George McClellan, 1864 Democratic Nominee for President
McClellan's Letter Accepting the Democratic Presidential Nomination.
ORANGE, N. J., Sept. 8.
Horatio Seymour and others, committee, etc.:
GENTLEMEN,—I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter
informing me of my nomination by the Democratic National Convention,
recently held at Chicago, as their candidate at the next election for
President of the United States. It is unnecessary for me to say to you
that this nomination comes to me unsought. I am happy to know that, when
the nomination was made, the record of my public life was kept in view.
The effect of long and varied service in the army, during war and peace,
has been to strengthen and make indelible in my mind and heart the love
and reverence for the Union,
Democratic Presidential Nominee, General George B. McClellan
Constitution, laws, and flag of
our country impressed upon me in early youth. These feelings have thus
far guided the course of my life, and must continue to do so until its
end. The existence of more than one government over the region which
once owned our flag is incompatible with the peace, the power, and the
happiness of the people. The preservation of our Union was the sole
avowed object for which the war was commenced. It should have been
conducted for that object only, and in accordance with those principles
which I took occasion to declare when in active service. Thus conducted
the work of reconciliation would have been easy, and we might have
reaped the benefits of our many victories on land and sea.
The Union was originally formed by the exercise of a spirit of
conciliation and compromise. To restore and preserve it, the same spirit
must prevail in our councils and in the hearts of the people. The
reestablishment of the Union, in all its integrity, is and must continue
to be the indispensable condition in any settlement. So soon as it is
clear, or even probable, that our present adversaries are ready for
peace upon the basis of the Union, we should exhaust all the resources
of statesmanship practiced by civilized nations, and taught by the
traditions of the American people, consistent with the honor and
interests of the country, to secure such peace, reestablish the Union,
and guarantee for the future the constitutional rights of every State.
The Union is the one condition of peace. We ask no more.
Let me add what I doubt not was, although unexpressed, the sentiment of
the convention, as it is of the people they represent, that when any one
State is willing to return to the Union it should be received at once
with a full guarantee of all its constitutional rights. If a frank,
earnest, and persistent effort to obtain these objects should fail, the
responsibility for ulterior consequences will fall upon those who remain
in arms against the Union, but the Union must be preserved at all
hazards. I could not look in the face my gallant comrades of the army
and navy who have survived so many bloody battles, and tell them that
their labors, and the sacrifices of so many of our slain and wounded
brethren, had been in vain, that we had abandoned that Union for which
we have so often perilled our lives. A vast majority of our people,
whether in the army and navy or at home, would, as I would, hail with
unbounded joy the permanent restoration of peace on the basis of the
Union under the Constitution, without the effusion of another drop of
blood, but no peace can be permanent without Union.
As to the other subjects presented in the resolutions of the convention,
I need only say that I should seek in the Constitution of the United
States, and the laws framed in accordance therewith, the rule of my duty
and the limitation of executive power; endeavor to restore economy in
public expenditures, re-establish the supremacy of the law, and by the
operation of a more vigorous nationality resume our commanding position
among the nations of the earth. The condition of our finances, the
depreciation of the paper money, and the burdens thereby imposed on
labor and capital, show the necessity of a return to a sound financial
system, while the rights of citizens and the rights of States, and the
binding authority of law over the President, army, and people, are
subjects of no less vital importance in war than in peace.
Believing that the views here expressed are those of the convention, and
the people you represent, I accept the nomination. I realize the weight
of the responsibility to be borne should the people ratify your choice.
Conscious of my own weakness, I can only seek fervently the guidance of
the Ruler of the Universe, and, relying on His allpowerful aid, do my
best to restore Union and peace to a suffering people, and to establish
and guard their liberties and rights.
GEO. B. MCCLELLAN