Gov. Morton's Reply to a Treasonable Democratic Address.
The Indianapolis papers publish a paper issued by Gov. Morton of Indiana, in reply to an address put forth by the Democratic State General Committee as an electioneering document.
The Governor says:
"The assumption that there is a well-founded apprehension that those in authority in this State will interfere by military power with the freedom of elections is absolutely and wickedly false. There is not one fact upon which suchan apprehension can be based; not a circumstance can be referred to in the political or military history of the State, during the existence of this war, justifying or suggesting the charge. It is true that this charge has been made before,but always without an element of truth, for the simple purpose of exciting and goading the people into illegal, disloyal and dangerous organizations, and demonstrations against Federal and State authority.
So far as my administration is concerned, I can safely defy the authors of this document to point out a single act giving color to this wicked and infamous charge, or to show a single instance in which I have failed to exercise the executive power for the protection of persons and property and social and civil rights, without regard to parties or politics. While serving as the Governor of Indiana I have endeavored to act for the whole people, and not for a party, and shall so continue, regardless of all assaults or asperations. At the same time I shall not hesitate to vindicate legitimate authority, no difference under what pretence or by what method it may be assailed. So far as the approaching elections are concerned, they shall, to the extent of the power vested in me, be open and free, and every legitimate voter be protected in the unrestrained and deliberate exercise of the elective franchise. This is my purpose, nor has there ever been any reason to doubt it, and I cannot, under the pretence that I am about to violate my duty, tolerate the formation of any dangerous or illegal military organizations, the true purpose of which is to resist the State and Federal authority, overawe the people, control the elections, and thus accomplish the very thing against which it is hypocritically pretended they are to guard. It is true that phrases about "open lawful organizations," "defense against invasions," &c., are introduced in the second clause of the address, but they do not in the least disguise its effect and purpose. It assumes that those in authority are about to violate the law, and urges the formation of military organizations to prevent such violation, they being the judges of the existence, extent and remedy for such violations. Such has been the history of all revolutions and civic troubles. The people have been arrayed against the Government upon the real or assumed pretext that acts of tyranny had been or are about to be perpetrated, justifying and demanding military resistance.
Need I argue to an intelligent people that the state of things recommended by this document would inevitably lead to collisions and civil war, the end and consequences of which no man can predict. While it purports to be addressed to the people of the State generally, it is intended for those only who belong to the political organization which its authors assume to represent. Should its recommendations be followed, men belonging to other political organizations will feel their personal and political safety endangered, and would be driven for purposes of self-defense to resort to similar measures Thus we should have two or more political parties in the State, armed and organized into military bodies, and all hopes of preventing collisions and preserving peace and order would be lost. Military organizations must be under the supervision and control of the constituted authorities of the State. All others are illegal, unauthorized and dangerous to the public peace. The constitutional right of the people to bear arms for their own defense has not been and will not be infringed. But this does not cover the case or justify the formation of military organizations to hold the constituted authorities in check under the pretence that they are about to commit illegal or unconstitutional acts*.....
...Given at the Executive Department, this 16th day of August, A.D. 1864.
O.P Morton, Governor of Indiana.
The New York Times [Archives]
Published: August 19, 1864
Copyright The New York Times
"If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government . . . The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms..."
- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #28."...Self defence is a primary law of nature, which no subsequent law of society can abolish; this primæval principle, the immediate gift of the Creator, obliges every one to remonstrate against the strides of ambition, and a wanton lust of domination, and to resist the first approaches of tyranny, which at this day threaten to sweep away the rights for which the brave sons of America have fought with an heroism scarcely paralleled even in ancient republicks...."
- Elbridge Gerry, Observations On the new Constitution, and on the Federal and State Conventions. By a Columbian Patriot. Sic transit gloria Americana. [Boston: 1788.]"That no man should scruple, or hesitate a moment to use arms in defense of so valuable a blessing [as liberty], on which all the good and evil of life depends; is clearly my opinion; yet Arms...should be the last resort."
- George Washington, 1789 letter to George Mason. [The True George Washington, 10th Ed. By Paul Leicester Ford.]"The defence of one’s self, justly called the primary law of nature, is not, nor can it be abrogated by any regulation of municipal law. This principle of defence is not confined merely to the person; it extends to the liberty and the property of a man: it is not confined merely to his own person; it extends to the persons of all those, to whom he bears a peculiar relation -- of his wife, of his parent, of his child, of his master, of his servant: nay, it extends to the person of every one, who is in danger; perhaps, to the liberty of every one, whose liberty is unjustly and forcibly attacked. It becomes humanity as well as justice."
- James Wilson, 'Of the Natural Rights of Individuals', 1790-1792 (Signed the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution, Congressman, Delegate to the Constitutional Convention and U.S. Supreme Court Justice)."Also, the conditions and circumstances of the period require a finding that while the stated purpose of the right to arms was to secure a well-regulated militia, the right to self-defense was assumed by the Framers."
- Chief Justice John Marshall, U.S. Supreme Court. [As quoted in Nunn v. State, 1 Ga. 243, 251 (1846); State v. Dawson, 272 N.C. 535, 159 S.E.2d 1, 9 (1968).]"No, surely, No! they meant to drive us into what they termed rebellion, that they might be furnished with a pretext to disarm and then strip us of the rights and privileges of Englishmen and Citizens."
- George Washington, March 1, 1778 letter to Bryan Fairfax, Valley forge.