This Day in Georgia Civil War History
November 10, 1864
Richmond Newspaper Printed Excerpts of Brown Address
The Richmond Times Dispatch printed excerpts from Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown’s speech to the convening General Assembly.
Message of Governor Brown, of Georgia.
The Legislature of Georgia met at Milledgeville on Thursday last, and on the next day Governor Brown sent in his message. It is not at all a “remarkable” document, as some of the messages and proclamations of the same Executive have been termed by the papers, but is merely a repetition of his views heretofore expressed in other State papers. It fills over ten columns of the Augusta papers, and we are able only to make extracts from it, which will give its tenor and spirit. On the “negotiation” question, he says:
‘There is reason to fear that President Lincoln, if re-elected, and President Davis, whose passions are inflamed against each other, may never be able to agree upon terms for the commencement of negotiations, and that the war must continue to rage in all its fury till there is a change of administration, unless the people of both countries, in their aggregate capacity as sovereign States, bring their powerful influence to bear, requiring both Governments to stop the war and leave the question to be settled upon the principles of 1776, as laid down in the Georgia resolutions passed at your late session.
‘These resolutions, in substance, propose that the treaty-making powers in both Governments agree to stop the war and leave each or any one of the sovereign States, by a convention of its own people, fairly chosen by the legal and duly qualified voters, to determine for itself whether it will unite its destiny with the one or the other confederacy. There may be doubts whether Missouri, Kentucky or Maryland wish to remain component parts of the Government of the United States or to unite with the Confederate States. It either one of those States shall refuse to unite with us, we have no just right to demand such union, as we have neither the right to coerce a sovereign State nor to govern her without her consent. And if we had the right we certainly have not the power, as we can only govern a State without her consent by subjugation, and we have no power to subjugate any one of those States, with the whole power of the United States at her back prepared to defend her against our attacks.
We should stand ready, therefore, at all times, to settle the difficulty by a reference of the question of future alliance to the States whose positions may be doubtful for determination by them in their sovereign capacity.
Our Congress, in its manifesto, has virtually endorsed the great principles of the Georgia resolutions; and the President has said, in his messages, that he desires peace upon the principles to defend which we entered into the struggle. I am not aware, however, of any direct tender of adjustment upon those principles having been recently made by the treaty-making power of our Government to the same power in the Federal Government. I regret that the wish of Georgia, as expressed through her Legislature, has not been respected in this particular. Such a direct sender, made through commissioners, by President Davis to President Lincoln would place the question fairly and properly before the States and people of the North for discussion and action. Had it been done months since, it could not have failed to have had a powerful influence upon the Presidential election in the North, which may have much to do with the future course and conduct of the war.
It may be said, however, that the proposition to settle our difficulties upon there terms, made by President Davis to President Lincoln would be a letting down of the dignity of our Government, and might be construed as an evidence of conscious weakness on our part. I confess my inability to see how the direct tender of settlement, upon these great and correct principles, by the treaty-making power in our Government to the like power in the United States Government, could compromit the dignity of our Government any more than an indirect tender of the same proposition through the irregular channel of an executive message or a congressional manifesto.
How Lincoln would receive a “direct tender,” proposing the exercise of the State right to remain in or withdraw from the “Union,” may be judged from his reception of the “loyal Tennessean,” who did not ask even the ghost of a chance to withdraw, but merely permission to vote for who should be the President of that Union. On the side of the Confederacy, Governor Brown says:
‘In the meantime, till proper arrangements can be made to adjust our difficulties and stop the effusion of blood by negotiation, it is the duty of every man in the Confederacy to do everything possible in his power to strengthen and sustain the gallant and glorious armies of the States and the Confederacy. Every man able to bear arms who can be parted from home should be sent to the front, either in the armies of the Confederacy or as part of the militia of the States, and everything possible be done to provide for the wants and comfort of our troop in the field and their loved ones at home. The enable us to conduct negotiations successfully, we must renew our efforts to strengthen our armies and maintain our cause with ability and energy in this field, cost what it may in blood or treasure.
‘In the message we find the following paragraph which might be studied and reflected upon by the writer with much advantage to himself:
He who would prove recreant to so sacred or from a desire of personal aggrandizement or the gratification of personal ambition, would trample under his feet and sacrifice these great principles which underlie the very foundations of our respective system, and upon the success of which the happiness of unborn millions depends, desires an eternity of infamy, with the everlasting execrations of mankind upon his head.
In referring to the resolutions of the Governors, recently adopted, Governor Brown says:
‘It is proper, in this connection, for me to remark that I do wish to be understood in either of said resolutions that I advocate the policy, in the present condition of our affairs, of arming our slaves. The however, advocate the use of them as team cooks, hospital servants, and in every other capacity in which their services can be made useful, or in which they can relieve freemen from such pursuits, that they may take up arms.”