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(Laughter). Why, he has done just
enough to prevent anybody else from doing anything. (Great
applause). But I have no quarrel with him. I don't know him. I
presume none of you do. But I ask Abraham Lincoln--I like to go
to headquarters, for where the greatest power is assumed, there
the greatest responsibility rests, and in accordance with that
principle I have nothing to do with menials, even though they are
styled Napoleons--but I ask the President why McClellan was kept
in the army so long after it was known--for there never was a
time when anything else was known--that he was both incapable and
unwilling to do anything? I refer to this for the purpose of
coming, by and by, to the question, "What ought to be done?" He
was kept at the head of the army on the Potomac just long enough
to prevent Burnside from doing anything, and not much has been
done since that time. Now, McClellan may be a very nice young
man--I haven't the slightest doubt of it--but I have read a
little anecdote of him. Somebody asked the president of a Western
railroad company, in which McClellan was an engineer, what he
thought about his abilities. "Well," said the president, "he is a
first-rate man to build bridges; he is very exact, very
mathematical in measurement, very precise in adjusting the
timber; he is the best man in the world to build a good, strong,
sound bridge, but after he has finished it, he never wishes
anybody to cross over it." (Great laughter). Well, we have
disposed of him partially, but we PAY him yet, and you and I are
taxed for it. But if we are to have a new general in his place,
we may ask, what has become of Sigel? Why does that
disinterested, noble-minded, freedom-loving man in vain ask of
the Administration to give him an army to lead into the field?

A VOICE: Ask Halleck.

Halleck! If Halleck is in the way, dispose of him. (Applause). Do
you point me to the Cabinet? If the Cabinet is in the way of
freedom, dispose of the Cabinet--(applause) some of them, at
least. The magnitude of this war has never yet been fully felt or
acknowledged by the Cabinet. The man at its head--I mean
Seward--has hardly yet woke up to the reality that we have a war.
He was going to crush the rebellion in sixty days. It was a mere
_bagatelle_! Why, he could do it after dinner, any day, as easy
as taking a bottle of wine! If Seward is in the way of crushing
the rebellion and establishing freedom, dispose of him. From the
cause of the war, learn the remedy, decide the policy, and place
it in the hands of men capable and willing to carry it out. I am
not unconditionally loyal, until we know to what principle we are
to be loyal. Promise justice and freedom, and all the rest will
follow. Do you know, my friends, what will take place if
something decisive is not soon done? It is high time to consider
it. I am not one of those who look on the darkest side of things,
but yet my reason and reflection forbid me to hope against hope.
It is only eighteen months more before another Presidential
election--only one year before another President will be
nominated. Let the present administration remain as indolent, as
inactive, and, apparently, as indifferent as they have done; let
them keep generals that are inferior to many of their private
soldiers; let them keep the best generals there are in the
country--Sigel and Fremont--unoccupied--(applause); let them keep
the country in the same condition in which it has been the last
two years, and is now, and what would be the result, if, at the
next election, the Democrats succeed--I mean the sham Democrats?
I am a democrat, and it is because I am a democrat that I go for
human freedom. Human freedom and true democracy are identical.
Let the Democrats, as they are now called, get into office, and
what would be the consequence? Why, under this hue-and-cry for
Union, _Union_, UNION, which is like a bait held out to the mass
of the people to lure them on, they will grant to the South the
meanest and the most contemptible compromises that the worst
slaveholders in the South can require. And if they really accept
them and come back--my only hope is that they will not--but if
the South should accept these compromises, and come back, slavery
will be fastened, not only in the South, but it will be
nationally fastened on the North. Now, a good Union, like a good
Constitution, is a most invaluable thing; but a false Union is
infinitely more despicable than no Union at all; and for myself,
I would vastly prefer to have the South remain independent, than
to bring them back with that eternal curse nationalized in the
country. It is not enough for Abraham Lincoln to proclaim the
slaves in the South free, nor even to continue the war until they
shall be really free. There is something to be done at home; for
justice, like charity, must begin at home. It is a mockery to say
that we emancipate the slaves we can not reach and pass by those
we can reach. First, free the slaves that are under the flag of
the Union. If that flag is the symbol of freedom, let it wave
over free men only. The slaves must be freed in the Border
States. Consistency is a great power. What are you afraid of?
That the Border States will join with the now crippled rebel
States? We have our army there, and the North can swell its
armies. But we can not afford to fight without an object. We can
not afford to bring the South back with slavery. We can not
compromise with principle. What has brought on this war? Slavery,
undoubtedly. Slavery was the primary cause of it. But the great
secondary cause was the fact that the North, for the sake of the
Union, has constantly compromised. Every demand that the South
made of the North was acceded to, until the South came really to
believe that they were the natural and legitimate masters, not
only of the slaves, but of the North too.

Now, it is time to reverse all these things. This rebellion and
this war have cost too dear. The money spent, the vast stores
destroyed, the tears shed, the lives sacrificed the hearts broken
are too high a price to be paid for the mere _name_ of Union. I
never believed we had a Union. A true Union is based upon
principles of mutual interest, of mutual respect and reciprocity,
none of which ever existed between the North and South. They
based their institutions on slavery; the North on freedom.

I care not by what measure you end the war, if you allow one
single germ, one single seed of slavery to remain in the soil of
America, whatever may be your object, depend upon it, as true as
effect follows cause, that germ will spring up, that noxious weed
will thrive, and again stifle the growth, wither the leaves,
blast the flowers, and poison the fair fruits of freedom. Slavery
and freedom can not exist together. Seward proclaimed a truism,
but he did not appreciate its import. There is an irrepressible
conflict between freedom and slavery. You might as well say that
light and darkness can exist together as freedom and slavery. We,
therefore, must urge the Government to do something, and that
speedily, to secure the boon of freedom, while they yet can, not
only in the rebel States, but in our own States too, and in the
Border States. It is just as wrong for us to keep slaves in the
Union States as it ever was in the South. Slavery is as great a
curse to the slaveholder as it is a wrong to the slaves; and yet
while we free the rebel slaveholder from the curse, we allow it
to continue with our Union-loving men in the Border States. Free
the slaves in the Border States, in Western Virginia, in
Maryland, and wherever the Union flag floats, and then there will
be a consistency in our actions that will enable us to go to work
earnestly with heart and hand united, as we move forward to free
all others and crush the rebellion. We have had no energy yet in
the war, for we have fought only for the purpose of reuniting,
what has never been united, restoring the old Union--or rather
the shadow as it was. A small republic, a small nation, based
upon the eternal principle of freedom, is great and powerful. A
large empire based upon slavery, is weak and without foundation.
The moment the light of freedom shines upon it, it discloses its
defects, and unmasks its hideous deformities. As I said before, I
would rather have a small republic without the taint and without
the stain of slavery in it, than to have the South brought back
by compromise. To avert such calamity, we must work. And our work
must mainly be to watch and criticise and urge the Administration
to do its whole duty to freedom and humanity. (Applause).

THE PRESIDENT then said: I suppose all the loyal women will agree
with me that we owe to the President and the Government in these
hours of trial, whether they make mistakes or whether they do
not, words of cheer and encouragement; and, as events occur one
after another, our criticisms should not be harshly made. When we
find willful departure from what is just and true, when we find
treason, we should not hesitate to speak the word of strongest
denunciation against both the treason and the traitor. But where
there is evident intention to be and to do right, where there is
loyalty, there all good men and all good women should give a word
of cheer and encouragement.

Women have their share in the responsibilities of this hour; in
the reconstruction of the Government.



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