Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hamilton's Nov. 1868 Campaign Circular

A few days after Hamilton accepted the nomination as Florida's Republican candidate for Congress, he sent out the following campaign statement:


MY FELLOW-CITIZENS OF FLORIDA- As it may not be possible for your nominee (of the Republican party) to visit every part of the State during the present important canvass, it being necessary for him, your present Representative, to attend as soon as possible, the meeting of Congress in December – it is proper that he should address you some words of encouragement, defining briefly his position, and then commit himself and the success of the party to your earnest care and faithful keeping.
Having been a Republican from my youth – casting my first vote (a soldier's ballot) for the re-election of the revered Lincoln in '64 – it is but natural that my whole sympathies should be, as they are, radically Republican. But I claim no virtue because of this, for it is a solemn duty I owe both to our country and to her people. Seven years military service during the most eventful period, just ended, of her existence have made sacred the obligations I, with all the loyal people, owe to our regenerated Union, and to the now universally free institutions of our country. As Republicans, we have wrought this great national salvation – purging slavery and human inequality from her borders, and erecting in their room in the lasting temple of the Union, freedom and equal manhood for all! Now as Republicans it is incumbent upon us to vindicate our work, and in the same patriotic spirit which actuated us in accomplishing this high object, to preserve for all the future this priceless harvest of the seed sown in the land thrice enriched by rivers of the loyal blood of our countryman. We can fellow-citizens, we must do it.
The enemy, as hostile, as relentless, as treasonable as ever, are at our gates demanding the surrender of the Government their wicked rebellion failed to overthrow; still refusing to abide the decision of the sword to which they in acknowledged folly appealed; still heardless of the thundering voice of the Nation which has now made their military conquerer their civil ruler. Surrender not to them; heed not their insane appeals to your passions and your prejudices, for they seek to lead you as they did in '61- further on to your ruin.
Under the mantle of the people they plead for the miserable aristocracy who composed the Democratic party of the past, and who now compose the "Conservative" party of the present.
It is a sectional party, and a party of caste, and its object is to continue to favor this class at the expense of the poor, and to over throw the loyal Republican Governments which guarantee Equal Rights to all the people alike.
The Republican party is the part of the Union, the peoples' party and its object is to secure and maintain the Union and the Constitution of our fathers, and the Republican Governments established in the South under the wise and generous Reconstruction laws of Congress; to educate and elevate the laboring people on whose shoulder more than any other rest the burdens of the Governments to organize a system of free common schools, the fountain of popular knowledge that all the people may readily qualify themselves for the responsibility of citizenship. For education is the strong, grand pillar of a free Government – the sword in the hands of the people to protect their lives and property, and the shield of security to their liberties. During an hundred years this "Conservative" party in the South has stood in the way of the enlightenment and prosperity of the people and the progress and welfare of the Southern portion of our Union. Let us strike down this criminal barrier in this propitious moment, and the flood-gates of domestic happiness and prosperity will open wide, and welcome Peace flow in along.
With the glorious triumph of the Republican party in the election of Grant and Colfax still animating our hearts; with the assurance that this country will be the habitation of Republicanism forever; and with the encouragement given us by the harmonious action of the Convention on the 3d and 4th inst., which you rare called up on to approve by your votes on the 29th of December, I congratulate you, citizens, upon the bright auspices under which it is our privilege to enter this decisive campaign.
Do not rely wholly upon public meetings and speeches – battles are lost by too much parade. Victory is achieve only by sleepless vigilance and constant labor, and your standard bearer earnestly calls upon all who would vindicate the party which saved the Union, the Constitution and the flag, of the country, founded by Washington and saved by Lincoln, to rally under the victorious folds of the Republican standard, and vote to sustain it still.
With the firm belief that in times like the present, Conservatism is treason, and that Radicalism only is patriotism, I bid you God-speed,
Charles M. Hamilton
Marianna, Fla., Nov. 12, '68

[Sources: Jacksonville Florida Union 12/3/1868; (Tampa) The True Southerner 12/10/1868]

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