“You have deserved well of your country. Without a
murmur you sustained an encampment on a sand-bar so desolate that banishment
to it, with every care and comfort possible, has been the moot dreaded
punishment inflicted upon your bitterest, and most insulting enemies.
“You had so little transportation that but a handful
could advance to compel submission by the Queen City of the rebellion.
“Landing with a military chest containing but
seventy-five dollars, from the hoards of a rebel government you have given
to your country’s treasury nearly half a million of dollars, and so supplied
yourselves with the needs of your service that your expedition has cost your
Government less by four-fifths that any other.
“By your practical philanthropy you have won the
confidence of the ‘oppressed race,’ and the slave. Hailing you as deliverers
they are ready to aid you as willing servants, faithful laborers, or, using
the tactics taught them by your enemies, to fight with you In the field.
“You have met double numbers of the enemy and defeated
them in the open field. But I need not farther enlarge upon the topic. You
were sent here to do that.
“I commend you to your commander. You are worthy of his
“Farewell, my comrades! Again farewell!
He addressed himself also to the citizens of New
Orleans; defended himself, for the first and last time, in a few brief
words, from the calumnies that had been heaped upon him; and appealed to
their own consciousness to testify that no one had suffered under his
command who had conducted himself with propriety. In a few scorching words
he unveiled the hypocrisy of England’s assumed horror at his supposed
“I do not feel that I have erred in too much harshness;
for that harshness has ever been exhibited to disloyal enemies of my
country, and not to loyal friends. To be sure I might have regaled you with
the amenities of British civilization, and yet been within the supposed
rules of civilized warfare. You might have been smoked to death in caverns,
as were the Covenanters of Scotland by the command of a general of the royal
household of England; or roasted, like the inhabitants of Algiers during the
French campaign; your wives and daughters might have been given over to the
ravisher, as were the unfortunate dames in the Peninsular war;• or you might
have been scalped and tomahawked, as our mothers were at Wyoming by the
savage allies of Great Britain in our own revolution; your property could
have been turned over to indiscriminate ‘loot,’ like the palace of the
Emperor of China; works of art, which adorned your buildings, might have
been sent away, like the paintings of the Vatican; your sons might have been
blown from the mouth of cannon, like the sepoys of Delhi; and yet all this
would have been within the rules of civilized warfare, as practiced by the
most polished and the most hypocritical nations of Europe. For such acts the
records of the doings of some of the inhabitants, of your city toward the
friends of the Union, before my coming, were a sufficient provocation and
“But I have not so conducted. On the contrary, the
worst punishment inflicted, except for criminal acts punishable by every
law, has been banishment, with labor, to a barren island, where I encamped
my own soldiers before marching here.”
He recounted in the same terse and powerful language
the principal acts of his administration, and conjured them to return to
their allegiance; then declared plainly the only obstacle which prevented
such return, and the way to deal with it:
“There is but one thing that at this hour stands
between you and the Government, and that is slavery.
“This institution, cursed of God, which has taken its
last refuge here, will be rooted out, as the tares from wheat, although the
wheat be torn up with it.
“I have given much thought to this subject.
“I came among you by teachings, by habit of mind, by
political position, by social affinity, inclined to sustain your domestic
laws, if by possibility they might be with safety to the Union.
“Months of experience and of observation have forced
the conviction that the existence of slavery is incompatible with the safety
either of yourselves or of the Union. As the system has gradually grown to
its present huge dimensions, it were best if it could be gradually removed;
but it is better, far better, that it should be taken out at once than that
it should longer vitiate the social, political, and family relations of your
“I am speaking with no philanthropic views as regards
the slave, but simply of the effect of slavery on the master. See for
yourselves. Look around you and say whether this saddening, deadening
influence has not all but destroyed the very frame-work of your society.”