July 28, 1862
Adoption of a Memorial to the County Court, to lay a Levy for Bounties. Patriotic Speeches—Gov. Peirpoint on the Conduct of the War—Senator Willey Endorsed, &c.
In obedience to the published call the ringing of the Court House bell the crowd assembled about 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon in front of the Court House. In less than a quarter of an hour after the bell rung the street was filled from pavement to pavement for some distance with an earnest assemblage of citizens.—The speaker’s stand was erected on the side of the street opposite the Court House, in the shade of the Odd Fellows’ Hall building.
The meeting was organized on motion of Dr. Logan who nominated Prof. A. F. Ross of West Liberty as Chairman. The nomination was confirmed and F. E. Foster and G. D. Hall were appointed Secretaries.
Attorney Gen. Wheat took the stand for the purpose of presenting for the action of the meeting a memorial drafted by the Military Committee, proposed to be addressed to the County Court of Ohio county asking a levy for the payment of a bounty to volunteers to be enlisted in the service of the United States.
Before reading the memorial he proceeded briefly to review the history of the rebellion in Virginia: adverted to the acts of the Legislature of the State looking to armed resistance to the enforcements of the laws, and enumerated the different acts passed for that purpose. He also reviewed the ordinance of the Convention, dwelling particularly upon the ordinance of separation and that of convention between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Confederate States of America by which the people of Virginia were transferred both in allegiance and military resources to the conspirators of the cotton States far in advance of any action by its people. He dwelt upon the iniquities of the Richmond traitors, and showed up the usurpations by which in assumption of the powers of the people they had made war upon common government. He passed on to the consideration of the right of secession and showed not only by his own logic but by quotations from high authorities, Chief Justice Marshal among them, that no such right exists or can exist under the Constitution. The subject was not new or novel but, his lucid treatment of it made a very interesting review.
He read the following
To the Justices of the County of Ohio, duly convened at the August Term, 1862, of the County Court for Said County.
This memorial respectfully represents:
The President of the United States, in the discharge of his duty, under the Federal Constitution and laws, has called upon the true and loyal government of Virginia for two regiments of troops, being her quota of the three hundred thousand men recently summoned to the Army of the Union. As ever anxious to be amongst the foremost in the discharge of every loyal patriotic duty Governor Peirpont has called to his aid, our Senators and Delegates in the Legislature, and through them and other loyal citizens, he appeals to the county authorities and the body of the people promptly to respond to the demand made upon them.
Nothing need be said of the origin of the terrible war now devastating our State and Country. Of this great crime we, at least, are guiltless. Nor need we pause to deliberate upon the high and solemn duty to which we are called: “The Union must and shall be preserved;”—the Constitution restored to all its prestine [sic] vigor—and the laws made in pursuance thereof, enforced throughout the bounds of the Republic. Neither shall we now pause critically to examine the manner in which the administrators of our National Government have so far conducted this war for the Union and its own supremacy. This we shall reserve for times and occasions provided by the Constitution and laws. They have secured the responsibility of our public servants and the modes of enforcing their fidelity and obedience. The present crises in our national affairs, demands the cordial union, hearty co-operation and unfaltering devotion of every true and loyal citizen.
Out National Government has become satisfied that a large increase of our army has become necessary to crush the rebellion now seeking its overthrow; and to its call for our proportion of this increase, we, speaking on behalf of the people of Ohio county, are anxious, promptly to respond. It has heretofore been our boast, as typical of the righteousness of our cause, that every soldier of the Union, has been a VOLUNTEER, in fact as in name. Our soldiers have rallied to the flag of the Union, with an enthusiasm and patriotic devotion never before known in the world’s history. Nor is that enthusiasm and devotion abated or destroyed. After the thousands who have gone before, we will soon muster three hundred thousand more. We deprecate and do not need the enforcement of draft or conscription. Let such means be the characteristic resource of traitors in rebellion; the miserable victims of a desperate oligarchy to which they have tamely submitted, with a self-abasement as wonderful as it is degrading. Freemen, as we are, proud of the glorious heritage of civil and religious liberty, secured to us by the government for whose support and vindication we are battling, we used no need compulsion to our plain and simple duty.
But we cannot consent, if by any effort it can be avoided, that our brethren shall leave their homes, and encounter the sufferings, hardships, and dangers of a soldier’s life, without some addition, however small it may be, to the provision which our government has made for them and their country’s call, they shall know that both themselves and the loved ones they leave behind them, are, and will continue to be, the objects of that country’s beneficence and care. Whilst we call this additional aid, a bounty, for the want of a better name, we do not offer it as a mere inducement; but as an honorary recognition of the courage and patriotism of those who accept it.
We have anxiously considered various means for providing the funds required for the purpose indicated, with the view of selecting the most equitable and just. Private subscriptions have already been liberally made, for the relief of sick and wounded soldiers and the maintenance of the destitute families of our absent volunteers. Such subscriptions are not only inadequate for our present object, in addition to those for which they have been specially made, but fall only upon the liberal and patriotic citizens. The niggardly and disloyal refuse contributions, and can only be reached by a levy under authority of law. To such a levy, the true hearted and loyal citizens will not, and the false-hearted and disloyal cannot, object. That a reasonable levy may be lawfully made, is shown by a brief review of the existing laws upon that subject.
On the 19th of January, 1861, the General Assembly passed “An act to authorize the County Courts and any incorporated city or town to arm the militia of their respective counties, cities, and towns, and to provide means therefor.” The object of this act as expressed in the title, is simply the arming of the malitia [sic], or such portion, as the County Courts may deem expedient. On the first of May, 1860, the Convention passed an ordinance concerning the arming of the militia, by which it was ordained “that the Presiding Justice of any county in this State be and he is hereby authorized and required, on the application of three or more Justices of such county, to cause all the acting Justices thereof to be summoned to meet at the Court House of such county, on the next succeeding court day, or on some intermediate day, not less than five days from the date of summons, to take into consideration and to carry into effect the provisions of the act of the General Assembly” before mentioned, passed on the 19th of January, 1861. On the 12th of July, 1861, the General Assembly passed “An act to authorize the County Courts, corporations, &c., to appropriate money for the public defence.” The first section of this act provides “that the several County Courts shall be authorized, at any monthly or quarterly term, when a majority of the acting Justices shall have been summoned for such purpose, to order a levy for the purchase of arms, ammunition, accoutrements, uniforms, tents or camp equipage for any volunteer company or companies which have been, or may be mustered into the service of this State, or of the United States within this State. They may also order, as aforesaid, a levy for the purpose of providing for the support or relief, of the families of volunteers, who shall be or have been mustered into the service of the State or of the United States within this State; or for the purpose of defraying the expenses of any measures deemed necessary for the defence of the country. These acts of Assembly vest in the Justices of the county, when duly convened for the purpose, full power to do that which is needful for our present object. We ask that by your order, a levy may be made upon lands and all other subjects liable thereto, to the amount of ___ thousand dollars, to be applied in such manner and under such regulations as may best secure strict accountability, to the payment of a bounty of thirty dollars to each recruit enlisted within this county, and duly mustered into the service of the United States; and the necessary expenses of such recruiting, so far as the same have not been provided by the government of the United States. We submit therewith a draft of the orders, which we respectfully submit as proper and necessary to carry into effect the prayer of this memorial.
We do not deem it necessary to urge either argument or further appeals to induce your prompt and favorable action. We are assured that in all that has been already said, we have the concurrence and approval of nearly the whole of our fellow-citizens of the county. It is true that we are most heavily taxed already, for the various objects of State and county expenditure; and that there is not in the loyal part of Virginia any county so heavily burthened as ours. The public debts of the county and city of Wheeling were of themselves a sufficient charge without the addition we now propose, and yet so urgent and holy is the cause, and so thorough is the patriotic devotion of our people to its success, we know that the action we ask at your hands, will receive, as it will deserve, their cordial support and approval.
From the beginning of this unholy rebellion, they have remained unwaveringly true and faithful to the National Government. They have held firmly to the teachings of the founders and fathers of the Republic. In the language of Chief Justice Marshal, delivering the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States, they have held that “the Government of the Union is emphatically and truly a Government of the People. In form and in substance it eminates from them. Its powers are granted by them, and are to be exercised on them, and directly for their benefit;” that “the Government of the United States, though limited in its powers, is supreme, and its laws, when made in pursuance of the Constitution, form the supreme law of the land, anything in the Constitution or law of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” They have gloried in their nationality and cherished a patriotic love for their whole country—knowing neither North, South, East, or West, as sharing unequally in their affections.
They have recognized this causeless attempt at revolution, as the result of a vile conspiracy, having its paternity and origin in those arch traitors, the Nullifiers of South Carolina, and carried forward to its full development in our State by that band of their followers who so fatally entrapped the Convention of February, 1861. With scorn and destation our people have rejected their example, and for the beneficent care and protection of the National Government they have returned a true and faithful allegiance. In the successful accomplishment of this rebellion they can see nothing but ruin and disaster to the disservered fragments of our glorious Republic—intestine [sic] wars and turmoil, ending only in the downfall and destruction of Republican liberty, to be followed either by military despotism, or the government of a contemptable oligarchy, such as are now leading our Southern fellow-citizens to their utter undoing. Justly regarding this war as a struggle for our National existence—for the maintena[n]ce of our republican institutions of government, derived from our fathers, with the sacred duty and obligation, to transmit them unimpaired to our children, as their most priceless heritage; for the vindication of the great right of self-government, we can only measure the amount of our sacrifices by the necessary demands of our government, and the limits of our ability. Marked out as we are for the especial vengeance of the rebel citizens of our own State, (were it possible for the Grand Ruler of the Universe to desert the right and restore their former power over us,) our steadfast loyalty is enforced by the great law of self-preservation. In the protecting aegis of our National Government, we can only find in the future, as we have received in the past, full and ample security for all our rights and liberties.
In calling upon our fellow-citizens to fill up the requisition of the President for the two regiments, we know that we shall receive a cheerful and ready response. Upon no portion of the people of the United States has our Government stronger claims than upon us. Peculiarly exposed, as we have been, the power of the Union arms has shielded and protected us. Whilst the other portions of the State have been made the theater of war, the scene of terrible desolation and ruin, we have enjoyed comparative immunity. Save only in the sufferings and death of our fellow-citizens who have gravely enlisted in the army of the Union, we have known nothing of the stern realities of war, but have continued in the undisturbed pursuit and enjoyment o9f the arts of peace. These considerations have strengthened and confirmed our fidelity to the Government of our fathers, and we are this day ready to follow their example, and pledge to its support and vindication our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. With that revered motto—“Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseperable [sic]”—inscribed upon our banners, we cannot pause or falter in the great struggle. We did not excite this quarrel, but having it thrust upon us, we shall endeavor so to acquit ourselves as to command the success and approval of all good men.
All of which is respectfully submitted,
Thos. H. Logan, Chairman
A.W. Campbell, Secretary.
After the reading of this document, Gen. Wheat proceeded to show by quoting from authorities, that the County Court had the power to make such a levy as was here contemplated.
Those Hornbrook moved the adoption of the memorial.
Dr. Thos. H. Logan said that he desired, before the vote was taken, to say just a few words. He looked upon the faces of the men before him, with an interest he did not care to conceal on this occasion, and with a like interest should listen to the response they would make when called upon to vote on the adoption of the memorial. He assured them it was one of the most important votes they were ever called upon to give. The President of the Untied States had called upon them for men to sustain the Government. They knew as well as he, that the preservation of this Government depended upon the number of men the President was able to put in the field. And at the risk of being thought uncourteous and presumptuous, he would ask every man of them, as they valued their property and their homes—as they loved their families and the Government given them by Washington and the patriots of the Revolution, that they would, when the question should be put, give a response in the affirmative that would make the very buildings around them tremble.
The question on the adoption of the memorial was put, and responded to by one universal and deafening “Aye!”
Calls were made for “Willey!” “Willey!” and for “Peirpoint!” Mr. Willey not being present, Governor Peirpoint came forward and responded in a speech of such pungency and power that we reproduce it for our readers, even at the expense (on account of limited space) of many others scarcely less meritorious.
The Governor said:
Fellow-Citizens:--I had hoped that Mr. Willey and other distinguished gentlemen from abroad, would have been here to address you. Owing to circumstances that we could not control, and the detention of others, he and they are not, and will not, be here. There are other gentlemen present, I am glad to inform you, however, who will address you after I have submitted the few remarks I have to make on this occasion.
I never have, gentlemen, in my life shrunk from anything that I believed to be a duty. I never have studied to conceal any idea from my fellow-citizens that I honestly entertained—any that I believed to be to their advantage and the welfare of my country. I have been in the habit of addressing my fellow-citizens in Northwestern Virginia publicly for many years. I have loved them; I have appreciated their feelings, in all the intensity of my heart and nature. Men will differ occasionally about minor points, but up until a very short period past,--within 18 months past—I did believe that all the people in the United States, without distinction of party, with a few exceptions, would fight for the United States against the world. But, my fellow-citizens, in that I was mistaken.—We have been nurturing in our bosoms, we have been bestowing our emoluments of office and the honors of the Government upon those in our midst for many years past who have proved, when the hour of trial and danger came, that they had no other thought in their minds, no other purpose in their hearts than to betray their country—the country of Washington, of Jefferson, of Madison, and of Hancock—into the hands of those who would use it for their own emolument and for their own power.
This revolution, gentlemen, has been thrust upon you. It is now upon you and upon the country; and the great struggle is to decide whether it shall succeed or be beaten back. The great struggle and the question to-day is, whether we shall have a country, or whether it is to be given up to the minions of power, and all those cherished institutions we have enjoyed all the days of our life shall be swept from among us, and a set of lordly demagogues shall be set to rule over us, and take from the people all their rights in self government. That, gentlemen, is the question now agitated before the American people. It is being tried at the point of the sword. It is being tried at the point of the bayonet. It is being tried at the muzzle of the cannon. The time has come when the people of these United States that are loyal to the government must speak out—when they must act, too, fully up to their convictions of duty and danger—when they must send all their men and treasure to sustain the country or all will be lost. It was thought when this revolution broke out that 600,000 or 700,000 men in the field would be sufficient to crush it. Well, my fellow-citizens, that did seem to be enough to all human appearance; but in that we were mistaken. We find that the enemy, with a determination and will never surpassed on the face of the earth before, not only rallied all their volunteers, but they passed their conscription act, and they have now brought into the field every man in the Southern Confederacy—Union and Secessionist alike—to the number of some 500,000—ranging from the ages of 16 to 55 years. They are putting forth their whole power, and when this power comes to be exerted we find that by disease, loss in battle, and other casualties, the President has found he has not enough men in the field to crush out this rebellion. He has called for 300,000 more. These men are to take and hold places captured by the veteran soldiers that first went into the field, while they will go on and capture new points and overcome new enemies.
There have been other causes at work on account of which the government of the United States has not been able to carry on this war with as much vigor and to do as much damage to the enemy in the field as it was able to do. I will frankly state to you what they are.
There has been a party in Congress ever since this war was inaugurated that has hung upon the President like a wild cat to a sheep’s back, [Laughter] clogging him in every effort he had made, telling him “O, sir! O, sir! You must win these people back by love.” [Derisive Laughter.] “You must not hurt anybody. There is an old devil of a rebel that has got all his sons in the field and all his money in the confederate treasury; “he has got his able-bodied negroes digging ditches for them, and others of them growing food to subsist the rebel armies. He has some women and children left at home; a handsome house, yard and garden; a handsome lot of poultry and cattle round him. Now when you march out there you must leave ten or twenty or thirty men to guard his possessions for everything he has must be kept secure[.]” Thus half our army has been guarding rebels’ property, and protecting rebels negroes, while the balance have been laboring in the trenches and the negroes standing looking on. [Cries of Good! good! and applause.] But the rebellion must be put down and nobody hurt! all the “Constitutional guaranties of the people” must be respected! You must teach them that the government does not intend to hurt them. You must “win them back.” You “cannot conquer them,” and make them submissive. Never! You must win them back by measures of conciliation; while at the very same time the rebel with all his force in the field is sending his minions as far into your lines as he can, stealing all the horses they can get their hands on; seizing every Union man; with orders from the rebel executive of Virginia to his “partisan” warriors to seize every man connected with the Wheeling Government and carry him within their lines in order that he may be punished—O, but yet you must not hurt them! [Laughter.] What a gentle, placable set of men they are! How kind, how generous! How pure their motives, and stainless their record! The F. F. V’s. of Virginia! They must not be hurt—O, No! [Good and laughter.]
Now, gentlemen, the Congress of the United States has at the recent session passed laws advising the President of the United States and by which he is to be governed—for I take it the Congress of the United States are the supreme law-makers and not the President. They have seen the President has seen while his hands have been tied by these gentlemen who have been hanging on there as the peculiar Constitutional men—[Laughter]—as the peculiar lovers of secession [Good! good!]—as the peculiar men who are sympathising with the South—that he has had to shake them off. Congress has passed the laws; the President has signed them; and what are they? I can see nothing “unconstitutional” in them. I can see nothing in them against a vigorous prosecution of the war. They have decided that every rebel who conti]n]ues in the field sixty days after the President of the United States shall have issued his proclamation, shall be liable to have his negroes taken from him. [Good for that!] O, now that is outrageous—to take all a devilish rebels niggers from him! [Laughter.] He shall also have all personal property taken from him. [Good! Better!] He shall have all his land taken from him during his natural lifetime. O, yet, but this is taking the rights of the people away from them! No, it is not. I would like to know what rights a devilish rebel has. [None! None! a halter.]
A man who has been raised under the Government of the United States—under the Constitution made by Washington, Madison, and their compeers—and now has raised the arm of rebellion against this Government; is trying to tear it down with 500,000 men in the field, fighting it from one end of the country to the other; swearing to lay our houses in ashes and our farms and cities in devastation, turn our wives and children out of doors, and hand us to the first tree they come to—and yet their property must be preserved, their negroes must be kept for their exclusive advantage. Now, gentlemen, what rights have these men under our Constitution, I ask you? [None at all. Hang them.] Yes, hang them—but catch them first. [Laughter.] These same men have risen up here in the North, and in all the border States, and are forming a great party, headed by Vallandigham, [Jeers.] What do the South say of Vallandigham? They say he and his coadjutors are “doing the best they can.” I am speaking now from a Mississippi paper: “It is not expected that these men [Vallandigham & Co.] could at first stem the torrent of excitement that would be raised in the North against the rebellion, but they have gradually held their position in the Congress of the United States, and are now building up a great peace party, a great anti-tax party, and holding up the heavy taxes that are coming upon the people; and they will be willing before the next Congressional election in the North, to completely paralyze the arm of the President and the army of the United States.”
That is what they say of Vallandigham—[We have got one of them here]—and of those who are co-operating with them.[Where’s Carlile? Now, fellow citizens, we have that peace party to deal with. We hear their declarations. We have been used to them for the last five or six or seven years. We understand their tocsin, their watchword—their great theory. It consists in several fallacies. One of them is, “O, yes, you are going to set all the niggers free! And then the niggers will come down here in all the free States, and poor white men will have to work side by side with the niggers!” Gentlemen, I have heard of such politicians; I have heard of such speeches. I have been used to them for years past. [We had one last night.] I have always replied in this way: I never borrow trouble. There was an impressionable young lady once, who was engaged in cleaning out a bake oven and putting a very big fire into it. All at once she fell to meditating, and then she commenced crying, and “O,” says she, “Ma!” Her Ma came out—“Why, what in the world are you crying about?” “O,” says she, “I got to thinking, and I thought John and I were married; [Laughter;] and I thought we had a dear, pretty little baby; and I thought it crept up into that bake oven in the fire and was all burned to death.” [Renewed laughter.]
Now, gentlemen, my way is, first put down this rebellion. [That’s right.] Use all the means that God and nature and circumstances have put in your power.—If it liberate every slave in the land let it liberate them. [Cheers.] If on putting down the rebellion, slavery is preserved to those who have them—after all have been confiscated that are to be slaves. [That’s it.] I first go for the white man—for the American citizen—for his right to establish his principles and his power in the land. I do not borrow trouble by knowing what is to become of the negro. [Laughter.]
This beautiful party that is just springing up has an organ down in Cincinnati called the Enquirer. Here are some of its utterances: “In the United States it may be with some propriety said that we have two systems of labor: first a free voluntary labor, where the labor and capital are united in the same same [sic] purpose.” That is in other words where the man who works in the rolling mill over here has the privilege of voting. [Laughter.] “Second the servile or involuntary labor, where the capitalist is one and the labor another.” That is Mr. R. M. T. Hunter with his hundred slaves and they are the laborers that are compared with the white man here. “We have both these systems amongst us in harmonious co-operation, both in the North and in the South. The difference between servile labor in the North and in the South is not a difference in system, it is merely a difference in manifestation.”
They commenced to promulgate that in 1854, by their declarations in the South that the normal condition of all laboring men was slavery, no difference whether white or black.
That is the doctrine you see here. It is traveling over and getting a little further north. The endorsement of this doctrine in the north five years ago would have damned any man to perpetual disgrace, but now he is backed by Mr. Vallandigham, Mr. Voorhies and a number of rich secessionists all along the southern border of Ohio, and along the borders of Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia, who are preaching the same doctrine and trying the same state of affairs on the country.
My fellow citizens, these indications cannot be mistaken. This party is for “peace”—that is opposed to a prosecution of the war; because, for sooth, the President and Congress are not prosecuting it “constitutionally!” That is the reason assigned; and because the war is not prosecuted “constitutionally” they are for withholding the revenues necessary to support the army. The confederates have 500,000 men in the field. We have perhaps 500,000 or 600,000. We want to increase that number 300,000 or 400,000. Suppose these gentlemen withhold the pay from these men? Voorhies says he will stand between the taxpayer and the tax-gatherer. That means resist the payment of taxes. We hear taxes harped upon everywhere. It simply means the confederate army may march over hear and subdue the whole country from one end to the other. That is the logic of the whole thing, my fell[o]w citizens. Can it be otherwise? Yet this doctrine is preached all over the country.—Strip it of its deceptive verbiage, that all the “rights” of the people must be preserved under the constitution. I would like to know what loyal man’s rights the act of Congress intends to abridge. Does it take his negro, his horse, his cow, or his poultry? Not at all. It only takes those of rebels. Yet these gentlemen are so careful about the property of rebels.—Why, it has been said they are bought up, paid by a price from the South; that their minions are among us scattering the gold they have been hoarding to buy up their men; circulating in our midst for the purpose of discouraging volunteering—to keep men out of the field by the cry that something unconstitutional going to be done.
Fellow-citizens, Mr. Jefferson, once speaking on this subject, expressed himself so clearly that I cannot refrain from quoting what he said on the subject. He says: “A strict observance of the written law is doubtless one of the highest duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The law of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are all higher obligations. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law would be to lose the law itself with life, liberty, property, and all those who are enjoying them with us, thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means.”
Now, my fellow-citizens, if it is necessary in this struggle to take every negro in the South and set him to work in the ditches, saving our men from labor, I would say take him. [That’s right.] And if it would make him throw one spade full of dirt more to promise him his liberty on putting down the rebellion, I would promise him his liberty. [Applause and good.] Here are my neighbors going to the battle-field, offering themselves freely on the altar of their country for the sake of putting down a wicked rebellion, yet they must be made to do all the hard work in a southern sun while negroes are strolling around doing nothing, belonging to rebels, too. They must not be made to work. They must not be stimulated to work; because if they are some rebel’s property will be injured. You must not do that, it is unconstitutional. You must let men go by hundreds of thousands from the northern and border States, you must prolong the war by sacrificing them to drudgery in a southern climate, but you must not employ the negroes. No, every white man’s life I can save I will save.—[Good! Good!] I will adopt the policy most economical in white men, and use the property of rebels of whatever species, and if it is the negro, I will give him the greatest inducements to work in order that the war may be as short as possible, that the victory may be the more glorious, and that traitors may be more completely punished. [Enthusiastic applause.]
That is the way I feel on this subject.—It is the way I have talked on it from the time of the commencement of this war; it is the way I intend to act just as long as I am permitted to act, untill [sic] the rebellion is put down. I do not know how to conceal a sentiment that I have; and my object is when I speak to a man, to speak in plain language that he may understand me.—[That’s right.]
Now, gentlemen, one word on the subject of volunteering. We are called upon for 2,080 men in Western Virginia to furnish our quota to fill up this call for 300,000 men. I want to fill it up as quick as possible. You can adopt among yourselves the means that will be necessary and requisite for filling it up. I know there are thousands of men in the country that are ready to enlist, ready to fight for their country because their country needs their strength, and in fighting for it they are only obeying one of the behests of citizenship. The chances of falling in battle are all in their favor—comparatively few fall of the number that go. There are enough now in the field to go and take all the strongholds of the enemy but there is not enough to preserve the strongholds after they have taken them. We want this increase of the army for this kind of business. * * * *
The President of the United States has issued this kind of an order. He has ordered the officers of the army to take all the mules and cattle of citizens as they come to them, not actually necessary for their comfort. They are ordered to take all the eatables of every kind that is necessary to subsist the army wherever they go. That is another step forward. They are ordered in the third place to gather up all able bodied slaves they can come across and put them in the ditches and do other servile work that is to be done about the camp. [“Right.”] They have issued another order that every devilish rebel within our lines [Laughter] who refused to take the oath of allegiance to the United States shall give bond and ample security for his good behavior; (shall not be sent to Camp Chase;) [Laughter] and if he does not behave himself he is sent through the rebel lines there to take his chance.
This is unconstitutional Vallandigham says. But this is the spirit in which the war is going to be prosecuted. [That’s right, too.] We are fighting for national existence, for our rights, for our firesides, for our homes. We were always willing they should have theirs, with all their institutions and that they might enjoy them; but they were unwilling for that. They were not willing that a poor man should vote by side with a rich one; that is in the language of the Cincinnati Enquirer that this servile class should have no say in making the laws. The very basis of our Government is that great principle. Strike that from us and we are no better than England or France or Turkey or any other European or Asiatic country where no liberty exists. But in this infernal negrocracy at the South they despise the poor white trash, and want a system of slave oligarchy which will keep the poor and make the rights of inheritance the same as across the ocean.
I have lived among them and heard them talk about northern society being a failure where every “muff scuffin” as they call it comes up and votes. They are now trying to carry out their aristocratic theories; they have made war upon us for that purpose; and unless up and doing they will accomplish all they design—they will conquer this nation and make us their perpetual slaves except those of us they hang up by the neck. [Laughter.]
Now, my fellow citizens that is the plain truth. If this Valandigham party can build up their Constitutional altar, I suppose the reward will be that their necks wont stretch, and that they will be assigned some honorable place in the Southern Confederacy. I presume that will be their lot.
This is about all I have to say to you. I believe everything I have said, and have kept nothing back; and I have this to say again, that if in fighting this war and putting down this rebellion, I am for using all the means that God and circumstances have put in our power to economize the lives of white men that go into the field. I want that done. If it saves slavery, then save it; but we can manage the free negro if it liberates him, a great deal better if we are freemen ourselves than if we are slvaves [sic]. [Tha’ts [sic] the talk.] I give myself no trouble in that subject. When Abraham was in the woods the altar was built, the wood was put upon it, the fire was applied and says his young son, “Father, here is the altar, here is the wood, here is the fire, but where is the victim?” “Never mind, my son, God will prepare the victim.” If these men have brought a state of war on their country and God in his good providence overrules it all and saves them slavery, slavery will be taken care of. If God in his providence should liberate all the slaves, the same God that “tempers the wind to the shorn lamb” will take care of the negro when he is made free. [Applause.]
Why, my fellow-citizens, if the war is put down, cannot we preserve the Constitution? [We’ll try to.] But I do fear that perpetual carping about violations of the Constitution, and setting negroes free, lest somebody be hurt. The man that engages in that thing is in his heart an enemy to his country. [That’s so; we heard one of them last night.] The freemen of this country have to speak out and put that down, or they are gone. [Applause.]
If I had a voice to reach every loyal ear this side of the Confederate lines, I would ask, have you not sense enough to preserve the Constitution when the rebellion is put down, and magnanimity enough to spread out its broad folds from Maine to California, and let the people live under it. I would hear the response, Yes, when the rebel is as poor as a church mouse—the rebel that has killed my brother and my father and robbed me of my all. I feel that it is my duty to punish him in a manner that as history, will be remembered by future rebels in free government. [Applause.] There is nobody going to break the Constitution except the rebels; and I do not care where they are, they will break it. They have broken it, thrown it off, trampled it under foot; spit on our flag, burned it and torn it in tatters; damned it and all that grew out of it, and damned all that would not damn it. Then what rights have they under that Constitution. [None at all.] Fellow-citizens, I thank you for your attention.
The Governor retired amid three hearty cheers. He was succeeded by major McPhail, who was in turn followed by Hon. Sherrard Clemens. We would be glad if we had room for what these gentleman said, for they said many good things. But their speeches were lengthy, and our space is already exhausted for this time. We will say by way of a passing notice, that Major McPhail’s remarks were chiefly directed to showing up the Southern theories of government and society, thus arriving at the true animus of the rebellion. The Major was more than usually happy in illustration and in bringing the theories of De Bow to an application close home, made some very palpable hits, and was freely applauded.
Mr. Clemens spoke in his happiest vein, both as to feeling and humor, and “brought down the house” at almost every period.—He dwelt at length on the duty of enlisting, and by way of enforcing his remarks on this point read the poem of the “sweet little man” who was a member of the “stay-at-home rangers,” with excellent effect.
After Mr. Clemens had spoken, Jacob Hornbrook offered a resolution endorsing the course of Senator Willey, in the U.S. Senate, in regard to the new State, and the resolution was carried with a unanimous “aye!” that showed where the hearts of the people were. The speaking lasted till near six o’clock, but such was the earnestness of the crowd that it was scarcely diminished in numbers to the last.
Before the meeting broke up Mr. McCoy, of the Belmont Mills, came forward and said he would be one of a hundred men to organize a company on the spot. He believed the country needed him and he was ready to go. He didn’t propose to put on shoulder straps and ask any one to be a private in a company of which he would be Captain, but he proposed to go in as a private with the rest and take his chance for promotion. The meeting broke up and we did not learn what progress was made in making up the proposed company.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: July 1862