blood too precious, our treasure too valuable to be devoted to the preservation of such a Government as this?
They fought through a seven years war with the greatest power on earth, for the hope, the bare hope, of being able to found this republic, and now that it is no longer a hope nor an experiment, but a glorious reality, which has excited the admiration and the homage of the nations, and has covered us with blessings as “the waters cover the channels of the sea,” have we, their children, no years of toil, of sacrifice, and of battle even, if need be, to give, to save it from absolute destruction at the hands of men who, steeped in guilt, are perpetrating against us and humanity a crime, for which I verily believe the blackest page of the history of the world's darkest period furnishes no parallel!
Can it be possible that in the history of the American
people we have already reached a point of degeneracy so low, that the work of Washington
, of Adams
, of Hancock
and Henry, is to be overthrown by the morally begrimed and pig-mied conspirators who are now tugging at its foundation?
It would be the overturning of the Andes by the miserable reptiles that are crawling in the sands at their base.
But our neutral fellow-citizens in the tenderness of their hearts say: “This effusion of blood sickens us.”
Then do all in your power to bring it to an end. Let the whole strength of this commonwealth be put forth in support of the Government
, in order that the war may be terminated by a prompt suppression of the rebellion.
The longer the struggle continues, the fiercer will be its spirit, and the more fearful the waste of life attending it. You therefore only aggravate the calamity you deplore by standing aloof from the combat.
But again they say, “We cannot fight our brethren.”
Indeed? But your brethren can fight you, and with a good will, too. Wickedly and wantonly have they commenced this war against you and your institutions, and ferociously are they prosecuting it. They take no account of the fact that the massacre with which they hope their swords will, ere long, be clogged, must be the massacre of their brethren.
However much we may bow our heads at the confession, it is nevertheless true that every free people that have existed have been obliged, at one period or other of their history, to fight for their liberties against traitors within their own bosoms, and that people who have not the greatness of soul thus to fight, cannot longer continue to be free, nor do they deserve to be so.
There is not, and there cannot be, any neutral ground for a loyal people between their own Government and those who, at the head of armies, are menacing its destruction.
Your inaction is not neutrality, though you may delude yourselves with the belief that it is so. With this rebellion confronting you, when you refuse to cooperate actively with your Government in subduing it, you thereby condemn the Government
, and assume toward it an attitude of antagonism.
Your inaction is a virtual indorsement of the rebellion, and if you do not thereby give to the rebels precisely that “aid and comfort” spoken of in the Constitution
, you certainly afford them a most powerful encouragement and support.
That they regard your present position as friendly to them, is proved by the fact that, in a recent enactment of the Confederate Congress confiscating the debts due from their own citizens to those of loyal States, the debts due to the people of Kentucky
are expressly excepted.
Is not this significant?
Does it leave any room for doubt that the Confederate Congress suppose they have discovered, under the guise of your neutrality, a lurking sympathy for their cause which entitles you to be treated as friends, if not as active allies?
Patriotic as was the purpose of her apprehensive statesmen in placing her in the anomalous position she now occupies, it cannot be denied that Kentucky
by her present attitude is exerting a potent influence in strengthening the rebellion, and is, therefore, false alike to her loyalty and to her fame.
You may rest well assured that this estimate of your neutrality is entertained by the true men of the country in all the States which are are now sustaining the Government
Within the last few weeks how many of those gallant volunteers who have left home and kindred, and all that is dear to them, and are now under a southern sun, exposing themselves to death from disease and to death from battle, and are accounting their lives as nothing in the effort they are making for the deliverance of your Government and theirs; how many of them have said to me in sadness and in longing, “Will not Kentucky
How my soul would have leaped could I have answered promptly, confidently, exultingly, “Yes, she will!”
But when I thought of this neutrality my heart sank within me, and I did not and I could not look those brave men in the face.
And yet I could not answer, “No.”
I could not crush myself to the earth under the self-abasement of such a reply.
I therefore said — and may my country sustain me--“I hope, I trust, I pray, nay, I believe Kentucky
will yet do her duty.”
If this Government is to be destroyed, ask yourselves are you willing it shall be recorded in history that Kentucky
stood by in the greatness of her strength and lifted not a hand to stay the catastrophe?
If it is to be saved, as I verily believe it is, are you willing it shall be written that, in the immeasurable glory which must attend the achievement, Kentucky
had no part?
I will only add, if Kentucky
wishes the waters of her beautiful Ohio
to be dyed in blood — if she wishes her harvest fields, now waving in their abundance, to be trampled beneath the feet of hostile soldiery, as a flower-garden is trampled beneath the threshings of the tempest — if she wishes the homes where her loved ones are now gathered in peace, invaded by the proscriptive fury of a military