The Knoxville Register, of the 7th inst., contains a report of the speech delivered on the previous day by Hon. John Bell
, before a very large number of people, in Knoxville, Tenn.
It will be seen by the extracts which we subjoin that Mr. Bell
declares himself a rebel, and risks the consequences:
stated that he did not intend to take any new position.
It was true, that after the last Presidential election he had vindicated Lincoln
He knew that Lincoln
entertained ultra Abolition views, but still he believed he could do no harm, because he could not move an inch without his Cabinet, and the Senate could have checkmated him.--Had not the Southern States
seceded, at the end of Lincoln
's term the Republican party would have been shattered to pieces.
Last February, when one or two States had seceded, the question was, Shall Tennessee
go out of the Union
had said no. He had expressed his belief that Lincoln
was traduced — that he did not favor the idea of negro equality.
He was present at Lincoln
's inauguration, and worked hard for ten days and nights to preserve the Union
He had come home and represented Lincoln
had professed peace, and Mr. Bell
had warned the Administration against coercion.
He had told them that if there was coercion and bloodshed, there would be revolution in the Border States
They might collect the revenue and blockade Southern ports, if it were necessary; but if they invaded a State, there would be war. His advice was, that if peaceable means failed, it was better to let the Cotton States
go — it was better to lose them than to lose them and the Border States
also, by attempting coercion.
Coercion was not the policy.
The seceded States never could be subdued.
then goes on to say that he believed Lincoln
had intended to pursue a peaceful policy, but yielded to the pressure of his party at the North
, and issued his proclamation for 75,000 men.
had in his proclamation disavowed his intention to invade Southern States, but he has invaded them, and the Southern States
should all make common cause in resistance to that invasion.
had called not only for 75,000, but 200,000 troops.
He might not call marching these troops through the Border States
to suppress armed combinations in the Southern States "subjugation,"
but what else would it be?
The presence of these troops would overawe the citizens, would humiliate all — would humiliate the Union
men as well as the Secessionists.
It is true that the invading Generals
issue proclamations that they will protect private property, but what are these proclamations worth when you look at the composition of their troops?
The leaders are ambitions politicians, and the men are desperate fanatics — the conservative people stay at home.
The leaders are unable to control the men, and their paper proclamations amount to nothing.
The very presence of such an army in any Southern State demoralizes the slaves — they are ruinous, and ought to be resisted and driven back. ****
did not say that the acts of the Legislature were constitutional.
He believed they were extra-constitutional, but in a Revolution all laws and all constitutions were done away.
There is no law about it. The Union men of East Tennessee
were pledged to submit if the State
voted out by a clear majority — with a qualification — namely, if it was done without fraud.
That was anidle qualification.
There never was an election without some degree of fraud, on the side or the other.
Then, too, they thought the law entitling volunteers to vote in other than their own counties, was not constitutional.
But if the law entitling them thus to vote was unconstitutional, the same law authorized the election, and every other vote was equally unconstitutional.
If these volunteers were entitled to vote at home, anybody who would seek to deprive them of their vote, because they were encamped away from home, was not himself worthy to exercise the rights of a free man. The very term "revolution" implied irregularity, and in a revolution it could not be otherwise.
If there was anything legal about it, these volunteers in camp who were entitled to vote at home, were entitled to vote here.
He denounced any attempt to interfere with the free exercise of the right to vote, either by threats of personal violence or of other consequences.
In this section the Union
men had nothing of that sort to fear, because they were numerically the strongest.
He was not here to dictate to them how they should vote.
They had the right to vote for or against separation, and none had the right to hold them accountable for voting their honest convictions.
If any did attempt to prevent them, they should assert and maintain their rights at all hazards.
For himself, he had taken his position.
The noose was probably around his neck, but he was frank to declare himself a Rebel! He had counseled resistance to the invasive policy of the Federal Government
, and that made him a Rebel, and if there was any punishment to follow it, he was willing to incur it; he did not seek to evade either the charge or the responsibility.
[The applause which followed this declaration of Mr. Bell
was so great that he could not, for a moment, proceed.
During the pause, Dr. Curry
presented the distinguished speaker with a beautiful bouquet on behalf of the ladies present, which compliment Mr. Bell
Notwithstanding the eagerness of the North
to engage in and prolong this war for military glory, he did not believe it would be of long duration.
He thought it would be ended in a year.
had an interest in the matter, and they would not permit it to continue.
It was to their interest to favor a reconciliation.
He paid a high compliment to the brave young men who have marched from the South
He contrasted them with the Northern
troops, and while he awarded courage to the Massachusetts
troops, they were not composed of the best class of Massachusetts
He would not debate the question whether the first one or two States had acted right in seceding.
He did not believe they had; but when seven or eight States had seceded and their people were unanimous, it was then a revolution, and the Administration had made a great mistake in attempting to coerce them.
They never could coerce them; they never could conquer them. ****