The Worlds Famous Orations. America: III. (18611905). 1906.
During His Campaign for President
Horace Greeley (181172)
Born in 1811, died in 1872; founded the New York Tribune in 1841; elected to Congress in 1848; a notable antislavery leader; an unsuccessful candidate for President in 1872; author of Recollections of a Busy Life.
IT1 is certain that throughout the course of my life, as far as I have been connected with public affairs, I have struggled with such capacity as God has given me, for: first, impartial and universal liberty; secondly, for the unity and greatness of our common country; thirdly, and by no means last, when the former end was attained, for an early and hearty reconciliation and peace among our countrymen. For these great ends I have struggled, and I hope the issue is not doubtful.
Those adverse to me ask what pledges I have given to those lately hostile to the Union to secure their favor and support. I answer, no man or woman in all the South ever asked of me, directly or through another, any other pledge than is given through all my acts and words. From the hour of Lees surrender down to this moment, no Southern man has ever hinted to me an expectation, hope, or wish that the rebel debt, whether Confederate or State, should be assumed or paid by the Union, and no Southern man who could be elected to a legislature or made colonel of a militia regiment, has suggested the pension of the rebel soldiers, or any of them, even as a remote possibility.
All who nominated me were perfectly aware that I had upheld and justified Federal legislation to repress Kuklux conspiracy and outrage, tho I have long ago insisted as strenuously as I do now that complete amnesty and general oblivion of the bloody and hateful past would do more for the suppression and utter extinction of such outrages than all the force bills and suspensions of habeas corpus ever devised by man. Wrong and crime must be suppressed and punished, but far wiser and nobler is the legislation, the policy, by which they are prevented.
From those who support me in the South I have heard but one demandjustice; but one desirereconciliation. They wish to be heartily reunited with the North on any terms which do not involve the surrender of their manhood. They ask that they should be regarded and treated by the Federal authorities as citizens, not as culprits, so long as they obey and uphold every law consistent with equality and right. They desire a rule which, alike for white and black, shall encourage industry and thrift and discourage rapacity and villainy. They cherish a joyful hope, in which I fully concur, that between the fifth of November and the fourth of March next, a number of the governors and other dignitaries who in the absurd name of republicanism and loyalty have for years been piling debts and taxes upon their war-wasted States, will follow the wholesome example of Bullock of Georgia and seek the shades of private life. The darker and deeper those shades, the better for themselves and for mankind; and the hope that my election may hasten the much desired hegira of thieving carpetbaggers has reconciled to the necessity of supporting me many who would otherwise have hesitated and probably refused.
Fellow citizens, the deposed and partially exiled Tammany ring has stolen about $30,000,000 from the City of New York; that was a most gigantic robbery and hurled its contrivers and abettors from power and splendor to impotency and infamy; but the thieving carpetbaggers have stolen at least three times that amountstolen it from the impoverished and needyand they still flaunt their prosperous villainy in the highest places in the land, and are addressed as Honorable and Excellency.
I think I hear a voice from the honest people of all the States declaring their infamy shall be gainful and insolent no longerat the furthest, until the fourth of March next. By that time those criminals will have heard a national verdict pronounced that will cause them to fold their tents like the Arabs and as silently steal away, and that I trust will be the end of their stealing at the cost of the good name of our country and the well-being of our people.
Note 1. Greeley was nominated in May, 1872. His first formal speech in the campaign was the one here given, delivered at Portland, Maine, on August 14. The New York Herald, from which the following report is taken, described Greeley, as he entered the hall to deliver this speech, as wearing his historical white hat, his black alpaca coat, white vest, and black pants [sic], and carrying his white overcoat on his arm. [back]