Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- July 30, 1863The Chicago Arbeiterverein and a German Volunteer Defense Corps President Speaks for Society
The New York riots have shown that this Republic is headed for an abyss if its citizens, the people, are not able to check perversive activity and thus avert the ruin of our nation. We do not agree with those who are inclined to shut their eyes to the injustice of the Conscription Act. Say what you will, the fact remains that the three-hundred dollar clause is not in keeping with the ideals of equality, one of the fundamental principles upon which this Democracy is founded. Senator Wilson, the author and sponsor of the Conscription Act may boast that it is an exact replica of the French law, yet we must sustain the objection that we are living in a Republic, in which all citizens are equal before the law, in which no one has preference on account of social standing, financial status, color, race, or creed, in which each and every citizen has the same privileges and the same duties toward the country and its Government. In France, however, the people are under the rule of despotism--a reign that 2ignores and tramples upon the rights of the governed and serves the interests of stockbrokers, Jesuits, and inhuman ruffians who traffic in souls.
Yet, although we are opposed to the manner which the law prescribes for conscription, we firmly believe that conscription itself is necessary. Or is the Rebellion to gain in extent and strength because the Free States lack sufficient men? Shall our victorious Army stop fighting? Or is it to be halted on its successful course? Or shall we give the French Emperor, who is controlled by the Jesuits, time to carry out his pernicious plans against our Republic? No, a thousand times! No!! So, whoever wishes to attack conscription itself, will have to be looked upon as a friend of the Rebels.
However, the citizens of New York who incited men to riot must also be classed as friends of the Rebels.
The atrocities committed against defensless people, the murders, robberies, the looting, and the arson must convince every loyal citizen of the Republic, every 3true Democrat, as well as every true Republican, that the Conscription Law, despite its evident and deplorable deficiencies, is the lesser evil. And why? Because mob activity is always followed by martial law. Although all the members of the Polish Diet were noblemen, it was never anything but a legalized mob; for it was not the law that ruled in and controlled that Assembly, but rather military force, and Poland has to thank the arbitrary rule of its aristocrats for the sufferings it has endured.
The June Battle in Paris in 1848 was mob activity on a large scale and resulted in rule by the military authorities. The fights in which Lichnowsky and Auerswald lost their lives (1848, at Frankfurt on the Main) were nothing but riots, and it was through these riots that the reaction in Germany gained power. Not only the Philistines (a revolutionary faction that took part in the German uprising of 1848) but also many others sided with the Government. They decided it was better to be ruled by soldiers than by the kind of Democrats who resort to murder, robbery, and arson, and thus the hope that they would be governed by a German Parliament was destroyed, and all other "golden dreams" vanished 4in thin air.
The New York riots will serve the Republic no better. All the people who participated in them were not worthy to be citizens of a republic. If this statement needed further proof, it is furnished by the fact that the persuasive eloquence of an Archbishop was required to quiet the rioters, and that they bowed to this Prelate. This immaturity of the people is their strongest invitation to tyranny, and if all citizens of America were as incapable of governing themselves as those New York rioters, the fate of the Republic would be sealed!
Who, for instance, will guarantee that the same mob will not act on request of those who do the thinking for the "minors," (at the request of political or religious leaders, or rather seducers) and create a riot in favor of a monarchy? People who are not able to form their own convictions, who cannot think, who have no will of their own, are as unstable as the waters of the ocean, as a straw in a storm, and constitute the greatest danger that can beset a 5republic. The mob rule in the South was responsible for the Rebellion of the slaveholders. Only through rioting did the leaders of the Rebellion succeed in overpowering the Union element.
However, in the North, in the Free States, there is another element, and that is very fortunate. We refer to those Germans who immigrated to this Republic because they love liberty more than the land of their birth, yea, even more than life itself. At their side you will find those Americans and Irish who have attained political independence, because they are able to form their own convictions and do their own thinking--people who want neither mob rule nor sword rule.
The question is, what they must do. The answer is simple: They must permit no rioting, so that military rule is unnecessary.
The citizens themselves must preserve order. Germans, Americans, and Irish must stand together and everyone who attemps to sow the seed of discord, 6mistrust, or dissatisfaction among our citizens, everyone who awakens internal strife by creating prejudice, whether it be against Americans, or Irish, or Germans, whether it be of a political or religious nature, must be looked upon as an enemy of the Republic.
Everywhere we must establish citizens' defense organizations, so that our military authorities will have no reason to interfere with, or take charge of, the administration of our political affairs; for it is far easier to bring about sword rule than to remove it.
But how about the three-hundred dollar clause? Well, if the Republic perishes, will only the rich be affected, and not the poor? We think the poor will suffer more than the rich. Rich people can live anywhere, but poor people need the Republic too much to permit it to be destroyed or its privileges curtailed. And many of the wealthy will not purchase substitution, but will fight themselves. The Rebellion must be suppressed, and suppressed now, and at any cost. If our people hesitate, old Sybil will cast another book of 7the history of the world into the fire, and only because our people and Government were ignorant; and we will be troubled and harrassed not only by the Rebellion, but also by the intervention of the "Jesuit Emperor" of France. That must not happen. So let us prevent any mob violence; for who can guarantee that agents of the "French Scoundrel" will not take advantage of the confusion of our Government to create these riots? And friends of the Rebellion who incite to rioting in the North are no better. So down with them! Or shall we wait until a riot is in full sway and intervention by the military authorities is necessary? Then it will be too late. Martial law will put an end to the people's liberty. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of lawful assembly--all these cease to be when the sword takes up its rule.
Therefore the Chicago Arbeiterverein resolved to take up arms against any and everyone who makes any attempt to incite a riot. Someone, some organization, had to take the initiative. However, any friend of the Republic is invited to join our organization for the preservation of law and order. They need not be of German descent; they need only be loyal patriots--Americans in the 8true sense of the word.
Theodore Hilscher, President.
III B 2, I E, I G, III D
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