Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for August Belmont – Speech at the New York Convention

August Belmont – Speech at the New York Convention

July 4, 2018

A Few Letters and Speeches of the Late Civil War by August Belmont (DNC Chairman)

July 4, 1868

Gentlemen Of The Convention,—It is my privilege to-day to welcome you here in this hall, constructed with so much artistic taste, and tendered to you by the time-honored Society of Tammany. I welcome you to this magnificent temple, erected to the Goddess of Liberty by her staunchest defenders and most fervent worshippers. I welcome you to this good city of New York, the bulwark of Democracy, which has rolled back the surging waves of radicalism through all the storms of the last eight years, and I welcome you, gentlemen, to our Empire State, which last fall redeemed herself from Republican misrule by a majority of nearly fifty thousand votes, and which claims the right to lead the vanguard of victory in the great battle to be fought next November for the preservation of our institutions, our laws, and our liberties.

It is a most auspicious omen that we meet under such circumstances, and are surrounded by such associations, and I share your own confident hope of the overwhelming success of the ticket, and the platform which will be the result of your deliberations. For it is to the American people that our appeal lies. Their final judgment will be just. The American people will no longer remain deaf to the teachings of the past.  They will remember that it was under successive Democratic administrations, based upon our national principles, the principles of Constitutional liberty, that our country rose to a prosperity and greatness unsurpassed in the annals of history; they will remember the days when North and South marched shoulder to shoulder together in the conquest of Mexico, which gave us our golden empire on the Pacific, our California and our Oregon, now the strongholds of a triumphant Democracy; they will remember the days when peace and plenty reigned over the whole Union, when we had no national debt to crush the energies of the people, when the Federal tax-gatherer was unknown throughout the vast extent of the land, and when the credit of the United States stood as high in the money marts of the world as that of any other government; and they will remember, with a wise sorrow, that, with the downfall of the Democratic party, in 1860, came that fearful civil war which has brought mourning and desolation into every household; has cost the loss of a million of American citizens, and has left us with a national debt, the burden of which drains the resources, cripples the industry, and impoverishes the labor of the country. They will remember that, after the fratricidal strife was over, when the bravery of our army and navy and the sacrifices of the people had restored the Union, and vindicated the supremacy of the law, when the victor and the vanquished were equally ready to bury the past, and to hold out the hand of brotherhood and good-will across the graves of their fallen comrades, it was again the defeat of the Democratic candidates in 1864 which prevented this consummation so devoutly wished for by all.

Instead of restoring the Southern States to their Constitutional rights, instead of trying to wipe out the miseries of the past by a magnanimous policy, dictated alike by humanity and sound statesmanship, and so ardently prayed for by the generous heart of the American people, the Radicals in Congress, elected in an evil hour, have placed the iron heel of the conqueror upon the South. Austria did not dare to fasten upon Hungary, nor Russia to impose upon conquered Poland, the ruthless tyranny now inflicted by Congress upon the Southern States. Military satraps are invested with dictatorial power, overriding the decisions of the courts, and assuming tne functions of the civil authorities, the whole population are disfranchised or forced to submit to test oaths alike revolting to justice and civilization; and a debased and ignorant race, just emerged from servitude, is raised into power to control the destinies of that fair portion of our common country.

These men, elected to be legislators, and legislators only, trampling the Constitution under their feet, have usurped the functions of the executive and the judiciary, and it is impossible to doubt, after the events of the past few months, and the circumstances of the impeachment trial, that they will shrink from an attempt hereafter to subvert the Senate of the United States, which alone stood between them and their victim, and which had virtue enough left not to allow the American name to be utterly disgraced, and justice to be dragged in the dust.

In order to carry out this nefarious programme, our army and navy are kept in times of profound peace on a scale which involves a yearly expenditure of from one to two hundred millions, prevents the reduction of our national debt, and imposes upon our people a system of the most exorbitant and unequal taxation, with a vicious, irredeemable, and depreciated currency. And now this same party, which has brought all these evils upon the country, comes again before the American people, asking for their suffrages. And whom has it chosen for its candidate the general commanding the armies of the United States. Can there be any doubt left as to the designs of the Radicals, if they should be able to keep their hold on the reins of government? They intend Congressional usurpation of all the branches and functions of the government, to be enforced by the bayonets of a military despotism.

Previous post: