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efforts made to get away from it, at least in this latitude. Nobody here is willing to trust it. The cry of the railroad conductor is transferred to politics, "It is dangerous to stand on the platform." [Laughter.] Nobody has made greater efforts to get away from it than the Presidential candidate of the Democracy, who forgets, that, as a candidate, he is born with the platform, and united to it, as the Siamese twins are united together, so that the two cannot be separated. As well cut apart Chang and Eng as cut apart McClellan and Chicago. [Laughter.] The two must go together.
The letter of McClellan is a specimen of "how not to do it." This is the prevailing idea, how not to stand on the platform, how not to offend the Rebels, and how not to touch Slavery. It is an ingenious wriggle and twist; but so far as the writer succeeds in getting off the platform, it is only to run upon other difficulties, -as from Scylla to Charybdis. The platform surrenders to the Rebellion; the letter surrenders to Slavery. But the Rebellion is nothing but belligerent Slavery; so that surrender to Slavery is surrender to the Rebellion. The platform discards the Union; but the letter, while professing a desire for union, discards Emancipation, without which union is impossible; and while professing a desire for peace, it discards Liberty, through which alone peace can be secured. The letter says: The Union is the one condition of peace: we ask no more.” The Democratic candidate may ask no more; but others do. I ask more, because without more the Union is but a name. I ask more for the sake of justice and humanity, and that this terrible war may be vindicated in history. The Baltimore Convention, in its resolutions, asks more. Abraham Lincoln asks more. The country
takes up the demand of the Baltimore Convention and of Abraham Lincoln, and asks more. [Applause.]
I have said that Abraham Lincoln asks more. He has asked it again and again. He asked it in his Proclamation of the 1st January, 1863, when, as commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States, he ordered and declared that the slaves in the Rebel States "are and henceforward shall be free, and that the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons." And he asked it again, when, in his notice "To whom it may concern," he announced that all terms of peace must begin with "the abandonment of Slavery." But, in face of these declarations, the candidate of the Democrats mumbles forth, "The Union is the one condition of peace: we ask no more."
It is a strange infatuation which imagines that the Rebellion can be closed without the entire abolition of Slavery. The Rebellion began with Slavery, and it will end with Slavery. As it began in no other way, so it can end in no other way. Born from Slavery, it must die with Slavery. Therefore do I insist that Slavery shall not be spared; for, in sparing Slavery, you spare the Rebellion itself. [Applause.]
But even if reason and the necessity of the case did not require the sacrifice, it is now too late, thank God! By the Proclamation of the President the freedom of all slaves in the Rebel region is secured beyond recall. That gift cannot be taken back. It was a saying of Antiquity, repeated by an exquisite poet of our own day,
1 Note in reference to Peace Overtures at Niagara Falls, July 18, 1864. See Raymond's Life of Lincoln, p. 580.
that "the gods themselves cannot recall their gifts.” But even if other gifts may be recalled, the gift of Freedom cannot; for its recall would be the sacrifice of human rights. Every slave declared free by that Proclamation is entitled to his freedom as much as you and I. The President himself, empowered to confer freedom, is impotent to make a slave. Look at the question as you will, in the light of morals or of jurisprudence, and the answer is the same. There is the promise of the Proclamation, by which the public faith of the country is irrevocably pledged that certain slaves "shall be henceforward free," and their freedom shall be "recognized and maintained"; and this promise, according to morals, cannot be taken back. Still more, according to jurisprudence, it cannot be taken back; for "Once free, always free" is a prevailing maxim, and no court, sitting under the Constitution, and inspired by the Declaration of Independence, can venture to limit or restrain a proclamation of freedom, made in the exercise of war powers for the suppression of rebellion. It is vain to say that the slaves are not now in our power. This is a proper argument for the enemy, but not for any court of the United States. Every such court refusing to recognize the act of the President will stultify itself and shock the judicial conscience of mankind. It is enough that the Proclamation has declared the slaves free. There is not a slave in the Rebel region who may not look to it for protection, while it overarches all like a firmament, which human effort will strive in vain to drag down. [Applause.]
Do you need authority for this principle? Let me read you the emphatic and well-considered words of Postmaster-General Blair:
"The people once slaves in the Rebel States can never again be recognized as such by the United States. No JUDICIAL DECISION, NO LEGISLATIVE ACTION, STATE OR NATIONAL, can be admitted to reënslave a people who are associated with our own destinies in this war of defence to save the Government, and whose manumission was deemed essential to the restoration and preservation of the Union, and to its permanent peace." [Applause.]
This is noble doctrine; and it is none the less noble because from a member of the Cabinet sometimes supposed to hesitate where Freedom is in question.
See, then, into what denial of just principles, as well as inconsistencies, you are led, when you follow the Democratic candidate in rejecting Freedom as the corner-stone of Union.
But I have said enough. The case is too plain for argument. Let me give it to you in a nutshell.
A vote for McClellan will be, first and foremost, a vote for Slavery, at a time when this crime has plunged the country into the sorrow and waste of war.
It will be, also, a vote for the Rebellion, at a moment when the Rebellion is nigh to fall.
Also, a vote for Disunion, at a moment when the Union is about to be made inseparable.
But disunion, when once started, cannot be stopped; so that a vote for McClellan will be a vote to break this Union in pieces, and to set each State spinning in space.
It will be a vote for chronic war among fellow-citizens, ever beginning and never ending, until the fate of Mexico will be ours.
1 Speech at Cleveland, May 20, 1863: Comments on the Policy inaugurated by the President, p. 11.
Also, a vote for the repudiation of the national debt, involving the destruction of property and the overthrow of business.
Also, a vote for anarchy and chaos at home.
On the other hand, a vote for Abraham Lincoln will be, first and foremost, a vote for Freedom, Union, and Peace, that political trinity under whose guardianship we place the Republic. It will be a vote, also, to fix the influence and good name of our country, so that it shall become the pride of history. It will be a vote, also, for civilization itself. At home it will secure tranquillity throughout the land, with freedom of travel and of speech, so that the eloquence of Wendell Phillips may be enjoyed at Richmond and Charleston as at New York and Boston, and the designation of "Border States," now exclusively applicable to interior States, will be removed, so that our only "Border States" will be on Canada at the North and Mexico at the South. Doing all this at home, it will do more abroad; for it will secure the triumph of American institutions everywhere. [Great applause.]
Surely all this is something to vote for. And you will not hesitate. Forward, then, in the name of Freedom, Union, and Peace! Crush the enemy everywhere. Crush him on the field of battle. Crush him at the ballot-box. And may the November election be the final peal of thunder which shall clear the sky and fill the heavens with glory! [Prolonged cheers.]