Inaugural Address 1869

By 1868 anti Republican militant groups, like the KKK, were on the rise in the South, they used violence and intimidation to regain Democratic political power. In Georgia after the Republicans won state elections in the spring of 1868, the KKK went after Republican voters and officeholders, murdering Republican organizer George Ashburn, and others.1 Their tactics were so effective that they successfully returned the state to the Democratic column in the fall presidential contest. In spite of this, the Republicans managed to hold on to enough power in 1868 to place Ulysses Grant in office.
    The KKK would continue to gain power in the coming years. After the close election violence escalated in North Carolina against the Republicans. Several prominent Republicans were killed including a state senator and a black Union League organizer, the intimidation successfully kept Republicans from the polls allowing the state to regain Democratic control by 1870.
    Chamberlain states, "In the recent decision of the people at the critical hour when the great issues which have distracted the country were to be finally determined, they have shown that they are not willing to give the Government over to the hands of our adversaries as a rebuke for our errors and weaknesses; and that neither the renewal of violence nor of treachery shall cause them to lose sight of the high mission laid on them for the enfranchisement of man."

Though still wining elections by a wide margin, the good will towards Chamberlain was not universal as 1869 approached. A debate over the death penalty centered on Clifton Harris whose brutal crimes many abolitionists were ready to excuse due to Harris's brutal upbringing as a slave. In this address Chamberlain, who refused to pardon Harris, gives his reasons and shows his views on the death penalty.

Though prohibition is famously known as being the law in the 1920s, Maine was the first state to implement it in 1851, known as 'the Maine law' several states had implemented it by the 1860s. The Constabulary Act, which Chamberlain refers to, had given constables the right to enter and search private homes on suspicion of possession of liquor. While some of his party wanted to restore the act, Chamberlain thought it was, "essentially repugnant to the deep settled notion of municipal rights."