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

August Belmont – Speech at the Chicago Convention

August 29, 2014

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

AUGUST 29, 1864.

Gentlemen Of The Convention,—We are assembled here to-day as the National Democratic Convention, for the purpose of nominating candidates for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency of the United States. This task, at all times a most important and arduous one, has, by the sad events of our civil war, assumed an importance and responsibility of the most fearful nature. Never, since the formation of our government, has there been an assemblage, the proceedings of which were fraught with more momentous and vital results than those which must flow from your action.

Toward you, gentlemen, are directed at this moment the anxious fears and doubts, not only of millions of American citizens, but also of every lover of civil liberty throughout the world. In your hands rests, under the ruling of an all-wise Providence, the future of this Republic. Four years of misrule, by a sectional, fanatical, and corrupt party, have brought our country to the very verge of ruin. The past and present are sufficient warnings of the disastrous consequences which would befall us if Mr. Lincoln’s re-election should be made possible by our want of patriotism and unity. The inevitable results of such a calamity must be the utter disintegration of our whole political and social system amidst bloodshed and anarchy, with the great problems of liberal progress and self-government jeoparded for generations to come.

The American people have at last awakened to the conviction that a change of policy and administration can alone stay our downward course; and they will rush to the support of your candidate and platform, provided you will offer to their suffrage a tried patriot, who has proved his devotion to the Union and the Constitution, and provided that you pledge him and yourselves to maintain that hallowed inheritance by every effort and sacrifice in your power.

Let us, at the very outset of our proceedings, bear in mind that the dissensions of the last Democratic Convention were one of the principal causes which gave the reins of government into the hands of our opponents; and let us beware not to fall again into the same fatal error. We must bring to the altar of our country the sacrifice of our prejudices, opinions, and convictions—however dear and long cherished they may be—from the moment they threaten the harmony and unity of action so indispensable to our success. We are here, not as war Democrats, nor as peace Democrats, but as citizens of the great Republic, which we will strive to bring back to its former greatness and prosperity, without one single star taken from the brilliant constellation that once encircled its youthful brow. Let pure and disinterested patriotism, tempered by moderation and forbearance, preside over our deliberations, and, under the blessings of the Almighty, the sacred cause of the Union, the Constitution, and the Laws must prevail against fanaticism and treason.

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