WILLARD C. FLAGG.
…The Republican party was a rebellion against the slave power, organized in 1856, and at first taking ground against the establishment of slavery in the territories. It began, and has maintained a constitutional but continued contest against the iniquity of human slavery, in spite of ridicule as “negro worshippers;” of scorn as sentimental philanthropists, and of hate as the steadfast friends of human freedom:
“To day abhorred, to-morrow adored,
So round and round we run;
And ever the right comes uppermost,
And ever is justice done.”
Defeated in 1856, it rallied under Lincoln and Hamlin in 1860; and on the platform of Free Territories, and Free Homes in those Territories, it carried the election by a plurality vote.
In 1861, though in a minority of a million of votes, it took up the gauntlet thrown down by the Slaveholders, and began the war for the Union. In the general uprising that succeeded, it received large accessions from the better part of the Democratic party. Inconsistent with their party dogmas, a host of loyal men rushed from the Democratic ranks in obedience to the higher law of patriotism; and joined the defenders of the Constitution and the Union. And although hundreds and thousands of the bravest and best of our young men were slain in battle, died in hospitals, or endured the lingering tortures of Southern prisons, yet the ranks of the Union party were filled and closed again, and marched on to victory.
In 1864 the Republican party took the more radical ground, that slavery is incompatible with free government, and was sustained therein by a majority of 400,000 votes, by two thirds of both houses of Congress, and by three-fourths of the States — led off, I am proud to say, by the State of Illinois. Throughout a long, bloody and wearisome civil war, they sustained the national arms, the national credit and the national honor; lavishing life and treasure without stint, that the Union and our liberties might be preserved. And when, under the auspicious leadership of Abraham Lincoln, Grant and Sherman crushed the armed forces of the rebellion, it turned from the easier arts of war to the more tedious tasks of reconstruction and regulation of finances. It was, perhaps, too merciful. It let men go unhung when the public safety demanded that they should not be suffered to exist on American soil. It encouraged men who could not appreciate the quality of mercy to presume on their toleration; and hence after the dark day of Lincoln’s death, when Andrew Johnson proved recreant to his trust, rebels essayed again to take up with polluted hands the Government they had trampled upon, and to reign where they could not ruin…
…On the question of Personal Liberty the Convention recognized “the great principles laid down in the immortal Declaration of Independence, as the true foundation of Democratic Government,” and hailed “with gladness every effort towards making these principles a living reality on every inch of American soil.” In this there is no uncertain sound. It affirms farther that “the guaranty of equal suffrage to all loyal men at the South was demanded by every consideration of public safety, of gratitude and of justice, and must be maintained.” In all this the Republican party arrives still more nearly to the radical principles of free government — “of the people, by the people and for the people.”…
…Examining our candidates, our parties, our government and our principles, I find a substantial accord between the christian idea of the State, and the Declaration, the Constitution, Republican principles, the Republican policies, and the men put up by the Republican party as its candidates. I find here the men, the party, the country and the principles of Freedom, Union and Public Faith; and whatever may be the short comings of the Republican party, I pardon them all when I look upon the alternative that awaits in the Democratic organization, controlled by ideas and men so hostile to all that seems greatest and best in our national history.
In the words of Dostie, “Let the good cause go on.” It must go on whether we would or no; whether we do what we can to aid that cause and carry it through peacefully and joyfully; or stand in the way and mark its passage with wars and weeping. For if I have been right in the premises I have laid down, radical republicanism is as inevitable as Fate. It is the fiat of Omnipotence.
“He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judgment seat;
Oh! be swift, my son, to answer him! be jubilant my feet!
Our God is marching on!”
ALTON, Oct. 21st, 1868.
Alton Weekly Telegraph (Alton, Illinois) Oct 30, 1868
About Willard Cutting Flagg:
Title: Pioneer Letters of Gershom Flagg
Author: Gershom Flagg
Editor: Solon Justus Buck
Publisher: Illinois state journal co., state printers, 1912
(Google book LINK)
Title: Life of A. P. Dostie;
The conflict in New Orleans Western Americana, frontier history of the trans-Mississippi West, 1550-1900
Author: Emily Hazen Reed
Publisher:W.P. Tomlinson, 1868