« AnteriorContinuar »
EARLY WAR MEASURES.
Patriotic Governors—Richard Yates—Parentage And Education—State LegisLature—In Congress—Elected Governor—Inaugural—What Shall Be Done ?— Adjutant-general Puller—First Call For Troops—The Situation—The MiliTia—Proclamation—Special Message—Aid—General Orders Nos. 1, 2—CharActer Of The FffiST Call—Why Was It So ?—Perhaps—Hopes Of Peace—A WaitIng Congress—Mr. Cameron On The Situation—Richmond Enquirer—The Navy— After The Event—Egypt And Israel.
IT was surely providential that in the loyal States there were so many Governors who proved to be, emphatically, men for the hour. There was Andrews of Massachusetts, Dennison and Tod of Ohio, Curtin of Pennsylvania, Morton of Indiana, with the noble of executives of Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota. With these, as the earnest patriot, the stirring orator, the efficient administrator, the active and prudent Commander-in-Chief, Illinois writes the name of her citizen-Governor, Richaed Yates.
He was born at Warsaw, Gallatin county, Kentucky. In 1831 his father removed to Illinois and settled at Springfield. He graduated at Illinois College, Jacksonville, and subsequently studied the profession of law with Col. J. J. Hardin, who fell in the Mexican war. He represented his country three times in the State Legislature. In 1850, he was nominated, by a Whig Convention, to represent his district in Congress, and was elected, and found himself the youngest member of the body. In spite of a change in the district, which, it was supposed, secured it to the opposite party, he was elected over Mr. John Calhoun, a popular leader of the other party. At the next election he was defeated, the district sustaining, by its vote, the "Nebraska Bill" measure of Senator Douglas.
While in Congress he made his mark as an able member, and an able opponent of the extension of the area of slavery. His opposition to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and its associate legislation was stern and persistent. In 1860 he received the nomination of the Republican State Convention as its candidate for Governor, and after a spirited and exciting canvass was elected.
On the 14th of January he delivered his inaugural message to the General Assembly, and in discussing national affairs, showed that, while disposed to tender every lawful measure of pacification, the State of Illinois, as represented by its executive chief officer would maintain the Union and vindicate the right of constitutional majorities. He said:
"Whatever may have been the divisions of parties hitherto, the people of Illinois will, with one accord, give their assent and firm support to two propositions:
"first—That obedience to the Constitution and the laws must be insisted upon, and enforced as necessary to the existence of the government.
"Second—That the election of a chief magistrate of the nation in strict conformity with the constitution, is no sufficient cause for the release of any State from any of its obligations to the Union.
"A minority of the people may be persuaded that a great error has been committed by such election, but for relief in such a contingency, the Constitution looks to the efficacy of frequent elections, and has placed it in the power of the people to remove their agents and servants at will. The working of our government is based upon the principles of the indisputable rights of majorities. To deny the right of those, who have constitutionally succeeded by ballot to stations only to be so occupied, is not merely unfair and unjust, but revolutionary; and for a party which haa constitutionally triumphed, to surrender the powers it has won, would be an ignoble submission, a degradation of manhood, a base desertion of the people's service, which should inevitably consign it to the scorn of Christendom and the infamy of
"The American people need no assurance that the Republican party, valuing as it ought the triumph it has won, will never be disposed to yield its honors or avoid its duties. They not only claim, but intend to have the administration for the period of time allotted to them by the Constitution.
"To give shape and form to their purpose of resistance, the dissatisfied leaders of the South Carolina movement have revived the doctrine, long since exploded, that a State may nullify a law of Congress and secede from the Union at pleasure. Such a doctrine can never for a moment be permitted. Its admission would be fatal to the existence of government, would dissolve all the relations which bind the people together, and reduce to anarchy the order of the Republic.
"This is a government entered into by the people of the whole country in their sovereign capacity, and although it have the sanction also, of a compact between sovereign States, does not receive its chief support from that circumstance, but from the original and higher action of the people themselves.
INAUGURAL MESSAGE. 87
"This Union cannot be dissolved by one State, nor by the people of one State or of a dozen States. This government was designed to be perpetual and can be dissolved only by revolution.
"Secession is disunion. Concede to South Carolina the right to release her people from the duties and obligations belonging to their citizenship and you annihilate the Bovereignty of the Union by prostrating its ability to secure allegiance. Could a government which could not vindicate itself, and which had exhibited such a sign of weakness, command respect or long maintain itself? If that State secede, why may not California and Oregon, and with better reason, because they are remote from the Capital, and separated by uninhabited wildernesses and vast mountain ranges, and may have an independent commerce with the shores and islands of the Pacific and the marts of the Indies? Why may not Pennsylvania secede and dispute our passage to the seaboard through her territory? Why may not Louisiana constitute herself an independent nation, and dictate to the people of the great Northwest the onerous terms upon which her millions of agricultural and industrial products might find a transit through the Mississippi and be delivered to the commerce of the world.
"It will be admitted that the territory of Louisiana, acquired in 1803, for the purpose of securing to the people of the United States the free navigation of the Mississippi, could never have seceded; yet it is pretended, that when that territory has so perfected its municipal organization as to be admitted into the Union as a State, with the powers and privileges equal to the other States, she may at pleasure repudiate the union and forbid to the other States the free navigation which was purchased at the cost of all, not for Louisiana, but for all the people of the United States. A claim so presumptuous and absurd could never be acquiesced in. The blood of the gallant sons of Kentucky and Tennessee was freely shed to defend New Orleans and the Mississippi river from a foreign foe; and it is memorable that the chieftain who rescued that city from sack and siege, was the same who, at a later date, by his stern and patriotic rebuke, dispersed the ranks of disunionists in the borders of South Carolina.
"Can it be for a moment supposed, that the people of the Valley of the Mississippi will ever consent that the great river shall flow for hundreds of miles through a foreign jurisdiction, and they be compelled—if not to fight their way in the face of the forts frowning upon its banks—to submit to the imposition and annoyance of arbitrary taxes and exorbitant duties to be levied upon their commerce? I believe that before that day shall come, either shore of the "Father of Waters" will be a continuous sepulcher of the slain, and, with all its cities in ruins, and the cultivated fields upon its sloping sides laid waste, it shall roll its foaming tide in solitary grandeur, as at the dawn of creation. 1 know I speak for Illinois, and I believe for the Northwest, when I declare them a unit in the unalterable determination of her millions, occupying the great basin drained by the Mississippi, to permit no portion of that stream to be controlled by a foreign jurisdiction.
"If, wearied by the persistent clamors and panics accompanying these ceaseless threats of secession, any good citizen has suffered himself to entertain a thought that the peace and unity of the nation might be promoted by the withdrawal of the dissatisfied State or States, let him remember that this Union is an inheritance from our fathers, to be transmitted by us to our posterity, and that the great hope of down-trodden humanity throughout the world is in its permanence. Let us never forget the solemn warnings of the Father of his Country, that * we should accustom ourselves to think and speak of the Union as the palladium of our political safety and prosperity, discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can, in any event, be abandoned.'
"So deeply impressed were Jackson, Webster and Clay, with the conviction that the durability and efficiency of our free institutions depended upon a perpetual, unbroken Union, that they have left, upon many a page of the national history, most eloquent warnings that the thought, even, that the Union could be dissolved, was never to be entertained. The veteran Cass has said that the man * who believed this Union could be broken up without bloodshed, has read history to little purpose/ As we love our common country in all its parts, and with all its blessings of climates and cultures, its mountains, valleys and streams; as we cherish its history, and the memory of the world's only Washington; as we love the grand old flag, * sign of the free heart's only home,' that is cheered and hailed on every sea and haven of the world, let us swear that its glories shall never be dimmed—that there shall be no secession, no disunion—and that the American people shall be one and united, now and forever.
"I believe and trust it is to be the mission of those to whom the people have lately committed, for a period, the interests of this nation, to administer public affairs upon the theory of The Perpetuity Op The Constitution And The GovernMent ORGANIZED UNDER IT.
"No matter how vociferously South Carolina may declare that the Union is dissolved, and that she and other States are out of the confederacy, no recognition whatever is due to her self-assumed independence in this regard. It took seven years to establish our independence. The precious boon purchased by patriot blood and treasure was committed to us for enjoyment, and to be transmitted to our posterity, with the most solemn injunctions that man has the power to lay on man. By the grace of God, we will be faithful to the trust. For seven years yet to come, at least, will we struggle to maintain a perfect union—a government of one people, in one nation, under one Constitution."
He then asked, "What is to be done?" and suggested that if any grievances had been wrought by Northern States, they should be redressed, even though the complaint comes from States which have ignored the rights of Northern citizens. The Fugitive Slave Law, with all its errors, must be enforced while it stands unrepealed; if any State laws exist which contravene the letter or spirit of the Constitution they should be repealed, and "let all parties cordially unite and assure the South that the North has no design or purpose to inTHE NATION INDISSOLUBLE. 89
terfere with slavery in the States, and entertain no hostility to the people of the slave States." But if lawless resistance should not willingly yield to constitutional authority, then it must be compelled to do so. He said:
<l I know not what the exigencies of the future may be, nor what remedies it may be necessary to use, but the administration of the incoming President, I have no doubt, will be characterized by wisdom as well as firmness. He certainly will not forget that the people of all the United States, whether loyal or not, are citizens of the same Kepublic, component parts of the same integral Union. He never will forget, so long as he remembers his official oath, that the whole material of the government, moral, political, and physical, if need be, must be employed to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. In such an event as this I hesitate not to say, that the General Assembly, without a dissenting voice, and the people of Illinois, would unanimously pledge the men and means of the State to uphold the Constitution and preserve the Union. To those who would distrust the loyalty of the American people to the Union, let the spontaneous response of the national heart, borne upon ten thousand streams of lightning to the heroic. Anderson, answer.
"It is, perhaps, impossible to tell what maybe the exact result of this South Carolina nullification, but do what she will, conspire with many or few, I am confident that this Union of our fathers—a Union of intelligence, of freedom, of justice, of industry, of religion, of science and art, will, in the end, be stronger and richer and more glorious, renowned and free, than it has ever been heretofore, by the necessary reaction of the crisis through which we are passing.
"As to our own State, we are closely allied in origin, in kindred, in sympathy, in interest, in civilization and in destiny, with many of the be3t of both the slave and the free states, and though young in years, we have learned to be proud of our origin, and of our neighbors, and of our sister States. No State has entered into the recent political campaign with more intense partisan prejudices and zeal than our own. Each opposing party nominated for the Presidency the favorite son not only of the State, but of the Northwest. We fought the canvass through to the hilt; but the moment the contest was decided, the world was at a loss to know which most to admire, the exuberant joy of the victors, or the admirable gallantry, grace and dignity of the unsuccessful party. We have put one of our champions into the Presidency, the other still stands in the Senate, places almost equal for usefulness; which will achieve most honor to himself and good to his country and the world, time will decide. We will believe that neither will prove coward in the fight, or traitor to the cause. On the question of the union of these States they, and all our people, will be a unit. The foot of the traitor has never yet blasted the green sward of the State of Illinois. All the running waters of the Northwest are waters of freedom and union, and come what will, as they glide to the great gulf, they will ever, by the ordinance of '8?, and by the higher ordinance of Almighty God, bear only free men and free trade upon their bosoms, or their channels will be filled with the commingled blood of traitors, cowards and slaves."