Governor Yates' Speech.
We yesterday took a verbatim report of Governor Yates' speech with the design of publishing it entire, or nearly so; but owing to its extreme length we shall furnish only a bare synopsis of its salient points. After bidding the furloughed soldiers present a hearty welcome home in the name of the people, he referred to the resplendent record of Illinois in the war, recounting facts and figures to show that our State had always been foremost in the Union in responding to the calls of the Government for men. It had met every demand promptly and without a murmur.
The Governor spoke of the effect which home sentiment had upon our men in the field. "If there is one thing more than another," said he, "that inspires the soldiers upon their hard march, in the camp, in the hospital, upon the battle-field, — that warms their hearts and nerves their arms, — it is the reflection that there are hearts in his far-off Illinois that beat with emotions of the liveliest gratitude for service they have rendered their country — gratitude for their patience, their fortitude, their sufferings, their exposure to sickness, disease and death; their prompt submission to the rules and requirements of military service, and the thousand hardships crowding upon the pathway of the soldier." He said that Adams county had largely participated in the demands of the State and of the General Government, and paid a high tribute of praise to the gallant 10th, 16th and 50th Illinois regiments, which were mainly recruited from this county. He declared proudly and unequivocally that Illinois had furnished more troops in proportion to her population than any other State in the Union; she had cheated Uncle Sam out of a draft every time. He referred in glowing terms to the signal success of our troops. Illinois had been covered all over with glory and made resplendent with the luster of her achievements upon the battle-field, rendering her name synonymous with lofty courage and indomitable prowess. First in the lead and last in retreat, they had stood by the flag amidst the most fearful battles of the war. One hundred and forty-five thousand recruits, besides the old regiments, had gone forth to do the battles of our country. Nearly one-sixth of the army of this Republic hails from the noble State of Illinois; and yet our material is not exhausted if our country requires the sacrifice.
He spoke of the sad picture upon the other side brought about by the originators of this informal rebellion — the loved ones lost, dear hopes sacrificed, and bright promises of future good suddenly cut off — painting the terrible reality in a manner deeply affecting as it brought home to broken hearts the mournful scenes that had so lately beclouded their earthly prospects. He referred to this sad picture, he said, for the important purpose of directing attention to the best manner of alleviating our suffering soldiers. This could best be done by taking care of their wives and their children. The children of our deceased soldiers must be the wards of our State; they must be taken care of by the people of of the State. Not as a matter of charity but as debt, we should feel that we owe them support and education. He referred to the fact that Ohio had levied a tax of two mills on the dollar for the support of the families of deceased soldiers.
He advocated an increase in the pay of the private soldiers from $13 to $16 per month. The reason was obvious; while the price of living had nearly doubled and the wages of mechanics and artisans had correspondingly advanced female labor commanded no larger wages then it did two years ago. He was for raising money by taxation as they had in Ohio so as to equalize the burden. The liberal, the generous, the noble-hearted contributed freely, while the mean, the miserly, the traitorous, and the copperheads will not give one dollar to the support of the war. He was therefore for a tax that would not only [unknown]h the generous but the copperheads as well. This sentiment was loudly applauded, as was the proposition to increase the pay of privates.
He spoke at considerable length upon the justice of our cause, claiming that it was a war of self-defense and one which we could not avoid if we would, and saying that he could not be in favor of it unless we were justified before God and the world. To prove that we were guiltless of oppressing the South, he cited the memorable speech of A. H. Stevens, Vice President of the "Southern Confederacy," wherein he told the rebels plainly that they could not put their finger upon a single southern right which the North had violated. The rebellion was the result of a conspiracy against free government, an aristocratic revolt against democratic liberty.
A large share of the speech was devoted to the discussion of the slavery question as now presented in its various phases. He was for the universal emancipation of the slaves of all rebels. Our taking them would strengthen us and weaken the enemy. We had been too slow in the matter. The rebels used negroes from the beginning. We had not been so wise, allowing our prejudices to control us rather than the exigencies of the times. His picture of southern life and luxury, prior to the rebellion, was painted in the truest and choicest colors. The Southeners reveled in a paradise of pomp and plenty, until their made and inordinate ambition led them to play the desperate game of treason. Suddenly desolation spread its dark and baleful wings over the land and filled its palaces with mourning and lamentations. "Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad," was the old Roman proverb, which had again received its verification in the course of this conspiracy.
Referring to the occasion as a sort of celebration of Washington's birthday, the Governor thrilled his vast auditory with some of the most eloquent and sublime utterances of his speech. His eulogy upon Washington as the Father of his Country was surpassingly brilliant, and excited the liveliest enthusiasm among the thousands who filled the Public Square, the sentiment being taken up and echoed from one heart to another with many demonstrations of applause and satisfaction. In fine, his whole speech abounded with those stirring appeals which touch and turn the popular heart, and over which gallant Dick Yates commands an almost peerless mastery.