of etiquette to prevent such a dreadful calamity.
spoke as her statesmen have always spoken, of conciliation, peace, harmony, and a final settlement.
But war has been inaugurated; Fort Sumter
The President has issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 men; but he has not told us what he was going to do with them!
Is he going to retake Fort Sumter
Is he going to defend Fort Pickens
If so, why does he congregate them at Washington
I was at Washington
came, and it was like a beleaguered city.
We heard sounds of martial music, the tramp of armed men, and the roll of artillery!
And now Lincoln
wants 75,000 men, where every other President
has lived like an American citizen, as we have lived, and walked, in perfect security among his fellow-citizens.
We learn from the telegraph that State after State is tendering men and money.
Is the party now in possession of the Government
going to conquer the seven seceding States, and hold them as subjugated provinces?
If they are, Lincoln
should, like an honest man, have told us in his inaugural, and some say he is an honest man. In all these free States sending men and money, we hear no voice of peace, and after his legions have drowned the South
in carnage, is there to be no peace?
What is the end of all wars — peace!
No free people were ever conquered until they were exterminated.
Why shall not the people of America
have peace before, rather than after war, when its desolating influence has blighted the land?
I want Kentucky
to take her stand for peace--[Cheers,]--and appeal to that still small voice in the North
crying for peace.
There are religious men from habit, education and from profession, whose hearts, when Kentucky
calls for peace, will be reached, and whose voice will reach the powers that be, and we will have peace.
What a spectacle we present!
A people that have prospered beyond example in the records of time; free and self-governed, without oppression, without taxation to be felt, are now going to cut each other's throats; and why?
Because Presidents Lincoln
couldn't settle the etiquette upon which the troops were to be withdrawn from Fort Sumter
is a State in this matter, on the border of the Ohio
, with six or seven hundred miles of coast bordering upon Ohio
--States with whom we have ever lived in peace and good fellowship.
We have no quarrel with them, and they must have none with us. We have asked the South
to stay their hands, for we had a great stake in this Government, and they have not. We plead with Lincoln
for peace, and have not been hearkened to. Shall we be hearkened to in the din of arms?
There will be a time when Kentucky
's voice, if she stands firm on her own soil, fighting with neither section — will be heard by millions of people of the free States, who will hearken to us and say: “Why should there be strife between us and you?”
I have always counselled against inconsiderate measures.
We are not situated to meet even our border friends in arms.
How long would it take to make the northern bank of the Ohio
bristle with men and bayonets and cannon hostile to us?
Let us stand boldly and fearlessly, as is characteristic of Kentuckians, and cry peace!
Hold fast to that we know to be good, and let these men who want to make the experiment of secession go as individual amateurs and find congenial spirits for their work.
[Cheers.] I will leave to other gentlemen to dilate upon all those subjects.
We have men who want us out at once.
Does not that inaugurate war?
Does not that begin to create men of the Northern
border into foes?
Keep up your relations of trade and commerce and good fellowship; stand firm by the cause and heed the counsels of men who have ever counselled peace and harmony and attendant prosperity.
This thing of breaking the links of a Government under which we have prospered, is a hard thing to do. It prostrates the labor of the husbandman as it has prostrated the business of merchants.
How much better will the business be if war is inaugurated?
I tell you that you need not believe the telegraphic reports.
I know the hearts and sentiments and feelings that will come forth and battle in the free States for us!
If the North
comes to ravage our land, we will meet them as Kentuckians always meet their foes.
We will meet them as Kentuckians should meet them, so long as there is a tree for a fortification, or a foot of land for a freeman to stand upon.
[Applause.] I am for holding fast to that she knows to be good, and for her standing firm for right, and for abiding events as heroes should do. Why should a man be scared by the first danger and fly into still greater peril?
You were startled at the reports from Cincinnati
; last evening Louisville
was excited; to-day you are reconciled, for there was nothing in the reports.
You will hear of great battles, but you will often hear of great battles that were never fought.
Now, I don't believe that the overruling Providence
that was with us through the Revolution, in the councils of the framers of this Government, and has been with us ever since, has deserted us, and I hope He has chosen Kentucky
to be the great mediator for the restoration of peace and the preservation of our country.
The Hon. Nat. Wolfe
, from the Committee
on Resolutions, reported the following preamble and
resolutions, which were adopted with hardly a dissenting voice:
Events of commanding importance to the future safety and honor of Kentucky
have occurred which call for action on the part of her citizens; and every consideration of self-interest, and every dictate of wisdom and patriotism must prompt our State to maintain most resolutely her position of loyalty.
Situated on the border of the Slave States
, with 700 miles of territory exposed to the hostile attack, should the Union
be divided into two separate sovereignties, and with but one million of population to oppose the four or five millions of the States contiguous to her, which might become unfriendly, Kentucky
owes it to herself to exercise a wise precaution before she precipitates any course of action which may involve her in an internecine war. She has no reason to distrust the present kindly feelings of the people who reside on the north bank of the Ohio River
, long her friendly neighbors, and connected by a thousand ties of consanguinity; but she must realize the fact that if Kentucky
separates from the Federal Union and assumes her sovereign powers as an independent State, that Ohio, Indiana
, and Illinois
, remaining loyal to the Federal Union, must become her political antagonists.
deserts the Stars and Stripes, and those States adhere to the flag of the Union
, it seems impossible to imagine a continuance of our old friendly relations when constantly-recurring causes of irritation could not be avoided.
It is from no fear that Kentucky
would not always prove herself equal to the exigencies of any new position she might see proper to assume, and from no distrust of the bravery of her sons, that these suggestions are made; but as, “when in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation,” so an equal necessity exists that we should not dissolve those bands with our friends and neighbors without calling to our aid every suggestion of prudence, and exhausting every effort to reconcile difficulties, before taking steps which cannot be retraced, and may lead to exasperation, collisions, and eventual war; therefore be it
. That, as the Confederate States
have, by overt acts, commenced war against the United States
, without consultation with Kentucky
and their sister Southern States, Kentucky
reserves to herself the right to choose her own position, and that while her natural sympathies are with those who have a common interest in the protection of Slavery, she still acknowledges her loyalty and fealty to the Government
of the United States
, which she will cheerfully render until that Government becomes aggressive, tyrannical, and regardless of our rights in slave property.
2. That the National Government
should be tried by its acts, and that the several States, as its peers in their appropriate spheres, will hold it to a rigid accountability, and require that its acts should be fraternal in their efforts to bring back the seceding States, and not sanguinary or coercive.
3. That, as we oppose the call of the President
for volunteers for the purpose of coercing the seceding States, so we oppose the raising of troops in this State to cooperate with the Southern Confederacy, when the acknowledged intention of the latter is to march upon the City of Washington
and capture the,Capitol, and when, in its march thither, it must pass through States which have not yet renounced their allegiance to the Union
4. That secession is a remedy for no evil, real or imaginary, but an aggravation and complication of existing difficulties.
5. That the memories of the past, the interests of the present, and the solemn convictions of future duty and usefulness in the hope of mediation, prevent Kentucky
from taking part with the seceding States against the General Government
6. That “the present duty of Kentucky
is to maintain her present independent position, taking sides not with the Administration, nor with the seceding States, but with the Union
against them both, declaring her soil to be sacred from the hostile tread of either, and if necessary, to make the declaration good with her strong right arm.”
7. That to the end Kentucky
may be prepared for any contingency, “we would have her arm herself thoroughly at the earliest practicable moment,” by regular legal action.
8. That we look to the young men of the Kentucky State guard, as the bulwarks of the safety of our Commonwealth, and that we conjure them to remember that they are pledged equally to fidelity to the United States
9. That the Union
and the Constitution
, being mainly the work of Southern soldiers and statesmen, in our opinion furnish a surer guaranty for “Southern rights” than can be found under any other system of government yet devised by men.
The Hon. Archie Dixon
then spoke as follows:
Turning to the flag which graced the stand, he said:
: Whose flag is that which waves over us?
To whom does it belong?
Is it not yours, is it not our own Stars and Stripes, and do we mean ever to abandon it?
That flag has ever waved over Kentucky
soil with honor and glory.
It is our flag — it is my flag — it is Kentucky
When that flag is trailed in the dust and destroyed, I pray Heaven that the earth may be destroyed with it, for I do not wish, and I trust I shall never look upon its dishonor.
It is our flag — ours while we have a country and a Government.
I shall never surrender that flag.
I have loved it from boyhood, and have watched it everywhere, and imagine it in this dark hour still waving amid the gloom, and feel that its stars will still shine forth in the smoke of battle, and lead our country back to honor and glory!
Why is our country so stricken down, and why is our glory shaded in gloom — our Constitution and Government destroyed?
What cause has brought about all this difference between the North
and the South
Some say it was the Territories
Some say the Government
wars on the South
; that Mr. Lincoln
was elected as a sectional candidate, and on a principle of hostility to an institution of the South
It is true.
But has the Government
ever warred on the South
This contest should be with Mr. Lincoln
, and not with that flag — with the Union
It is Lincoln
and his party who are the enemies of the country — they are the foes of the Constitution
[Cheers.] It is that party of the North
whose purpose is to sever the States.
It is with them that we should war, and not with the Government
— the Union
under which we have been
Look to the history of the country and tell me, has the Government
ever made war on the South
I boldly affirm it that the amendment to the Constitution
, which affects Southern interests, has been made at the instance of Southern men. Was not the act of 1850 enacted at the instance of Southern men, and was it not framed and advocated by our own immortal statesman--Kentucky
's noble and gallant Clay
The principle upon which all our Territories have been organized holds that people who owned slaves might take them there, and the Territories
could be admitted as Slave States.
Those acts thus providing are still in force.
The South asked for the repeal of the Missouri Compromise
, and it was done.
Even since the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln
, his party has given sanction to three new Territories under the same existing laws.
All have the right to take their slaves there.
What, then, is the cause of our difficulty?
Look at it clearly.
Is it the tariff?
Was it not made as the South
wanted it, and was it not South Carolina
who changed it?
Did not the General Government
change the then existing value of silver
for the benefit of the South
We were told the other day that if Lincoln
was elected his intention was to destroy Slavery.
Did he not declare that the Fugitive Slave
law should be enforced?
How has it been done?
Were not five slaves only lately taken from Chicago
and delivered to their owners?
He declares he will enforce the laws, and not interfere with Slavery.
Then why this war?
I will tell you why. Because Mr. Lincoln
has been elected President
of the country, and Mr. Davis
could not be, and therefore a Southern Confederacy was to be formed by Southern demagogues, and now they are attempting to drag you on with them.
That is the plain state of the case.
Demagogues at the North
and demagogues at the South
have divided the country; they would strike the dagger to the hearts of their brothers; they inaugurated the civil war now raging, and wish to drag you on with them.
I say, for my part, I am not to be forced.
I will not be driven to desert my country and my country's flag, nor turn to strike my dagger at her heart, but ever stand forward to defend her glory and her honor.
What are we to do with South Carolina
and her seceded sisters?
Do you mean to tell me they will come back?
What if you give them over, will they ever come back?
They have turned their backs on their country, and now they want you to march with them.
In a just cause I will defend our State at every point and against every combination; but when she battles against the law and the Constitution
, I have not the heart — I have not the courage to do it!
I cannot do it — I will not do it!
Never! strike at that flag of our country — follow Davis
to tear down the Stars and Stripes, the eagle which has soared so high aloft as the emblem of so mighty a nation — give up that flag for the Palmetto
— strike that eagle from his high place and coil around the stars the rattlesnake!
The serpent stole into the garden of Eden
and whispered treason to Heaven in the ear of Eve. And now the serpent would seduce us from our allegiance to our country.
Were it possible for him to coil himself around the flag, I would tear him from the folds and crush him beneath my feet.
The rattlesnake for the eagle!
If you follow the serpent your fate will be as Adam
's. Measureless woe, for all generations, has been that fate.
Hell was created because of that treason to Heaven, and if we follow after the serpent our fate will be to sink into the hell of Secession.
This is the fate which befalls you if you follow Davis
But you must take a position.
One side advises us to go out, while some say remain in the Union
They tell us that we are bound to fight, no matter how we decide, Kentucky
is always ready to fight.
She was born to fight when necessary, and when the soil of Kentucky
is stained with blood, and the spirit of her sons aroused, let her enemies tremble!
But she should ever fight upon the right side.
But why is the Union
Is it not because Lincoln
How long is his rule to last?
In the history of nations, what is four years? How soon will he be dragged down and another and a better man raised to his high place?
The American people are powerful when they are aroused to action, but they should act calmly.
Now they are wild with excitement and act without judgment.
What would we do if invaded?
We would fly from house to house and rush together, but would we be in any capacity to defend ourselves?
Calmness and not excitement should characterize us. Seven States have seceded, and the General Government
attempts to enforce the laws.
The war commences and blood is shed, and forces are ready arrayed against each other in hostile action.
If we move out, what is our fate?
Who is to defend?
How are you to defend yourself if you go out of the Union
If you do, you at once declare war against the Union
--you oppose the Stars and Stripes.
We have a million of white population resident in a State only separated by the Ohio River
, and Ohio
, with a population of five millions.
Through each State are numerous railroads, able to transport an army in a few days to our doors.
What roads have we but those to Nashville
And what can we do with them?
In sixty days the North
can pour an army of one hundred thousand men upon every part of us. What can we do?
The State could raise perhaps sixty thousand men for her defence, but what can they do?
Can they save your State and your city?
From the heights beyond the river they can bombard your city and destroy it. They can cut off all communication with the South
, and every foot of Kentucky
soil eventually become desecrated by the invader.
Can the South
She has got more than enough to do to defend herself, for the North
can with her fleet cut off all communication with the outside world, and by the Mississippi River
with Western States, and actually starve the South
One hope for Kentucky
remains — stand still, with the Border States
, and defy invasion from either side.
My sympathies are wholly with the South
, but I am not prepared to aid her in fighting against our Government.
If we remain in the Union
we are safe; if we go out we will be invaded; if we hold as we are we are safe, if we go out we will be overpowered.
There is but one position to assume for honor and safety, and that position taken we can save the country.
Another point: If an army invades us can we save, can we protect, our homes and families?
When, in our city, the sentinel struts the streets, and we are powerless before him, who is to protect our families?
Those who. have plenty of money can flee, but what is the poor man to do?
He will have to fight.
Think of it — who is to protect them then from brutality and shame, our
city from pillage and destruction?
And it will surely befall us if we do not stand by our flag.
We do not mean to submit to Lincoln
Ho has commanded us to send troops.
We send word that Kentucky
will not do it. Will he compel us?
Let him not dare it!
Let him not rouse the sleeping lions of the Border States
She sleeps now-still and quiet, but it is not from lack of strength, courage, or power.
She waits for the assault.
Let it come, and, roused, she will crush the power that assails, and drag Mr. Lincoln
from his high place.
Can he make Kentucky
help him kill?
He has a right to demand troops, and he did. Glendower could, as he said, call spirits from the vasty deep, but would they come when they were called?
Will the troops from Kentucky
come at his call?
No, they will never lend themselves to such a cause.
will stand firm with her sister Border States in the centre of the Republic
, to calm the distracted sections.
This is her true position, and in it she saves the Union
and frowns down Secession.
Let. us wait for reason to resume her seat.
Let us not fight the North or South, but firm in our position tell our sister Border States that with them we will stand to maintain the Union
, to preserve the peace, and uphold our honor, and our flag, which they would trail in the dust.
We will rear ourselves as a rock in the midst of the ocean, against which the waves, lashed by sectional strife, in fury breaking, shall recoil and overwhelm those who have raised them!
If we give up the Union
, all is lost.
There will then be no breakwater, but instead, Kentucky
will be the battle-ground — the scene of a conflict between brethren — such a conflict as no country has yet witnessed.
But if we take the true stand, the tide of war and desolation will be rolled back on both sides.
If we must fight, let us fight Lincoln
and not our Government.
To go out of the Union
is to raise a new issue with the North
and turn the whole country against you. The ship of state is one in which we all
sail, and when thus launched into the ocean, and about to founder because part of the crew rebel against the commander, it is the duty of all, unhesitatingly, to aid and save.
Safety demands that we stand by the flag, by the Government
, by the Constitution
In the distance you hear the shouts of men and the roaring of cannon.
The foemen are gathering for the dreadful conflict, and when you cut loose from the Union
it is to take a part.
But you are secure from both as long as you remain neutral.
You are to determine now. Examine all the points; look where you are going before you take the step that plunges you into ruin, and, calmly reasoning, free from excitement, determine to stand forever by the country, the Constitution
, and the Stars and Stripes, aid be still the mightiest nation the world ever saw.
made a beautiful, eloquent, and patriotic speech, which was greatly applauded, and closed by offering a series of resolutions, the last of which, as follows, was adopted, the balance being withdrawn:
, That we hail in Major Robert Anderson
, the gallant defender of Fort Sumter
against overwhelming odds, a worthy Kentuckian, the worthy son of a patriot sire, who has given so heroic an example of what ought always to be the conduct of a patriot soldier, in the presence of the armed.
assailants of his country's flag; that he, his officers, and men, have well earned the admiration and gratitude of the nation.
was generally called for, and responded in a clear, forcible, and logical speech, indorsing the spirit of the preamble and resolutions adopted, and urging Kentucky
to pursue the course laid down in them as the safest, wisest, and most noble for the first-born of the Union
His speech was characterized by that eloquence of diction so well known as an attribute of Judge Bullock
's oratorical efforts.
Ie was frequently interrupted in the course of his remarks by cheers and applause.
The Hon. John Young Brown
followed in a speech unsurpassed in power and brilliancy.
This gifted young orator rehearsed the history of the last Congress, the efforts for compromise, the surrender by the Republicans of the fundamental idea of the Chicago
platform, in the positive non-extension of Slavery il the formation of the new Territories
He held his audience spell-bound, as it were, for more than an hour, as he poured out burning words of indignation upon those who have brought the country into its present unfortunate condition, or depicted the horrors of civil war. lie earnestly urged the neutrality of Kentucky
in the present crisis, as the best and most practicable position for Kentucky
to maintain her integrity in the Union
, and to mediate between the antagonistic sections.
The meeting, which was entirely orderly, adjourned after giving rounds of cheers for the Union
and for the American
, April 21.