Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The War and Slavery: A Speech by Union Colonel John Cochrane

John Cochrane, courtesy
Here is a story from the Covington Journal of November 23, 1861. All emphasis is repeated as published in this story.

A recent speech by Col. JOHN COCHRANE, his regiment stationed near Washington has been brought into prominent notice by the fact that SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War, was present at the delivery and heartily endorsed the sentiments uttered. The gist of Cochrane'e speech, to which we invite the close attention of the reader, is thus reported:

"Shall we not seize the cotton at Beaufort, the munitions of war? And if you would open their ports, seize their property and even destroy their lives, I ask you whether you would not use their slaves? Whether you would not ARM THEIR SLAVES [great applause] AND CARRY THEM IN BATTALIONS AGAINST THEIR MASTERS? [Renewed and tumultuous applause.] If necessary to save this government, I would plunge their whole community, black and white, IN ONE INDISCRIMINATE SEA OF BLOOD, so that in the end we should have a government which should be the vicegerent of God."

After Col. Cochrane had concluded, Secretary Cameron said: 
"I APPROVE OF EVERY SENTIMENT UTTERED BY YOUR NOBLE COMMANDER. All the doctrines he has laid down, I approve of, as if it were uttered in my own words. They are my sentiments, and the sentiments which will eventually lead to victory. It is no time to talk to these people about meeting them on their own terms. We must treat them as our enemies, and punish them as our enemies, until they learn to behave themselves. Every means which God has placed in our hands, we must use until they are subdued." 

In this connection we give an extract from an editorial article in a late number of the New York Tribune, the most influential Administration paper in the country:

"God favoring, circumstances permitting, the way opened by a Providence which will indeed be divine, SHALL WE NOT RID OURSELVES OF SLAVERY ONCE AND  FOREVER! Where is the intelligent Northern man, we care not how he may politically style himself,who will not say from the bottom of his heart, to such a question "Yes!" If this is to be an "Abolitionist," we should like to look in the face of the poor creature who will say that he is not one. This is no longer a question of morals, but one of common sense and of common safety; of ordinary prudence and the least possible foresight. We are arguing for no particular scheme; we are demanding no hasty action; we feel as much as any the need of a circumspect policy; BUT UPON THE NAKED QUESTION OF "ABOLITION" OR "NO ABOLITION" WE BELIEVE THAT EVERY HONEST, THINKING MAN WILL BE READY TO AVOW HIMSELF AN "ABOLITIONIST." 

Here we have as the programme not Abolitionism merely but the arming of slaves against their masters, and if deemed necessary by the North, and God favoring, "plunging the South, black and white, in one indiscriminate sea of blood."

We submit the facts, without comment. 

Cochrane's speech may have come across as quite controversial, at least according to this clarification of his intents that the New York Times published on November 24, 1861. He apparently did not wish to be associated with the term "abolitionist" in any way at all.

Simon Cameron, courtesy

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