The Writings of Carl Schurz/The Issues of 1874, Especially in Missouri


Fellow-Citizens:—As one of the representatives of Missouri in the Senate of the United States, I deem it my duty to submit to you a candid statement of my views on the present posture of public affairs, and in doing so I shall not confine myself to the questions at issue in our impending State election. It is well known to you that in the expression of my opinions I have not permitted myself to be controlled by the requirements of party service, but, according to my sense of duty, have treated questions of public interest upon their own merits. In the same spirit I shall speak to you to-night—in plain language, without any desire or attempt to appeal to political prejudice or passion. More than ever do I consider this the duty of a public man under the peculiar circumstances which at present surround us. You cannot look at the present condition of the public mind in this Republic, without discovering that a wide-spread and deep distrust and skepticism have taken the place of the confident assurance and sanguine expectation formerly prevailing. The grave disorders constantly occurring in many of the States; the usurpations of government accomplished or attempted here and there, reminding one of Mexican pronunciamientos; the insecurity of life and property, and the impotency of the law in some parts of the country; the anarchy of power and the unsettled state of Constitutional principles; the influence of reckless demagogism and ignorance in the conduct of public affairs; the discovery of corrupt practices in public office of an alarming nature and extent, and the suspicion that there are other depths of corruption yet hidden from daylight; the sinking confidence in the character of public men; the growing power of great moneyed corporations, bearing hard upon the people and believed to control by corrupt means courts and legislatures; the existence and power of political rings, working for ends purely selfish by taking advantage of a blind and reckless partisan spirit; and finally, the occasional disclosure of alarming rottenness in social life; all these things—exaggerated as the darkness of the picture may be—have coöperated in overcasting the minds of many men with grave doubt and apprehension as to what is to come out of all this. I am sure your experience coincides with mine that every day you can meet, on the streets, and in counting-houses, and on farms, men—not chronic grumblers and fault-finders, nor disappointed politicians—but quiet, unostentatious and unambitious citizens, with no public aspiration but a patriotic interest in the welfare of the country, who earnestly ask and discuss the question: If this mischief be not stopped what will become of the Republic and its democratic institutions, and where are the means to stop it?

This feeling of doubt and apprehension is not the product of artificial agitation. It has been quietly growing and spreading for a long time among the most solid classes of our population, and is gradually affecting the whole tone of society. It shows itself in symptoms which cannot fail to have been noticed by every observing man. The very American eagle refuses to soar on the Fourth of July. The National birthday, barring the firecrackers of the children and the fine clothes of the militia men, has become an excessively sober and commonplace affair. The flaming Fourth of July speech, which formerly was listened to with real delight and enthusiasm, is now apt to meet rather ridicule than applause, and those who consent to serve as Fourth of July orators prefer, for their own credit, critical reviews of the situation, admonitions and warnings, to the self-glorification which formerly was so honest, exuberant and confiding. This state of mind, however much or little justified, exists as a fact, and it will in some way exercise an influence upon our political life. In a multitude of cases it has taken a form which is greatly to be deplored; and entire loss of faith in the efficiency of democratic institutions. I heard a gentleman, not a politician, recently express himself: “Why should I not be for a third Presidential term? I am for a third, a fourth, a fifth term and as many terms as possible, for I want by some means to get rid of this democratic form of government.”

Such utterances are becoming quite frequent, in the South perhaps more than in the North, but altogether too frequent in the North also. It would seem needless to say that such talk is utterly senseless, for with the social elements and political traditions of this country, any sort of monarchy or imperialism is absolutely impossible, and if any attempt in that direction were seriously contemplated by anybody, which I do not believe, it would, instead of producing stability and order, result only in confused, furious and endless civil conflicts, aggravating all the evils now complained of an hundredfold. But utterances of this kind have a demoralizing effect, for they divert the minds of men from the true problem, which is not how to get rid of democratic government, but how to restore and develop what is good in it and how to suppress or reform what is bad. Thus they cultivate that barren, inert, imbecile despondency which, seeking escape from an evil, is always apt to choose the worst—a state of mind utterly unworthy of an American. But while the present condition of things, and the feeling of anxiety and doubt springing from it, has thrown some minds into so morbid a despair, it has produced upon others, and, I am happy to say, a much larger number, a healthier effect full of encouragement and promise. It has stirred up their sense of duty and responsibility. It has quickened their public spirit. Seldom has public opinion been more vigilant in watching the conduct of the representatives and servants of the people; seldom has it been more powerful in enforcing the condemnation of malefactors and the correction of abuses. But a few years ago, any public man, who, against the wishes and pretended interests of his party, insisted upon the investigation and exposure of malpractice, could be trampled down and ostracized as a traitor. And now, immediately after a sweeping victory, the dominant party finds itself forced by an irresistible pressure of public opinion to put its own hands to a work but recently so detested, and the scandals of the Credit Mobilier, of the Sanborn contracts, of the moiety business and of the government of the District of Columbia, were ripped open; and, in the treatment of these things, the people were still more in earnest than some of the official investigators. For many years we have not had a session of Congress that was so free from job-legislation as the last, so much so indeed that the lobbymen could not pay for their dinners, and the restaurant-keepers were disconsolate. Public opinion hung like a thunder cloud over Washington, charged with dangerous electricity, and some of those who tried to construct the famous press-gag law as a lightning rod wish to-day they had never made the attempt while the people in conventions, and still more, at elections, are sitting sternly in judgment over those of their servants who cannot present a clean bill of health.

But more than that. While but a few years ago a man who refused to obey the behests of his party was not only ostracized as a traitor, but laughed at as a fool uselessly sacrificing himself in a windmill fight, we behold to-day all over the country countless thousands asserting their independence from party dictation, doing their own thinking for themselves, and following only their convictions of duty. And still more. While but recently very valuable classes of society kept aloof from all active participation in political movements, either from fastidiousness or modesty, or because they gave themselves wholly to private pursuits, they are now asking themselves: “Is not our apathy in great part to blame for the evils we are suffering? If we want good government, is it not time that we should take our share in the struggle to secure it?” And hence that fresh political activity, that freedom of criticism, that breaking of party lines, that movement of independence all over the field, which makes political ringmasters tremble and patriotic citizens rejoice in new hope.

I hail this effect of the doubt and anxiety which pervade the public mind as a sign of promise. It is doubt, turning into an incentive for independent thought. It is anxiety, becoming a stimulus for fresh exertion. In such a mood many errors may be committed, many mistaken notions may be entertained, many false movements may be made. But the intelligence of the American people is more than ordinarily active, the old dingdong of party cant begins to fall stale upon the ear, and the number of men who are sincerely anxious to know and to do what is right is growing every day. There are signs of the times which inspire the hope that a political revival has commenced, which, if directed with wisdom and energy, may regenerate and put upon a firmer footing than ever the free institutions of this Republic. But if it fails, then greater than ever will be the danger—not of monarchy or imperialism, but that by a sort of dry-rot our institutions may gradually lose their vitality; that our time-honored Constitutional principles may be obliterated by abuses of power establishing themselves as precedents; that the machinery of administration may become more and more a mere instrument of ring-rule, a tool to manufacture majorities and to organize plunder; and that, in the hollow shell of republican forms, the Government will become the football of rapacious and despotic factions.

With such opportunities and such dangers before us, it is our duty to examine the problems to be solved with candor and impartiality. It will be impossible for me to discuss in the narrow compass of a single speech all questions of importance. I am obliged to confine myself to-night to those which are at this hour the most prominent, leaving others to future occasions. It is one of the great misfortunes of our situation that we can scarcely attempt to engage the attention of the people in other subjects of legislation without being disturbed again and again by what may be called the Southern problem, reinflaming party spirit and distracting the popular mind. When the project of annexing Santo Domingo was before the Senate, I asked, in the course of my argument opposing it: “Have we not enough with one South as an element of disturbance? Do you want to purchase another one?” No prudent man will deny to-day that that question was very pertinent.

Last week the whole country was ablaze with excitement over the revolution in Louisiana. My opinion on the Louisiana case I expressed when it first came up in the Senate, in February of last year. That opinion was based upon a conscientious and candid study of the very elaborate report of our investigating committee. It was this: That the Kellogg government in that State had been set up by an act of gross and indefensible usurpation on the part of a United States District Judge, aided by United States troops, without the least evidence of an election by the people; that all the evidence there was of an election by the people, in the shape of returns, was decidedly in favor of McEnery; that McEnery was prima facie entitled to the office of governor, subject to subsequent contest if any of the returns were fraudulent, and that the only duty of the National Government in the case then was simply to undo the usurpation effected and sustained by its own officers, to restore as much as possible the condition of things which had existed before the usurpation, and to leave the final settlement of the matter to the competent State authorities. The same views were entertained and expressed by prominent Republican Senators, especially Senator Edmunds, who is now chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the Senate. I hold to that opinion still.

But, while the act of gross usurpation was not denied, others formed different conclusions. The President had recognized the Kellogg government when it was first set up. In a subsequent message to Congress he confessed his doubts as to Kellogg's title, and asked Congress to direct him what to do, stating at the same time that, if Congress failed to act, he would continue to recognize Kellogg. Congress permitted two sessions to pass with out doing anything. Thus Kellogg, in spite of the universally admitted usurpation, remained de facto governor of Louisiana, recognized by the National Executive; while the McEnery government maintained a show of organization, without such recognition.

The time for the election of a new legislature approached. The opponents of the Kellogg government, apprehending that no chance for a fair election would be given to them, organized; an uprising followed, and an hour's struggle drove Kellogg, with his adherents, to flight; whereupon McEnery and his associates possessed themselves of the State government.

Then Kellogg called upon the President for military aid in the manner prescribed by the Constitution. He was the only governor of Louisiana recognized by the President, who also in the manner prescribed by the Constitution, granted that aid. The troops of the United States reinstated Kellogg, and the McEnery party, the successful revolutionists, submitted to the National authority promptly, without the least attempt at resistance. This was the end of what is called the Louisiana revolution.

But it is not the end of the disease, neither is it the final remedy. A great wrong has been committed. That wrong does not consist in the intervention of the President against those who, by force of arms, had driven Kellogg to flight; for the President acted in the exercise of his Constitutional authority. Neither can, in a republic, the right of self-help by force be admitted, for such an admission would encourage every party, every individual that has a grievance, either real or imaginary, to resort to force for redress, and a state of anarchy would ensue which no political or social organization could withstand. We have too much of that self-help already, and too little patient reliance upon the slow but orderly and peaceable ways of the law.

But the great wrong was committed before. It was when a Federal Judge, palpably overstepping the limits of his jurisdiction and perpetrating an outrage without precedent in our history, was supported by the power of the National Government in the act of virtually creating a State government which had not the least evidence of an election by the people. It was when the creature of such an unheard of usurpation was by the same National Government permitted to stand as a lawful authority, and to lord it over the people of a State. It was when, even after the President had confessed his doubt, Congress neglected to undo the usurpation and to make room for those who had prima facie evidence of an election by the people.

The wrong was committed even before that, and in more States than Louisiana. It was when Federal officeholders in the South were permitted to use their authority and prestige as a power in partisan conflicts, and for the support and perpetuation of partisan State governments the most rapacious and corrupt that ever disgraced a republican country. It was when the countenance of the dominant party was not promptly withdrawn from the thieves who buried the Southern States under mountains of debt, and, filling their own pockets, robbed the people of their substance. It was when the keeping of the Southern States in the party traces was deemed more important than that they should have honest and constitutional government. That wrong is not remedied by military interference and the subjection of revolutionists.

Nor was that the only wrong committed in the South. There was another, and on the other side. It was when bands of lawless ruffians infested the Southern country, spreading terror by cruel persecution and murder. It was when helpless prisoners were slaughtered in cold blood. It was when neither officers nor volunteers could be found to arrest the perpetrators of such bloody deeds, or no juries to convict them. It was when the better classes of society contented themselves with condemnatory resolutions and pious wishes, instead of straining every nerve to bring the malefactors to justice. I know it is said that many of the bloody stories which reach us from the South are inventions or exaggerations. That may have been, and, undoubtedly, in some cases was so; but we know also that very many of them were but too true, and that they cannot be explained as a mere defense against official robbery, for the murdered victims were mostly poor negroes, while the real plunderers went free and safe. We know also that there is a ruffianly element in the South which, unless vigorously restrained by all the power of society, will resort to bloody violence as a pastime, especially when it is permitted to believe itself engaged in partisan service, and to be safe under the protection of public opinion.

And such wrongs and evils cannot be remedied by mere complaints, however just, of oppression and usurpation.

This is the state of things we have to deal with. Is there no remedy for all this except the employment of force? There must be, if our republican institutions are to stand; and it will not be difficult to find and apply it, if the Government as well as the people will only forget their partisan interests and think of nothing but the common welfare.

Louisiana is quiet. Kellogg sits in the governor's chair—trembling, perhaps, but safe. Nobody harms him. There is no further attempt at an anarchical movement on the part of the people. Order reigns. But there is another kind of anarchy, which is just as dangerous to republican institutions and to the welfare of the Nation as the lawless self-help by force of individuals and parties. It is the anarchy of power. It is the lawlessness of authority. If you want the people to respect and obey the laws, convince them that those in power do not wilfully disregard them. If you want republican government to stand, let the government be one emanating from the people and moving strictly within constitutional forms.

When the citizens of Louisiana, after a successful revolution, promptly and unconditionally submitted to the Constitutional authority of the President, they did their duty. They demonstrated to the world that their uprising was not a revival of the rebellion of 1861, for many thousands in arms yielded instantly to a corporal's guard under the National flag. Their duty to the National authority was completely performed. They gave up to it even their sense of right. Now it is time that the National Government should candidly consider what is its duty toward them.

The President is not expected to reverse his recognition of the Kellogg government without further action by Congress. But the election of a new legislature in Louisiana is impending, and at the request of Kellogg a force of United States soldiers is at hand, professedly to secure the enforcement of the laws in that election. That military force may be used impartially, and it may not. That will depend upon the man who controls it. It will be in a great measure under the control of United States Marshal Packard. And who is Packard? Besides being United States Marshal, he was one of the principal accomplices of Judge Durell and Kellogg in the usurpation of two years ago, and he is now the managing spirit of the State central committee of the Kellogg party.

I venture to suggest that such an accomplice in previous usurpation and present manager of a political party in a sharply contested election, such as this, is not a fit person to manage at the same time the United States troops to be used in that election. It is of the highest importance that, especially under existing circumstances, the people of Louisiana should not only have a fair election, but also that they should be made to feel that they have one. And it will be admitted that the irregular and striking combination of past performances and present functions in Mr. Packard is not calculated to inspire confidence. I am sure the whole country would applaud an order of the President relieving Mr. Packard of his official duties, and the substitution of a man of such character that everybody will believe him incapable of abusing his power for partisan ends.

This is a candid and respectful suggestion which might be enlarged upon. Indeed, if ever, now is the time to call away not only from Louisiana, but from South Carolina and all the Southern States, or to strip of their official power, the multitude of Federal officeholders, who have looked upon themselves as mere party agents, using all their influence to sustain and strengthen the bloodsuckers desolating that country, and probably not in many cases oblivious of their own profit. And I was sincerely rejoiced when a few days ago I read in the papers that the President was seriously thinking of holding a terrible muster of Federal placemen in the South. It is a timely resolution. Never was it more necessary. Let us hope that not a single one of those who have made the Federal authority a symbol of selfish partisan power and greedy oppression may escape him, and that the beginning be made with Packard and his associates, whose partisan appeals led the President to recognize the Kellogg government two years ago, and brought him into a position in which he now could not perform the duty of enforcing the Federal authority without at the same time sustaining a flagrant wrong.

But there the duty of the National Government does not end. It will not have been fully performed as long as the usurpation set on foot by a Federal Judge and supported by the Federal power is not undone. No longer than the period of its next meeting should the Congress of the United States permit any citizen of Louisiana to believe that the highest legislative power of the Republic can so far yield to partisan spirit as to sustain a palpable, an undoubted usurpation, even after that usurpation has most ignominiously demonstrated its inability to sustain itself. That duty remains unfulfilled until that precedent is wiped out, which is as dangerous as that of a successful revolution would have been; the precedent of a successful coup d'état, creating a State government and a legislature without the evidence of election, by the mere fiat of a Federal Judge, supported by a United States Marshal and Federal bayonets, and a band of reckless partisan adventurers. Let the highest powers in the land once more make every citizen understand and feel that, while preserving intact the lawful authority of the government, they are ready to throw aside all selfish considerations of party interest when the rights and the welfare of the people and the integrity of republican institutions are in question. Let this be done—let it be done by those who stand at the head of the dominant party, as a proof of good faith and patriotic spirit, and the lessons taught by the events in Louisiana will be of inestimable benefit to the whole American people.

On the other hand, the citizens of the South must not be permitted to forget that they, too, have a duty to perform. The people of the North sincerely desire that they should have honest and Constitutional government. Even a large majority of the Republicans in the North have long been heartily disgusted with the government of thieving adventurers which plundered the South. But when that public opinion was on the point of becoming so strong that no partisan spirit in power could have long resisted it, what happened? The bloody riot in New Orleans in 1866; the organization of the Ku-Klux all over the South; the butchery of Grant Parish, in 1873; the murders of Coushatta; the slaughter of the helpless negro prisoners in Trenton, Tennessee, not to speak of minor atrocities! What was the effect? The growing sympathy with the victims of plunder was turned into sympathy with the victims of murder.

When the Ku-Klux bill was before the Senate I opposed it, by argument and vote, on Constitutional grounds. But knowing, as I did, that the Ku-Klux bill was not only supported by partisan schemers, anxious for the preservation of party ascendancy, but also by unselfish and fairminded men, impelled beyond the limits of their Constitutional powers by a generous impulse, I then expressed the opinion that unless such deeds of bloody violence were suppressed by the Southern people themselves, Federal interference in any form, with all its consequences, would be demanded and sustained by an overpowering public opinion, and no Constitutional argument would be strong enough to prevent or stop it. It is to be hoped that by this time the people of the South have learned that those who disgrace them by deeds of bloody violence are their worst enemies. Let them act upon that lesson. Let them dissolve their white men's leagues; for every organization based upon a distinction of color is not only wrong in itself, but harmful to both races. Let them make the poor negro feel that he has not only a willing, but an active, protector in every good citizen. Let them understand that the most efficient method to fight the thieves who rule them is by relentlessly suppressing the murderous ruffians among themselves, who strip them of the sympathy of the country. Silent disapproval is nothing. Good intentions are nothing. Mere public resolutions are nothing. Only vigorous action will avail. Only the practical punishment of malefactors will serve. They justly demand that no thief shall find grace because he is a Republican. Let them show that no murderer will find grace with them because he is a Democrat. Let party spirit cease to be a shelter to the criminal. No white man's league will do them any good. An anti-ruffian league, of which every good citizen is an active member, is the thing the South wants.

I say this as a true friend of the Southern people, who has more than once raised his voice against the wrongs they have suffered. And I hail with gladness the spirit animating the governor of Tennessee, who does not rest until all the murderers of Trenton are in the clutches of the law; and the charge of that Kentucky judge, who tells his grand jury that if they fail to indict, not only the man who committed a murder, but also the sheriff who wilfully neglected to arrest that murderer, he will find grand jurymen in another county who will do their duty. In that spirit, which will relentlessly pursue the lawless elements of society as the common enemy, there is salvation for the Southern people. Let that spirit prevail in the South, and no partisanship in the North will be strong enough to baffle the sympathy which their misfortunes deserve. The South will again enjoy the largest Constitutional measure of self-government, and one of the greatest of those dangers will disappear which at present threaten the most vital part of our republican institutions.

The strongest ground upon which the men, whose rapacity has been so terrible a curse to the South, have their claim on public sympathy, is that they are the protectors of the colored people. Dreadful indeed would be the fate of the negro, were the protection of thieves their only safety. When we contemplate the part the colored people have played in the recent history of the Southern States, we find them rather to be pitied than to be condemned. That they should have fallen under the control of reckless and designing men, when, ignorant as centuries of slavery had left them, they entered upon the exercise of political rights, is by no means astonishing, especially when we consider that the Southern whites, their late masters, at first maintained an attitude of hostility to their new rights, while some of those designing friends appeared in the character of Federal officeholders, a character carrying with it an authority which the colored people were wont to look upon as the very source of their liberty. Neither is it surprising that the bad example of such leaders should have had a corrupting influence upon so impressionable a class of followers.

While thus every fairminded man will judge the doings of the colored people themselves with charity, no measure of condemnation can be too severe for those who made of the ignorant and credulous multitude a tool in their schemes of rapacity. What the colored people need above all things for their own security and welfare is a good understanding with their white neighbors. Had they, when they became a power in the political field, been led by conscientious and wise men, to cast their votes for good government, and thus to promote the common interests of both races, that good understanding with their white neighbors would not long have been wanting. But what characters did assume the leadership? Men who assiduously persuaded the negroes that their only safety was in a strict organization as a race against the Southern whites, and in blind obedience to the behests of their commanders; men who used that organization only to raise themselves to power, and who used that power for the spoliation of the people; men, who, in many cases, after having filled their pockets with spoil, sneaked off to a place of safety, leaving behind the poor tools of their iniquity as victims to the exasperation of plundered and outraged communities.

Truly, there never were professions of affection and solicitude more damnably treacherous than those lavished by such men upon the negroes of the South. To place the negroes of the South in the attitude of organized partisan supporters of corruption and robbery against the whites was the blackest crime that could be committed against the colored race. And I affirm that the men who did it, the carpet-baggers and plunderers, have been and are the cruelest, the most treacherous, the most dastardly enemies the colored people ever had since their emancipation.

The mischief is done and we see its consequences. The situation of the colored people has been seriously damaged by their false friends, and no device of legislation can furnish an adequate remedy. In this connection a word on the supplementary civil rights bill. That measure was brought forward and pressed by the dearest friend I ever had among the public men of America—a man whose memory I shall never cease to cherish and revere. This measure, however, I could not give my support. Nobody knows better than I do that it sprung from the purest motives, a rare sincerity of generous impulse and high patriotic aspirations. But it was based upon a theory of Constitutional power and upon views of policy upon which my friend and I had for years been agreed to disagree.

In a few words I will state my opinions on the bill. Those who have observed my utterances on questions of Constitutional power, such as were involved, for instance, in the Ku-Klux act, need not be told that I must consider the civil rights bill as transgressing the limits with which the Constitution hedges in the competency of the National Government, and as encroaching upon the sphere of State authority. I will not to-night tire you with a restatement of principles which I have frequently discussed.

But the civil rights bill, if made a law, would have other effects which its originator did certainly not design it to have—effects injuriously touching the interests of the colored people themselves. It has been said that the enactment of that bill would be calculated to break up the whole system of public schools in several of the Southern States. My observation and reflection convinces me that this apprehension is well grounded. And nobody would be a greater sufferer than the colored people; for nothing can be more important to them than that, issuing as they do from a state of degradation and ignorance, an efficient system of public instruction should put them on the road of progressive improvement. Anything injuriously affecting such a system must therefore be gravely injurious to them.

Now, it is a well-known fact that in the States containing the bulk of the colored population there existed, if not a general, still a widespread and powerful prejudice against the introduction of a system of common schools, to be supported at the public expense. We know something of that even in Missouri. That prejudice, although now overborne by a superior public opinion, is far from being entirely extinct. It requires only a new and strong impetus to impart to it new strength enough seriously to disturb what has with difficulty been built up.

It is equally well known that a large majority of the white people of those States, even a large majority of those who are sincerely anxious to secure to the colored children the largest possible advantages of education in separate establishments, still are very strongly, nay, violently, opposed to any law which, like the civil rights bill, would force the admission of colored children together with white children, in the same schoolrooms. That opposition exists, and we have to deal with it as a fact. Try to enforce, under such circumstances, the system of mixed schools, and what will be the result? The old prejudice against a system of public instruction to be supported by taxation, as it still exists in the States in question, will at once find itself powerfully reinforced, and to an attack so strengthened, against a defense in the same measure weakened, it is most probable that the systems of instruction, laboriously built up, will succumb. At any rate they will be interrupted for a disastrously long period.

There is scarcely a greater misfortune conceivable that could befall those communities. But what would especially the colored people have gained? Now they have at least their separate schools at the public expense, as a part of the general system. Destroy that system, and they will have no mixed schools, while their separate schools will perish also. Would the law, then, benefit the colored race at all? A colored man might indeed then enforce his rights to ride all over the country in a Pullman palace car, to board at a first-class hotel and to sit in the dress circle of a theater. But such things can be enjoyed under any circumstances only by the very small number of wealthier people among them. And these pleasures and conveniences of their few men of means would be purchased at a dreadful price; the interruption of the public-school system, the advantages of which they now extensively enjoy in separate establishments, would deprive the children of the poor of a thing which is as necessary to them as their daily bread. I happen to know very sensible colored men, who have the interests of their race sincerely at heart, and who, looking over the whole field, and recognizing facts as facts, are not willing to pay the price of their poor children's education for their rich men's convenience and pleasure.

At the same time I take this occasion to say that the facilities of education furnished to the colored people in separate schools are, in some parts of the country, and also in several counties of this State, far from sufficient; and I cannot impress it too strongly upon my fellow-citizens that it is not only their duty, but their interest, as it is the general interest of society, to place within the reach of the poorest and lowliest of them every possible means by which they can raise themselves to the highest attainable degree of perfection. I trust, therefore, the just claims of the colored people will not fail to meet with full satisfaction.

But in still other respects the enactment of such a law would not be beneficent to the colored man. Their situation as freemen was surrounded with extraordinary difficulties and dangers from the beginning. They were confronted by an inveterate prejudice and by that spirit of reckless violence which is doing so much harm to the Southern people. Their false friends in the South, using them for selfish and iniquitous ends, have succeeded in increasing again the difficulties which the influence of time and habit was calculated to diminish. It would be a dangerous venture, dangerous to the colored people, if their social position were made the objective point of new strife, under circumstances so unfavorable. Now that they have the political rights of citizenship it is much wiser and safer for them to trust to the means they already possess to make themselves respected, and to leave all else to the gradual progress of public opinion, which has already outgrown many a prejudice that a few years ago still seemed invincible. As their sincere friend, I should certainly not consider it a favor to them to precipitate them headlong into numberless and endless personal conflicts, in which they inevitably would be the sufferers.

But the National Government and the dominating party can do something far better for the colored man than pass laws of doubtful Constitutionality or send troops for their protection. Let them openly and severely discountenance those corrupt partisans in the South who have misled the colored people into an organized support of robbery and misgovernment, and done all they could to make them believe that in the matured opinion of white men the science of politics consists in stealing as much of the public money as you can lay your hands on. Let them punish, at least with removal, those officeholders who have prostituted the authority of the Republic by using their official power to work into the hands of the plunderers. Let in their places be put men of wisdom, conscience and honor, who will set them an example of high official integrity and public spirit, and disabuse them of the idea that whatever they may do as partisans of those in power, the aid of the National Government will always stand behind them.

Still more can the colored people themselves do for their own protection; and here, I think, is the way to solve the most difficult part of the problem: They cannot too soon give up the delusion that they will be safe only as long as they remain together in the same political organization. Instead of exercising over one another a system of terrorism, in order to enforce party discipline, they should encourage among themselves individual independence. Not in union is their safety, but in division. They have before them the example of another body of men, who, although from the beginning far stronger in their social position and influence, were also, under certain circumstances, threatened with an invasion of their political rights; I mean the adopted citizens. As long as they, in an almost solid body, stood together on the side of one party, the other thought of taking their rights from them; but no sooner did they break their ranks, and divide, than both sides stood up for them with equal zeal. It is a lesson easily understood. As soon as the colored citizens in the South shake off the odium which arises from their having, as a solid, organized mass, been the main support of the worst kind of partisan rule, as soon as every one of them casts his vote on this side or the other, as his opinions or inclination may dictate, each party will make their protection a special object in order to attract a majority of those votes. And I am rejoiced to learn that the number of colored citizens who emancipate themselves from the serfdom of party discipline, and who counsel with their white neighbors on their political action in order to secure good government, is growing larger from year to year. When it will have grown so large that the colored voters become an important element, not only in one, but in both parties, under an impulse of self-interest, each party will rival in affording them the fullest measure of protection. That will do more to stop bloody excesses in the South than any military interference, and more to establish just and beneficent relations between the two races than any Congressional legislation. This view of the case may not be palatable to the managers of the party which so far has had the almost unanimous support of the colored vote. Governor Kellogg of Louisiana and Governor Moses of South Carolina, I apprehend, may not like it. They will call this the advice of a dangerous disorganizer, as I am accustomed to be called a dangerous disorganizer whenever I advocate a policy which crosses the selfish schemes of politicians. Well, the advice I give may not be good for the Kelloggs and Moseses, but I maintain that it is good for the safety and future welfare of the colored people, as well as for the cause of honest government in the South. And I declare myself in favor of honest government and of the security of every human being in the South in his life, property and rights, even if it should cost Kellogg and Moses every particle of political power they possess. And I hope the time is not far when every good citizen in the country, to whatever party he may belong, will be of the same opinion.

I am not sanguine enough to expect that, even if such a policy be followed, all elements of disorder will at once disappear from Southern society; but its most feverish distemper, at least, may thus be allayed. How much easier would it be to solve problems, now appearing so intricate if we could once deal with them on their own merits, in the light of a broad statesmanship, candid enough to face and recognize the whole truth, instead of every moment turning round to ask how this or that measure, however good in itself, may affect the chances of the Republican or of the Democratic party! How much error would then be dispelled! How many dangers would then be averted! You, honest Republicans, who, as sincerely as I, desire the protection of the poor negro and the suppression of violence, would then readily admit a fact which is as clear as sunlight, that the government of the Republican carpet-bagger and plunderer in the South, as a protection to the negro and the Union man, has been a most glaring and disastrous failure, and that in the very nature of things it must be so. You would no longer permit yourselves to be deceived about another fact equally clear and notorious, that in those Southern States, where the carpet-baggers and plunderers have ceased to rule—such as Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee—the poor negro is far better protected and acts of violence are far less frequent than they were when that rule still existed, and than they now are in those States where that rule still exists, as in Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama. And you would further understand that, in directly or indirectly sustaining that iniquitous rule for partisan advantage, you deprived your own party of the opportunity of carrying out beneficent and necessary reforms, and drove those States into the arms of your opponents.

On the other hand, you, honest Democrats, who have the cause of local self-government as sincerely at heart as I have, if you could but throw away the same blind partisan spirit, you would at once understand that nothing in the world can injure and imperil the cause of local self-government more than those bloody excesses and violent upheavings, apt to raise a doubt as to the fitness of the people for its exercise, and that nothing can benefit that cause more than the practical demonstration that the self-government of the people in every part of the country can, even under trying circumstances, be depended upon to secure the amplest protection to every man's life, property and rights. I repeat, how much easier would it be to solve such problems, how much easier to avert the dangers to our republican institutions they bring with them, if but for a short period that partisan spirit could be dispelled which blinds our eyes against the truth and cripples our patriotic impulse to do what is right and just and wise.

It is, indeed, time that this should end. Let the uprising of independent thought which we now behold, at last, break through that strange and dangerous infatuation. Let the American people once more remember that it is the duty of every citizen first to be a patriot before being a partisan. Then we shall cease to stumble from blunder into blunder, and that enlightened statesmanship will not fail to appear, which by courageous action will scatter the clouds now hanging with threatening gloom over the Republic.


I ask your pardon for having dwelt so long upon this subject, but I consider it one of the most important questions of the day. I am informed that the position I have taken with regard to it has not had the approval of many of my constituents. I ask them only to believe that I have been acting upon convictions which are very sincere and very strong; so sincere and so strong indeed that I should continue to hold them did I stand with them quite alone. I have been asked by political and personal friends, for my own sake, either to abstain entirely from expressing my opinions on the financial question in this campaign, or at least to compromise a little by declaring myself, for instance, for specie payments in an indefinite future, but for some expansion at present. I cannot do that. It is against my sense of duty. Did I not consider my convictions correct I should not entertain them. Did I not deem them in accordance with the best interests of the people, I should not urge them. The fact that some of my constituents have so far not approved my opinions is all the more a reason to argue the matter with those who differ with me. No personal considerations are admissible. I know that two and two make four. No personal consideration can make me say that two and two make five, and no expediency can induce me to compromise the matter by saying that two and two make about four and a half. I am absolutely against inflation of any kind. I am in favor of the immediate adoption of a policy which will lead us by gradual but decided, direct and irrevocable steps to the resumption of specie payments. This I consider right, and for the best interests of the country. By this I shall stand as long as I stand at all.

Permit me now a few remarks on the issues of the State campaign in which we are now engaged. I am one of those who, in 1870, went out of the convention of the party in whose ranks I had served for fifteen years, for the purpose of doing an act of justice to a large number of our fellow-citizens in a manner calculated to produce the best possible effect upon the future development of the State. The motives which led me to take a step so venturesome for a public man I have never since seen any reason to be ashamed or to repent of. Many thousands of our citizens were then disfranchised in consequence of their attitude during the civil war. For five years after the close of the great conflict they had been paying taxes, and a large majority of them had been bearing all the burdens and performing all the duties of citizenship without enjoying any of its political privileges. While such exceptional restrictions were dictated by the policy of self-preservation, as war measures, at a time when the issues and results of the conflict were still trembling in the scale, I thought their continuation an unjustifiable wrong and hardship after those issues and results were firmly secured. Moreover, those restrictive laws had put into the hands of the party to which I belonged means to perpetuate its power, which could not fail to lead, and indeed had led, to most grievous, tyrannical and demoralizing abuses. It appeared to me, as it did to thousands of Republicans, that it was time to make an end of this. I thought also that if a large number of Republicans stepped before those who had been deprived of their political rights, saying: “We, members of the dominant party, which might, by maintaining disfranchisement, perpetuate its ascendancy ever so long, actuated as we are by a sense of justice and the impulse of fraternal feeling, restore to you, freely and voluntarily, all the rights and political privileges of which you have been deprived”—such an act would go far to wipe out forever all the old passions and animosities of past conflicts, and unite the whole people of the State in the bonds of mutual confidence and good understanding. I thought also that such an act of justice, voluntarily performed at the risk of our political fortunes, would, as an example of political independence, be well calculated to disarm for the future that partisan spirit which so frequently has stood, and now stands, in the way of good government.

That was my motive and purpose. Neither can it be said that any desire or expectation of personal reward inspired that step. Had it been so, then I should have improved my advantage by joining the Democratic party, when that turned up as a majority in this State, to make good my claim on their gratitude, if there be such a thing. But I declared in 1870, and in 1872 again, that I had separated from the Republican majority with no such intention. Doubts were expressed at the time as to the sincerity of that declaration; but I think I have proved that sincerity by maintaining ever since an attitude of absolute independence, acting on the field of National politics upon the same motives and principles which determined my course in the State of Missouri. And I am gratified to know that a large majority of those with whom I stood in 1870 have been governed by the same spirit.

It is my duty to say that the purposes for which the movement of 1870 was undertaken, have met with some disappointment. I do not lay any stress on the fact that a certain class of the same men for whose political rights and privileges we rose up in 1870, and who then pressed our hands, called us their saviors and deliverers, and extolled to the skies the virtue of our moral courage for the right and our political independence, now, when we act upon the same principles, find no insinuation too mean and no abuse too gross to vilify us before the people in press and speech. Such obloquy, although intended to hurt, does but little if any injury to those against whom it is directed; but what may we think of the gentlemanly spirit of the men who descend to it? As for myself I cannot restrain a feeling of profound pity when beholding the spectacle of such conduct, and I turn with a sense of relief to the honorable men amongst them who have remained true to the nobler instincts of human nature.

But, while attaching little consequence to these personal matters, leaving everybody to be as much of a gentleman as he pleases—the welfare of the State is entitled to more serious consideration. We have a right to ask those of the Democratic party who for some years have controlled the government of Missouri, What have you done with that power which you derived from the unselfish and generous movement of 1870? How have you cultivated that fraternal feeling between the late enemies in war, now to be friends again; that feeling which prompted the movement of 1870, and from which you derived your profit? What has become, under your rule, of that generous non-partisan spirit which in 1870 showed itself on our side ready to renounce party ascendancy that none of you might continue to suffer under the injustice of disfranchisement? What has become of good government in Missouri under your control?

Fraternal feeling! What spirit is it that now again boisterously appeals through the organ of your leading men to ceaseless yearnings for revenge? What spirit is it that thus sedulously strives to revive the bitterest passions of the civil war to new acrimony, after so generous a gage of reconciliation and friendship had been freely given you by men who held power and might have kept it? What spirit is it that in some counties of the State uses every means of private and official annoyance to make it uncomfortable for old Union men to live there, and to deter other Union men from coming there?

Mitigation of partisan spirit! What spirit is it which loudly proclaims through the organs of the same leading men that slavish obedience is the order of the day, and that the Democratic party will “slay” every man who has moral courage enough to utter an opinion of his own at variance with the despotic behests of party rule? What spirit is it that vociferously threatens St. Louis with deadly legislation if her citizens should dare to turn out any other than a Democratic majority—the same citizens of St. Louis whose political independence you praised when, in 1870, they gave an almost unprecedented majority against disfranchisement? What spirit is it which, in the first platform the Democratic party of Missouri has made alone since 1868, commits itself to the principle of repudiation, and thus seeks to ruin the credit and to tarnish the good name of the people of Missouri?

Good government! What has become of the reputation of the State under your rule, when the newspapers of the country East and West, as well as our own, are alive with accounts of highway robbery and murder in Missouri, which the government showed itself utterly impotent to repress and punish?

And here you will pardon me for taking notice of that somewhat amusing attempt made recently by partisan papers to charge me with defaming the State, and frightening away immigration, because I had in public speech called those occurrences disgraceful to Missouri, and had demanded that the people give themselves a government which will honestly and rigorously enforce the laws. I have been accused of having called Missouri the “robber State.” I have to pronounce that utterly false. What I did say is this: The good citizens of Missouri have risen up to demand “that the scandalous and alarming brigandage and ruffianism which so long a time have been permitted to disgrace the fair name of this State shall at last be rooted out by the strong hand of power honestly wielded; that the farmer shall feel safe in the solitude of his forest or prairie home, and that the traveller on every high- and by-way of the State shall be without fear of assault and robbery; that the laws be enforced rigorously and impartially, without regard to person, to local prejudice or feeling, or to political influence—enforced not only in hollow profession but in honest fact.” That is what I said, and that is all; and therefore a defamer of the State! Ah, it is rather a stale trick of demagogism to accuse those who denounce existing evils, and insist upon redress, of defaming the Commonwealth—a stale trick, I say, as old as demagogism itself. Already the Greeks and Romans knew it and buried it under contemptuous ridicule. What we see now is only a feeble posthumous imitation.

Why did you not tell us in 1870 not to expose the wrongs of disfranchisement lest we defame the State and frighten Southern immigrants from our borders? Why do you not tell those who expose corruption in the National Government to stop lest they defame the United States and frighten away European immigration? Who defamed the State when to me in my seat in the Senate more than once some of my associates came with newspapers in their hands containing lengthy accounts of the shameless brigandage here, and when I was asked the question: “Have you no laws and no government in Missouri?”

Who was defaming the State, when even European journals printed accounts of the Gad's Hill robbery as a racy anecdote, to show their readers what things can be done in this commonwealth with impunity?

And now, accuse those of wronging the community who insist that such scandals be stopped! As the irony of accident would have it, one of the Democratic papers of this city, which had called me a slanderer in one issue, published in the very next two articles, one telling the story of a murderous assault and robbery committed by a band of masked brigands upon an emigrant camp in the western part of this State, and the other giving the details of two street broils in Lexington, in which two men were mortally and one slightly wounded. And these interesting pieces of information are now making the round of the American press. This was only last week. Who defamed the State? Who frightened away immigrants? And the same Democratic paper but recently spoke with a sort of approving and encouraging tenderness of the chivalrous habit of the “ruddy young fellows” to settle their difficulties by lustily pulling out their pistols or knives, and shooting or stabbing one another dead on the public streets.

This is not a matter to be trifled with, or to be slurred over by sneering at those who demand a remedy.

The question is, Have not these murders and highway robberies happened? Not I, but every man in the land who reads newspapers will answer that they have happened—not once, but time and time again. Have the perpetrators been arrested and punished? Not I, but every man in the land who keeps the run of current news answers that the perpetrators are at large, and are turning up every moment to do the same thing without being arrested, tried and punished. Has the power of the government been rigorously exerted to arrest this disgraceful scandal? The reading public all over the country remembers that the friends of the governor excused him for not acting efficiently, on the ground that he could not obtain the necessary aid from a legislature of his own party.

Has every political party in the State pronounced itself emphatically for a relentless suppression of these outrages and a vigorous enforcement of the laws? The whole country, reading the Democratic platform of Missouri, has learned that the Democratic party in State convention forgot all about it.

Is there not, in spite of this strange case of forgetfulness, at least a unanimous sentiment among the ruling party hostile to such disorders? The country learns that a leading organ of that party finds the young men who are “handy with knife and pistol,” and shoot and stab to their hearts content, rather a nice and desirable set of fellows, and almost the whole Democratic press lustily chimes in, calling a public slanderer and unworthy of regard every man who denounces those scandals and insists upon their repression.

Who defames the State now? Who frightens away immigration? In the first place, the men who committed the murders and robberies. In the second place, those wielding power, who so long suffered these things to be done and repeated again and again with impunity. In the third place, the so far dominant party which deemed this crying evil so trifling, and its suppression so unimportant, that when it defined its policy it forgot all about it. And in the fourth place the newspapers and the men who denounce those as enemies of the State who acknowledge the evil and demand a remedy.

It avails you little to say that murders and robberies happen in other States and countries also, and in some of them still more than here. True there are more homicides in some of the Southern States and more brigandage in Italy. But I insist that whatever may be the condition of other States and countries, here in Missouri there is altogether too much of it; that it has prevented the immigration of farmers to our prairies; that it has discouraged orderly people who like the rule of law better than knives and revolvers from settling in our country towns; that it has depreciated the value of our lands; that it has hindered the progress and prosperity of the State, and that it is a dishonor to the whole Commonwealth.

This is a hard, undeniable fact, and if the Democratic party, as an organization, have no stomach to face it and provide a remedy, it is fortunate for the State of Missouri that there are other people, and among them many thousands of Democrats, who care more for the State than for the party.

And here, fellow-citizens, I can point with satisfaction to the redeeming feature of that condition of things in Missouri, which issued from the movement of 1870. That movement could not be destined to end in a revival of those animosities of past conflicts which it was designed to change into fraternal accord; in a partisan rule more intolerant and overbearing than that which preceded it; in a government recklessly unmindful of public peace and security. It could not end there, and I am happy and proud to say it has not ended there. In spite of the reaction of the last few years that spirit of independent thought and courageous action which broke loose from radical party control to give their rights to the disfranchised, to the people friendly conciliation and to the Commonwealth good and impartial government, that spirit has after all borne most excellent fruit; for to-day we see it rising with fresh strength in the many thousands of men who on their part have broken loose from Democratic party control to preserve those blessings which the movement of 1870 did bring forth, and to secure those which it attempted but failed to secure. I never despaired of its ultimate success. It was natural, perhaps, that after having broken an overstrained partisan rule on one side, it should at first produce too great a rebound to the other. But I always trusted that at last it would bring us to a just equilibrium. Thus the work of 1874 is to be the completion of the work of 1870. All the good which was then accomplished will remain, and the evil consequences which then ensued shall now be remedied. That is the meaning of this campaign.

And to carry this work to a successful issue, the farmer is leaving his plow and the merchant his counting-room; the old Republican and the old Democrat are laying aside their differences of opinion to join hands as good citizens in a common effort. Hundreds and thousands of men, who, for many years, had devoted themselves exclusively to their pursuits or to the quiet enjoyments of private life, are stepping forward, once more exposing themselves to the buffets of political strife to give to our State the blessings of good government. Surely, no unworthy cause could have produced so inspiring an effect. And with the utmost candor I ask every patriotic citizen of Missouri, who has the welfare of our State sincerely at heart, can he find a better way to serve that welfare than by joining in this effort?

Is it not well, is it not absolutely necessary that the attempt be emphatically rebuked, which the Democratic organization is making, and which will succeed, if their candidates are elected, to commit the people of Missouri for the principle of repudiation as it stands in the Democratic platform—a commitment which cannot fail most grievously to injure us by creating general distrust in our honesty, to drive capital away from our borders, and to blacken the character of our Commonwealth? This most important consideration alone should decide the mind of every citizen who has any conception of his true interests.

Is it not necessary that we should put the power of the Government in the hands of men who will vigorously wield that power to punish and suppress brigandage and murder with a relentless hand, men who, unmoved by local sentiment or partisan bias, will lift up the authority of the law from its disgraceful impotency, and will make the officers of the law do their whole duty without fear or favor? Men who will never permit themselves to forget, nor be surrounded with influences which will make them forget, that the protection of life and property is one of the first duties of the Government, as the Democratic organization seem to have forgotten it?

Is it not well and necessary, especially in times of business stagnation and distress like these, to lighten the bur dens weighing heavily upon the people by strict economy, to turn every dollar raised by taxation or derived as interest on public moneys to the benefit of the community, instead of making public officers rich, or even enabling political favorites to fatten still more upon the substance of the people, by increasing, as has been done, their already exorbitant perquisites?

Is it not well and necessary to break the despotic partisan rule which vociferously pronounces the sentence of political death upon every man who dares to have an independent opinion; which insolently threatens the first commercial city of the State with injurious legislation, if the people of that city, true to their honest and patriotic impulses, refuse to work into the hands of partisan rings; and which, if permitted to continue in power, bids fair to spread a network of organization over the State which will make the government, with its power and emoluments, the monopoly of a few ring-masters, and against which the people then will struggle in vain?

Is it not well and necessary that those who still speak of “ceaseless yearnings for revenge” should be emphatically informed by our votes that, in the opinion of the people of Missouri, the war is over; that the people want those who once were enemies to be friends again, that in such a spirit they mean to enforce peace, order and impartial justice, and that they look upon every one who now, by insidious appeals, attempts to revive the old passions and resentments of the civil conflict as a reckless disturber, as an enemy of society?

And here I wish to address a word directly to the late Confederates among us. There is not one of you who can say that I, or those who thought and acted as I did, have been controlled by any prejudice or motive of hostility to you. You will scarcely deny that we have shown a very different spirit, and we did it, exposing ourselves to ill-will and vituperation on the part of many of those who had been our friends, and at the risk of our political fortunes. You were reinstated in the full exercise of your political rights, not by your own exertions, for you were powerless; nor by the Democratic party, for the Democratic party alone was powerless. You were so reinstated because there were Union men, Republicans, enough in Missouri, who, with the earnest determination to be just to you, defied all the prejudices still existing and all the political interests that were against you. The spirit of justice, and nothing else, made it possible for you to acquire the influence which you now possess. This is a matter of history.

I remind you of these things not in order to establish any personal claim on your gratitude. I have had too much experience in public life to ignore what such claims are worth, and on that score I hereby absolve every one of what, in a moment of sentimental emotion, he might have thought a personal obligation. But you cannot be absolved from your obligations to the welfare of the State.

I remind you of it for your own sakes, because it ought not to be lost sight of when you form your own opinion as to the attitude you should assume.

After all this has happened; after your former antagonists have given you the most conclusive proof, not only that they desired to bury forever all the animosities of the past, but also that they wanted you to enjoy all the rights and privileges they enjoyed, and that in no conceivable sense any discrimination should be made against you—after all this, and while there is not a Union man in Missouri who, in any competition of political or business life, attempts to make your position during the war a point against you—do you think it is quite right and quite wise that so many of you should make past service in the Union or the Confederate cause an issue against or for any man in private or political life? Is it quite right and wise, for instance, that your organs should excite prejudice and inflame animosity against such a man as Major Gentry, whom every one of you knows to be a gentleman of unspotted integrity, high character, an able mind and generous instincts, on the ground that as a Union man he performed the duties of an officer in a regiment of home guards? Is it quite right and wise, since the People's party have shown their spirit by nominating two Confederates among their candidates for public position, you should make an issue against others which nobody makes against you, and you should be the first to rekindle again the old spirit of resentment?

I may be told that such are not the sentiments animating a majority of the Confederates in Missouri. I hope so, and nobody will be happier than I to acknowledge the fact. But if it be so, is it quite wise to permit your organs thus to misrepresent the majority and to carry on that most mischievous sort of agitation without an emphatic rebuke?

My action with regard to your rights may entitle me at least to speak a word of candid advice without appearing impertinent. A revival of the passions of the war, instigated by Confederates for their advantage, may turn out to be a two-edged weapon. It might in the course of time array all the old Union men on one side and the Confederates on the other. Certainly the old Union men would not be the weaker party, and the spirit animating that party would be according to the provocation.

I need not say, for I have given sufficient proof of my sentiments, that I should most heartily deplore such a division of elements as a great misfortune to all classes of our people, and I earnestly entreat the late Confederates to do nothing which might lead to it. As their friend I appeal to them to frown down among themselves every demagogue who urges them on in so mischievous, so suicidal a course.

You, Confederates, wanted to be received back in the body of citizens with the full rights of citizenship. We forgot the war. We gave you a welcome with open arms, without reserve, to be citizens with us—no less, no more. With your disfranchisement removed in such a manner as it was, ceased your right to regard yourselves as a separate class. Nobody threatens your rights. You have no separate interests to bind you together in political action. The memories you have in common you may cultivate, as we cultivate ours, but you should not make them a political element, as we do not. You have no true interests of your own which are not the interests of every other citizen. Does not every patriotic instinct tell you it is time, and indeed, it is best for you, as it is best for all of us, that at last you should sink the Confederate in the citizen; that you should not keep alive distinctions which cannot be cultivated without injury to yourselves and to the common good; that as citizens you should make the public welfare your only object in political life, and at last throw off those partisan shackles which hinder you in doing so? That is a nobler, and surely a more useful ambition, than to wrangle among yourselves as to whose war record entitles him to the best office, or to make a point against an honorable man because he was an officer in the home guards.

What is there that can prevent any sincere man among you from joining our effort to give this State good government, when your own consciences must tell you that the partisan rule against which we have risen was an injury to the best interests of the State, and certainly no honor to those who supported it? What prevents you from doing what your own best instincts must prompt you to do?

Do you want to do something that will serve your friends in the South? Let me say to you that, better than by stubbornly perpetuating the evils under which this State suffers, will you serve them by giving them an example of wise discrimination, of courageous independence and of an enlightened public spirit. Show them that in your opinion the late Confederate should not be the last but the very first to seize with zeal and earnestness every opportunity to work for the common good, resolutely turning his back upon the past and throwing aside all the small spite and petty ambitions of partisanship. Set them this example in such a manner that your Southern brethren cannot fail to see, to admire and to imitate it, and you will have rendered them a service of inestimable and lasting value. As we offered to the Confederates our hands in the work of 1870, so we offer them our hands once more for the completion of that work. It is not disfranchisement from which they are to be delivered, but they are to deliver themselves from a sinister party servitude, which stifles their noblest ambition and impairs their usefulness as citizens. Whether this advice be taken kindly or not, whether it be followed by many or few, the time will come when even those who now reject it will recognize it as the counsel of a true friend who was just to them when they needed it, and who now only calls upon them to be just to themselves.

But we, at least, my fellow-citizens, conscious of serving a good cause, will go forward with unfaltering courage and determination. Let the little tricks and squirmings of partisan spite or speculation, filling with noise the air around you, not disturb your equanimity. They have not repressed the People's movement in its rise, they will not hamper it in its progress. Every blow of intrigue or malice that was aimed at it has brought to its ranks scores of honest men whom we welcome with pride. Let not one of you be deterred from taking his stand boldly according to his sense of duty by the little arrows of abuse which may be shot at him. I have now been well-nigh twenty years more or less active in public life, and so often have I seen the same men cover me with obloquy one day and with lavish praise the next, so often have I been killed stone-dead politically and risen up again fully alive, that I can speak from experience: He who walks his path with unswerving fidelity to his convictions of right has nothing to fear. Malice always dies of its own poison. Every unjust aspersion upon you will raise you in the esteem of a just community, as every mean attack upon a good cause will strengthen it by the disgust it excites.

I candidly believe the independent men of Missouri are strong enough to carry to a successful end the great task which they have undertaken, the task of completing the work of 1870. They will inscribe upon the annals of this State a lesson which the politicians of this generation will remember as long as they live: That no political party, whatever its name or fame, however strong in numbers or compact in organization, can in this State abuse its power, without provoking an uprising of patriotic and independent men that will overthrow it. Such a lesson vigorously taught will be for all the future an inestimable blessing. This blessing alone is worth all the exertion to which this hour summons you. And when that victory is achieved, which can scarcely fail us, if every true man does his duty, then it may well be said again that the people of Missouri are governing themselves. We shall by the honest independence of our public spirit have set to the country an example how without partisanship the welfare of all may be served. And Missouri will stand before the world with lawlessness suppressed, and repudiation repudiated, a Commonwealth proud of its integrity, hopeful in its assured progress and strong in the courageous patriotism of its citizens.

  1. Speech at the Temple, St. Louis, Sept. 24, 1874.
  2. About one-third of this speech was devoted to a discussion of National finances, more fully treated in other speeches published in these volumes.