International Working Men’s Association 1865

To the People of the United States of America

Source: Minutes of the General Council of the International Workingmen’s Association, 1864-1886, Progress Publishers, 1964, printed according to the newspaper;
Written: in September 1865;
First Published: in The Workman’s Advocate, No. 136, October 14, 1865;
Transcribed: for by Andy Blunden.

The address to the people of the United States of America was adopted at the soirée held on September 28, 1865, which was attended by the British members of the International the delegates to the London Conference from France , Switzerland and Belgium and by representatives of the democratic and revolutionary emigration. The address, which Cremer proposed on behalf of the General Council, was carried by acclamation. At a meeting of the Standing Committee with the Continental delegates on September 29, it was resolved to send copies of the address to all the Association’s sections. The address appeared in The Workman’s Advocate, No. 136, October 14, 1865.

Citizens of the Great Republic!

Again we take the liberty of addressing you. Not this time in sympathy and sadness, but in words of congratulation.

Had we not deeply sympathised with you in your hours of sorrow, when enemies, both at home and abroad, were earnestly seeking the overthrow of your Government, and those principles of universal justice upon which it is based, we should not now have dared to congratulate you upon your success.

But we have never swerved in our fidelity to your cause, which also is the cause of our common humanity; nor did we fear its ultimate triumph, even in the darkest shadow of its adversity.

Firmly attached to, and believing in those principles of equality and common brotherhood for which you drew the sword, so did we believe that when the battle should have ended, and the victory have been won, that it would again be returned to its scabbard, peace restored to your borders, and rejoicing to the whole of your people.

Our anticipations have been justified, by the results. Your struggle is the only example on record in which the Government fought for the people’s liberty, against a section of its own citizens.

We have first to congratulate you that the war is ended, and the Union preserved. The stars and stripes once rudely torn down by your own sons, again flutter in the breeze, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, never again, we hope, to be insulted by your own children, or again to wave over fields of carnage, either by civil commotion or foreign war.

And may those misguided citizens who have displayed courage on the battle-field for an unhallowed cause, show equal avidity to aid in healing the breaches they have made, and in restoring peace to their common country.

We have next to congratulate you that the cause of these years of suffering is now removed — Slavery is no more. That dark spot on your otherwise fair escutcheon is blotted out for ever. No more shall the salesman’s hammer barter human flesh and blood in your market places, causing humanity to shudder at its cold barbarity.

Your noblest blood has been shed to wipe out these stains; desolation has spread its black pall over your land in atonement for its past history.

To-day you are free, purified by past suffering. A brighter future dawns upon your glorious Republic, teaching this lesson to the old world — That a Government of the People and by the People, is for the People; and not for a privileged few.

Since we have had the honour of expressing sympathy with your sufferings, a word of encouragement for your efforts, and of congratulation for the results, permit us also to add a word of counsel for the future.

As injustice to a section of your people has produced such direful results, let that cease. Let your citizens of to-day be declared free and equal, without reserve.

If you fail to give them citizens’ rights, while you demand citizens’ duties, there will yet remain a struggle for the future which may again stain your country with your people’s blood.

The eyes of Europe and of the world are fixed upon your efforts at re-construction, and enemies are ever ready to sound the knell of the downfall of republican institutions when the slightest chance is given.

We warn you then, as brothers in the common cause, to remove every shackle from freedom’s limb, and your victory will be complete.