Address at Cleveland, Ohio
Fellow-citizens of Cleveland and Ohio: We have come here upon a very inclement afternoon. We have marched for two miles through the rain and the mud.
The large numbers that have turned out under these circumstances testify that you are in earnest about something, and what is that something? I would not have you suppose that I think this extreme earnestness is about me. I should be exceedingly sorry to see such devotion if that were the case. But I know it is paid to something worth more than any one man, or any thousand or ten thousand men. You have assembled
130to testify your devotion to the Constitution, to the Union, and the laws, to the perpetual liberty of the people of this country, It is fellow-citizens, for the whole American people and not for one single man alone, to advance the great cause of the Union and the Constitution And in a country like this, where every man bears on his face the marks of intelligence where every man's clothing, if I may so speak, shows signs of comfort, and every dwelling signs of happiness and contentment, where schools and churches abound on every side, the Union can never be in danger. I would, if I could, instil some degree of patriotism and confidence into the political mind in relation to this matter.
Frequent allusion is made to the excitement at present existing in our national politics, and it is as well that I should also allude to it here. I think that there is no occasion for any excitement. I think the crisis, as it is called, is altogether an artificial one. In all parts of the nation there are differences of opinion on politics; there are differences of opinion even here. You did not all vote for the person who now addresses you, although quite enough of you did for all practical purposes, to be sure.
What they do who seek to destroy the Union is altogether artificial. What is happening to hurt them? Have they not all their rights now
131they ever have had? Do not they have their fugitive slaves returned now as ever? Have they not the same Constitution that they have lived under for seventy-odd years? Have they not a position as citizens of this common country and have we any power to change that position? [Cries of "No!"] What then is the matter with them? Why all this excitement? Why all these complaints? As I said before, this crisis is altogether artificial. It has no foundation in fact. It can't be argued up, and it can't be argued down. Let it alone, and it will go down of itself.
I have not strength, fellow-citizens, to address you at great length, and I pray that you will excuse me; but rest assured that my thanks are as cordial and sincere for the efficient aid which you will give to the good cause in working for the good of the nation, as for the votes you gave me last fall.
There is one feature that causes me great pleasure, and that is to learn that this reception is given, not alone by those with whom I chance to agree politically, but by all parties. I think I am not selfish when I say this is as it should be. If Judge Douglas had been chosen President of the United States, and had this evening been passing through your city, the Republicans should have joined his supporters in welcoming
132him just as his friends have Joined with mine to-night. If we do not make common cause to save the good old ship of the Union on this voyage, nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage.
To all of you, then, who have done me the honor to participate in this cordial welcome I return most sincerely my thanks, not for myself but for Liberty, the Constitution, and Union.
I bid you an affectionate farewell.