12 February 1861, Cincinnatti, Ohio, USA
Mr. Chairman: I thank you and those you represent, for the compliment paid me by the tender of this address. In so far as there is an allusion to our present national difficulties, and the suggestion of the views of the gentlemen who present this address, I beg you will excuse me from entering particularly upon it. I deem it due to myself and the whole country, in the present extraordinary condition of the country and of public opinion, that I should wait and see the last development of public opinion before I give my views or express myself at the time of the inauguration. [Cheers.] I hope at that time to be false to nothing you have been taught to expect of me. [Cheers.]
I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, and with the address of your constituents, in the declaration that working men are the basis of all governments. That remark is due to them more than to any other class, for the reason that there are more of them than of any other class. And as your address is presented to me not only on behalf of workingmen, but especially of Germans, I may say a word as to classes. I hold the value of life is to improve one's condition. Whatever is calculated to advance the condition of the honest, struggling laboring man, so far as my judgment will enable me to judge of a correct thing. I am for that thing.
An allusion has been made to the Homestead Law. I think it worthy of consideration, and that the wild lands of the country should be distributed so that every man should have the means and opportunity of benefitting his condition. [Cheers.] I have said I do not desire to enter into details, nor will I.
In regard to Germans and foreigners, I esteem foreigners no better than other people, nor any worse. [Laughter and cheers.] They are all of the great family of men, and if there is one shackle upon any of them, it would be far better to lift the load from them than to pile additional loads upon them. [Cheers.] And inasmuch as the continent of America is comparatively a new country, and the other countries of the world are old countries, there is more room here, comparatively speaking, than there is there; and if they can better their condition by leaving their old homes, there is nothing in my heart to forbid them coming; and I bid them all God speed. [Cheers.]
Again, gentlemen, thanking you for your address, I bid you good night.