A speech on Lincoln's message from a Newly-elected U. S. Senator.
Hon. W. A. Richardson
, now in the Federal
House of Representatives, has been elected by the Illinois Legislature to the vacant rest in the U. S. Senate.
Last week, in the House
, Mr. Richardson
made a speech scathing the gorilla.
--The annual Message recently sent to this House
by the President
of the United States
is the most remarkable of any that has over been delivered to Congress.
It is remarkable for what it says, and still more remarkable for what it omits to say. One half of the twenty-one pages which it covers is devoted to the negro.
No page, no sentence, no line, no word, is given to land, or even to mention, the bravery and gallantry, or even the good conduct, of our soldiers in the various bloody battles which have been fought.
No sorrow is expressed for the intended dead.
No allusion is made to the maimed and wounded.
No sympathy is tendered to the sorrowing widow and to the helpless orphan made during the progress of this war, which could have been avoided by honorable compromise, if the President
and his friends had chosen to do so.
Sir, it is a remarkable document.
It is an extraordinary Message, when we come to think of its sum and substance.
To feed clothe, buy, and colonize the negro, we are to tax and mortgage the white man and his children.
The white race in to be burdened to the earth for the benefit of the black race.
A friend of mine from New England
the other day made a mathematical analysis of the message.
He said, one from one and naught remains.
Naught from naught and the message remains.
So far as it relates to the white race that mathematical calculation is right.
So far as it relates to the negro, or in the Court
language of the President
, the "free American of African
descent," rivers of blood and countless millions of treasure are not enough for his benefit and advantage.
Now, sir, when our people have anxiously looked to the message from the President
of the United States
to learn what they have to hope of a restored Union, and a return of the blessings of peace once more to their firesides, by inference we learn, if not directly, that, if we will carry out all the President
's plans; if we will carry out his schemes thirty seven years from now, the people may again behold the restoration of the Union
, and the return of peace.
True, the message states at the end of those thirty-seven years but few of us will then be living to enjoy the blessings we once enjoyed in this now distracted and divided country.
But, Mr. Chairman
, there are a few pass ages in the message so extraordinary, so wonderful, that they require at least a passing notice.
There has been, and still is, a great anxiety felt and expressed by our people that this negro population shall not interfere with them; that it shall not jostle them in the occupations they have heretofore pursued in the various industrial pursuits of life in the great fertile regions of the West
The President on that head uses the following language:
"And yet I wish to say there is an objection urged against free colored persons remaining in the country, which is largely imaginary, if not sometimes malicious.
It is instated that their presence would injure and displace white labor and white laborers.
If there ever could be a proper time for mere catch arguments, that time surely is not now. In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and in eternity.
Is it true, then, that the colored people can displace any more white labor by being free than by remaining slaves?
If they stay in their own places, they jostle no white laborers if they leave their old places, they leave them open to white laborers.
Logically, there is neither more not less of it."
Now, sir, I will not do logic the violence to say that is an argument.
He tells our people, those who supported him because they believed he and his party intended to keep the nonslave holding States and all the Territories
on the Union
for the sole occupation of the white race, if you do not like my plan of disposing of this black race; if you fear, from their introduction among you, that their labor will be brought into competition with that of your own, all you have to do to avoid this competition is to quietly leave your present fields of labor, homes to which, perhaps, you may be attached, and the graves of your kindred and migrate southward, and occupy the places made vacant by the exodus of what his Excellency
terms the "free Americans
descent." That is the sum and substance of it.
But, for the sake of argument, admit, if you choose, that all the plans of the President
touching emancipation and colonization of the negro were to-day successfully carried out, what would it accomplish in the great work of restoring the Union
Nothing — worse than nothing.
The President recommends in his annual message three propositions to amend the Constitution of the United States
I will not trouble the committee with reading them; every gentleman here is familiar with the articles he proposes to adopt for amendments.
The first, second, and third, are for the benefit of the negro.
The people are sick and tired of this sternal talk upon the negro, and they have expressed that disgust unmistakably in the recent elections.
The President's proposed amendments as a whole, or either of them, could not receive the suffrages of a majority of the people of more than two States of this Union.
While upon this subject, I desire to call the attention of the committee to a single feature in relation to these amendments.
In the message he recommends an amendment to the Constitution
"Art.--. Congress may appropriate money and otherwise provide for colonizing free colored persons, with their own consent, at any places without the United States
In this recommendation he seeks to give power to do what he claims he has the power to do without it; and by this recommendation he admits he has been exercising unauthorized and illegal authority.
Is not this in itself an admission that the Constitution
, unamended, grants no power to Congress or the Executive
to appropriate or use the money of the people for any purposes contemplated in this amendment?
He calls upon us to compromise.
What compromise is that?
For whom does he propose a compromise?
In order that you may have more power to advance the negro.
That is all there is to it, and there is nothing less of it. He tells us there are difference of opinion among the friends of the Union
"in regard to slavery and the African race among us." He says to all of those who differ with him, surrender your convictions and come to my plan — and he calls that compromise!
Compromise! Yes, I trust in God the day is not far distant when the people of this country will compromise and save the Constitution
and the Union
for the white people, and not for the black people. --Our people are for no other compromise than that.
There are other portions of the message upon which I should like to bestow some attention; but I will forbear to do so now, for I desire to call the attention of the committee to another proposition of the President
connected with this subject.
The proclamation of the 22d of September last, issued by the President
, took the country by surprise, and no one of the citizens more than myself.
I had fondly hoped and been anxious that the President
of the United States
would so conduct himself in his high office of Chief Magistrate
that I could lend him my support.
I have been driven, with thousands of others, into opposition to the policy contained in that proclamation, for reasons which must commend themselves to every reflecting man sincerely desirous of terminating this rebellion.
, on the 4th of March, 1861, on the east portico of this Capitol, took a vow, which he said was registered in Heaven, to support the Constitution of the United States
In his inaugural address, delivered on that occasion he said he had no lawful authority or inclination to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists.
In his proclamation of the 22d of September last he assumes that he has power to forever free "all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall be in rebellion against the United States
," thus violating the pledge so made in his inaugural address.
If the object of the proclamation was not to aid the rebellion, its effect was. It has strengthened the rebellion by driving into their army every person in the South
that it was possible to drive there.
Was its intent to affect those alone in rebellion?
Clearly not. The slaves of every man in a rebellions State were to be free.
The loyal man owning twenty slaves, and the man in the rebel army owning a like number, were, by that proclamation, to be affected precisely the name.
The object of the proclamation was to benefit the negro, not to restore the Government
on preserve the Constitution
It was nothing more, nothing less.--It goes a bow shot beyond anything done by this House at the last session of Congress.
If the proclamation is to be carried into effect, the war must continue until every slave is free.
If every rebel should lay down his arms on the 2d day of January next, or any subsequent day, and submit himself to the laws and Constitution of the United States
, the war would still have to go on, unless the slaves were all free, for the proclamation declares that "the executive Government of the United States
, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons.
It strengthens the arm of the rebellion, and postpones the time of restoring peace to this country, by the declaration for the purpose for which the executive power shall be used.
In what respect has our cause — the cause of the Union
--been advanced to that time, throughout the great Northwest, you had to but call for volunteers and they rushed to the army.
Since then you have had no volunteering.
Prior to that time it was not necessary, as the Secretary of War
I am told, for I have not read his report-- declares it is necessary, to have provost marshals in every county to arrest deserters from the army.
We are informed that but a few days before the issuing of this proclamation, the President
himself declared, in a conference with some gentleman who were urging him to this step, that it would not only be wholly inoperative in the object sought, but would directly weaken us in the border States, but significantly added that it might increase our strength in the North
I pause here to inquire where that additional strength in the North
was to be obtained; not certainly from the Democratic
element in the North
If additional vigor was infused into the service, it must come from some other quarter which until then had not heartily sustained the policy of the Administration.
I need not particularize what class of individuals were to be thus induced to lend their support, the country well knows the baleful influences of this class, and the ends they seek to accomplish.
* * * * * *
On the 17th of March last, my colleague, (Mr. Lovejoy
) having heard that two negroes had been arrested, introduced a resolution instructing a committee to inquire into the facts, which resolution passed this House
by a majority of two to one.
On the first day of this session I introduced a resolution directing an inquiry into the causes why white citizens of Illinois
without charges being made against them, were detained in the various forts and Bastiles in the country, and that resolution was laid on the table, on motion of Mr. Lovejoy
, by a similar vote.
The army is being used for the benefit of the negro.
This House is being used for his benefit.
Every department of the Government
is being run for his benefit.
Now, Mr. Chairman
, I have a single word to those who are temporarily exercising the functions of the Executive Department of the Government
I fear they have not studied the history of the people of this country, or the characteristics of the race from which they have descended.
That history, correctly understood, shows that in contests with power they have ever wrenched, even from unwilling hands, fresh guarantees for their liberty.
I am led to make these remarks in view of the arrests of thousands of men in loyal States, without due process of law, by the orders of the executive officers of this Government, at the times and places where, in all cases courts of justice were entirely open, and the execution of the laws wholly unobstructed.
The most remarkable page in the history of our race is the fact that while outrages have been committed upon the rights of our people, no resistance has been offered, no violence done, and no life has been taken as the penalty for the wrong.
The desire of the people to preserve peace in their own midst has restrained them thus far from the commission of violence.
Attempts have been made to intimidate our people at the polls.
Provost Marshals have been sent everywhere, and yet our people have not been provoked to violate order.
But they are in earnest.
They mean to preserve their liberties and their rights.
The results of the last elections were of no temporary character.
Such a triumph has never before been witnessed in this country.
There is not a man who voted the Democratic
ticket last fall, throughout the country who is not prepared, when the proper time comes, to lay down his life rather than sacrifice his liberty.
We may as well understand this.
Let us talk plain about it. Let us not try to deceive ourselves or others.
We are no assassins.
We are no law breakers.
Our people have endured a great deal.
They have submitted to arbitrary arrests and imprisonments.
But let me say to you, in God's name, "pause, step; you cannot go any further." Our people are resolved that you shall not. They are determined.
Do not misunderstand them.
We are for Union We are for liberty — constitutional liberty.--Our ancestors, in all times past, have vindicated it; and their descendants, after long suffering, will, if need be, vindicate it before God and the world.
I repeat, Mr. Chairman
, our people are in earnest.
They mean all that they have said.
They love the flag, because it represents Constitution, order, law. They do not wish to be slaves, and do not mean to be made slaves.--We have had a bill passed here to-day, under whip and spur, without debate, without inquiry, extending amnesty to those who have thus wronged our people.
I think you had better also pass a bill extending amnesty to those of you whom the people have condemned for your course here, so that you can have a political resurrection hereafter.
That is the only way in which you can ever have forgiveness.
If you expect that when the courts come to look at the monstrous bill which you have passed to day, wiping out all the rights of those who have been immured in prison, they will hold it as constitutional, you are greatly mistaken.
No court of justice will hold that that gives indemnity for the wanton, reckless, tyrannical exercise of power.
It is not justice on earth.
It is not justice before God in heaven.
My opinion about it is that you had better have left the courts open to our people, and let those men who had ruthlessly and recklessly violated every precept, law, and Constitution, take the legal consequences of their act.
But, Mr. Chairman
, there is no excuse or palliation for the arrests that have been made.
I care not whether you take the case of the old man, like Mahoney
, tottering to the grave; or the little boy in New England
, who sells newspapers for a living; or men of high and spotless character and devoted fidelity to the laws, like Judge Duff
, of Illinois
; or the unfortunate boy who was confide in Camp Chase, who could not pay his washer woman's bill, and was, therefore, accused of disloyal practices; or take the men of great intellect, like Edson
, of Ohio
, or the unlearned squirrel hunter from my friend's (Mr. Robinson
's) district, who did not know but that Jeff. Davis
were on the same side; or the intermediate between these extremes — there is no one of them that could not have been tried in the place where the offence was said to have been committed; and, if found guilty, correct public sentiment would have seen that the penalties of the law were fully enforced upon them.
In all these cases you have violated the Constitution
You have disregarded them both.
And now you turn around and pass an act of indemnity to all concerned in inflicting these outrages and wrongs.--You have had immured in prison men equal, aye, superior, in intellect to the President
or any Cabinet officer
; men more devoted to the Constitution
and laws of the country than all of them together.
Now, after all these outrages, you propose to invest the President
with power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus,
the great birthright of Englishmen and Americans
and which has never, until now, been disregarded under any circumstances in this country, except inside the actual lines of the army.
, I have talked warmly upon this subject because I felt deeply.
I have advised, and now advise, moderation.
Our people want peace.
They mean to preserve the Constitution
and the Union
They know that you cannot persist in the course which you are
That course leads to the destruction of both the Constitution
and the Union
I am not authorized to speak or lay down the plan which is to govern anybody in future.
I do not speak to-day for that purpose.
Perhaps I should not anticipate the course of the President
of the United States
in regard to his proclamation.
I trust that he will reconsider it; that he will pause and not go forward with it. This Government cannot be restored by the sword alone.
You must carry with it the olive branch.
The President says we are making history.
I trust we are not making such history as the incendiary who swung his lighted torch in the air to burn the temple of Diana
at Epheens, and who has left his name behind, while the name of him who reared that temple has perished from our memories.
I think that we may expect that, under a change of policy, the blessings of the Union
may yet be restored, and made perpetual.
, I am very much obliged to the committee for the attention with which it has listened to my remarks.
I have spoken freely and fairly, and attempted to do my duty in this great crisis of our country.
The course to be pursued by the New Senator.
The Washington Chronicle
says Mr. Richardson
's future course is to be judged by the resolutions of the caucus which nominated him; therefore the policy he will pursue is foreshadowed in the following abstract of some of the resolutions:
--That the Administration, in suspending the writ of habeas corpus,
in arresting private citizens, and incarcerating them in bustles, issuing the proclamation of emancipation, and in other instances usurping power, has violated the Constitution
, infringed upon State sovereignty, and disregarded the popular wish.
Its perversion of the war into a war of abolition deserves our unqualified reprobation, and justly entitles it to the condemnation of all true lovers of constitutional liberty and States rights.
--That peace, fraternal relations, and political fellowship should be restored among the people of the States; that the best interests of all, and the welfare of mankind, demand this should be done in the speediest and most effective manner.
--Favors a National Convention of all the States at Louisville, Ky.
, at the earliest practicable period, to adjust our national difficulties.
--Recommends that the Legislature now in session appoint Commissioners to said National Convention, and invite other States to do so.
--That we earnestly recommend a cessation of hostilities for such period as may be necessary to allow the people of the North and South to express, through a National Convention, their wish for peace and a maintenance of the Union
as it was, under the Constitution
as it is.