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Accordingly the original Republican who had announced himself ready to "clasp hands" in peace was accepted on a Republican platform, declaring support of the three Constitutional amendments, and placing in the foreground the great truth that all men are equal before the law. Such is the historic fact. That the party will be disloyal to this act, that it will turn its back on its covenants, and seek through a Republican President to reverse these safeguards, or in any way impair their efficacy, is not only without probability, but to imagine it is absolutely absurd.
Beyond the unequivocal adhesion of the party in its corporate capacity is that of eminent members who volunteer as individuals in the same declarations, so that personal pledge unites with party obligation. I quote two instances at hand.
Mr. Hendricks, so well known for his service in the National Senate, said recently in the Democratic State Convention of Indiana, on his nomination for Gov
"We have this day substantially turned our backs upon the Past. We now stand in the Present, and look forward to the great Future. The Past is gone."
Nobody in the country can speak for his party with more authority; nor could there be better words to denote the change that has occurred.
Mr. Kerr, also of Indiana, an able Democratic Representative in Congress, and now Congressional candidate at large, bears the same testimony. In a recent speech this distinguished Democrat says:
"The best impulse, the most patriotic sentiment, the most intelligent judgment of the wisest and the best men of the
country now demand that the accomplished results of our great civil war, as they are crystallized in the Amendments to the Constitution, shall stand as parts of the fundamental law of the country, to be obeyed and maintained in good faith, without evasion, denial, or diminution, in favor of all classes of the people. The Democratic party, in the most authoritative and solemn manner, accepts this judgment."
Nothing could be more complete. All the Amendments are "to be obeyed and maintained in good faith, without evasion, denial, or diminution, in favor of all classes of the people"; and this is the covenant of the Democratic party, countersigned by their Representative. Not content with this unequivocal adhesion, the speaker proceeds:
"Any intelligent citizen, in public or private life, who charges that the Democratic party, if invested with power, would reestablish slavery, or pay for slaves, or assume or pay Confederate debts, and take suffrage from colored men, or do other acts in defiance of the Constitution, must be a hypocrite and a demagogue, and he can have no higher aim than to slander and deceive."
It is easy to pardon the indignation with which this Democrat repels the calumnies employed to sow distrust.
In strictest harmony with these authorities is the public press entitled to speak for the Democratic party. Out of innumerable testimonies I content myself with
The Cincinnati "Enquirer," a leading Democratic journal, of August 1st, alluding to myself, says:
"His confidence in the honor of the Democratic party is not misplaced. It will stand by the position which it as
sumed at Baltimore, and maintain it under any and all circumstances. Upon that he may depend."
Then again the same Democratic organ says:
"It pleases some of the Grant papers to speak of Mr. Greeley as a Democratic candidate, because he was nominated by a Democratic Convention. They ignore the fact that he had been previously nominated by a Republican Convention, — that he has always been a Republican, and never cast a Democratic ballot in his life. None of them have answered our query, whether they would have considered General Grant the Democratic candidate, if he had been nominated at Baltimore; and if not, why do they make the difference between him and Greeley?"
The Washington "Patriot," the Democratic journal at the national capital, of August 7th, thus explicitly
"The Democratic party have loyally and honorably conditioned to uphold the Cincinnati platform and all its obligations. They mean to fulfil that bond in good faith and to the last letter. Hence not a word was altered at Baltimore, not a letter changed, not a comma erased. We took it in the exact sense and in all the spirit of the several declarations, with entire knowledge of the duty which they enjoined, and an honest purpose to perform it at any cost. So far from regarding that acceptance as a sacrifice, it was welcomed every where with joy."
Are these speakers and these newspapers united in conspiracy to deceive, or are they dupes? Spurning the idea of dishonest conspiracy, I cannot doubt that they believe what they say, and that what they say is true. Again I insist that the sallies of local disaffection or of personal brutality, however painful or discreditable,
cannot interfere to change the open adhesion of the party, followed by declarations so authentic in form. On this open adhesion and these declarations I act, and to the complete fulfilment of all the obligations assumed I feel that I may confidently hold the party.
MOTIVES TO KEEP THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY TRUE.
BUT why should the Democratic party be untrue to the covenants it has assumed? This imputation, so insulting to a great political organization, and to the distinguished members who have openly united in its adhesion, cannot be accepted without some ground of reason, or at least of presumption. But all reason and every presumption are the other way. Men act according to their supposed interests,--this is a law of human nature; but every interest of former Rebels is for peace. Under the influence of uncontrolled passion, and for the sake of Slavery, they went into rebellion; but now that passion has abated and Slavery has ceased, they see that nothing is gained by prolonging the animosities it engendered. Peace has become their absorbing interest. So obvious is the advantage from this assured possession, that it is unreasonable to suppose them indifferent. when it is within reach; it is absurd to imagine them professing peace as a cover for war, war in which they know they must fail. This explains the promptitude with which they seized the opportunity now preAt once they declared their desire and offered the hand of fellowship, at the same time announcing their acceptance of those great measures by which the Equal Rights of All are assured.
The motives naturally governing former Rebels, in
accepting Horace Greeley and a Republican platform, are plain. There is, first, the general prostration of their region, which they would see improved; but this can be only by the establishment of peace undisturbed, so that all men, white and black, may live in security. This is an essential condition. Violence breeds a kindred crop; nor can distrust exist without detriment to all. Let either appear, and the most fertile fields will fail in productive power. Men will not mingle their sweat with the soil, becoming colaborers with the sun, they will not sow enjoyment of what
and plough, unless assured in the the generous earth is ready to yield. Above all, those truest allies so essential to prosperous industry, capital and immigration, will turn away from the land that is not blessed by peace. Security is a constant invitation and encouragement. There must be security in all things, security in life, security in property, and security in rights, including Liberty and Equality, the great promises of the Declaration of Independence. Let any of these be in any peril, let any shadow rest upon their enjoyment, and the whole community must suffer. Therefore by the impulse of self-interest, now clearly manifest, are the people of the South moved to the present effort for peace.
This same motive assumes another form in the desire to escape from existing misrule, which has left such traces in the disordered finances of the Southern States. So colossal has been the scale of plunder that even authentic report seems like fable. Second only to the wide-spread devastations of war are the robberies to which these States have been subjected, I am sorry to say, under an Administration calling itself Republican, at Washington, and with local governments deriv