August 13, 1862
Speeches of Hon. John Sherman, Waitman T. Willey and John A. Bingham.
Straight Out Resolutions.
The great war meeting of the year took place last evening at the freight depot of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Early in the evening an old baby waker was placed at the floor of Quincy street, and sent its echoes flying over the country. The Union Brass Band and a band of ma[r]tial music passed through the principal streets, and [unreadable] everything was life and enthusiasm. The depot was literally packed with people, and the enthusiasm was boundless.
The depot was thronged with eager people long before the speakers arrived, and were [unreadable] with appropriate music from the band seated in front of the speakers stand and a display of fire-works outside the depot.
The meeting was called to order by Thos. Hornbrook, who moved the appointment of Gov. Peirpoint as Chairman and A. W. Campbell as Secretary. The following gentlemen were appointed as Vice President: Harrison Williams, Hollister Harden, L. T. Dean, Wm. Harrison, J. L. Stifel, Edward Hobbs and John R. Hubbard.
On motion of Geo. W. Norton, the following gentlemen were appointed as a committee of resolutions: A. H. Detwiler, Theophilas Pugh, Isaiah Warren, James Armstrong and William Shields.
Gov. Peirpoint said he desired to make a single remark. He considered it the proudest act of his life to be called upon to preside a working-mens’ meeting. He was not ashamed to admit that he was a working man himself, and fully sympathized with the people. He spoke of how our fathers had broken down the tory power and established democratic government. We have lived under that government for 80 years. The rebels now in arms belong to the same tory party. They want a privileged aristocracy, and for this purpose they have inaugurated this rebellion. He [unreadable] for the speakers present a calm and attentive hearing. He then introduced Senator Sherman, of Ohio.
Mr. Sherman said we had met together in times of great peril. He saw that this people appreciated the magnitude of the contest. We are not here to discuss the old party issues. The only question was shall this Union be preserved, or shall bad men destroy our nationality. There can be no neutrals in this war. The traitors of the South have drawn all men, bond and free, into this effort to break up the Government. Shall we not use the same means to break it down? If these traitors succeed, the Panhandle will be in a vice. Your prosperous country, in all its [unreadable] is with the free States. This country was formed by the Almighty God as our country, and no traitors must be permitted to break it up. Where are we if these men succeed? Where shall the boundary be? Shall we give up Washington as a capital for traitors? Are you willing to give up your interest in the battle [unreadable] of the revolution? Then who shall draw the boundary? There could never be peace between two confederacies in this country. Difficulties would be constantly springing up. Two nations speaking the same tongue cannon live side by side together, except in one common government. You must preserve the Union at all hazards and to the last extreme. Why should we separate? Our people do not hate each other. Wherever the people have been brought together they have respected each other, and no people have less cause for a quarrel. He [unreadable] to speak of the pretext offered by the rebels for the war, and to show how causeless the whole thing was. He said the rebels never had a decent pretest. The question of slavery was settled before Mr. Lincoln took his seat. The Republicans had abandoned their position for the sake of peace. The speaker himself introduced a resolution in Congress declaring that the people of the non-slaveholding States had no right to interfere with slavery in the slaveholding States. Every member of Congress voted for it. Every Black Republican voted for it. The Constitution [unreadable] to this effect, and but for this unholy war, that proposition would have been accepted, and the question of slavery would have been settled forever, and forever. There never was a time in the history of this country that there was so little to quarrel about as when Abe Lincoln took his seat. There is no danger of Lincoln violating his constitutional oath. The only danger is that he will not go forward with sufficient energy. There never was a more causeless war. In the opinion of the speaker the cause of the war was simply that the system of society in the South is aristocratic. More than half the people in South Carolina were tories. We have treated these men with too much leniency. There had been a band of traitors in Congress for years. They always [unreadable] a course to excite the hostilities of the people. They have labored for years to accomplish the object of the rebellion. Will you allow this Union to be broken up? [“No,” “No] How will you [unreadable] [“Right ‘em,” “Fight ‘em.”]—This is what I want to get at. Some of you will say let us compromise with these people, but before I would do such a damnable thing as compromise upon other basis than upon the basis of the constitution I would see every drop of loyal blood spilt. My friends we must fight this out—with guns—with cannon—with all the energy that God has given us. This is no time for dodging. None but cowards and sneaks will dodge at this hour of the country’s peril. In Ohio and Indiana men of all parties have resolved that they will conquer, subdue and even desolate the South. When we can compromise with honor then it is time to talk of compromise. There was one way to put down this rebellion.—I would ascertain how many men it will take to put the rebellion down, and then I would make a general draft for them. I would put a sufficient force in front of the enemy and the rest in the field to prepare. I would draw a line as high as Heaven and as deep as Hell between the loyal and the disloyal. I would honor and love the loyal people of the south, but to the disloyal I would deal out death and confiscation. The speaker here alluded to the fact of Carlile’s having voted against a confiscation act. [A voice—He he ought to be hung.] The law only proposes to take rebel property, and only during their lives. There was great moderation in the last Congress. They did only such things as were necessary to be done. We of Ohio don’t want the negroes of any slave State. We don’t love a negro any better than you do. Wherever I could find the slave of a rebel I would use him in any way whatever to put down the rebellion. They are accustomed to labor. If I were organizing a regiment (and I would recommend my friend Gov. Peirpoint to do it,) I would put ten good negroes in every regiment to relieve the men from drudgery. If the traitors can have negroes to black their boots I don’t see why loyal men should not have them. The rebels do not put arms in the hands of their negroes because they are afraid of them and we don’t do it because we are too proud. We think we have enough white men to put down the rebellion. If we have a mind to use the resources within our reach we can put down the rebellion in six months. My friends if we can only preserve this republic now we will have done more than our revolutionary fathers did. We are now passing through a terrible ordeal, but all nations have had to encounter such.
The Governor then introduced the Hon. John A. Bingham, who stepped upon the platform. He said he would not open his mouth if he thought there was one pulsation in the hearts of the people on the side of this wicked rebellion. It seemed almost a waste of breath to argue with the people how this great question must be settled.—We could not avoid it if we would, and we would not avoid it if we could. These rebels have raised a great battle cry, and say that the Republic shall perish. You can no more divide this Republic than you can divide a living man and have him survive. You might as well try to divide the human heart as to divide the Republic. The Union must be maintained or all must cease to be. “We have but one country and one destiny.” There are in most communities persons who are constantly apologizing for this rebellion. No man can express a decent or colorable [?] excuse for it. Some say they are fighting for redress of wrongs.—He did not deny the right of a people to redress wrongs by violence. “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.” If the Government has been unjust then I would bid them God speed. Has this Government ever done wrong to the chief architect of this great rule? Did it do wrong when it took him from his rags and poverty and poured the light of [unreadable] over his intellects?—Did it do him wrong when it placed him in the Cabinet and then in the Senate? Did it ever do wrong to James Mason and that hatchet-faced traitor John Slidel—or that copper-colored Israelite Judah P. Benjamin. Yet men go mousing about among you that these men are fighting for their rights! The right to desolate your hearthstones. The right to destroy our country! They are fighting for the right, I suppose, of falling upon wounded soldiers left on the field of conflict, and murdering them. The right to invade the homes of the dead—of digging up and converting the skulls of soldiers into drinking cups. They are asserting no right that any honest man can entertain. They think it better to reign in hell than serve in heaven. They pretend that they struck the Union because Father Abraham was elected President. In that they simply and deliberately lied. The very thing that was done in 1860 was agreed upon in [unreadable].
Father Abraham was as gentle and as kind hearted as a woman. He is doing all he can to save the effusion of blood, in the vain hope that gentleness may bring them back. Yet you hear men say that Abe Lincoln engendered this trouble. He was not in the Presidential chair when this thing assumed its horrid shape. Abraham Lincoln had no more to do with the inception of this rebellion than had the unborn child. That incorrigible thief and villain, John B. Floyd, was plotting and acting in this thing before Abe Lincoln was heard of for the Presidency. Howell Cobb was in the Treasury stealing with his fingers to aid the rebellion. But it is enough for me to know that the rebellion is inaugurated. It is useless to argue the question. Shall we save our country? We want two things, men and means. Your Government calls for 600,000 volunteers! Will Western Virginia respond? If she does, her children of Ohio will follow her. They call upon you from the banks of the James river, from the banks of the Tennessee and the Mississippi. Will you respond? I do not wait for an answer. I know that you will. Death is not half so much to be feared as cowardice or dishonor. Unless this question is settled in favorof the republic, the busy hum of the workshop must be hushed, the plow must stand in the furrow, and the National ensign must come down. You have placed upon your banner there, (pointing to one of the mottoes,) in answer to the insolent threat of England—
England prating about the interests of humanity! Out upon such miserable hypocrisy! Look at Ireland. Look at India. We never wronged them, except in the fact that our fathers respected honest labor, and decided to have no nobility. Let us stand defiantly before Europe, and tell her to strike if she dares. The moment she does it, you will find your true allies among the working men of Europe.
Mr. Bingham was greeted with deafening applause as he took his seat, and the Governor introduced Waitman T. Willey.
He said that in an hour like this it might be well even at the expense of the patience of the people to bring their minds to a few practical considerations. Fellow citizens, let me ask if you were not eighteen months ago the happiest people on the face of God’s earth. Have you not all your rights better secured than any other people. The right of life, of property, of civil and religious liberty. Is there a man in this assemblage who can say that this government ever injured him? He dared any man to say that it had not afforded him full blessings and protection. Why then this rebellion.
My friends did you ever think of what a pretty figure North-western Virginia would cut in a Southern Confederacy. What would become of your manufactures? Mr. Willey presented a picture of the defenceless, hopeless condition of North-western Virginia in case of a dissolution of the Union. It is a matter of life and death to us that we keep North-western Virginia in the old Union. To the workingmen he would say that the salvation of this government is your salvation. It is under the protection of this government that you worship God and lie down to sleep. The people made the government, and you deserve to be execrated if you fail to preserve it. The government is in danger. It is wounded and bleeding. The enemy is upon it. It is said you must save it, but you must do it in a constitutional way. Six hundred thousand soldiers and conscripts are upon us and men will say, stop till we see what we [are] fighting about. We are fighting to preserve the government.
He saw nothing in the Constitution against carrying on the war to the death against every rascal who raises his hand against the Government. He knew that the people of North-western Virginia love the government of their fathers. From what he had recently seen he was satisfied that North-western Virginia would not only give Gov. Peirpoint the two thousand and eighty men called for but she will give him four thousand. The people of the South know that the Government can put down the rebellion. As soon as they see six hundred thousand more men in the field they will quail. If they don’t we’ll make them.
Mr. Willey here alluded to the new State, which was met by prolonged and deafening applause.
Every man, said Mr. Willey, who readily enlists in the army of the Union will be an additional argument in favor of our admission as a new State at the next session of Congress. [Applause.]
Brig. General Kelley having been observed upon the stand, was loudly called for. He stepped forward and said he was overwhelmed at the reception given him. He was glad to know that the city of Wheeling was still loyal to the core. To the old men he would say give us your substance, to the mothers, wives and sweethearts he would say give us your sympathy and prayers. Gen. Kelley’s voice here gave way and he was compelled to stop after returning his thanks for the call.
A.W. Campbell, at this point reported, in accordance with instructions from the Committee, the following resolutions which were unanimously adopted:
Whereas The time has come in the history of our country when it becomes necessary for every loyal man to take a firm stand against treason and rebellion. And Whereas we the workingmen of the city of Wheeling recognize it as our duty to give expression to our convictions of truth on this subject and to unite with our fellow citizens in sustaining the great interests of law, order and good government. Be it therefore
Resolved, 1. That it is the judgment and earnest conviction of this meeting that this rebellion against the government of his land is most wicked in its conception, unjustifiable in its cause, oppressive in its aims, and destructive in its results to the highest interests of working men.
2. That these men who are now on the plea of supporting the Constitution to the letter, circulating reports that this is an abolition war, and that it is the design of the Government to place the negro on an equality with white men and bring him in competition with the working man are base traitors—too cowardly to openly espouse the cause of treason, but, Judas like, betray their country while professing a love for her heaven-born Constitution.
3. That we heartily endorse the new and stern war policy of our noble President, and that we will aid him by word and deed to crush this unholy rebellion by every means which God and nature have placed in our power.
4. That the thanks and gratitude of this meeting be extended to the Hon. Benj. F. Wade, Hon. Waitman T. Willey, Hons. W. G. Brown, Blair, Whaley, and others, for the firm and decided stand they have taken in behalf of the admission of Western Virginia into the Union.
5. That we endorse the course of our worthy and patriotic Governor in his efforts to sustain the Government in this its present trial.
6. That the dastardly, cowardly sneaks and traitors who abandon their country in the hour of her greatest need and peril, by flying from her shore, deserve, and should receive, the excration [sic] of every loyal man of the land.
7. That we, the loyal working men, consider ourselves betrayed and abandoned by John S. Carlile, a man who was admitted to represent us on the floor of Congress, that we condemn and repudiate his course in the Senate as giving aid and comfort to the sworn enemies of our country. In the time of our country’s adversity we find him traveling over mountain and prairie, not rallying freemen to the rescue, or cheering his constituents in their efforts to sustain the government, but using his talents and position to covertly seduce even loyalty from its allegiance. That as a misrepresentative of his constituency we call upon him in the name of all that is true and loyal, in the name of all that is just and honorable, to resign his position as United States Senator and retire within the lines of the rebel army.
Campbell Tarr, then offered a resolution of thanks to the Hon. John Sherman and the Hon. John A. Bingham, for their able addresses this evening. The resolution was adopted.
Mr. Crane was then called upon and responded in a brief but patriotic speech.—He said that Ohio county had not done her whole duty in furnishing volunteers. He made a strong appeal to the people to come forward and fill up the regiments. He appealed to the ladies to help in the matter and to emulate the example of the rebel women of the South. He spoke of the fact that when Meminger went to Richmond from South Carolina he took his daughter with him. Miss Meminger laid down the rule at all the hops which were held, “you can’t dance with me unless you are for Daddy’s proposition.” The consequence was that the Legislators sold their constituents and danced themselves into Dixie and from that into H__ll.
He concluded with another appeal to the patriotism of the people, and was loudly cheered.
Alex. Robinson offered the following resolution which was unanimously adopted:
Resolved, That in the judgment of this meeting the name of Camp Carlile should be changed to Camp Willey.
The meeting then adjourned.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: August 1862