previous next

Hon. C. L. Vallandingham.

The following are extracts from a recent letter from the Hon. C. L. Vallandingham to a committee of gentlemen who had requested his opinion upon the present condition of the country. After giving extensive extracts from the speech of Stephen A. Douglas, in opposition to any war policy against the South, made on the 13th March, 1861, and heartily endorsing the anti war policy of Mr. Douglas, Mr. Vallandiagham closes his letter as follows:

These were the sentiments of the Democratic party, of the Constitutional Union party, and of a large majority of the Republican presses and party, only six weeks ago. They were mine — I voted them repeatedly, along with every Democrat and Union man in the House. I have seen nothing to change, much to confirm them since, especially in the secession, within the last thirty days, of Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee, taking with them four millions and a half of people, immense wealth, inexhanstible resources, five hundred thousand fighting men, and the graves of Washington and Jackson. I shall vote them again.

Waiving the question of the doubtful legality of the first proclamation, of April 15th, calling out the militia for ‘"three months,"’ under the act of 1795, I will yet vote to pay them, because they had no motive but supposed duty and patriotism to move them; and, moreover, they will have rendered almost the entire service required of them, before Congress shall meet. But the audacious usurpation of President Lincoln, for which he deserves impeachment, in daring, against the very letter of the Constitution, and without the shadow of law, to ‘"raise and support armies," ’ and to ‘"provide and maintain a navy,"’ for three or five years, by mere Executive proclamation, I will not vote to sustain or ratify — never. Millions for defence — not a man or a dollar for aggressive and offensive war.

The war has had many motives for its commencement; it can have but one result, whether it lasts one year or fifty years--Final, Eternal Separation, Disunion. As for the conquest and subjugation of the South, I will not impeach the intelligence of any man among you, by assuming that you dream of it as at any time or in any way possible. Remember the warning of Lord Chatham to the British Parliament. ‘"My Lords, you cannot conquer America."’ A public debt of hundreds of millions, weighing us and our posterity down for generations, we cannot escape. Fortunate shall we be if we escape with our liberties. Indeed it is no longer so much a question of war with the South as whether we ourselves are to have constitutions and a republican form of government hereafter in the North and West.

In brief: I am for the Constitution first, and at all hazards; for whatever can now be saved of the Union next, and for Peace always as essential to the preservation of either. But whatever any one may think of the war, one thing, at least, every lover of liberty ought to demand inexorably: that it shall be carried on strictly subject to the Constitution.

The peace policy was tried; it arrested secession, and promised a restoration of the Union.

The policy of war is now upon trial; in twenty days it has driven four States and four millions and a half of people out of the Union and into the Confederacy of the South. In a little while longer it will drive out, also, two or four more States, and two or three millions of people. War may, indeed, be the policy of the East; but peace is a necessity to the West.

I would have volunteered nothing, gentlemen, at this time in regard to this civil war; but as constituents, you have a right to know my opinions and position; and briefly, but most frankly, you have them.

My only answer to those who indulge in slander and vituperation, was given in a card of the 17th of April, here with enclosed.

Very truly,
C. L. Valandingham.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
C. L. Vallandingham (2)
Stephen A. Douglas (2)
Vallandiagham (1)
C. L. Valandingham (1)
Lincoln (1)
Jackson (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
March 13th, 1861 AD (1)
1795 AD (1)
April 17th (1)
April 15th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: