Reply of the Minority (supporting Mr. Lincoln)
|Most of the text here is taken from an archive of the New York Times; a few words were apparently poorly scanned from the original, and were originally marked as unknown, thus: [???]. These were corrected by reference to the version published in Frank Moore's Rebellion Record (vol. 1, supplement, p. 373), which is available online. Some of the paragraph structure was different between the two sources as well. I generally followed that in The Rebellion Record.|
MR. PRESIDENT: The undersigned, members of Congress from the Border States, in response to your address of Saturday last, beg leave to say that they attended a meeting on the same day the address was delivered, for the purpose of considering the same. The meeting appointed a Committee to report a response to your address. That report was made on yesterday, and the action of the majority indicated clearly that the response reported, or one in substance the same, would be adopted and presented to you.
In as much as we cannot consistently -- with our own sense of duty to the country, under the existing perils which surround us -- concur in that response, we feel it to be due to you and to ourselves, to make to you a brief and candid answer over our signatures. We believe that the whole power of the Government, upheld and sustained by all the influences and means of all loyal men in all sections, and of all parties, is essentially necessary to put down the rebellion and preserve the Union and Constitution. We understand your appeal to us to have been made for the purpose of securing this result. A very large portion of the people in the Northern States believe that Slavery is the "lever power of the rebellion." It matters not whether this belief be well founded or not. The belief does exist, and we have to deal with things as they are, and not as we would have them be. In consequence of the existence of this belief, we understand that an immense pressure is brought to bear for the purpose of striking down this institution, through the exercise of military authority. The Government cannot maintain this great struggle if the support and influence of the men who entertain these opinions be withdrawn. Neither can the Government hope for early success if the support of that element called "Conservative" be withdrawn. Such being the condition of things, the President appeals to the Border State men to step forward and prove their patriotism by making the first sacrifice. No doubt like appeals have been made to extreme men in the North to meet us half-way, in order that the whole moral, political, pecuniary and physical force of the Nation may be firmly and earnestly united in one grand effort to save the Union and the Constitution. Believing that such were the motives that prompted your address, and such the results to which it looked, we cannot reconcile it to our sense of duty in this trying hour to respond in a spirit of fault-finding or querulousness over the things that are past.
We are not disposed to seek for the cause of present misfortunes in the errors and wrongs of others who now propose to unite with us in a common purpose. But, on the other hand, we meet your address in the spirit in which it was made, and, as loyal Americans, declare to you and to the world that there is no sacrifice that we are not ready to make to save the Government and institutions of our fathers.
That we, few of us though we may be, will permit no men from the North, or from the South, to go further than we in the accomplishment of the great work before us; that in order to carry out these views we will, so far as may be in our power, ask the people of the Border States, calmly, deliberately and fairly, to consider your recommendations. We are the more emboldened to assume this position from the fact, now become history, that the leaders of the Southern rebellion have offered to abolish Slavery among them, as a condition to foreign intervention in favor of their independence as a nation. If they can give up Slavery to destroy the Union, we can surely ask our people to consider the question of emancipation to save the Union.
With great respect,
JNO. W. NOELL, Missouri,
SAML. F. CASEY, Kentucky,
GEO. P. FISHER, Delaware,
A.J. CLEMENTS, Tennessee,
WM. G. BROWN, Western Virginia,
JACOB B. BLAIR, Western Virginia,
W.T. WILLEY, Western Virginia.