Speech of Hondot; E. C. Ingersoll,
Mr. Ingersoll, who was received with a rousing cheer, spoke as follows:
Mr. Chairman, and Fellow-Citizens: I appear before you to-night as a War Democrat, the Chicago Times to the contrary notwithstanding, [laughter] and as such I shall speak to-night and hereafter for the most vigorous prosecution of the war. [Cheers.] I am also in favor of the construction of a ship canal from this city to the Mississippi river as a military and commercial necessity, a means of uniting different parts of the country together, an instrument to aid in suppressing the rebellion, and carrying on all wars in which we may ever be engaged. [Applause.]
If the fact that I am a war Democrat constitutes that I am an abolitionist — up to the hub. [Cheers and laughter.] This same Times intimates that I have been converted. There the Times is mistaken as usual. Having never been a tory, I never needed conversion. I wish I could say as much for the Times man. I am a Democrat, but I am not to be driven from principle and patriotism by the cry of abolitionism. Thank God! I love my country better than party. [Cheers.] I have taken my position and there I will remain, though I stand solitary and alone. If I must desert my country in her trial to maintain my party, I will let the party take care of itself, though it should be buried so deep that the blast of Gabriel will never reach it. These tories ought to have learned by this time that the old epithet of reproach is worn out. They have handled it so long that it has become so smooth that it falls off harmless as a feather. Reading Democrats out of the party has become common. Thousands are leaving it, and if the Chicago Times and Springfield Register are going to read them out formally, the list of notices of Democratic departures, how only a little while ago that noble statesman and orator, the greatest of Democrats, Stephen A. Douglas, [cheers] was read out of the party by this same set of bigots and enemies of the country. You all remember how, when he battled the Lecomption Constitution — a measure of these secessionists, and the villiany of villians, because he believed it to be a great wrong, the men who are now active rebels, or rebel sympathisers, read him out of the Democratic party and denounced him as an abolitionists.
Yet despite their howling he lived long enough to earn and secure a place forever in the hearts of all true and loyal men. That noble example, I for one, am willing to emulate, and I would to God that all Democrats were as willing.
The thunderbolt of the war has fallen at last. [Loud applause.] I thought he was a long time in putting one foot down, but he has put both down, and he will keep them down, and the people and the army will come up and sustain him. The mighty echoes of this thunderbolt have startled the ears of all the people and loyal men everywhere have found strength and encouragement in his great act. For a year and a half the President has been fighting this rebellion, and he has found at last that it is an impossibility to preserve the Union and slavery together. [Great cheers.] He has given them still three months to preserve slavery by laying down their arms and submitting to the Constitution, and if by the 1st of January they do not return to their allegiance, I hope he will turn loose the slave, cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. [Tremendous applause.]
These tory sheets that are now denouncing the President's proclamation have from the commencement of these troubles, been aiding traitors in Illinois or in South Carolina. ["That's so."] But mark one thing, you will find that every man who has been in the army fighting this rebellion, will sustain the proclamation to the last. [Applause.] If you find a man wearing opaulets who opposes the proclamation, you may be sure he is a bloodless hero, that his sword is unstained. Our soldiers have seen themselves wasting away with sickness in hospitals, and death in battle for eighteen months, they have buried their comrades and suffered wounds, privations and dangers, they have heard the enemy boasting about Yankee devils and Bull Run, until there is no sympathy left in the army for slavery, traitors and rebels. (Hearty cheers.)
The people will not wait for another year of war, to bury another hundred thousand brave men, and five hundred millions of money: they say to the President to do any thing that will aid in crushing this rebellion. [Applause.] You will find no man who has a brother, no mother who has a beloved son fighting in the army, who will say one word against that proclamation. Why is it that the true, loyal and earnest men are glad that it has been issued? Not because it is an abolition measure, but because it will require two hundred thousand of the men who are in arms against us to go home and keep down insurrections. ["That's true," and cheers.] Do you suppose they will leave their thousands upon thousands who are at home to rejoice at the coming of this day of jubilee and breathe the air of freedom? Will they allow them to congregate by thousands upon plantations and rise in insurrection? The business of taking care of the negroes will more than decimate the rebel army. This is a war measure. It is to weaken the enemy, and to strengthen our cause. As such, every loyal man from Maine to California will endorse it, and every rebel sympathizer will oppose it. [Great enthusiasm.]
There has been enough temporizing with traitors, enough tender dealing with treason. When the Lord commissioned Moses to bring forth Israel and whip Pharaoah and the Egyptians, he did not caution the Hebrew leader to be gentle with his enemies. He smote them with a stern hand. He rained upon them pestilence and death. The air was poisoned to them. The rage of the sea was turned upon them. The first born child was not spared. Moses, the commander-in-chief, resorted to every measure necessary to deliver his people and punish the Egyptians.
So I say we must adopt whatever measures are necessary to crush this rebellion and save the country. I am not the judge of what is necessary, nor is any man here the judge. The President is the appointed judge and when the mandate has gone forth, every man is bound to obey. Abraham Lincoln is commander-in-chief of the armies of the United States. As such he possesses the power necessary to crush the rebellion. I care not what you name the measure, if it becomes necessary, that is the only question, and the man who does not respect the mandates of his supreme govern when the country is in a death grapple with rebellion is a traitor and deserves a traitor's doom. [Immense applause.] The President in such a time, I believe, is clothed with power as full as that of the Czar of Russia over this question, and the question of its exercise is for him and his constitutional advisers to determine. The Chicago Times is not the judge. [Laughter.] If it is necessary, perhaps it is just as well for the people to become familiar with this power and the right to its exercise now as at any other time. If the President should determine that in order to crush the rebellion the constitution itself should be suspended during the rebellion, I believe he has the right to do it. [Applause.] Perhaps the Times and other tory sheets would mutter at that. But think of the object of the rebellion — to overthrow the Constitution, to deprive us of the noblest inheritance ever left to man, they are battering at the walls of the capital. Every interest that we hold dear is endangered. What are we going to do at such an hour? Will you stop to talk about the strict constitutionality of measures? Before seizing a traitor that is trying to cut your throat, must you stop to inquire if the affidavit has been properly made for the issue of a writ for his arrest? [Applause.]
If your house were on fire and your family ready to perish in it, would you pause to learn who set the fire, or go after a writ for someone's arrest? or would you go to work and call upon all your neighbor, Republicans and Democrats, to help you put out the fire, though it might be necessary to break doors and windows to get at it. [Cheers.] After the fire was extinguished you might inquire who set the fire and have a writ for the arrest of some one. Our country is on fire. Ruin yawn beneath our feet. The fate of the nation trembles in the balance. Shall we save it, or shall we quibble about technicalities until it goes to destruction? ["Save it."] Yes, save it by all means. [Applause.] Restore it to its primitive grandeur. As Gen. Logan said, "Save the Union, though it takes the last man and the last dollar." [Immense cheering.]
In our glorious State of Illinois, on these broad, free praries, every man ought to gather inspiration in our cause, every man ought to be a patriot and lay down party prejudices and go forward upon the Union platform, strike hands with all who are willing to save the country. But here in Illinois the Vallandigham Democrats made a great cry and felt very sore over the fact that four or five traitors, whom they termed citizens of dear old Illinois, but who were traitors, have been arrested and put in prison. But are they sincere in all this howling? Is it because they believe that the liberties of the people are in danger? Not at all. You and I feel as safe to-night as ever in the possession of every kind of property, real and personal. The only molestation we can imagine would be from the rebels, in case they should succeed — not from Abraham Lincoln. I believe he is an honest and conscientious man. His acts, speaking louder than words, prove it true.
Abraham Lincoln has done more than to issue that celebrated proclamation. He has choked those traitors by declaring martial law over the whole United States. He will soon save these Vallandighamers any further trouble. (Cheers.)
Mr. Ingersoll entered into a lively and interesting exposure of the Knights of the Golden circle in Illinois — the extent of their numbers and operations, the recruits they had sent to the Confederate army, the sympathy they constantly expressly for incarcerated traitors. He alluded to the course of Josh Allen, notorious through all the country for his treasonable speeches, and but lately under arrest for treason, but who had been set up by the secession Democrats against Mr. Kuykendall, a brave and patriotic war Democrat. He spoke in terms of generous praise of the army of the Republic and its various Generals. He appealed to all friends of Douglas to recall and carry out the last words of the great Illinois Democrat. Let there be but two parties — patriots and traitors. He called upon true men to encourage the army, support the commander-in-chief, and stand with unfaltering devotion by the Government until every rebel flag was torn down and we again become a happy and united people.
The speaker sat down amid a round of hearty applause.