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Title: Abraham Lincoln, a History — Volume 02
Author: Nicolay, John George, 1832-1901, Hay, John, 1835-1905
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Abraham Lincoln, a History — Volume 02" ***






New York
The Century Co.



ABRAHAM LINCOLN (_Frontispiece_)
From an ambrotype taken for Marcus L. Ward (afterwards Governor of
New Jersey) in Springfield, Ill., May 20, 1860, two days after Mr.
Lincoln's nomination.

From a photograph taken, in 1866, by Draper and Husted.

From a daguerreotype.

From a daguerreotype.

From a daguerreotype.

From a photograph.

From a daguerreotype.

From a photograph by Brady.

From a painting by D.C. Fabronius, after a photograph by Brady.

From a photograph by William Shaw.

From a daguerreotype.

From a photograph by Brady.

From a photograph by J.W. Black & Co.

From a photograph lent by Frank B. Sanborn.

From a photograph by Brady.

From a photograph by Cook.

From a daguerreotype taken about 1850, lent by Anson Maltby.


From a photograph by Brady.

From a photograph by Brady.


From a photograph by Brady.

From a photograph by Brady.

From a photograph by Brady.

From a photograph.

From a photograph by Brady.




Civil War in Kansas. Guerrillas dispersed by Colonel Sumner. General
P.F. Smith supersedes Sumner. Governor Shannon Removed. Missouri River
Blockaded. Jefferson Davis's Instructions on Rebellion. Acting-Governor
Woodson Proclaims the Territory in Insurrection. Report of General
Smith. John W. Geary Appointed Governor. Inaugural Address. His Military
Proclamations and Measures. Colonel Cooke's "Cannon" Argument. Hickory
Point Skirmish. Imprisonment of Free State Men. End of Guerrilla War.
Removal and Flight of Governor Geary.


Formation of the Republican Party in Illinois. The Decatur Convention.
Action of the "Know-Nothing" Party. Nomination of Fillmore and
Donelson. Democrats of Illinois Nominate William A. Richardson for
Governor. The Davis-Bissell Challenge. The Bloomington Convention.
Bissell Nominated for Governor. Lincoln's Speech at Bloomington. The
Pittsburgh Convention. The Philadelphia Convention. Nomination of
Frémont and Dayton. The Philadelphia Platform. Lincoln Proposed for
Vice-President. The Cincinnati Convention. The Cincinnati Platform.
Nomination of Buchanan and Breckinridge. Buchanan Elected President.
Bissell Elected Governor. Lincoln's Campaign Speeches.


Sumner's Senate Speech on Kansas. Brooks's Assault on Sumner. Action
of the Senate. Action of the House. Resignation and Reelection of
Brooks. Wilson Challenged. Brooks Challenges Burlingame. Sumner's
Malady. Reelection of Sumner. Death of Butler and Brooks. Sumner's
Re-appearance in the Senate.


The Dred Scott Case. Its Origin. The Law of Slavery. Preliminary
Decisions of the Case. Appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Case Twice
Argued. Opinion of Justice Nelson. Political Conditions. Mr. Buchanan's
Announcement. The Dred Scott Decision. Opinions by all the Judges.
Opinion of the Court. Dred Scott Declared Not a Citizen. Slavery
Prohibition Declared Unconstitutional. Language of Chief-Justice Taney.
Dissenting Opinions.


Political Effects of the Dred Scott Decision. Douglas's Springfield
Speech on the Dred Scott Decision. He Indorses Chief-Justice Taney's
Opinion. Freeport Doctrine Foreshadowed. Lincoln's Speech in Reply to
Douglas. Uses of Judicial Decisions. Prospects of the Colored Race in
the United States, Principles of the Declaration of Independence.


Constitutional Convention Called by the Legislature. Resignation and
Flight of Governor Geary. Walker Appointed Governor. Promises of
Buchanan and his Cabinet. Walker's Kansas Policy. Action of the
Free-State Mass Meeting. Pro-slavery Convention at Lecompton. Election
of Delegates. Governor Walker favors Submission of the Constitution to
Popular Vote. Protests from Southern States. The Walker-Buchanan
Correspondence. Lecompton Constitutional Convention. The October
Election. The Oxford and McGee Frauds. The Lecompton Constitution.
Extra Session of the Legislature. Secretary Stanton's Removal.
Governor Walker's Resignation.


Douglas's Quarrel with Buchanan. Buchanan's Silliman Letter. His Annual
Message. Douglas's Speech on Lecompton. Lecompton Constitution Declared
Adopted. Buchanan's Special Message. The Pro-slavery Reaction.
Buchanan's Views on Cuba. The Lecompton Constitution in Congress. The
Crittenden-Montgomery Substitute. The English Bill. The Opposition of
Douglas. The Administration Organ.


Growing Republican Chances. Illinois Politics in 1858. Candidates for
Senator. The Senatorial Campaign. Lincoln's "House Divided Against
Itself" Speech. Republican Sympathy for Douglas. Horace Greeley's
Attitude. Lincoln on Greeley and Seward. Correspondence Between
Lincoln and Crittenden. The Lincoln-Douglas Debates.


The Debate at Ottawa. The Debate at Freeport. The Freeport Doctrine.
Benjamin's Speech on Douglas. The November Election, Douglas Reëlected
Senator. Cause of Lincoln's Defeat. Lincoln's Letters on the Result.
Douglas Removed from the Chairmanship of the Senate Committee on


Douglas's Tour Through the South. His Advanced Views on Slavery.
Senate Discussion Between Brown and Douglas. Douglas's Letter to
Dorr. Lincoln's Growing Prominence. Lincoln's Correspondence with
Schuyler Colfax. Letter to Canisius. Letter to Pierce and Others.
Douglas's "Harper's Magazine" Article. Lincoln's Ohio Speeches. The
Douglas-Black Controversy. Publication of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.


John Brown. His Part in the Kansas Civil War. His Plan of Slave
Liberation. Pikes and Recruits. The Peterboro Council. The Chatham
Meeting. Change of Plan. Harper's Ferry. Brown's Campaign. Colonel
Lee, and the U.S. Marines. Capture of Brown. His Trial and Execution.
The Senate Investigation. Public Opinion. Lincoln on John Brown.
Speakership Contest. Election of William Pennington.


Lincoln Invited to Lecture in New York. The Meeting in Cooper Institute.
Public Interest in the Speaker. Lincoln's Speech. His Definition of
"The Question." Historical Analysis. His Admonition to the South. The
Right and Wrong of Slavery. The Duty of the Free States. Criticisms
of the Address. Speeches in New England.


The Democratic Party. Its National Convention at Charleston.
Sentiments of the Delegates. Differences North, and South. Douglas as
a Candidate. The Jefferson Davis Senate Resolutions. Caleb Cushing
made Chairman. The Platform Committee. Majority and Minority Reports.
Speech of William L. Yancey. Speech of Senator Pugh. Speech of Senator
Bigler. Second Majority and Minority Reports. Minority Report Adopted.
Cotton State Delegates Secede. Yancey's Prophecy.


Nomination of Douglas Impossible. Charleston Convention adjourned to
Baltimore. Seceders' Convention in St. Andrew's Hall. Adjourns to meet
at Richmond. Address of Southern Senators. The Davis-Douglas Debate.
Charleston Convention Reassembles at Baltimore. A Second Disruption.
Nomination of Douglas. Nomination of Breckinridge. The Constitutional
Union Convention. Nomination of John Bell.


The Republican Party. The Chicago Convention. Lincoln's Fairness to
Rivals. Chances of the Campaign. The Pivotal States. The Wigwam.
Organization of the Convention. Chicago Platform. Contrast between the
Charleston and Chicago Conventions. The Balloting. Lincoln Nominated
for President. Hamlin Nominated for Vice-President.


The Presidential Campaign. Parties, Candidates, and Platforms. Pledges
to the Union. The Democratic Schism. Douglas's Campaign Tour. The
"Illinois Rail-splitter." The "Wide Awakes." Lincoln during the
Canvass. Letters about "Know-Nothings." Fusion. The Vote of Maine. The
October States. The Election. The Electoral College. The Presidential
Count. Lincoln Declared Elected.


Early Disunion Sentiment. Nullification. The Agitation of 1850. The
Conspiracy of 1856. The "Scarlet Letter." "The 1860 Association."
Governor Gist's Letter to Southern Governors. Replies to Governor
Gist. Conspiracy at Washington.


Mr. Buchanan's Cabinet. Extracts from Floyd's Diary. Cabinet Conferences
on Disunion. The Drayton-Gist Correspondence. Mr. Trescott's Letters.
Floyd's Sale of Arms. Secretary Thompson's Mission. Jefferson Davis and
the Governor of Mississippi. Jefferson Davis and President Buchanan's


Governor Gist's Proclamation. Caucus of South Carolinians. Governor
Gist's Message. The Disunion Cult. Presidential Electors Chosen.
Effect of Lincoln's Election. Disunion Sentiment. Military
Appropriation. Convention Bill Passed. Charleston Mass-Meeting.


Buchanan and Secession. General Scott and Nullification. "Views"
Addressed to the President. The President's Criticism. Scott's
Rejoinder. The Charleston Forts. Foster's Requisition. Colonel Gardner
asks for Reënforcements. Fitz-John Porter's Inspection Report. Gardner
Relieved from Command. Anderson sent to Charleston.


Anderson's Arrival at Charleston. His Tour of Inspection. Report to
the War Department. The Forts and the Harbor. Anderson asks
reënforcements. Discouraging Reply from Washington. Insurrectionary
Sentiment in Charleston. Floyd's Instructions to Anderson. Colonel
Huger. Anderson's Visit to the Mayor of Charleston.


Mr. Buchanan's Opportunity. Cabinet Opinions on Disunion. Advice to
the President in Preparing his Message. The Message. Arguments on
Slavery. Recommends a National Convention. Arguments on Disunion. The
Powers and Duties of Congress. Coercion Denied. Criticisms of the


Debate on the Message. Adverse Criticisms. Buchanan's Doctrines and
Policy. Movements of Secession. South Carolina Legislation. Magrath's
Comments. Non-Coercion and Coercion. Fort Moultrie. Intrigue for its
Capture. Governor Gist's Letter. South Carolina's Complaints and


Return of the _Brooklyn_. The President's Interview with the South
Carolina Delegation. Mr. Buchanan's Truce. Major Buell's Visit to
Anderson. The Buell Memorandum. Character of Instructions.


Failure of the Concession Policy. Movements towards Secession.
Resignation of Secretary Cobb. Cobb's Secession Address. Resignation
of Secretary Cass. The Buchanan-Floyd Incident. The Conspirators
advise Buchanan. Cass demands Reënforcements. The Cass-Buchanan


Secession Debates in the Senate. Speeches of Clingman, Brown, Iverson,
Wigfall, Mason, Jefferson Davis, Hale, Crittenden, Pugh, Douglas.
Powell's Motion for a Select Committee. Speeches of King, Collamer,
Foster, Green, Wade. Senate Committee of Thirteen Appointed.


The President's Message in the House. Compromise Efforts. Motion to
Appoint a Committee of Thirty-Three. Committee Appointed. Corwin made
Chairman. Sickles's Speech. Vallandigham's Speech. McClernand's
Speech. Compromise Propositions. Jenkins's Plan. Noell's Plan. Andrew
Johnson's Plan. Vallandigham's Plan.


Hopes of Compromise. Party Pledges to the Union. President Buchanan's
Advice. Nullification and Secession. Estrangement between North and
South. Cabinet Treachery and Intrigue. The Congressional Debates.
Compromise Committees. The Conspirators' Strategy. Elements of
Disturbance. Hopes of Peaceable Secession. Dunn's Resolution. Mr.
Buchanan's Proclamation. Secession Proclaimed.


Captain Foster. His Arrival in Charleston. Condition of Fort Moultrie.
Temporary Defenses. Foster Requests Forty Muskets. The Question of
Arming Workmen. Foster Receives Forty Muskets. Their Return Demanded.
The Alleged Charleston Excitement. Floyd Orders the Muskets Returned.
Foster's Compliance and Comment.



  [Sidenote] Sumner to Howard, May 16, 1856. Ibid., p. 37.

  [Sidenote] Shannon to Sumner, May 21, 1856. Senate Ex. Doc., 3d Sess.
  34th Cong. Vol. III., p. 38.

  [Sidenote] 1856.

  [Sidenote] Shannon to Sumner, June 4, 1856. Senate Ex. Doc., 3d Sess.
  34th Cong. Vol. III., p. 45.

While the town of Lawrence was undergoing burning and pillage,
Governor Shannon wrote to Colonel Sumner to say that as the marshal
and sheriff had finished making their arrests, and he presumed had
by that time dismissed the posse, he required a company of United
States troops to be stationed at Lawrence to secure "the safety of
the citizens in both, person and property," asking also a like company
for Lecompton and Topeka. The next day the citizens of Lawrence had
the opportunity to smother their indignation when they saw the embers
of the Free-State Hotel and the scattered fragments of their
printing-presses patrolled and "protected" by the Federal dragoons
whose presence they had vainly implored a few days before. It was time
the Governor should move. The guerrilla bands with their booty spread
over the country, and the free-State men rose in a spirit of fierce
retaliation. Assassinations, house-burnings, expulsions, and
skirmishes broke out in all quarters. The sudden shower of lawlessness
fell on the just and the unjust; and, forced at last to deal out equal
protection, the Governor (June 4) issued his proclamation directing
military organizations to disperse, "without regard to party names, or
distinctions,"[1] and empowering Colonel Sumner to enforce the order.

  [Sidenote] Sumner to Cooper, June 23, 1856. Ibid., p. 50.

  [Sidenote] Sumner to Cooper, August 11, 1856. Ibid., p. 59.

That careful and discreet officer, who had from the first counseled
this policy, at once proceeded to execute the command with his
characteristic energy. He disarmed and dispersed the free-State
guerrillas,--John Brown's among the earliest,--liberated prisoners,
drove the Missourians, including delegate Whitfield and General Coffee
of the skeleton militia, back across their State line, and stationed
five companies along the border to prevent their return. He was so
fortunate as to accomplish all this without bloodshed. "I do not
think," he wrote, June 23, "there is an armed body of either party now
in the Territory, with the exception perhaps of a few freebooters."
The colonel found very soon that he was only too efficient and
faithful. "My measures have necessarily borne hard against both
parties," wrote Sumner to the War Department, "for both have in many
instances been more or less wrong. The Missourians were perfectly
satisfied so long as the troops were employed exclusively against the
free-State party; but when they found that I would be strictly
impartial, that lawless mobs could no longer come from Missouri, and
that their interference with the affairs of Kansas was brought to an
end, then they immediately raised a hue and cry that they were
oppressed by the United States troops." The complaint had its usual
prompt effect at Washington. By orders dated June 27 the colonel was
superseded in his command, and Brigadier-General P.F. Smith was sent
to Leavenworth. Known to be pro-slavery in his opinions, great
advantage was doubtless expected by the conspiracy from this change.
But General Smith was an invalid, and incapable of active service,
and so far as the official records show, the army officers and troops
in Kansas continued to maintain a just impartiality.

  [Sidenote] 1856.

The removal of Governor Shannon a few weeks after Colonel Sumner
once more made Secretary Woodson, always a willing instrument of the
conspiracy, acting Governor. It was under this individual's promptings
and proclamation, Shannon being absent from the Territory, that
Colonel Sumner, before the arrival of the orders superseding him,
forcibly dispersed the free-State Legislature on the 4th of July, as
narrated. For this act the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, was not
slow to send the colonel an implied censure, perhaps to justify his
removal from command; but not a word of reproof went from President
or Secretary of State to the acting Governor.

It has already been stated that for a considerable length of time
after the organization of Kansas Territory the Missouri River was its
principal highway of approach from the States. To anti-slavery men who
were unwilling to conceal their sentiments, this had from the very
first been a route of difficulty and danger. Now that political strife
culminated in civil war, the Missourians established a complete
practical blockade of the river against the Northern men and Northern
goods. Recently, however, the Northern emigration to Kansas had
gradually found a new route through Iowa and Nebraska.

It was about this time that great consternation was created in
pro-slavery circles by the report that Lane had arrived at the Iowa
border with a "Northern army," exaggerated into fabulous numbers,
intent upon fighting his way to Kansas. Parties headed by Lane and
others and aggregating some hundreds had in fact so arrived, and were
more or less provided with arms, though they had no open military
organization. While spies and patrols were on the lookout for marching
companies and regiments, they, concealing their arms, quietly slipped
down in detached parties to Lawrence. Thus reënforced and inspirited,
the free-State men took the aggressive, and by several bold movements
broke up a number of pro-slavery camps and gatherings. Greatly
exaggerated reports of these affairs were promptly sent to the
neighboring Missouri counties, and the Border Ruffians rose for a
third invasion of Kansas.

Governor Shannon, not yet notified of his removal, reported to General
Smith that Lecompton was threatened with an attack. General Smith,
becoming alarmed, called together all his available force for the
protection of the territorial capital, and reported the exigency to
the War Department. All the hesitation which had hitherto
characterized the instructions of Jefferson Davis, the Secretary of
War, in the use of troops otherwise than as an officer's posse,
instantly vanished. The whole Kansas militia was placed under the
orders of General Smith, and requisitions were issued for two
regiments from Illinois and two from Kentucky. "The position of the
insurgents," wrote the Secretary, "as shown by your letter and its
inclosures, is that of open rebellion against the laws and
constitutional authorities, with such manifestation of a purpose to
spread devastation over the land as no longer justifies further
hesitation or indulgence. To you, as to every soldier, whose habitual
feeling is to protect the citizens of his own country, and only to use
his arms against a public enemy, it cannot be otherwise than deeply
painful to be brought into conflict with any portion of his
fellow-countrymen. But patriotism and humanity alike require that
rebellion should be promptly crushed, and the perpetration of the
crimes which now disturb the peace and security of the good people
of the Territory of Kansas should be effectually checked. You will
therefore energetically employ all the means within your reach to
restore the supremacy of the law, always endeavoring to carry out
your present purpose to prevent the unnecessary effusion of blood."[2]

The Secretary had probably cast his eye upon the Platte County
battle-call in the "Weston Argus Extra," which formed one of the
general's inclosures: "So sudden and unexpected has been the attack
of the abolitionists that the law-and-order party was unprepared to
effectually resist them. To-day the bogus free-State government, we
understand, is to assemble at Topeka. The issue is distinctly made up;
either the free-State or pro-slavery party is to have Kansas....
Citizens of Platte County! the war is upon you, and at your very doors.
Arouse yourselves to speedy vengeance and rub out the bloody

  [Sidenote] Woodson, proclamation, Aug. 25, 1856. Senate Ex. Doc., 3d
  Sess. 34th Cong. Vol. III., p. 80.

It was perhaps well that the pro-slavery zeal of General Smith was less
ardent than that of Secretary Jefferson Davis, or the American civil
war might have begun in Lawrence instead of Charleston. Upon fuller
information and more mature reflection, the General found that he had
no need of either the four regiments from Illinois and Kentucky, or
Border-Ruffian mobs led by skeleton militia generals, neither of which
he had asked for. Both the militia generals and the Missourians were
too eager even to wait for an official call. General Richardson ordered
out his whole division on the strength of the "Argus Extra" and
neighborhood reports,[4] and the entire border was already in motion
when acting Governor Woodson issued his proclamation declaring the
Territory "to be in a state of open insurrection and rebellion."
General Smith found it necessary to direct his first orders against
the Border-Ruffian invaders themselves. "It has been rumored for
several days," he wrote to his second in command, "that large numbers
of persons from the State of Missouri have entered Kansas, at various
points, armed, with the intention of attacking the opposite party and
driving them from the Territory, the latter being also represented to
be in considerable force. If it should come to your knowledge that
either side is moving upon the other with the view to attack, it will
become your duty to observe their movements and prevent such hostile

  [Sidenote] Woodson to Cooke, Sept. 1, 1856. Senate Ex. Doc., 3d Sess.
  34th Cong. Vol. III., pp. 90, 91.

  [Sidenote] Cooke to Woodson, Sept. 1, 1856. Ibid., pp. 91, 92.

Lieutenant-Colonel P. St. George Cooke, upon whom this active field
work devolved, because of the General's ill health, concentrated his
little command between Lawrence and Lecompton, where he could to some
extent exert a salutary check upon the main bodies of both parties,
and where he soon had occasion to send a remonstrance to the acting
Governor that his "militia" was ransacking and burning houses.[6] To
the acting Governor's mind, such a remonstrance was not a proper way
to suppress rebellion. He, therefore, sent Colonel Cooke a requisition
to invest the town of Topeka, disarm the insurrectionists, hold them
as prisoners, level their fortifications, and intercept aggressive
invaders on "Lane's trail"; all of which demands the officer prudently
and politely declined, replying that he was there to assist in serving
judicial process, and not to make war on the town of Topeka.

If, as had been alleged, General Smith was at first inclined to regard
the pro-slavery side with favor, its arrogance and excesses soon
removed his prejudices, and he wrote an unsparing report of the
situation to the War Department. "In explanation of the position of
affairs, lately and now, I may remark that there are more than two
opposing parties in the Territory. The citizens of the Territory who
formed the majority in the organization of the territorial government,
and in the elections for its Legislature and inferior officers, form
one party. The persons who organized a State government, and attempted
to put it in operation against the authority of that established by
Congress, form another. A party, at the head of which is a former
Senator from Missouri, and which is composed in a great part of
citizens from that State, who have come into this Territory armed,
under the excitement produced by reports exaggerated in all cases, and
in many absolutely false, form the third. There is a fourth, composed
of idle men congregated from various parts, who assume to arrest,
punish, exile, and even kill all those whom they assume to be bad
citizens; that is, those who will not join them or contribute to their
maintenance. Every one of these has in his own peculiar way (except
some few of the first party) thrown aside all regard to law, and even
honesty, and the Territory under their sway is ravaged from one end to
the other.... Until the day before yesterday I was deficient in force
to operate against all these at once; and the acting Governor of the
Territory did not seem to me to take a right view of affairs. If Mr.
Atchison and his party had had the direction of affairs, they could
not have ordered them more to suit his purpose."[7]

All such truth and exposure of the conspiracy, however, was
unpalatable at Washington; and Secretary Jefferson Davis, while
approving the conduct of Colonel Cooke and expressing confidence
in General Smith, nevertheless curtly indorsed upon his report: "The
only distinction of parties which in a military point of view it is
necessary to note is that which distinguishes those who respect and
maintain the laws and organized government from those who combine for
revolutionary resistance to the constitutional authorities and laws of
the land. The armed combinations of the latter class come within the
denunciation of the President's proclamation and are proper subjects
upon which to employ the military force."[8]

  [Sidenote] "Washington Union," August 1, 1856.

Such was the state of affairs when the third Governor of Kansas, newly
appointed by President Pierce, arrived in the Territory. The Kansas
pro-slavery cabal had upon the dismissal of Shannon fondly hoped that
one of their own clique, either Secretary Woodson or Surveyor-General
John Calhoun, would be made executive, and had set on foot active
efforts in that direction. In principle and purpose they enjoyed the
abundant sympathy of the Pierce Administration; but as the presidential
election of 1856 was at hand, the success of the Democratic party could
not at the moment be endangered by so open and defiant an act of
partisanship. It was still essential to placate the wounded anti-slavery
sensibilities of the Northern States, and to this end John W. Geary, of
Pennsylvania, was nominated by the President and unanimously confirmed
by the Senate. He was a man of character and decision, had gone to the
Mexican war as a volunteer captain, and had been made a colonel and
intrusted with an important command for merit. Afterwards he had
served as postmaster, as alcalde, and as mayor of the city of San
Francisco in the turbulent gold excitements of 1848-9, and was made a
funding commissioner by the California Legislature. Both by nature and
experience, therefore, he seemed well fitted to subdue the civil
commotions of Kansas.

  [Sidenote] Gihon, p. 131.

But the pro-slavery leaders of the Territory were very far from
relishing or desiring qualifications of this character. In one of
their appeals calling upon the Missourians for "assistance in men,
provisions, and munitions, that we may drive out the 'Army of the
North,'" they had given the President and the public a piece of their
mind about this appointment. "We have asked the appointment of a
successor," said they, "who was acquainted with our condition," with
"the capacity to appreciate and the boldness and integrity requisite
faithfully to discharge his duty regardless of the possible effect it
might have upon the election of some petty politician in a distant
State. In his stead we have one appointed who is ignorant of our
condition, a stranger to our people; who, we have too much cause to
fear, will, if no worse, prove no more efficient to protect us than
his predecessors.... We cannot await the convenience in coming of our
newly appointed Governor. We cannot hazard a second edition of
imbecility or corruption!"

Animated by such a spirit, they now bent all their energies upon
concentrating a sufficient force in Kansas to crush the free-State
men before the new Governor could interfere. Acting Governor Woodson
had by proclamation declared the Territory in a state of "open
insurrection and rebellion,"[9] and the officers of the skeleton
militia were hurriedly enrolling the Missourians, giving them arms,
and planting them in convenient camps for a final and decisive

  [Sidenote] Gihon, p. 104.

  [Sidenote] Gihon, pp. 104-6.

It was on September 9, 1856, that Governor Geary and his party landed
at Leavenworth. Even on his approach he had already been compelled to
note and verify the evidences of civil war. He had met Governor
Shannon fleeing from the Territory, who drew for him a direful picture
of the official inheritance to which he had come. While this interview
took place, during the landing of the boat at Glasgow, a company of
sixty Missouri Border Ruffians was embarking, with wagons, arms, and
cannon, and with the open declaration that they were bound for Kansas
to hunt and kill "abolitionists." Similar belligerent preparations
were in progress at all the river towns they touched. At Kansas City
the vigilance committee of the blockade boarded and searched the boat
for concealed "abolitionists." Finally arrived at Leavenworth, the
Governor saw a repetition of the same scenes--parades and military
control in the streets, fugitives within the inclosure of the fort,
and minor evidences of lawlessness and terror.

  [Sidenote] Geary to Marcy, Sept. 9, 1856. Senate Ex. Doc., 3d Sess.
  34th Cong. Vol. II., p. 88.

Governor Geary went at once to the fort, where he spent the day in
consultation with General Smith. That same evening he wrote to W.L.
Marcy, Secretary of State, a report of the day's impressions which was
anything but reassuring--Leavenworth in the hands of armed men
committing outrages under the shadow of authority; theft and murder in
the streets and on the highways; farms plundered and deserted;
agitation, excitement, and utter insecurity everywhere, and the number
of troops insufficient to compel peace and order. All this was not the
worst, however. Deep in the background stood the sinister apparition of
the Atchison cabal. "I find," wrote he, "that I have not simply to
contend against bands of armed ruffians and brigands whose sole aim and
end is assassination and robbery--infatuated adherents and advocates of
conflicting political sentiments and local institutions--and
evil-disposed persons actuated by a desire to obtain elevated
positions; but worst of all, against the influence of men who have been
placed in authority and have employed all the destructive agents around
them to promote their own personal interests at the sacrifice of every
just, honorable, and lawful consideration.... Such is the condition of
Kansas faintly pictured.... In making the foregoing statements I have
endeavored to give the truth and nothing but the truth. I deem it
important that you should be apprised of the actual state of the case;
and whatever may be the effect of such revelations, they will be given
from time to time without extenuation."

  [Sidenote] Geary, proclamation, Sept. 11, 1856. Senate Ex. Doc., 3d
  Sess. 34th Cong. Vol. II., pp. 93-4.

  [Sidenote] Geary to Marcy, Sept. 12, 1856. Ibid., p. 95.

Discouraging as he found his new task of administration, Governor Geary
grappled with it in a spirit of justice and decision. The day following
his interview with General Smith found him at Lecompton, the capital of
the Territory, where the other territorial officials, Woodson, Calhoun,
Donaldson, Sheriff Jones, Lecompte, Cato, and others, constituted the
ever-vigilant working force of the Atchison cabal, precisely as had
been so truthfully represented to him by General Smith, and as he had
so graphically described in his letter to Marcy of the day before.
Paying little heed to their profusely offered advice, he adhered to his
determination to judge for himself, and at once issued an inaugural
address, declaring that in his official action he would do justice at
all hazards, that he desired to know no party and no section, and
imploring the people to bury their past strifes, and devote themselves
to peace, industry, and the material development of the Territory.[10]
As an evidence of his earnestness he simultaneously issued two
proclamations, one disbanding the volunteer or Missouri militia lately
called into service by acting Governor Woodson, and the other commanding
the immediate enrollment of the true citizen militia of Kansas Territory,
this step being taken by the advice of General Smith.

He soon found that he could not govern Kansas with paper proclamations
alone. His sudden arrival at this particular juncture was evidently an
unexpected _contretemps_. While he was preaching and printing his sage
admonitions about peace and prosperity at Lecompton, and laboring to
change the implements of civil war into plowshares and pruning-hooks,
the Missouri raid against Lawrence, officially called into the field by
Woodson's proclamation, was about to deal out destruction to that town.
A thousand Border Ruffians (at least two eye-witnesses say 2500), led
by their recognized Missouri chiefs, were at that moment camped within
striking distance of the hated "New Boston." Their published address,
which declared that "these traitors, assassins, and robbers must now be
punished, must now be taught a lesson they will remember," that "Lane's
army and its allies must be expelled from the Territory," left no doubt
of their errand.

This news reached Governor Geary about midnight of his second day in
Lecompton. One of the brigadiers of the skeleton militia was apparently
in command, and not yet having caught the cue of the Governor's
intentions, reported the force for orders, "in the field, ready for
duty, and impatient to act."[11] At about the same hour the Governor
received a message from the agent he had sent to Lawrence to distribute
copies of his inaugural, that the people of that town were arming and
preparing to receive and repel this contemplated attack of the
Missourians. He was dumfounded at the information; his promises and
policy, upon which, the ink was not yet dry, were already in jeopardy.
Instead of bringing peace his advent was about to open war.

In this contingency the Governor took his measures with true military
promptness. He immediately dispatched to the Missouri camp Secretary
Woodson with copies of his inaugural, and the adjutant-general of the
Territory with orders to disband and muster out of service the Missouri
volunteers,[12] while he himself, at the head of three hundred dragoons
and a light battery, moved rapidly to Lawrence, a distance of twelve
miles. Entering that town at sunrise, he found a few hundred men
hastily organized for defense in the improvised intrenchments and
barricades about the place, ready enough to sell their lives, but
vastly more willing to intrust their protection to the Governor's
authority and the Federal troops.[13] They listened to his speech and
readily promised to obey his requirements.

Since the Missourians had officially reported themselves to him as
subject to his orders, the Governor supposed that his injunctions,
conveyed to them in writing and print, and borne by the secretary and
the adjutant-general of the Territory, would suffice to send them
back at once to their own borders, and he returned to Lecompton to
take up his thorny duties of administration. Though forewarned by
ex-Governor Shannon and by General Smith, Governor Geary did not yet
realize the temper and purpose of either the cabal conspirators or
the Border-Ruffian rank and file. He had just dispatched a military
force in another direction to intercept and disarm a raid about to be
made by a detachment of Lane's men, when news came to him that the
Missourians were still moving upon Lawrence, in increased force, that
his officers had not yet delivered his orders, and that skirmishing
had begun between the outposts.

  [Sidenote] D.W. Wilder, "Annals of Kansas," p. 108. Gihon, p. 152.

Menaced thus with dishonor on one side and contempt on the other, he
gathered all his available Federal troops, and hurrying forward posted
them between Lawrence and the invaders. Then he went to the Missouri
camp, where the true condition of affairs began to dawn upon him. All
the Border-Ruffian chiefs were there, headed by Atchison in person,
who was evidently the controlling spirit, though a member of the
Legislature of the State of Missouri, named Reid, exercised nominal
command. He found his orders unheeded and on every hand mutterings of
impatience and threats of defiance. These invading aliens had not the
least disposition to receive commands as Kansas militia; they invoked
that name only as a cloak to shield them from the legal penalties due
their real character as organized banditti.

The Governor called the chiefs together and made them an earnest
harangue. He explained to them his conciliatory policy, read his
instructions from Washington, affirmed his determination to keep peace,
and appealed personally to Atchison to aid him in enforcing law and
preserving order. That wily chief, seeing that refusal would put him in
the attitude of a law-breaker, feigned a ready compliance, and he and
Reid, his factotum commander, made eloquent speeches "calculated to
produce submission to the legal demands made upon them."[14] Some of
the lesser captains, however, were mutinous, and treated the Governor
to choice bits of Border-Ruffian rhetoric. Law and violence vibrated in
uncertain balance, when Colonel Cooke, commanding the Federal troops,
took the floor and cut the knot of discussion in a summary way. "I felt
called upon to say some words myself," he writes naïvely, "appealing to
these militia officers as an old resident of Kansas and friend to the
Missourians to submit to the patriotic demand that they should retire,
assuring them of my perfect confidence in the inflexible justice of the
Governor, and that it would become my painful duty to sustain him at
the cannon's mouth."[15] This argument was decisive. The border chiefs
felt willing enough to lead their awkward squads against the slight
barricades of Lawrence, but quailed at the unlooked-for prospect of
encountering the carbines and sabers of half a regiment of regular
dragoons and the grape-shot of a well-drilled light battery. They
accepted the inevitable; and swallowing their rage but still nursing
their revenge, they consented perforce to retire and be "honorably"
mustered out. But for this narrow contingency Lawrence would have been
sacked a second time by the direct agency of the territorial cabal.

[Illustration: GENERAL JOHN W. GEARY.]

  [Sidenote] Examination, Senate Ex. Doc., 3d Sess. 34th Cong.
  Vol. II., pp. 156-69.

Nothing could more forcibly demonstrate the unequal character of the
contest between the slave-State and the free-State men in Kansas, even
in these manoeuvres and conflicts of civil war, than the companion
exploit to this third Lawrence raid. The day before Governor Geary,
seconded by the "cannon" argument of Colonel Cooke, was convincing the
reluctant Missourians that it was better to accept, as a reward for
their unfinished expedition, the pay, rations, and honorable discharge
of a "muster out," rather than the fine, imprisonment, or halter to
which the full execution of their design would render them liable,
another detachment of Federal dragoons was enforcing the bogus laws
upon a company of free-State men who had just had a skirmish with
a detachment of this same invading army of Border Ruffians, at a
place called Hickory Point. The encounter itself had all the usual
characteristics of the dozens of similar affairs which occurred
during this prolonged period of border warfare--a neighborhood feud;
neighborhood violence; the appearance of organized bands for retaliation;
the taking of forage, animals, and property; the fortifying of two or
three log-houses by a pro-slavery company then on its way to join in
the Lawrence attack, and finally the appearance of a more numerous
free-State party to dislodge them. The besieging column, some 350 in
number, had brought up a brass four-pounder, lately captured from the
pro-slavery men, and with this and their rifles kept up a long-range
fire for about six hours, when the garrison of Border Ruffians capitulated
on condition of being allowed "honorably" to evacuate their stronghold
and retire. The casualties were one man killed and several wounded.

  [Sidenote] Gihon, p. 158.

  [Sidenote] Record of examination, Senate Ex. Doc., 3d Sess. 34th Cong.
  Vol. II., pp. 156-9.

The rejoicing of the free-State men over this not too brilliant
victory was short-lived. Returning home in separate squads, they were
successively intercepted by the Federal dragoons acting as a posse to
the Deputy United States Marshal,[16] who arrested them on civil writs
obtained in haste by an active member of the territorial cabal, and to
the number of eighty-nine[17] were taken prisoners to Lecompton. So
far the affair had been of such frequent occurrence as to have become
commonplace--a frontier "free fight," as they themselves described and
regarded it. But now it took on a remarkable aspect. Sterling G. Cato,
one of the pro-slavery territorial judges, had been found by Governor
Geary in the Missouri camp drilling and doing duty as a soldier, ready
and doubtless more than willing to take part in the projected sack of
Lawrence. This Federal judge, as open a law-breaker as the Hickory
Point prisoners (the two affairs really forming part of one and the
same enterprise), now seated himself on his judicial bench and
committed the whole party for trial on charge of murder in the first
degree; and at the October term of his court proceeded to try and
condemn to penalties prescribed by the bogus laws some eighteen or
twenty of these prisoners, for offenses in which in equity and good
morals he was personally _particeps criminis_--some of the convicts
being held in confinement until the following March, when they were
pardoned by the Governor.[18] _Inter arma silent leges_, say the
publicists; but in this particular instance the license of guerrilla
war, the fraudulent statutes of the Territory, and the laws of
Congress were combined and perverted with satanic ingenuity in
furtherance of the conspiracy.

The vigorous proceedings of Governor Geary, the forced retirement of
the Missourians on the one hand, and the arrest and conviction of the
free-State partisans on the other, had the effect to bring the
guerrilla war to an abrupt termination. The retribution had fallen
very unequally upon the two parties to the conflict,[19] but this was
due to the legal traps and pitfalls prepared with such artful design
by the Atchison conspiracy, and not to the personal indifference or
ill-will of the Governor. He strove sincerely to restore impartial
administration; he completed the disbandment of the territorial
militia, reënlisting into the Federal service one pro-slavery and one
free-State company for police duty.[20] By the end of September he was
enabled to write to Washington that "peace now reigns in Kansas."
Encouraged by this success in allaying guerrilla strife, he next
endeavored to break up the existing political persecution and

  [Sidenote] Marcy to Geary, August 26, 1856. Gihon, p. 272.

It was not long, however, before Governor Geary became conscious, to
his great surprise and mortification, that he had been nominated and
sent to Kansas as a partisan manoeuvre, and not to institute
administrative reforms; that his instructions, written during the
presidential campaign, to tranquillize Kansas by his "energy,
impartiality, and discretion," really meant that after Mr. Buchanan
was elected he should satisfy the Atchison cabal.

In less than six months after he went to the Territory, clothed with
the executive authority, speaking the President's voice, and
representing the unlimited military power of the republic, he, the
third Democratic Governor of Kansas, was, like his predecessors, in
secret flight from the province he had so trustfully gone to rule,
execrated by his party associates, and abandoned by the Administration
which had appointed him. Humiliating as was this local conspiracy to
plant servitude in Kansas, a more aggressive political movement to
nationalize slavery in all the Union was about to eclipse it.

[1] Shannon, proclamation, June 4, 1856. Senate Ex. Doc., 3d
Sess. 34th Cong. Vol. III., p. 47.

[2] Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War, to General Smith, Sept. 3,
1856. Senate Ex. Doc., 3d Sess. 34th Cong. Vol. III., p. 29.

[3] August 18, 1856. Senate Executive Documents, 3d Session 34th
Congress. Vol. III., pp. 76-7.

[4] Richardson to General Smith, August 18, 1856. Senate Ex. Doc.,
3d Sess. 34th Cong. Vol. III., p. 75.

[5] George Deas, Assistant Adjutant-General to Lieut.-Colonel Cooke,
August 28, 1856. Senate Executive Documents, 3d Session 34th
Congress. Vol. III., p. 85.

[6] Cooke to Deas, August 31, 1856. Ibid., p. 89.

[7] Smith to Cooper, Sept. 10, 1856. Senate Executive Document,
3d Sess. 34th Cong. Vol. III., pp. 80, 81.

[8] Sec. War, indorsement, Sept. 23, on letter of Gen. Smith to
Adjutant-General Cooper, Sept. 10, 1856. Senate Executive
Documents, 3d Sess. 34th Cong. Vol. III., p. 83.

[9] Woodson, proclamation, August 25, 1856. Senate Executive Documents,
3d Sess. 34th Cong. Vol. III., p. 80.

[10] Geary, Inaugural Address, Sept. 11, 1856. Senate Executive
Documents, 3d Sess. 34th Cong. Vol. III., p. 116.

[11] General Heiskell to Geary, Sept. 11 and 12, 1856. Senate Ex.
Doc., 3d Sess. 34th Cong. Vol. II., p. 97.

[12] Geary to Marcy, Sept. 16, 1856. Senate Ex. Doc., 3d Sess. 34th
Cong. Vol. II., p. 107.

[13] Colonel Cook to Porter, A.A.G., Sept. 13, 1856. Ibid., Vol.
III., pp. 113, 114.

[14] Colonel Cooke to F.J. Porter, Sept. 16, 1856. Senate Ex. Doc.,
3d Sess. 34th Cong. Vol. III., p. 121.

[15] Cooke to Porter, Sept. 16, 1856. Senate Ex. Doc., 3d Sess.
34th Cong. Vol. III., p. 122.

[16] Captain Wood to Colonel Cooke, Sept. 16, 1856. Senate Ex.
Doc., 3d Sess. 34th Cong. Vol. III, pp. 123-6.

[17] Geary to Marcy, October 1, 1856. Senate Executive Documents,
3d Sess. 34th Cong. Vol. II., p. 156.

[18] Gihon, pp. 142-3. Geary, Executive Minutes, Senate Ex. Doc.,
No. 17, 1st Sess. 35th Cong. Vol. VI., p. 195.

[19] The Kansas Territorial Legislature, in the year 1859, by which
time local passion had greatly subsided, by law empowered a
non-partisan board of three commissioners to collect sworn testimony
concerning the ravages of the civil war in Kansas, with a view of
obtaining indemnity from the general Government for the individual
sufferers. These commissioners, after a careful examination, made an
official report, from which may be gleaned an interesting summary in
numbers and values of the harvest of crime and destruction which the
Kansas contest produced, and which report can be relied upon, since
eye-witnesses and participants of both parties freely contributed
their testimony at the invitation of the commissioners.

The commissioners fixed the period of the war as beginning about
November 1, 1855, and continuing until about December 1, 1856. They
estimated that the entire loss and destruction of property, including
the cost of fitting out the various expeditions, amounted to an
aggregate of not less than $2,000,000. Fully one-half of this loss,
they thought, was directly sustained by actual settlers of Kansas.
They received petitions and took testimony in 463 cases. They reported
417 cases as entitled to indemnity. The detailed figures and values of
property destroyed are presented as follows:

    "Amount of crops destroyed, $37,349.61; number of buildings burned
    and destroyed, 78; horses taken or destroyed, 368; cattle taken or
    destroyed, 533. Amount of property owned by pro-slavery men,
    $77,198.99; property owned by free-State men, $335,779.04;
    property taken or destroyed by pro-slavery men, $318,718.63;
    property taken or destroyed by free-State men, $94,529.40."

About the loss of life the commissioners say: "Although not within our
province, we may be excused for stating that, from the most reliable
information that we have been able to gather, by the secret warfare of
the guerrilla system, and in well-known encounters, the number of
lives sacrificed in Kansas during the period mentioned probably
exceeded rather than fell short of two hundred.... That the excitement
in the Eastern and Southern States, in 1856, was instigated and kept
up by garbled and exaggerated accounts of Kansas affairs, published in
the Eastern and Southern newspapers, is true, most true; but the half
of what was done by either party was never chronicled!"--House
Reports, 2d Sess. 36th Cong. Vol. III., Part I, pp. 90 and 93.

[20] We quote the following from the executive minutes of Governor
Geary to show that border strife had not entirely destroyed the
kindlier human impulses, which enabled him to turn a portion of the
warring elements to the joint service of peace and order:

    "September 24, 1856. For the purpose of obtaining information
    which was considered of great value to the Territory, the Governor
    invited to Lecompton, Captain [Samuel] Walker, of Lawrence, one of
    the most celebrated and daring leaders of the anti-slavery party,
    promising him a safe-conduct to Lecompton and back again to
    Lawrence. During Walker's visit at the Executive Office, Colonel
    [H.T.] Titus entered, whose house was, a short time since,
    destroyed by a large force under the command of Walker; an offense
    which was subsequently retaliated by the burning of the residence
    of the latter. These men were, perhaps, the most determined
    enemies in the Territory. Through the Governor's intervention, a
    pacific meeting occurred, a better understanding took place,
    mutual concessions were made, and pledges of friendship were
    passed; and, late in the afternoon, Walker left Lecompton in
    company with and under the safeguard of Colonel Titus. Both these
    men have volunteered to enter the service of the United States as
    leaders of companies of territorial militia."--Geary, Executive
    Minutes. Senate Executive Documents, 3d Session 34th Congress,
    Vol. II., pp. 137-8.



  [Sidenote] 1856.

In the State of Illinois, the spring of the year 1856 saw an almost
spontaneous impulse toward the formation of a new party. As already
described, it was a transition period in politics. The disorganization
of the Whig party was materially increased and hastened by the
failure, two years before, to make Lincoln a Senator. On the other
hand, the election of Trumbull served quite as effectively to
consolidate the Democratic rebellion against Douglas in his
determination to make the support of his Nebraska bill a test of party
orthodoxy. Many of the Northern counties had formed "Republican"
organizations in the two previous years; but the name was entirely
local, while the opposition, not yet united, but fighting in factions
against the Nebraska bill, only acknowledged political affinity under
the general term of the "Anti-Nebraska" party.

  [Sidenote] 1856.

In the absence of any existing party machinery, some fifteen editors
of anti-Nebraska newspapers met for conference at Decatur on the 22d
of February and issued a call for a delegate State convention of the
"Anti-Nebraska party," to meet at Bloomington on the 29th of May.
Prominent leaders, as a rule, hesitated to commit themselves by their
presence at Decatur. Not so with Mr. Lincoln. He could not attend the
deliberations as an editor; but he doubtless lent his suggestion and
advice, for we find him among the distinguished guests and speakers at
the banquet which followed the business session, and toasts to his
candidacy as "the next United States Senator" show that his leadership
had suffered no abatement. The assembled editors purposely set the
Bloomington Convention for a somewhat late day in the campaign, and
before the time arrived the political situation in the State was
already much more clearly defined.

  [Sidenote] Davidson and Stuvé, "History of Illinois," p. 616.

One factor which greatly baffled the calculations and forecast of
politicians was the Know-Nothing or American party. It was apparent to
all that this order or affiliation had during the past two years
spread into Illinois, as into other States. But as its machinery and
action were secret, and as no general election had occurred since 1854
to exhibit its numerical strength, its possible scope and influence
could only be vaguely estimated. Still it was clearly present as a
positive force. Its national council had in February at Philadelphia
nominated Fillmore and Donelson as a presidential ticket; but the
preponderating Southern membership forced an indorsement of the
Kansas-Nebraska act into its platform, which destroyed the unity and
power of the party, driving the Northern delegates to a bolt.
Nevertheless many Northern voters, indifferent to the slavery issue,
still sought to maintain its organization; and thus in Illinois the
State Council met early in May, ratified the nomination of Fillmore
for President, and nominated candidates for Governor, and other State

The Democratic party, or rather so much of that party as did not
openly repudiate the policy and principle of the Kansas-Nebraska act,
made early preparations for a vigorous campaign. The great loss in
prestige and numbers he had already sustained admonished Douglas that
his political fortunes hung in a doubtful balance. But he was a bold
and aggressive leader, to whom controversy and party warfare were
rather an inspiration than a discouragement. Under his guidance, the
Democratic State Convention nominated for Governor of Illinois William
A. Richardson, late a member of the House of Representatives, in which
body as chairman of the Committee on Territories he had been the
leader to whom the success of the Nebraska bill was specially
intrusted, and where his parliamentary management had contributed
materially to the final passage of that measure.

Thus the attitude of opposing factions and the unorganized unfolding
of public opinion, rather than any mere promptings or combinations of
leaders, developed the course of the anti-Nebraska men of Illinois.
Out of this condition sprung directly one important element of future
success. Richardson's candidacy, long foreshadowed, was seen to
require an opposing nominee of unusual popularity. He was found in the
person of Colonel William H. Bissell, late a Democratic representative
in Congress, where he had denounced disunion in 1850, and opposed the
Nebraska bill in 1854. He had led a regiment to the Mexican war, and
fought gallantly at the battle of Buena Vista. His military laurels
easily carried him into Congress; but the exposures of the Mexican
campaign also burdened him with a disease which paralyzed his lower
limbs, and compelled retirement from active politics after his second
term. He was now, however, recovering; and having already exhibited
civic talents of a high order, the popular voice made light of his
physical infirmity, and his friends declared their readiness to match
the brains of Bissell against the legs of his opponents.

  [Sidenote] January 23, 1850, Appendix, "Globe," 1849-50, p. 78.

One piece of his history rendered him specially acceptable to young
and spirited Western voters. His service in Congress began amid
exciting debates over the compromise measures of 1850, when the
Southern fire-eaters were already rampant. Seddon, of Virginia, in his
eagerness to depreciate the North and glorify the South, affirmed in a
speech that at the battle of Buena Vista, "at that most critical
juncture when all seemed lost save honor," amid the discomfiture and
rout of "the brave but unfortunate troops of the North through a
mistaken order," "the noble regiment of Mississippians" had snatched
victory from the jaws of death. Replying some days later to Seddon's
innuendo, Bissell, competent by his presence on the battle-field to
bear witness, retorted that when the 2d Indiana gave way, it was
McKee's 2d Kentucky, Hardin's 1st Illinois, and Bissell's 2d Illinois
which had retrieved the fortunes of the hour, and that the vaunted
Mississippi regiment was not within a mile and a half of the scene of
action. Properly this was an issue of veracity between Seddon and
Bissell, of easy solution. But Jefferson Davis, who commanded the
Mississippi regiment in question, began an interchange of notes with
Bissell which from the first smelt of gunpowder. "Were his reported
remarks correct?" asked Davis in substance. Bissell answered, repeating
the language of his speech and defining the spot and the time to which
it applied, adding: "I deem it due, in justice alike to myself and the
Mississippi regiment, to say that I made no charge against that
regiment." Davis persisting, then asked, in substance, whether he
meant to deny General Lane's official report that "the regiment of
Mississippians came to the rescue at the proper time to save the
fortunes of the day." Bissell rejoined: "My remarks had reference to a
different time and place from those referred to by General Lane."

  [Sidenote] Pamphlet, Printed correspondence.

At this point both parties might with great propriety have ended the
correspondence. Sufficient inquiry had been met by generous
explanation. But Davis, apparently determined to push Bissell to the
wall, now sent his challenge. This time, however, he met his match, in
courage. Bissell named an officer of the army as his second,
instructing him to suggest as weapons "muskets, loaded with ball and
buckshot." The terms of combat do not appear to have been formally
proposed between the friends who met to arrange matters, but they were
evidently understood; the affair was hushed up, with the simple
addition to Bissell's first reply that he was willing to award the
Mississippi regiment "the credit due to their gallant and
distinguished services in that battle."

  [Sidenote] 1856.

The Bloomington Convention came together according to call on the 29th
of May. By this time the active and observant politicians of the State
had become convinced that the anti-Nebraska struggle was not a mere
temporary and insignificant "abolition" excitement, but a deep and
abiding political issue, involving in the fate of slavery the fate of
the nation. Minor and past differences were therefore generously
postponed or waived in favor of a hearty coalition on the single
dominant question. A most notable gathering of the clans was the
result. About one-fourth of the counties sent regularly chosen
delegates; the rest were volunteers. In spirit and enthusiasm it was
rather a mass-meeting than a convention; but every man present was in
some sort a leader in his own locality. The assemblage was much more
representative than similar bodies gathered by the ordinary caucus
machinery. It was an earnest and determined council of five or six
hundred cool, sagacious, independent thinkers, called together by a
great public exigency, led and directed by the first minds of the
State. Not only did it show a brilliant array of eminent names, but a
remarkable contrast of former antagonisms: Whigs, Democrats,
Free-Soilers, Know-Nothings, Abolitionists; Norman B. Judd, Richard
Yates, Ebenezer Peck, Leonard Swett, Lyman Trumbull, David Davis, Owen
Lovejoy, Orville H. Browning, Ichabod Godding, Archibald Williams, and
many more. Chief among these, as adviser and actor, was Abraham

Rarely has a deliberative body met under circumstances more exciting
than did this one. The Congressional debates at Washington and the
civil war in Kansas were each at a culmination of passion and
incident. Within ten days Charles Sumner had been struck down in the
Senate Chamber, and the town of Lawrence sacked by the guerrilla posse
of Atchison and Sheriff Jones. Ex-Governor Reeder, of that suffering
Territory, addressed the citizens of Bloomington and the
earliest-arriving delegates on the evening of the 28th, bringing into
the convention the very atmosphere of the Kansas conflict.

The convention met and conducted its work with earnestness and
dignity. Bissell, already designated by unmistakable popular
indications, was nominated for governor by acclamation. The candidate
for lieutenant-governor was named in like manner. So little did the
convention think or care about the mere distribution of political
honors on the one hand, and so much, on the other, did it regard and
provide for the success of the cause, that it did not even ballot for
the remaining candidates on the State ticket, but deputed to a
committee the task of selecting and arranging them, and adopted its
report as a whole and by acclamation. The more difficult task of
drafting a platform was performed by another committee, with such
prudence that it too received a unanimous acceptance. It boldly
adopted the Republican name, formulated the Republican creed, and the
convention further appointed delegates to the coming Republican
National Convention.

There were stirring speeches by eloquent leaders, eagerly listened to
and vociferously applauded; but scarcely a man moved from his seat in
the crowded hall until Mr. Lincoln had been heard. Every one felt the
fitness of his making the closing argument and exhortation, and right
nobly did he honor their demand. A silence full of emotion filled the
assembly as for a moment before beginning his tall form stood in
commanding attitude on the rostrum, the impressiveness of his theme
and the significance of the occasion reflected in his thoughtful and
earnest features. The spell of the hour was visibly upon him; and
holding his audience in rapt attention, he closed in a brilliant
peroration with an appeal to the people to join the Republican
standard, to

    Come as the winds come, when forests are rended;
    Come as the waves come, when navies are stranded.

The influence was irresistible; the audience rose and acknowledged the
speaker's power with cheer upon cheer. Unfortunately the speech was
never reported; but its effect lives vividly in the memory of all who
heard it, and it crowned his right to popular leadership in his own
State, which thereafter was never disputed.

  [Sidenote] 1856.

The organization of the Republican party for the nation at large
proceeded very much in the same manner as that in the State of
Illinois. Pursuant to separate preliminary correspondence and calls
from State committees, a general meeting of prominent Republicans and
anti-Nebraska politicians from all parts of the North, and even from a
few border slave-States, came together at Pittsburgh on Washington's
birthday, February 22. Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania sent the
largest contingents; but around this great central nucleus were
gathered small but earnest delegations aggregating between three and
four hundred zealous leaders, representing twenty-eight States and
Territories. It was merely an informal mass convention; but many of
the delegates were men of national character, each of whose names was
itself a sufficient credential. Above all, the members were cautious,
moderate, conciliatory, and unambitious to act beyond the requirements
of the hour. They contented themselves with the usual parliamentary
routine; appointed a committee on national organization; issued a call
for a delegate convention; and adopted and put forth a stirring
address to the country. Their resolutions were brief and formulated
but four demands: the repeal of all laws which allow the introduction
of slavery into Territories once consecrated to freedom; resistance by
constitutional means to slavery in any United States Territory; the
immediate admission of Kansas as a free-State, and the overthrow of
the present national Administration.

In response to the official call embodied in the Pittsburgh address,
the first National Convention of the Republican party met at
Philadelphia on the 17th of June, 1856. The character and dignity of
the Pittsburgh proceedings assured the new party of immediate prestige
and acceptance; with so favorable a sponsorship it sprang full-armed
into the political conflict. That conflict which opened the year with
the long congressional contest over the speakership, and which found
its only solution in the choice of Banks by a plurality vote, had been
fed by fierce congressional debates, by presidential messages and
proclamations, by national conventions, by the Sumner assault, by the
Kansas war; the body politic throbbed with activity and excitement in
every fiber. Every free-State and several border States and
Territories were represented in the Philadelphia Convention; its
regular and irregular delegates counted nearly a thousand local
leaders, full of the zeal of new proselytes; Henry S. Lane, of
Indiana, was made its permanent chairman.

The party was too young and its prospect of immediate success too
slender to develop any serious rivalry for a presidential nomination.
Because its strength lay evidently among the former adherents of the
now dissolved and abandoned Whig party, William H. Seward of course
took highest rank in leadership; after him stood Salmon P. Chase as
the representative of the independent Democrats, who, bringing fewer
voters, had nevertheless contributed the main share of the courageous
pioneer work. It is a just tribute to their sagacity that both were
willing to wait for the maturer strength and riper opportunities of
the new organization. Justice John McLean, of the Supreme Bench, an
eminent jurist, a faithful Whig, whose character happily combined both
the energy and the conservatism of the great West, also had a large
following; but as might have been expected, the convention found a
more typical leader, young in years, daring in character, brilliant in
exploit; and after one informal ballot it nominated John C. Frémont,
of California. The credit of the selection and its successful
management has been popularly awarded to Francis P. Blair, senior,
famous as the talented and powerful newspaper lieutenant of President
Jackson; but it was rather an intuitive popular choice, which at the
moment seemed so appropriate as to preclude necessity for artful

[Illustration: MILLARD FILLMORE.]

There was a dash of romance in the personal history of Frémont which
gave his nomination a high popular relish. Of French descent, born in
Savannah, Georgia, orphaned at an early age, he acquired a scientific
education largely by his own unaided efforts in private study; a sea
voyage as teacher of mathematics, and employment in a railroad survey
through the wilderness of the Tennessee Mountains, developed the taste
and the qualifications that made him useful as an assistant in
Nicollet's scientific exploration of the great plateau where the
Mississippi River finds its sources, and secured his appointment as
second lieutenant of topographical engineers. These labors brought him
to Washington, where the same Gallic restlessness which made the
restraint of schools insupportable, brought about an attachment,
elopement, and marriage with the daughter of Senator Thomas H. Benton,
of Missouri.

Reconciliation followed in good time; and the unexplored Great West
being Benton's peculiar hobby, through his influence Frémont was sent
with an exploring party to the Rocky Mountains. Under his command
similar expeditions were repeated again and again to that mysterious
wonderland; and never were the wildest fictions read with more avidity
than his official reports of daily adventure, danger and discovery, of
scaling unclimbed mountains, wrecking his canoes on the rapids of
unvisited rivers, parleying and battling with hostile Indians, and
facing starvation while hemmed in by trackless snows. One of these
journeys had led him to the Pacific coast when our war with Mexico let
loose the spirit of revolution in the Mexican province of California.
With his characteristic restless audacity Frémont joined his little
company of explorers to a local insurrectionary faction of American
settlers, and raised a battalion of mounted volunteers. Though acting
without Government orders, he cooperated with the United States naval
forces sent to take possession of the California coast, and materially
assisted in overturning the Mexican authority and putting the remnant
of her military officials to flight. At the close of the conquest he
was for a short time military governor; and when, through the famous
gold discoveries, California was organized as a State and admitted to
the Union, Frémont became for a brief period one of her first United
States Senators.

So salient a record could not well be without strong contrasts, and of
these unsparing criticism took advantage. Hostile journals delineated
Frémont as a shallow, vainglorious, "woolly-horse," "mule-eating,"
"free-love," "nigger-embracing" black Republican; an extravagant,
insubordinate, reckless adventurer; a financial spendthrift and
political mountebank. As the reading public is not always skillful in
winnowing truth from libel when artfully mixed in print, even the
grossest calumnies were not without their effect in contributing to
his defeat. But to the sanguine zeal of the new Republican party, the
"Pathfinder" was a heroic and ideal leader; for, upon the vital point
at issue, his anti-slavery votes and clear declarations satisfied every
doubt and inspired unlimited confidence.

However picturesquely Frémont for the moment loomed up as the
standard-bearer of the Republican party, historical interest centers
upon the second act of the Philadelphia Convention. It shows us how
strangely to human wisdom vibrate the delicately balanced scales of
fate; or rather how inscrutable and yet how unerring are the
far-reaching processes of divine providence. The principal candidate
having been selected without contention or delay, the convention
proceeded to a nomination for Vice-President. On the first informal
ballot William L. Dayton, of New Jersey, received 259 votes and
Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, 110; the remaining votes being scattered
among thirteen other names.[1] The dominating thought of the
convention being the assertion of principle, and not the promotion of
men, there was no further contest;[2] and though Mr. Dayton had not
received a majority support, his nomination was nevertheless at once
made unanimous. Those who are familiar with the eccentricities of
nominating conventions when in this listless and drifting mood know
how easily an opportune speech from some eloquent delegate or a few
adroitly arranged delegation caucuses might have reversed this result;
and imagination may not easily construct the possible changes in
history which a successful campaign of the ticket in that form might
have wrought. What would have been the consequences to America and
humanity had the Rebellion, even then being vaguely devised by
Southern Hotspurs, burst upon the nation in the winter of 1856, with
the nation's sword of commander-in-chief in the hand of the impulsive
Frémont, and Lincoln, inheriting the patient wariness and cool blood
of three generations of pioneers and Indian-fighters, wielding only
the powerless gavel of Vice-President? But the hour of destiny had not
yet struck.

The platform devised by the Philadelphia Convention was unusually bold
in its affirmations, and most happy in its phraseology. Not only did
it "deny the authority of Congress, or of a territorial legislature,
of any individual or association of individuals, to give legal
existence to slavery in any Territory of the United States"; it
further "Resolved, That the Constitution confers upon Congress
sovereign power over the Territories of the United States for their
government, and that in the exercise of this power it is both the
right and the duty of Congress to prohibit in the Territories those
twin relics of barbarism--polygamy and slavery." At Buchanan, recently
nominated by the Democratic National Convention in Cincinnati, it
aimed a barbed shaft: "Resolved, That the highwayman's plea that
'might makes right,' embodied in the Ostend circular, was in every
respect unworthy of American diplomacy, and would bring shame and
dishonor upon any government or people that gave it their sanction."
It demanded the maintenance of the principles of the Declaration of
Independence, of the Federal Constitution, of the rights of the
States, and the union of the States. It favored a Pacific railroad,
congressional appropriations for national rivers and harbors; it
affirmed liberty of conscience and equality of rights; it arraigned
the policy of the Administration; demanded the immediate admission of
Kansas as a State, and invited "the affiliation and coöperation of men
of all parties, however differing from them in other respects, in
support of the principles declared."

The nominees and platform of the Philadelphia Convention were accepted
by the opposition voters of the free-States with an alacrity and an
enthusiasm beyond the calculation of even the most sanguine; and in
November a vote was recorded in their support which, though then
unsuccessful, laid the secure foundation of an early victory, and
permanently established a great party destined to carry the country
through trials and vicissitudes equal in magnitude and results to any
which the world had hitherto witnessed.

In that year none of the presidential honors were reserved for the
State of Illinois. While Lincoln thus narrowly missed a nomination for
the second place on the Republican ticket, his fellow-citizen and
competitor, Douglas, failed equally to obtain the nomination he so
much coveted as the candidate of the Democratic party. The Democratic
National Convention had met at Cincinnati on the 2d day of June, 1856.
If Douglas flattered himself that such eminent services as he had
rendered the South would find this reward, his disappointment must
have been severe. While the benefits he had conferred were lightly
estimated or totally forgotten, former injuries inflicted in his name
were keenly remembered and resented. But three prominent candidates,
Buchanan, Pierce, and Douglas, were urged upon the convention. The
indiscreet crusade of Douglas's friends against "old fogies" in 1852
had defeated Buchanan and nominated Pierce; now, by the turn of
political fortune, Buchanan's friends were able to wipe out the double
score by defeating both Pierce and Douglas. Most of the Southern
delegates seem to have been guided by the mere thought of present
utility; they voted to renominate Pierce because of his subservient
Kansas policy, forgetting that Douglas had not only begun it, but was
their strongest ally to continue it. When after a day of fruitless
balloting they changed their votes to Douglas, Buchanan, the so-called
"old fogy," just returned from the English mission, and therefore not
handicapped by personal jealousies and heart-burnings, had secured the
firm adhesion of a decided majority mainly from the North.[3]

The "two-thirds rule" was not yet fulfilled, but at this juncture the
friends of Pierce and Douglas yielded to the inevitable, and withdrew
their favorites in the interest of "harmony." On the seventeenth
ballot, therefore, and the fifth day of the convention, James
Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, became the unanimous nominee of the
Democratic party for President, and John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky,
for Vice-President.

The famous "Cincinnati platform" holds a conspicuous place in party
literature for length, for vigor of language, for variety of topics,
for boldness of declaration; and yet, strange to say, its chief merit
and utility lay in the skillful concealment of its central thought and
purpose. About one-fourth of its great length is devoted to what to
the eye looks like a somewhat elaborate exposition of the doctrines of
the party on the slavery question. Eliminate the verbiage and there
only remains an indorsement of the "principles contained in the
organic laws establishing the Territory of Kansas and Nebraska"
(non-interference by Congress with slavery in State and Territory, or
in the District of Columbia); and the practical application of "the
principles" is thus further defined: "Resolved, That we recognize the
right of the people of all the Territories, including Kansas and
Nebraska, acting through the legally and fairly expressed will of a
majority of actual residents, and whenever the number of their
inhabitants justifies it, to form a constitution with or without
domestic slavery, and be admitted into the Union upon terms of perfect
equality with the other States."

We have already seen how deliberately the spirit and letter of "the
principle" was violated by the Democratic National Administration of
President Pierce, and by nearly all the Democratic Senators and
Representatives in Congress; and we shall see how the more explicit
resolution was again even more flagrantly violated by the Democratic
National Administration and party under President Buchanan.

For the time, however, these well-rounded phrases were especially
convenient: first, to prevent any schism in the Cincinnati Convention
itself, and, secondly, to furnish points for campaign speeches;
politicians not having any pressing desire, nor voters the requisite
critical skill, to demonstrate how they left untouched the whole brood
of pertinent queries which the discussion had already raised, and
which at its next national convention were destined to disrupt and
defeat the Democratic party. For this occasion the studied ambiguity
of the Cincinnati platform made possible a last coöperation of North
and South, in the face of carefully concealed mental reservations, to
secure a presidential victory.

It is not the province of this work to describe the incidents of the
national canvass, but only to record its results. At the election of
November, 1856, Buchanan was chosen President. The popular vote in the
nation at large stood: Buchanan, 1,838,169; Frémont, 1,341,264;
Fillmore, 874,534. By States Buchanan received the votes of fourteen
slave-States and five free-States, a total of 174 electors; Frémont
the vote of eleven free-States, a total of 114 electors; and Fillmore
the vote of one slave-State, a total of eight electors.[4]

In the campaign which preceded Mr. Buchanan's election, Mr. Lincoln,
at the head of the Frémont electoral ticket for Illinois, took a
prominent part, traversing the State in every direction, and making
about fifty speeches. Among the addresses which he thus delivered in
the different counties, it is interesting to read a fragment of a
speech he made at Galena, Illinois, discussing the charge of
"sectionalism," the identical pretext upon which the South inaugurated
its rebellion against his Administration four years afterwards:

    You further charge us with being disunionists. If you mean that it
    is our aim to dissolve the Union, I for myself answer that it is
    untrue; for those who act with me I answer that it is untrue. Have
    you heard us assert that as our aim? Do you really believe that
    such is our aim? Do you find it in our platform, our speeches, our
    conventions, or anywhere? If not, withdraw the charge.

    But you may say that though it is not our aim, it will be the
    result, if we succeed, and that we are therefore disunionists in
    fact. This is a grave charge you make against us, and we certainly
    have a right to demand that you specify in what way we are to
    dissolve the Union. How are we to effect this?

    The only specification offered is volunteered by Mr. Fillmore in
    his Albany speech. His charge is that if we elect a President and
    Vice-President both from the free-States it will dissolve the
    Union. This is open folly. The Constitution provides that the
    President and Vice-President of the United States shall be of
    different States; but says nothing as to the latitude and longitude
    of those States. In 1828 Andrew Jackson, of Tennessee, and John C.
    Calhoun, of South Carolina, were elected President and
    Vice-President, both from slave-States; but no one thought of
    dissolving the Union then on that account. In 1840 Harrison, of
    Ohio, and Tyler, of Virginia, were elected. In 1841 Harrison died
    and John Tyler succeeded to the presidency, and William R. King, of
    Alabama, was elected acting Vice-President by the Senate; but no
    one supposed that the Union was in danger. In fact, at the very
    time Mr. Fillmore uttered this idle charge, the state of things in
    the United States disproved it. Mr. Pierce, of New Hampshire, and
    Mr. Bright, of Indiana, both from free-States, are President and
    Vice-President, and the Union stands and will stand. You do not
    pretend that it ought to dissolve the Union, and the facts show
    that it won't; therefore the charge may be dismissed without
    further consideration.

  [Sidenote] Galena "Advertiser," copied into the Illinois "State
  Journal," August 8, 1856.

    No other specification is made, and the only one that could be made
    is, that the restoration of the restriction of 1820 making the
    United States territory free territory would dissolve the Union.
    Gentlemen, it will require a decided majority to pass such an act.
    We, the majority, being able constitutionally to do all that we
    purpose, would have no desire to dissolve the Union. Do you say
    that such restriction of slavery would be unconstitutional, and
    that some of the States would not submit to its enforcement? I
    grant you that an unconstitutional act is not a law; but I do not
    ask and will not take your construction of the Constitution. The
    Supreme Court of the United States is the tribunal to decide such a
    question, and we will submit to its decisions; and if you do also,
    there will be an end of the matter. Will you? If not, who are the
    disunionists, you or we? We, the majority, would not strive to
    dissolve the Union; and if any attempt is made it must be by you,
    who so loudly stigmatize us as disunionists.

    But the Union, in any event, will not be dissolved. We don't want
    to dissolve it, and if you attempt it we won't let you. With the
    purse and sword, the army and navy and treasury in our hands and at
    our command, you could not do it. This government would be very
    weak indeed if a majority with a disciplined army and navy and a
    well-filled treasury could not preserve itself, when attacked by an
    unarmed, undisciplined, unorganized minority. All this talk about
    the dissolution of the Union is humbug, nothing but folly. We do
    not want to dissolve the Union; you shall not.

With three presidential tickets in the field--with the Democrats
seeking the election of Buchanan and Breckinridge, the Americans, or
Know-Nothings, asking votes for Fillmore and Donelson, and the
Republicans making proselytes for Frémont and Dayton--the political
campaign of 1856 was one of unabated activity and excitement. In the
State of Illinois the contest resulted in a drawn battle. The American
party held together with tolerable firmness in its vote for President,
but was largely disintegrated in its vote on the ticket for State
officers. The consequence was that Illinois gave a plurality of 9164
for Buchanan, the Democratic candidate for President, while at the
same time it gave a plurality of 4729 for Bissell, the Republican
candidate for Governor.[5]

Half victory as it was, it furnished the Illinois Republicans a
substantial hope of the full triumph which they achieved four years
later. About a month after this election, at a Republican banquet
given in Chicago on the 10th of December, 1856, Abraham Lincoln spoke
as follows, partly in criticism of the last annual message of
President Pierce, but more especially pointing out the rising star of

    We have another annual presidential message. Like a rejected
    lover making merry at the wedding of his rival, the President
    felicitates himself hugely over the late presidential election.
    He considers the result a signal triumph of good principles and
    good men, and a very pointed rebuke of bad ones. He says the
    people did it. He forgets that the "people," as he complacently
    calls only those who voted for Buchanan, are in a minority of the
    whole people by about four hundred thousand votes--one full tenth
    of all the votes. Remembering this, he might perceive that the
    "rebuke" may not be quite as durable as he seems to think--that
    the majority may not choose to remain permanently rebuked by that

    The President thinks the great body of us Frémonters, being
    ardently attached to liberty, in the abstract, were duped by a
    few wicked and designing men. There is a slight difference of
    opinion on this. We think he, being ardently attached to the hope
    of a second term, in the concrete, was duped by men who had
    liberty every way. He is the cat's-paw. By much dragging of
    chestnuts from the fire for others to eat, his claws are burnt
    off to the gristle, and he is thrown aside as unfit for further
    use. As the fool said of _King Lear_, when his daughters had
    turned him out-of-doors, "He's a shelled peascod." [That's a
    sheal'd peascod.]

    So far as the President charges us "with a desire to change the
    domestic institutions of existing States," and of "doing
    everything in our power to deprive the Constitution and the laws
    of moral authority," for the whole party on belief, and for
    myself on knowledge, I pronounce the charge an unmixed and
    unmitigated falsehood.

  [Sidenote] Illinois "State Journal," December 16, 1856.

    Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public
    opinion can change the government practically just so much.
    Public opinion, on any subject, always has a "central idea," from
    which all its minor thoughts radiate. That "central idea" in our
    political public opinion at the beginning was, and until recently
    has continued to be, "the equality of men." And although it has
    always submitted patiently to whatever of inequality there seemed
    to be as matter of actual necessity, its constant working has
    been a steady progress towards the practical equality of all men.
    The late presidential election was a struggle by one party to
    discard that central idea and to substitute for it the opposite
    idea that slavery is right in the abstract, the workings of which
    as a central idea may be the perpetuity of human slavery and its
    extension to all countries and colors. Less than a year ago the
    Richmond "Enquirer," an avowed advocate of slavery, regardless of
    color, in order to favor his views, invented the phrase "State
    equality," and now the President, in his message, adopts the
    "Enquirer's" catch-phrase, telling us the people "have asserted
    the constitutional equality of each and all of the States of the
    Union as States." The President flatters himself that the new
    central idea is completely inaugurated; and so indeed it is, so
    far as the mere fact of a presidential election can inaugurate
    it. To us it is left to know that the majority of the people have
    not yet declared for it, and to hope that they never will. All of
    us who did not vote for Mr. Buchanan, taken together, are a
    majority of four hundred thousand. But in the late contest we
    were divided between Frémont and Fillmore. Can we not come
    together for the future? Let every one who really believes, and
    is resolved, that free society is not and shall not be a failure,
    and who can conscientiously declare that in the past contest he
    has done only what he thought best, let every such one have
    charity to believe that every other one can say as much. Thus let
    bygones be bygones; let past differences as nothing be; and with
    steady eye on the real issue, let us reinaugurate the good old
    "central ideas" of the republic. We can do it. The human heart is
    with us; God is with us. We shall again be able not to declare
    that "all States as States are equal," nor yet that "all citizens
    as citizens are equal," but to renew the broader, better
    declaration, including both these and much more, that "all men
    are created equal."

Though these fragments of addresses give us only an imperfect
reflection of the style of Mr. Lincoln's oratory during this period,
they nevertheless show its essential characteristics, a pervading
clearness of analysis, and that strong tendency to axiomatic
definition which gives so many of his sentences their convincing force
and durable value. They also show us the combination, not often found
in such happy balance, of the politician's discernment of fact with
the statesman's wisdom of theory--how present forces of national life
are likely to be moved by future impulses of national will. The
politician could see the four hundred thousand voters who would give
victory to some party in the near future. It required the wisdom of
the statesman to divine that the public opinion which would direct
how these votes were to be cast, could most surely be created by an
appeal to those generous "central ideas" of the human mind which
favor equality against caste and freedom against slavery. Perhaps
the most distinctively representative quality these addresses exhibit
is the patriotic spirit and faith which led him to declare so
dogmatically in this campaign of 1856, what the nation called upon
him a few years later to execute by the stern powers of war, "We do
not want to dissolve the Union; you shall not."

[1] For David Wilmot, of Pennsylvania, 43; Preston King, of New York,
9; Charles Sumner, of Massachusetts, 36; Thomas H. Ford, of Ohio, 7;
Cassius M. Clay, of Kentucky, 3; Jacob Collamer, of Vermont, 15;
William F. Johnston, of Pennsylvania, 2; Nathaniel P. Banks, of
Massachusetts, 46; Henry Wilson, of Massachusetts, 7; William
Pennington, of New Jersey, 1; ---- Carey, of New Jersey, 3; S.C.
Pomeroy, of Kansas, 8; J.R. Giddings, of Ohio, 2. The vote in detail
for Lincoln was: Maine, 1; New Hampshire, 8; Massachusetts, 7; Rhode
Island, 2; New York, 3; Pennsylvania, 11; Ohio, 2; Indiana, 26;
Illinois, 33; Michigan, 5; and California, 12.

[2] Mr. T.S. Van Dyke, son of one of the delegates, kindly writes
us: "Nothing that Mr. Lincoln has ever written is more characteristic
than the following note from him to my father just after the
convention--not for publication, but merely as a private expression
of his feelings to an old acquaintance:

    "June 27, 1856.
    "Hon. JOHN VAN DYKE.

    "MY DEAR SIR: Allow me to thank you for your kind notice of me in
    the Philadelphia Convention.

    "When you meet Judge Dayton present my respects, and tell him I
    think him a far better man than I for the position he is in, and
    that I shall support both him and Colonel Frémont most cordially.
    Present my best respects to Mrs. V., and believe me,

    "Yours truly,

    "A. LINCOLN."

[3] On the sixteenth ballot Buchanan received 168 votes, of which 121
were from the free-States and 47 from the slave-States; Douglas
received 122 votes, of which 49 were from the free-States and 73 from
the slave-States; Cass received 6 votes, all from the free-States;
Pierce had been finally dropped on the previous ballot.--"Proceedings
of the Cincinnati Convention," p. 45.

[4] The vote more in detail was as follows:

For Buchanan, slave-States, Alabama, 9; Arkansas, 4; Delaware, 3;
Florida, 3; Georgia, 10; Kentucky, 12; Louisiana, 6; Mississippi, 7;
Missouri, 9; North Carolina, 10; South Carolina, 8; Tennessee, 12;
Texas, 4; Virginia, 15. Free States, California, 4; Illinois, 11;
Indiana, 13; New Jersey, 7; Pennsylvania, 27. Total, 174.

For Frémont, free-States, Connecticut, 6; Iowa, 4; Maine, 8;
Massachusetts, 13; Michigan, 6; New Hampshire, 5; New York, 35; Ohio,
23; Rhode Island, 4; Vermont, 5; Wisconsin, 5. Total, 114.

For Fillmore, slave-State, Maryland, 8.

[5] For President, Buchanan (Democrat), 105,344; Frémont (Republican),
96,180; Fillmore (American), 37,451. For Governor, Richardson (Democrat),
106,643; Bissell (Republican), 111,372; Morris (American), 19,241.



The official reports show that the proceedings of the American
Congress, while in the main conducted with becoming propriety and
decorum, have occasionally been dishonored by angry personal
altercations and scenes of ruffianly violence. These disorders
increased as the great political struggle over the slavery question
grew in intensity, and reached their culmination in a series of
startling incidents.

Charles Sumner, one of the Senators from the State of Massachusetts,
had become conspicuous, in the prevailing political agitation, for
his aggressive and radical anti-slavery speeches in the Senate and
elsewhere. The slavery issue had brought him into politics; he had
been elected to the United States Senate by the coalition of a small
number of Free-soilers with the Democrats in the Massachusetts

The slavery question, therefore, became the dominant principle and
the keynote of his public career. He was a man of liberal culture, of
considerable erudition in the law, of high literary ability, and he
had attained an enviable social eminence. Of large physical frame and
strength, gifted with a fine presence and a sonorous voice, fearless
and earnest in his opposition to slavery, Charles Sumner was one of
the favorite orators of the early declamatory period of the Republican

He joined unreservedly in the exciting Senate debates, provoked by the
rival applications from Kansas for her admission as a State. On the
19th and 20th of May, 1856, he delivered an elaborate speech in the
Senate, occupying two days. It was one of his greatest efforts, and
had been prepared with his usual industry. In character it was a
philippic rather than an argument, strong, direct, and aggressive, in
which classical illustration and acrimonious accusation were blended
with great effect.

It described what he called "The Crime against Kansas"; and the
excuses for the crime he denominated the apology tyrannical, the
apology imbecile, the apology absurd, and the apology infamous.
"Tyranny, imbecility, absurdity, and infamy," he continued, "all unite
to dance, like the weird sisters, about this crime."

In the course of his speech he alluded, among others, to A.P. Butler,
of South Carolina, and in reply to some severe strictures by that
Senator during preceding debates, indulged in caustic personal
criticism upon his course and utterance, as well as upon the State
which he represented.

    With regret [said Sumner], I come again upon the Senator from
    South Carolina [Mr. Butler], who, omnipresent in this debate,
    overflowed with rage at the simple suggestion that Kansas had
    applied for admission as a State; and with incoherent phrases
    discharged the loose expectoration of his speech, now upon her
    representative and then upon her people. There was no extravagance
    of the ancient parliamentary debate which he did not repeat; nor
    was there any possible deviation from truth which he did not make,
    with so much of passion, I am glad to add, as to save him from the
    suspicion of intentional aberration. But the Senator touches
    nothing which he does not disfigure--with error, sometimes of
    principle, sometimes of fact. He shows an incapacity of accuracy,
    whether in stating the Constitution or in stating the law, whether
    in details of statistics or the diversions of scholarship. He
    cannot open his mouth but out there flies a blunder.

[Illustration: CHARLES SUMNER.]

Butler was not present in the Senate on either day; what he might have
said or done, had he been there, can only be conjectured. The immediate
replies from Douglas and others were very bitter. Among pro-slavery
members of both Houses there was an under-current of revengeful
murmurs. It is possible that this hostile manifestation may have
decided a young member of the House, Preston S. Brooks, a nephew of
Senator Butler, to undertake retaliation by violence. Acquainting
Henry A. Edmundson, another member, with his design, he waited on two
different occasions at the western entrance to the Capitol grounds to
encounter Mr. Sumner, but without meeting him.

  [Sidenote] 1856.

On the 22d of May, two days after the speech, Brooks entered the
Senate Chamber on the same errand. The session had been short, and
after adjournment Sumner remained at his desk, engaged in writing. The
sessions were at that time held in the old Senate Chamber, now
occupied by the Supreme Court. The seats were arranged in semicircles,
with a railing to separate them from a narrow lobby or open space next
the wall; a broad aisle ran from the main door to the desk of the
presiding officer. Mr. Sumner's seat was in the outside row next to
the railing, at the second desk to the right from the entrance and the
main aisle. Occupied with his work, Mr. Sumner did not notice Mr.
Brooks, sitting across the aisle to his left, and where in
conversation with a friend he was manifesting his impatience that a
lady seated near Mr. Sumner did not take her departure from the
chamber. Almost at that moment she arose and went out; quickly
afterwards Brooks got up and advanced to the front of Sumner's desk.
The act attracted the attention of Brooks's friend; he was astonished,
amid the bitterness of party feeling, to see a South Carolina
Representative talk to a Massachusetts Senator. His astonishment was
quickly corrected. Leaning upon the desk and addressing Sumner with a
rapid sentence or two, to the effect that he had read his speech, that
it was a libel upon his absent relative, and that he had come to
punish him for it, Brooks began striking him on the head with a
gutta-percha walking-cane, of the ordinary length and about an inch in

Surprised, blinded and stunned by the blows, Sumner's first instinct
was to grapple with his assailant. This effort, however, was futile;
the desk was between them, and being by his sitting posture partially
under it, Sumner was prevented from rising fully to his feet until he
had by main strength, in his struggles, wrenched it from its
fastenings on the floor. In his attempt to follow Brooks they became
turned, and from between the desks moved out into the main aisle. By
this time, through the repetition of the heavy blows and loss of
blood, Sumner became unconscious. Brooks, seizing him by the
coat-collar, continued his murderous attack till Sumner, reeling in
utter helplessness, sank upon the floor beside the desk nearest the
aisle, one row nearer the center of the chamber than his own. The
witnesses variously estimated the number of blows given at from ten to
thirty. Two principal wounds, two inches long and an inch deep, had
been cut on the back of Sumner's head; and near the end of the attack,
Brooks's cane was shivered to splinters.

There were perhaps ten or fifteen persons in the chamber, and after
the first momentary pause of astonishment half a dozen started to
interfere. Before they reached the spot, however, Lawrence M. Keitt,
another South Carolina Representative, came rushing down the main
aisle, brandishing his cane, and with imprecations warning lookers-on
to "let them alone." Among those hastening to the rescue, Mr. Morgan
arrived first, just in time to catch and sustain the Senator as he
fell. Another bystander, who had run round outside the railing, seized
Brooks by the arm about the same instant; and the wounded man was
borne to an adjoining room, where he was cared for by a hastily
summoned physician.

Among Mr. Sumner's friends the event created a certain degree of
consternation. The language which provoked the assault, whatever might
be thought of its offensive character, was strictly parliamentary,
uninterrupted either by the chair or by any member. The assault itself
was so desperate and brutal that it implied a vindictiveness deeper
than mere personal revenge. This spirit of bullying, this resort to
violence, had recently become alarmingly frequent among members of
Congress, especially as it all came from the pro-slavery party.
Since the beginning of the current session, a pro-slavery member from
Virginia had assaulted the editor of a Washington newspaper; another
pro-slavery member, from Arkansas, had violently attacked Horace
Greeley on the street; a third pro-slavery member, from California, had
shot an unoffending waiter at Willard's Hotel. Was this fourth instance
the prelude of an intention to curb or stifle free Congressional
debate? It is probable that this question was seriously considered at
the little caucus of Republican Senators held that night at the house
of Mr. Seward. The Republicans had only a slender minority in the
Senate, and a plurality in the House; they could do nothing but resolve
on a course of parliamentary inquiry, and agree on an attitude of

Sumner's colleague, Henry Wilson, made a very brief announcement of
the occurrence to the Senate on the following day, and it at once
became apparent that the transaction would assume an almost strictly
party character. As no Democratic Senator proposed an inquiry, Mr.
Seward moved for a committee of investigation; upon which James M.
Mason, of Virginia, proposed that the committee should be elected by
ballot. The result was that no Republican was chosen upon it; and the
committee reached the conclusion that it had no power in the premises,
except to report the occurrence to the House. In the House the usual
committee from the three parties was raised, resulting in two reports.
The minority, sustained by the vote of sixty members, pleaded a want
of jurisdiction. The majority recommended the expulsion of Brooks, and
expressed disapprobation by the House of the course of his colleague,
Edmundson, in countenancing the assault, and of the act of Keitt in
his personal interference. But the necessary two-thirds vote for the
expulsion of Brooks could not be obtained; a vote of censure was
therefore passed by a large majority. The discussion of the report and
resolutions occupied the House several days, and whatever effort
members made to disguise their motives, their actions, either of
condemnation or of excuse, arose in the main clearly enough from their
party relations. Under the forms of parliamentary debate, the South
and the North were breathing mutual recrimination and defiance.

The public of both sections took up the affair with equal party zeal.
From the North came resolutions of legislatures, outbursts of
indignation in meetings and addresses, and the denunciation of Brooks
and his deed in the newspapers. In the South the exactly opposite
sentiment predominated. Brooks was defended and eulogized, and
presented with canes and pitchers as testimonials to his valor. When
the resolution of censure had been passed, he at once resigned his
seat in the House, and going home to his constituents, was immediately
reëlected. Within three weeks he reappeared at the bar of the House,
with a new commission from his Governor, and was sworn in and
continued his service as before. The arrogant address which preceded
his resignation contained the remarkable intimation that much more
serious results might have grown out of the incident. "No act of
mine," he said, "on my personal account, shall inaugurate revolution;
but when you, Mr. Speaker, return to your own home, and hear the
people of the great North--and they are a great people--speak of me as
a bad man, you will do me the justice to say that a blow struck by me
at this time would be followed by a revolution; and this I know."

Under the state of public sentiment then prevailing at the South, it
would have been strange if the extraordinary event and the succeeding
debate had not provoked other similar affairs. Mr. Sumner's colleague,
Senator Henry Wilson, of Massachusetts (afterwards Vice-President of
the United States), in his speech characterized the assault as
"brutal, murderous, and cowardly." For this language Brooks sent him a
challenge. Wilson wrote a reply declining the encounter, but in the
same letter announcing that "I religiously believe in the right of
self-defense, in its broadest sense."

One of the sharpest denunciations of the assault was made by Anson
Burlingame, a Massachusetts Representative (afterwards United States
Minister to China, and still later Chinese Minister to the United
States). "I denounce it," he said, "in the name of the Constitution it
violates. I denounce it in the name of the sovereignty of
Massachusetts, which was stricken down by the blow. I denounce it in
the name of humanity. I denounce it in the name of civilization, which
it outraged. I denounce it in the name of that fair-play which bullies
and prize-fighters respect." For this, after some efforts had been
made by friends to bring about an amicable understanding, Brooks sent
him also a challenge. Mr. Burlingame accepted the challenge, and his
second designated the Clifton House in Canada as the rendezvous and
rifles as weapons. Burlingame at once started on the journey; but
Brooks declined to go, on the excuse that his life would not be safe
on such a trip through the North.

Broadened into national significance by all these attendant
circumstances, the Sumner assault became a leading event in the great
slavery contest between the South and North. It might well rank as one
of the episodes of the civil war then raging in Kansas, out of which
it had in reality grown, and with which it was intertwined in motive,
act, and comment. In result the incident was extremely damaging to the
South, for it tended more than any single Border-Ruffian crime in
Kansas to unite hesitating and wavering opinion in the North against
the alarming flood of lawlessness and violence, which as a rule found
its origin and its defense in the ranks of the pro-slavery party.
Certainly no phase of the transaction was received by the North with
such popular favor as some of the bolder avowals by Northern
Representatives of their readiness to fight, and especially by
Burlingame's actual acceptance of the challenge of Brooks.

The shock of the attack, and the serious wounds received by Mr.
Sumner, produced a spinal malady, from which he rallied with great
difficulty, and only after severe medical treatment and years of
enforced abstinence from work. As the constituents of Brooks sent him
back to the House, so also the Legislature of Massachusetts, in
January, 1857, with but few dissenting votes, reëlected Sumner to a
new senatorial term, beginning the 4th of March. He came to Washington
and was sworn in, but within a few days sailed for Europe, and during
the greater part of the long interim between that time and the
succeeding Presidential campaign his seat in the Senate remained

It was on the 4th of June, 1860, that he again raised his voice in
debate. Some changes had occurred: both Butler and Brooks were
dead;[1] the Senate was assembled in its new hall in the north wing
of the Capitol extension. But in the main the personnel and the spirit
of the pro-slavery party still confronted him. "Time has passed," he
said, "but the question remains." A little more than four years
before, he had essayed to describe "The Crime against Kansas"; now, in
an address free from offensive personalities but more unsparing in
rhetoric and stronger in historical arraignment, he delineated what he
named the "Barbarism of Slavery." Picturing to ourselves the orator,
the circumstances, and the theme, we can comprehend the exaltation
with which he exclaimed in his exordium: "Slavery must be resisted not
only on political grounds, but on all other grounds, whether social,
economical, or moral. Ours is no holiday contest; nor is it any strife
of rival factions--of White and Red Roses; of theatric Neri and
Bianchi; but it is a solemn battle between Right and Wrong, between
Good and Evil.... Grander debate has not occurred in our history,
rarely in any history; nor can this debate close or subside except
with the triumph of Freedom."

With this speech Sumner resumed his place as a conspicuous figure and
an indefatigable energy in national politics and legislation, tireless
in attacking and pursuing slavery until its final overthrow.

[1] Preston S. Brooks died in Washington, January 27, 1857; Andrew P.
Butler died in South Carolina, May 25, 1857.



  [Sidenote] 1854.

  [Sidenote] March 6, 1857.

Deep and widespread as hitherto had been the slavery agitation created
by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and by the consequent civil
war in Kansas, an event entirely unexpected to the public at large
suddenly doubled its intensity. This was the announcement, two days
after Buchanan's inauguration, of the decision of the Supreme Court of
the United States in the Dred Scott case. This celebrated case had
arisen as follows:

Two or three years before the Nebraska bill was thought of, a suit was
begun by a negro named Dred Scott, in a local court in St. Louis,
Missouri, to recover the freedom of himself and his family from
slavery. He alleged that his master, one Dr. Emerson, an army surgeon,
living in Missouri, had taken him as his slave to the military post at
Rock Island, in the State of Illinois, and afterwards to Fort
Snelling, situated in what was originally Upper Louisiana, but was at
that time part of Wisconsin Territory, and now forms part of
Minnesota. While at this latter post Dred Scott, with his master's
consent, married a colored woman, also brought as a slave from
Missouri, and of this marriage two children were born. All this
happened between the years 1834 and 1838. Afterwards Dr. Emerson
brought Dred Scott and his family back to Missouri. In this suit they
now claimed freedom, because during the time of residence with their
master at these military posts slavery was there prohibited by
positive law; namely, at Bock Island by the ordinance of 1787, and
later by the Constitution of Illinois; at Fort Snelling by the
Missouri Compromise acts of 1820, and other acts of Congress relating
to Wisconsin Territory.

The local court in St. Louis before which this action was brought
appears to have made short work of the case. It had become settled
legal doctrine by Lord Mansfield's decision in the Somersett case,
rendered four years before our Declaration of Independence, that "the
state of slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being
introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only positive
law.... It is so odious that nothing can be suffered to support it but
positive law." The learned chief-justice therefore ordered that
Somersett, being claimed as a Virginia slave brought by his master
into England, when it was attempted to carry him away against his
will, should be discharged from custody or restraint, because there
was no positive law in England to support slavery. The doctrine was
subsequently modified by another English chief-justice, Lord Stowell,
in 1827, to the effect that absence of positive law to support slavery
in England only operates to suspend the master's authority, which is
revived if the slave voluntarily returns into an English colony where
slavery does exist by positive law.

The States of the Union naturally inherited and retained the common
law of England, and the principles and maxims of English jurisprudence
not necessarily abrogated by the change of government, and among
others this doctrine of Lord Mansfield. Unlike England, however, where
there was no slavery and no law for or against it, some of the
American States had positive laws establishing slavery, others
positive laws prohibiting it. Lord Mansfield's doctrine, therefore,
enlarged and strengthened by American statutes and decisions, had come
to be substantially this: Slavery, being contrary to natural right,
exists only by virtue of local law; if the master takes his slave for
permanent residence into a jurisdiction where slavery is prohibited,
the slave thereby acquires a right to his freedom everywhere. On the
other hand, Lord Stowell's doctrine was similarly enlarged and
strengthened so as to allow the master right of transit and temporary
sojourn in free-States and Territories without suspension or
forfeiture of his authority over his slave. Under the complex American
system of government, in which the Federal Union and the several
States each claim sovereignty and independent action within certain
limitations, it became the theory and practice that towards each other
the several States occupied the attitude of foreign nations, which
relation was governed by international law, and that the principle of
comity alone controlled the recognition and enforcement by any State
of the law of any other State. Under this theory, the courts of slave
States had generally accorded freedom to slaves, even when acquired by
the laws of a free-State, and reciprocally the courts of free-States
had enforced the master's right to his slave where that right depended
on the laws of a slave-State. In this spirit, and conforming to this
established usage, the local court of Missouri declared Dred Scott and
his family free.

The claimant, loath to lose these four human "chattels," carried the
case to the Supreme Court of the State of Missouri, where at its March
term, 1852, it was reversed, and a decree rendered that these negroes
were not entitled to freedom. Three judges formed the court, and two
of them joined in an opinion bearing internal evidence that it was
prompted, not by considerations of law and justice, but by a spirit of
retaliation growing out of the ineradicable antagonism of freedom and

  [Sidenote] Scott, J., 15 Mo. Reports, pp. 582-6.

    Every State [says the opinion] has the right of determining how
    far, in a spirit of comity, it will respect the laws of other
    States. Those laws have no intrinsic right to be enforced beyond
    the limits of the State for which they were enacted. The respect
    allowed them will depend altogether on their conformity to the
    policy of our institutions. No State is bound to carry into effect
    enactments conceived in a spirit hostile to that which pervades
    her own laws.... It is a humiliating spectacle to see the courts
    of a State confiscating the property of her own citizens by the
    command of a foreign law.... Times now are not as they were when
    the former decisions on this subject were made. Since then not
    only individuals but States have been possessed with a dark and
    fell spirit in relation to slavery, whose gratification is sought
    in the pursuit of measures whose inevitable consequence must be
    the overthrow and destruction of our Government. Under such
    circumstances it does not behoove the State of Missouri to show
    the least countenance to any measure which might gratify this
    spirit. She is willing to assume her full responsibility for the
    existence slavery within her limits, nor does she seek to share or
    divide it with others.

To this partisan bravado the third judge replied with a dignified
rebuke; in his dissenting opinion he said:

  [Sidenote] Gamble, J., 15 Mo. Reports, pp. 589-92.

    As citizens of a slave-holding State, we have no right to complain
    of our neighbors of Illinois, because they introduce into their
    State Constitution a prohibition of slavery; nor has any citizen
    of Missouri who removes with his slave to Illinois a right to
    complain that the fundamental law of the State to which he
    removes, and in which he makes his residence, dissolves the
    relation between him and his slave. It is as much his own
    voluntary act as if he had executed a deed of emancipation....
    There is with me nothing in the law relating to slavery which
    distinguishes it from the law on any other subject, or allows any
    more accommodation to the temporary public excitements which are
    gathered around it.... In this State it has been recognized from
    the beginning of the government, as a correct position in law,
    that a master who takes his slave to reside in a State or Territory
    where slavery is prohibited thereby emancipates his slave. [Citing
    cases.] ... But the Supreme Court of Missouri, so far from
    standing alone on this question, is supported by the decisions of
    other slave-States, including those in which it may be supposed
    there was the least disposition to favor emancipation. [Citing
    cases.] ... Times may have changed, public feeling may have
    changed, but principles have not and do not change; and in my
    judgment there can be no safe basis for judicial decision but in
    those principles which are immutable.

These utterances, it must be remembered, occurred in the year 1852,
when all slavery agitation was supposed to have been forever settled.
They show conclusively that the calm was superficial and delusive, and
that this deep-reaching contest was still, as before the adjustment of
1850, actually transforming the various institutions of society.
Gradually, and as yet unnoticed by the public, the motives disclosed
in these opinions were beginning to control courts of justice, and
popular discussion and excitement were not only shaping legislation,
but changing the tenor of legal decisions throughout the country.

Not long after the judgment by the Supreme Court of Missouri, Dred
Scott and his family were sold to a man named Sandford, who was a
citizen of New York. This circumstance afforded a ground for bringing
a similar action in a Federal tribunal, and accordingly Dred Scott
once more sued for freedom, in the United States Circuit Court at St.
Louis.[1] The case was tried in May, 1854, and a decree rendered that
they "were negro slaves, the lawful property" of Sandford. As a final
effort to obtain justice, they appealed by writ of error to the
Supreme Court of the United States, the highest judicial tribunal of
the nation.

Before this court of last resort the case was argued a first time in
the spring of 1856. The country had been for two years in a blaze of
political excitement. Civil war was raging in Kansas; Congress was in
a turmoil of partisan discussion; a Presidential election was
impending, and the whole people were anxiously noting the varying
phases of party politics. Few persons knew there was such a thing as
the Dred Scott case on the docket of the Supreme Court; but those few
appreciated the importance of the points it involved, and several
distinguished lawyers volunteered to take part in the argument.[2] Two
questions were presented to the court: First, Is Dred Scott a citizen
entitled to sue? Secondly, Did his residence at Rock Island and at
Fort Snelling, under the various prohibitions of slavery existing
there, work his freedom?

The Supreme Court was composed of nine justices; namely, Chief-Justice
Taney and Associate Justices McLean, Wayne, Catron, Daniel, Nelson,
Grier, Curtis, and Campbell. There was at once manifested among the
judges not only a lively interest in the questions presented, but a
wide difference of views as to the manner of treating them.
Consultations of the Supreme Court are always shrouded in inviolable
secrecy, but the opinions afterwards published indicate that the
political aspects of slavery, which were then convulsing the country,
from the very first found a certain sympathy and reflection in these
grave judicial deliberations. The discussions yet turned upon certain
merely technical rules to be applied to the pleadings under review;
and ostensibly to give time for further examination, the case was
postponed and a re-argument ordered for the next term. It may,
however, be suspected that the nearness of the Presidential election
had more to do with this postponement than did the exigencies of the

[Illustration: ROGER B. TANEY.]

The Presidential election came, and Mr. Buchanan was chosen. Soon
after, the court met to begin its long winter term; and about the
middle of December, 1856, the Dred Scott case was once more
elaborately argued. Again occupying the attention of the court for
four successive days, as it had also done in the first hearing, the
eminent counsel, after passing lightly over mere technical subtleties,
discussed very fully what was acknowledged to be the leading point in
the controversy; namely, whether Congress had power under the
Constitution to prohibit slavery in the Federal Territories, as it had
done by the Missouri Compromise act and various other laws. It was
precisely the policy, or impolicy, of this and similar prohibitions
which formed the subject of contention in party politics. The question
of their constitutional validity was certain to take even a higher
rank in public interest.

When after the second argument the judges took up the case in
conference for decision, the majority held that the judgment of the
Missouri Federal tribunal should simply be affirmed on its merits. In
conformity to this view, Justice Nelson was instructed to prepare an
opinion to be read as the judgment of the Supreme Court of the United
States. Such a paper was thereupon duly written by him, of the
following import: It was a question, he thought, whether a temporary
residence in a free-State or Territory could work the emancipation of
a slave. It was the exclusive province of each State, by its
Legislature or courts of justice, to determine this question for
itself. This determined, the Federal courts were bound to follow the
State's decision. The Supreme Court of Missouri had decided Dred Scott
to be a slave. In two cases tried since, the same judgment had been
given. Though former decisions had been otherwise, this must now be
admitted as "the settled law of the State," which, he said, "is
conclusive of the case in this court."

This very narrow treatment of the points at issue, having to do with
the mere lifeless machinery of the law, was strikingly criticised in
the dissenting opinion afterwards read by Justice McLean, a part of
which, by way of anticipation, may properly be quoted here. He denied
that it was exclusively a Missouri question.

  [Sidenote] 19 Howard, pp. 555-64.

    It involves a right claimed under an act of Congress and the
    Constitution of Illinois, and which cannot be decided without the
    consideration and construction of those laws.... Rights sanctioned
    for twenty-eight years ought not and cannot be repudiated, with any
    semblance of justice, by one or two decisions, influenced, as
    declared, by a determination to counteract the excitement against
    slavery in the free-States.... Having the same rights of
    sovereignty as the State of Missouri in adopting a constitution, I
    can perceive no reason why the institutions of Illinois should not
    receive the same consideration as those of Missouri.... The
    Missouri court disregards the express provisions of an act of
    Congress and the Constitution of a sovereign State, both of which
    laws for twenty-eight years it had not only regarded, but carried
    into effect. If a State court may do this, on a question involving
    the liberty of a human being, what protection do the laws afford?

  [Sidenote] Campbell to Tyler, Samuel Tyler. "Life of Taney," pp.

Had the majority of the judges carried out their original intention,
and announced their decision in the form in which Justice Nelson,
under their instruction, wrote it, the case of Dred Scott would, after
a passing notice, have gone to a quiet sleep under the dust of the law
libraries. A far different fate was in store for it. The nation was
then being stirred to its very foundation by the slavery agitation.
The party of pro-slavery reaction was for the moment in the ascendant;
and as by an irresistible impulse, the Supreme Court of the United
States was swept from its hitherto impartial judicial moorings into
the dangerous seas of polities.

  [Sidenote] Campbell to Tyler, Tyler, p. 384.

Before Judge Nelson's opinion was submitted to the judges in
conference for final adoption as the judgment of the court a movement
seems to have taken place among the members, not only to change the
ground of the decision, but also greatly to enlarge the field of
inquiry. It is stated by one of the participants in that memorable
transaction (Justice Campbell) that this occurred "upon a motion of
Mr. Justice Wayne, who stated that the case had created public
interest and expectation, that it had been twice argued, and that an
impression existed that the questions argued would be considered in
the opinion of the court." He further says that "the apprehension had
been expressed by others of the court, that the court would not
fulfill public expectation or discharge its duties by maintaining
silence upon these questions; and my impression is, that several
opinions had already been begun among the members of the court, in
which a full discussion of the case was made, before Justice Wayne
made this proposal."

The exact time when this movement was begun cannot now be ascertained.
The motives which prompted it can be inferred by recalling
contemporaneous political events. A great controversy divided public
opinion, whether slavery might be extended or should be restricted.
The Missouri Compromise had been repealed to make such an extension
possible. The terms of that repeal were purposely couched in ambiguous
language. Kansas and Nebraska were left "perfectly free to form and
regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to
the Constitution of the United States." Whether under the Constitution
slavery could be excluded from the Federal Territories was affirmed by
Northern and denied by Southern Democrats. Northern and Southern
Democrats, acting together in the Cincinnati National Convention, had
ingeniously avoided any solution of this difference.

A twofold interpretation had enabled that party to elect Mr. Buchanan,
not by its own popular strength, but by the division of its opponents.
Notwithstanding its momentary success, unless it could develop new
sources of strength the party had only a precarious hold upon power.
Its majority in the Senate was waning. In Kansas free-State emigration
was outstripping the South in numbers and checkmating her in border
strife. According to the existing relative growth in sectional
representation and sectional sentiment, the balance of power was
slowly but steadily passing to the North.

Out of this doubt and difficulty there was one pathway that seemed
easy and certain. All the individual utterances from the Democratic
party agreed that the meaning of the words "subject to the
Constitution" was a question for the courts. This was the original
compact between Northern and Southern Democrats in caucus when Douglas
consented to repeal. Douglas, shorn of his prestige by his defeat for
the Presidential nomination, must accept conditions from his
successful rival. The Dred Scott case afforded the occasion for a
decision. Of the nine judges on the Supreme Bench seven were
Democrats, and of these five were appointed from slave-States. A
better opportunity for the South to obtain a favorable dictum could
never be expected to arise. A declaration by the Supreme Court of the
United States that under the Constitution Congress possessed no power
to prohibit slavery in the Federal Territories would by a single
breath end the old and begin a new political era. Congress was in
session and the political leaders were assembled at Washington.
Political topics excluded all other conversation or thought. Politics
reddened the plains of Kansas; politics had recently desecrated the
Senate chamber with a murderous personal assault; politics contended
greedily for the spoils of a new administration: politics nursed a
tacit conspiracy to nationalize slavery. The slavery sentiment ruled
society, ruled the Senate, ruled the Executive Mansion. It is not
surprising that this universal influence flowed in at the open door of
the national hall of justice--that it filtered through the very walls
which surrounded the consulting-room of the Supreme Court.

  [Sidenote] Wayne, J., Opinion in the Dred Scott case, 19 Howard,
  pp. 454-5.

The judges were, after all, but men. They dined, they talked, they
exchanged daily personal and social courtesies with the political
world. Curiosity, friendship, patriotism, led them to the floors of
Congress to listen to the great debates. Official ceremony called
them into the presence of the President, of legislators, of diplomats.
They were feasted, flattered, questioned, reminded of their great
opportunity, tempted with the suggestion of their supreme authority.[4]
They could render their names illustrious. They could honor their
States. They could do justice to the South. They could perpetuate
their party. They could settle the slavery question. They could end
sectional hatred, extinguish civil war, preserve the Union, save their
country. Advanced age, physical feebleness, party bias, the political
ardor of the youngest and the satiety of the eldest, all conspired to
draw them under the insidious influence of such considerations. One of
the judges in official language frankly avowed the motive and object
of the majority of the court. "The case," he wrote, "involves private
rights of value, and constitutional principles of the highest
importance, about which there had become such a difference of opinion
that the peace and harmony of the country required the settlement of
them by judicial decision." This language betrays the confusion of
ideas and misconception of authority which tempted the judges beyond
their proper duty. Required only to decide a question of private
rights, they thrust themselves forward to sit as umpires in a quarrel
of parties and factions.

  [Sidenote] Campbell to Tyler, Tyler, p. 384.

  [Sidenote] Nelson to Tyler, Tyler, p. 385.

In an evil hour they yielded to the demands of "public interest," and
resolved to "fulfill public expectation." Justice Wayne "proposed that
the Chief-Justice should write an opinion on all of the questions as
the opinion of the court. This was assented to, some reserving to
themselves to qualify their assent as the opinion might require.
Others of the court proposed to have no question, save one, discussed."
The extraordinary proceeding was calculated to touch the pride of
Justice Nelson. He appears to have given it a kind of sullen
acquiescence. "I was not present," he wrote, "when the majority
decided to change the ground of the decision, and assigned the
preparation of the opinion to the Chief-Justice; and when advised of
the change I simply gave notice that I should read the opinion I had
prepared as my own, and which is the one on file." From this time the
pens of other judges were busy, and in the inner political circles of
Washington the case of Dred Scott gradually became a shadowy and
portentous _cause célèbre_.

The first intimation which the public at large had of the coming new
dictum was given in Mr. Buchanan's inaugural. The fact that he did
not contemplate such an announcement until after his arrival in
Washington[5] leads to the inference that it was prompted from high
quarters. In Congressional and popular discussions the question of the
moment was at what period in the growth of a Territory its voters
might exclude or establish slavery. Referring to this Mr. Buchanan
said: "It is a judicial question, which legitimately belongs to the
Supreme Court of the United States, before whom it is now pending, and
will, it is understood, be speedily and finally settled. To their
decision, in common with all good citizens, I shall cheerfully submit,
whatever this may be."

The popular acquiescence being thus invoked by the Presidential voice
and example, the court announced its decision two days afterwards--March
6, 1857. The essential character of the transaction impressed itself
upon the very form of the judgment, if indeed it may be called at all
by that name. Chief-Justice Taney read the opinion of the court.
Justices Nelson, Wayne, Daniel, Grier, Catron, and Campbell each read a
separate and individual opinion, agreeing with the Chief-Justice on
some points, and omitting or disagreeing on others, or arriving at the
same result by different reasoning, and in the same manner differing
one from another. The two remaining associate justices, McLean and
Curtis, read emphatic dissenting opinions. Thus the collective
utterance of the bench resembled the speeches of a town meeting rather
than the decision of a court, and employed 240 printed pages of learned
legal disquisition to order the simple dismissal of a suit. The opinion
read by Chief-Justice Taney was long and elaborate, and the following
were among its leading conclusions:

That the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the
United States do not include nor refer to negroes otherwise than as
property; that they cannot become citizens of the United States nor
sue in the Federal courts. That Dred Scott's claim to freedom by
reason of his residence in Illinois was a Missouri question, which
Missouri law had decided against him. That the Constitution of the
United States recognizes slaves as property, and pledges the Federal
Government to protect it; and that the Missouri Compromise act and
like prohibitory laws are unconstitutional. That the Circuit Court of
the United States had no jurisdiction in the case and could give no
judgment in it, and must be directed to dismiss the suit.

This remarkable decision challenged the attention of the whole people
to a degree never before excited by any act of their courts of law.
Multiplied editions were at once printed,[6] scattered broadcast over
the land, read with the greatest avidity, and earnestly criticised.

The public sentiment regarding it immediately divided, generally on
existing party lines--the South and the Democrats accepting and
commending, the North and the Republicans spurning and condemning it.
The great anti-slavery public was not slow in making a practical
application of its dogmas: that a sweeping and revolutionary
exposition of the Constitution had been attempted when confessedly
the case and question had no right to be in court; that an evident
partisan dictum of national judges had been built on an avowed
partisan decision of State judges; that both the legislative and
judicial authority of the nation had been trifled with; that the
settler's "sovereignty" in Kansas consisted only of a Southern
planter's right to bring his slaves there; and that if under the
"property" theory the Constitution carries slavery to the Territories,
it would by the same inevitable logic carry it into free-States.

But much more offensive to the Northern mind than his conclusions of
law were the language and historical assertions by which Chief-Justice
Taney strove to justify them.

  [Sidenote] 19 Howard, p. 407.

    In the opinion of the court [said he] the legislation and
    histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration
    of Independence, show, that neither the class of persons who had
    been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had
    become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the
    people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in
    that memorable instrument. It is difficult at this day to realize
    the state of public opinion in relation to that unfortunate race
    which prevailed in the civilized and enlightened portions of the
    world at the time of the Declaration of Independence and when the
    Constitution of the United States was framed and adopted. But the
    public history of every European nation displays it in a manner
    too plain to be mistaken. They had for more than a century before
    been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit
    to associate with the white race, either in social or political
    relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the
    white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly
    and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought
    and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and
    traffic, whenever a profit could be made by it.

Quoting the provisions of several early slave codes, he continued:

  [Sidenote] Ibid., p. 409.

    They show that a perpetual and impassable barrier was intended to
    be erected between the white race and the one which they had
    reduced to slavery and governed as subjects with absolute and
    despotic power, and which they then looked upon as so far below
    them in the scale of created beings that intermarriages between
    white persons and negroes or mulattoes were regarded as unnatural
    and immoral, and punished as crimes, not only in the parties, but
    in the person who joined them in marriage. And no distinction in
    this respect was made between the free negro or mulatto and the
    slave, but this stigma, of the deepest degradation, was fixed upon
    the whole race.

Referring to the phrase in the Declaration of Independence, which
asserts that all men are created equal, he remarked:

  [Sidenote] 19 Howard, p. 410.

    The general words above quoted would seem to embrace the whole
    human family, and if they were used in a similar instrument at
    this day would be so understood. But it is too clear for dispute,
    that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included,
    and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this
    declaration; for if the language, as understood in that day, would
    embrace them, the conduct of the distinguished men who framed the
    Declaration of Independence would have been utterly and flagrantly
    inconsistent with the principles they asserted, and instead of the
    sympathy of mankind, to which they so confidently appealed, they
    would have deserved and received universal rebuke and reprobation.

He then applied the facts thus assumed as follows:

  [Sidenote] Ibid., pp. 425-6.

    The only two provisions which point to them and include them treat
    them as property, and make it the duty of the Government to
    protect it; no other power in relation to this race is to be found
    in the Constitution.... No one, we presume, supposes that any
    change in public opinion or feeling in relation to this
    unfortunate race, in the civilized nations of Europe or in this
    country, should induce the court to give to the words of the
    Constitution a more liberal construction in their favor than
    they were intended to bear when the instrument was framed and
    adopted.... It is not only the same in words, but the same in
    meaning, and delegates the same powers to the Government, and
    reserves and secures the same rights and privileges to the
    citizen; and as long as it continues to exist in its present form,
    it speaks not only in the same words but with the same meaning and
    intent with which it spoke when it came from the hands of its
    framers and was voted on and adopted by the people of the United

This cold and pitiless historical delineation of the bondage,
ignorance, and degradation of the unfortunate kidnaped Africans and
their descendants in a by-gone century, as an immutable basis of
constitutional interpretation, was met by loud and indignant protest
from the North. The people and press of that section seized upon the
salient phrase of the statement, and applying it in the present tense,
accused the Chief-Justice with saying that "a negro has no rights
which a white man is bound to respect." This was certainly a
distortion of his exact words and meaning; yet the exaggeration was
more than half excusable, in view of the literal and unbending rigor
with which he proclaimed the constitutional disability of the entire
African race in the United States, and denied their birthright in the
Declaration of Independence. His unmerciful logic made the black
before the law less than a slave; it reduced him to the status of a
horse or dog, a bale of dry-goods or a block of stone. Against such a
debasement of any living image of the Divine Maker the resentment of
the public conscience of the North was quick and unsparing.

Had Chief-Justice Taney's delineation been historically correct, it
would have been nevertheless unwise and unchristian to embody it in
the form of a disqualifying legal sentence and an indelible political
brand. But its manifest untruth was clearly shown by Justice Curtis in
his dissenting opinion. He reminded the Chief-Justice that at the
adoption of the Constitution:

  [Sidenote] 19 Howard, p. 582.

    In five of the thirteen original States colored persons then
    possessed the elective franchise, and were among those by whom the
    Constitution was ordained and established. If so, it is not true
    in point of fact that the Constitution was made exclusively by the
    white race, and that it was made exclusively for the white race is
    in my opinion not only an assumption not warranted by anything in
    the Constitution, but contradicted by its opening declaration that
    it was ordained and established by the people of the United States
    for themselves and their posterity; and as free colored persons
    were then citizens of at least five States, and so in every sense
    part of the people of the United States, they were among those for
    whom and whose posterity the Constitution was ordained and

Elsewhere in the same opinion he said:

  [Sidenote] Ibid., pp. 574-5.

    I shall not enter into an examination of the existing opinions of
    that period respecting the African race, nor into any discussion
    concerning the meaning of those who asserted in the Declaration of
    Independence that all men are created equal; that they are endowed
    by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these
    are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. My own opinion
    is, that a calm comparison of these assertions of universal
    abstract truths, and of their own individual opinions and acts,
    would not leave these men under any reproach of inconsistency;
    that the great truths they asserted on that solemn occasion they
    were ready and anxious to make effectual; wherever a necessary
    regard to circumstances, which no statesman can disregard without
    producing more evil than good, would allow; and that it would not
    be just to them, nor true in itself, to allege that they intended
    to say that the Creator of all men had endowed the white race
    exclusively with the great natural rights which the Declaration of
    Independence asserts.

Justice McLean, in his dissenting opinion, completed the outline of
the true historical picture in accurate language:

  [Sidenote] 19 Howard, pp. 537-8.

    I prefer the lights of Madison, Hamilton, and Jay, as a means of
    construing the Constitution in all its bearings, rather than to
    look behind that period into a traffic which is now declared to be
    piracy, and punished with death by Christian nations. I do not
    like to draw the sources of our domestic relations from so dark a
    ground. Our independence was a great epoch in the history of
    freedom; and while I admit the Government was not made especially
    for the colored race, yet many of them were citizens of the New
    England States, and exercised the rights of suffrage when the
    Constitution was adopted, and it was not doubted by any
    intelligent person that its tendencies would greatly ameliorate
    their condition.

    Many of the States on the adoption of the Constitution, or shortly
    afterwards, took measures to abolish slavery within their
    respective jurisdictions; and it is a well-known fact that a
    belief was cherished by the leading men, South as well as North,
    that the institution of slavery would gradually decline until it
    would become extinct. The increased value of slave labor, in the
    culture of cotton and sugar, prevented the realization of this
    expectation. Like all other communities and States, the South were
    influenced by what they considered to be their own interests. But
    if we are to turn our attention to the dark ages of the world, why
    confine our view to colored slavery? On the same principles white
    men were made slaves. All slavery has its origin in power and is
    against right.

To the constitutional theory advanced by the Chief-Justice, that
Congress cannot exercise sovereign powers over Federal Territories,
and hence cannot exclude slave property from them, Justices McLean and
Curtis also opposed a vigorous and exhaustive argument, which the most
eminent lawyers and statesmen of that day deemed conclusive. The
historical precedents alone ought to have determined the issue. "The
judicial mind of this country, State and Federal," said McLean, "has
agreed on no subject within its legitimate action with equal unanimity
as on the power of Congress to establish Territorial governments. No
court, State or Federal, no judge or statesman, is known to have had
any doubts on this question for nearly sixty years after the power was

  [Sidenote] 19 Howard, p. 619.

And Curtis added: "Here are eight distinct instances, beginning with
the first Congress, and coming down to the year 1848, in which
Congress has excluded slavery from the territory of the United States;
and six distinct instances in which Congress organized governments of
Territories by which slavery was recognized and continued, beginning
also with the first Congress, and coming down to the year 1822. These
acts were severally signed by seven Presidents of the United States,
beginning with General Washington, and coming regularly down as far as
Mr. John Quincy Adams, thus including all who were in public life when
the Constitution was adopted. If the practical construction of the
Constitution, contemporaneously with its going into effect, by men
intimately acquainted with its history from their personal
participation in framing and adopting it, and continued by them
through a long series of acts of the gravest importance, be entitled
to weight in the judicial mind on a question of construction, it would
seem to be difficult to resist the force of the acts above adverted

[Illustration: SAMUEL NELSON.]

[1] The declaration in the case of Dred Scott vs. John F.A. Sandford
was filed in the clerk's office of the Circuit Court of the United
States for the district of Missouri on the second day of November,
1853. The trespass complained of is alleged to have occurred on the
first day of January, 1853.--Manuscript Records of the Supreme Court
of the United States.

[2] At the first hearing Montgomery Blair argued the case for Dred
Scott, and Senator Geyer, of Missouri, and ex-Attorney-General Reverdy
Johnson, of Maryland, for the claimant. At the second hearing Mr.
Blair and George Ticknor Curtis, of Boston, argued the case on behalf
of Dred Scott, and Mr. Greyer and Mr. Johnson again made the argument
for the claimant. All of them performed the service without

[3] "The court will not decide the question of the Missouri Compromise
line--a majority of the judges being of opinion that it is not
necessary to do so. (This is confidential.) The one engrossing subject
in both Houses of Congress and with all the members is the Presidency;
and upon this everything done and omitted, except the most ordinary
necessities of the country, depends."--[Letter of Justice Curtis to
Mr. Ticknor, April 8, 1856. G.T. Curtis, "Life of B.R. Curtis," Vol.
I., p. 180.]

[4] A striking example may be found in the utterance of Attorney-General
Caleb Cushing, of the retiring Pierce Administration, in a little
parting address to the Supreme Court, March 4, 1857:

    "Yours is not the gauntleted hand of the soldier, nor yours the
    voice which commands armies, rules cabinets, or leads senates; but
    though you are none of these, yet you are backed by all of them.
    Theirs is the external power which sustains your moral authority;
    you are the incarnate mind of the political body of the nation. In
    the complex institutions of our country you are the pivot point
    upon which the rights and liberties of all, government and people
    alike, turn; or, rather, you are the central light of constitutional
    wisdom around which they perpetually revolve. Long may this court
    retain the confidence of our country as the great conservators,
    not of the private peace only, but of the sanctity and integrity
    of the Constitution."--"National Intelligencer," March 5, 1857.

[5] "Mr. Buchanan was also preparing his inaugural address with his
usual care and painstaking, and I copied his drafts and recopied them
until he had prepared it to his satisfaction. It underwent no alteration
after he went to the National Hotel in Washington, except that he there
inserted a clause in regard to the question then pending in the Supreme
Court, as one that would dispose of a vexed and dangerous topic by the
highest judicial authority of the land."--Statement of James Buchanan
Henry (President Buchanan's private secretary) in the "Life of James
Buchanan," by George Ticknor Curtis, Vol. II., p. 187.

[6] "It may not be improper for me here to add that so great an
interest did I take in that decision, and in its principles being
sustained and understood in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, that I took
the trouble at my own cost to print or have printed a large edition of
that decision to scatter it over the State; and unless the mails have
miscarried, there is scarcely a member elected to the Legislature who
has not received a copy with my frank."--Vice-president Breckinridge,
Frankfort Speech, December, 1859.



Manifestly, when the educated intellects of the learned judges
differed so radically concerning the principles of law and the facts
of history applicable to the Dred Scott question, the public at large
could hardly be expected to receive the new dogmas without similar
divergence of opinion. So far from exercising a healing influence,
the decision widened immensely the already serious breach between
the North and the South. The persons immediately involved in the
litigation were quickly lost sight of;[1] but the constitutional
principle affirmed by the court was defended by the South and
denounced by the North with zeal and acrimony. The Republican party
did not further question or propose to disturb the final judgment in
the case; but it declared that the Dred Scott doctrines of the Supreme
Court should not be made a rule of political action, and precisely
this the South, together with the bulk of the Northern Democrats,
insisted should be done.

  [Sidenote] 19 Howard, pp. 460-1.

A single phase of the controversy will serve to illustrate the general
drift of the discussion throughout the Union. Some three months after
the delivery of the opinion of the court, Senator Douglas found
himself again among his constituents in Illinois, and although there
was no political campaign in progress, current events and the roused
state of public feeling seemed to require that he should define his
views in a public speech. It marks his acuteness as a politician that
he already realized what a fatal stab the Dred Scott decision had
given his vaunted principle of "Popular Sovereignty," with which he
justified his famous repeal of the Missouri Compromise. He had ever
since argued that Congressional prohibition of slavery was obsolete
and useless, and that the choice of slavery or freedom ought to be
confided to the local Territorial laws, just as it was confided to
local State constitutions. But the Dred Scott decision announced that
slaves were property which Congress could not exclude from the
Territories, adding also the inevitable conclusion that what Congress
could not do a Territorial Legislature could not.

Difficult as this made his task of reconciling his favorite theory
with the Dred Scott decision, such was his political boldness, and
such had been his skill and success in sophistry, that he undertook
even this hopeless effort. Douglas, therefore, made a speech at
Springfield, Illinois, on the 12th of June, 1857, in which he broadly
and fully indorsed and commended the opinion of Chief-Justice Taney
and his concurring associates, declaring that "Their judicial
decisions will stand in all future time, a proud monument to their
greatness, the admiration of the good and wise, and a rebuke to the
partisans of faction and lawless violence. If unfortunately any
considerable portion of the people of the United States shall so far
forget their obligations to society as to allow the partisan leaders
to array them in violent resistance to the final decision of the
highest judicial tribunal on earth, it will become the duty of all the
friends of order and constitutional government, without reference to
past political differences, to organize themselves and marshal their
forces under the glorious banner of the Union, in vindication of the
Constitution and supremacy of the laws over the advocates of faction
and the champions of violence."

Proceeding then with a statement of the case, he continued: "The
material and controlling points in the case, those which have been
made the subject of unmeasured abuse and denunciation, may be thus
stated: 1st. The court decided that under the Constitution of the
United States, a negro descended from slave parents is not and cannot
be a citizen of the United States. 2d. That the act of March 6, 1820,
commonly called the Missouri Compromise act, was unconstitutional and
void before it was repealed by the Nebraska act, and consequently did
not and could not have the legal effect of extinguishing a master's
right to his slave in that Territory. While the right continues in
full force under the guarantees of the Constitution, and cannot be
divested or alienated by an act of Congress, it necessarily remains a
barren and a worthless right, unless sustained, protected, and
enforced by appropriate police regulations and local legislation,
prescribing adequate remedies for its violation. These regulations and
remedies must necessarily depend entirely upon the will and wishes of
the people of the Territory, as they can only be prescribed by the
local legislatures. Hence the great principle of popular sovereignty
and self-government is sustained and firmly established by the
authority of this decision."

It is scarcely possible that Douglas convinced himself by such a
glaring _non sequitur_; but he had no other alternative. It was a
desperate expedient to shield himself as well as he might from the
damaging recoil of his own temporizing statesmanship. The declaration
made thus early is worthy of historical notice as being the substance
and groundwork of the speaker's famous "Freeport doctrine," or theory
of "unfriendly legislation," to which Lincoln's searching interrogatories
drove him in the great Lincoln-Douglas debates of the following year.
Repeated and amplified at that time, it became in the eyes of the South
the unpardonable political heresy which lost him the Presidential
nomination and caused the rupture of the Democratic National
Convention at Charleston in the summer of 1860. For the moment, however,
 the sophism doubtless satisfied his many warm partisans. He did not
dwell on the dangerous point, but trusted for oratorical effect rather
to his renewed appeals to the popular prejudice against the blacks, so
strong in central Illinois, indorsing and emphasizing Chief-Justice
Taney's assertion that negroes were not included in the words of the
Declaration of Independence, and arguing that if the principle of
equality were admitted and carried out to its logical results, it
would necessarily lead not only to the abolition of slavery in the
slave-States, but to the general amalgamation of the two races.

The Republican party of Illinois had been greatly encouraged and
strengthened by its success in electing the State officers in the
previous autumn; and as their recognized leader and champion, Lincoln
made a reply to this speech some two weeks later, June 26, 1857, also
at Springfield. Though embracing other topics, the question of the
hour, the Dred Scott decision, was nevertheless its chief subject. The
extracts here presented from it will give the reader some idea of its
power of statement and eloquence:

    And now [said Mr. Lincoln] as to the Dred Scott decision. That
    decision declares two propositions--first, that a negro cannot sue
    in the United States courts; and secondly, that Congress cannot
    prohibit slavery in the Territories. It was made by a divided
    court--dividing differently on the different points. Judge Douglas
    does not discuss the merits of the decision, and in that respect I
    shall follow his example, believing I could no more improve on
    McLean and Curtis, than he could on Taney. He denounces all who
    question the correctness of that decision, as offering violent
    resistance to it. But who resists it? Who has, in spite of the
    decision, declared Dred Scott free, and resisted the authority of
    his master over him? Judicial decisions have two uses--first, to
    absolutely determine the case decided, and, secondly, to indicate
    to the public how other similar cases will be decided when they
    arise. For the latter use they are called "precedents" and
    "authorities." We believe as much as Judge Douglas (perhaps more)
    in obedience to and respect for the judicial department of
    government. We think its decisions on constitutional questions,
    when fully settled, should control, not only the particular cases
    decided, but the general policy of the country, subject to be
    disturbed only by amendments of the Constitution as provided in
    that instrument itself. More than this would be revolution. But we
    think the Dred Scott decision is erroneous. We know the court that
    made it has often overruled its own decisions, and we shall do
    what we can to have it overrule this. We offer no resistance to
    it. Judicial decisions are of greater or less authority as
    precedents according to circumstances. That this should be so,
    accords both with common sense and the customary understanding of
    the legal profession. If this important decision had been made by
    the unanimous concurrence of the judges, and without any apparent
    partisan bias, and in accordance with legal public expectation,
    and with the steady practice of the departments throughout our
    history, and had been in no part based on assumed historical facts
    which are not really true; or, if wanting in some of these, it had
    been before the court more than once, and had there been affirmed
    and reaffirmed through a course of years, it then might be,
    perhaps would be, factious, nay, even revolutionary, not to
    acquiesce in it as a precedent. But when, as is true, we find it
    wanting in all these claims to the public confidence, it is not
    resistance, it is not factions, it is not even disrespectful, to
    treat it as not having yet quite established a settled doctrine
    for the country.

Rising above all questions of technical construction to the broad and
universal aspects of the issue, Mr. Lincoln continued:

    The Chief-Justice does not directly assert, but plainly assumes as
    a fact, that the public estimate of the black man is more
    favorable now than it was in the days of the Revolution. This
    assumption is a mistake. In some trifling particulars the
    condition of that race has been ameliorated; but as a whole, in
    this country, the change between then and now is decidedly the
    other way; and their ultimate destiny has never appeared so
    hopeless as in the last three or four years. In two of the five
    States--New Jersey and North Carolina--that then gave the free
    negro the right of voting, the right has since been taken away;
    and in a third--New York--it has been greatly abridged; while it
    has not been extended, so far as I know, to a single additional
    State, though the number of the States has more than doubled. In
    those days, as I understand, masters could, at their own pleasure,
    emancipate their slaves; but since then such legal restraints have
    been made upon emancipation as to amount almost to prohibition. In
    those days, legislatures held the unquestioned power to abolish
    slavery in their respective States; but now it is becoming quite
    fashionable for State constitutions to withhold that power from
    the legislatures. In those days, by common consent, the spread of
    the black man's bondage to the new countries was prohibited; but
    now Congress decides that it will not continue the prohibition,
    and the Supreme Court decides that it could not if it would. In
    those days, our Declaration of Independence was held sacred by
    all, and thought to include all; but now, to aid in making the
    bondage of the negro universal and eternal, it is assailed, and
    sneered at, and construed and hawked at, and torn, till if its
    framers could rise from their graves they could not at all
    recognize it. All the powers of earth seem rapidly combining
    against him. Mammon is after him, ambition follows, philosophy
    follows, and the theology of the day is fast joining the cry. They
    have him in his prison house, they have searched his person and
    left no prying instrument with him. One after another they have
    closed the heavy iron doors upon him; and now they have him, as it
    were, bolted in with a lock of a hundred keys, which can never be
    unlocked without the concurrence of every key; the keys in the
    hands of a hundred different men, and they scattered to a hundred
    different and distant places; and they stand musing as to what
    invention, in all the dominions of mind and matter, can he
    produced to make the impossibility of his escape more complete
    than it is....

    There is a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all white people
    at the idea of an indiscriminate amalgamation of the white and
    black races; and Judge Douglas evidently is basing his chief hope
    upon the chances of his being able to appropriate the benefit of
    this disgust to himself. If he can by much drumming and repeating
    fasten the odium of that idea upon his adversaries, he thinks he
    can struggle through the storm. He therefore clings to this hope
    as a drowning man to the last plank. He makes an occasion for
    lugging it in, from the opposition to the Dred Scott decision. He
    finds the Republicans insisting that the Declaration of
    Independence includes _all_ men, black as well as white, and
    forthwith he boldly denies that it includes negroes at all, and
    proceeds to argue gravely that all who contend it does, do so only
    because they want to vote, and eat, and sleep, and marry with
    negroes. He will have it that they cannot be consistent else. Now
    I protest against the counterfeit logic which concludes that
    because I do not want a black woman for a slave I must necessarily
    want her for a wife. I need not have her for either. I can just
    leave her alone. In some respects she certainly is not my equal;
    but in her natural right to eat the bread she earns with her own
    hands, without asking leave of any one else, she is my equal and
    the equal of all others.

    Chief-Justice Taney, in his opinion in the Dred Scott case, admits
    that the language of the Declaration is broad enough to include
    the whole human family; but he and Judge Douglas argue that the
    authors of that instrument did not intend to include negroes, by
    the fact that they did not at once actually place them on an
    equality with the whites. Now this grave argument comes to just
    nothing at all by the other fact that they did not at once or ever
    afterwards actually place all white people on an equality with one
    another. And this is the staple argument of both the Chief-Justice
    and the Senator, for doing this obvious violence to the plain,
    unmistakable language of the Declaration.

    I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include
    all men; but they did not intend to declare all men equal in all
    respects. They did not mean to say all were equal in color, size,
    intellect, moral development, or social capacity. They defined
    with tolerable distinctness in what respects they did consider all
    men created equal--equal with "certain inalienable rights, among
    which, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." This they
    said, and this they meant. They did not mean to assert the obvious
    untruth that all were then actually enjoying that equality, nor
    yet that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. In
    fact they had no power to confer such a boon. They meant simply to
    declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as
    fast as circumstances should permit. They meant to set up a
    standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all,
    and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for,
    and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated,
    and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence and
    augmenting; the happiness and value of life to all people of all
    colors everywhere. The assertion that "all men are created equal"
    was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great
    Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration, not for that but
    for future use. Its authors meant it to be, as, thank God, it is
    now proving itself, a stumbling-block to all those who in after
    times might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful paths
    of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity to breed
    tyrants, and they meant when such should reappear in this fair
    land and commence their vocation, they should find left for them
    at least one hard nut to crack.

[1] The ownership of Dred Scott and his family passed by inheritance
to the family of a Massachusetts Republican member of Congress. The
following telegram, copied from the "Providence Post" into the
"Washington Union," shows the action of the new owner: "St. Louis, May
26 [1857]. Dred Scott with his wife and two daughters were emancipated
to-day by Taylor Blow, Esq. They had been conveyed to him by Mr.
Chaffee for that purpose."



The year 1857 brings us to a decided change in the affairs of Kansas,
but with occurrences no less remarkable. Active civil war gradually
ceased in the preceding autumn--a result due to the vigorous and
impartial administration of Governor Geary and the arrival of the
inclement winter weather.

  [Sidenote] Geary to Marcy, Jan. 19, 1857. Senate Ex. Doc. No. 17,
  1st Sess. 35th Cong. Vol. VI., p. 131.

  [Sidenote] Geary, Veto Message, Feb. 18, 1857. Senate Ex. Doc.
  No. 17, 1st Sess. 35th Cong. Vol. VI., p. 167.

On the evening of the day the Legislature met (January 12, 1857), the
pro-slavery party held a large political convention, in which it was
confessed that they were in a hopeless minority in the Territory, and
the general conclusion was reached that it was no longer worth while
to attempt to form a slave-State in Kansas.[1] Many of its hitherto
active leaders immediately and definitely abandoned the struggle. But
the Missouri cabal, intrenched in the various territorial and county
offices, held to their design, though their labors now assumed a
somewhat different character. They denounced Governor Geary in their
resolutions, and devised legislation to further their intrigues. By
the middle of February, under their inspiration, a bill providing for
a convention to frame a State constitution was perfected and enacted.
The Governor immediately sent the Legislature his message, reminding
them that the leading idea of the organic act was to leave the actual
_bonâ fide_ inhabitants of the Territory "perfectly free to form and
regulate their domestic institutions in their own way," and vetoing
the bill because "the Legislature has failed to make any provision to
submit the constitution when framed to the consideration of the people
for their ratification or rejection." The Governor's argument was
wasted on the predetermined legislators. They promptly passed the act
over his veto.

The cabal was in no mood to be thwarted, and under a show of outward
toleration, if not respect, their deep hostility found such means of
making itself felt that the Governor began to receive insult from
street ruffians, and to become apprehensive for his personal safety.
In such a contest he was single-handed against the whole pro-slavery
town of Lecompton. The foundation of his authority was gradually
sapped; and finding himself no longer sustained at Washington, where
the private appeals and denunciations of the cabal were more
influential than his official reports, he wrote his resignation on
the day of Buchanan's inauguration, and a week later left the Territory
in secrecy as a fugitive. Thus, in less than three years, three
successive Democratic executives had been resisted, disgraced, and
overthrown by the political conspiracy which ruled the Territory; and
Kansas had indeed become, in the phraseology of the day, "the
graveyard of governors."

The Kansas imbroglio was a political scandal of such large
proportions, and so clearly threatened a dangerous schism in the
Democratic party, that the new President, Buchanan, and his new
Cabinet, proceeded to its treatment with the utmost caution. The
subject was fraught with difficulties not of easy solution. The South,
to retain her political supremacy, or even her equality, needed more
slave-States to furnish additional votes in the United States Senate.
To make a slave-State of Kansas, the Missouri Compromise had been
repealed, and a bogus legislature elected and supported by the
successive Missouri invasions and the guerrilla war of 1856. All these
devices had, however, confessedly failed of their object. Northern
emigration and anti-slavery sentiment were clearly in possession of
Kansas, and a majority of voters stood ready upon fair occasion to
place her in the column of free-States. It had become a game on the
chess-board of national politics. The moving pieces stood in Missouri
and Kansas, but the players sat in Washington. In reality it was a
double game. There was plot and under-plot. Beneath the struggle
between the free-States and the slave-States were the intrigue and
deception carried on between Northern Democrats and Southern
Democrats. The Kansas-Nebraska act was a double-tongued statute, and
the Cincinnati platform a Janus-faced banner. Momentary victory was
with the Southern Democrats, for they had secured the nomination and
election of President Buchanan--"a Northern man with Southern

  [Sidenote] Walker to Cass, July 15, 1857. Senate Ex. Doc. No. 8,
  1st Sess. 35th Cong. Vol. I., p. 32.

  [Sidenote] Walker to Cass, Dec. 15, 1857. Ibid., p. 122.

Determined to secure whatever prestige could be derived from high
qualification and party influence, Buchanan tendered the vacant
governorship of Kansas to his intimate personal and political friend,
Robert J. Walker, of Mississippi, a man of great ability and national
fame, who had been Senator and Secretary of the Treasury. Walker,
realizing fully the responsibility and danger of the trust, after
repeated refusals finally accepted upon two distinct conditions: first,
that General Harney should be "put in special command in Kansas with a
large body of troops, and especially of dragoons and a battery," and
retained there subject to his military directions until the danger
was over; and second, that he "should advocate the submission of the
constitution to the vote of the people for ratification or rejection."

  [Sidenote] March 7, 1856. June 25, 1856.

This latter had now become a vital point in the political game. The
recent action of the Territorial Legislature and Geary's already
mentioned veto message were before the President and his Cabinet.[2]
But much more important than these moves in Kansas was the prior
determination of prominent Washington players. During the Kansas civil
war and the Presidential campaign of the previous year, by way of
offset to the Topeka Constitution, both Senator Douglas and Senator
Toombs wrote and introduced in the Senate bills to enable Kansas to
form a State constitution. The first by design, and the second by
accident, contained a clause to submit such constitution, when formed,
to a vote of the people. Both these bills were considered not only by
the Senate Committee on Territories, of which Douglas was chairman,
but also by a caucus of Democratic Senators. Said Senator Bigler: "It
was held, by those most intelligent on the subject, that in view of
all the difficulties surrounding that Territory, [and] the danger of
any experiment at that time of a popular vote, it would be better that
there should be no such provision in the Toombs bill; and it was my
understanding, in all the intercourse I had, that that convention
would make a constitution and send it here without submitting it to
the popular vote."[3]

  [Sidenote] Douglas, Milwaukee Speech, October 13, 1860.

This Toombs bill was, after modification in other respects, adopted by
Douglas, and duly passed by the Senate; but the House with an
opposition majority refused its assent. All these preliminaries were
well known to the Buchanan Cabinet, and of course also to Douglas. It
is fair to assume that under such circumstances Walker's emphatic
stipulation was deliberately and thoroughly discussed. Indeed,
extraordinary urging had been necessary to induce him to reconsider
his early refusals. Douglas personally joined in the solicitation.
Because of the determined opposition of his own family, Walker had
promised his wife that he would not go to Kansas without her consent;
and President Buchanan was so anxious on the point that he personally
called on Mrs. Walker and persuaded her to waive her objections.[4]
Under influences like these Walker finally accepted the appointment,
and the President and Cabinet acquiesced in his conditions without
reserve. He wrote his inaugural address in Washington, using the
following language: "I repeat then as my clear conviction that unless
the convention submit the constitution to the vote of the actual
resident settlers, and the election be fairly and justly conducted,
the constitution will be and ought to be rejected by Congress."

  [Sidenote] Douglas, Milwaukee Speech, October 13, 1860.

He submitted this draft of his inaugural to President Buchanan, who
read and approved the document and the promise. Secretary Cass wrote
his official instructions in accordance with it. On Walker's journey
West he stopped at Chicago and submitted his inaugural to Douglas, who
also indorsed his policy. The new Governor fondly believed he had
removed every obstacle to success, and every possibility of
misunderstanding or disapproval by the Administration, such as had
befallen his predecessors. But President Buchanan either deceived him
at the beginning, or betrayed him in the end.

  [Sidenote] Walker, Testimony, Covode Committee Report, p. 109.

With Governor Walker there was sent a new Territorial secretary.
Woodson, who had so often abused his powers during his repeated
service as acting Governor, was promoted to a more lucrative post to
create the vacancy. Frederick P. Stanton, of Tennessee, formerly a
representative in Congress, a man of talent and, as the event proved,
also a man of courage, was made secretary. Both Walker and Stanton
being from slave-States, it may be presumed that the slavery question
was considered safe in their hands. Walker, indeed, entertained
sentiments more valuable to the South in this conjuncture. He believed
in the balance of power; he preferred that the people of Kansas should
make it a slave-State; he was "in favor of maintaining the equilibrium
of the Government by giving the South a majority in the Senate, while
the North would always necessarily have a majority in the House of
Representatives." Both also entered on their mission with the feelings
entertained by the President and Democratic party; namely, that the
free-State men were a mischievous insurrectionary faction, willfully
disturbing the peace and defying the laws. Gradually, however, their
personal observation convinced them that this view was a profound

  [Sidenote] Walker to Buchanan, June 28, 1857. Ibid., p. 115.

  [Sidenote] Walker, Testimony. Ibid., p. 107.

  [Sidenote] Walker, Inaugural, May 27, 1857. Senate Ex. Doc. No. 8,
  1st Sess. 35th Cong. Vol. I., p. 11.

Governor Walker arrived in the Territory late in May, and it required
but short investigation to satisfy him that any idea of making Kansas
a slave-State was utterly preposterous. Had everything else been
propitious, climate alone seemed to render it impossible. But popular
sentiment was also overwhelmingly against it; he estimated that the
voters were for a free-State more than two to one. All the efforts of
the pro-slavery party to form a slave-State seemed to be finally
abandoned. If he could not make Kansas a slave-State, his next desire
was to make her a Democratic State. "And the only plan to accomplish
this was to unite the free-State Democrats with the pro-slavery party,
and all those whom I regarded as conservative men, against the more
violent portion of the Republicans." He, therefore, sought by fair
words to induce the free-State men to take part in the election of
delegates to the constitutional convention. His inaugural address,
quoting the President's instructions, promised that such election
should be free from fraud and violence; that the delegates should be
protected in their deliberations; and that if unsatisfactory, "you may
by a subsequent vote defeat the ratification of the constitution."

[Illustration: ROBERT J. WALKER.]

  [Sidenote] Walker, Topeka Speech, June 6, 1857, in "Washington
  Union" of June 27, 1857.

This same policy was a few weeks later urged at Topeka, where a mass
meeting of the free-State men was called to support and instruct
another sitting of the "insurrectionary" free-State Legislature
elected under the Topeka Constitution. The Governor found a large
assemblage, and a very earnest discussion in progress, whether the
"Legislature" should pursue only nominal action, such as would in
substance amount to a petition for redress of grievances, or whether
they should actually organize their State government, and pass a
complete code of laws. The moderate free-State men favored the former,
the violent and radical the latter, course. When their mass meeting
adjourned, they called on the Governor at his lodgings; he made a
speech, in which he renewed the counsels and promises of his inaugural
address. "The Legislature," said he, "has called a convention to
assemble in September next. That constitution they will or they will
not submit to the vote of a majority of the then actual resident
settlers of Kansas. If they do not submit it, I will join you,
fellow-citizens, in lawful opposition to their course. And I cannot
doubt, gentlemen, that one much higher than I, the Chief Magistrate
of the Union, will join you in that opposition." His invitation to
them to participate in the election of a convention produced no
effect; they still adhered to their resolve to have nothing to do
with any affirmative proceedings under the bogus laws or Territorial
Legislature. But the Governor's promise of a fair vote on the
constitution was received with favor. "Although this mass convention,"
reports the Governor, "did not adopt fully my advice to abandon the
whole Topeka movement, yet they did vote down by a large majority the
resolutions prepared by the more violent of their own party in favor
of a complete State organization and the adoption of a code of State

  [Sidenote] Walker to Cass, July 15, 1857. Senate Ex. Doc. No. 8,
  1st Sess. 35th Cong. Vol. I., p. 27.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., p. 29.

  [Sidenote] Walker to Cass, July 15, 1857. Senate Ex. Doc. No. 8,
  1st Sess. 35th Cong. Vol. I., p. 30.

If the Governor was gratified at this result as indicative of probable
success in his official administration, he rejoiced yet more in its
significance as a favorable symptom of party politics. "The result of
the whole discussion at Topeka," he reported, "was regarded by the
friends of law and order as highly favorable to their cause, and as
the commencement of a great movement essential to success; viz., the
separation of the free-State Democrats from the Republicans, who had
to some extent heretofore cooperated under the name of the free-State
party." Another party symptom gave the Governor equal, if not greater,
encouragement. On the 2d and 3d of July the "National Democratic" or
pro-slavery party of the Territory met in convention at Lecompton. The
leaders were out in full force. The hopelessness of making Kansas a
slave-State was once more acknowledged, the Governor's policy
indorsed, and a resolution "against the submission of the constitution
to a vote of the people was laid on the table as a test vote by
forty-two to one." The Governor began already to look upon his
counsels and influence as a turning-point in national destiny.
"Indeed," he wrote, "it is universally admitted here that the only
real question is this: whether Kansas shall be a conservative,
constitutional, Democratic, and ultimately free-State, or whether it
shall be a Republican and abolition State; and that the course pursued
by me is the only one which will prevent the last most calamitous
result, which, in my opinion, would soon seal the fate of the

  [Sidenote] F.P. Stanton's Speech, Philadelphia, February 8, 1858.

In his eagerness to reform the Democratic party of Kansas, and to
strengthen the Democratic party of the nation against the assaults and
dangers of "abolitionism," the Governor was not entirely frank; else
he would at the same time have reported, what he was obliged later to
explain, that the steps taken to form a constitution from which he
hoped so much were already vitiated by such defects or frauds as to
render them impossible of producing good fruit. The Territorial law
appointing the election of delegates provided for a census and a
registry of voters, to be made by county officers appointed by the
Territorial Legislature. These officers so neglected or failed to
discharge their duty, that in nearly half the organized counties of
the interior no attempt whatever was made to obtain the census or
registration; and in the counties lying on the Missouri border, where
the pro-slavery party was strong, the work of both was exceedingly
imperfect, and in many instances with notorious discrimination against
free-State voters. While the disfranchised counties had a comparatively
sparse population, the number of voters in them was too considerable
to be justly denied their due representation.[5] The apportionment of
delegates was based upon this defective registration and census, and
this alone would have given the pro-slavery party a disproportionate
power in the convention. But at the election of delegates on the 15th
of June, the free-State men, following their deliberate purpose and
hitherto unvarying practice of non-conformity to the bogus laws,
abstained entirely from voting. "The consequence was that out of the
9250 voters whose names had been registered ... there were in all
about 2200 votes cast, and of these the successful candidate received

  [Sidenote] Walker to Buchanan, June 28, 1857. Report Covode
  Committee, p. 118.

"The black Republicans," reported the Governor, "would not vote, and
the free-State Democrats were kept from voting by the fear that the
constitution would not be submitted by the convention, and that by
voting they committed themselves to the proceeding of the convention.
But for my inaugural, circulated by thousands, and various speeches
all urging the people to vote, there would not have been one thousand
votes polled in the Territory, and the convention would have been a
disastrous failure."

But this was not the only evil. The apportionment of the members of
the Territorial Legislature to be chosen the ensuing autumn was also
based upon this same defective registry and census. Here again
disproportionate power accrued to the pro-slavery party, and the
free-State men loudly charged that it was a new contrivance for the
convenience of Missouri voters. Governor Walker publicly deplored all
these complications and defects; but he counseled endurance, and
constantly urged in mitigation that in the end the people should have
the privilege of a fair and direct vote upon their constitution. That
promise he held aloft as a beacon-light of hope and redress. This
attitude and policy, frequently reported to Washington, was not
disavowed or discouraged by the President and Cabinet.

The Governor, however, soon found a storm brewing in another quarter.
When the newspapers brought copies of his inaugural address, his
Topeka speech, and the general report of his Kansas policy back to the
Southern States, there arose an ominous chorus of protest and
denunciation from the whole tribe of fire-eating editors and
politicians. What right had the Governor to intermeddle? they
indignantly demanded. What call to preach about climate, what business
to urge submission of the constitution to popular vote, or to promise
his own help to defeat it if it were not submitted; what authority to
pledge the President and Administration to such a course! The
convention was sovereign, they claimed, could do what it pleased, and
no thanks to the Governor for his impertinent advice. The Democratic
State Convention of Georgia took the matter in hand, and by resolution
denounced Walker's inaugural address, and asked his removal from
office. The Democratic State Convention of Mississippi followed suit,
and called the inaugural address an unjust discrimination against the
rights of the South, and a dictatorial intermeddling with the high
public duty intrusted to the convention.

Walker wrote a private letter to Buchanan, defending his course, and
adding: "Unless I am thoroughly and cordially sustained by the
Administration here, I cannot control the convention, and we shall
have anarchy and civil war. With that cordial support the convention
(a majority of whose delegates I have already seen) will do what is
right. I shall travel over the whole Territory, make speeches, rouse
the people in favor of my plan, and see all the delegates. But your
cordial support is indispensable, and I never would have come here,
unless assured by you of the cordial coöperation of all the Federal
officers.... The extremists are trying your nerves and mine, but what
can they say when the convention submits the constitution to the
people and the vote is given by them? But we must have a slave-State
out of the south-western Indian Territory, and then a calm will
follow; Cuba be acquired with the acquiescence of the North; and your
Administration, having in reality settled the slavery question, be
regarded in all time to come as a re-signing and re-sealing of the
constitution.... I shall be pleased soon to hear from you. Cuba! Cuba!
(and Porto Rico, if possible) should be the countersign of your
Administration, and it will close in a blaze of glory."[6]

The Governor had reason to be proud of the full and complete
reëndorsement which this appeal brought from his chief. Under date of
July 12, 1857, the President wrote in reply: "On the question of
submitting the constitution to the _bonâ fide_ resident settlers of
Kansas I am willing to stand or fall. In sustaining such a principle
we cannot fall. It is the principle of the Kansas-Nebraska bill; the
principle of popular sovereignty; and the principle at the foundation
of all popular government. The more it is discussed the stronger it
will become. Should the convention of Kansas adopt this principle, all
will be settled harmoniously, and with the blessing of Providence you
will return triumphantly from your arduous, important, and responsible
mission. The strictures of the Georgia and Mississippi Conventions
will then pass away and be speedily forgotten. In regard to Georgia,
our news from that State is becoming better every day; we have not yet
had time to hear much from Mississippi. Should you answer the
resolution of the latter, I would advise you to make the great
principle of the submission of the constitution to the _bonâ fide_
residents of Kansas conspicuously prominent. On this you will be

The delegates to the constitutional convention, chosen in June, met
according to law at Lecompton, September 7, and, having spent five
days in organization, adjourned their session to October 19. The
object of this recess was to await the issue of the general election
of October 5, at which a full Territorial Legislature, a delegate to
Congress, and various county officers were to be chosen.

  [Sidenote] Wilder, p. 133.

By the action of the free-State men this election was now made a
turning-point in Kansas politics. Held together as a compact party
by their peaceful resistance to the bogus laws, emigration from the
North had so strengthened their numbers that they clearly formed a
majority of the people of the Territory. A self-constituted and
self-regulated election held by them for sundry officials under their
Topeka Constitution, revealed a numerical strength of more than seven
thousand voters. Feeling that this advantage justified them in
receding from their attitude of non-conformity, they met in convention
towards the end of August, and while protesting against the "wicked
apportionment," resolved that "whereas Governor Walker has repeatedly
pledged himself that the people of Kansas should have a full and fair
vote, before impartial judges, at the election to be held on the first
Monday in October, ... we the people of Kansas, in mass convention
assembled, agree to participate in said election."

  [Sidenote] Oct. 5, 1857.

Governor Walker executed his public promises to the letter. A movement
of United States troops to Utah was in progress, and about two
thousand of these were detained by order until after election day.
Stationed at ten or twelve different points in the Territory, they
served by their mere presence to overawe disorder, and for the first
time in the history of Kansas the two opposing parties measured their
strength at the ballot-box. The result was an overwhelming triumph for
the free-State party. For delegate in Congress, Ransom, the Democratic
candidate, received 3799 votes; Parrott, the Republican candidate,
7888--a free-State majority of 4089. For the Legislature, even under
the defective apportionment, the council stood 9 free-State members
to 4 Democrats, and the House 24 free-State members to 15 Democrats.

  [Sidenote] Stanton, Speech at Philadelphia, February 8, 1858.

  [Sidenote] Walker, Proclamation, October 19, 1857. Senate Ex. Doc.
  No. 8, 1st Sess. 35th Cong. Vol. I., p. 103.

  [Sidenote] Walker, Proclamation, Oct. 22, 1857. Ibid., pp. 104-6.

  [Sidenote] Walker, Proclamation, October 19, 1857. Senate Ex. Doc.
  No. 8, 1st Sess. 35th Cong. Vol. I., p. 104.

That the pro-slavery cabal would permit power to slip from their grasp
without some extraordinary effort was scarcely to be expected. When
the official returns were brought from the various voting-places to
the Governor's office, there came from Oxford, a single precinct in
Johnson County, "a roll of paper, forty or fifty feet long, containing
names as thickly as they could be written," and a large part of which
were afterwards discovered to have been literally copied from an old
Cincinnati directory. This paper purported to be a return of 1628
votes for the eleven pro-slavery candidates for the Legislature in
that district, and if counted it would elect eight members of the
House and three of the council by a trifling majority, and thereby
change the political complexion and power of the Legislature.
Inspection showed the document to be an attempt to commit a stupendous
fraud; and after visiting the locality ("a village with six houses,
including stores, and without a tavern") and satisfying himself of the
impossibility of such a vote from such a place, Governor Walker
rejected the whole return from Oxford precinct for informality, and
gave certificates of election to the free-State candidates elected as
appeared by the other regular returns. A similar paper from McGee
County with more than 1200 names was treated in like manner. Judge
Cato issued his writ of mandamus to compel the Governor to give
certificates to the pro-slavery candidates, but without success. The
language of Governor Walker and Secretary Stanton in a proclamation
announcing their action deserves remembrance and imitation. "The
consideration that our own party by this decision will lose the
majority in the legislative assembly does not make our duty in the
premises less solemn and imperative. The elective franchise would be
utterly valueless, and free government itself would receive a deadly
blow, if so great an outrage as this could be shielded under the cover
of mere forms and technicalities. We cannot consent in any manner to
give the sanction of our respective official positions to such a
transaction. Nor can we feel justified to relieve ourselves of the
proper responsibility of our offices, in a case where there is no
valid return, by submitting the question to the legislative assembly,
and in that very act giving the parties that might claim to be chosen
by this spurious vote the power to decide upon their own election."

The decisive free-State victory, the Oxford and McGee frauds,[8] and
the Governor's fearless action in exposing and rejecting them, called
forth universal comment; and under the new political conditions which
they revealed, created intense interest in the further proceedings of
the Lecompton Constitutional Convention. That body reassembled
according to adjournment on the 19th of October. Elected in the
preceding June without any participation by free-State voters, the
members were all of the pro-slavery party, and were presided over by
John Calhoun, the same man who, as county surveyor of Sangamon County,
Illinois, employed Abraham Lincoln as his deputy in 1832.

At the June election, while he and his seven colleagues from Douglas
County were yet candidates for the convention, they had circulated a
written pledge that they would submit the constitution to the people
for ratification. This attitude was generally maintained by them till
the October election. But when by that vote they saw their faction
overwhelmed with defeat, they and others undertook to maintain
themselves in power by an unprecedented piece of political jugglery.
Calhoun, who was surveyor-general of the Territory, employed a large
number of subordinates, and was one of the most able and unscrupulous
leaders in the pro-slavery cabal. A large majority of the convention
favored the establishment of slavery; only the question of a popular
vote on ratification or rejection excited controversy.

An analysis shows that the principle of delegated authority had become
attenuated to a remarkable degree. The defective registration excluded
a considerable number (estimated at about one-sixth) of the legal
voters. Of the 9250 registered, only about 2200 voted, all told. Of
these 2200, only about 1800 votes were given for the successful
candidates for delegate. Of the whole sixty delegates alleged to have
been chosen, "but forty-three," says a Committee Report, "participated
in the work of the convention. Sessions were held without a quorum,
and the yeas and nays often show that but few above thirty were
present. It is understood, and not denied, that but twenty-eight of
these--less than half of a full house of sixty--decided the
pro-slavery or free-State question; and upon the question of
submission of their work to the will of the people, the pro-slavery
party carried the point by a majority of two votes only. It is quite
in keeping with the character of this body and its officers to find
the journal of its proceedings for the last days missing."[9]

Their allotted task was completed in a short session of about three
weeks; the convention adjourned November 7, forty-three of the fifty
delegates present having been induced to sign the constitution. When
the document was published the whole country was amazed to see what
perversity and ingenuity had been employed to thwart the unmistakable
popular will. Essentially a slave-State constitution of the most
pronounced type, containing the declaration that the right of property
in slaves is "before and higher than any constitutional sanction," it
made the right to vote upon it depend on the one hand on a test oath
to "support this constitution" in order to repel conscientious
free-State voters, and on the other hand on mere inhabitancy on the
day of election to attract nomadic Missourians; it postponed the right
to amend or alter for a period of seven years; it kept the then
existing territorial laws in force until abrogated by State
legislation; it adopted the late Oxford fraud as a basis of
apportionment; it gave to Calhoun, the presiding officer, power to
designate the precincts, the judges of election, and to decide finally
upon the returns in the vote upon it, besides many other questionable
or inadmissible provisions. Finally the form of submission to popular
vote to be taken on the 21st of December was prescribed to be,
"constitution with slavery" or "constitution with no slavery," thus
compelling the adoption of the constitution in any event.

  [Sidenote] Walker, Testimony, Report Covode Committee, p. 110.

  [Sidenote] Martin, Testimony, Report Covode Committee, p. 159.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., pp. 170-1.

There is a personal and political mystery underlying this transaction
which history will probably never solve. Only a few points of
information have come to light, and they serve to embarrass rather
than aid the solution. The first is that Calhoun, although the friend
and protégé of Douglas, and also himself personally pledged to
submission, came to the Governor and urged him to join in the new
programme as to slavery,--alleging that the Administration had changed
its policy, and now favored this plan,--and tempted Walker with a
prospect of the Presidency if he would concur. Walker declared such a
change impossible, and indignantly spurned the proposal. The second is
that one Martin, a department clerk, was, after confidential
instructions from Secretary Thompson and Secretary Cobb, of Buchanan's
Cabinet, sent to Kansas in October, ostensibly on department business;
that he spent his time in the lobby and the secret caucuses of the
convention. Martin testifies that these Cabinet members favored
submission, but that Thompson wished it understood that he was
unwilling to oppose the admission of Kansas "if a pro-slavery
constitution should be made and sent directly to Congress by the
convention." A wink was as good as a nod with that body, or rather
with the cabal which controlled it; and after a virtuous dumb-show of
opposition, it made a pretense of yielding to the inevitable, and
acted on the official suggestion. This theory is the more plausible
because Martin testifies further that he himself drafted the slavery
provision which was finally adopted. The third point is that the
President inexcusably abandoned his pledges to the Governor and
adopted this Cobb-Thompson-Calhoun contrivance, instead of keeping his
word and dismissing Calhoun, as honor dictated. This course becomes
especially remarkable in view of the fact that the change did not
occur until after Walker's rejection of the fraudulent Oxford returns,
which action placed the legislative power of the Territory in the
hands of the newly elected free-State Legislature, as already related.
On the same day (October 22, 1857) on which Walker and Stanton issued
their proclamation rejecting the fraudulent returns, President
Buchanan wrote another highly commendatory letter to Governor Walker.
As it has never before been published, its full text will have special
historical interest.

    22d October, 1857.

    MY DEAR SIR: I have received your favor of the tenth instant by
    Captain Pleasonton and am rejoiced to learn from you, what I had
    previously learned from other less authentic sources, that the
    convention of Kansas will submit the constitution to the people.
    It is highly gratifying that the late election passed off so
    peacefully; and I think we may now fairly anticipate a happy
    conclusion to all the difficulties in that Territory. Your
    application for a month's leave of absence has been granted to
    commence after the adjournment of the convention. During its
    session your presence will be too important to be dispensed with.
    I shall be glad to see you before you publish anything. The whole
    affair is now gliding along smoothly. Indeed, the revulsion in the
    business of the country seems to have driven all thoughts of
    "bleeding Kansas" from the public mind. When and in what manner
    anything shall be published to revive the feeling, is a question
    of serious importance. I am persuaded that with every passing day
    the public are more and more disposed to do you justice. You
    certainly do injustice to Harris, the editor of the "Union." In
    the beginning I paid some attention to the course of the paper in
    regard to yourself, and I think it was unexceptionable: I know he
    stood firm amidst a shower of abuse from the extremists. I never
    saw nor did I ever hear of the communication published in the
    "Union" to which you refer, and Harris has no recollection of it.
    I requested him to find me the number and send it to me; but this
    he has not done. He is not responsible in any degree for the
    non-publication of the letters to which you refer.[10] I knew
    nothing of them until after the receipt of yours; and upon inquiry
    I found their publication had been prevented by Mr. Cobb under a
    firm conviction that they would injure both yourself and the

    Whether he judged wisely or not I cannot say, for I never saw
    them. That he acted in fairness and friendship I have not a doubt.
    He was anxious that General Whitfield should publish a letter and
    prepared one for him, expecting he would sign it before he left.
    He sent this letter after him for his approval and signature; but
    it has not been returned. I know not what are its contents.
    General W. doubtless has the letter in his possession. Beyond all
    question, the motives of Mr. Cobb were proper. Mrs. Walker and
    Mrs. Bache have just left me after a half hour's very agreeable
    conversation. Mrs. Walker desires me to inform you the family are
    all well and sends her love.

    From your friend, very respectfully,


    Hon. ROBERT J. WALKER.[11]

  [Sidenote] Report Covode Committee, p. 111.

The question naturally occurs, for whom did Calhoun speak when he
approached Governor Walker, offering him the bribe of the Presidency
and assuring him that the Administration had changed its mind? That
was before, or certainly not long after, the probable receipt of this
letter in Kansas, for the Governor left the Territory (November 16)
about one week after the adjournment of the Lecompton Convention. The
question becomes still more pressing owing to Governor Walker's
testimony that when he reached Washington, "the President himself
distinctly and emphatically assured me that he had not authorized
anybody to say that he had approved of that [Lecompton] programme." On
whose authority, then, did Calhoun declare that the Administration had
changed its mind?

[Illustration: FREDERICK P. STANTON.]

  [Sidenote] John Bell, Senate Speech, March 18, 1858.

This query brings us to another point in President Buchanan's letter
of October 22, in which he mentions that Secretary Cobb, of his
Cabinet, had without his knowledge suppressed the publication of
certain letters in the "Washington Union." These were, as we learn
elsewhere, the letters in which some of the Kansas pro-slavery leaders
repeated their declaration of the hopelessness of any further contest
to make Kansas a slave-State. Why this secret suppression by Secretary
Cobb? There is but one plausible explanation of this whole chain of
contradictions. The conclusion is almost forced upon us that a Cabinet
intrigue, of which the President was kept in ignorance, was being
carried on, under the very eyes of Mr. Buchanan, by those whom he
himself significantly calls "the extremists"--a plot to supersede his
own intentions and make him falsify his own declarations. As in the
case of similar intrigues by the same agents a few years later, he had
neither the wit to perceive nor the will to resist.

  [Sidenote] Stanton, Philadelphia Speech, Feb. 8, 1858.

The protest of the people of the Territory against the extraordinary
action of the Lecompton Convention almost amounted to a popular
revolt. This action opened a wide door to fraud, and invited Missouri
over to an invasion of final and permanent conquest. Governor Walker
had quitted the Territory on his leave of absence, and Secretary
Stanton was acting Governor. "The people in great masses," he says,
"and the Legislature that had been elected, with almost a unanimous
voice called upon me to convene the Legislature, in order that they
might take such steps as they could to counteract the misfortune which
they conceived was about to befall them in the adoption of this
constitution," As already stated, Stanton had come to Kansas with the
current Democratic prejudices against the free-State party. But his
whole course had been frank, sincere, and studiously impartial, and
the Oxford fraud had completely opened his eyes. "I now discovered for
the first time to my entire satisfaction why it was that the great
mass of the people of the Territory had been dissatisfied with their
government, and were ready to rebel and throw it off."

Having, like Walker, frequently and earnestly assured the people of
their ultimate right to ratify or reject the work of the convention,
he was personally humiliated by the unfairness and trickery of which
that body was guilty. Under the circumstances he could not hesitate in
his duty. By proclamation he convened the new Legislature in extra

The members respected the private pledge they had given him to engage
in no general legislation; but provided by law for an investigation of
the Oxford and McGee frauds, and for an election to be held on January
4, 1858 (the day fixed by the Lecompton Constitution for the election
of State officers and a State legislature), at which the people might
vote for the Lecompton Constitution or against it. Thus in the course
of events two separate votes were taken on this notorious document.
The first, provided for in the instrument itself, took place on the
21st of December, 1857. Detachments of troops were stationed at
several points; the free-State men abstained from voting; the election
was peaceable; and in due time Calhoun proclaimed that 6143 ballots
had been cast "for the constitution with slavery," and 589 "for the
constitution with no slavery." But the subsequent legislative
investigation disclosed a gross repetition of the Oxford fraud, and
proved the actual majority, in a onesided vote, to have been only
3423. The second election occurred on January 4, 1858, under authority
of the legislative act. At this election the pro-slavery party voted
for the State officers, but in its turn abstained from voting on the
constitution, the result being--against the Lecompton Constitution,
10,226; for the Lecompton Constitution with slavery, 138; for the
Lecompton Constitution without slavery, 24.[12]

This emphatic rejection of the Lecompton Constitution by a direct vote
of the people of Kansas sealed its fate. We shall see further on what
persistent but abortive efforts were made in Congress once more to
galvanize it into life. The free-State party were jubilant; but the
pro-slavery cabal, foiled and checked, was not yet dismayed or
conquered. For now there was developed, for the first time in its full
proportions, the giant pro-slavery intrigue which proved that the
local conspiracy of the Atchison-Missouri cabal was but the image and
fraction of a national combination, finding its headquarters in the
Administration, first of President Pierce, and now of President
Buchanan; working patiently and insidiously through successive efforts
to bring about a practical subversion of the whole theory and policy
of the American Government. It linked the action of Border Ruffians,
presidential aspirants, senates, courts, and cabinets into efficient
coöperation; leading up, step by step, from the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise, through the Nebraska bill, border conquest, the Dred Scott
decision, the suppression of the submission clause in the Toombs bill,
and the extraordinary manipulation and machinery of the Lecompton
Constitution, towards the final overthrow of the doctrine that "all
men are created equal," and the substitution of the dogma of property
in man; towards the judicial construction that property rights in
human beings are before and above constitutional sanction, and that
slavery must find protection and perpetuity in States as well as in

  [Sidenote] Cass to Stanton, December 2, 1857. Senate Ex. Doc.
  No. 8, 1st Sess. 35th Cong. Vol. I., pp. 112-13.

  [Sidenote] Cass to Stanton, December 8, 1857. Ibid., p. 113.

  [Sidenote] Cass to Denver, December 11th, 1857. Senate Ex. Doc. No.
  8, 1st Sess. 35th Cong. Vol. I., p. 120.

The first weather-sign came from Washington. On the day after Acting
Governor Stanton convened the October Legislature in special session,
and before news of the event reached him, Secretary Cass transmitted
to him advance copies of the President's annual message, in which the
Lecompton Constitution was indorsed in unqualified terms. A week later
he was admonished to conform to the views of the President in his
official conduct. At this point the State Department became informed
of what had taken place, and the acting Governor had short shrift. On
December 11 Cass wrote to J.W. Denver, Esq.: "You have already been
informed that Mr. Stanton has been removed from the office of
Secretary of the Territory of Kansas and that you have been appointed
in his place." Cass further explained that the President "was
surprised to learn that the secretary and acting Governor had, on the
1st of December, issued his proclamation for a special session of the
Territorial Legislature on the 7th instant, only a few weeks in
advance of its regular time of meeting, and only fourteen days before
the decision was to be made on the question submitted by the
convention. This course of Mr. Stanton, the President seriously
believes, has thrown a new element of discord among the excited people
of Kansas, and is directly at war, therefore, with the peaceful policy
of the Administration. For this reason he has felt it his duty to
remove him."

Walker, already in Washington on leave of absence, could no longer
remain silent. He was as pointedly abandoned and disgraced by the
Administration as was his subordinate. In a dignified letter
justifying his own course, which, he reminded them, had never been
criticized or disavowed, he resigned the governorship. "From the
events occurring in Kansas as well as here," he wrote, "it is evident
that the question is passing from theories into practice; and that as
governor of Kansas I should be compelled to carry out new
instructions, differing on a vital question from those received at the
date of my appointment. Such instructions I could not execute
consistently with my views of the Federal Constitution, of the Kansas
and Nebraska bill, or with my pledges to the people of Kansas." "The
idea entertained by some that I should see the Federal Constitution
and the Kansas-Nebraska bill overthrown and disregarded, and that,
playing the part of a mute in a pantomime of ruin, I should acquiesce
by my silence in such a result, especially where such acquiescence
involved, as an immediate consequence, a disastrous and sanguinary
civil war, seems to me most preposterous."[13]

The conduct and the language of Walker and Stanton bear a remarkable
significance when we remember that they had been citizens of slave
States and zealous Democratic partisans, and that only hard practical
experience and the testimony of their own eyes had forced them to join
their predecessors in the political "graveyard." "The ghosts on the
banks of the Styx," said Seward, "constitute a cloud scarcely more
dense than the spirits of the departed Governors of Kansas, wandering
in exile and sorrow for having certified the truth against falsehood
in regard to the elections between Freedom and Slavery in Kansas."

[1] January 12, 1857, Wilder, p. 113. Bell, Speech in Senate, March
18, 1858. Appendix "Globe," p. 137.

[2] Geary to Marcy, Feb. 21, 1857, Senate Ex. Doc. No. 17, 1st Sess.
35th Cong. Vol. VI., p. 178.

[3] Bigler, Senate Speech, Dec. 9, 1857. "Globe," p. 21. See also
Bigler, Dec. 21, 1857. "Globe," p. 113.

[4] Walker, Testimony before the Covode Committee. Reports of
Committees H.R. 1st Sess. 36th Cong. Vol. V., pp. 105-6.

[5] "These fifteen counties in which there was no registry gave a
much larger vote at the October election, even with the six months'
qualification, than the whole vote given to the delegates who signed
the Lecompton Constitution on the 7th November last."--[Walker to
Cass, December 15, 1857. Senate Ex. Doc. No. 8, 1st Sess. 35th Cong.
Vol. I, p. 128.]

[6] Walker to Buchanan, June 28, 1857. Report Covode Committee, pp.

[7] Buchanan to Walker, July 12, 1857. Report Covode Committee, p.

[8] The ingenuity which evolved 1600 Kansas votes from an old
Cincinnati directory and 1200 more from an uninhabited county, was not
exhausted by that prodigious labor. The same influences, and perhaps
the same manipulators, produced a companion piece known by the name
of the "candle-box fraud." At the election of January 4, 1858, for
officers under the Lecompton Constitution, the returns from Delaware
Agency underwent such suspicious handling that an investigating
commission of the Legislature, by aid of a search-warrant, found them
secreted in a candle-box buried under a woodpile near Calhoun's
"surveyor-general's office" at Lecompton. A forged list of 379 votes
had been substituted for the original memorandum of only forty-three
votes which had been cut from the certificate of the judges; the votes
on the forged list being intended for the pro-slavery candidates.
During the investigation Calhoun was arrested, but liberated by Judge
Cato on _habeas corpus_, after which he immediately went to Missouri,
and from there to Washington. The details and testimony are found in
House Com. Reports, 1st Sess. 35th Cong. Vol. III, Report No. 377.

[9] Minority Report, Select Com. of Fifteen. Report No. 377, page 109,
Vol. III., H.R. Reports, 1st Sess. 35th Cong.

This "missing link," no less than the remaining portion of the journal
printed in the proceedings of the investigating committee, is itself
strong circumstantial proof of the imposture underlying the whole
transaction. Many sections of the completed constitution are not even
mentioned in the journal; it does not contain the submission clause of
the schedule, and the authenticity of the document rests upon the
signature and the certificate of John Calhoun without other

[10] "Dr. Tebbs and General Whitfield a month since left very strong
letters for publication with the editor of the 'Union' which he
promised to publish. His breach of this promise is a gross outrage. If
not published immediately our success in convention materially depends
on my getting an immediate copy at Lecompton. My friends here all
regard now the 'Union' as an enemy and encouraging by its neutrality
the fire-eaters not to submit the constitution. Very well, the facts
are so clear that I can get along without the 'Union,' but he had no
right to suppress Dr. Tebbs's letter. I shall in due time expose that
transaction."--Extract from a letter of Robert J. Walker to James
Buchanan, dated October, 1857.

[11] For this autograph letter and other interesting manuscripts, we
are indebted to General Duncan S. Walker, a son of the Governor, now
residing in Washington, D.C.

[12] Under an Act of Congress popularly known as the "English Bill,"
this same Lecompton Constitution was once more voted upon by the
people of Kansas on August 2, 1858, with the following result: for the
proposition, 1788; against it, 11,300.--Wilder, "Annals of Kansas,"
pp. 186-8.

[13] Walker to Cass, Dec. 16, 1857. Senate Ex. Doc. No. 8, 1st Sess.,
35th Cong. Vol. I., pp. 131, 130.



The language of President Buchanan's annual message, the summary
dismissal of Acting Governor Stanton, and the resignation of Governor
Walker abruptly transferred the whole Lecompton question from Kansas
to Washington; and even before the people of the Territory had
practically decided it by the respective popular votes of December
21,1857, and January 4,1858, it had become the dominant political
issue in the Thirty-fifth Congress, which convened on December 7,
1857. The attitude of Senator Douglas on the new question claimed
universal attention. The Dred Scott decision, affirming constitutional
sanction and inviolability for slave property in Territories, had
rudely damaged his theory. But we have seen how in his Springfield
speech he ingeniously sought to repair and rehabilitate "popular
sovereignty" by the sophism that a master's abstract constitutional
right to slave property in a Territory was a "barren and a worthless
right unless sustained, protected, and enforced by appropriate police
regulations," which could only be supplied by the local Territorial
Legislatures; and that the people of Kansas thus still possessed the
power of indirect prohibition.

  [Sidenote] 1857.

To invent and utter this sophism for home consumption among his
distant constituents on the 12th of June (a few days before the
Lecompton delegates were elected), and in so unobtrusive a manner as
scarcely to attract a ripple of public notice, was a light task
compared with that which confronted him as Senator, at the meeting of
Congress in December, in the light of John Calhoun's doings and
powers, of the scandal of the Oxford fraud, and of the indignation of
Northern Democrats against the betrayal of Walker and Stanton.

One of his first experiences was a personal quarrel with Buchanan.
When he reached Washington, three days before the session, he went to
the President to protest against his adopting the Lecompton
Constitution and sending it to Congress for acceptance. Buchanan
insisted that he must recommend it in his annual message. Douglas
replied that he would denounce it as soon as it was read. The
President, excited, told him "to remember that no Democrat ever yet
differed from an administration of his own choice without being
crushed. Beware of the fate of Tallmadge and Rives."

  [Sidenote] Douglas, Milwaukee Speech, October 13, 1860.

"Mr. President," retorted Douglas, "I wish you to remember that
General Jackson is dead."

In the election of Mr. Buchanan as President the South had secured a
most important ally for the work of pro-slavery reaction. Trained in
the belief that the South had hitherto been wronged, he was ready on
every occasion to appear as her champion for redress; and Southern
politicians were now eager to use his leadership to make their views
of public policy and constitutional duty acceptable to the North.
Respectable in capacity but feeble in will, he easily submitted to
control and guidance from a few Southern leaders of superior
intellectual force. In his inaugural, he sought to prepare public
opinion for obedience to the Dred Scott decision, and since its
publication he had undertaken to interpret its scope and effect.
Replying to a memorial from certain citizens of New England, he
declared in a public letter, "Slavery existed at that period, and
still exists in Kansas, under the Constitution of the United States.
This point has at last been finally decided by the highest tribunal
known to our laws. How it could ever have been seriously doubted is a
mystery."[1] In the same letter he affirmed the legality of the
Lecompton Convention, though he yet clearly expressed his expectation
that the constitution to be framed by it would be submitted to the
popular vote for "approbation or rejection."

  [Sidenote] 1857.

But when that convention adjourned, and made known its cunningly
devised work, the whole South instantly became clamorous to secure the
sectional advantages which lay in its technical regularity, its strong
affirmance of the "property" theory, and the extraordinary power it
gave to John Calhoun to control the election and decide the returns.
This powerful reactionary movement was not lost upon Mr. Buchanan. He
reflected it as unerringly as the vane moves to the change of the
wind. Long before the meeting of Congress, the Administration organ,
the "Washington Union," heralded and strongly supported the new
departure. When, on the 8th of December, the President's annual
message was transmitted and read, the Lecompton Constitution, as
framed and submitted, was therein warmly indorsed and its acceptance
indicated as the future Administration policy.

  [Sidenote] Buchanan, Annual Message, December 8, 1857.

The language of this message discloses with what subtle ingenuity
words, phrases, definitions, ideas, and theories were being invented
and plied to broaden and secure every conquest of the pro-slavery
reaction. An elaborate argument was made to defend the enormities of
the Lecompton Constitution. The doctrine of the Silliman letter, that
"slavery exists in Kansas under the Constitution of the United
States," was assumed as a conceded theory. "In emerging from the
condition of territorial dependence into that of a sovereign State,"
the people might vote "whether this important domestic institution
should or should not continue to exist." "Domestic institutions" was
defined to mean slavery. "Free to form and regulate their domestic
institutions"--the phrase employed in the Kansas-Nebraska act--was
construed to mean a vote to continue or discontinue slavery. And "if
any portion of the inhabitants shall refuse to vote, a fair
opportunity to do so having been presented, ... they alone will be
responsible for the consequences." "Should the constitution without
slavery be adopted by the votes of the majority, the rights of
property in slaves now in the Territory are reserved.... These slaves
were brought into the Territory under the Constitution of the United
States and are now the property of their masters. This point has at
length been finally decided by the highest judicial tribunal of the

However blind Buchanan might be to the fact that this extreme
interpretation shocked and alarmed the sentiment of the North; that if
made before the late Presidential campaign it would have defeated his
own election; and that if rudely persisted in, it might destroy the
Democratic ascendency in the future, the danger was obvious and
immediately vital to Douglas. His senatorial term was about to expire.
To secure a reelection he must carry the State of Illinois in 1858,
which had on an issue less pronounced than this defeated his colleague
Shields in 1854, and his lieutenant Richardson in 1856. But more than
this, his own personal honor was as much involved in his pledges to
the voters of Illinois as had been that of Governor Walker to the
voters of Kansas. His double-dealing caucus bargain had thus placed
him between two fires--party disgrace at Washington and popular
disgrace in Illinois. In such a dilemma his choice could not be
doubtful. At all risk he must endeavor to sustain himself at home.

  [Sidenote] Douglas, Senate Speech, December 9, 1857. "Globe," p. 18.

He met the encounter with his usual adroitness and boldness. Assuming
that the President had made no express recommendation, he devoted his
speech mainly to a strong argument of party expediency, repelling
without reserve and denouncing without stint the work of the Lecompton
Convention. "Stand by the doctrine," said he, "that leaves the people
perfectly free to form and regulate their institutions for themselves,
in their own way, and your party will be united and irresistible in
power. Abandon that great principle and the party is not worth saving,
and cannot be saved after it shall be violated. I trust we are not to
be rushed upon this question. Why shall it be done? Who is to be
benefited? Is the South to be the gainer? Is the North to be the
gainer? Neither the North nor the South has the right to gain a
sectional advantage by trickery or fraud.... But I am told on all
sides, 'Oh! just wait; the pro-slavery clause will be voted down.'
That does not obviate any of my objections; it does not diminish any of
them. You have no more right to force a free-State constitution on
Kansas than a slave-State constitution. If Kansas wants a slave-State
constitution she has a right to it; if she wants a free-State
constitution she has a right to it. It is none of my business which
way the slavery clause is decided. I care not whether it is voted down
or voted up. Do you suppose, after the pledges of my honor that I
would go for that principle and leave the people to vote as they
choose, that I would now degrade myself by voting one way if the
slavery clause be voted down, and another way if it be voted up? I
care not how that vote may stand.... Ignore Lecompton; ignore Topeka;
treat both those party movements as irregular and void; pass a fair
bill--the one that we framed ourselves when we were acting as a unit;
have a fair election--and you will have peace in the Democratic party,
and peace throughout the country, in ninety days. The people want a
fair vote. They will never be satisfied without it.... But if this
constitution is to be forced down our throats in violation of the
fundamental principle of free government, under a mode of submission
that is a mockery and insult, I will resist it to the last."

President Buchanan and the strong pro-slavery faction which was
directing his course paid no attention whatever to this proposal of a
compromise. Shylock had come into court to demand his bond, and would
heed no pleas of equity or appeals to grace. The elections of December
21 and January 4 were held in due time, and with what result we have
already seen. John Calhoun counted the votes on January 13 and
declared the "Lecompton Constitution with slavery" adopted, prudently
reserving, however, any announcement concerning the State officers or
Legislature under it. This much accomplished, he hurried away to
Washington, where he was received with open arms by the President and
his advisers, who at once proceeded with a united and formidable
effort to legalize the transparent farce by Congressional sanction.

On the second day of February, 1858, President Buchanan transmitted to
Congress the Lecompton Constitution, "received from J. Calhoun, Esq.,"
and "duly certified by himself." The President's accompanying special
message argues that the organic law of the Territory conferred the
essential rights of an enabling act; that the free-State party stood
in the attitude of willful and chronic revolution; that their various
refusals to vote were a sufficient bar to complaint and objection;
that the several steps in the creation and work of the Lecompton
Convention were regular and legal. "The people of Kansas have, then,
'in their own way,' and in strict accordance with the organic act,
framed a constitution and State government, have submitted the
all-important question of slavery to the people, and have elected a
governor, a member to represent them in Congress, members of the State
Legislature, and other State officers. They now ask admission into the
Union under this constitution, which is Republican in form. It is for
Congress to decide whether they will admit or reject the State which
has thus been created. For my own part I am decidedly in favor of its
admission and thus terminating the Kansas question."

  [Sidenote] 1858.

The vote of January 4 against the constitution he declared to be
illegal because it was "held after the Territory had been prepared for
admission into the Union as a sovereign State, and when no authority
existed in the Territorial Legislature which could possibly destroy
its existence or change its character." His own inconsistency was
lightly glossed over. "For my own part, when I instructed Governor
Walker in general terms, in favor of submitting the constitution to
the people, I had no object in view except the all-absorbing question
of slavery.... I then believed, and still believe, that under the
organic act, the Kansas Convention were bound to submit this
all-important question of slavery to the people. It was never,
however, my opinion that independently of this act they would have
been bound to submit any portion of the constitution to a popular
vote, in order to give it validity."

To the public at large, the central point of interest in this special
message, however, was the following dogmatic announcement by the
President: "It has been solemnly adjudged by the highest judicial
tribunal known to our laws that slavery exists in Kansas by virtue of
the Constitution of the United States. Kansas is, therefore, at this
moment as much a slave-State as Georgia or South Carolina. Without
this, the equality of the sovereign States composing the Union would
be violated, and the use and enjoyment of a territory acquired by the
common treasure of all the States would be closed against the people
and the property of nearly half the members of the Confederacy.
Slavery can, therefore, never be prohibited in Kansas except by means
of a constitutional provision and in no other manner can this be
obtained so promptly, if a majority of the people desire it, as by
admitting it into the Union under its present constitution."

In the light of subsequent history this extreme pro-slavery programme
was not only wrong in morals and statesmanship, but short-sighted and
foolhardy as a party policy. But to the eyes of President Buchanan
this latter view was not so plain. The country was apparently in the
full tide of a pro-slavery reaction. He had not only been elected
President, but the Democratic party had also recovered its control of
Congress. The presiding officer of each branch was a Southerner. Out
of 64 members of the Senate, 39 were Democrats, 20 Republicans, and
five Americans or Know-Nothings. Of the 237 members of the House, 131
were Democrats, 92 Republicans, and 14 Americans. Here was a clear
majority of fourteen in the upper and twenty-five in the lower House.
This was indeed no longer the formidable legislative power which
repealed the Missouri Compromise, but it seemed perhaps a sufficient
force to carry out the President's recommendation. His error was in
forgetting that this apparent popular indorsement was secured to him
and his party by means of the double construction placed upon the
Nebraska bill and the Cincinnati platform, by the caucus bargain
between the leaders of the South and the leaders of the North. The
moment had come when this unnatural alliance needed to be exposed and
in part repudiated.

The haste with which the Southern leaders advanced step by step,
forced every issue, and were now pushing their allies to the wall was,
to say the least, bad management, but it grew logically out of their
situation. They were swimming against the stream. The leading forces
of civilization, population, wealth, commerce, intelligence, were
bearing them down. The balance of power was lost. Already there were
sixteen free-States to fifteen slave-States. Minnesota and Oregon,
inevitably destined also to become free, were applying for admission
to the Union.

  [Sidenote] Official Manifesto, Oct. 8, 1754.

  [Sidenote] Senator Brown to Adams, June 18, 1856. Greeley, "Am.
  Conflict," Vol. I., p. 278.

  [Sidenote] Official proceedings, Pamphlet.

Still, the case of the South was not hopeless. Kansas was apparently
within their grasp. Existing law provided for the formation and
admission of four additional States to be carved out of Texas, which
would certainly become slave-States. Then there remained the possible
division of California, and a race for the possession of New Mexico
and Arizona. Behind all, or, more likely, before all except Kansas, in
the order of desired events, was the darling ambition of President
Buchanan, the annexation of Cuba. As United States Minister to England
he had publicly declared that if Spain refused to sell us that coveted
island we should be justified in wresting it from her by force; as
Presidential candidate he had confidentially avowed, amid the first
blushes of his new honor, "If I can be instrumental in settling the
slavery question upon the terms I have mentioned, and then add Cuba to
the Union, I shall, if President, be willing to give up the ghost, and
let Breckinridge take the government." Thus, even excluding the more
problematical chances which lay hidden in filibustering enterprises,
there was a possibility, easily demonstrable to the sanguine, that a
decade or two might change mere numerical preponderance from the free
to the slave-States. Nor could this possibility be waved aside by any
affectation of incredulity. Not alone Mr. Buchanan but the whole
Democratic party was publicly pledged to annexation. "Resolved," said
the Cincinnati platform, "that the Democratic party will expect of the
next Administration that every proper effort be made to insure our
ascendency in the Gulf of Mexico"; while another resolution declaring
sympathy with efforts to "regenerate" Central America was no less

[Illustration: JOHN CALHOUN.]

But to accomplish such marvels, they must not sit with folded hands.
The price of slavery was fearless aggression. They must build on a
deeper foundation than Presidential elections, party majorities, or
even than votes in the Senate. The theory of the government must be
reversed, the philosophy of the republic interpreted anew. In this
subtler effort they had made notable progress. By the Kansas-Nebraska
act they had paralyzed the legislation of half a century. By the Dred
Scott decision they had changed the Constitution and blighted the
Declaration of Independence. By the Lecompton trick they would show
that in conflict with their dogmas the public will was vicious, and in
conflict with their intrigues the majority powerless. They had the
President, the Cabinet, the Senate, the House, the Supreme Court, and,
by no means least in the immediate problem, John Calhoun with his
technical investiture of far-reaching authority. The country had
recovered from the shock of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and
rewarded them with Buchanan. Would it not equally recover from the
shock of the Lecompton Constitution?

It was precisely at this point that the bent bow broke. The great bulk
of the Democratic party followed the President and his Southern
advisers, even in this extreme step; but to a minority sufficient to
turn the scale the Lecompton scandal had become too offensive for
further tolerance.

In the Senate, with its heavy Democratic majority, the Administration
easily secured the passage of a bill to admit Kansas with the
Lecompton Constitution. Out of eleven Democratic Senators from free
States, only three--Douglas of Illinois, Broderick of California, and
Stuart of Michigan--took courage to speak and vote against the
measure. In the House of Representatives, however, with a narrower
margin of political power, the scheme, after an exciting discussion
running through about two months, met a decisive defeat. A formidable
popular opposition to it had developed itself in the North, in which
speeches and letters from Governor Walker and Secretary Stanton in
denunciation of it were a leading feature and a powerful influence.
The lower House of Congress always responds quickly to currents of
public sentiment; but in this case it caught direction all the more
promptly because its members were to be chosen anew in the ensuing
autumn. However much they might have party subordination and success
at heart, some of them felt that they could not defend before their
anti-slavery constituencies the Oxford frauds, the Calhoun
dictatorship, the theory that slave property is above constitutional
sanction, and the dogma that "Kansas is therefore at this moment as
much a slave-State as Georgia or South Carolina." When the test vote
was taken on April 1, out of the 53 Democratic representatives from
the free-States 31 voted for Lecompton; but the remaining 22,[2]
joining their strength to the opposition, passed a substitute,
originating with Mr. Crittenden of the Senate, which in substance
directed a resubmission of the Lecompton Constitution to the people of
Kansas;--if adopted, the President to admit the new State by a simple
proclamation; if rejected, the people to call a convention and frame a
new instrument.

As the October vote had been the turning-point in the local popular
struggle in the Territory, this adoption of the Crittenden-Montgomery
substitute, by a total vote of 120 to 112 in the House of
Representatives, was the culmination of the National intrigue to
secure Kansas for the South. It was a narrow victory for freedom; a
change of 5 votes would have passed the Lecompton bill and admitted
the State with slavery, and a constitutional prohibition against any
change for seven years to come. With his authority to control election
returns, there is every reason to suppose that Calhoun would have set
up a pro-slavery State Legislature, to choose two pro-slavery
senators, whom in its turn the strong Lecompton majority in the United
States Senate would have admitted to seats; and thus the whole chain
of fraud and usurpation back to the first Border-Ruffian invasion of
Kansas would have become complete, legal, and irrevocable, on plea of
mere formal and technical regularity.

Foiled in its main object, the Administration made another effort
which served to break somewhat the force and humiliation of its first
and signal defeat. The two Houses of Congress having disagreed as
stated, and each having once more voted to adhere to its own action,
the President managed to make enough converts among the anti-Lecompton
Democrats of the House to secure the appointment of a committee of
conference. This committee devised what became popularly known as the
"English bill," a measure which tendered a land grant to the new
State, and provided that on the following August 3d the people of
Kansas might vote "proposition accepted" or "proposition rejected."
Acceptance should work the admission of the State with the Lecompton
Constitution, while rejection should postpone any admission until her
population reached the ratio of representation required for a member
of the House. "Hence it will be argued," exclaimed Douglas, "in one
portion of the Union that this is a submission of the constitution,
and in another portion that it is not." The English bill became a law;
but the people of Kansas once more voted to reject the "proposition"
by nearly ten thousand majority.

  [Sidenote] Douglas, Senate Speech, March 22, 1858. App. "Globe,"
  pp. 199, 200.

Douglas opposed the English bill as he had done the Lecompton bill,
thus maintaining his attitude as the chief leader of the
anti-Lecompton opposition. In proportion as he received encouragement
and commendation from Republican and American newspapers, he fell
under the ban of the Administration journals. The "Washington Union"
especially pursued him with denunciation. "It has read me out of the
Democratic party every other day, at least, for two or three months,"
said he, "and keeps reading me out; and, as if it had not succeeded,
still continues to read me out, using such terms as 'traitor,'
'renegade,' 'deserter,' and other kind and polite epithets of that
nature." He explained that this arose from his having voted in the
Senate against its editor for the office of public printer; but he
also pointed out that he did so because that journal had become
pro-slavery to the point of declaring "that the emancipation acts of
New York, of New England, of Pennsylvania, and of New Jersey were
unconstitutional, were outrages upon the right of property, were
violations of the Constitution of the United States." "The proposition
is advanced," continued he, "that a Southern man has a right to move
from South Carolina with his negroes into Illinois, to settle there
and hold them there as slaves, anything in the constitution and laws
of Illinois to the contrary notwithstanding." Douglas further
intimated broadly that the President and Cabinet were inspiring these
editorials of the Administration organ, as part and parcel of the same
system and object with which they were pushing the Lecompton
Constitution with its odious "property" doctrine; and declared, "if my
protest against this interpolation into the policy of this country or
the creed of the Democratic party is to bring me under the ban, I am
ready to meet the issue."

He had not long to wait for the issue. The party rupture was radical,
not superficial. It was, as he had himself pointed out, part of the
contest for national supremacy between slavery and freedom. From time
to time he still held out the olive-branch and pointed wistfully to
the path of reconciliation. But the reactionary faction which ruled
Mr. Buchanan never forgave Douglas for his part in defeating Lecompton,
and more especially for what they alleged to be his treachery to his
caucus bargain, in refusing to accept and defend all the logical
consequences of the Dred Scott decision.

[1] Buchanan to Silliman and others, Aug. 15, 1857. Senate Ex. Doc.
No. 8, 1st Sess. 35th Cong. Vol. I., p. 74.

[2] From California, 1; Illinois, 5; Indiana, 3; New Jersey, 1; New
York, 2; Ohio, 6; Pennsylvania, 4. For Lecompton: California, 1;
Connecticut, 2; Indiana, 3; New Jersey, 2; New York, 10; Ohio, 2;
Pennsylvania, 11.



The anti-Lecompton recusancy of Douglas baffled the plotting
extremists of the South, and created additional dissension in the
Democratic ranks; and this growing Democratic weakness and the
increasing Republican ardor and strength presaged a possible
Republican success in the coming Presidential election. While this
condition of things gave national politics an unusual interest, the
State of Illinois now became the field of a local contest which for
the moment held the attention of the entire country in such a degree
as to involve and even eclipse national issues.

In this local contest in Illinois, the choice of candidates on both
sides was determined long beforehand by a popular feeling, stronger
and more unerring than ordinary individual or caucus intrigues.
Douglas, as author of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, as a
formidable Presidential aspirant, and now again as leader of the
anti-Lecompton Democrats, could, of course, have no rival in his party
for his own Senatorial seat. Lincoln, who had in 1854 gracefully
yielded his justly won Senatorial honors to Trumbull, and who alone
bearded Douglas in his own State throughout the whole anti-Nebraska
struggle, with anything like a show of equal political courage and
intellectual strength, was as inevitably the leader and choice of the
Republicans. Their State convention met in Springfield on the 16th of
June, 1858, and, after its ordinary routine work, passed with
acclamation a separate resolution, which declared "that Abraham
Lincoln is the first and only choice of the Republicans of Illinois
for the United States Senate as the successor of Stephen A. Douglas."
The proceedings of the convention had consumed the afternoon, and an
adjournment was taken. At 8 o'clock that same evening, the convention
having reassembled in the State-house, Lincoln appeared before it, and
made what was perhaps the most carefully prepared speech of his whole
life. Every word of it was written, every sentence had been tested;
but the speaker delivered it without manuscript or notes. It was not
an ordinary oration, but, in the main, an argument, as sententious and
axiomatic as if made to a bench of jurists. Its opening sentences
contained a political prophecy which not only became the ground-work
of the campaign, but heralded one of the world's great historical
events. He said:

  [Sidenote] Lincoln-Douglas Debates, p. 1.

    "If we could first know where we are and whither we are tending,
    we could better judge what to do and how to do it. We are now far
    into the fifth year since a policy was initiated, with the avowed
    object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery
    agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has
    not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion
    it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and
    passed. 'A house divided against itself cannot stand.' I believe
    this Government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half
    free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved--I do not expect
    the house to fall--but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It
    will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents
    of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it
    where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in
    course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it
    forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old
    as well as new, North as well as South."

Then followed his demonstration, through the incidents of the Nebraska
legislation, the Dred Scott decision, and present political theories
and issues, which would by and by find embodiment in new laws and
future legal doctrines. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise, the
language of the Nebraska bill, which declared slavery "subject to the
Constitution," the Dred Scott decision, which declared that "subject
to the Constitution" neither Congress nor a Territorial Legislature
could exclude slavery from a Territory--the argument presented point
by point and step by step with legal precision the silent subversion
of cherished principles of liberty. "Put this and that together," said
he, "and we have another nice little niche, which we may ere long see
filled with another Supreme Court decision, declaring that the
Constitution of the United States does not permit a State to exclude
slavery from its limits.... Such a decision is all that slavery now
lacks of being alike lawful in all the States.... We shall lie down,"
continued the orator, "pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri
are on the verge of making their State free; and we shall awake to the
reality instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois a slave

His peroration was a battle-call: "Our cause, then, must be intrusted
to and conducted by its own undoubted friends, those whose hands are
free, whose hearts are in the work, who do care for the result. Two
years ago the Republicans of the nation mustered over thirteen hundred
thousand strong. We did this under the single impulse of resistance to
a common danger, with every external circumstance against us. Of
strange, discordant, and even hostile elements we gathered from the
four winds, and formed and fought the battle through, under the
constant hot fire of a disciplined, proud, and pampered enemy. Did we
brave all then to falter now?--now, when that same enemy is wavering,
dissevered, and belligerent? The result is not doubtful. We shall not
fail--if we stand firm we shall not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate
or mistakes delay it, but sooner or later the victory is sure to

  [Sidenote] See O.J. Hollister, "Life of Colfax," pp. 119-22.

  [Sidenote] J. Watson Webb to Bates, June 9, 1858. MS.

Lincoln's declaration that the cause of slavery restriction "must be
intrusted to its own undoubted friends" had something more than a
general meaning. We have seen that while Douglas avowed he did not
care "whether slavery was voted down or voted up" in the Territories,
he had opposed the Lecompton Constitution on the ground of its
non-submission to popular vote, and that this opposition caused the
Buchanan Democrats to treat him as an apostate. Many earnest
Republicans were moved to strong sympathy for Douglas in this
attitude, partly for his help in defeating the Lecompton iniquity,
partly because they believed his action in this particular a prelude
to further political repentance, partly out of that chivalric
generosity of human nature which sides with the weak against the
strong. In the hour of his trial and danger many wishes for his
successful reëlection came to him from Republicans of national
prominence. Greeley, in the New York "Tribune" as well as in private
letters, made no concealment of such a desire. Burlingame, in a fervid
speech in the House of Representatives, called upon the young men of
the country to stand by the Douglas men. It was known that Colfax and
other influential members of the House were holding confidential
interviews with Douglas, the object of which it was not difficult to
guess. There were even rumors that Seward intended to interfere in his
behalf. This report was bruited about so industriously that he felt it
necessary to permit a personal friend to write an emphatic denial, so
that it might come to Lincoln's knowledge. On the other hand,
newspapers ventured the suggestion that Lincoln might retaliate by a
combination against Seward's Presidential aspirations.

  [Sidenote] Wentworth to Lincoln, April 19, 1858. MS.

Rival politicians in Illinois were suspicious of each other, and did
not hesitate to communicate their suspicions to Lincoln. Personal
friends, of course, kept him well informed about these various
political under-currents, and an interesting letter of his shows that
he received and treated the matter with liberal charity. "I have never
said or thought more," wrote he, "as to the inclination of some of our
Eastern Republican friends to favor Douglas, than I expressed in your
hearing on the evening of the 21st April, at the State Library in this
place. I have believed--do believe now--that Greeley, for instance,
would be rather pleased to see Douglas reëlected over me or any other
Republican; and yet I do not believe it is so because of any secret
arrangement with Douglas--it is because he thinks Douglas's superior
position, reputation, experience, and ability, if you please, would
more than compensate for his lack of a pure Republican position, and,
therefore, his reëlection do the general cause of Republicanism more
good than would the election of any one of our better undistinguished
pure Republicans. I do not know how you estimate Greeley, but I
consider him incapable of corruption or falsehood. He denies that he
directly is taking part in favor of Douglas, and I believe him.[1]
Still his feeling constantly manifests itself in his paper, which,
being so extensively read in Illinois, is, and will continue to be, a
drag upon us. I have also thought that Governor Seward, too, feels
about as Greeley does; but not being a newspaper editor, his feeling
in this respect is not much manifested. I have no idea that he is, by
conversation or by letter, urging Illinois Republicans to vote for

  [Sidenote] Lincoln to Wilson, June 1, 1858. MS.

"As to myself, let me pledge you my word that neither I nor my
friends, so far as I know, have been setting stake against Governor
Seward. No combination has been made with me, or proposed to me, in
relation to the next Presidential candidate. The same thing is true in
regard to the next Governor of our State. I am not directly or
indirectly committed to any one; nor has any one made any advance to
me upon the subject. I have had many free conversations with John
Wentworth; but he never dropped a remark that led me to suspect that
he wishes to be Governor. Indeed it is due to truth to say that while
he has uniformly expressed himself for me, he has never hinted at any
condition. The signs are that we shall have a good convention on the
16th, and I think our prospects generally are improving some every
day. I believe we need nothing so much as to get rid of unjust
suspicions of one another."

  [Sidenote] Lincoln to Crittenden, July 7, 1858. Mrs. Coleman, "Life
  of Crittenden," Vol. II., p. 162.

  [Sidenote] Crittenden to Lincoln, July 29, 1858. Ibid., p. 163.

  [Sidenote] Crittenden to Dickey, August 1, 1858. Ibid., p. 164.

While many alleged defections were soon disproved by the ready and
loyal avowals of his friends in Illinois and elsewhere, there came to
him a serious disappointment from a quarter whence he little expected
it. Early in the canvass Lincoln began to hear that Crittenden, of
Kentucky, favored the reëlection of Douglas, and had promised so to
advise the Whigs of Illinois by a public letter. Deeming it well-nigh
incredible that a Kentucky Whig like Crittenden could take such a
part against an Illinois Whig of his own standing and service, to help
a life-long opponent of Clay and his cherished plans, Lincoln
addressed him a private letter making the direct inquiry. "I do not
believe the story," he wrote, "but still it gives me some uneasiness.
If such was your inclination, I do not believe you would so express
yourself. It is not in character with you as I have always estimated
you." Crittenden's reply, however, confirmed his worst fears. He said
he and Douglas had acted together to oppose Lecompton. For this
Douglas had been assailed, and he thought his reëlection was necessary
to rebuke the Buchanan Administration. In addition Crittenden also
soon wrote the expected letter for publication, in which phraseology
of apparent fairness covered an urgent appeal in Douglas's behalf.

  [Sidenote] Lincoln-Douglas Debates, pp. 4-5.

In the evenly balanced and sensitive condition of Illinois politics
this ungracious outside interference may be said to have insured
Lincoln's defeat. While it gave him pain to be thus wounded in the
house of his friends, he yet more deeply deplored the inexcusable
blunder of leaders whose misplaced sympathy put in jeopardy the
success of a vital political principle. In his convention speech he
had forcibly stated the error and danger of such a step. "How can he
[Douglas] oppose the advances of slavery? He don't care anything about
it. His avowed mission is impressing the 'public heart' to care
nothing about it.... For years he has labored to prove it a sacred
right of white men to take negro slaves into the new Territories. Can
he possibly show that it is less a sacred right to buy them where they
can be bought cheapest? And unquestionably they can be bought cheaper
in Africa than in Virginia. He has done all in his power to reduce the
whole question of slavery to one of a mere right of property.... Now
as ever, I wish not to misrepresent Judge Douglas's position, question
his motives, or do aught that can be personally offensive to him.
Whenever, if ever, he and we can come together on principle so that
our great cause may have assistance from his great ability, I hope to
have interposed no adventitious obstacle. But clearly he is not now
with us--he does not pretend to be--he does not promise ever to be."

  [Sidenote] Lincoln, Springfield Speech, July 17, 1858. Debates,
  p. 55.

Lincoln in nowise underrated the severity of the political contest in
which he was about to engage. He knew his opponent's strong points as
well as his weak ones--his energy, his adroitness, the blind devotion
of his followers, his greater political fame. "Senator Douglas is of
world-wide renown," he said. "All the anxious politicians of his
party, or who have been of his party for years past, have been looking
upon him as certainly at no distant day to be the President of the
United States. They have seen in his round, jolly, fruitful face
post-offices, land-offices, marshalships, and cabinet appointments,
chargé-ships and foreign missions, bursting and sprouting out in
wonderful exuberance ready to be laid hold of by their greedy hands.
And as they have been gazing upon this attractive picture so long,
they cannot, in the little distraction that has taken place in the
party, bring themselves to give up the charming hope; but with
greedier anxiety they rush about him, sustain him, and give him
marches, triumphal entries, and receptions, beyond what even in the
days of his highest prosperity they could have brought about in his
favor. On the contrary, nobody has ever expected me to be President.
In my poor, lean, lank face, nobody has ever seen that any cabbages
were sprouting out. These are disadvantages all taken together, that
the Republicans labor under. We have to fight this battle upon
principle, and principle alone."

  [Sidenote] 1858.

Douglas and his friends had indeed entered upon the canvass with an
unusual flourish of trumpets. Music, banners, salutes, fireworks,
addresses, ovation, and jubilation with enthusiasm genuine and
simulated, came and went in almost uninterrupted sequence; so much of
the noise and pomp of electioneering had not been seen since the
famous hard-cider campaign of Harrison. The "Little Giant," as he was
proudly nicknamed by his adherents, arrived in Illinois near
midsummer, after elaborate preparation and heralding, and made
speeches successively at Chicago, Bloomington, and Springfield on the
9th, 16th, and 17th of July. The Republicans and their candidate were
equally alert to contest every inch of ground. Mr. Lincoln made
speeches in reply at Chicago on the 10th and at Springfield on the
evening of Douglas's day address; and in both instances with such
force and success as portended a fluctuating and long-continued

[Illustration: ANSON BURLINGAME.]

For the moment the presence of Douglas not only gave spirit and fresh
industry to his followers, but the novelty impressed the indifferent
and the wavering. The rush of the campaign was substituting excitement
for inquiry, blare of brass bands and smoke of gunpowder for
intelligent criticism. The fame and prestige of the "Little Giant" was
beginning to incline the vibrating scale. Lincoln and his intimate
political advisers were not slow to note the signs of danger; and the
remedy devised threw upon him the burden of a new responsibility. It
was decided in the councils of the Republican leaders that Lincoln
should challenge Douglas to joint public debate.

The challenge was sent by Lincoln on July 24; Douglas proposed that
they should meet at the towns of Ottawa, Freeport, Jonesboro,
Charleston, Galesburg, Quincy, and Alton, each speaker alternately to
open and close the discussion; Douglas to speak one hour at Ottawa,
Lincoln to reply for an hour and a half, and Douglas to make a half
hour's rejoinder. In like manner Lincoln should open and close at
Freeport, and so on alternately. Lincoln's note of July 31 accepted
the proposal as made. "Although by the terms," he wrote, "as you
propose, you take four openings and closes to my three, I accede and
thus close the arrangement." Meanwhile each of the speakers made
independent appointments for other days and places than these seven;
and in the heat and dust of midsummer traveled and addressed the
people for a period of about one hundred days, frequently making the
necessary journeys by night, and often speaking two and sometimes even
three times in a single day. Thus to the combat of intellectual skill
was added a severe ordeal of physical endurance.[2]

Lincoln entered upon the task which his party friends had devised with
neither bravado nor misgiving. He had not sought these public
discussions; neither did he shrink from them. Throughout his whole
life he appears to have been singularly correct in his estimate of
difficulties to be encountered and of his own powers for overcoming
them. Each of these seven meetings, comprising both the Republican and
Democratic voters of the neighboring counties, formed a vast, eager,
and attentive assemblage. It needed only the first day's experience to
show the wisdom of the Republican leaders in forcing a joint
discussion upon Douglas. Face to face with his competitor, he could no
longer successfully assume airs of superiority, or wrap himself in his
Senatorial dignity and prestige. They were equal spokesmen, of equal
parties, on an equal platform, while applause and encouragement on one
side balanced applause and encouragement on the other.

In a merely forensic sense, it was indeed a battle of giants. In the
whole field of American politics no man has equaled Douglas in the
expedients and strategy of debate. Lacking originality and
constructive logic, he had great facility in appropriating by
ingenious restatement the thoughts and formulas of others. He was
tireless, ubiquitous, unseizable. It would have been as easy to hold a
globule of mercury under the finger's tip as to fasten him to a point
he desired to evade. He could almost invert a proposition by a
plausible paraphrase. He delighted in enlarging an opponent's
assertion to a forced inference ridiculous in form and monstrous in
dimensions. In spirit he was alert, combative, aggressive; in manner,
patronizing and arrogant by turns.

Lincoln's mental equipment was of an entirely different order. His
principal weapon was direct, unswerving logic. His fairness of
statement and generosity of admission had long been proverbial. For
these intellectual duels with Douglas, he possessed a power of
analysis that easily outran and circumvented the "Little Giant's" most
extraordinary gymnastics of argument. But, disdaining mere quibbles,
he pursued lines of concise reasoning to maxims of constitutional law
and political morals. Douglas was always forcible in statement and
bold in assertion; but Lincoln was his superior in quaint originality,
aptness of phrase, and subtlety of definition; and oftentimes
Lincoln's philosophic vision and poetical fervor raised him to flights
of eloquence which were not possible to the fiber and temper of his

It is, of course, out of the question to abridge the various
Lincoln-Douglas discussions of which the text fills a good-sized
volume. Only a few points of controversy may be stated. Lincoln's
convention speech, it will be remembered, declared that in his belief
the Union could not endure permanently half slave and half free, but
must become all one thing or all the other. Douglas in his first
speech of the campaign attacked this as an invitation to a war of
sections, declaring that uniformity would lead to consolidation and
despotism. He charged the Republicans with intent to abolish slavery
in the States; said their opposition to the Dred Scott decision was a
desire for negro equality and amalgamation; and prescribed his dogma
of popular sovereignty as a panacea for all the ills growing out of
the slavery agitation.

  [Sidenote] Lincoln-Douglas Debates, p. 75.

To this Lincoln replied that Republicans did not aim at abolition in
the slave-States, but only the exclusion of slavery from free
Territories; they did not oppose the Dred Scott decision in so far as
it concerned the freedom of Dred Scott, but they refused to accept its
dicta as rules of political action. He repelled the accusation that
the Republicans desired negro equality or amalgamation, saying: "There
is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will
probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of
perfect equality; and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there
must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the
race to which I belong having the superior position. I have never said
anything to the contrary, but I hold that notwithstanding all this
there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all
the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence--the
right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I hold that he
is as much entitled to these as the white man. I agree with Judge
Douglas he is not my equal in many respects--certainly not in color,
perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment; but in the right to
eat the bread without the leave of anybody else, which his own hand
earns, he is my equal, and the equal of Judge Douglas and the equal of
every living man."

In return he pressed upon Douglas his charge of a political conspiracy
to nationalize slavery, alleging that his "don't care" policy was but
the convenient stalking-horse under cover of which a new Dred Scott
decision would make slavery lawful everywhere.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., p. 82.

    It is merely for the Supreme Court to decide that no State under
    the Constitution can exclude it, just as they have already decided
    that under the Constitution neither Congress nor the Territorial
    Legislature can do it. When that is decided and acquiesced in, the
    whole thing is done. This being true, and this being the way, as I
    think, that slavery is to be made national, let us consider what
    Judge Douglas is doing every day to that end. In the first place,
    let us see what influence he is exerting on public sentiment. In
    this and like communities public sentiment is everything. With
    public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can
    succeed. Consequently, he who molds public sentiment goes deeper
    than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes
    statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.

    The Democratic policy in regard to that institution will not
    tolerate the merest breath, the slightest hint, of the least
    degree of wrong about it. Try it by some of Judge Douglas's
    arguments. He says he "don't care whether it is voted up or voted
    down" in the Territories. I do not care myself, in dealing with
    that expression, whether it is intended to be expressive of his
    individual sentiments on the subject, or only of the national
    policy he desires to have established. It is alike valuable for my
    purpose. Any man can say that who does not see anything wrong in
    slavery, but no man can logically say it who does see a wrong in
    it; because no man can logically say he don't care whether a wrong
    is voted up or voted down. He may say he don't care whether an
    indifferent thing is voted up or down, but he must logically have
    a choice between a right thing and a wrong thing. He contends that
    whatever community wants slaves has a right to have them. So they
    have, if it is not a wrong. But if it is a wrong, he cannot say
    people have a right to do wrong. He says that upon the score of
    equality slaves should be allowed to go into a new Territory, like
    other property. This is strictly logical if there is no difference
    between it and other property. If it and other property are equal,
    his argument is entirely logical. But if you insist that one is
    wrong and the other right, there is no use to institute a
    comparison between right and wrong. You may turn over everything
    in the Democratic policy from beginning to end, whether in the
    shape it takes on the statute book, in the shape it takes in the
    Dred Scott decision, in the shape it takes in conversation, or the
    shape it takes in short maxim-like arguments--it everywhere
    carefully excludes the idea that there is anything wrong in it.

  [Sidenote] Lincoln-Douglas Debates, pp. 233-4.

    That is the real issue. That is the issue that will continue in
    this country when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself
    shall be silent. It is the eternal struggle between these two
    principles--right and wrong--throughout the world. They are the
    two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of
    time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common
    right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is
    the same principle, in whatever shape it develops itself. It is
    the same spirit that says, "You work and toil and earn bread, and
    I'll eat it." No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the
    mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation
    and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as
    an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical

  [Sidenote] Lincoln-Douglas Debates, p. 56.

As to the vaunted popular sovereignty principle, Lincoln declared it
"the most arrant Quixotism that was ever enacted before a
community.... Does he mean to say that he has been devoting his life
to securing to the people of the Territories the right to exclude
slavery from the Territories? If he means so to say, he means to
deceive; because he and every one knows that the decision of the
Supreme Court, which he approves and makes especial ground of attack
upon me for disapproving, forbids the people of a Territory to exclude
slavery. This covers the whole ground from the settlement of a
Territory till it reaches the degree of maturity entitling it to form
a State constitution. So far as all that ground is concerned, the
Judge is not sustaining popular sovereignty, but absolutely opposing
it. He sustains the decision which declares that the popular will of
the Territories has no constitutional power to exclude slavery during
their territorial existence."

By no means the least interesting of the many points touched in these
debates is Lincoln's own estimate of the probable duration of slavery,
or rather of the least possible period in which "ultimate extinction"
could be effected, even under the most favorable circumstances.

  [Sidenote] Lincoln-Douglas Debates, p. 157.

    Now, at this day in the history of the world [said he, in the
    Charleston debate], we can no more foretell where the end of this
    slavery agitation will be than we can see the end of the world
    itself. The Nebraska-Kansas bill was introduced four years and a
    half ago, and if the agitation is ever to come to an end, we may
    say we are four years and a half nearer the end. So too we can say
    we are four years and a half nearer the end of the world; and we
    can just as clearly see the end of the world as we can see the end
    of this agitation. The Kansas settlement did not conclude it. If
    Kansas should sink to-day, and leave a great vacant space in the
    earth's surface, this vexed question would still be among us. I
    say then there is no way of putting an end to the slavery
    agitation amongst us, but to put it back upon the basis where our
    fathers placed it, no way but to keep it out of our new
    Territories--to restrict it forever to the old States where it now
    exists. Then the public mind will rest in the belief that it is in
    the course of ultimate extinction. That is one way of putting an
    end to the slavery agitation.

    The other way is for us to surrender and let Judge Douglas and his
    friends have their way and plant slavery over all the States;
    cease speaking of it as in any way a wrong; regard slavery as one
    of the common matters of property and speak of negroes as we do of
    our horses and cattle. But while it drives on in its state of
    progress as it is now driving, and as it has driven for the last
    five years, I have ventured the opinion, and I say to-day that we
    will have no end to the slavery agitation until it takes one turn
    or the other. I do not mean to say that when it takes a turn
    towards ultimate extinction it will be in a day, nor in a year,
    nor in two years. I do not suppose that in the most peaceful way
    ultimate extinction would occur in less than a hundred years at
    least; but that it will occur in the best way for both races, in
    God's own good time, I have no doubt.

But the one dominating characteristic of Lincoln's speeches is their
constant recurrence to broad and enduring principles, their
unremitting effort to lead public opinion to loftier and nobler
conceptions of political duty; and nothing in his career stamps him so
distinctively an American as his constant eulogy and defense of the
philosophical precepts of the Declaration of Independence. The
following is one of his indictments of his political opponents on this

  [Sidenote] Lincoln-Douglas Debates, p. 225.

    At Galesburg the other day, I said, in answer to Judge Douglas,
    that three years ago there never had been a man, so far as I knew
    or believed, in the whole world, who had said that the Declaration
    of Independence did not include negroes in the term "all men." I
    re-assert it to-day. I assert that Judge Douglas and all his
    friends may search the whole records of the country, and it will
    be a matter of great astonishment to me if they shall be able to
    find that one human being three years ago had ever uttered the
    astounding sentiment that the term "all men" in the Declaration
    did not include the negro. Do not let me be misunderstood. I know
    that more than three years ago there were men who, finding this
    assertion constantly in the way of their schemes to bring about
    the ascendency and perpetuation of slavery, denied the truth of
    it. I know that Mr. Calhoun and all the politicians of his school
    denied the truth of the Declaration. I know that it ran along in
    the mouth of some Southern men for a period of years, ending at
    last in that shameful though rather forcible declaration of
    Pettit, of Indiana, upon the floor of the United States Senate,
    that the Declaration of Independence was in that respect "a
    self-evident lie" rather than a self-evident truth. But I say,
    with a perfect knowledge of all this hawking at the Declaration
    without directly attacking it, that three years ago there never
    had lived a man who had ventured to assail it in the sneaking way
    of pretending to believe it and then asserting it did not include
    the negro. I believe the first man who ever said it was
    Chief-Justice Taney in the Dred Scott case, and the next to him
    was our friend, Stephen A. Douglas. And now it has become the
    catchword of the entire party. I would like to call upon his
    friends everywhere to consider how they have come in so short a
    time to view this matter in a way so entirely different from their
    former belief; to ask whether they are not being borne along by an
    irresistible current, whither they know not?

In the joint debates, however, argument and oratory were both hampered
by the inexorable limit of time. For the full development of his
thought, the speeches Lincoln made separately at other places afforded
him a freer opportunity. A quotation from his language on one of these
occasions is therefore here added, as a better illustration of his
style and logic, where his sublime theme carried him into one of his
more impassioned moods:

    The Declaration of Independence was formed by the representatives
    of American liberty from thirteen States of the Confederacy,
    twelve of which were slave-holding communities. We need not
    discuss the way or the reason of their becoming slave-holding
    communities. It is sufficient for our purpose that all of them
    greatly deplored the evil and that they placed a provision in the
    Constitution which they supposed would gradually remove the
    disease by cutting off its source. This was the abolition of the
    slave trade. So general was the conviction, the public
    determination, to abolish the African slave trade, that the
    provision which I have referred to as being placed in the
    Constitution declared that it should not be abolished prior to the
    year 1808. A constitutional provision was necessary to prevent the
    people, through Congress, from putting a stop to the traffic
    immediately at the close of the war. Now if slavery had been a
    good thing, would the fathers of the republic have taken a step
    calculated to diminish its beneficent influences among themselves,
    and snatch the boon wholly from their posterity? These
    communities, by their representatives in old Independence Hall,
    said to the whole world of men: "We hold these truths to be
    self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are
    endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that
    among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." This
    was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the Universe.
    This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the
    justice of the Creator to his creatures. Yes, gentlemen, to all
    his creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their
    enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and
    likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on and degraded,
    and imbruted by its fellows. They grasped not only the whole race
    of man then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the
    farthest posterity. They erected a beacon to guide their children,
    and their children's children, and the countless myriads who
    should inhabit the earth in other ages. Wise statesmen as they
    were, they knew the tendency of prosperity to breed tyrants, and
    so they established these great self-evident truths, that when in
    the distant future some man, some faction, some interest, should
    set up the doctrine that none but rich men, or none but white men,
    or none but Anglo-Saxon white men, were entitled to life, liberty,
    and the pursuit of happiness, their posterity might look up again
    to the Declaration of Independence and take courage to renew the
    battle which their fathers began, so that truth and justice and
    mercy and all the humane and Christian virtues might not be
    extinguished from the land; so that no man would hereafter dare to
    limit and circumscribe the great principles on which the temple of
    liberty was being built.

    Now, my countrymen, if you have been taught doctrines conflicting
    with the great landmarks of the Declaration of Independence; if
    you have listened to suggestions which would take away from its
    grandeur and mutilate the fair symmetry of its proportions; if you
    have been inclined to believe that all men are not created equal
    in those inalienable rights enumerated by our chart of liberty,
    let me entreat you to come back. Return to the fountain whose
    waters spring close by the blood of the revolution. Think nothing
    of me--take no thought for the political fate of any man
    whomsoever--but come back to the truths that are in the
    Declaration of Independence. You may do anything with me you
    choose, if you will but heed these sacred principles. You may not
    only defeat me for the Senate, but you may take me and put me to
    death. While pretending no indifference to earthly honors, I do
    claim to be actuated in this contest by something higher than an
    anxiety for office. I charge you to drop every paltry and
    insignificant thought for any man's success. It is nothing; I am
    nothing; Judge Douglas is nothing. But do not destroy that
    immortal emblem of Humanity--the Declaration of American

[1] It is interesting to compare with Lincoln's letter one from Greeley
to a Chicago editor on the same subject:

    "NEW YORK,
    "July 24, 1858.

    "MY FRIEND: You have taken your own course--don't try to throw the
    blame on others. You have repelled Douglas, who might have been
    conciliated and attached to our own side, whatever he may _now_
    find, it necessary to say, or do, and instead of helping us in
    other States, you have thrown a load upon us that may probably
    break us down. You knew what was the almost unanimous desire of
    the Republicans of other States; and you spurned and insulted
    them. Now go ahead and fight it through. You are in for it, and
    it does no good to make up wry faces. What I have said in the
    'Tribune' since the fight was resolved on, has been in good faith,
    intended to help you through. If Lincoln would fight up to the
    work also, you might get through--if he apologizes, and retreats,
    he is lost, and all others go down with him. His first Springfield
    speech (at the convention) was in the right key; his Chicago
    speech was bad; and I fear the new Springfield speech is worse. If
    he dare not stand on broad Republican ground, he cannot stand at
    all. That, however, is _his_ business; he is nowise responsible
    for what I say. I shall stand on the broad anti-slavery ground,
    which I have occupied for years. I cannot change it to help your
    fight; and I should only damage you if I did. You have got your
    Elephant--you would have him--now shoulder him! He is not so very
    heavy, after all. As I seem to displease you equally when I try to
    keep you out of trouble, and when, having rushed in in spite of
    me, I try to help you in the struggle you have unwisely provoked,
    I must keep neutral, so far as may be hereafter. Yours,

    (Signed) "HORACE GREELEY.

    "J. MEDILL, Esq., Chicago, (very) Ill.

    "What have I ever said in favor of 'Negro equality' with reference
    to your fight? I recollect nothing."

The above is from a manuscript copy of Greeley's letter, but it bears
internal evidence of genuineness.

[2] "Last year in the Illinois canvass I made just 130 speeches."--
[Douglas, Wooster (O.) Speech.] This was between July 9 and November
2, 1858, just 100 days, exclusive of Sundays.

[3] Lincoln's Lewiston Speech, August 17, 1858. Chicago "Press and



  [Sidenote] Lincoln-Douglas Debates, p. 68.

What has thus far been quoted has been less to illustrate the leading
lines of discussion, than to explain more fully the main historical
incident of the debates. In the first joint discussion at Ottawa, in
the northern or anti-slavery part of Illinois, Douglas read a series of
strong anti-slavery resolutions which he erroneously alleged Lincoln
had taken part in framing and passing. He said: "My object in reading
these resolutions was to put the question to Abraham Lincoln this day
whether he now stands and will stand by each article in that creed and
carry it out.... I ask Abraham Lincoln to answer these questions in
order that when I trot him down to lower Egypt[1] I may put the same
questions to him."[2]

  [Sidenote] Lincoln-Douglas Debates, p. 87.

In preparing a powerful appeal to local prejudice, Douglas doubtless
knew he was handling a two-edged sword; but we shall see that he
little appreciated the skill with which his antagonist would wield the
weapon he was placing in his hands. At their second joint meeting, at
Freeport, also in northern Illinois, Lincoln, who now had the opening
speech, said, referring to Douglas's speech at Ottawa: "I do him no
injustice in saying that he occupied at least half of his reply in
dealing with me as though I had refused to answer his interrogatories.
I now propose that I will answer any of the interrogatories, upon
condition that he will answer questions from me not exceeding the same
number. I give him an opportunity to respond. The judge remains
silent. I now say that I will answer his interrogatories, whether he
answers mine or not; and that after I have done so, I shall propound
mine to him."

Lincoln then read his answers to the seven questions which, had been
asked him, and proposed four in return, the second one of which ran as
follows: "Can the people of a United States Territory, in any lawful
way, against the wish of any citizen of the United States, exclude
slavery from its limits, prior to the formation of a State

To comprehend the full force of this interrogatory, the reader must
recall the fact that the "popular sovereignty" of the Nebraska bill
was couched in vague language, and qualified with the proviso that it
was "subject to the Constitution." The caucus which framed this
phraseology agreed, as a compromise between Northern and Southern
Democrats, that the courts should interpret and define the
constitutional limitations, by which all should abide. The Dred Scott
decision declared in terms that Congress could not prohibit slavery in
Territories nor authorize a Territorial Legislature to do so. The Dred
Scott decision had thus annihilated "popular sovereignty," Would
Douglas admit his blunder in law, and his error in statesmanship?

He had already faced and partly evaded this dilemma in his Springfield
speech of 1857, but that was a local declaration and occurred before
his Lecompton revolt, and the ingenious sophism then put forth had
attracted little notice. Since that time things had materially
changed. He had opposed Lecompton, become a party recusant, and been
declared a party apostate. His Senatorial term was closing, and he had
to look to an evenly balanced if not a hostile constituency for
reëlection. The Buchanan Administration was putting forth what feeble
strength it had in Illinois to insure his defeat. His Democratic
rivals were scrutinizing every word he uttered. He stood before the
people to whom he had pledged his word that the voters of Kansas might
regulate their own domestic concerns. They would tolerate no juggling
nor evasion. There remained no resource but to answer _Yes_, and he
could conjure up no justification of such an answer except the hollow
subterfuge he had invented the year before.

  [Sidenote] Lincoln to Asbury, July 31, 1858.

Lincoln clearly enough comprehended the dilemma and predicted the
expedient of his antagonist. He had framed his questions and submitted
them to a consultation of shrewd party friends. This one especially
was the subject of anxious deliberation and serious disagreement.
Nearly a month before, Lincoln in a private letter accurately
foreshadowed Douglas's course on this question. "You shall have hard
work to get him directly to the point whether a Territorial
Legislature has or has not the power to exclude slavery. But if you
succeed in bringing him to it--though he will be compelled to say it
possesses no such power--he will instantly take ground that slavery
cannot actually exist in the Territories unless the people desire it,
and so give it protection by Territorial legislation. If this offends
the South, he will let it offend them, as at all events he means to
hold on to his chances in Illinois." There is a tradition that on the
night preceding this Freeport debate Lincoln was catching a few hours'
rest, at a railroad center named Mendota, to which place the
converging trains brought after midnight a number of excited
Republican leaders, on their way to attend the great meeting at the
neighboring town of Freeport. Notwithstanding the late hour, Mr.
Lincoln's bedroom was invaded by an improvised caucus, and the ominous
question was once more brought under consideration. The whole drift of
advice ran against putting the interrogatory to Douglas; but Lincoln
persisted in his determination to force him to answer it. Finally his
friends in a chorus cried out, "If you do, you can never be Senator."
"Gentlemen," replied Lincoln, "I am killing larger game; if Douglas
answers, he can never be President, and the battle of 1860 is worth a
hundred of this."

When Lincoln had finished his opening speech in the Freeport debate,
and Douglas in his reply came to interrogatory number two, which
Lincoln had propounded, he answered as follows:

  [Sidenote] Lincoln-Douglas Debates, p. 95.

    The next question propounded to me by Mr. Lincoln is, Can the
    people of a Territory in any lawful way, against the wish of any
    citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from their limits,
    prior to the formation of a State constitution? I answer
    emphatically, as Mr. Lincoln has heard me answer a hundred times
    from every stump in Illinois, that in my opinion the people of a
    Territory can, by lawful means, exclude slavery from their limits,
    prior to the formation of a State constitution. Mr. Lincoln knew
    that I had answered that question over and over again. He heard me
    argue the Nebraska bill on that principle all over the State in
    1854, in 1855, and in 1856, and he has no excuse for pretending to
    be in doubt as to my position on that question. It matters not
    what way the Supreme Court may hereafter decide as to the abstract
    question whether slavery may or may not go into a Territory under
    the Constitution, the people have the lawful means to introduce it
    or exclude it, as they please, for the reason that slavery cannot
    exist a day or an hour anywhere, unless it is supported by local
    police regulations. Those police regulations can only be
    established by the local Legislature, and if the people are
    opposed to slavery they will elect representatives to that body
    who will by unfriendly legislation effectually prevent the
    introduction of it into their midst. If, on the contrary, they are
    for it, their legislation will favor its extension. Hence, no
    matter what the decision of the Supreme Court may be on that
    abstract question, still the right of the people to make a slave
    Territory or a free Territory is perfect and complete under the
    Nebraska bill. I hope Mr. Lincoln deems my answer satisfactory on
    that point.

[Illustration: STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS.]

The remarkable theory here proposed was immediately taken up and
exhaustively discussed by the leading newspapers in all parts of the
Union, and thereby became definitely known under the terms "unfriendly
legislation" and "Freeport doctrine." Mr. Lincoln effectually disposed
of it in the following fashion in the joint debate at Alton:

  [Sidenote] Lincoln-Douglas Debates, pp. 234-5.

    I understand I have ten minutes yet. I will employ it in saying
    something about this argument Judge Douglas uses, while he
    sustains the Dred Scott decision, that the people of the
    Territories can still somehow exclude slavery. The first thing I
    ask attention to is the fact that Judge Douglas constantly said,
    before the decision, that whether they could or not, was a
    question for the Supreme Court. But after the court has made the
    decision he virtually says it is not a question for the Supreme
    Court, but for the people. And how is it he tells us they can
    exclude it? He said it needs "police regulations," and that admits
    of "unfriendly legislation." Although it is a right established by
    the Constitution of the United States to take a slave into a
    Territory of the United States and hold him as property, yet
    unless the Territorial Legislature will give friendly legislation,
    and, more especially, if they adopt unfriendly legislation, they
    can practically exclude him. Now, without meeting this proposition
    as a matter of fact, I pass to consider the real constitutional
    obligation. Let me take the gentleman who looks me in the face
    before me, and let us suppose that he is a member of the
    Territorial Legislature. The first thing he will do will be to
    swear that he will support the Constitution of the United States.
    His neighbor by his side in the Territory has slaves and needs
    Territorial legislation to enable him to enjoy that constitutional
    right. Can he withhold the legislation which his neighbor needs
    for the enjoyment of a right which is fixed in his favor in the
    Constitution of the United States, which he has sworn to support?
    Can he withhold it without violating his oath? and more
    especially, can he pass unfriendly legislation to violate his
    oath? Why this is a monstrous sort of talk about the Constitution
    of the United States! There has never been as outlandish or
    lawless a doctrine from the mouth of any respectable man on earth.
    I do not believe it is a constitutional right to hold slaves in a
    Territory of the United States. I believe the decision was
    improperly made, and I go for reversing it. Judge Douglas is
    furious against those who go for reversing a decision. But he is
    for legislating it out of all force, while the law itself stands.
    I repeat that there has never been so monstrous a doctrine uttered
    from the mouth of a respectable man.

The announcement and subsequent defense by Douglas of his "Freeport
doctrine" proved, as Lincoln had predicted, something more important
than a mere campaign incident. It was the turning-point in Douglas's
political fortunes. With the whole South, and with a few prominent
politicians of the North, it served to put him outside the pale of
party fellowship. Compared with this his Lecompton revolt had been a
venial offense. In that case he had merely contended for the machinery
of a fair popular vote. This was the avowal of a principle as
obnoxious to the slavery propaganda as the unqualified abolitionism of
Giddings and Lovejoy. Henceforth all hope of reconciliation,
atonement, or chance of Presidential nomination by the united
Democratic party was out of the question. Before this, newspaper
zealots had indeed denounced him for his Lecompton recusancy as a
traitor and renegade, and the Administration had endeavored to secure
his defeat; now, however, in addition, the party high-priests put him
under solemn ban of excommunication. How they felt and from what
motives they acted is stated with singular force and frankness in a
Senate speech, soon after the Charleston Convention, by Senator Judah
P. Benjamin, of Louisiana, one of the ablest and most persistent of
the conspirators to nationalize slavery, and who, not long after, was
one of the principal actors in the great rebellion:

    Up to the years 1857 and 1858 no man in this nation had a higher
    or more exalted opinion of the character, the services, and the
    political integrity of the Senator from Illinois [Douglas] than I
    had.... Sir, it has been with reluctance and sorrow that I have
    been obliged to pluck down my idol from his place on high, and to
    refuse to him any more support or confidence as a member of the
    party. I have done so, I trust, upon no light or unworthy ground.
    I have not done so alone. The causes that have operated on me have
    operated on the Democratic party of the United States, and have
    operated an effect which the whole future life of the Senator will
    be utterly unable to obliterate. It is impossible that confidence
    thus lost can be restored. On what ground has that confidence been
    forfeited, and why is it that we now refuse him our support and
    fellowship? I have stated our reasons to-day. I have appealed to
    the record. I have not followed him back in the false issue or the
    feigned traverse that he makes in relation to matters that are not
    now in contest between him and the Democratic party. The question
    is not what we all said or believed in 1850 or in 1856. How idle
    was it to search ancient precedents and accumulate old quotations
    from what Senators may have at different times said in relation to
    their principles and views. The precise point, the direct
    arraignment, the plain and explicit allegation made against the
    Senator from Illinois is not touched by him in all of his speech.

  [Sidenote] Benjamin, Senate Speech, May 22, 1860. Pamphlet.

    We accuse him for this, to wit: that having bargained with us upon
    a point upon which we were at issue, that it should be considered
    a judicial point; that he would abide the decision; that he would
    act under the decision, and consider it a doctrine of the party;
    that having said that to us here in the Senate, he went home, and
    under the stress of a local election, his knees gave way; his
    whole person trembled. His adversary stood upon principle and was
    beaten; and lo! he is the candidate of a mighty party for the
    Presidency of the United States. The Senator from Illinois
    faltered. He got the prize for which he faltered; but lo! the
    grand prize of his ambition to-day slips from his grasp because of
    his faltering in his former contest, and his success in the
    canvass for the Senate, purchased for an ignoble price, has cost
    him the loss of the Presidency of the United States.

  [Sidenote] 1858.

The Senatorial canvass in Illinois came to a close with the election
on the 2d of November and resulted in a victory for Douglas. The
Republicans, on their State ticket, polled 125,430 votes; the Douglas
Democrats, 121,609; the Buchanan Democrats, 5071. By this plurality
the Republican State officers were chosen. But in respect to members
of the Legislature the case stood differently, and when in the
following January the Senatorial election took place in joint session
of the two Houses, Douglas received the vote of every Democrat, 54
members, and Lincoln the vote of every Republican, 46 members,
whereupon Douglas was declared elected Senator of the United States
for six years from the 4th of March, 1859.

The main cause of Lincoln's defeat was the unfairness of the existing
apportionment, which was based upon the census of 1850. A fair
apportionment, based on the changes of population which had occurred,
would have given northern Illinois a larger representation; and it was
there the Republicans had recruited their principal strength in the
recent transformation of parties. The Republicans estimated that this
circumstance caused them a loss of six to ten members.

  [Sidenote] Lincoln, Cincinnati Speech, Sept. 17, 1859. Debates,
  p. 263.

But the unusual political combinations also had a large influence on
the result. Lincoln, in an Ohio speech made in the following year,
addressing himself to Kentuckians, thus summarized the political
forces that contributed to his defeat: "Douglas had three or four very
distinguished men of the most extreme anti-slavery views of any men in
the Republican party expressing their desire for his reëlection to the
Senate last year. That would of itself have seemed to be a little
wonderful, but that wonder is heightened when we see that Wise, of
Virginia, a man exactly opposed to them, a man who believes in the
divine right of slavery, was also expressing his desire that Douglas
should be reëlected; that another man that may be said to be kindred
to Wise, Mr. Breckinridge, the Vice-President, and of your own State,
was also agreeing with the anti-slavery men in the North, that Douglas
ought to be reëlected. Still to heighten the wonder, a Senator from
Kentucky, whom I have always loved with an affection as tender and
endearing as I have ever loved any man, who was opposed to the
anti-slavery men for reasons which seemed sufficient to him and equally
opposed to Wise and Breckinridge, was writing letters to Illinois to
secure the reëlection of Douglas. Now that all these conflicting
elements should be brought, while at daggers' points with one another,
to support him, is a feat that is worthy for you to note and consider.
It is quite probable that each of these classes of men thought, by the
reëlection of Douglas, their peculiar views would gain something; it
is probable that the anti-slavery men thought their views would gain
something; that Wise and Breckinridge thought so too, as regards their
opinions; that Mr. Crittenden thought that his views would gain
something although he was opposed to both these other men. It is
probable that each and all of them thought they were using Douglas,
and it is yet an unsolved problem whether he was not using them all."

After a hundred consecutive days of excitement, of intense mental
strain, and of unremitting bodily exertion, after speech-making and
parades, music and bonfires, it must be something of a trial to face
at once the mortification of defeat, the weariness of intellectual and
physical reaction, and the dull commonplace of daily routine. Letters
written at this period show that under these conditions Mr. Lincoln
remained composed, patient, and hopeful. Two weeks after election he
wrote thus to Mr. Judd, a member of the Legislature and Chairman of
the Republican State Central Committee: "I have the pleasure to inform
you that I am convalescing and hoping these lines may find you in the
same improving state of health. Doubtless you have suspected for some
time that I entertain a personal wish for a term in the United States
Senate; and had the suspicion taken the shape of the direct charge I
think I could not have truthfully denied it. But let the past as
nothing be. For the future my view is that the fight must go on. The
returns here are not yet complete, but it is believed that Dougherty's
vote will be slightly greater than Miller's majority over Fondey. We
have some 120,000 clear Republican votes. That pile is worth keeping
together. It will elect a State ticket two years hence."

  [Sidenote] Lincoln to Judd, Nov. 15, 1858.

"In that day I shall fight in the ranks, but shall be in no one's way
for any of the places. I am especially for Trumbull's reëlection; and,
by the way, this brings me to the principal object of this letter. Can
you not take your draft of an apportionment bill and carefully revise
it till it shall be strictly and obviously just in all particulars,
and then by an early and persistent effort get enough of the enemies'
men to enable you to pass it? I believe if you and Peck make a job of
it, begin early and work earnestly and quietly, you can succeed in it.
Unless something be done, Trumbull is inevitably beaten two years
hence. Take this into serious consideration."

  [Sidenote] Ibid., Nov. 16, 1858.

On the following day he received from Mr. Judd a letter informing him
that the funds subscribed for the State Central Committee did not
suffice to pay all the election bills, and asking his help to raise
additional contributions. To this appeal Lincoln replied: "Yours of
the 15th is just received. I wrote you the same day. As to the
pecuniary matter, I am willing to pay according to my ability, but I
am the poorest hand living to get others to pay. I have been on
expenses so long without earning anything that I am absolutely without
money now for even household purposes. Still, if you can put in $250
for me towards discharging the debt of the committee, I will allow it
when you and I settle the private matter between us. This, with what I
have already paid, and with an outstanding note of mine, will exceed
my subscription of $500. This, too, is exclusive of my ordinary
expenses during the campaign, all which being added to my loss of time
and business, bears pretty heavily upon one no better off in world's
goods than I; but as I had the post of honor, it is not for me to be
over-nice. You are feeling badly--'And this too shall pass away.'
Never fear."

  [Sidenote] Lincoln to Dr. Henry, Nov. 19, 1858. MS.

The sting of personal defeat is painful to most men, and doubtless it
was so to Lincoln. Yet he regarded the passing struggle as something
more than a mere scramble for office, and drew from it the consolation
which all earnest workers feel in the consciousness of a task well
done. Thus he wrote to a friend on November 19: "You doubtless have
seen ere this the result of the election here. Of course I wished, but
I did not much expect, a better result.... I am glad I made the late
race. It gave me a hearing on the great and durable question of the
age, which I could have had in no other way; and though I now sink out
of view, and shall be forgotten, I believe I have made some marks
which will tell for the cause of civil liberty long after I am gone."

  [Sidenote] Lincoln to Asbury, November 19, 1858.

To these one other letter may be added, showing his never-failing
faith in the political future. To a personal friend in Quincy,
Illinois, who had watched the campaign with unusual attention, Lincoln
wrote that same day: "Yours of the 13th was received some days ago.
The fight must go on. The cause of civil liberty must not be
surrendered at the end of one or even one hundred defeats. Douglas had
the ingenuity to be supported in the late contest, both as the best
means to break down and to uphold the slave interest. No ingenuity can
keep these antagonistic elements in harmony long. Another explosion
will soon come."

  [Sidenote] 1858.

Douglas was also greatly exhausted by the wearing labors of the
campaign; but he had the notable triumph of an assured reëlection to
the Senate and the congratulations of his enthusiastic friends to
sustain and refresh him. Being an indefatigable worker, he was already
organizing a new and more ambitious effort. Three weeks after election
he started on a brief tour to the Southern States, making speeches at
Memphis and New Orleans, of which further mention will be made in the
next chapter. Perhaps he deemed it wise not to proceed immediately to
Washington, where Congress convened on the first Monday of December,
and thus to avoid a direct continuance of his battle with the Buchanan
Administration. If so, the device proved ineffectual. The President
and his partisans were determined to put the author of the "Freeport
doctrine" under public ban, and to that end, when Congress organized,
one of the first acts of the Senate majority was to depose Douglas
from his place as chairman of the Committee on Territories, which he
had held in that body for eleven years.

[1] A local nickname by which the southern or pro-slavery portion of
Illinois was familiarly known.


    "_Question_ 1. 'I desire to know whether Lincoln to-day stands, as
    he did in 1854, in favor of the unconditional repeal of the
    fugitive-slave law?'

    _Answer_. I do not now, nor ever did, stand in favor of the
    unconditional repeal of the fugitive-slave law.

    _Q_. 2. 'I desire him to answer whether he stands pledged to-day,
    as he did in 1854, against the admission of any more slave-States
    into the Union even if the people want them?'

    _A_. I do not now, nor ever did, stand pledged against the
    admission of any more slave-States into the Union.

    _Q_. 3. 'I want to know whether he stands pledged against the
    admission of a new State into the Union with such a constitution
    as the people of that State may see fit to make?'

    _A_. I do not stand pledged against the admission of a new State
    into the Union with such a constitution as the people of that
    State may see fit to make.

    _Q_. 4. 'I want to know whether he stands to-day pledged to the
    abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia?'

    _A_. I do not stand to-day pledged to the abolition of slavery in
    the District of Columbia.

    _Q_. 5. 'I desire him to answer whether he stands pledged to the
    prohibition of the slave trade between the different States?'

    _A_. I do not stand pledged to the prohibition of the slave trade
    between the different States.

    _Q_. 6. 'I desire to know whether he stands pledged to prohibit
    slavery in all the Territories of the United States, north as well
    as south of the Missouri Compromise line?'

    _A_. I am impliedly if not expressly pledged to a belief in the
    right and duty of Congress to prohibit slavery in all the United
    States Territories.

    _Q_. 7. 'I desire him to answer whether he is opposed to the
    acquisition of any new territory unless slavery is first
    prohibited therein?'

    _A_. I am not generally opposed to honest acquisition of
    territory; and, in any given case, I would or would not oppose
    such acquisition accordingly as I might think such acquisition
    would or would not aggravate the slavery question among
    ourselves."--Lincoln-Douglas Debates, p. 88.


    "_Question_ 1. If the people of Kansas shall, by means entirely
    unobjectionable in all other respects, adopt a State constitution,
    and ask admission into the Union under it, before they have the
    requisite number of inhabitants according to the English
    bill,--some 93,000,--will you vote to admit them?

    _Q_. 2. Can the people of a United States Territory, in any lawful
    way, against the wish of any citizen of the United States, exclude
    slavery from its limits, prior to the formation of a State

    _Q_. 3. If the Supreme Court of the United States shall decide
    that States cannot exclude slavery from their limits, are you in
    favor of acquiescing in, adopting, and following such decision as
    a rule of political action?

    _Q_. 4. Are you in favor of acquiring additional territory, in
    disregard of how such acquisition may affect the nation on the
    slavery question?"--Lincoln-Douglas Debates, p. 90.



When Lincoln, in opening the Senatorial campaign of Illinois, declared
that the Republican cause must be intrusted to its own undoubted
friends "who do care for the result," he displayed a much better
understanding of the character and aims of his opponent than those
who, not so well informed, desired the adoption of a different course.
Had the wishes of Greeley and others prevailed, had Douglas been
adopted by the Illinois Republicans, the party would have found itself
in a fatal dilemma, No sooner was the campaign closed than Douglas,
having entered on his tour through the South, began making speeches,
apparently designed to pave his way to a nomination for President by
the next Democratic National Convention. Realizing that he had lost
ground by his anti-Lecomptonism, and especially by his Freeport
doctrine, and having felt in the late campaign the hostility of the
Buchanan Administration, he now sought to recover prestige by
publishing more advanced opinions indirectly sustaining and defending

Hitherto he had declared he did not care whether slavery was voted
down or voted up. He had said he would not argue the question whether
slavery was right or wrong. He had adopted Taney's assertion that the
negro had no share in the Declaration of Independence. He had asserted
that uniformity was impossible, but that freedom and slavery might
abide together forever. But now that the election was over and a new
term in the Senate secure, he was ready to conciliate pro-slavery
opinion with stronger expressions. Hence, in a speech at Memphis, he
cunningly linked together in argument unfriendly legislation, slavery,
and annexation. He said: "Whenever a Territory has a climate, soil,
and production making it the interest of the inhabitants to encourage
slave property, they will pass a slave code."

Wherever these preclude the possibility of slavery being profitable,
they will not permit it. On the sugar plantations of Louisiana it was
not a question between the white man and the negro, but between the
negro and the crocodile. He would say that between the negro and the
crocodile, he took the side of the negro; but between the negro and
the white man, he would go for the white man. The Almighty has drawn
the line on this continent, on the one side of which the soil must be
cultivated by slave labor; on the other by white labor. That line did
not run on 36º and 30' [the Missouri Compromise line], for 36º and 30'
runs over mountains and through valleys. But this slave line, he said,
meanders in the sugar-fields and plantations of the South, and the
people living in their different localities and in the Territories
must determine for themselves whether their "middle bed" is best
adapted to slavery or free labor.

  [Sidenote] Douglas, Memphis Speech, Nov. 29, 1858. Memphis "Eagle
  and Enquirer."

Referring to annexation, he said our destiny had forced us to acquire
Florida, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, and California. "We have now
territory enough, but how long will it be enough? One hive is enough
for one swarm of bees, but a new swarm comes next year and a new hive
is wanted." Men may say we shall never want anything more of Mexico,
but the time would come when we would be compelled to take more.
Central America was half-way to California and on the direct road. The
time will come when our destiny, our institutions, our safety will
compel us to have it. "So it is," concluded he, "with the island of
Cuba.... It is a matter of no consequence whether we want it or not;
we are compelled to take it, and we can't help it".

  [Sidenote] Douglas, New Orleans Speech, Dec. 6, 1858. Pamphlet.

When Douglas reached New Orleans he substantially repeated these
declarations in another long speech, and, as if he had not yet placed
himself in entire harmony with Southern opinion, he added a sentiment
almost as remarkable as the "mudsill" theory of Hammond, or the later
"cornerstone" doctrine of Stephens: "It is a law of humanity," said
he, "a law of civilization, that whenever a man or a race of men show
themselves incapable of managing their own affairs, they must consent
to be governed by those who are capable of performing the duty. It is
on this principle that you establish those institutions of charity for
the support of the blind, or the deaf and dumb, or the insane. In
accordance with this principle, I assert that the negro race, under
all circumstances, at all times, and in all countries, has shown
itself incapable of self-government."

  [Sidenote] Douglas, Baltimore Speech, Jan. 5, 1859. Pamphlet.

Once more, in a speech at Baltimore, Douglas repeated in substance
what he had said at Memphis and New Orleans, and then in the beginning
of January, 1859, he reached Washington and took his seat in the
Senate. Here he began to comprehend the action of the Democratic
caucus in deposing him from the chairmanship of the Committee on
Territories. His personal influence and prestige among the Southern
leaders were gone. Neither his revived zeal for annexation, nor his
advanced views on the necessity for slave labor, restored his
good-fellowship with the extremists. Although, pursuant to a
recommendation in the annual message, a measure was then pending in
the Senate to place thirty millions in the hands of President Buchanan
with which to negotiate for Cuba, the attitude of the pro-slavery
faction was not one of conciliation, but of unrelenting opposition to

  [Sidenote] Brown, Senate Speech, Feb. 28, 1859. "Globe," pp. 1241
  _et seq_.

Towards the close of the short session this feeling broke out in an
open demonstration. On February 23, while an item of the appropriation
bill was under debate, Senator Brown, of Mississippi, said he wanted
the success of the Democratic party in 1860 to be a success of
principles and not of men. He neither wanted to cheat nor be cheated.
Under the decision of the Supreme Court the South would demand
protection for slavery in the Territories. If he understood the
Senator from Illinois, Mr. Douglas, he thought a Territorial
Legislature might by non-action or by unfriendly action rightfully
exclude slavery. He dissented from him, and now he would like to know
from other Senators from the North what they would do: "If the
Territorial Legislature refuses to act, will you act? If it pass
unfriendly acts, will you pass friendly? If it pass laws hostile to
slavery, will you annul them and substitute laws favoring slavery in
their stead?... I would rather," concluded he "see the Democratic
party sunk, never to be resurrected, than to see it successful only
that one portion of it might practice a fraud on another."

  [Sidenote] Brown, Senate Speech, Feb. 28, 1859. "Globe," pp. 1246-7.

Douglas met the issue, and defended his Freeport doctrine without
flinching. The Democracy of the North hold, said he, that "if you
repudiate the doctrine of non-intervention, and form a slave code by
act of Congress, where the people of a Territory refuse it, you must
step off the Democratic platform. I tell you, gentlemen of the South,
in all candor, I do not believe a Democratic candidate can ever carry
any one Democratic State of the North on the platform that it is the
duty of the Federal Government to force the people of a Territory to
have slavery when they do not want it."

The discussion extended itself to other Senators; Jefferson Davis, of
Mississippi, Clay, of Alabama, Mason, of Virginia, and Gwin, of
California, seconded the demands and arguments of Brown; while Pugh,
of Ohio, Broderick, of California, and Stuart, of Michigan, came to
the help and defense of Douglas and non-intervention. Several
Republicans drifted into the debate on behalf of the position and
principles of their party, which of course differed from those of both
Brown and Douglas. The discussion was continued to a late hour, and
finally came to an end through mere lapse of time, but not until an
irreparable schism in the Democratic party had been opened.

  [Sidenote] Douglas to Dorr, June 22, 1859. Baltimore "Sun," June
  24, 1859.

Silence upon so vital an issue could not long be maintained. In the
following June, an Iowa friend wrote to Douglas to inquire whether he
would be a candidate for the Presidential nomination at the coming
Charleston Convention. Douglas replied that party issues must first
be defined. If the Democracy adhered to their former principles,
 his friends would be at liberty to present his name. "If, on the
contrary," continued he, "it shall become the policy of the Democratic
party, which I cannot anticipate, to repudiate these their
time-honored principles, on which we have achieved so many patriotic
triumphs, and in lieu of them the convention shall interpolate into
the creed of the party such new issues as the revival of the African
slave-trade, or a Congressional slave-code for the Territories, or the
doctrine that the Constitution of the United States either establishes
or prohibits slavery in the Territories beyond the power of the people
legally to control it, as other property--it is due to candor to say
that, in such an event, I could not accept the nomination if tendered
to me."

  [Sidenote] Ray to Lincoln, July 27, 1858. MS.

We must leave the career of Douglas for a while, to follow up the
personal history of Lincoln. The peculiar attitude of national
politics had in the previous year drawn the attention of the whole
country to Illinois in a remarkable degree. The Senatorial campaign
was hardly opened when a Chicago editor, whose daily examination of a
large list of newspaper exchanges brought the fact vividly under his
observation, wrote to Lincoln: "You are like Byron, who woke up one
morning and found himself famous. People wish to know about you. You
have sprung at once from the position of a capital fellow, and a
leading lawyer in Illinois, to a national reputation."


  [Sidenote] David Davis to Lincoln, Nov. 7, 1858. MS.

The compliment was fully warranted; the personal interest in Lincoln
increased daily from the beginning to the end of the great debates.
The Freeport doctrine and its effect upon the Democratic party gave
these discussions both present significance and a growing interest for
the future. Another friend wrote him, a few days after election: "You
have made a noble canvass, which, if unavailing in this State, has
earned you a national reputation, and made you friends everywhere."

  [Sidenote] Delahay to Lincoln, March 15, 1859. MS.

  [Sidenote] Dorsheimer to Chase, Sept. 12, 1859. MS.

  [Sidenote] Kasson to Lincoln, Sept. 13, 1859. MS.

  [Sidenote] Kirkpatrick to Lincoln, Sept. 15, 1859. MS.

  [Sidenote] Weed to Judd, Oct. 21, 1859. MS.

  [Sidenote] Dennison to Trumbull, July 21, 1859. MS.

That this was not the mere flattery of partial friends became manifest
to him by other indications; by an increased correspondence filled
with general commendation, and particularly by numerous invitations to
deliver speeches in other States. The Republican Central Committee of
New Hampshire wrote him that if Douglas came, as was expected, to that
State, they desired Lincoln to come and answer him. The Central
Committee of Minnesota wished him to come there and assist in their
canvass. There was an incessant commotion in politics throughout the
whole North, and as the season advanced calls came from all quarters.
Kansas wanted him; Buffalo, Des Moines, Pittsburgh wanted him; Thurlow
Weed telegraphed: "Send Abraham Lincoln to Albany immediately." Not
only his presence, but his arguments, and ideas, were in demand.
Dennison, making the canvass for Governor of Ohio, asked for a report
of his debates for campaign "material."

That men in all parts of the Union were thus turning to him for help
and counsel was due, not alone to the publicity and credit he had
gained in his debates with Douglas in the previous year; it grew quite
as much out of the fact that by his sagacity and courage he had made
himself the safest, as well as the most available, rallying-point of
the Republican party and exponent of Republican doctrine. The
Lecompton quarrel in the Democratic party had led many prominent
Republicans on a false trail. In Douglas's new attitude, developed by
his Southern speeches and his claim to readmission into regular
Democratic fellowship, these leaders found themselves at fault,
discredited by their own course. Lincoln, on the contrary, not only
held aloft the most aggressive Republican banner, but stood nearest
the common party enemy, and was able to offer advice to all the
elements of the Republican party, free from any suspicion of intrigue
with foe or faction. The causes of his Senatorial defeat thus gave him
a certain party authority and leadership, which were felt if not
openly acknowledged. On his part, while never officious or obtrusive,
he was always ready with seasonable and judicious suggestions,
generous in spirit and comprehensive in scope, and which looked beyond
mere local success.

Thus he wrote from Springfield to Schuyler Colfax (afterwards
Vice-President of the United States), July 6, 1859: "I much regret not
seeing you while you were here among us. Before learning that you were
to be at Jacksonville on the 4th, I had given my word to be at another
place. Besides a strong desire to make your personal acquaintance, I
was anxious to speak with you on politics a little more fully than I
can well do in a letter. My main object in such conversation would be
to hedge against divisions in the Republican ranks generally, and
particularly for the contest of 1860. The point of danger is the
temptation in different localities to 'platform' for something which
will be popular just there, but which, nevertheless, will be a
firebrand elsewhere, and especially in a national convention. As
instances, the movement against foreigners in Massachusetts; in New
Hampshire, to make obedience to the fugitive-slave law punishable as a
crime; in Ohio, to repeal the fugitive-slave law; and, squatter
sovereignty, in Kansas. In these things there is explosive matter
enough to blow up half a dozen national conventions, if it gets into
them; and what gets very rife outside of conventions is very likely to
find its way into them. What is desirable, if possible, is that in
every local convocation of Republicans a point should be made to avoid
everything which will disturb Republicans elsewhere. Massachusetts
Republicans should have looked beyond their noses, and then they could
not have failed to see that tilting against foreigners would ruin us
in the whole Northwest. New Hampshire and Ohio should forbear tilting
against the fugitive-slave law in such way as to utterly overwhelm us
in Illinois with the charge of enmity to the Constitution itself.
Kansas, in her confidence that she can be saved to freedom on
'squatter sovereignty,' ought not to forget that to prevent the spread
and nationalization of slavery is a national concern, and must be
attended to by the nation. In a word, in every locality we should look
beyond our noses; and at least say nothing on points where it is
probable we shall disagree. I write this for your eye only; hoping,
however, if you see danger as I think I do, you will do what you can
to avert it. Could not suggestions be made to leading men in the State
and Congressional conventions, and so avoid, to some extent at least,
these apples of discord."[1]

  [Sidenote] Colfax to Lincoln, July 14, 1859. MS.

By this time Colfax was cured of his late coquetting with Douglas, and
he replied: "The suggestions you make have occurred to me.... Nothing
is more evident than that there is an ample number of voters in the
Northern States, opposed to the extension and aggressions of slavery
and to Democratic misrule, to triumphantly elect a President of the
United States. But it is equally evident that making up this majority
are men of all shades and gradations of opinion, from the conservative
who will scarcely defend his principles for fear of imperiling peace,
to the bold radical who strikes stalwart blows regardless of policy or
popularity. How this mass of mind shall be consolidated into a
victorious phalanx in 1860 is the great problem, I think, of our
eventful times. And he who could accomplish it is worthier of fame
than Napoleon or Victor Emmanuel.... In this work, to achieve success,
and to achieve it without sacrifice of essential principle, you can do
far more than one like myself, so much younger. Your counsel carries
great weight with it; for, to be plain, there is no political letter
that falls from your pen which is not copied throughout the Union."

  [Sidenote] Lincoln to Canisius, May 17, 1859.

This allusion was called out by two letters which Lincoln had written
during the year; one declaring his opposition to the waning fallacy of
know-nothingism, in which he also defined his position on "fusion."
Referring to a provision lately adopted by Massachusetts to restrict
naturalization, he wrote: "Massachusetts is a sovereign and
independent State; and it is no privilege of mine to scold her for
what she does. Still, if from what she has done, an inference is
sought to be drawn as to what I would do, I may, without impropriety,
speak out, I say then, that, as I understand the Massachusetts
provision, I am against its adoption in Illinois, or in any other
place where I have a right to oppose it. Understanding the spirit of
our institutions to aim at the elevation of men, I am opposed to
whatever tends to degrade them. I have some little notoriety for
commiserating the oppressed condition of the negro; and I should be
strangely inconsistent if I could favor any project for curtailing the
existing rights of white men, even though born in different lands, and
speaking different languages from myself. As to the matter of fusion,
I am for it, if it can be had on Republican grounds; and I am not for
it on any other terms. A fusion on any other terms would be as foolish
and unprincipled. It would lose the whole North, while the common
enemy would still carry the whole South. The question of men is a
different one. There are good patriotic men and able statesmen in the
South whom I would cheerfully support, if they would now place
themselves on Republican ground, but I am against letting down the
Republican standard a hair's breadth."

The other was a somewhat longer letter, to a Boston committee which
had invited him to a festival in honor of Jefferson's birthday.
"Bearing in mind that about seventy years ago two great political
parties were first formed in this country; that Thomas Jefferson was
the head of one of them, and Boston the headquarters of the other, it
is both curious and interesting that those supposed to descend
politically from the party opposed to Jefferson, should now be
celebrating his birthday, in their own original seat of empire, while
those claiming political descent from him have nearly ceased to
breathe his name everywhere...."

  [Sidenote] Lincoln to Pierce and others, April 6, 1859.

"But, soberly, it is now no child's play to save the principles of
Jefferson from total overthrow in this nation. One would state with
great confidence that he could convince any sane child that the
simpler propositions of Euclid are true; but nevertheless he would
fail, utterly, with one who should deny the definitions and axioms.
The principles of Jefferson are the definitions and axioms of free
society. And yet they are denied and evaded, with no small show of
success. One dashingly calls them 'glittering generalities.' Another
bluntly calls them 'self-evident lies.' And others insidiously argue
that they apply only to 'superior races.' These expressions, differing
in form, are identical in object and effect--the supplanting the
principles of free government, and restoring those of classification,
caste, and legitimacy. They would delight a convocation of crowned
heads plotting against the people. They are the van-guard--the miners
and sappers of returning despotism. We must repulse them, or they will
subjugate us. This is a world of compensation; and he who would be no
slave must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others
deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, cannot long
retain it. All honor to Jefferson--to the man who, in the concrete
pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people,
had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely
revolutionary document an abstract truth, applicable to all men and
all times, and so to embalm it there that to-day and in all coming
days it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers
of re-appearing tyranny and oppression."

Lincoln's more important political work of the year 1859 was the part
he took in the canvass in the State of Ohio, where a governor was to
be chosen at the October election, and where the result would decide
not merely the present and local strength of the rival candidates, but
also to some extent indicate the prospects and probabilities of the
Presidential campaign of 1860. The Ohio Democrats had called Douglas
into their canvass, and the Republicans, as soon as they learned the
fact, arranged that Lincoln should come and answer him. There was a
fitness in this, not merely because Lincoln's joint debates with him
in Illinois in the previous summer were so successful, but also
because Douglas in nearly every speech made since then, both in his
Southern tour and elsewhere, alluded to the Illinois campaign, and to
Lincoln by name, especially to what he characterized as his political
heresies. By thus everywhere making Lincoln and Lincoln's utterances a
public target, Douglas himself, in effect, prolonged and extended the
joint debates over the whole Union. Another circumstance added to the
momentary interest of the general discussion. Douglas was by nature
aggressive. Determined to hold his Northern followers in the new
issues which had grown out of his Freeport doctrine, and the new
antagonisms which the recent slave code debate in the Senate revealed,
he wrote and published in "Harper's Magazine" for September, 1859, a
political article beginning with the assertion that "Under our complex
system of government it is the first duty of American statesmen to
mark distinctly the dividing-line between Federal and Local
authority." Quoting both the paragraph of Lincoln's Springfield speech
declaring that "a house divided against itself cannot stand," and the
paragraph from Seward's Rochester speech, announcing the
"irrepressible conflict," Douglas made a long historical examination
of his own theory of "non-intervention" and "popular sovereignty," and
built up an elaborate argument to sustain his course. The novelty of
this appeal to the public occasioned general interest and varied
comment, and the expedient seemed so ingenious as to excite the envy
of Administration Democrats. Accordingly, Attorney-General Black, of
President Buchanan's Cabinet, at "the request of friends," wrote,
printed, and circulated an anonymous pamphlet in answer, in which he
admitted that Douglas was "not the man to be treated with a disdainful
silence," but characterized the "Harper" essay as "an unsuccessful
effort at legal precision; like the writing of a judge who is trying
in vain to give good reasons for a wrong decision on a question of law
which he has not quite mastered." Douglas, in a speech at Wooster,
Ohio, criticized this performance of Black's. Reply and rejoinder on
both sides followed in due time; and this war of pamphlets was one of
the prominent political incidents of the year.

Thus Lincoln's advent in the Ohio campaign attracted much more than
usual notice. He made but two speeches, one at Columbus, and one at
Cincinnati, at each of which places Douglas had recently preceded him.
Lincoln's addresses not only brought him large and appreciative
audiences, but they obtained an unprecedented circulation in print. In
the main, they reproduced and tersely re-applied the ideas and
arguments developed in the Senatorial campaign in Illinois, adding,
however, searching comments on the newer positions and points to which
Douglas had since advanced. There is only space to insert a few
disconnected quotations:

    Now, what is Judge Douglas's popular sovereignty? It is as a
    principle no other than that, if one man chooses to make a slave
    of another man, neither that other man nor anybody else has a
    right to object....

    If you will read the copyright essay, you will discover that Judge
    Douglas himself says, a controversy between the American Colonies
    and the Government of Great Britain began on the slavery question
    in 1699, and continued from that time until the Revolution; and,
    while he did not say so, we all know that it has continued with
    more or less violence ever since the Revolution....

    Take these two things and consider them together; present the
    question of planting a State with the institution of slavery by
    the side of a question of who shall be Governor of Kansas for a
    year or two, and is there a man here, is there a man on earth, who
    would not say the governor question is the little one, and the
    slavery question is the great one? I ask any honest Democrat if
    the small, the local, the trivial and temporary question is not,
    Who shall be governor? while the durable, the important, and the
    mischievous one is, Shall this soil be planted with slavery? This
    is an idea, I suppose, which has arisen in Judge Douglas's mind
    from his peculiar structure. I suppose the institution of slavery
    really looks small to him. He is so put up by nature that a lash
    upon his back would hurt him, but a lash upon anybody else's back
    does not hurt him....

    The Dred Scott decision expressly gives every citizen of the
    United States a right to carry his slaves into the United States
    Territories. And now there was some inconsistency in saying that
    the decision was right, and saying, too, that the people of the
    Territory could lawfully drive slavery out again. When all the
    trash, the words, the collateral matter was cleared away from it,
    all the chaff was fanned out of it, it was a bare absurdity; no
    less than that a thing may be lawfully driven away from where it
    has a lawful right to be....

    The Judge says the people of the Territories have the right, by
    his principle, to have slaves if they want them. Then I say that
    the people in Georgia have the right to buy slaves in Africa if
    they want them, and I defy any man on earth to show any
    distinction between the two things--to show that the one is either
    more wicked or more unlawful; to show on original principles, that
    one is better or worse than the other; or to show by the
    Constitution, that one differs a whit from the other. He will tell
    me, doubtless, that there is no constitutional provision against
    people taking slaves into the new Territories, and I tell him that
    there is equally no constitutional provision against buying slaves
    in Africa....

    Then I say, if this principle is established, that there is no
    wrong in slavery, and whoever wants it has a right to have it;
    that it is a matter of dollars and cents; a sort of question how
    they shall deal with brutes; that between us and the negro here
    there is no sort of question, but that at the South the question
    is between the negro and the crocodile; that it is a mere matter
    of policy; that there is a perfect right according to interest to
    do just as you please--when this is done, where this doctrine
    prevails, the miners and sappers will have formed public opinion
    for the slave trade....

  [Sidenote] Lincoln, Columbus Speech, Sept. 16, 1859. Debates, pp.

    Public opinion in this country is everything. In a nation like
    ours this popular sovereignty and squatter sovereignty have
    already wrought a change in the public mind to the extent I have
    stated. There is no man in this crowd who can contradict it. Now,
    if you are opposed to slavery honestly, as much as anybody, I ask
    you to note that fact, and the like of which is to follow, to be
    plastered on layer after layer, until very soon you are prepared
    to deal with the negro everywhere as with the brute. If public
    sentiment has not been debauched already to this point, a new turn
    of the screw in that direction is all that is wanting; and this is
    constantly being done by the teachers of this insidious popular
    sovereignty. You need but one or two turns further until your
    minds, now ripening under these teachings, will be ready for all
    these things; and you will receive and support, or submit to, the
    slave trade revived with all its horrors, a slave code enforced in
    our Territories, and a new Dred Scott decision to bring slavery up
    into the very heart of the free North.

    This Government is expressly charged with the duty of providing
    for the general welfare. We believe that the spreading out and
    perpetuity of the institution of slavery impairs the general
    welfare. We believe--nay, we know, that this is the only thing
    that has ever threatened the perpetuity of the Union itself....

  [Sidenote] Lincoln Cincinnati Speech, Sept. 17, 1859. Debates, pp.

    I say we must not interfere with the institution of slavery in the
    States where it exists, because the Constitution forbids it, and
    the general welfare does not require us to do so. We must not
    withhold an efficient fugitive-slave law, because the Constitution
    requires us, as I understand it, not to withhold such a law. But
    we must prevent the outspreading of the institution, because
    neither the Constitution nor the general welfare requires us to
    extend it. We must prevent the revival of the African slave trade,
    and the enacting by Congress of a Territorial slave code. We must
    prevent each of these things being done by either congresses or
    courts. The people of these United States are the rightful masters
    of both congresses and courts, not to overthrow the Constitution,
    but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.

  [Sidenote] Parsons and others to Lincoln, Dec. 7, 1859. Debates,

The Ohio Republicans gained a decided success at the October election.
Ascribing this result in a large measure to the influence of Lincoln's
speeches, the State Executive Committee resolved to publish in cheap
book form the full Illinois joint debates and the two Ohio addresses,
to serve as campaign material for the ensuing year. "We regard them,"
wrote the committee to Lincoln, "as luminous and triumphant
expositions of the doctrines of the Republican party, successfully
vindicated from the aspersions of its foes, and calculated to make a
document of great practical service to the Republican party in the
approaching Presidential contest."

  [Sidenote] Lincoln to Parsons and others, Dec. 19, 1859. Ibid.

Lincoln, thanking them for the flattering terms of their request,
explained in his reply: "The copies I send you, are as reported and
printed by the respective friends of Senator Douglas and myself at the
time--that is, his by his friends, and mine by mine. It would be an
unwarrantable liberty for us to change a word or a letter in his, and
the changes I have made in mine, you perceive, are verbal only, and
very few in number. I wish the reprint to be precisely as the copies I
send, without any comment whatever."

The enterprise proved a success beyond the most sanguine expectations.
A Columbus firm undertook the publication, itself assuming all
pecuniary risk. Three large editions were sold directly to the public,
without any aid from or any purchase by the committee--the third
edition containing the announcement that up to that date, June 16,
1860, thirty thousand copies had already been circulated.[2]

[1] Partly printed in Hollister, "Life of Colfax," p. 146. We are
indebted to Mrs. Colfax for the full manuscript text of this and other
valuable letters which we have used.

[2] The preface to this third edition contains a letter from Douglas,
alleging that injustice had been done him because, "the original
reports as published in the 'Chicago Times,' although intended to be
fair and just, were necessarily imperfect, and in some respects
erroneous"; charging at the same time that Lincoln's speeches had been
revised, corrected, and improved.[A] To this the publishers replied:
"The speeches of Mr. Lincoln were never 'revised, corrected, or
improved' in the sense you use those words. Remarks by the crowd which
were not responded to, and the reporters' insertions of 'cheers,'
'great applause,' and so forth, which received no answer or comment
from the speaker, were by our direction omitted, as well from Mr.
Lincoln's speeches as yours, as we thought their perpetuation in book
form would be in bad taste, and were in no manner pertinent to, or a
part of, the speech."[B] And the publishers add a list of their

    [A] Douglas to Follet, Foster & Co., June 9, 1860. Debates, third
    edition, preface.

    [B] Follet, Foster & Co. to Douglas, June 16, 1860. Ibid.



There now occurred another strange event which, if it had been
specially designed as a climax for the series of great political
sensations since 1852, could scarcely have been more dramatic. This
was John Brown's invasion of Harper's Ferry in order to create a slave
insurrection. We can only understand the transaction as far as we can
understand the man, and both remain somewhat enigmatical.

Of Puritan descent, John Brown was born in Connecticut in the year
1800. When he was five years old, the family moved to Ohio, at that
time a comparative wilderness. Here he grew up a strong, vigorous boy
of the woods. His father taught him the tanner's trade; but a restless
disposition drove him to frequent changes of scene and effort when he
grew to manhood. He attempted surveying. He became a divinity student.
He tried farming and tanning in Pennsylvania, and tanning and
speculating in real estate in Ohio. Cattle-dealing was his next
venture; from this to sheep-raising; and by a natural transition to
the business of a wool-factor in Massachusetts. This not succeeding,
he made a trip to Europe. Returning, he accepted from Gerrit Smith a
tract of mountain land in the Adirondacks, where he proposed to found
and foster colonies of free negroes. This undertaking proved abortive,
like all his others, and he once more went back to the wool business
in Ohio.

Twice married, nineteen children had been born to him, of whom eleven
were living when, in 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska bill plunged the
country into the heat of political strife. Four of his sons moved away
to the new Territory in the first rush of emigrants; several others
went later. When the Border-Ruffian hostilities broke out, John Brown
followed, with money and arms contributed in the North. With his sons
as a nucleus, he gathered a little band of fifteen to twenty
adventurers, and soon made his name a terror in the lawless guerrilla
warfare of the day. His fighting was of the prevailing type,
justifiable, if at all, only on the score of defensive retaliation,
and some of his acts were as criminal and atrocious as the worst of
those committed by the Border Ruffians.[1] His losses, one son
murdered, another wounded to the death, and a third rendered insane
from cruel treatment, are scarcely compensated by the transitory
notoriety he gathered in a few fool-hardy skirmishes.

  [Sidenote] James Redpath, "Life of John Brown," p. 48.

  [Sidenote] Sanborn, in the "Atlantic," April, 1872.

These varied experiences give us something of a clue to his character:
a strong will; great physical energy; sanguine, fanatical temperament;
unbounded courage and little wisdom; crude, visionary ideality; the
inspiration of biblical precepts and Old Testament hero-worship; and
ambition curbed to irritation by the hard fetters of labor, privation,
and enforced endurance. In association, habit, language, and conduct,
he was clean, but coarse; honest, but rude. In disposition he mingled
the sacrificing tenderness with the sacrificial sternness of his
prototypes in Jewish history. He could lay his own child on the altar
without a pang. The strongest element of his character was religious
fanaticism. Taught from earliest childhood to "fear God and keep his
commandments," he believed firmly in the divine authenticity of the
Bible, and memorized much of its contents. His favorite texts became
literal and imperative mandates; he came to feel that he bore the
commission and enjoyed the protection of the Almighty. In his Kansas
camps he prayed and saw visions; believed he wielded the sword of the
Lord and of Gideon; had faith that the angels encompassed him. He
desired no other safeguard than his own ideas of justice and his own
convictions of duty. These ideas and convictions, however, refused
obedience to accepted laws and morals, and were mere fantastic and
pernicious outgrowths of his religious fanaticism. His courage partook
of the recklessness of insanity. He did not count odds. "What are five
to one?" he asked; and at another time he said, "One man in the right,
ready to die, will chase a thousand." Perhaps he even believed he held
a charmed life, for he boasted that he had been fired at thirty times
and only his hair had been touched. In personal appearance he was tall
and slender, with rather a military bearing. He had an impressive,
half-persuasive, half-commanding manner. He was always very secretive,
affected much mystery in movements, came and went abruptly, was direct
and dogmatic to bluntness in his conversation. His education was
scant, his reading limited; he wrote strong phrases in bad
orthography. If we may believe the intimations from himself and those
who knew him best, he had not only acquired a passionate hatred of the
institution of slavery, but had for twenty years nursed the longing to
become a liberator of slaves in the Southern States. To this end he
read various stories of insurrections, and meditated on the
vicissitudes, chances, and strategy of partisan warfare. A year's
border fighting in Kansas not only suddenly put thought into action,
but his personal and family sacrifices intensified his visionary
ambition into a stern and inflexible purpose.

[Illustration: JOHN BROWN.]

It is impossible to trace exactly how and when the Harper's Ferry
invasion first took practical shape in John Brown's mind, but the
indications are that it grew little by little out of his Kansas
experience. His earliest collisions with the Border Ruffians occurred
the spring and summer of 1856. In the autumn of that year the United
States troops dispersed his band, and generally suppressed the civil
war. In January, 1857, we find him in the Eastern States, appealing
for arms and supplies to various committees and in various places,
alleging that he desired to organize and equip a company of one
hundred minute-men, who were "mixed up with the people of Kansas," but
who should be ready on call to rush to the defense of freedom. This
appeal only partly succeeded. From one committee he obtained authority
as agent over certain arms stored in Iowa, the custody and control of
which had been in dispute. From another committee he obtained a
portion of the clothing he desired. From still other sources he
received certain moneys, but not sufficient for his requirements. Two
circumstances, however, indicate that he was practicing a deception
upon the committees and public. He entered into a contract with a
blacksmith, in Collinsville, Connecticut, to manufacture him 1000
pikes of a certain pattern,[2] to be completed in 90 days, and paid
$550 on the contract. There is no record that he mentioned this matter
to any committee. His proposed Kansas minute-men were only to be one
hundred in number, and the pikes could not be for them; his
explanation to the blacksmith, that they would be a good weapon of
defense for Kansas settlers, was clearly a subterfuge. These pikes,
ordered about March 23, 1857, were without doubt intended for his
Virginia invasion; and in fact the identical lot, finished after long
delay, under the same contract, were shipped to him in September,
1859, and were actually used in his Harper's Ferry attempt. The other
circumstance is that, about the time of his contract for the pikes, he
also, without the knowledge of committees or friends, engaged an
adventurer, named Forbes, to go West and give military instruction to
his company--a measure neither useful nor practicable for Kansas
defense. These two acts may be taken as the first preparation for
Harper's Ferry.

But merely to conceive great enterprises is not to perform them, and
every after-step of John Brown reveals his lamentable weakness and
utter inadequacy for the heroic role to which he fancied himself
called. His first blunder was in divulging all his plans to Forbes, an
utter stranger, while he was so careful in concealing them from
others. Forbes, as ambitious and reckless as himself, of course soon
quarreled with him, and left him, and endeavored first to supplant and
then betray him.

  [Sidenote] Realf, Testimony Mason Report, p. 91. Ibid., pp. 91-4.

Meanwhile, little by little, Brown gathered one colored and six white
confederates from among his former followers in Kansas, and assembled
them for drill and training in Iowa; four others joined him there.
These, together with his son Owen, counted, all told, a band of twelve
persons engaged for, and partly informed of, his purpose. He left them
there for instruction during the first three months of the year 1858,
while he himself went East to procure means.

  [Sidenote] "Atlantic," July, 1872, p. 51.

At the beginning of February, 1858, John Brown became, and remained
for about a month, a guest at the house of Frederick Douglass, in
Rochester, New York. Immediately on his arrival there he wrote to a
prominent Boston abolitionist, T.W. Higginson: "I now want to get, for
the perfecting of by far the most important undertaking of my whole
life, from $500 to $800 within the next sixty days. I have written
Rev. Theodore Parker, George L. Stearns, and F.B. Sanborn, Esquires,
on the subject."

  [Sidenote] Sanborn, "Life and Letters of John Brown," p. 438.

Correspondence and mutual requests for a conference ensued, and
finally these Boston friends sent Sanborn to the house of Gerrit
Smith, in Peterboro, New York, where a meeting had been arranged.
Sanborn was a young man of twenty-six, just graduated from college,
who, as secretary of various Massachusetts committees, had been the
active agent for sending contributions to Kansas. He arrived on the
evening of Washington's birthday, February 22, 1858, and took part in
a council of conspiracy, of which John Brown was the moving will and
chief actor.

  [Sidenote] "Atlantic," July, 1872, p. 52. Sanborn in "Atlantic,"
  March, 1875, p. 329; also, Mason Report, pp. 48-59.

Brown began by reading to the council a long document which he had
drafted since his stay in Rochester. It called itself a "Provisional
Constitution and Ordinances for the People of the United States,"
which, as it explained, looked to no overthrow of States or
dissolution of the Union, but simply to "amendment and repeal." It was
not in any sense a reasonable project of government, but simply an
ill-jointed outline of rules for a proposed slave insurrection. The
scheme, so far as any comprehension of it may be gleaned from the
various reports which remain, was something as follows:

  [Sidenote] Mason Report, p. 55.

  [Sidenote] Blair, Testimony, Mason Report, pp. 121-5.

  [Sidenote] Sanborn, "Life and Letters of John Brown," p. 438.

Somewhere in the Virginia mountains he would raise the standard of
revolt and liberation. Enthusiasts would join him from the free
States, and escaped blacks come to his help from Canada. From Virginia
and the neighboring slave-States of North Carolina, South Carolina,
Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky, fugitive slaves, with their
families, would flock to his camps. He would take his supplies,
provisions, and horses by force from the neighboring plantations.
Money, plate, watches, and jewelry would "constitute a liberal safety
or intelligence fund." For arms, he had 200 Sharps rifles, and 200
revolvers, with which he would arm his best marksmen. His ruder
followers, and even the women and children, he would arm with pikes to
defend the fortifications. He would construct defenses of palisades
and earth-works. He would use natural strongholds; find secret
mountain-passes to connect one with another; retreat from and evade
attacks he could not overcome. He would maintain and indefinitely
prolong a guerrilla war, of which the Seminole Indians in Florida and
the negroes in Hayti afforded examples. With success, he would enlarge
the area of his occupation so as to include arable valleys and
low-lands bordering the Alleghany range in the slave-States; and here
he would colonize, govern, and educate the blacks he had freed, and
maintain their liberty. He would make captures and reprisals,
confiscate property, take, hold, and exchange prisoners and especially
white hostages and exchange them for slaves to liberate. He would
recognize neutrals, make treaties, exercise humanity, prevent crime,
repress immorality, and observe all established laws of war. Success
would render his revolt permanent, and in the end, through "amendment
and repeal," abolish slavery. If, at the worst, he were driven from
the mountains he would retreat with his followers through the free
States to Canada. He had 12 recruits drilling in Iowa, and a
half-executed contract for 1000 pikes in Connecticut; furnish him $800
in money and he would begin operations in May.

  [Sidenote] Sanborn in "Atlantic," March, 1875, p. 329.

  [Sidenote] Redpath, "Life of John Brown," p. 206.

  [Sidenote] Sanborn in "Atlantic," July, 1872, p. 52.

This, if we supply continuity and arrangement to his vagaries, must
have been approximately what he felt or dreamily saw, and outlined in
vigorous words to his auditors. His listening friends were dumfounded
at the audacity as well as heart-sick at the hopelessness of such an
attempt. They pointed out the almost certainty of failure and
destruction, and attempted to dissuade him from the mad scheme; but to
no purpose. They saw they were dealing with a foregone conclusion; he
had convoked them, not to advise as to methods, but to furnish the
means. All reasonable argument he met with his rigid dogmatic
formulas, his selected proverbs, his favorite texts of Scripture. The
following, preserved by various witnesses as samples of his sayings at
other times, indicate his reasoning on this occasion: "Give a slave a
pike and you make him a man. I would not give Sharps rifles to more
than ten men in a hundred, and then only when they have learned to use
them. A ravine is better than a plain. Woods and mountain-sides can be
held by resolute men against ten times their force. Nat Turner, with
fifty men, held Virginia five weeks; the same number, well organized
and armed, can shake the system out of the State." "A few men in the
right, and knowing they are right, can overturn a king. Twenty men in
the Alleghanies could break slavery to pieces in two years." "If God
be for us, who can be against us? Except the Lord keep the city, the
watchman waketh but in vain."

  [Sidenote] Ibid., March, 1875, p. 329.

  [Sidenote] Sanborn, "Life and Letters of John Brown," p. 439.

  [Sidenote] Sanborn, "Atlantic," July, 1872, pp. 53-4.

One of the participants relates, that--"When the agitated party broke
up their council for the night, it was perfectly plain that Brown
could not be held back from his purpose." The discussion of the
friends on the second day (February 23) was therefore only whether
they should aid him, or oppose him, or remain indifferent. Against
every admonition of reason, mere personal sympathy seems to have
carried a decision in favor of the first of these alternatives. "You
see how it is," said the chief counselor, Gerrit Smith; "our dear old
friend has made up his mind to this course and cannot be turned from
it. We cannot give him up to die alone; we must support him." Brown
has left an exact statement of his own motive and expectation, in a
letter to Sanborn on the following day. "I have only had this one
opportunity in a life of nearly sixty years ... God has honored but
comparatively a very small part of mankind with any possible chance
for such mighty and soul-satisfying rewards ... I expect nothing but
to endure hardness, but I expect to effect a mighty conquest, even
though it be like the last victory of Samson."

  [Sidenote] Realf, Testimony, Mason Report, p. 99.

Nine days later Brown went to Boston, where the conspiracy was
enlarged and strengthened by the promises and encouragements of a
little coterie of radical abolitionists.[3] Within the next two months
the funds he desired were contributed and sent him. Meanwhile Brown
returned West, and moved his company of recruits from Iowa, by way of
Chicago and Detroit, to the town of Chatham, in Canada West, arriving
there about the 1st of May. By written invitations, Brown here called
together what is described as "a quiet convention of the friends of
freedom," to perfect his organization. On the 8th of May, 1858, they
held a meeting with closed doors, there being present the original
company of ten or eleven white members and one colored, whom Brown had
brought with him, and a somewhat miscellaneous gathering of negro
residents of Canada. Some sort of promise of secrecy was mutually
made; then John Brown, in a speech, laid his plan before the meeting.
One Delany, a colored doctor, in a response, promised the assistance
of all the colored people in Canada. The provisional constitution
drafted by Brown at Rochester was read and adopted by articles, and
about forty-five persons signed their names to the "Constitution," for
the "proscribed and oppressed races of the United States." Two days
afterwards, the meeting again convened for the election of officers;
John Brown was elected commander-in-chief by acclamation; other
members were by the same summary method appointed secretary of war,
secretary of state, secretary of the treasury, and two of them members
of congress. The election of a president was prudently postponed.

This Chatham Convention cannot claim consideration as a serious
deliberative proceeding. John Brown was its sole life and voice. The
colored Canadians were nothing but spectators. The ten white recruits
were mere Kansas adventurers, mostly boys in years and waifs in
society, perhaps depending largely for livelihood on the employment or
bounty, precarious as it was, of their leader. Upon this reckless,
drifting material the strong despotic will, emotional enthusiasm, and
mysterious rhapsodical talk of John Brown exercised an irresistible
fascination; he drew them by easy gradations into his confidence and
conspiracy. The remaining element, John Brown's son in the Chatham
meeting, and other sons and relatives in the Harper's Ferry attack,
are of course but the long educated instruments of the father's
thought and purpose.

  [Sidenote] Stearns to Brown, May 14, 1858: Howe, Testimony, Mason
  Report, p. 177.

With funds provided, with his plan of government accepted, and himself
formally appointed commander-in-chief, Brown doubtless thought his
campaign about to begin; it was however destined to an unexpected
interruption. The discarded and disappointed adventurer Forbes had
informed several prominent Republicans in Washington City that Brown
was meditating an unlawful enterprise; and the Boston committee,
warned that certain arms in Brown's custody, which had been
contributed for Kansas defense, were about to be flagrantly misused,
dared not incur the public odium of complicity in such a deception and
breach of faith. The Chatham organization was scarcely completed when
Brown received word from the Boston committee that he must not use the
arms (the 200 Sharps rifles and 200 revolvers) which had been
intrusted to him for any other purpose than for the defense of Kansas.
Brown hurried to Boston; but oral consultation with his friends
confirmed the necessity for postponement; and it was arranged that, to
lull suspicion, he should return to Kansas and await a more favorable
opportunity. He yielded assent, and that fall and winter performed the
exploit of leading an armed foray into Missouri, and carrying away
eleven slaves to Canada--an achievement which, while to a certain
degree it placed him in the attitude of a public outlaw, nevertheless
greatly increased his own and his followers' confidence in the success
of his general plan. Gradually the various obstacles melted away.
Kansas became pacified. The adventurer Forbes faded out of sight and
importance. The disputed Sharps rifles and revolvers were transferred
from committee to committee, and finally turned over to a private
individual to satisfy a debt. He in turn delivered them to Brown
without any hampering conditions. The Connecticut blacksmith finished
and shipped the thousand pikes. The contributions from the Boston
committee swelled from one to several thousands of dollars. The
recruits, with a few changes, though scattered in various parts of the
country, were generally held to their organization and promise, and
slightly increased in number. The provisional constitution and sundry
blank commissions were surreptitiously printed, and captains and
lieutenants appointed by the signature of John Brown "Commander-in-Chief,"
countersigned by the "Secretary of War."

Gradually, also, the commander-in-chief resolved on an important
modification of his plan: that, instead of plunging at once into the
Virginia mountains, he would begin by the capture of the United States
armory and arsenal at Harper's Ferry. Two advantages seem to have
vaguely suggested themselves to his mind as likely to arise from this
course: the possession of a large quantity of Government arms, and the
widespread panic and moral influence of so bold an attempt. But it
nowhere appears that he had any conception of the increased risk and
danger it involved, or that he adopted the slightest precaution to
meet them.

Harper's Ferry was a town of five thousand inhabitants, lying between
the slave-States of Maryland and Virginia, at the confluence of the
Potomac and the Shenandoah rivers, where the united streams flow
through a picturesque gap in the single mountain-range called the Blue
Ridge. The situation possesses none of the elements which would make
it a defensible fastness for protracted guerrilla warfare, such as was
contemplated in Brown's plan. The mountains are everywhere
approachable without difficulty; are pierced by roads and farms in all
directions; contain few natural resources for sustenance, defense, or
concealment; are easily observed or controlled from the plain by
superior forces. The town is irregular, compact, and hilly; a bridge
across each stream connects it with the opposite shores, and the
Government factory and buildings, which utilized the water-power of
the Potomac, lay in the lowest part of the point of land between the
streams. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad crosses the Potomac bridge.

On the 4th of July, 1859, John Brown, under an assumed name, with two
sons and another follower, appeared near Harper's Ferry, and soon
after rented the Kennedy Farm, in Maryland, five miles from town,
where he made a pretense of cattle-dealing and mining; but in reality
collected secretly his rifles, revolvers, ammunition, pikes, blankets,
tents, and miscellaneous articles for a campaign. His rather eccentric
actions, and the irregular coming and going of occasional strangers at
his cabin, created no suspicion in the neighborhood. Cautiously
increasing his supplies, and gathering his recruits, he appointed the
attack for the 24th of October; but for some unexplained reason (fear
of treachery, it is vaguely suggested) he precipitated his movement in
advance of that date. From this point the occurrences exhibit no
foresight or completeness of preparation, no diligent pursuit of an
intelligent plan, nor skill to devise momentary expedients; only a
blind impulse to act.

On Sunday evening, October 16, 1859, Brown gave his final orders,
humanely directing his men to take no life where they could avoid it.
Placing a few pikes and other implements in his one-horse wagon, he
started with his company of eighteen followers at 8 o'clock in the
evening, leaving five men behind. They cut the telegraph wires on the
way, and reached Harper's Ferry about 11 o'clock. He himself broke
open the armory gates, took the watchmen prisoners, and made that
place his headquarters. Separating his men into small detachments, he
took possession of, and attempted to hold, the two bridges, the
arsenal, and the rifle-factory. Next he sent six of his men five miles
into the country to bring in several prominent slaveowners and their
slaves. This was accomplished before daylight, and all were brought as
prisoners to Brown at the armory. With them they also brought a large
four-horse farm wagon, which he now sent to transfer arms from the
Kennedy farm to a school-house on the Maryland side of the Potomac,
about one mile from the town.

Meanwhile, about midnight of Sunday, they detained the railroad train
three hours, but finally allowed it to proceed. A negro porter was
shot on the bridge. The town began to be alarmed. Citizens were
captured at various points, and brought to swell the number of
prisoners at the armory, counting forty or fifty by morning. Still,
not until daylight, and even until the usual hour of rising on Monday
morning, did the town comprehend the nature and extent of the trouble.

What, now, did Brown intend to do? What result did he look for from
his movement thus far? Amid his conflicting acts and contradictory
explanations, the indications seem clear only on two or three points.
Both he and his men gave everybody to understand without reserve that
they had come not to kill whites, but only to liberate slaves. Soon,
also, he placed pikes in the hands of his black prisoners. But that
ceremony did not make soldiers of them, as his favorite maxim taught.
They held them in their hands with listless indifference, remaining
themselves, as before, an incumbrance instead of a reënforcement. He
gave his white prisoners notice that he would hold them as hostages,
and informed one or two that, after daylight, he would exchange them
for slaves. Before the general fighting began, he endeavored to effect
an armistice or compromise with the citizens, to stop bloodshed, on
condition that he be permitted to hold the armory and retain the
liberated negroes. All this warrants the inference that he expected to
hold the town, first, by the effect of terror; secondly, by the
display of leniency and kindness; and supposed that he could remain
indefinitely, and dictate terms at his leisure. The fallacy of this
scheme became quickly apparent.

As the day dawned upon the town and the truth upon the citizens, his
situation in a military point of view was already hopeless--eighteen
men against perhaps 1000 adults, and these eighteen scattered in four
or five different squads, without means of mutual support,
communication, or even contingent orders! Gradually, as the startled
citizens became certain of the insignificant numbers of the
assailants, an irregular street-firing broke out between Brown's
sentinels and individuals with firearms. The alarm was carried to
neighboring towns, and killed and wounded on both sides augmented the
excitement. Tradition rather than definite record asserts that some of
Brown's lieutenants began to comprehend that they were in a trap, and
advised him to retreat. Nearly all his eulogists have assumed that
such was his original plan, and his own subsequent excuses hint at
this intention. But the claim is clearly untenable. He had no means of
defensive retreat--no provisions, no transportation for his arms and
equipage, no supply of ammunition. The suggestion is an evident

Whether from choice or necessity, however, he remained only to find
himself more and more closely pressed. By Monday noon the squad in the
rifle-works, distant one mile from the armory, had been driven out,
killed, and captured. The other squads, not so far from their leader,
joined him at the armory, minus their losses. Already he was driven to
take refuge with his diminished force in the engine-house, a low,
strong brick building in the armory yard, where they barricaded doors
and improvised loop-holes, and into which they took with them ten
selected prisoners as hostages. But the expedient was one of
desperation. By this movement Brown literally shut himself up in his
own prison, from which escape was impossible.

A desultory fire was kept up through doors and loop-holes. But now the
whole country had become thoroughly aroused, and sundry military
companies from neighboring towns and counties poured into Harper's
Ferry. Brown himself at length realized the hopelessness of his
position, and parleyed for leave to retreat across the river on
condition of his giving up his prisoners; but it was too late.
President Buchanan also took prompt measures; and on Monday night a
detachment of eighty marines from the Washington navy-yard, under
command of Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee, of the United States army,
the same who afterwards became the principal leader of the Confederate
armies in the rebellion, reached the scene of action, and were
stationed in the armory yard so as to cut off the insurgents from all
retreat. At daylight on Tuesday morning Brown was summoned to
surrender at discretion, but he refused. The instant the officer left
the engine-house a storming-party of marines battered in the doors; in
five minutes the conflict was over. One marine was shot dead in the
assault; Brown fell under severe sword and bayonet wounds, two of his
sons lay dead or dying, and four or five of his men were made
prisoners, only two remaining unhurt. The great scheme of liberation
built up through nearly three years of elaborate conspiracy, and
designed to be executed in defiance of law, by individual enterprise
with pikes, rifles, forts, guerrilla war, prisoners, hostages, and
plunder, was, after an experimental campaign of thirty-six hours, in
utter collapse. Of Brown's total force of twenty-two men, ten were
killed, five escaped, and seven were captured, tried, and hanged. Of
the townspeople, five had been killed and eight wounded.


  [Sidenote] Sanborn in the "Atlantic," Dec. 1875. p. 718.

While John Brown's ability for military leadership was too
insignificant even for comment, his moral and personal courage
compelled the admiration of his enemies. Arraigned before a Virginia
court, the authorities hurried through his trial for treason,
conspiracy, and murder, with an unseemly precipitancy, almost
calculated to make him seem the accuser, and the commonwealth the
trembling culprit. He acknowledged his acts with frankness, defended
his purpose with a sincerity that betokened honest conviction, bore
his wounds and met his fate with a manly fortitude. Eight years
before, he had written, in a document organizing a band of colored
people in Springfield, Massachusetts, to resist the fugitive-slave
law: "Nothing so charms the American people as personal bravery. The
trial for life of one bold, and to some extent successful, man, for
defending his rights in good earnest, would arouse more sympathy
throughout the nation than the accumulated wrongs and sufferings of
more than three millions of our submissive colored population." Even
now, when mere Quixotic knight-errantry and his own positive violation
of the rights of individuals and society had put his life in forfeit,
this sympathy for his boldness and misfortune came to him in large
measure. Questioned by Governor Wise, Senator Mason, and
Representative Vallandigham about his accomplices, he refused to say
anything except about what he had done, and freely took upon himself
the whole responsibility. He was so warped by his religious training
as to have become a fatalist as well as a fanatic. "All our actions,"
he said to one who visited him in prison, "even all the follies that
led to this disaster, were decreed to happen ages before the world was
made." Perverted Calvinistic philosophy is the key which unlocks the
mystery of Brown's life and deeds.

He was convicted, sentenced, and hanged on the 2d of December.
Congress met a few days afterwards, and the Senate appointed an
investigating committee to inquire into the seizure of the United
States armory and arsenal. The long and searching examination of many
witnesses brought out with sufficient distinctness the varied personal
plottings of Brown, but failed to reveal that half a dozen radical
abolition clergymen of Boston were party to the conspiracy; nor did
they then or afterwards justify their own conduct by showing that
Christ ever counseled treason, abetted conspiracy, or led rebellion
against established government. From beginning to end, the whole act
was reprehensible, and fraught with evil result. Modern civilization
and republican government require that beyond the self-defense
necessary to the protection of life and limb, all coercive reform
shall act by authority of law only.

  [Sidenote] Mason Report, p. 18.

Upon politics the main effect of the Harper's Ferry incident was to
aggravate the temper and increase the bitterness of all parties.
Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi; Mason, of Virginia; and Fitch, of
Indiana, Democratic members of the Senate investigating committee,
sought diligently but unsuccessfully to find grounds to hold the
Republican party at large responsible for Brown's raid. They felt
obliged to report that they could not recommend any legislation to
meet similar cases in the future, since the "invasion" of Virginia was
not of the kind mentioned in the Constitution, but was "simply the act
of lawless ruffians, under the sanction of no public or political
authority." Collamer, of Vermont, and Doolittle, of Wisconsin,
Republican members of the committee, in their minority report,
considered the affair an outgrowth of the pro-slavery lawlessness in
Kansas. Senator Douglas, of Illinois, however, apparently with the
object of still further setting himself right with the South, and
atoning for his Freeport heresy, made a long speech in advocacy of a
law to punish conspiracies in one State or Territory against the
government, people, or property of another; once more quoting
Lincoln's Springfield speech, and Seward's Rochester speech as
containing revolutionary doctrines.

  [Sidenote] Dec, 2, 1859.

  [Sidenote] James Redpath, "Echoes of Harper's Ferry," p. 41.

  [Sidenote] George Willis Cooke, "Life of Emerson," p. 140.

In the country at large, as in Congress, the John Brown raid excited
bitter discussion and radically diverse comment--some execrating him
as a deservedly punished felon, while others exalted him as a saint.
His Boston friends particularly, who had encouraged him with voice or
money, were extravagant in their demonstrations of approval and
admiration. On the day of his execution religious services were held,
and funeral bells were tolled. "The road to heaven," said Theodore
Parker, "is as short from the gallows as from a throne; perhaps, also,
as easy." "Some eighteen hundred years ago," said Thoreau, "Christ
was crucified; this morning, perchance, Captain Brown was hung. These
are the two ends of a chain which is not without its links." Emerson,
using a yet stronger figure, had already called him "a new saint,
waiting yet his martyrdom, and who, if he shall suffer, will make the
gallows glorious like the cross."

  [Sidenote] Lecture at Brooklyn, November 1, 1859.

  [Sidenote] "Echoes of Harper's Ferry," p. 48.

  [Sidenote] Letter to Committee of Merchants, December 20, 1859.
  Ibid., p. 299.

Amid this conflict of argument, public opinion in the free-States
gravitated to neither extreme. It accepted neither the declaration of
the great orator Wendell Phillips, that "the lesson of the hour is
insurrection," nor the assertion of the great lawyer Charles O'Conor,
that slavery "is in its own nature, as an institution, beneficial to
both races."

This chapter would be incomplete if we neglected to quote Mr.
Lincoln's opinion of the Harper's Ferry attempt. His quiet and
common-sense criticism of the affair, pronounced a few months after
its occurrence, was substantially the conclusion to which the average
public judgment has come after the lapse of a quarter of a century:

  [Sidenote] Lincoln, Cooper Institute Speech, Feb. 27, 1860.

    Slave insurrections are no more common now than they were before
    the Republican party was organized. What induced the Southampton
    insurrection, twenty-eight years ago, in which at least three
    times as many lives were lost as at Harper's Ferry? You can
    scarcely stretch your very elastic fancy to the conclusion that
    Southampton was "got up by Black Republicanism." In the present
    state of things in the United States, I do not think a general or
    even a very extensive slave insurrection is possible. The
    indispensable concert of action cannot be attained. The slaves
    have no means of rapid communication; nor can incendiary freemen,
    black or white, supply it. The explosive materials are everywhere
    in parcels; but there neither are nor can be supplied the
    indispensable connecting trains.

    Much is said by Southern people about the affection of slaves for
    their masters and mistresses; and a part of it, at least, is true.
    A plot for an uprising could scarcely be devised and communicated
    to twenty individuals before some one of them, to save the life of
    a favorite master or mistress, would divulge it. This is the rule;
    and the slave revolution in Hayti was not an exception to it, but
    a case occurring under peculiar circumstances. The gunpowder plot
    of British history, though not connected with slaves, was more in
    point. In that ease, only about twenty were admitted to the
    secret; and yet one of them, in his anxiety to save a friend,
    betrayed the plot to that friend, and, by consequence, averted the
    calamity. Occasional poisonings from the kitchen, and open or
    stealthy assassinations in the field, and local revolts extending
    to a score or so, will continue to occur as the natural results of
    slavery; but no general insurrection of slaves, as I think, can
    happen in this country for a long time. Whoever much fears or much
    hopes for such an event will be alike disappointed....

    John Brown's effort was peculiar. It was not a slave insurrection.
    It was an attempt by white men to get up a revolt among slaves, in
    which the slaves refused to participate. In fact, it was so absurd
    that the slaves, with all their ignorance, saw plainly enough it
    could not succeed. That affair, in its philosophy, corresponds
    with the many attempts related in history, at the assassination of
    kings and emperors. An enthusiast broods over the oppression of a
    people till he fancies himself commissioned by Heaven to liberate
    them. He ventures the attempt, which ends in little else than his
    own execution. Orsini's attempt on Louis Napoleon, and John
    Brown's attempt at Harper's Ferry were, in their philosophy,
    precisely the same. The eagerness to cast blame on old England in
    the one ease, and on New England in the other, does not disprove
    the sameness of the two things.

  [Sidenote] "Tribune Almanac," 1860.

The aggravation of partisan temper over the Harper's Ferry incident
found a manifestation in a contest over the Speakership in the House
of Representatives as prolonged and bitter as that which attended the
election of Banks. In the Congressional elections of 1858, following
the Lecompton controversy, the Democrats had once more lost control of
the House of Representatives; there having been chosen 113
Republicans, 93 Administration Democrats, 8 anti-Lecompton Democrats,
and 23 South Americans, as they were called; that is, members, mainly
from the slave-States, opposed to the Administration.

  [Sidenote] "Globe," December 5, 1859, p. 3.

This Thirty-sixth Congress began its session three days after the
execution of John Brown, and the election of a Speaker was the first
work of the new House of Representatives. The Republicans, not having
a majority, made no caucus nomination; but John Sherman, of Ohio, had
the largest following on the first ballot, and thereafter received
their united efforts to elect him. At this point a Missouri member
introduced a resolution declaring: "That the doctrines and sentiments
of a certain book called 'The Impending Crisis of the South--How to
Meet It,' purporting to have been written by one Hinton R. Helper [of
North Carolina], are insurrectionary and hostile to the domestic peace
and tranquillity of the country, and that no member of this House who
has indorsed and recommended it, or the compend from it, is fit to be
Speaker of this House."

This resolution was aimed at Sherman, who with some seventy
Republicans of the previous Congress had signed a circular indorsing
and recommending the book upon the general statement that it was an
anti-slavery work, written by a Southerner. The book addressed itself
to non-slaveholding Southern whites, and was mainly made up of
statistics, but contained occasional passages of intolerant and
vindictive sentiment against slaveholders. Whether it could be
considered "insurrectionary" depended altogether on the pro-slavery or
anti-slavery bias of the critic. Besides, the author had agreed that
the obnoxious passages should not be printed in the compendium which
the Republicans recommended in their circular. When interrogated, Mr.
Sherman replied that he had never seen the book, and that "I am
opposed to any interference whatever by the people of the free-States
with, the relations of master and slave in the slave-States." But the
disavowal did not relieve him from Southern enmity. The fire-eaters
seized the pretext to charge him with all manner of "abolition"
intentions, and by violent debate and the utterance of threats of
disunion made the House a parliamentary and almost a revolutionary
babel for nearly two months. Certain appropriations were exhausted,
and the treasury was in great need of funds. Efforts were made to
adopt the plurality rule, and to choose a Speaker for a limited
period; but every such movement was resisted for the purpose of
defeating Sherman, or rather, through his defeat to force the North
into unconditional submission to extreme pro-slavery sentiment. The
struggle, nominally over an incident, was in reality over a policy.

On January 30, 1860, Mr. Sherman withdrew his name, and the solid
Republican vote was given to William Pennington, of New Jersey,
another Republican, who, on February 1, was elected Speaker by 117
votes, 4 opposing members having come to his support. The South gained
nothing by the obstructionist policy of its members. During the long
contest, extending through forty-four ballots, their votes were
scattered among many candidates of different factions, while the
Republicans maintained an almost unbroken steadiness of party
discipline. On the whole, the principal results of the struggle were,
to sectionalize parties more completely, ripen Southern sentiment
towards secession, and combine wavering voters in the free-States in
support of Republican doctrines.

[1] On the night of May 24-25, 1856, five pro-slavery men living on
Pottawatomie Creek, in Kansas, were mysteriously and brutally
assassinated. The relatives and friends of the deceased charged John
Brown and his band with these murders, which the relatives and friends
of Brown persistently denied. His latest biographer, however,
unreservedly admits his guilt: "For some reason he [John Brown] chose
not to strike a blow himself; and this is what Salmon Brown meant when
he declared that his father 'was not a participator in the deed.' It
was a very narrow interpretation of the word 'participator' which
would permit such a denial; but it was no doubt honestly made,
although for the purpose of disguising what John Brown's real agency
in the matter was. He was, in fact, the originator and performer of
these executions, although the hands that dealt the wounds were those
of others."--Frank B. Sanborn, "Life and Letters of John Brown," pp.

[2] "He was exhibiting to a number of gentlemen, who happened to be
collected together in a druggist's store, some weapons which he
claimed to have taken from Captain Pate in Kansas. Among them was a
two-edged dirk, with a blade about eight inches long, and he remarked
that if he had a lot of those things to attach to poles about six feet
long, they would be a capital weapon of defense for the settlers of
Kansas.... When he came to make the contract, he wrote it to have
malleable ferrules, cast solid, and a guard to be of malleable iron.
That was all the difference.... After seeing the sample he made a
slight alteration. One was, to have a screw to put in, as the one here
has, so that they could be unshipped in case of necessity."--Blair,
Testimony before Investigating Committee, Senate Report No. 278, 1st
Sess. 36th Cong., pp. 121-2.

[3] "Meantime I had communicated his plans at his request to Theodore
Parker, Wentworth Higginson, and Dr. Howe, and had given Mr. Stearns
some general conception of them ... No other person in New England
except these four was informed by me of the affair, though there were
many who knew or suspected Brown's general purpose ... Brown's first
request, in 1858, was for a fund of $1000 only; with this in hand he
promised to take the field either in April or May. Mr. Stearns acted
as treasurer of this fund, and before the 1st of May nearly the whole
amount had been paid in or subscribed."--Frank B. Sanborn, "Atlantic,"
April, 1875, pp. 456-7.



  [Sidenote] Lincoln to McNeill, April 6, 1860. Lamon, "Life of
  Lincoln," p. 441.

  [Sidenote] Jas. A. Briggs to Lincoln, November 1, 1859. MS. Jas. A.
  Briggs in New York "Evening Post," August 16, 1867.

Among the many invitations to deliver addresses which Lincoln received
in the fall of 1859, was one from a committee asking him to lecture in
Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, in a course then in progress there,
designed for popular entertainment. "I wrote," said Lincoln, "that I
could do it in February, provided they would take a political speech,
if I could find time to get up no other." "Your letter was duly
received and handed over to the committee," was the response, "and
they accept your compromise. You may lecture at the time you mention,
and they will pay you $200. I think they will arrange for a lecture in
New York also, and pay you $200 for that."

  [Sidenote] C.C. Nott to Lincoln, February 9, 1860. MS.

Financial obstacles, or other reasons, brought about the transfer of
the engagement to a new committee, and the invitation was repeated in
a new form: "The Young Men's Central Republican Union of this city
[New York] very earnestly desire that you should deliver what I may
term a political lecture during the ensuing month. The peculiarities
of the case are these: A series of lectures has been determined upon.
The first was delivered by Mr. Blair, of St. Louis, a short time ago;
the second will be in a few days, by Mr. Cassius M. Clay, and the
third we would prefer to have from you rather than any other person.
Of the audience I should add that it is not that of an ordinary
political meeting. These lectures have been contrived to call out our
better, but busier citizens, who never attend political meetings. A
large part of the audience will consist of ladies."

  [Sidenote] Lincoln to McNeill, April 6, 1860. Lamon, "Life of
  Lincoln." p. 441.

Lincoln, however, remained under the impression that the lecture was
to be given in Brooklyn, and only learned after he reached New York to
fulfill his engagement that he was to speak in the Cooper Institute.
When, on the evening of February 27, 1860, he stood before his
audience, he saw not only a well-filled house, but an assemblage of
listeners in which were many whom, by reason of his own modest
estimate of himself, he would have been rather inclined to ask advice
from than to offer instruction to. William Cullen Bryant presided over
the meeting; David Dudley Field escorted the speaker to the platform;
ex-Governor John A. King, Horace Greeley, James W. Nye, James A.
Briggs, Cephas Brainerd, Charles C. Nott, Hiram Barney, and others sat
among the invited guests. "Since the days of Clay and Webster," said
the "Tribune" next morning, "no man has spoken to a larger assemblage
of the intellect and mental culture of our city." Of course the
presence of such a gathering was no mere accident. Not only had
Lincoln's name for nearly two years found constant mention in the
newspapers, but both friendly and hostile comment had coupled it with
the two ranking political leaders in the free-States--Seward and
Douglas. The representative men of New York were naturally eager to
see and hear one who, by whatever force of eloquence or argument, had
attracted so large a share of the public attention. We may also fairly
infer that, on his part, Lincoln was no less curious to test the
effect of his words on an audience more learned and critical than
those collected in the open-air meetings of his Western campaigns.
This mutual interest was an evident advantage to both; it secured a
close attention from the house, and insured deliberation and emphasis
by the speaker, enabling him to develop his argument with perfect
precision and unity, reaching perhaps the happiest general effect ever
attained in any one of his long addresses.

He took as his text a phrase uttered by Senator Douglas in the late
Ohio campaign--"Our fathers, when they framed the government under
which we live, understood this question just as well, and even better
than we do now." Lincoln defined "this question," with a lawyer's
exactness, thus:

    Does the proper division of local from Federal authority, or
    anything in the Constitution, forbid our Federal Government to
    control as to slavery in our Federal Territories? Upon this
    Senator Douglas holds the affirmative, and the Republicans the
    negative. This affirmation and denial form an issue, and this
    issue--this question--is precisely what the text declares our
    fathers understood "better than we."

From this "precise and agreed starting-point" Lincoln next traced with
minute historical analysis the action of "our fathers" in framing "the
government under which we live," by their votes and declarations in
the Congresses which preceded the Constitution and in the Congresses
following which proposed its twelve amendments and enacted various
Territorial prohibitions. His conclusions were irresistibly

    The sum of the whole is [said he] that of our thirty-nine fathers
    who framed the original Constitution, twenty-one--a clear majority
    of the whole--certainly understood that no proper division of
    local from Federal authority, nor any part of the Constitution,
    forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the
    Federal Territories; while all the rest probably had the same
    understanding. Such unquestionably was the understanding of our
    fathers who framed the original Constitution; and the text affirms
    that they understood the question "better than we".... It is
    surely safe to assume that the thirty-nine framers of the original
    Constitution and the seventy-six members of the Congress which
    framed the amendments thereto, taken together, do certainly
    include those who may be fairly called "our fathers who framed the
    Government under which we live." And so assuming, I defy any man
    to show that any one of them ever, in his whole life, declared
    that in his understanding any proper division of local from
    Federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbade the
    Federal Government to control as to slavery in the Federal
    Territories. I go a step further. I defy any one to show that any
    living man in the whole world ever did, prior to the beginning of
    the present century (and I might almost say prior to the beginning
    of the last half of the present century), declare that in his
    understanding any proper division of local from Federal authority,
    or any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to
    control as to slavery in the Federal Territories. To those who now
    so declare, I give, not only "our fathers who framed the
    government under which we live," but with them all other living
    men within the century in which it was framed, among whom to
    search, and they shall not be able to find the evidence of a
    single man agreeing with them.

    Now, and here, let me guard a little against being misunderstood.
    I do not mean to say we are bound to follow implicitly in whatever
    our fathers did. To do so would be to discard all the lights of
    current experience--to reject all progress, all improvement. What
    I do say is, that if we would supplant the opinions and policy of
    our fathers in any case, we should do so upon evidence so
    conclusive, and argument so clear, that even their great
    authority, fairly considered and weighed, cannot stand; and most
    surely not in a case, whereof we ourselves declare they understood
    the question better than we.

If any part of the audience came with the expectation of hearing the
rhetorical fire-works of a Western stump-speaker of the "half-horse,
half-alligator" variety, they met novelty of an unlooked for kind. In
Lincoln's entire address he neither introduced an anecdote nor essayed
a witticism; and the first half of it does not contain even an
illustrative figure or a poetical fancy. It was the quiet, searching
exposition of the historian, and the terse, compact reasoning of the
statesman, about an abstract principle of legislation, in language
well-nigh as restrained and colorless as he would have employed in
arguing a case before a court. Yet such was the apt choice of words,
the easy precision of sentences, the simple strength of propositions,
the fairness of every point he assumed, and the force of every
conclusion he drew, that his listeners followed him with the interest
and delight a child feels in its easy mastery of a plain sum in

With the sympathy and confidence of his audience thus enlisted,
Lincoln next took up the more prominent topics in popular thought, and
by words of kindly admonition and protest addressed to the people of
the South, showed how impatiently, unreasonably, and unjustly they
were charging the Republican party with sectionalism, with radicalism,
with revolutionary purpose, with the John Brown raid, and kindred
political offenses, not only in the absence of any acts to justify
such charges, but even in the face of its emphatic and constant
denials and disavowals. The illustration with which he concluded this
branch of his theme could not well be surpassed in argumentative

    But you will not abide the election of a Republican President! In
    that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then
    you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us!
    That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters
    through his teeth, "Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and
    then you will be a murderer!" To be sure what the robber demanded
    of me--my money--was my own; and I had a clear right to keep it;
    but it was no more my own than my vote is my own; and the threat
    of death to me to extort my money, and the threat of destruction
    to the Union to extort my vote, can scarcely be distinguished in

But the most impressive, as well as the most valuable, feature of
Lincoln's address was its concluding portion, where, in advice
directed especially to Republicans, he pointed out in dispassionate
but earnest language that the real, underlying conflict was in the
difference of moral conviction between the sections as to the inherent
right or wrong of slavery, and in view of which he defined the proper
duty of the free-States.

    A few words now [said he] to Republicans. It is exceedingly
    desirable that all parts of this great Confederacy shall be at
    peace and in harmony one with another. Let us Republicans do our
    part to have it so. Even though much provoked, let us do nothing
    through passion and ill temper. Even though the Southern people
    will not so much, as listen to us, let us calmly consider their
    demands, and yield to them if, in our deliberate view of our duty,
    we possibly can. Judging by all they say and do, and by the
    subject and nature of their controversy with us, let us determine,
    if we can, what will satisfy them.

    Will they be satisfied if the Territories be unconditionally
    surrendered to them? We know they will not. In all their present
    complaints against us the Territories are scarcely mentioned.
    Invasions and insurrections are the rage now. Will it satisfy them
    if, in the future, we have nothing to do with invasions and
    insurrections? We know it will not. We so know, because we know we
    never had anything to do with invasions and insurrections; and yet
    this total abstaining does not exempt us from the charge and the

    The question recurs. What will satisfy them? Simply this: We must
    not only let them alone, but we must, somehow, convince them that
    we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy
    task. We have been so trying to convince them from the very
    beginning; of our organization, but with no success. In all our
    platforms and speeches we have constantly protested our purpose to
    let them alone; but this has had no tendency to convince them.
    Alike unavailing to convince them is the fact that they have never
    detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.

    These natural and apparently adequate means all failing, what will
    convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong,
    and join them in calling it right. And this must be done
    thoroughly--done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be
    tolerated; we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Senator
    Douglas's new sedition law must be enacted and enforced,
    suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made
    in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest
    and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure. We must
    pull down our free-State constitutions. The whole atmosphere must
    be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery before they
    will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us.

    I am quite aware they do not state their case precisely in this
    way. Most of them would probably say to us, "Let us alone, do
    nothing to us, and say what you please about slavery." But we do
    let them alone--have never disturbed them; so that, after all, it
    is what we say which dissatisfies them. They will continue to
    accuse us of doing until we cease saying.

    I am also aware they have not, as yet, in terms, demanded the
    overthrow of our free-State constitutions. Yet those constitutions
    declare the wrong of slavery, with more solemn emphasis than do
    all other sayings against it, and when all these other sayings
    shall have been silenced, the overthrow of these constitutions
    will be demanded and nothing be left to resist the demand. It is
    nothing to the contrary that they do not demand the whole of this
    just now. Demanding what they do, and for the reason they do, they
    can voluntarily stop nowhere short of this consummation. Holding,
    as they do, that slavery is morally right, and socially elevating,
    they cannot cease to demand a full national recognition of it, as
    a legal right and a social blessing.

    Nor can we justifiably withhold this on any ground, save our
    conviction that slavery is wrong. If slavery is right, all words,
    acts, laws, and constitutions against it are themselves wrong, and
    should be silenced and swept away. If it is right, we cannot
    justly object to its nationality--its universality! if it is
    wrong, they cannot justly insist upon its extension--its
    enlargement. All they ask we could readily grant, if we thought
    slavery right; all we ask they could as readily grant, if they
    thought it wrong. Their thinking it right, and our thinking it
    wrong, is the precise fact upon which depends the whole
    controversy. Thinking it right, as they do, they are not to blame
    for desiring its full recognition, as being right; but thinking it
    wrong, as we do, can we yield to them? Can we cast our votes with
    their view and against our own! In view of our moral, social, and
    political responsibilities, can we do this?

    Wrong as we think slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone
    where it is, because that much is due to the necessity arising
    from its actual presence in the nation; but can we, while our
    votes will prevent it, allow it to spread into the national
    Territories, and to overrun us here in the free-States? If our
    sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by our duty,
    fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of those
    sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied
    and belabored, contrivances such as groping for some middle ground
    between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who
    should be neither a living man nor a dead man, such as a policy of
    "don't care," on a question about which all true men do care, such
    as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to
    Disunionists; reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the
    sinners, but the righteous to repentance; such as invocations to
    Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo
    what Washington did.

    Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations
    against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to
    the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith
    that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end,
    dare to do our duty as we understand it.

  [Sidenote] "New York Tribune," February 28, 1860.

The smiles, the laughter, the outburst of applause which greeted and
emphasized the speaker's telling points, showed Mr. Lincoln that his
arguments met ready acceptance. The next morning the four leading New
York dailies printed the speech in full, and bore warm testimony to
its merit and effect. "Mr. Lincoln is one of nature's orators," said
the "Tribune," "using his rare powers solely to elucidate and
convince, though their inevitable effect is to delight and electrify
as well. We present herewith a very full and accurate report of this
speech; yet the tones, the gestures, the kindling eye, and the
mirth-provoking look defy the reporter's skill. The vast assemblage
frequently rang with cheers and shouts of applause, which were
prolonged and intensified at the close. No man ever before made such
an impression on his first appeal to a New York audience."

[Illustration: CALEB CUSHING.]

  [Sidenote] Pamphlet edition with notes and preface by Charles C. Nott
  and Cephas Brainerd, September, 1860.

A pamphlet reprint was at once announced by the same paper; and later,
in the Presidential campaign, a more careful edition was prepared and
circulated, to which were added copious notes by two members of the
committee under whose auspices the address was delivered. Their
comment, printed in the preface, is worth quoting as showing its
literary value under critical analysis. "No one who has not actually
attempted to verify its details can understand the patient research
and historical labor which it embodies. The history of our earlier
politics is scattered through numerous journals, statutes, pamphlets,
and letters; and these are defective in completeness and accuracy of
statement, and in indices and tables of contents. Neither can any one
who has not traveled over this precise ground appreciate the accuracy
of every trivial detail, or the self-denying impartiality with which
Mr. Lincoln has turned from the testimony of 'the fathers' on the
general question of slavery, to present the single question which he
discusses. From the first line to the last, from his premises to his
conclusion, he travels with a swift, unerring directness which no
logician ever excelled, an argument complete and full, without the
affectation of learning, and without the stiffness which usually
accompanies dates and details. A single, easy, simple sentence of
plain Anglo-Saxon words, contains a chapter of history that, in some
instances, has taken days of labor to verify, and which must have cost
the author months of investigation to acquire."

From New York Lincoln went to fill other engagements to speak at
several places in New England, where he met the same enthusiastic
popular reception and left the same marked impression, especially upon
his more critical and learned hearers. They found no little surprise
in the fact that a Western politician, springing from the class of
unlettered frontiersmen, could not only mold plain strong words into
fresh and attractive phraseology, but maintain a clear, sustained,
convincing argument, equal in force and style to the best examples in
their college text-books.



The great political struggle between the North and the South, between
Freedom and Slavery, was approaching its culmination. The
"irrepressible conflict" had shifted uneasily from caucus to Congress;
from Congress to Kansas; incidentally to the Supreme Court and to the
Congressional elections in the various States; from Kansas it had come
back with renewed intensity to Congress. The next stage of development
through which it was destined to pass was the Presidential election of
1860, where, necessarily, the final result would depend largely upon
the attitude and relation of parties, platforms, and candidates as
selected and proclaimed by their National conventions.

The first of these National conventions was that of the Democratic
party, long appointed to meet at Charleston, South Carolina, on April
23, 1860. The fortunes of the party had greatly fluctuated. The repeal
of the Missouri Compromise had brought it shipwreck in 1854; it had
regained victory in the election of Buchanan, and a majority of the
House of Representatives in 1856; then the Lecompton imbroglio once
more caused its defeat in the Congressional elections of 1858. But
worse than the victory of its opponents was the irreconcilable schism
in its own ranks--the open war between President Buchanan and Senator
Douglas. In a general way the Southern Democracy followed Buchanan,
while the Northern Democracy followed Douglas. Yet there was just
enough local exception to baffle accurate calculation. Could the
Charleston Convention heal the feud of leaders, and bridge the chasm
in policy and principle? As the time approached, and delegation after
delegation was chosen by the States, all hope of accommodation
gradually disappeared. Each faction put forth its utmost efforts,
rallied its strongest men. Each caucus and convention only accentuated
and deepened existing differences. When the convention met, its
members brought not the ordinary tricks and expedients of politicians
with _carte blanche_ authority, but the precise formulated terms to
which their constituencies would consent. They were only messengers,
not arbitrators. The Charleston Convention was the very opposite of
its immediate predecessor, the Cincinnati Convention. At Cincinnati,
concealment and ambiguity had been the central thought and purpose.
Everybody was anxious to be hoodwinked. Delegates, constituencies, and
leaders had willingly joined in the game of "cheat and be cheated."
Availability, harmony, party success, were the paramount objects.

  [Sidenote] Douglas, Reply to Black, Pamphlet, Oct., 1859.

No similar ambiguity, concealment, or bargain was possible at
Charleston. There was indeed a whole brood of collateral issues to be
left in convenient obscurity, but the central questions must not be
shirked. The Lecompton quarrel, the Freeport doctrine, the property
theory, the "slave-State" dogma, the Congressional slave code
proposal, must be boldly met and squarely adjusted. Even if the
delegates had been disposed to trifle with their constituents, the
leaders themselves would tolerate no evasion on certain cardinal
points. Douglas, in his Dorr letter, had announced that he would
suffer no interpolation of new issues into the Democratic creed. In
his pamphlet reply to Judge Black he repeated his determination with
emphasis. "Suppose it were true that I am a Presidential aspirant;
does that fact justify a combination by a host of other Presidential
aspirants, each of whom may imagine that his success depends upon my
destruction, and the preaching a crusade against me for boldly avowing
now the same principles to which they and I were pledged at the last
Presidential election! Is this a sufficient excuse for devising a new
test of political orthodoxy?... I prefer the position of Senator or
even that of a private citizen, where I would be at liberty to defend
and maintain the well-defined principles of the Democratic party, to
accepting a Presidential nomination upon a platform incompatible with
the principle of self-government in the Territories, or the reserved
rights of the States, or the perpetuity of the Union under the

  [Sidenote] "Globe," p. 658.

  [Sidenote] Jefferson Davis, Senate Speech, "Globe," May 17, 1860,
  p. 2155.

  [Sidenote] "Globe", March 1, 1860, p. 935.

This declaration very clearly defined the issue on one side. On the
other side it was also formulated with equal distinctness. Jefferson
Davis, already recognized as the ablest leader of the Buchanan wing of
the Democratic Senators, wrote and submitted to the United States
Senate, on February 2, 1860, a series of resolutions designed to
constitute the Administration or Southern party doctrines, which were
afterwards revised and adopted by a caucus of Democratic Senators.
These resolutions expressed the usual party tenets; and on two of the
controverted points asserted dogmatically exactly that which Douglas
had stigmatized as an intolerable heresy. The fourth resolution
declared "That neither Congress nor a Territorial Legislature, whether
by direct legislation or legislation of an indirect and unfriendly
character, possesses power to annul or impair the constitutional right
of any citizen of the United States to take his slave property into
the common Territories, and there hold and enjoy the same while the
Territorial condition remains." While the fifth resolution declared
"That if experience should at any time prove that the judiciary and
executive authority do not possess means to insure adequate protection
to constitutional rights in a Territory, and if the Territorial
government shall fail or refuse to provide the necessary remedies for
that purpose, it will be the duty of Congress to supply such

Party discipline was so strong among the Democrats that public
expectation looked confidently to at least a temporary agreement or
combination which would enable the factions, by a joint effort, to
make a hopeful Presidential campaign. But no progress whatever was
made in that direction. As the clans gathered at Charleston, the
notable difference developed itself, that while one wing was filled
with unbounded enthusiasm for a candidate, the other was animated by
an earnest and stubborn devotion to an idea.

  [Sidenote] Murat Halstead, "Conventions of 1860."

"Douglas was the pivot individual of the Charleston Convention," wrote
an observant journalist; "every delegate was for or against him; every
motion meant to nominate or not nominate him; every parliamentary war
was _pro_ or _con_ Douglas." This was the surface indication, and,
indeed, it may be said with truth, it was the actual feeling of the
Northern faction of the Democratic party. Douglas was a genuinely
popular leader. He had the power to inspire a pure personal
enthusiasm. He had aroused such hero-worship as may be possible in
modern times and in American polities. Beyond this, however, the
Lecompton controversy, and his open persecution by the Buchanan
Administration, made his leadership and his candidacy a necessity to
the Northern Democrats.

With Southern Democrats the feeling went somewhat deeper. Forgetting
how much they owed him in the past, and how much they might still gain
through him in the future, they saw only that he was now their
stumbling-block, the present obstacle to their full and final success.
It was the Douglas doctrine, squatter sovereignty, and "unfriendly
legislation," rather than the _man_, which they had come to oppose,
and were determined to put down. Any other individual holding these
heresies would have been equally obnoxious. They had no candidate of
their own; they worshiped no single leader; but they followed a
principle with unfaltering devotion. They clung unswervingly not only
to the property theory, but advanced boldly to its logical
sequence--Congressional protection to slavery in the Territories.

Of the convention's preliminary work little is worth recording--there
were the clamor and protest of contesting delegations and small fire
of parliamentary skirmishes, by which factions feel and measure each
other's strength. Caleb Cushing was made permanent chairman, for the
triple reason that he was from Massachusetts, that he was the ablest
presiding officer in the body, and was for the moment filled with
blind devotion to Southern views. The actual temper of the convention
was made manifest by the ready agreement of both extremes to join
battle in making the platform before proceeding to the nomination of
candidates. The usual committee of one member from each State was
appointed, and to it was referred the deluge of resolutions which had
been showered upon the convention.

Had an amicable solution of the slavery issue been possible, this
platform committee would have found it, for it labored faithfully to
accomplish the miracle. But after three days and nights of fruitless
suggestion and persuasion, the committee reappeared in convention.
Upon four points they had come to either entire or substantial
agreement. In addition to re-affirming formally the Cincinnati
platform of 1856, they advised the convention to favor, 1. The
faithful execution of the fugitive-slave law. 2. The protection of
naturalized citizens. 3. The construction of a Pacific railroad. 4.
The acquisition of the Island of Cuba. But upon the principal topic,
the question of slavery in the Territories, they felt compelled to
report that even an approximate unanimity was impossible. In
undisguised sorrow they proceeded to present two radically different
reports. The convention, not yet in the least realizing that the great
Democratic party had suffered fatal shipwreck in the secret
committee-room, listened eagerly to the reports and explanatory
speeches of the majority and minority of the committee.

The majority report[1] planted itself squarely upon the property
theory and Congressional protection. Mr. Avery, of North Carolina,
said it was presented in the name of 17 States with 127 electoral
votes, every one of which would be cast for the nominee. He argued
that in occupying new Territories Southern men could not compete with
emigrant-aid societies at the North. These could send a voter to the
Territories for the sum of $200, while it would cost a Southern man
$1500. Secure political power by emigration, and permit the
Territorial Legislatures to decide the slavery question, and the South
would be excluded as effectually as by the Wilmot proviso. Cuba must
be acquired, and the flag of this great country must float over Mexico
and the Central American States. But if you apply this doctrine of
popular sovereignty, and establish a cordon of free-States from the
Pacific to the Atlantic, where in the future are the South to
emigrate? They asked the equal right to emigrate with their property,
and protection from Congress during the Territorial condition. They
would leave it to the people in convention assembled, when framing a
State constitution, to determine the question of slavery for
themselves. They had no purpose but to have a vexed question settled,
and to put the Democratic party on a clear unclouded platform, not a
doubled-faced one--one face to the North and one face to the South.

Henry B. Payne, of Ohio, presented and defended the report of the
minority.[2] It asserted that all questions in regard to property in
States or Territories were judicial in their character, and that the
Democratic party would abide by past and future decisions of the
Supreme Court concerning them. Mr. Payne explained that while the
majority report was supported by 15 slave and two free-States,[3]
representing 127 electoral votes, the minority report was indorsed by
15 free-States,[4] representing 176 electoral votes. He argued that,
by the universal consent of the Democratic party, the Cincinnati
platform referred this question of slavery to the people of the
Territories, declaring that Congress should in no event intervene one
way or the other, and that all controversies should be settled by the
courts. Now the proposition of the majority report was to make a
complete retraction of those two cardinal doctrines of the Cincinnati
platform. The Northern mind had become thoroughly imbued with this
great doctrine of popular sovereignty. You could not tear it out of
their hearts unless you tore out their heart-strings themselves. "I
repeat, that upon this question of Congressional non-intervention we
are committed by the acts of Congress, we are committed by the acts of
National Democratic Conventions; we cannot recede without personal
dishonor, and, so help us God, we never will recede!"

Between these extremes of recommendation another member of the
platform committee--Benjamin F. Butler, of Massachusetts--proposed a
middle course. He advocated the simple reaffirmance of the Cincinnati
platform. If it had suffered a double interpretation, so had the Bible
and the Constitution of the United States. But beyond serving to
consume time and amuse the convention, Mr. Butler's speech made no
impression. The real tournament of debate followed, between William L.
Yancey, of Alabama, and Senator George E. Pugh, of Ohio.

  [Sidenote] Halstead, "Conventions of 1860," pp. 5, 48.

It turned out in the end that Mr. Yancey was the master-spirit of the
Charleston Convention, though that body was far from entertaining any
such suspicion at the beginning. In exterior appearance he did not
fill the portrait of the traditional fire-eater. He is described as "a
compact middle-sized man, straight-limbed, with a square-built head
and face, and an eye full of expression"; "a very mild and gentlemanly
man, always wearing a genuinely good-humored smile, and looking as if
nothing in the world could disturb the equanimity of his spirits." He
had, besides, a marvelous gift of persuasive oratory. He was the
Wendell Phillips of the South, for, like his Northern rival, he was a
born agitator. Above all his colleagues, he was the brain and soul and
irrepressible champion of the pro-slavery reaction throughout the
Cotton States. He was tireless and ubiquitous; traveling, talking,
writing, lecturing, animating every intrigue, directing every caucus,
making speeches and drafting platforms at every convention. To defend,
propagate, and perpetuate African slavery was his mission. He was the
ultra of the ultras, accepting the institution as morally right and
divinely sanctioned, desiring its extension and inclined to favor,
though not then himself advocating, the re-opening of the African
slave-trade. He held that all Federal laws prohibiting such trade
ought to be repealed so that each State might decide the question for
itself. Still more, Mr. Yancey was not only an agitator and
fire-eater, but for years an insidious, persevering conspirator to
promote secession. Occupying such a position, he was naturally the
champion of the Cotton States at Charleston. The defense of the ultra
demands of the South was by common consent devolved upon him,[5] and
it was understood long beforehand that he was prepared with the
principal speech from that side.

In full consciousness of the fact that he and his colleagues were then
at Charleston with a predetermination to force a programme of
disruption expressly designed as a prelude to intended disunion, Mr.
Yancey stood up and with smiling face and silvery tones assured his
hearers that he and his colleagues from Alabama were not disunionists
_per se_. Then he proceeded with his speech. Only its key-note was
new, but the novelty was of startling import to Northern delegates.
The Northern Democrats, he stated, were losing ground and falling
before their victorious adversaries. Why? Because they had tampered
with, and pandered to, the anti-slavery sentiment. They had admitted
that slavery was wrong. This was surrendering the very citadel of
their argument. They must re-form their lines and change their
tactics. They must come up to the high requirements of the occasion
and take a new departure. The remainder of his speech was an
insinuating plea for the property doctrine and Congressional
intervention, for which the galleries and convention rewarded him with
long and earnest applause. Even if the great Southern agitator's
speech had been wanting in point and eloquence, success was supplied
by the unmistakable atmosphere and temper of this great Charleston

The more astute of the Douglas delegates were struck with the dismay
of a new revelation. Their cause was lost--their party was gone.
Senator Pugh, of Ohio, resented the dictation of the advocates of
slavery in a warmth of just indignation. He thanked God that at last a
bold and honest man had told the whole truth of the demands of the
South. It was now before the country that the South did demand an
advanced step from the Democratic party. He accurately traced the
downfall of the Northern Democracy to her changing and growing
exactions. Taunted with their weakness, they were now told they must
put their hands on their mouths and their mouths in the dust.
"Gentlemen of the South," said Mr. Pugh, "you mistake us--we will not
do it."

Such language had never been heard in a Democratic National
Convention, and the hall was as still as a funeral. This was Friday
night, the fifth day of the convention. "A crisis" had long been
whispered of as the skeleton in the party closet. It seemed to be at
hand, and in a parliamentary uproar the "question" was vehemently
demanded, but the chairman skillfully managed at length to secure an

The "crisis" had in reality come on Thursday night, in the
committee-room, in the hopeless first double report of its platform
committee. The dissolution of the convention did not take place till
the Monday following. A great party, after a vigorous and successful
life of thirty years, could not die easily. The speeches of Avery and
Payne, of Yancey and Pugh, on Friday, were recognized as cries of
defiance, but not yet accepted as moans of despair. On Saturday
morning. President Buchanan's lieutenant, William Bigler, of
Pennsylvania, essayed to ride the storm and steer to a Southern
victory. But he only succeeded in securing a recommittal of both
platforms to the committee. Nothing, however, was gained by the
manoeuvre. Saturday afternoon the committee once more reported the
same disagreement in slightly changed phraseology;[6] two antagonistic
platforms, presenting the same sharp difference of principle--one
demanding Congressional intervention, the other declaring against it.
Then the parliamentary storm was unloosed for the remainder of that
day with such fury that the chairman declared his physical inability
to continue a contest with six hundred gentlemen as to who should cry
the loudest, and threatened to leave the chair. On Monday, April 30,
the seventh day of the convention, a final decision was reached. The
proposal of Butler's report simply to reaffirm the Cincinnati platform
was supported by only 105 ayes to 198 noes. Then, by 165 to 138, the
convention voted to substitute the minority report for that of the
majority; in other words, to adopt the Douglas non-intervention

[Illustration: W.L. YANCEY.]

The explosion was near, but still delayed, and the delegates of the
Cotton States sat sullenly through a tangle of routine voting.
Finally, the question was renewed on Butler's proposition to adopt the
Cincinnati platform pure and simple. This was the red flag to the mad
bull. Mississippi declared that the Cincinnati platform was a great
political swindle on one half the States of the Union; and from that
time on the Cotton States ceased to act as a part of the convention.
As soon as a lull in the proceedings permitted, Mr. Yancey put in
execution his programme of demand, disruption, disunion, and
rebellion, labored for through long years, and announced by himself,
with minute distinctness, nine months before.[7] Led by the Alabama
delegation, the Cotton States,--Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, South
Carolina, Florida, Texas, and Arkansas,--with protests and speeches,
with all the formality and "solemnity" which the occasion allowed,
seceded from the Charleston Convention, and withdrew from the
deliberations in Institute Hall.

That same Monday night the city of Charleston expressed its satisfaction
by a grand jubilee. Music, bonfires, and extravagant declamation held
an excited crowd in Court-house Square till a late hour; and in a
high-wrought peroration Yancey prophesied, with all the confidence and
exultation of a triumphant conspirator, that "perhaps even now the pen
of the historian is nibbed to write the story of a new revolution."


"Resolved, That the platform adopted at Cincinnati be affirmed, with
the following resolutions:

"Resolved, That the Democracy of the United States hold these cardinal
principles on the subject of slavery in the Territories: First. That
Congress has no power to abolish slavery in the Territories. Second.
That the Territorial Legislature has no power to abolish slavery in
any Territory, nor to prohibit the introduction of slaves therein, nor
any power to exclude slavery therefrom, nor any power to destroy or
impair the right of property in slaves "by any legislation

"Resolved, That it is the duty of the Federal Government to protect,
when necessary, the rights of persons and property on the high seas,
in the Territories, or wherever else its constitutional authority


"Resolved, That we, the Democracy of the Union, in convention
assembled, hereby declare our affirmance of the resolutions
unanimously adopted and declared as a platform of principles by the
Democratic Convention at Cincinnati in the year 1856, believing that
Democratic principles are unchangeable in their nature when applied to
the same subject-matters; and we recommend, as the only further
resolutions, the following:

"Resolved, That all questions in regard to the rights of property in
States or Territories arising under the Constitution of the United
States are judicial in their character, and the Democratic party is
pledged to abide by and faithfully carry out such determination of
these questions as has been, or may be made by the Supreme Court of
the United States."

[3] Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina,
Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas,
Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, California, Oregon.

[4] Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New
York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan,
Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Massachusetts. As Mr. Butler, who
represented Massachusetts on the platform committee, had submitted a
separate report, Mr. Payne seems not to have included her in his total
of free-States, though he does appear to have included her electoral
vote in his estimate.

[5] "The leadership at Charleston, in this attempt to divide and
destroy the Democratic party, was intrusted to appropriate hands. No
man possessed the ability, or the courage, or the sincerity in his
object for such a mission in a higher degree than the gifted
Yancey."--Stephen A. Douglas, Senate Speech, May 16, 1860; Appendix to
"Congressional Globe," p. 313.


"_Resolved_, That the platform adopted by the Democratic party at
Cincinnati be affirmed with the following explanatory resolutions:

"_First_. That the government of a Territory organized by an act of
Congress is provisional and temporary, and, during its existence, all
citizens of the United States have an equal right to settle with their
property in the Territory without their rights, either of person or
property, being destroyed or impaired by Congressional or Territorial

"_Second_. That it is the duty of the Federal Government in all its
departments, to protect, when necessary, the rights of persons and
property in the Territories, and wherever else its constitutional
authority extends.

"_Third_. That when the settlers in a Territory having an adequate
population form a State constitution, the right of sovereignty
commences, and, being consummated by admission into the Union, they
stand on an equal footing with the people of other States, and the
State thus organized ought to be admitted into the Federal Union,
whether its constitution prohibits or recognizes the institution of


"1. _Resolved_, That we, the Democracy of the Union, in convention
assembled, hereby declare our affirmance of the resolutions
unanimously adopted and declared as a platform of principles by the
Democratic Convention at Cincinnati, in the year 1856, believing that
democratic principles are unchangeable in their nature when applied to
the same subject-matters; and we recommend as the only further
resolutions the following:

"Inasmuch as differences of opinion exist in the Democratic party as
to the nature and extent of the powers of a Territorial Legislature
and as to the powers and duties of Congress under the Constitution of
the United States over the institution of slavery within the

"2. _Resolved_, That the Democratic party will abide by the decisions
of the Supreme Court of the United States on the questions of
constitutional law."

[7] "To obtain the aid of the Democracy in this contest, it is
necessary to make a contest in its Charleston Convention. In that body
Douglas's adherents will press his doctrines to a decision. If the
States-Rights men keep out of that convention, that decision must
inevitably be against the South, and that either in direct favor of
the Douglas doctrine, or by the indorsement of the Cincinnati
platform, under which Douglas claims shelter for his principles." "The
States-Rights men should present in that convention their demands for
a decision, and they will obtain an indorsement of their demands, or a
denial of these demands. If indorsed, we shall have greater hope of
triumph within the Union. If denied, in my opinion, the States-Rights
wing should secede from the convention, and appeal to the whole people
of the South; without distinction of parties, and organize another
convention upon the basis of their principles, and go into the
election with a candidate nominated by it, as a grand constitutional
party. But in the Presidential contest a black Republican may be
elected. If this dire event should happen, in my opinion the only hope
of safety for the South is in a withdrawal from the Union before he
shall be inaugurated; before the sword and treasury of the Federal
Government shall be placed in the keeping of that party. I would
suggest that the several State legislatures should by law require the
Governor, when it shall be made manifest that the black Republican
candidate for the Presidency shall receive a majority of the electoral
votes, to call a convention of the people of the State, to assemble in
ample time to provide for their safety before the 4th of March, 1861.
If, however, a black Republican should not be elected, then, in
pursuance of the policy of making this contest within the Union, we
should initiate measures in Congress which should lead to a repeal of
all the unconstitutional acts against slavery. If we should fail to
obtain so just a system of legislation, then the South should seek her
independence out of the Union."--Speech of W.L. Yancey, delivered at
Columbia, S.C., July 8, 1859. Copied in The New York "Tribune," July
20, 1859.

The corroboration and fulfillment of the plot here indicated are found
in the official proceedings of the Alabama Convention and the Alabama
Legislature. The convention on January 13, 1860, expressly instructed
its delegation at Charleston to secede in case the ultra-Southern
doctrines were not incorporated in the National Democratic platform,
and sent Mr. Yancey as a delegate to execute their instructions, which
he did as the text states.

The Alabama Legislature, on its part, passed a joint resolution, which
the Governor approved, February 24, 1860, providing "that upon the
election of a President advocating the principles and action of the
party in the Northern States calling itself the Republican party," the
Governor should forthwith call a convention of the State. This
convention was duly called after the election of Mr. Lincoln, and
passed the secession ordinance of Alabama.



Though the compact voting body of the South had retired from the
Charleston Convention, her animating spirit yet remained in the
numbers and determination of the anti-Douglas delegates. When on
Tuesday morning, May 1, the eighth day, the convention once more met,
the Douglas men, with a view to making the most of the dilemma,
resolved to force the nomination of their favorite. But there was a
lion in the path. Usage and tradition had consecrated the two-thirds
rule. Charles E. Stuart, of Michigan, tried vainly to obtain the
liberal interpretation, that this meant "two-thirds of the votes
given," but Chairman Cushing ruled remorselessly against him, and at
the instance of John B. Howard, of Tennessee, the convention voted
(141 to 112) that no person should be declared nominated who did not
receive two-thirds of all the votes the full convention was entitled
to cast.

This sealed the fate of Douglas. The Electoral College numbered 303;
202 votes therefore were necessary to a choice. Voting for candidates
was begun, and continued throughout all the next day (Wednesday, May
2). Fifty-seven ballots were taken in all; Douglas received 145-1/2 on
the first, and on several subsequent ballots his strength rose to
152-1/2. The other votes were scattered among eight different
candidates with no near approach to agreement.[1]

The dead-lock having become unmistakable and irremediable, and the
nomination of Douglas under existing conditions impossible, all
parties finally consented to an adjournment, especially as it was
evident that unless this were done the sessions would come to an end
by mere disintegration. Therefore, on the tenth day (May 3), the
Charleston Convention formally adjourned, having previously resolved
to reassemble on the 18th of June, in the city of Baltimore, with a
recommendation that the several States make provision to fill the
vacancies in their delegations.

Mr. Yancey and his seceders had meanwhile organized another convention
in St. Andrew's Hall. Their business was of course to report
substantially the platform rejected by the Douglas men, and for the
rejection of which they had retired. Mr. Yancey then explained to them
that the adoption of this platform was all the action they proposed to
take until the "rump democracy" should make their nomination, when, he
said, "it may be our privilege to indorse the nominee, or our duty to
proceed to make a nomination." Other seceders were more impatient, and
desired that something be done forthwith; but as the sessions were
continued to the second and third day, their overflowing zeal found a
safety-valve in their speeches. Mr. Yancey's programme prevailed, and
they also adjourned to meet again in Richmond on the 11th of June.

At the time of the disruption, rumors were current in Charleston that
the movement, if not prompted, was at least encouraged and sustained
by telegrams from leading Senators and Representatives then at their
Congressional duties in Washington. As the day for reassembling in
Baltimore drew near, the main fact was abundantly proved by the
publication of an address, signed by Jefferson Davis, Toombs, Iverson,
Slidell, Benjamin, Mason, and some fourteen others, in which they
undertook to point out a path to union and harmony in the Democratic
party. They recited the withdrawal of eight States at Charleston, and
indorsed the step without qualification. "We cannot refrain," said the
address, "from expressing our admiration and approval of this lofty
manifestation of adherence to principle, rising superior to all
considerations of expediency, to all trammels of party, and looking
with an eye single to the defense of the constitutional rights of the
States." They then alleged that the other Democratic States remained
in the convention only to make a further effort to secure "some
satisfactory recognition of sound principles," declaring, however,
their determination also to withdraw if their just expectation should
be disappointed. The address then urged that the seceders should defer
their meeting at Richmond, but that they should come to Baltimore and
endeavor to effect "a reconciliation of differences on a basis of
principle." If the Baltimore Convention should adopt "a satisfactory
platform of principles,"--and their votes might help secure it,--then
cause of dissension would have ceased. "On the other hand," continued
the address, "if the convention, on reassembling at Baltimore, shall
disappoint the just expectations of the remaining Democratic States,
their delegations cannot fail to withdraw and unite with the eight
States which have adjourned to Richmond." The address, in another
paragraph, explained that the seventeen Democratic States which had
voted at Charleston for the seceders' platform, "united with
Pennsylvania alone, comprise a majority of the entire electoral vote
of the United States, able to elect the Democratic nominees against
the combined opposition of all the remaining States."

This was a shrewd and crafty appeal. Under an apparent plea for
harmony lurked an insidious invitation to Delaware, Virginia, North
Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, California, Oregon, and
Pennsylvania to join the seceders, reconstruct the Democratic party,
cut off all the "popular sovereignty" recusants, and secure perpetual
ascendency in national politics through the consolidated South. The
signers of this address, forgetting their own constant accusation of
"sectionalism" against the Republicans, pretended to see no
impropriety in proposing this purely selfish and sectional alliance.
If it succeeded, their triumph in the Union was irresistible and
permanent; if it failed, it served to unite the South for secession
and a slave confederacy.

If any Democrat harbored a doubt that the proposed reconciliation
meant simply a reunion on the Davis-Yancey platform, the doubt was
soon removed. In the Senate of the United States, Jefferson Davis was
pressing to a vote his caucus resolutions, submitted in February, to
serve as a model for the Charleston platform; and this brought on a
final discussion between himself and Douglas.

  [Sidenote] "Globe," May 7, 1860, p. 1940.

  [Sidenote] Appendix. "Globe," May 15 and 16, 1860, pp. 312, 313,
  and 316.

  [Sidenote] "Globe," May 17, 1860, p. 2151.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., p. 2153.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., p. 2155.

Davis had begun the debate on the 7th of May by a savage onslaught on
"Squatter Sovereignty"--a fallacy, he said, fraught with mischief
more deadly than the fatal upas, because it spread its poison over the
whole Union. Douglas took up the gauntlet, and, replying on May 15 and
16, said he could not recognize the right of a caucus of the Senate or
the House to prescribe new tests for the Democratic party. Senators
were not chosen for the purpose of making platforms. That was the duty
of the Charleston Convention, and it had decided in his favor,
platform, organization, and least of all the individual, by giving him
a majority of fifty votes over all the other candidates combined. He
reprobated the Yancey movement as leading to dissolution and a
Southern confederacy. The party rejected this caucus platform. Should
the majority, he asked, surrender to the minority? Davis, replying on
the 17th, contended that Douglas had, on the Kansas policy of the
Administration, put himself outside the Democratic organization. He
desired no divided flag for the party. He preferred that the Senator's
banner should lie in its silken folds to feed the moth; "but if it
impatiently rustles to be unfurled in opposition to ours, we will
plant our own on every hill." Douglas retorted, and again attacked the
caucus dictation. "Why," he asked, "are all the great measures for the
public good made to give place to the emergency of passing some
abstract resolutions on the subject of politics to reverse the
Democratic platform, under the supposition that the representatives of
the people are men of weak nerve who are going to be frightened by the
thunders of the Senate Chamber?" Davis rejoined, that they wanted a
new article in the creed because they could not get an honest
construction of the platform as it stood. "If you have been beaten on
a rickety, double-construed platform, kick it to pieces, and lay one
broad and strong, on which men can stand." "We want nothing more than
a simple declaration that negro slaves are property, and we want the
recognition of the obligation of the Federal Government to protect
that property like all other." A somewhat restrained undertone of
personal temper had been running through the debate, and Jefferson
Davis could not resist an expression of contempt for his opponent.
"The fact is," said he, "I have a declining respect for platforms. I
would sooner have an honest man on any sort of a rickety platform that
you could construct, than to have a man I did not trust on the best
platform which could be made."

Douglas promptly called attention to the inconsistency of Davis's
method of forcing his resolutions with one breath and avowing his
indifference to a platform with another, especially as Yancey and his
own followers had seceded on the platform and not on the man; but he
did not press his adversary to the wall, as he might have done, on the
insincerity which Davis's sneer exposed. He was hampered by his own
attitude as a candidate. Douglas, who had received 150 votes at
Charleston, and who expected the whole at Baltimore, could not let his
tongue wag as freely as Davis, who had received only one vote and a
half at Charleston, and could count on none at Baltimore; else he
might have denounced him on the score of patriotism. For Jefferson
Davis, like Yancey, only not so constantly, and like so many others of
that secession coterie, blew hot and cold about disunion as occasion
demanded. This same debate of May 17 furnished an instructive example.

  [Sidenote] "Globe," May 17, 1860, p. 2151.

In the beginning of the day's discussion Davis indulged in a
repetition of the old alarm-cry: "And so, sir, when we declare our
tenacious adherence to the Union, it is the Union of the Constitution.
If the compact between the States is to be trampled into the dust; if
anarchy is to be substituted for the usurpation which threatened the
Government at an earlier period; if the Union is to become powerless
for the purposes for which it was established, and we are vainly to
appeal to it for protection--then, sir, conscious of the rectitude of
our course, and self-reliant within ourselves, we look beyond the
confines of the Union for the maintenance of our rights."

  [Sidenote] "Globe," May 17, 1860, p. 2156.

But after Douglas had made a damaging exposure of Yancey's disunion
intrigues, which had come to light, and had charged their animus on
the Charleston seceders, Davis changed his tone. He said there were
not more than seventy-five men in the lodges of the Southern Leagues.
He did not think the Union was in danger from them. "I have great
confidence," said he, "in the strength of the Union. Every now and
then I hear that it is about to tumble to pieces; that somebody is
going to introduce a new plank into the platform, and if he does, the
Union must tumble down; until at last I begin to think it is such a
rickety old platform that it is impossible to prop it up. But then I
bring my own judgment to bear, instead of relying on witnesses, and I
come to the conclusion that the Union is strong and safe--strong in
its power as well as in the affections of the people."

The debate made it very plain that it was not reconciliation but
domination which the South wanted. So in due time (May 25) the
Jefferson Davis resolutions, affirming the "property" theory and the
"protection" doctrine, were passed by a large majority of the
Democratic Senators.

  [Sidenote] June 18, 1860.

When the Charleston Convention proper reassembled at Baltimore, it was
seen that the programme laid out by Jefferson Davis and others in their
published address had been adopted. The seceders had met at Richmond,
taken a recess, and now appeared at Baltimore making application for
readmission. But some of the States that withdrew at Charleston had
sent contesting delegations, and it resolved itself into tangled
rivalry and quarrel of platforms, candidates, and delegations all
combined. For four days a furious debate raged in the convention during
the day, while rival mass-meetings in the streets at night called each
other "disorganizes," "bolters," "traitors," "disunionists," and
"abolitionists." When Douglas, before a test-vote was reached, sent a
dispatch suggesting that the party and the country might be saved by
dropping his name and uniting upon some other candidate, his followers
suppressed the dispatch.

On the fifth day at Baltimore the Democratic National Convention
underwent its second "crisis," and suffered its second disruption.
This time the secession was somewhat broadened; Chairman Cushing
resigned his seat, and Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Delaware,
Maryland, Kentucky, and California withdrew wholly or in part to join
the States which had gone out at Charleston.

For the time the disunion extremists were keeping their scheme too
well masked for us to establish clearly its historical record. But
the signs and footprints of their underplot are evident. Here at
Baltimore, as at Charleston, and as on every critical occasion, Mr.
Yancey was conspicuously present. Here, as elsewhere, he was no doubt
persistently intriguing for disunion in secret while ostentatiously
denying disunion purposes in public.

  [Sidenote] Halstead, "Conventions of 1860."

But little remained to do after the disruption at Baltimore, and that
little was quickly done. The fragments of the original convention
continued their session in the Front-street Theater, where they had
met, and on the first ballot nominated Stephen A. Douglas for
President by an almost unanimous vote. The seceders organized, under
the chairmanship of Caleb Cushing, in Maryland Institute Hall, and
also by a nearly unanimous ballot nominated as their candidate for
President, John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky. Then Mr. Yancey, who in
a street mass-meeting had declared that he was neither for the Union
_per se_ nor for disunion _per se_, but for the Constitution, announced
that the Democracy, the Constitution, and, through them, the were yet

A month prior to the reassembling of the Charleston "Rumps" above
described, Baltimore had already witnessed another Presidential
convention and nomination, calling itself peculiarly "National," in
contradistinction to the "sectional" character which it charged upon
the Democratic and Republican parties alike. This was a third party,
made up mainly of former Whigs whose long-cherished party antagonisms
kept them aloof from the Democrats in the South and the Republicans in
the North. In the South, they had been men whose moderate anti-slavery
feelings were outraged by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and
the Lecompton trick. In the North, they were those whose traditions and
affiliations revolted at the extreme utterances of avowed abolitionists.
In both regions many of them had embraced Know-Nothingism, more as an
alternative than from original choice. The Whig party was dissolved;
Know-Nothingism had utterly failed--their only resource was to form a
new party.

In the various States they had, since the defeat of Fillmore in 1856,
held together a minority organization under names differing in
separate localities. All these various factions and fragments sent
delegations to Baltimore, where they united themselves under the
designation of the Constitutional Union Party. They proposed to take a
middle course between Democrats and Republicans, and to allay
sectional strife by ignoring the slavery question.

  [Sidenote] 1860.

Delegates of this party, regular and irregular, from some twenty-two
States, convened at Baltimore on the 9th of May. John J. Crittenden,
of Kentucky, called the meeting to order, and Washington Hunt, of New
York, was made temporary and permanent chairman. On Thursday, May 10,
they adopted as their platform a resolution declaring in substance
that they would "recognize no other political principle than the
Constitution of the country, the Union of the States, and the
enforcement of the laws." They had no reasonable hope of direct
success at the polls in November; but they had a clear possibility of
defeating a popular choice, and throwing the election into the House
of Representatives; and in that case their nominee might stand on high
vantage-ground as a compromise candidate. This possibility gave some
zest to the rivalry among their several aspirants. On their second
ballot, a slight preponderance of votes indicated John Bell, of
Tennessee, as the favorite, and the convention made his nomination
unanimous. Mr. Bell had many qualities desirable in a candidate for
President. He was a statesman of ripe experience, and of fair, if not
brilliant, fame. Though from the South, his course on the slavery
question had been so moderate as to make him reasonably acceptable to
the North on his mere personal record. He had opposed the repeal of
the Missouri Compromise and the Lecompton outrage. But upon this
platform of ignoring the political strife of six consecutive years, in
which he had himself taken such vigorous part, he and his followers
were of course but as grain between the upper and nether millstones.
Edward Everett, one of the most eminent statesmen and scholars of New
England, was nominated for Vice-President.

This party becomes historic, not through what it accomplished, but by
reason of what a portion of it failed to perform. Within one year from
these pledges to the Constitution, the Union, and the enforcement of
the laws, Mr. Bell and most of his Southern adherents in the seceding
States were banded with others in open rebellion. On the other hand,
Mr. Everett and most of the Northern members, together with many noble
exceptions in the border slave-States, like Mr. Crittenden, of
Kentucky, kept the faith announced in their platform, and with
patriotic devotion supported the Government in the war to maintain the

[1] The first ballot stood: Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois, 145-1/2;
James Guthrie, of Kentucky, 35-1/2; Daniel S. Dickinson, of New York,
7; R.M.T. Hunter, of Virginia, 42; Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, 12;
Joseph Lane, of Oregon, 6; Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, 1-1/2;
Isaac Toncey, of Connecticut; 2-1/2; Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire,



  [Sidenote] 1860.

In recognition of the growing power and importance of the great West,
the Republican National Convention was called to meet in Chicago on
the 16th of May. The former Presidential canvass, though resulting in
the defeat of Frémont, had nevertheless shown the remarkable popular
strength of the Republican party in the country at large; since then,
its double victory in Congress against Lecompton, and at the
Congressional elections over the Representatives who supported
Lecompton, gave it confidence and aggressive activity. But now it
received a new inspiration and impetus from the Charleston disruption.
Former possibility was suddenly changed to strong probability of
success in the coming Presidential election. Delegates were not only
quickened with a new zeal for their principles; the growing chances
spurred them to fresh efforts in behalf of their favorite candidates.
Those who had been prominently named were diverse in antecedents and
varied in locality, each however presenting some strong point of
popular interest. Seward, of New York, a Whig of preeminent fame;
Chase, of Ohio, a talented and zealous anti-slavery Democrat, an
original founder of the new party; Dayton, of New Jersey, an old Whig
high in personal worth and political service; Cameron, of Pennsylvania,
a former Democrat, now the undisputed leader of an influential tariff
State; Bates, of Missouri, an able and popular anti-slavery Whig from
a slave-State; and last, but by no means least in popular estimation,
Lincoln, of Illinois.

  [Sidenote] Pickett to Lincoln, April 13, 1859. MS.

The idea of making Lincoln a Presidential candidate had occurred to
the minds of many during his growing fame. The principle of natural
selection plays no unimportant part in the politics of the United
States. There are always hundreds of newspapers ready to "nail to
the mast-head" the name of any individual which begins to appear
frequently in dispatches and editorials. A few months after the close
of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and long before the Ohio speeches and
the Cooper Institute address, a warm personal friend, the editor of
an Illinois newspaper, wrote him an invitation to lecture, and added
in his letter: "I would like to have a talk with you on political
matters, as to the policy of announcing your name for the Presidency,
while you are in our city. My partner and myself are about addressing
the Republican editors of the State on the subject of a simultaneous
announcement of your name for the Presidency."

  [Sidenote] Lincoln to Pickett, April 16, 1859. MS.

To this Lincoln replied: "As to the other matter you kindly mention, I
must in candor say I do not think myself fit for the Presidency. I
certainly am flattered and gratified that some partial friends think
of me in that connection; but I really think it best for our cause
that no concerted effort, such as you suggest, should be made."


  [Sidenote] Lincoln to Judd, Dec. 9, 1859. MS.

A much more hopeful ambition filled his mind. Notwithstanding his
recent defeat, he did not think that his personal contest with Douglas
was yet finished. He had the faith and the patience to wait six years
for a chance to repeat his political tournament with the "Little
Giant." From his letter quoted in a previous chapter we know he had
resolved to "fight in the ranks" in 1860. From another, we know how
generously he kept faith with other Republican aspirants. "If Trumbull
and I were candidates for the same office you would have a right to
prefer him, and I should not blame you for it; but all my acquaintance
with you induces me to believe you would not pretend to be for me
while really for him. But I do not understand Trumbull and myself to
be rivals. You know I am pledged not to enter a struggle with him for
the seat in the Senate now occupied by him; and yet I would rather
have a full term in the Senate than in the Presidency."

  [Sidenote] Lincoln to Frazer, Nov. 1, 1859. MS.

This spirit of fairness in politics is also shown by the following
letter, written apparently in response to a suggestion that Cameron
and Lincoln might form a popular Presidential tickets "Yours of the
24th ult. was forwarded to me from Chicago. It certainly is important
to secure Pennsylvania for the Republicans in the next Presidential
contest; and not unimportant to also secure Illinois. As to the ticket
you name, I shall be heartily for it after it shall have been fairly
nominated by a Republican National Convention; and I cannot be
committed to it before. For my single self, I have enlisted for the
permanent success of the Republican cause; and for this object I shall
labor faithfully in the ranks, unless, as I think not probable, the
judgment of the party shall assign me a different position. If the
Republicans of the great State of Pennsylvania shall present Mr.
Cameron as their candidate for the Presidency, such an indorsement of
his fitness for the place could scarcely be deemed insufficient.
Still, as I would not like the public to know, so I would not like
myself to know, I had entered a combination with any man to the
prejudice of all others whose friends respectively may consider them

  [Sidenote] Lincoln to Judd, Feb. 9, 1860. MS. Also printed in a

Not long after these letters, at some date near the middle of the
winter 1859-60, the leaders of the Republican party of Illinois met at
Springfield, the capital of the State, and in a more pressing and
formal manner requested him to permit them to use his name as a
Presidential candidate, more with the idea of securing his nomination
for Vice-President than with any further expectation. To this he now
consented. His own characteristic language, however, plainly reveals
that he believed this would be useful to him in his future Senatorial
aspirations solely, and that he built no hopes whatever on national
preferment. A quarrel was going on among rival aspirants to the
Illinois governorship, and Lincoln had written a letter to relieve a
friend from the imputation of treachery to him in the recent
Senatorial contest. This act of justice was now used to his
disadvantage in the scramble for the Illinois Presidential delegates,
and he wrote as follows: "I am not in a position where it would hurt
much for me not to be nominated on the national ticket; but I am where
it would hurt some for me not to get the Illinois delegates. What I
expected when I wrote the letter to Messrs. Dole and others is now
happening. Your discomfited assailants are most bitter against me; and
they will for revenge upon me, lay to the Bates egg in the South, and
to the Seward egg in the North, and go far towards squeezing me out in
the middle with nothing. Can you not help me a little in this matter
in your end of the vineyard?"

The extra vigilance of his friends thus invoked, it turned out that
the Illinois Republicans sent a delegation to the Chicago Convention
full of personal devotion to Lincoln and composed of men of the
highest standing, and of consummate political ability, and their
enthusiastic efforts in his behalf among the delegations from other
States contributed largely to the final result.

  [Sidenote] 1860.

The political campaign had now so far taken shape that its elements
and chances could be calculated with more than usual accuracy. The
Charleston Convention had been disrupted on the 30th of April, and
adjourned on May 3; the nomination of John Bell by the Constitutional
Union party occurred on May 10. The Chicago Convention met on May 16;
and while there was at that date great uncertainty as to whom the
dissevered fragments of the Democratic party would finally nominate,
little doubt existed that both the Douglas and Buchanan wings would
have candidates in the field. With their opponents thus divided, the
plain policy of the Republicans was to find a candidate on whom a
thorough and hearty union of all the elements of the opposition could
be secured. The party was constituted of somewhat heterogeneous
material; a lingering antagonism remained between former Whigs and
Democrats, protectionists and free-traders, foreign-born citizens and
Know-Nothings. Only on a single point were all thus far
agreed--opposition to the extension of slavery.

But little calculation was needed to show that at the November polls
four doubtful States would decide the Presidential contest. Buchanan
had been elected in 1856 by the vote of all the slave States (save
Maryland), with the help of the free States of New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, and California, Change the first four
or even the first three of these free-States to the Republican side,
and they, with the Frémont States of 1856, would elect the President
against all the others combined. The Congressional elections of 1858
demonstrated that such a change was possible. But besides this,
Pennsylvania and Indiana were, like Ohio, known as "October States,"
because they held elections for State officers in that month; and they
would at that early date give such an indication of sentiment as would
forecast their November vote for President, and exert a powerful,
perhaps a decisive, influence on the whole canvass. What candidate
could most easily carry New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and
Illinois, became therefore the vital question among the Chicago
delegates, and especially among the delegates from the four pivotal
States themselves.

William H. Seward, of New York, was naturally the leading candidate.
He had been longest in public life, and was highest in official rank.
He had been Governor of the greatest State of the Union, and had
nearly completed a second term of service in the United States Senate.
Once a prominent Whig, his antecedents coincided with those of the
bulk of the Republican party. His experience ran through two great
agitations of the slavery question. He had taken important part in the
Senate discussions which ended in the compromise measures of 1850, and
in the new contest growing out of the Nebraska bill his voice had been
heard in every debate. He was not only firm in his anti-slavery
convictions, but decided in his utterances. Discussing the admission
of California, he proclaimed the "higher law" doctrine in 1850;[1]
reviewing Dred Scott and Lecompton, he announced the "irrepressible
conflict" in 1858.[2] He had tact as well as talent; he was a
consummate politician, as well as a profound statesman. Such a leader
could not fail of a strong following, and his supporters came to
Chicago in such numbers, and of such prominence and character, as
seemed to make his nomination a foregone conclusion. The delegation
from New York, headed by William M. Evarts, worked and voted
throughout as a unit for him, not merely to carry out their
constituents' wishes, but with, a personal zeal that omitted no
exertion or sacrifice. They showed a want of tact, however, in
carrying their street demonstrations for their favorite to excess;
they crowded together at the Richmond House, making that hotel the
Seward headquarters; with too much ostentation they marched every day
to the convention with music and banners; and when mention was made of
doubtful States, their more headlong members talked altogether too
much of the campaign funds they intended to raise. All this occasioned
a reaction--a certain mental protest among both Eastern and Western
delegates against what have come to be characterized as "machine"

The positive elements in Seward's character and career had developed,
as always happens, strong antagonisms. One of the earliest symptoms
among the delegates at Chicago was the existence of a strong
undercurrent of opposition to his nomination. This opposition was as
yet latent, and scattered here and there among many State delegations,
but very intense, silently watching its opportunity, and ready to
combine upon any of the other candidates. The opposition soon made a
discovery: that of all the names mentioned, Lincoln's was the only one
offering any chance for such a combination. It needed only the
slightest comparison of notes to show that Dayton had no strength save
the New Jersey vote; Chase little outside of the Ohio delegation;
Cameron none but that of Pennsylvania, and that Bates had only his
Missouri friends and a few in border slave-States, which could cast no
electoral vote for the Republicans. The policy of the anti-Seward
delegates was therefore quickly developed--to use Lincoln's popularity
as a means to defeat Seward.

The credit of the nomination is claimed by many men, and by several
delegations, but every such claim is wholly fictitious. Lincoln was
chosen not by personal intrigue, but through political necessity. The
Republican party was a purely defensive organization; the South had
created the crisis which the new party was compelled to overcome. The
ascendency of the free-States, not the personal fortunes of Seward,
hung in the balance. Political victory at the ballot-box or a
transformation of the institutions of government was the immediate
alternative before the free-States.

Victory could be secured only by help of the electoral votes of New
Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Illinois. It was therefore a simple
problem: What candidate could carry these States? None could answer
this question so well as their own delegates, and these, when
interrogated, still further reduced the problem by the reply that
Seward certainly could not. These four States lay on the border land
next to the South and to slavery. Institutions inevitably mold public
sentiment; and a certain tenderness towards the "property" of
neighbors and friends infected their people. They shrunk from the
reproach of being "abolitionized." They would vote for a conservative
Republican; but Seward and radicalism and "higher law" would bring
them inevitable defeat.

  [Sidenote] N.Y. "Tribune," May 18, 1860.

Who, then, could carry these doubtful and pivotal States? This second
branch of the question also found its ready answer. The contest in
these States would be not against a Territorial slave code, but against
"popular sovereignty "; not with Buchanan's candidate, but with
Douglas; and for Douglas there was only a single antagonist, tried and
true--Abraham Lincoln. Such, we may reasonably infer, was the substance
of the discussion and argument which ran through the caucus-rooms of
the delegates, day and night, during the 16th and 17th of May.
Meanwhile the Seward men were not idle; having the large New York
delegation to begin with, and counting the many positive committals
from other States, their strength and organization seemed impregnable.
The opposing delegations, each still nursing the chances of its own
candidate, hesitated to give any positive promises to each other. At
midnight of May 17, Horace Greeley,[3] one of Seward's strongest
opponents, and perhaps better informed than any other single delegate,
telegraphed his conclusion "that the opposition to Governor Seward
cannot concentrate on any candidate, and that he will be nominated."

Chicago was already a city of a hundred thousand souls. Thirty to forty
thousand visitors, full of life, hope, ambition, most of them from the
progressive group of encircling North-western States, and strung to the
highest tension of political excitement had come to attend the
convention. Charleston had shown a great party in the ebbtide of
disintegration, tainted by the spirit of disunion. Chicago exhibited a
great party springing to life and power, every motive and force
compelling coöperation and growth. The rush and spirit of the great
city, and the enthusiasm and hope of its visitors, blended and reacted
upon each other as if by laws of chemical affinity. Something of the
freshness and sweep of the prairie winds exhilarated the delegates and
animated the convention.

No building in the city of Chicago at that time contained a hall with
sufficient room for the sittings of the great assemblage. A temporary
frame structure, which the committee of arrangements christened "The
Wigwam," was therefore designed and erected for this special use. It
was said to be large enough to hold ten thousand persons, and whether
or not that estimate was entirely accurate, a prodigious concourse
certainly gathered each day within its walls.

The first day's session (May 16) demonstrated the successful adaptation
of the structure to its uses. Participants and spectators alike were
delighted with the ease of ingress and egress, the comfortable division
of space, the perfection of its acoustic qualities. Every celebrity
could be seen, every speech could be heard. The routine of
organization, the choice of officers and committees, and the
presentation of credentials were full of variety and zest. Governor
Edwin D. Morgan, of New York, as Chairman of the National Republican
Committee, called the convention to order; and when he presented the
historic name of David Wilmot, of Pennsylvania, for temporary chairman,
the faith of the audience in the judgment of the managers was already
won. The report of the committee on organization in the afternoon made
George Ashmun, of Massachusetts, a most skillful parliamentarian ready
in decision and felicitous in his phrases, the permanent presiding
officer. One thing was immediately and specially manifest: an
overflowing heartiness and deep feeling pervaded the whole house. No
need of a _claque_, no room for sham demonstration here! The galleries
were as watchful and earnest as the platform. There was something
genuine, elemental, uncontrollable in the moods and manifestations of
the vast audience. Seats and standing-room were always packed in
advance, and, as the delegates entered by their own separate doors, the
crowd easily distinguished the chief actors. Blair, Giddings, Greeley,
Evarts, Kelley, Wilmot, Schurz, and others were greeted with
spontaneous applause, which, rising at some one point, grew and rolled
from side to side and corner to corner of the immense building,
brightening the eyes and quickening the breath of every inmate.[4]

With the second day's proceedings the interest of delegates and
spectators was visibly increased, first by some sharp-shooting speeches
about credentials, and secondly by the main event of the day--the
report from the platform committee. Much difficulty was expected on
this score, but a little time had smoothed the way with almost magical
effect. The great outpouring of delegates and people, the self-evident
success of the gathering, the harmonious, almost joyous, beginning of
the deliberations in the first day's session, were more convincing than
logic in solidifying the party. These were the premonitions of success;
before such signs of victory all spirit of faction was fused into a
generous glow of emulation.

The eager convention would have accepted a weak or defective platform;
the committee, on the contrary, reported one framed with remarkable
skill. It is only needful to recapitulate its chief points. It
denounced disunion, Lecomptonism, the property theory, the dogma that
the Constitution carries slavery to Territories, the reopening of the
slave-trade, the popular sovereignty and non-intervention fallacies,
and denied "the authority of Congress, of a Territorial Legislature, or
of any individuals to give legal existence to slavery in any Territory
of the United States." It opposed any change in the naturalization
laws. It recommended an adjustment of import duties to encourage the
industrial interests of the whole country. It advocated the immediate
admission of Kansas, free homesteads to actual settlers, river and
harbor improvements of a national character, and a railroad to the
Pacific Ocean. Bold on points of common agreement, it was unusually
successful in avoiding points of controversy among its followers, or
offering points for criticism to its enemies.

It is not surprising that Charleston and Chicago should furnish many
striking contrasts. At the Charleston Convention, the principal
personal incident was a long and frank speech from one Gaulden, a
Savannah slave-trader, in advocacy of the reopening of the African
slave-trade.[5] In the Chicago Convention, the exact and extreme
opposite of such a theme created one of the most interesting of the
debates. The platform had been read and received with tremendous
cheers, when Mr. Giddings, of Ohio, who was everywhere eager to insist
upon what he designated as the "primal truths" of the Declaration of
Independence, moved to amend the first resolution by incorporating in
it the phrase which announces the right of all men to "life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness." The convention was impatient to adopt
the platform without change; several delegates urged objections, one of
them pertinently observing that there were also many other truths
enunciated in the Declaration of Independence. "Mr. President," said
he, "I believe in the ten commandments, but I do not want them in a
political platform." Mr. Giddings's amendment was voted down, and the
anti-slavery veteran, feeling himself wounded in his most cherished
philosophy, rose and walked out of the convention.

  [Sidenote] Murat Halstead, "Conventions of 1860," p. 138.

Personal friends, grieved that he should feel offended, and doubly
sorry that the general harmony should be marred by even a single
dissent, followed Mr. Giddings, and sought to change his purpose. While
thus persuading him, the discussion had passed to the second
resolution, when George William Curtis, of New York, seized the chance
to renew substantially Mr. Giddings's amendment. There were new
objections, but Mr. Curtis swept them away with a captivating burst of
oratory. "I have to ask this convention," said he, "whether they are
prepared to go upon the record before the country as voting down the
words of the Declaration of Independence?... I rise simply to ask
gentlemen to think well before, upon the free prairies of the West, in
the summer of 1860, they dare to wince and quail before the assertions
of the men in Philadelphia, in 1776--before they dare to shrink from
repeating the words that these great men enunciated." "This was a
strong appeal, and took the convention by storm," wrote a recording
journalist. A new vote formally embodied this portion of the
Declaration of Independence in the Republican platform; and Mr.
Giddings, overjoyed at his triumph, had already returned to his seat
when the platform as a whole was adopted with repeated and renewed
shouts of applause that seemed to shake the wigwam.

The third day of the convention (Friday, May 18) found the doors
besieged by an excited multitude. The preliminary business was disposed
of,--the platform was made,--and every one knew the balloting would
begin. The New York delegation felt assured of Seward's triumph, and
made an effort to have its march to the convention, with banners and
music, unusually full and imposing. It proved a costly display; for
while the New York "irregulars" were parading the streets, the
Illinoisans were filling the wigwam: when the Seward procession
arrived, there was little room left except the reserved seats for the
delegates. New York deceived itself in another respect: it counted on
the full New England strength, whereas more than half of it had already
resolved to cast its vote elsewhere. This defection in advance
virtually insured Seward's defeat. New York and the extreme North-west
were not sufficiently strong to nominate him, and in the nature of
things he could not hope for much help from the conservative middle and
border States. But this calculation could not as yet be so accurately
made. Caucusing was active up to the very hour when the convention met,
and many delegations went to the wigwam with no definite programme
beyond the first ballot.

What pen shall adequately describe this vast audience of ten thousand
souls? the low, wavelike roar of its ordinary conversation; the rolling
cheers that greeted the entrance of popular favorites; the solemn hush
which fell upon it during the opening prayer? There was just enough of
some unexpected preliminary wrangle and delay to arouse the full
impatience of both convention and spectators; but at length the names
of candidates were announced. This ceremony was still in its
simplicity. The more recent custom of short dramatic speeches from
conspicuous and popular orators to serve as electrifying preludes had
not yet been invented. "I take the liberty," said Mr. Evarts, of New
York, "to name as a candidate to be nominated by this convention for
the office of President of the United States, "William H. Seward." "I
desire," followed Mr. Judd, "on behalf of the delegation from Illinois,
to put in nomination as a candidate for President of the United States,
Abraham Lincoln of Illinois." Then came the usual succession of
possible and alternative aspirants who were to be complimented by the
first votes of their States--"William L. Dayton, Simon Cameron, Salmon
P. Chase, Edward Bates, Jacob Collamer, John McLean. The fifteen
minutes required by this formality had already indisputably marked out
and set apart the real contestants. The "complimentary" statesmen were
lustily cheered by their respective State delegations; but at the names
of Seward and Lincoln the whole wigwam seemed to respond together.

  [Sidenote] Halstead, "Conventions of 1860," p. 145.

There is something irresistibly exciting in the united voice of a great
crowd. For a moment the struggle appeared to resolve itself into a
contest of throats and lungs. Indiana seconded the nomination of
Lincoln, and the applause was deafening. Michigan seconded the
nomination of Seward; the New York delegation rose _en masse_, waved
their hats, and joined the galleries in a shout which doubled the
volume of any yet given. Then a portion of the Ohio delegates once more
seconded Lincoln, and his adherents, feeling themselves put upon their
mettle, made an effort. "I thought the Seward yell could not be
surpassed," wrote a spectator; "but the Lincoln boys were clearly
ahead, and, feeling their victory, as there was a lull in the storm,
took deep breaths all round, and gave a concentrated shriek that was
positively awful, and accompanied it with stamping that made every
plank and pillar in the building quiver."

The tumult gradually died away, and balloting began. Here we may note
another contrast. The Charleston Convention was reactionary and
exclusive; it followed the two-thirds rule. The Chicago Convention was
progressive and liberal; it adopted majority rule. Liberal even beyond
this, it admitted the Territories and border slave-States, containing
only a minority or fraction of Republican sentiment, to seats and to
votes. It was throwing a drag-net for success. Under different
circumstances, these sentimental delegations might have become powerful
in intrigue; but dominated as they were by deeper political forces,
they afforded no distinct advantage to either candidate.[6]

Though it was not expected to be decisive, the first ballot
foreshadowed accurately the final result. The "complimentary"
candidates received the tribute of admiration from their respective
States. Vermont voted for Collamer, and New Jersey for Dayton, each
solid[7]. Pennsylvania's compliment to Cameron was shorn of six votes,
four of which went at once for Lincoln. Ohio divided her compliment, 34
for Chase, 4 for McLean, and at once gave Lincoln her 8 remaining
votes. Missouri voted solid for her candidate, Bates, who also received
a scattering tribute from other delegations. But all these compliments
were of little avail to their recipients, for far above each towered
the aggregates of the leading candidates: Seward, 173-1/2; Lincoln,

In the groundswell of suppressed excitement which pervaded the
convention there was no time to analyze this vote; nevertheless,
delegates and spectators felt the full force of its premonition; to all
who desired the defeat of Seward it pointed out the winning man with,
unerring certainty. Another little wrangle over some disputed and
protesting delegate made the audience almost furious at the delay, and
"Call the roll!" sounded from a thousand throats.

A second ballot was begun at last, and, obeying a force as sure as the
law of gravitation, the former complimentary votes came rushing to
Lincoln. The whole 10 votes of Collamer, 44 from Cameron, 6 from Chase
and McLean, were now cast for him, followed by a scatter of additions
along the roll-call. In this ballot Lincoln gained 79 votes, Seward
only 11. The faces of the New York delegation whitened as the balloting
progressed and the torrent of Lincoln's popularity became a river. The
result of the second ballot was: Seward, 184-1/2; Lincoln, 181;
scattering, 99-1/2[9]. When the vote of Lincoln was announced, there
was a tremendous burst of applause, which the chairman prudently but
with difficulty controlled and silenced.

The third ballot was begun amid a breathless suspense; hundreds of
pencils kept pace with the roll-call, and nervously marked the changes
on their tally-sheets. The Lincoln figures steadily grew. Votes came to
him from all the other candidates--4-1/2 from Seward, 2 from Cameron,
13 from Bates, 18 from Chase, 9 from Dayton, 3 from McLean, 1 from
Clay. Lincoln had gained 50-1/2, Seward had lost 4-1/2. Long before the
official tellers footed up their columns, spectators and delegates
rapidly made the reckoning and knew the result: Lincoln, 231-1/2;
Seward, 180.[10] Counting the scattering votes, 465 ballots had been
cast, and 233 were necessary to a choice; only 1-1/2 votes more were
needed to make a nomination.

A profound stillness suddenly fell upon the wigwam; the men ceased to
talk and the ladies to flutter their fans; one could distinctly hear
the scratching of pencils and the ticking of telegraph instruments on
the reporters' tables. No announcement had been made by the chair;
changes were in order, and it was only a question of seconds who should
speak first. While every one was leaning forward in intense expectancy,
David K. Cartter sprang upon his chair and reported a change of four
Ohio votes from Chase to Lincoln. There was a moment's pause,--a teller
waved his tally-sheet towards the skylight and shouted a name,--and
then the boom of a cannon on the roof of the wigwam announced the
nomination to the crowds in the streets, where shouts and salutes took
up and spread the news. In the convention the Lincoln river now became
an inundation. Amid the wildest hurrahs, delegation after delegation
changed its vote to the victor.


A graceful custom prevails in orderly American conventions, that the
chairman of the vanquished delegation is first to greet the nominee
with a short address of party fealty and promise of party support. Mr.
Evarts, the spokesman for New York, essayed promptly to perform this
courteous office, but was delayed a while by the enthusiasm and
confusion. The din at length subsided, and the presiding officer
announced that on the third ballot Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois,
received 364 votes, and "is selected as your candidate for President of
the United States." Then Mr. Evarts, in a voice of unconcealed emotion,
but with admirable dignity and touching eloquence, speaking for Seward
and for New York, moved to make the nomination unanimous.

The interest in a National Convention usually ceases with the
announcement of the principal nomination. It was only afterwards that
the delegates realized how fortunate a selection they made by adding
Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine, to the ticket as candidate for
Vice-President. Mr. Hamlin was already distinguished in public service.
He was born in 1809, and became a lawyer by profession. He served many
years in the Maine Legislature and four years as a Representative in
Congress. In 1848 he was chosen to fill a vacancy in the United States
Senate, and in 1851 was reelected for a full term. When in 1856 the
Cincinnati Convention indorsed the repeal of the Missouri Compromise,
which he had opposed, Mr. Hamlin formally withdrew from the Democratic
party. In November of that year the Republicans elected him Governor of
Maine, and in January, 1857, reelected him United States Senator.

  [Sidenote] Halstead, "Conventions of 1860," p. 154.

For the moment the chief self-congratulation of the convention was that
by the nomination of Lincoln it had secured the doubtful vote of the
conservative States. Or rather, perhaps, might it be said that it was
hardly the work of the delegates--it was the concurrent product of
popular wisdom. Political evolution had with scientific precision
wrought "the survival of the fittest." The delegates leaving Chicago on
the various homeward-bound railroad trains that night, saw that already
the enthusiasm of the convention was transferred from the wigwam to the
country. "At every station where there was a village, until after 2
o'clock, there were tar-barrels burning, drums beating, boys carrying
rails, and guns great and small banging away. The weary passengers were
allowed no rest, but plagued by the thundering of the cannon, the
clamor of drums, the glare of bonfires, and the whooping of boys, who
were delighted with the idea of a candidate for the Presidency who
thirty years before split rails on the Sangamon River--classic stream
now and for evermore--and whose neighbors named him 'honest.'"

[1] "It is true indeed that the national domain is ours. It is true
it was acquired by the valor and with the wealth of the whole nation.
But we hold, nevertheless, no arbitrary power over it. We hold no
arbitrary authority over anything, whether acquired lawfully or
seized by usurpation. The Constitution regulates our stewardship;
the Constitution devotes the domain to union, to justice, to defense,
to welfare, and to liberty. But there is a higher law than the
Constitution which regulates our authority over the domain, and
devotes it to the same noble purposes. The territory is a part, no
inconsiderable part, of the common heritage of mankind, bestowed upon
them by the Creator of the universe. We are his stewards, and must so
discharge our trust as to secure in the highest attainable degree
their happiness."--William H. Seward, Senate Speech, March 11, 1850.
App. "Globe," p. 265.

[2] "Shall I tell you what this collision means? They who think that
it is accidental, unnecessary, the work of interested or fanatical
agitators, and therefore ephemeral, mistake the case altogether. It is
an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces, and it
means that the United States must and will, sooner or later, become
either entirely a slave-holding nation, or entirely a free-labor
nation."--Seward, Rochester Speech, October 25, 1858.

[3] Mr. Greeley sat in the convention as a delegate for Oregon.

[4] One of the authors of this history was a spectator at all the
sessions of the convention, and witnessed the scenes in the Wigwam
which he has endeavored to describe.

[5] "I tell you, fellow-Democrats, that the African slave-trader is the
true Union man [cheers and laughter], I tell you that the slave-trading
of Virginia is more immoral, more unchristian in every possible point
of view, than that African slave-trade which goes to Africa and brings
a heathen and worthless man here, christianizes him, and sends him and
his posterity down the stream of time to enjoy the blessings of
civilization.... It has been my fortune to go into that noble old State
to buy a few darkies, and I have had to pay from $1000 to $2000 a head,
when I could go to Africa and buy better negroes for $50 apiece.... I
advocate the repeal of the laws prohibiting the African slave-trade,
because I believe it to be the true Union movement. I do not believe
that sections whose interests are so different as the Southern and
Northern States can ever stand the shocks of fanaticism unless they be
equally balanced. I believe that by reopening this trade, and giving
us negroes to populate the Territories, the equilibrium of the two
sections will be maintained."--Speech of W.B. Gaulden, of Georgia, in
the Charleston Democratic National Convention, May 1, 1860.

[6] These sentimental delegations were: Maryland, 11; Delaware, 6;
Virginia, 23; Kentucky, 23; Texas, 6; Kansas, 6; Nebraska, 6; District
of Columbia, 2. Total, 83 votes. Of these the leading candidates
received as follows:

1st ballot    Seward, 30    Lincoln, 21
2d ballot     Seward, 35    Lincoln, 30
3d ballot     Seward, 33    Lincoln, 43.

Missouri might be counted in the same category; but, as she voted
steadily for Bates through all the ballots, she did not in any wise
influence the result.

[7] Each State was entitled to cast a vote equal to double the number
of its Electoral College.


_For Seward_.--Maine 10, New Hampshire 1, Massachusetts 21, New York
70, Pennsylvania 1-1/2, Maryland 3, Virginia 8, Kentucky 5, Michigan
12, Texas 4, Wisconsin 10, Iowa 2, California 8, Minnesota 8, Kansas
6, Nebraska 2, District of Columbia 2.--Total for Seward, 173-1/2.

_For Lincoln_.--Maine 6, New Hampshire 7, Massachusetts 4, Connecticut
2, Pennsylvania 4, Virginia 14, Kentucky 6, Ohio 8, Indiana 26,
Illinois 22, Iowa 2, Nebraska 1.--Total for Lincoln, 102.

_Scattering_.--New Hampshire, Chase 1, Frémont 1; Vermont, Collamer
10; Rhode Island, Bates 1, McLean 5, Reed 1, Chase 1; Connecticut,
Wade 1, Bates 7, Chase 2; New Jersey, Dayton 14; Pennsylvania, Cameron
47-1/2, McLean 1; Maryland, Bates 8; Delaware, Bates 6; Virginia,
Cameron 1; Kentucky, Wade 2, McLean 1, Chase 8, Sumner 1; Ohio, McLean
4, Chase 34; Missouri, Bates 18; Texas, Bates 2; Iowa, Cameron 1,
Bates 1, McLean 1, Chase 1; Oregon, Bates 5; Nebraska, Cameron 1,
Chase 2.--Totals, for Bates, 48; for Cameron, 50-1/2; for McLean, 12;
for Chase, 49; for Wade, 3; for Dayton, 14; for Reed, 1; for Collamer,
10; for Sumner, 1; for Frémont, 1.


_For Seward_.--Maine 10, New Hampshire 1, Massachusetts 22, New York
70, New Jersey 4, Pennsylvania 2-1/2, Maryland 3, Virginia 8, Kentucky
7, Michigan 12, Texas 6, Wisconsin 10, Iowa 2, California 8, Minnesota
8, Kansas 6, Nebraska 3, District of Columbia 2.--Total for Seward,

_For Lincoln_.--Maine 6, New Hampshire 9, Vermont 10, Massachusetts 4,
Rhode Island 3, Connecticut 4, Pennsylvania 48, Delaware 6, Virginia
14, Kentucky 9, Ohio 14, Indiana 26, Illinois 22, Iowa 5, Nebraska
1.--Total for Lincoln, 181.

_Scattering_.--Rhode Island, McLean 2, Chase 3; Connecticut, Bates 4,
Chase 2, Clay 2; New Jersey, Dayton 10; Pennsylvania, Cameron 1,
McLean 2-1/2; Maryland, Bates 8; Virginia, Cameron 1; Kentucky, Chase
6; Ohio, McLean 3, Chase 29; Missouri, Bates 18; Iowa, McLean 1/2,
Chase 1/2; Oregon, Bates 5; Nebraska, Chase 2.--Totals, for Bates, 35;
for Cameron, 2; for McLean, 8; for Chase, 42-1/2; for Dayton, 10; for
Clay, 2.


_For Seward_.--Maine 10, New Hampshire 1, Massachusetts 18, Rhode
Island 1, Connecticut 1, New York 70, New Jersey 5, Maryland 2,
Virginia 8, Kentucky 6, Michigan 12, Texas 6, Wisconsin 10, Iowa 2,
California 8, Minnesota 8, Oregon 1, Kansas 6, Nebraska 3, District of
Columbia 2.--Total for Seward, 180.

_For Lincoln_.--Maine 6, New Hampshire 9, Vermont 10, Massachusetts 8,
Rhode Island 5, Connecticut 4, New Jersey 8, Pennsylvania 52, Maryland
9, Delaware 6, Virginia 14, Kentucky 13, Ohio 29, Indiana 26, Illinois
22, Iowa 5-1/2, Oregon 4, Nebraska 1.--Total for Lincoln, 231-1/2.

_Scattering_.--Rhode Island, Chase 1, McLean 1; Connecticut, Bates 4,
Chase 2, Clay 1; New Jersey, Dayton 1; Pennsylvania, McLean 2;
Kentucky, Chase 4; Ohio, Chase 15, McLean 2; Missouri, Bates 18; Iowa,
Chase 1/2; Nebraska, Chase 2.--Total, for Bates, 22; for Chase,
24-1/2; for McLean, 5; for Dayton, 1; for Clay, 1.



Thus the Presidential canvass in the United States for the year 1860
began with the very unusual condition of four considerable parties,
and four different tickets for President and Vice-President. In the
order of popular strength, as afterwards shown, they were:

_First_. The Republican party, which at the Chicago Convention had
nominated as its candidate for President, Abraham Lincoln, of
Illinois, and for Vice-President, Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine. Its
animating spirit was a belief and declaration that the institution of
slavery was wrong in morals and detrimental to society; its avowed
policy was to restrict slavery to its present limits in the States
where it existed by virtue of local constitutions and laws.

_Second_. The Douglas wing of the Democratic party, which at Baltimore
nominated Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois, for President, and whose
candidate for Vice-President was Herschel V. Johnson, of Georgia.[1]
It declared indifference as to the moral right or wrong of slavery,
and indifference to its restriction or extension. Its avowed policy
was to permit the people of a Territory to decide whether they would
prevent or establish slavery, and it further proposed to abide by the
decisions of the Supreme Court on all questions of constitutional law
growing out of it.

_Third_. The Buchanan wing of the Democratic party, which at Baltimore
nominated John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, for President, and Joseph
Lane, of Oregon, for Vice-President. Its animating spirit was a belief
and declaration that slavery was morally right and politically
beneficial; its avowed policy was the extension of slavery into the
Territories, and the creation of new slave States, whereby it might
protect and perpetuate itself by a preponderance, or at least a
constant equality, of political power, especially in the Senate of the
United States. As one means to this end, it proposed the immediate
acquisition of the island of Cuba.

_Fourth_. The Constitutional Union party, which in its convention at
Baltimore nominated John Bell, of Tennessee, for President, and Edward
Everett, of Massachusetts, for Vice-President. It professed to ignore
the question of slavery, and declared that it would recognize no
political principle other than "the Constitution of the Country, the
Union of the States, and the enforcement of the Laws."

  [Sidenote] Curtis, "Life of Buchanan," Vol. II., p. 294.

The first, most striking feature of the four-sided Presidential
canvass which now began, was the personal pledge by every one of the
candidates of devotion to the Union. Each of the factions was in some
form charging disunion motives or tendencies upon part or all of the
others; but each indignantly denied the allegation as to itself. To
leave no possible doubt, the written letters of acceptance of each of
the candidates emphasized the point. Lincoln invoked "the
inviolability of the Constitution, and the perpetual union, harmony,
and prosperity of all." Douglas made his pledge broad and full. "The
Federal Union," wrote he, "must be preserved. The Constitution must be
maintained inviolate in all its parts. Every right guaranteed by the
Constitution must be protected by law in all cases where legislation
is necessary to its enjoyment. The judicial authority, as provided in
the Constitution, must be sustained, and its decisions implicitly
obeyed and faithfully executed. The laws must be administered, and the
constituted authorities upheld, and all unlawful resistance to these
things must be put down with firmness, impartiality, and fidelity."
"The Constitution and the equality of the States," wrote Breckinridge,
"these are symbols of everlasting union. Let these be the rallying
cries of the people." Bell declared that, if elected, all his ability,
strength of will, and official influence should be employed "for the
maintenance of the Constitution and the Union against all opposing
influences and tendencies." Even President Buchanan, in a little
campaign speech from the portico of the Executive mansion, hastened to
purge himself of the imputation of suspicion or fear on this point. He
declared that neither of the Democratic conventions was "regular," and
that therefore every Democrat was at liberty to vote as he thought
proper. For himself, he preferred Breckinridge. The Democratic party,
when divided for the moment, "has always closed up its ranks, and
become more powerful even from defeat. It will never die whilst the
Constitution and the Union survive. It will live to protect and defend

No progress was made, however, towards a reunion of the Democratic
party. The Buchanan faction everywhere waged unrelenting war on
Douglas, both in public discussion and in the use of official
patronage. The contest was made with equal obstinacy and bitterness in
the Northern and the Southern States. Douglas, on his part, was not
slow to retaliate. He immediately entered on an extensive campaign
tour, and made speeches at many of the principal cities of the
Northern States, and a few in the slave-States. Everywhere he
stigmatized the Breckinridge wing of the Democracy as an extremist and
disunion faction,[2] charging that it was as obnoxious and dangerous
as the Republicans. Whatever be his errors, it must be recorded to his
lasting renown that he boldly declared for maintaining the Union by
force. At Norfolk, Virginia, the question was put to him in writing.
"I answer emphatically," replied Douglas, "that it is the duty of the
President of the United States, and all others in authority under him,
to enforce the laws of the United States passed by Congress, and as
the courts expound them, and I, as in duty bound by my oath of
fidelity to the Constitution, would do all in my power to aid the
Government of the United States in maintaining the supremacy of the
laws against all resistance to them, come from what quarter it might.
In other words, I think the President, whoever he may be, should treat
all attempts Douglas, to break up the Union by resistance to the laws,
as Old Hickory treated the nullifiers in 1832."

  [Sidenote] Douglas, Norfolk Speech, August 25, 1860.

All parties entered upon the political canvass with considerable
spirit; but the chances of the Republicans were so manifestly superior
that their enthusiasm easily outran that of all their competitors. The
character and antecedents of Mr. Lincoln appealed directly to the
sympathy and favor of the popular masses of the Northern States. As
pioneer, farm-laborer, flat-boatman, and frontier politician, they saw
in him a true representative of their early if not their present
condition. As the successful lawyer, legislator, and public debater in
questions of high statesmanship, he was the admired ideal of their own

While the Illinois State Republican Convention was in session at
Decatur (May 10), about a week before the Chicago Convention, the
balloting for State officers was interrupted by the announcement, made
with much mystery, that "an old citizen of Macon County" had something
to present to the convention. When curiosity had been sufficiently
aroused, John Hanks, Lincoln's fellow-pioneer, and a neighbor of
Hanks, were suddenly marched into the convention, each bearing upright
an old fence-rail, and displaying a banner with an inscription to the
effect that these were two rails from the identical lot of three
thousand which, when a pioneer boy, Lincoln had helped to cut and
split to inclose his father's first farm in Illinois, in 1830. These
emblems of his handiwork were received by the convention with
deafening shouts, as a prelude to a unanimous resolution recommending
him for President. Later, these rails were sent to Chicago; there,
during the sittings of the National Republican Convention, they stood
in the hotel parlor at the Illinois headquarters, lighted up by
tapers, and trimmed with flowers by enthusiastic ladies. Their history
and campaign incidents were duly paraded in the newspapers; and
throughout the Union Lincoln's ancient and local _sobriquet_ of
"Honest Old Abe" was supplemented by the national epithet of "The
Illinois Bail-splitter." Of the many peculiarities of the campaign,
one feature deserves special mention. Political clubs, for parades and
personal campaign work, were no novelty; now, however, the expedients
of a cheap yet striking uniform and a half-military organization were
tried with marked success. When Lincoln made his New England trip,
immediately after the Cooper Institute speech, a score or two of
active Republicans in the city of Hartford appeared in close and
orderly ranks, wearing each a cap and large cape of oil-cloth, and
bearing over their shoulders a long staff, on the end of which blazed
a brilliant torch-light. This first "Wide Awake" [3] Club, as it
called itself, marching with soldierly step, and military music,
escorted Mr. Lincoln, on the evening of March 5, from the hall where he
addressed the people, to his hotel. The device was so simple and yet
so strikingly effective that it immediately became the pattern for
other cities. After the campaign opened, there was scarcely a county
or village in the North without its organized and drilled association
of "Wide Awakes," immensely captivating to the popular eye, and
forming everywhere a vigilant corps to spread the fame of, and solicit
votes for, the Republican Presidential candidate. On several occasions
twenty to thirty thousand "Wide Awakes" met in the larger cities and
marched in monster torch-light processions through the principal

His nomination also made necessary some slight changes in Mr. Lincoln's
daily life. His law practice was transferred entirely to his partner,
and instead of the small dingy office so long occupied by him, he was
now given the use of the Governor's room in the State-house, which was
not needed for official business during the absence of the Legislature.
This also was a room of modest proportions, with scanty and plain
furniture. Here Mr. Lincoln, attended only by his private secretary,
Mr. Nicolay, passed the long summer days of the campaign, receiving the
constant stream of visitors anxious to look upon a real Presidential
candidate. There was free access to him; not even an usher stood at the
door; any one might knock and enter. His immediate personal friends
from Sangamon County and central Illinois availed themselves largely
of this opportunity. With men who had known him in field and forest
he talked over the incidents of their common pioneer experience with
unaffected sympathy and interest, as though he were yet the flat-boatman,
surveyor, or village lawyer of the early days. The letters which came
to him by hundreds, the newspapers, and the conversation of friends,
kept him sufficiently informed of the progress of the campaign, in
which personally he took a very slight part. He made no addresses,
wrote no public letters, held no conferences. Political leaders several
times came to make campaign speeches at the Republican wigwam in
Springfield. But beyond a few casual interviews on such occasions, the
great Presidential canvass went on with scarcely a private suggestion
or touch of actual direction from the Republican candidate.

It is perhaps worth while to record Lincoln's expression on one point,
which adds testimony to his general consistency in political action.
The rise of the Know-Nothing or the American party, in 1854-5 (which
was only a renewal of the Native-American party of 1844), has been
elsewhere mentioned. As a national organization, the new faction
ceased with the defeat of Fillmore and Donelson in 1856; its fragments
nevertheless held together in many places in the form of local
minorities, which sometimes made themselves felt in contests for
members of the Legislature and county officers; and citizens of
foreign birth continued to be justly apprehensive of its avowed
jealousy and secret machinery. It was easy to allege that any
prominent candidate belonged to the Know-Nothing party, and attended
the secret Know-Nothing lodges; and Lincoln, in the late Senatorial,
and now again in the Presidential, campaign, suffered his full share
of these newspaper accusations.

  [Sidenote] Lincoln to Edward Lusk, October 30, 1858. MS.

We have already mentioned that in the campaign of 1844 he put on
record, by public resolutions in Springfield, his disapprobation of,
and opposition to, Native-Americanism. In the later campaigns, while
he did not allow his attention to be diverted from the slavery
discussion, his disapproval of Know-Nothingism was quite as decided
and as public. Thus he wrote in a private letter, dated October 30,
1858: "I understand the story is still being told and insisted upon
that I have been a Know-Nothing. I repeat what I stated in a public
speech at Meredosia, that I am not, nor ever have been, connected with
the party called the Know-Nothing party, or party calling themselves
the American party. Certainly no man of truth, and I believe no man of
good character for truth, can be found to say on his own knowledge
that I ever was connected with that party."

  [Sidenote] Lincoln to Hon. A. Jonas, July 21, 1860. MS.

So also in the summer of 1860, when his candidacy for President did
not permit his writing public letters, he wrote in a confidential note
to a friend: "Yours of the 20th is received. I suppose as good or even
better men than I may have been in American or Know-Nothing lodges;
but, in point of fact, I never was in one, at Quincy or elsewhere....
And now a word of caution. Our adversaries think they can gain a point
if they could force me to openly deny the charge, by which some degree
of offense would be given to the Americans. For this reason it must
not publicly appear that I am paying any attention to the charge."

  [Sidenote] Lincoln to Dr. Theodore Canisius, May 17, 1859.

His position on the main question involved was already sufficiently
understood; for in his elsewhere quoted letter of May 17, 1859, he had
declared himself against the adoption by Illinois, or any other place
where he had a right to oppose it, of the recent Massachusetts
constitutional provision restricting foreign-born citizens in the
right of suffrage. It is well to repeat the broad philosophical
principle which guided him to this conclusion: "Understanding the
spirit of our institutions to aim at the elevation of men, I am
opposed to whatever tends to degrade them."

[Illustration: JOHN BELL.]

As the campaign progressed the chances of the result underwent an
important fluctuation, involving some degree of uncertainty. The
Democratic disruption, and the presence of four tickets in the field,
rendered it possible that some very narrow plurality in one or more of
the States might turn the scale of victory. Calculating politicians,
especially those belonging to the party hitherto in power, and who had
enjoyed the benefits of its extensive Federal patronage, seized
eagerly upon this possibility as a means of prolonging their official
tenure, and showed themselves not unwilling to sacrifice the
principles of the general contest to the mere material and local
advantage which success would bring them.

  [Sidenote] Greeley, "American Conflict," Vol. I., p. 324.

Accordingly, in several States, and more notably in the great State of
New York, there was begun a quiet but unremitting effort to bring
about a coalition or "fusion," as it was termed, of the warring
Democratic factions, on the basis of a division of the spoils which
such a combination might hope to secure. Nor did the efforts stop
there. If the union of the two factions created the probability, the
union of three seemed to insure certainty, and the negotiations for a
coalition, therefore, extended to the adherents of Bell and Everett.
Amid the sharp contest of ideas and principles which divided the
country, such an arrangement was by no means easy; yet in a large
voting population there is always a percentage of party followers on
whom the obligations of party creeds sit lightly. Gradually, from talk
of individuals and speculations of newspapers, the intrigue proceeded
to a coquetting between rival conventions. Here the formal proceedings
encountered too much protest and indignation, and the scheme was
handed over to standing committees, who could deliberate and bargain
in secret. It must be stated to the credit of Douglas, that he
publicly rejected any alliance not based on his principle of
"non-intervention";[4] but the committees and managers cared little
for the disavowal. In due time they perfected their agreement that the
New York electoral ticket (numbering thirty-five) should be made up of
adherents of the three different factions in the following proportion:
Douglas, eighteen; Bell, ten; Breckinridge, seven. This agreement was
carried out, and the fusion ticket thus constituted was voted for at
the Presidential election by the combined opponents of Lincoln.

In Pennsylvania, notwithstanding that Douglas disapproved the scheme,
an agreement or movement of fusion also took place; but in this case
it did not become complete, and was not altogether carried out by the
parties to it, as in New York. The electoral ticket had been nominated
by the usual Democratic State Convention (March 1) prior to the
Charleston disruption, and, as it turned out, about one-third of these
nominees were favorable to Douglas. After the disruption, the Douglas
men also formed a straight, or Douglas, electoral ticket. In order to
unite the two wings at the October State election, the Executive
Committee of the original convention recommended (July 2) that the
electors first nominated should vote for Douglas if his election were
possible; if not, should vote for Breckinridge. A subsequent
resolution (August 9) recommended that the electors should vote for
either Douglas or Breckinridge, as the preponderance of Douglas or
Breckinridge votes in the State might indicate. On some implied
agreement of this character, not clearly defined or made public, the
Douglas, Breckinridge, and Bell factions voted together for governor
in October. Being beaten by a considerable majority at that election,
the impulse to fusion was greatly weakened. Finally, the original
Democratic State Committee rescinded (October 12) all its resolutions
of fusion, and the Douglas State Committee withdrew (October 18) its
straight Douglas ticket. This action left in the field the original
electoral ticket nominated by the Democratic State Convention at
Reading, prior to the Charleston Convention, untrammeled by any
instructions or agreements. It was nevertheless a fusion ticket in
part, because nine of the candidates (one-third of the whole number)
were pledged to Douglas. What share or promise the Bell faction had in
it was not made public. At the Presidential election it was voted for
by a large number of fusionists; but a portion of the Douglas men
voted straight for Douglas, and a portion of the Bell men straight for

  [Sidenote] Greeley, "American Conflict," Vol. I., p. 328.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., p. 328.

In New Jersey also a definite fusion agreement was reached between the
Bell, Breckinridge, and Douglas factions. An electoral ticket was
formed, composed of two adherents of Bell, two of Breckinridge, and
three of Douglas. This was the only State in which the fusion movement
produced any result in the election. It turned out that a considerable
fraction of the Douglas voters refused to be transferred by the
agreement which their local managers had entered into. They would not
vote for the two Bell men and the two Breckinridge men on the fusion
ticket, but ran a straight Douglas ticket, adopting the three electors
on the fusion ticket. By this turn of the canvass the three Douglas
electors whose names were on both tickets were chosen, but the
remainder of the fusion ticket was defeated, giving Lincoln four
electoral votes out of the seven in New Jersey. Some slight efforts
towards fusion were made in two or three other States, but
accomplished nothing worthy of note, and would have had no influence
on the result, even had it been consummated.

All these efforts to avert or postpone the grave political change
which was impending were of no avail. In the long six years' agitation
popular intelligence had ripened to conviction and determination.
Every voter substantially understood the several phases of the great
slavery issue, its abstract morality, its economic influence on
society, the intrigue of the Administration and the Senate to make
Kansas a slave-State, the judicial status of slavery as expounded in
the Dred Scott decision, the validity and the effect of the
fugitive-slave law, the question of the balance of political power as
involved in the choice between slavery extension and slavery
restriction--and, reaching beyond even this, the issue so clearly
presented by Lincoln whether the States ultimately should become all
slave or all free. In the whole history of American polities the
voters of the United States never pronounced a more deliberate
judgment than that which they recorded upon these grave questions at
the Presidential election in November, 1860.

From much doubt and uncertainty at its beginning, the campaign swept
onward through the summer months, first to a probability, then to an
assurance of Republican success. In September the State of Maine
elected a Republican governor by 18,000 majority. In October the
pivotal States gave decisive Republican majorities: Pennsylvania
32,000 for governor, Indiana nearly 10,000 for governor, and Ohio
12,000 for State ticket and 27,000 on Congressmen. Politicians
generally conceded that the vote in these States clearly foreshadowed
Lincoln's election. The prophecy not only proved correct, but the tide
of popular conviction and enthusiasm, rising still higher, carried to
his support other States which were yet considered uncertain.

The Presidential election occurred on November 6,1860. In seventeen of
the free-States--namely, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode
Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana,
Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, California, and
Oregon--all the Lincoln electors were chosen. In one of the
free-States (New Jersey) the choice resulted in 4 electors for Lincoln
and 3 for Douglas, as already explained. This assured Lincoln of the
votes of 180 Presidential electors, or a majority of 57 in the whole
electoral college. The 15 slave-States were divided between the other
three candidates. Eleven of them--Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware,
Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina,
South Carolina, and Texas--chose Breckinridge electors, 72 in all.
Three of them--Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia--chose Bell electors,
39 in all; and one of them--Missouri--Douglas electors, 9 in number,
which, together with the 3 he received in the free-State of New
Jersey, gave him 12 in all: the aggregate of all the electors opposed
to Lincoln being 123.

The will of the people as expressed in this popular vote was in due
time carried into execution. As the law prescribes, the Presidential
electors met in their several States on the 5th of December, and cast
their official votes according to the above enumeration. And on the
13th of February, 1861, the Congress of the United States in joint
session made the official count, and declared that Abraham Lincoln,
having received a majority of the votes of Presidential electors, was
duly elected President of the United States for four years, beginning
March 4, 1861.

One feature of the result must not be omitted. Many careless observers
felt at the time that the success of Lincoln was due entirely to the
fact of there having been three opposing candidates in the field; or,
in other words, to the dissensions in the Democratic party, which
divided its vote between Breckinridge and Douglas. What merely moral
strength the Democratic party would have gained had it remained
united, it is impossible to estimate. Such a supposition can only be
based on the absence of the extreme Southern doctrines concerning
slavery. Given the presence of those doctrines in the canvass, no
hypothesis can furnish a result different from that which occurred. In
the contest upon the questions as they existed, the victory of Lincoln
was certain. If all the votes given to all the opposing candidates had
been concentrated and cast for a "fusion ticket," as was wholly or
partly done in five States, the result would have been changed nowhere
except in New Jersey, California, and Oregon; Lincoln would still have
received but 11 fewer, or 169 electoral votes--majority of 35 in the
entire electoral college. It was a contest of ideas, not of persons or
parties. The choice was not only free, but distinct and definite. The
voter was not, as sometimes happens, compelled to an imperfect or
partial expression of his will. The four platforms and candidates
offered him an unusual variety of modes of political action. Among
them the voters by undisputed constitutional majorities, in orderly,
legal, and unquestioned proceedings, chose the candidate whose
platform pronounced the final popular verdict that slavery should not
be extended, and whose election unchangeably transferred the balance
of power to the free-States.

[1] Benjamin Fitzpatrick, of Alabama, had been nominated at Baltimore,
but he declined the nomination, and the National Committee substituted
the name of Herschel V. Johnson.

[2] "In my opinion there is a mature plan throughout the Southern
States to break up the Union. I believe the election of a Republican
is to be the signal for that attempt, and that the leaders of the
scheme desire the election of Lincoln so as to have an excuse for
disunion. I do not believe that every Breckinridge man is a
disunionist, but I do believe that every disunionist in America is a
Breckinridge man."--Douglas, Baltimore Speech, Sept. 6, 1860.

[3] We condense the following account of the origin of the "Wide
Awakes" from memoranda kindly furnished us by William P. Fuller, one
of the editors of the Hartford "Courant" in 1860, Major J.C. Kinney,
at present connected with the paper, and General Joseph R. Hawley, the
principal editor, now United States Senator from Connecticut, and who
in 1860 marched in the ranks in the first "Wide Awake" parades.

The "Wide Awake" organization grew out of the first campaign meeting
in Hartford on February 25, 1860--State election campaign. Hon. Cassius
M. Clay was the speaker, and after the meeting was escorted to the
Allyn House by a torch-light parade. Two of the young men who were to
carry torches, D.G. Francis and H.P. Blair, being dry goods clerks, in
order to protect their clothing from dust and the oil liable to fall
from the torches, had prepared capes of black cambric, which they wore
in connection, with the glazed caps commonly worn at the time. Colonel
George P. Bissell, who was marshal, noticing the uniform, put the
wearers in front, where the novelty of the rig and its double
advantage of utility and show attracted much attention. It was at once
proposed to form a campaign club of fifty torch-bearers with glazed
caps and oil-cloth capes instead of cambric; the torch-bearing club to
be "auxiliary to the Young Men's Republican Union." A meeting to
organize formally was appointed for March 6; but before the new
uniforms were all ready, Abraham Lincoln addressed a meeting in
Hartford on the evening of March 5. After his speech, the cape-wearers
of the previous meeting with a number of others who had secured their
uniforms escorted Mr. Lincoln to the hotel.

The club was definitely organized on the following night. William
P. Fuller, city editor, had, in noticing this meeting for organization,
written in the "Courant" of March 3: "THE WIDE AWAKES.--The Republican
club-room last evening was filled as usual with those who are going to
partake in the great Republican triumph, in this State in April next,"
etc., etc. The name "Wide Awakes" was here applied to the Republican
Young Men's Union, torch-bearers included; but at the meeting of March
6, the torch-bearers appropriated it by making it the distinctive
title to their own special organization, which almost immediately,
there as elsewhere, swallowed up the names and the memberships of
other Republican clubs. Just one year after they escorted Mr. Lincoln
in their first parade, he was inaugurated President of the United

[4] "I will give you my opinion as to fusion. I think that every man
[_sic_] who believes that slavery ought to be banished from the halls
of Congress, and remanded to the people of the Territories subject to
the Constitution, ought to fuse and act together; but that no Democrat
can, without dishonor, and forfeiture of self-respect and principle,
fuse with anybody who is in favor of intervention, either for slavery
or against slavery. Lincoln and Breckinridge might fuse, for they
agree in principle. I can never fuse with either of them, because I
differ from both. I am in favor of all men acting together who are
opposed to this slavery agitation, and in favor of banishing it from
Congress forever; but as Democrats we can never fuse, either with
Northern abolitionists, or Southern bolters and secessionists."--Douglas,
Speech at Erie, Penn., New York "Tribune," October 3, 1860, p. 4.

[5] The vote in Pennsylvania stood: Lincoln, 268,030; Breckinridge
(nominally), 178,871; Douglas, 16,765; Bell, 12,776.



Disunion was not a fungus of recent growth in American politics. Talk
of disunion, threats of disunion, accusations of intentions of
disunion, lie scattered rather plentifully through the political
literature of the country from the very formation of the Government.
In fact, the present Constitution of the United States was strenuously
opposed by large political factions, and, it may almost be said,
succeeded by only a hair's-breadth. That original opposition
perpetuated itself in some degree in the form of doubts of its
duration and prophecies of its failure. The same dissatisfaction and
restlessness resulted in early and important amendments, but these did
not satisfy all dissenters and doubters. Immediate and profound
conflict of opinion sprang up over the administration and policy of
the new Government; active political parties and hot discussion arose,
the one side proclaiming that it was too strong, the other asserting
that it was too weak, to endure.

Before public opinion was well consolidated, the war of 1812 produced
new complaints and new opposition, out of which grew the famous
Hartford Convention. It has been charged and denied that this was a
movement of disunion and rebellion. The exact fact is not important in
our day; it is enough that it was a sign of deep political unrest and
of shallow public faith. Passing by lesser manifestations of the same
character, we come to the eventful nullification proceeding in South
Carolina in the year 1832. Here was a formal legislative repudiation
of Federal authority with a reserved threat of forcible resistance. At
this point disunion was in full flower, and the terms nullification,
secession, treason, rebellion, revolution, coercion, constitute the
current political vocabulary. Take up a political speech of that
period, change the names and dates, and the reader can easily imagine
himself among the angry controversies of the winter of 1860.

Nullification was half-throttled by Jackson's proclamation,
half-quieted by Clay's compromise. But from that time forward the
phraseology and the spirit of disunion became constant factors in
Congressional debate and legislation. In 1850, it broke out to an
extent and with an intensity never before reached. This time it
enveloped the whole country, and many of the wisest and best statesmen
believed civil war at hand. The compromise measures of 1850 finally
subdued the storm; but not till the serious beginning of a secession
movement had been developed and put down, both by the general
condemnation of the whole country, and the direct vote of a union
majority in the localities where it took its rise.

Among these compromise acts of 1850 was the admission of California as
a free-State. The gold discoveries had suddenly filled it with
population, making the usual probation as a Territory altogether
needless. A considerable part of the State lay south of the line of
36º, 30', and the pro-slavery extremists had demanded that it should
be divided into two States--one to be a free and the other to be a
slave-State--in order to preserve the political balance between the
sections, in the United States Senate. This being refused, they not
only violently opposed the compromise measures, but organized a
movement for resistance in South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi,
demanding redress, and threatening secession if it were not accorded.
A popular contest on this issue followed in 1851 in these States, in
which the ultra-secession party was signally overthrown. It submitted
sullenly to its defeat; leaving, as always before, a considerable
faction unsatisfied and implacable, only awaiting a new opportunity to
start a new disturbance. This new opportunity arose in the slavery
agitation, beginning with the repeal of the Missouri Compromise in
1854, and ending with the election of Lincoln. Daring this six years'
controversy, disunion was kept in the background because the
pro-slavery party had continual and sanguine hope of ultimate triumph.
It did not despair of success until the actual election of Lincoln, on
the 6th of November, 1860; consequently, even in the Southern States,
as a rule, disunion was frowned upon till near the end of the
Presidential campaign, and only paraded as an evil to be feared, not
as a thing to be desired.

This aspect, however, was superficial. Under the surface, a small but
determined disunion conspiracy was actively at work. It has left few
historical traces; but in 1856 distinct evidence begins to crop out.
There was a possibility, though not a probability, that Frémont might
be elected President; and this contingency the conspirators proposed
to utilize by beginning a rebellion. A letter from the Governor of
Virginia to the Governors of Maryland and other States is sufficient
proof of such an intent, even without the evidence of later history.

    RICHMOND, VA., Sept. 15, 1856.

    DEAR SIR: Events are approaching which address themselves to your
    responsibilities and to mine as chief Executives of slave-holding
    States. Contingencies may soon happen which would require
    preparation for the worst of evils to the people. Ought we not to
    admonish ourselves by joint council of the extraordinary duties
    which may devolve upon us from the dangers which so palpably
    threaten our common peace and safety? When, how, or to what extent
    may we act, separately or unitedly, to ward off dangers if we can,
    to meet them most effectually if we must?

    I propose that, as early as convenient, the Governors of Maryland,
    Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida,
    Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee
    shall assemble at Raleigh, N.C., for the purpose generally of
    consultation upon the state of the country, upon the best means of
    preserving its peace, and especially of protecting the honor and
    interests of the slave-holding States. I have addressed the States
    only having Democratic Executives, for obvious reasons.

    This should be done as early as possible before the Presidential
    election, and I would suggest Monday, the 13th of October next.
    Will you please give me an early answer, and oblige,

    Yours most truly and respectfully,


    His Excellency Thomas W. Ligon,
    Governor of Maryland.

If any explanation were needed of the evident purpose of this letter,
or of the proposed meeting, it may be found in the following from
Senator Mason, of Virginia, to Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, who
was at the time Secretary of War under President Pierce:

  [Sidenote] O.J. Victor, "American Conspiracies," p. 520.

    SELMA, NEAR WINCHESTER, Va., Sept. 30, 1856.

    MY DEAR SIR: I have a letter from Wise, of the 27th, full of
    spirit. He says the Governors of North Carolina, South Carolina,
    and Louisiana have already agreed to rendezvous at Raleigh, and
    others will--this in your most private ear. He says, further, that
    he had officially requested you to exchange with Virginia, on fair
    terms of difference, percussion for flint muskets. I don't know
    the usage or power of the department In such cases, but if it can
    be done, even by liberal construction, I hope you will accede. Was
    there not an appropriation at the last session for converting
    flint into percussion arms? If so, would it not furnish good
    reason for extending such facilities to the States? Virginia
    probably has more arms than the other Southern States, and would
    divide, in case of need. In a letter yesterday to a committee in
    South Carolina, I give it as my judgment, in the event of
    Frémont's election, the South should not pause, but proceed at
    once to "immediate, absolute, and eternal separation." So I am a
    candidate for the first halter.

    Wise says his accounts from Philadelphia are cheering for old Buck
    in Pennsylvania. I hope they be not delusive. _Vale et Salute_

    J.M. MASON.

    Colonel Davis.

In these letters we have an exact counterpart of the later and
successful efforts of these identical conspirators, conjointly with
others, to initiate rebellion. When the Senatorial campaign of 1858
between Lincoln and Douglas was at its height, there was printed in
the public journals of the Southern States the following extraordinary
letter, which at once challenged the attention of the whole reading
public of the country, and became known by the universal stigma of
"The Scarlet Letter." In the light of after events it was both a
revelation and a prophecy:

  [Sidenote] Quoted in Appendix to "Globe" for 1859-60, p. 313.

    MONTGOMERY, June 15, 1858.

    DEAR SIR: Your kind favor of the 15th is received. I heartily
    agree with you that [no] general movement can be made that will
    clean out the Augean stable. If the Democracy were overthrown, it
    would result in giving place to a greater and hungrier swarm of

    The remedy of the South is not in such a process. It is in a
    diligent organization of her true men for prompt resistance to the
    next aggression. It must come in the nature of things. No national
    party can save us; no sectional party can ever do it. But if we
    could do as our fathers did--organize "committees of safety" all
    over the Cotton States (it is only in them that we can hope for
    any effective movement)--we shall fire the Southern heart,
    instruct the Southern mind, give courage to each other, and at
    the proper moment, by one organized concerted action, we can
    precipitate the Cotton States into a revolution.

    The idea has been shadowed forth in the South by Mr. Ruffin; has
    been taken up and recommended in the "Advertiser" (published at
    Montgomery, Alabama), under the name of "League of United
    Southerners," who, keeping up their old party relations on all
    other questions, will hold the Southern issue paramount, and will
    influence parties, legislatures, and statesmen. I have no time to
    enlarge, but to suggest merely.

    In haste, yours, etc.,


    To James Slaughter, Esq.

The writer of this "Scarlet Letter" had long been known to the country
as a prominent politician of Alabama, affiliated with the Democratic
party, having once represented a district of that State in Congress,
and of late years the most active, pronounced, and conspicuous
disunionist in the South. In so far as this publication concerned
himself, it was no surprise to the public; but the project of an
organized conspiracy had never before been broached with such
matter-of-fact confidence.[1]

An almost universal condemnation by the public press reassured the
startled country that the author of this revolutionary epistle was one
of the confirmed "fire-eaters" who were known and admitted to exist
in the South, but whose numbers, it was alleged, were too insignificant
to excite the most distant apprehension.

The letter was everywhere copied, its author denounced, and his
proposal to "precipitate the Cotton States into a revolution" held up
to public execration. Mr. Yancey immediately printed a statement
deploring the betrayal of personal confidence in its publication, and
to modifiy[2] the obnoxious declaration by a long and labored
argument. But in the course of this explanation he furnished
additional proof of the deep conspiracy disclosed by the "Scarlet
Letter." He made mention of "A well-considered Southern policy, a
policy which has been digested, and understood, and approved by the
ablest men in Virginia, as you yourselves must be aware," to the
effect that while the Cotton States should begin rebellion, "Virginia
and the other border States should remain in the Union," where, by
their position and their counsels, they would form a protecting
barrier to the proposed separation. "In the event of the movement
being successful," he continued, "in time Virginia and the other
border States that desired it could join the Southern Confederacy."

Less than ordinary uncertainty hung over the final issue of the
Presidential campaign of 1860. To popular apprehension the election of
Lincoln became more and more probable. The active competition for
votes by four Presidential tickets greatly increased his chances of
success; and the verdict of the October elections appeared to all
sagacious politicians to render his choice a practical certainty.
Sanguine partisans, however, clung tenaciously to their favorites, and
continued to hope against hope, and work against fate. This
circumstance produced a deplorable result in the South. Under the
shadow of impending defeat the Democrats of the Cotton States made the
final months of the canvass quite as much a threat against Lincoln as
a plea for Breckinridge. This preaching of secession seemed to shallow
minds harmless election buncombe; but when the contingency finally
arrived, and the choice of Lincoln became a real event, they found
themselves already in a measure pledged to resistance. They had vowed
they would never submit; and now, with many, the mere pride of
consistency moved them to adhere to an ill-considered declaration. The
sting of defeat intensified their resentment, and in this irritated
frame of mind the secession demagogues among them lured them on
skillfully into the rising tide of revolution.

In proportion to her numbers, the State of South Carolina furnished
the largest contingent to the faction of active conspirators; and to
her, by a common consent, were accorded the dangers and honors of
leadership. Since conspiracies work in secret, only fragmentary proofs
of their efforts ever come to light. Though probably only one of the
many early agencies in organizing the rebellion, the following
circular reveals in a startling light what labor and system were
employed to "fire the Southern heart" after the November election:

[Illustration: GENERAL HENRY A. WISE.]

  [Sidenote] O.J. Victor, "History of the Southern Rebellion." Vol. I.,
  p. 203.

    CHARLESTON, Nov. 19, 1860.
    EXECUTIVE CHAMBER, "The 1860 Association."

    In September last, several gentlemen of Charleston met to confer
    in reference to the position of the South in the event of the
    accession of Mr. Lincoln and the Republican party to power. This
    informal meeting was the origin of the organization known in this
    community as "The 1860 Association."

    The objects of the Association are:

    _First_. To conduct a correspondence with leading men in the South
    and by an interchange of information and views prepare the
    slave-States to meet the impending crisis.

    _Second_. To prepare, print, and distribute in the slave States,
    tracts, pamphlets, etc., designed to awaken them to a conviction
    of their danger, and to urge the necessity of resisting Northern
    and Federal aggression.

    _Third_. To inquire into the defenses of the State, and to collect
    and arrange information which may aid the Legislature to establish
    promptly an effective military organization.

    To effect these objects a brief and simple Constitution was
    adopted, creating a President, a Secretary and Treasurer, and an
    Executive Committee specially charged with conducting the business
    of the Association. One hundred and sixty-six thousand pamphlets
    have been published, and demands for further supplies are received
    from every quarter. The Association is now passing several of them
    through a second and third edition.

    The conventions in several of the Southern States will soon be
    elected. The North is preparing to soothe and conciliate the South
    by disclaimers and overtures. The success of this policy would be
    disastrous to the cause of Southern Union and Independence, and it
    is necessary to resist and defeat it. The Association is preparing
    pamphlets with this special object. Funds are necessary to enable
    it to act promptly. "The 1860 Association" is laboring for the
    South, and asks your aid.

    I am, very respectfully your obedient servant,

    Chairman of the Executive Committee.

The half-public endeavors of "The 1860 Association" to create public
sentiment were vigorously seconded by the efforts of high official
personages to set on foot concerted official action in aid of
disunion. In this also, with becoming expressions of modesty, South
Carolina took the initiative. On the 5th of October, Governor Gist
wrote the following confidential letter, which he dispatched by a
secret agent to his colleagues, the several Governors of the Cotton
States, whom the bearer, General S.R. Gist, visited in turn during
that month of October.

The responses to this inquiry given by the Executives of the other
Cotton States were not all that so ardent a disunionist could have
wished, but were yet sufficient to prompt him to a further advance.

  [Sidenote] MS. Confederate Archives, U.S. War Department.

    UNIONVILLE, S.C., Oct. 5, 1860.

    DEAR SIR: The great probability, nay almost certainty, of Abraham
    Lincoln's election to the Presidency renders it important that
    there should be a full and free interchange of opinion between the
    Executives of the Southern, and more especially the Cotton,
    States, and while I unreservedly give you my views and the
    probable action of my State, I shall be much pleased to hear from
    you; that there may be concert of action, which is so essential to
    success. Although I will consider your communication confidential,
    and wish you so to consider mine so far as publishing in the
    newspapers is concerned, yet the information, of course, will be
    of no service to me unless I can submit it to reliable and leading
    men in consultation for the safety of our State and the South; and
    will only use it in this way. It is the desire of South Carolina
    that some other State should take the lead, or at least move
    simultaneously with her. She will unquestionably call a convention
    as soon as it is ascertained that a majority of the electors will
    support Lincoln. If a single State secedes, she will follow her.
    If no other State takes the lead, South Carolina will secede (in
    my opinion) alone, if she has any assurance that she will be soon
    followed by another or other States; otherwise it is doubtful. If
    you decide to call a convention upon the election of a majority of
    electors favorable to Lincoln, I desire to know the day you
    propose for the meeting, that we may call our convention to meet
    the same day, if possible. If your State will propose any other
    remedy, please inform me what it will probably be, and any other
    information you will be pleased to give me.

    With great respect and consideration,

    I am yours, etc.,

    Wm. H. Gist.

    Governor Thos. O. Moore.

  [Sidenote] MS. Confederate Archives.

    RALEIGH, N.C., Oct. 18, 1860.

    DEAR SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your
    favor of the 5th, which reached me on the 12th inst.

    In compliance with your request, I will give as accurately as it
    is in my power to do the views and feelings of the people of North
    Carolina upon the important subject of your communication.

    Political differences and party strife have run so high in this
    State for some years past, and particularly during the past nine
    months, that anything like unanimity upon any question of a public
    nature could scarcely be expected; and such is the case with the
    one under consideration. Our people are very far from being agreed
    as to what action the State should take in the event of Lincoln's
    election to the Presidency. Some favor submission, some resistance,
    and others still would await the course of events that might
    follow. Many argue that he would be powerless for evil with a
    minority party in the Senate, and perhaps in the House of
    Representatives also; while others say, and doubtless with entire
    sincerity, that the placing of the power of the Federal Government
    in his hands would prove a fatal blow to the institution of negro
    slavery in this country.

    None of our public speakers, I believe, have taken the ground
    before the people that the election of Lincoln would, of itself,
    be a cause of secession. Many have said it would not, while others
    have spoken equivocally.

    Upon the whole I am decidedly of opinion that a majority of our
    people would not consider the occurrence of the event referred to
    as sufficient ground for dissolving the union of the States. For
    which reason I do not suppose that our Legislature, which will
    meet on the 19th prox., will take any steps in that direction--such,
    for instance, as the calling of a convention.

    Thus, sir, I have given you what I conceive to be the sentiment of
    our people upon the subject of your letter, and I give it as an
    existing fact, without comment as to whether the majority be in
    error or not.

    My own opinions, as an individual, are of little moment. It will be
    sufficient to say, that as a States-Rights man, believing in the
    sovereignty and reserved powers of the States, I will conform my
    actions to the action of North Carolina, whatever that may be. To
    this general observation I will make but a single qualification--it
    is this: I could not in any event assent to, or give my aid to, a
    political enforcement of the monstrous doctrine of coercion. I do
    not for a moment think that North Carolina would become a party
    to the enforcement of this doctrine, and will not therefore do
    her the injustice of placing her in that position, even though

    With much respect, I have the honor to be,

    Your ob't. serv't,


    His Excellency William H. Gist,
    Governor of South Carolina

  [Sidenote] MS. Confederate Archives.

    ALEXANDRIA, LA., 26th October, 1860.

    DEAR SIR: Your favor of the 5th inst. was received a few days ago
    at this place. I regret my inability to consult with as many of
    our leading citizens as I wished, but I will not delay in replying
    any longer. You will (of course) consider my letter as private,
    except for use in consultation with friends.
    I shall not call a convention in this State if Lincoln is elected,
    because I have no power or authority to do so. I infer from your
    letter that an authority has been vested in you by your
    Legislature to call a convention in a specified contingency. Our
    Legislature has taken no action of that or any similar kind. That
    body will meet in regular annual session about the middle of
    January; but it is not improbable that I may consider it necessary
    to convene it at an earlier day, if the complexion of the
    electoral colleges shall indicate the election of Lincoln.

    Even if that deplorable event shall be the result of the coming
    election, I shall not advise the secession of my State, and I will
    add that I do not think the people of Louisiana will ultimately
    decide in favor of that course. I shall recommend that Louisiana
    meet her sister slaveholding States in council to consult as to
    the proper course to be pursued, and to endeavor to effect a
    complete harmony of action. I fear that this harmony of action, so
    desirable in so grave an emergency, cannot be effected. Some of
    the Cotton States will pursue a more radical policy than will be
    palatable to the border States, but this only increases the
    necessity of convening the consultative body of which I have
    spoken. I believe in the right of secession for just cause, of
    which the sovereignty must itself be the judge. If therefore the
    general Government shall attempt to coerce a State, and forcibly
    attempt the exercise of this right, I should certainly sustain the
    State in such a contest.

    There has never been any indication made by Louisiana, or by any
    public body within her limits, of her probable course in the event
    of an election of a Black Republican President, and she is totally
    unprepared for any warlike measures. Her arsenals are empty. While
    some of her sister States have been preparing for an emergency,
    which I fear is now imminent, she has been negligent in this
    important matter.

    If coming events should render necessary the convocation of the
    Southern Convention, I shall endeavor to compose the
    representation of Louisiana of her ablest and most prudent men, if
    the power shall be vested in me to appoint them. However, I
    presume the Legislature will adopt some other course in the
    appointments. The recommendations of such a body assembled in such
    a crisis must necessarily carry great weight, and if subsequently
    ratified and adopted by each State by proper authority, will
    present the South in united and harmonious action.

    I have the honor to be your Excellency's ob't serv't


  [Sidenote] MS. Ibid.

    MACON, Oct. 26, 1860.

    DEAR SIR: Your letter of Oct. 5 was handed me by General Gist.
    Having but few moments to reply, I write this more to acknowledge
    its receipt than to reply to its contents. Our friends in this
    State are willing to do anything they may have the power to do to
    prevent the State from passing under the Black Republican yoke.
    Our people know this, and seem to approve such sentiments, yet I
    do not believe Mississippi can move alone.

    I will call our Legislature in extra session as soon as it is
    known that the Black Republicans have carried the election. I
    expect Mississippi will ask a council of the Southern States, and
    if that council advise secession, Mississippi will go with them.
    If any State moves, I think Mississippi will go with her. I will
    write at length from Jackson.

    Yours respectfully,


  [Sidenote] MS. Confederate Archives.


    DEAR SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your
    favor by the hand of General Grist, with whom I have had a free
    interchange of opinions. In the event of the election of
    Mr. Lincoln to the Presidency I have no doubt that Georgia will
    determine her action by a convention of the people, which will
    probably be held before the 4th day of March next. Her
    Legislature, which convenes here next Wednesday, will have to
    determine on the time when the convention shall be held. My
    opinion is that the people of Georgia will, in case of the
    election of Lincoln, decide to meet all the Southern States in
    convention and take common action for the protection of the rights
    of all. Events not yet foreseen may change their course and might
    lead to action on the part of Georgia without waiting for all the
    Southern States, if it should be found necessary to her safety. I
    have handed General Gist a copy of my message on our Federal
    relations, which will be sent to our Legislature on the first day
    of the session. I send only the forms from the press as it is just
    being put in type. I may make some immaterial alterations before
    it is completed. If your State remains in the Union, I should be
    pleased that she would adopt such retaliatory measures as I
    recommend in the message, or others which you may determine to be
    more appropriate. I think Georgia will pass retaliatory laws
    similar to those I recommend, should Lincoln be defeated. Should
    the question be submitted to the people of Georgia, whether they
    would go out of the Union on Lincoln's election without regard to
    the action of other States, my opinion is they would determine to
    wait for an overt act. The action of other States may greatly
    influence the action of the people of this State. This letter is
    not intended for publication in the newspapers, and has been very
    hastily prepared.

    I have the honor to be your Excellency's

    Ob't serv't,


  [Sidenote] MS. Confederate Archives.

    MONTGOMERY, ALA., October 25, 1860.

    DEAR SIR: Your letter of the 5th inst. was handed me a few days
    since by General Gist. I fully concur with you in the opinion that
    Lincoln will be elected President, and that a full and free
    interchange of opinion between the Executives of the Southern
    States, and especially of the Cotton States, should be had as to
    what ought to be done and what will be done by them to protect the
    interest and honor of the slave-holding States in the event he
    should be elected.

    My opinion is, that the election of Lincoln alone is not
    sufficient cause for a dissolution of the Union; but that fact,
    when taken in connection with the avowed objects and intentions of
    the party whose candidate he is, and the overt acts already
    committed by that party in nullifying the fugitive-slave law, and
    the enactment of personal liberty bills in many of the
    non-slave-holding States, with other acts of like kind, is
    sufficient cause for dissolving every tie which binds the Southern
    States to the Union.

    It is my opinion that Alabama will not secede alone, but if two or
    more States will coöperate with her, she will secede with them; or
    if South Carolina or any other Southern State should go out alone
    and the Federal Government should attempt to use force against
    her, Alabama will immediately rally to her rescue.

    The opinions above expressed are predicated upon observation and
    consultation with a number of our most distinguished statesmen.
    The opinion thus expressed is not intended as a positive
    assurance, but is my best impression as to what will be the course
    of Alabama. Should Lincoln be elected, I shall certainly call a
    convention under the provisions of the resolutions of the last
    General Assembly of the State. The convention cannot be convened
    earlier than the first Monday in February next, and I have fixed
    upon that day (in my own mind). The vote of the electors will be
    cast for President on the 5th day of December, after which it will
    require a few days to ascertain the result. Thirty days' notice
    will have to be given after the day upon which, the delegates to
    the convention will be elected, and the convention is required to
    convene in two weeks after the election. This is not a matter of
    discretion with me, but is fixed by law. I regret that earlier
    action cannot be had, as it may be a matter of much importance
    that all the States that may determine to withdraw from the Union
    should act before the expiration of Mr. Buchanan's term of service.

    The facts and opinions herein communicated you are at liberty to
    make known to those with whom you may choose to confer, but they
    are not to be published in the newspapers.

    I have had a full and free conversation with General Gist, the
    substance of which is contained in this letter. He will, however,
    give it to you more in detail. It is my opinion that all the
    States that may determine to take action upon the election of
    Lincoln should call a convention as soon as practicable after the
    result is known.

    With great respect, your ob't serv't,

    B. MOORE.

  [Sidenote] MS. Confederate Archives.


    DEAR SIR: Your communication of the 5th ultimo reached me per last
    mail under cover from General States Rights Gist, with an
    explanatory note from that gentleman in relation to the
    subject-matters thereof.

    The mode employed by your Excellency to collect authoritatively
    the views of several of the Executives of the Southern States as
    to their plan of action in the event of the election of Lincoln,
    commends itself warmly to my judgment. Concert of action can alone
    be arrived at by a full and free interchange of opinion between
    the Executives of the Cotton States, by whom it is confidently
    expected that the ball will be put in motion.

    We are in the midst of grave events, and I have industriously
    sought to learn the public mind in this State in the event of the
    election of Lincoln, and am proud to say Florida is ready to wheel
    into line with the gallant Palmetto State, or any other Cotton
    State or States, in any course which she or they may in their
    judgment think proper to adopt, looking to the vindication and
    maintenance of the rights, interest, honor, and safety of the
    South. Florida may be unwilling to subject herself to the charge
    of temerity or immodesty by leading off, but will most assuredly
    cooperate with or follow the lead of any single Cotton State which
    may secede. Whatever doubts I may have entertained upon this
    subject have been entirely dissipated by the recent elections in
    this State.

    Florida will most unquestionably call a convention as soon as it
    is ascertained that a majority of the electors favor the election
    of Lincoln, to meet most likely upon a day to be suggested by some
    other State.

    I leave to-day for the capital, and will write you soon after my
    arrival, but would be pleased in the mean time to hear from you at
    your earliest convenience.

    If there is sufficient manliness at the South to strike for our
    rights, honor, and safety, in God's name let it be done before the
    inauguration of Lincoln.

    With high regard, I am yours, etc.,

    M.S. PERRY

    Direct to Tallahassee.

    P.S. I have written General Gist at Union C.H.

Two agencies have thus far been described as engaged in the work of
fomenting the rebellion: the first, secret societies of individuals,
like "The 1860 Association," designed to excite the masses and create
public sentiment; the second, a secret league of Southern governors
and other State functionaries, whose mission it became to employ the
governmental machinery of States in furtherance of the plot. These,
though formidable and dangerous, would probably have failed, either
singly or combined, had they not been assisted by a third of still
greater efficacy and certainty. This was nothing less than a conspiracy
in the very bosom of the National Administration at Washington,
embracing many United States Senators, Representatives in Congress,
three members of the President's Cabinet, and numerous subordinate
officials in the several Executive departments. The special work
which this powerful central cabal undertook by common consent, and
successfully accomplished, was to divert Federal arms and forts to the
use of the rebellion, and to protect and shield the revolt from any
adverse influence, or preventive or destructive action of the general

[1] As an evidence of the disunion combination which lay like smoldering
embers under the surface of Southern politics, it is instructive to read
an extract from a hitherto unpublished letter from Governor Henry A.
Wise, of Virginia, to a gentleman in Philadelphia, for a copy of which
we are indebted to General Duncan S. Walker. The other letter of
Wise--previously quoted--shows us his part and interest in the proposed
conspiracy against Frémont; but the erratic Governor had, after the
lapse of nearly two years, become an anti-Lecompton-Douglasite, and was
ready to give confidential warning of designs with which he was only
too familiar. As this was written nearly three weeks before Yancey's
"Scarlet Letter," its concurrent testimony is of special significance
as proof of the chronic conspiracy:

  "RICHMOND, VA., "May 28, 1858.

  "... The truth is that there is in the South an organized,
  active, and dangerous faction, embracing most of the Federal
  politicians, who are bent upon bringing about causes of a
  dissolution of the Union. They desire a united South, "but not a
  united country. Their hope of embodying a sectional antagonism is
  to secure a sectional defeat. At heart, they do not wish the
  Democracy to be any longer national, united, or successful. In
  the name of Democracy they propose to make a nomination for 1860,
  at Charleston; but an ultra nomination of an extremist on the
  slavery issue alone, to unite the South on that one idea, and on
  that to have it defeated by a line of sectionalism which will
  inevitably draw swords between fanatics on one side and
  fire-eaters on the other. Bear it in mind, then, that they desire
  to control a nomination for no other purpose than to have it
  defeated by a line of sections. They desire defeat, for no other
  end than to make a pretext for the clamor of dissolution....

  "Yours truly,


[2] "I am a secessionist and not a revolutionist, and would not
'precipitate,' but carefully prepare to meet an inevitable dissolution."
--Yancey to Pryor, "Richmond South," copied in "National Intelligencer,"
September 4, 1858.



Very soon after the effort to unite the Cotton-State governors in the
revolutionary plot, we find the local conspiracy at Charleston in
communication with the central secession cabal at Washington. James
Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, was still President of the United States,
and his Cabinet consisted of the following members: Lewis Cass, of
Michigan, Secretary of State; Howell Cobb, of Georgia, Secretary of
the Treasury; John B. Floyd, of Virginia, Secretary of War; Isaac
Toucey, of Connecticut, Secretary of the Navy; Jacob Thompson, of
Mississippi, Secretary of the Interior; Joseph Holt, of Kentucky,
Postmaster-General; and Jeremiah S. Black, of Pennsylvania,
Attorney-General. It was in and about this Cabinet that the central
cabal formed itself. Even if we could know in detail the successive
steps that led to the establishment of this intercourse, which so
quickly became "both semi-official and confidential," it could add
nothing to the force of the principal fact that the conspiracy was in
its earliest stages efficient in perverting the resources and
instrumentalities of the Government of the United States to its
destruction. That a United States Senator, a Secretary of War, an
Assistant Secretary of State, and no doubt sundry minor functionaries,
were already then, from six to eight weeks before any pretense of
secession, with, "malice aforethought" organizing armed resistance to
the Constitution and laws they had sworn to support, stands forth in
the following correspondence too plainly to be misunderstood. As a
fitting preface to this correspondence, a few short paragraphs may be
quoted from the private diary of the Secretary of War, from which
longer and more important extracts appear in a subsequent chapter.
Those at present quoted are designed more especially to show the names
of the persons composing the primary group of this central cabal, and
the time and place of their early consultations and activity.


November 8, 1860 ... I had a long conversation to-day with General
Lane, the candidate for Vice-President on the ticket with
Mr. Breckinridge. He was grave and extremely earnest; said that
resistance to the anti-slavery feeling of the North was hopeless, and
that nothing was left to the South but "resistance or dishonor"; that
if the South failed to act with promptness and decision in vindication
of her rights, she would have to make up her mind to give up first her
honor and then her slaves. He thought disunion inevitable, and said
when the hour came that his services could be useful, he would offer
them unhesitatingly to the South. I called to see the President this
evening, but found him at the State Department engaged upon his
message, and did not see him. Miss Lane returned last evening from
Philadelphia, where she had been for some time on a visit. Mr. W.H.
Trescott, Assistant Secretary of State, called to see me this evening,
and conversed at length upon the condition of things in South
Carolina, of which State he is a native. He expressed no sort of doubt
whatever of his State separating from the Union. He brought me a
letter from Mr. Drayton, the agent of the State, proposing to buy ten
thousand muskets for the use of the State....

November 10 ... Beach, Thompson, and Cobb came over with me from
Cabinet and staid, taking informally a family dinner. The party was
free and communicative; Toucey would not stay for dinner. Mr. Pickens,
late Minister to Russia, came in after dinner with Mr. Trescott,
Assistant Secretary of State, and sat an hour, talking about the
distracted state of public feeling at the South. He seemed to think
the time had come for decisive measures to be taken by the South.

November 11 ... I spent an hour at the President's, where I met
Thompson, Robert McGraw, and some others; we sat around the tea-table
and discussed the disunion movements of the South. This seems to be
the absorbing topic everywhere.

November 12 ... Dispatched the ordinary business of the department;
dined at 5 o'clock; Mr. Pickens, late Minister to Russia, Mr.
Trescott, Mr. Secretary Thompson, Mr. McGraw, Mr. Browne, editor of
the "Constitution," were of the party. The chief topic of discussion
was, as usual, the excitement in the South. The belief seemed to be
that disunion was inevitable; Pickens, usually very cool and
conservative, was excited and warm. My own conservatism seems in these
discussions to be unusual and almost misplaced.

  [Sidenote] Benson J. Lossing, "The Civil War in America," Vol. I.,
  p. 44. (Note.)

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 1860.

DEAR RHETT: I received your letter this morning. As to my views or
opinions of the Administration, I can, of course, say nothing. As to
Mr. Cobb's views, he is willing that I should communicate them to you,
in order that they may aid you in forming your own judgment; but, you
will understand that this is confidential--that is, neither Mr. Cobb
nor myself must be quoted as the source of your information. I will
not dwell on this, as you will, on a moment's reflection, see the
embarrassment which might be produced by any _authorized_ statement of
his opinions. I will only add, by way of preface, that after the very
fullest and freest conversations with him, I feel sure of his
earnestness, singleness of purpose, and resolution in the whole

Mr. Cobb believes that the time is come for resistance; that upon the
election of Lincoln, Georgia ought to secede from the Union, and that
she will do so; that Georgia and every other State should, as far as
secession, act for herself, resuming her delegated powers, and thus
put herself in position to consult with other sovereign States who
take the same ground. After the secession is effected, then will be
the time to consult. But he is of opinion, most strongly, that
whatever action is resolved on should be consummated on the 4th of
March, not before.

That while the action determined on should be decisive and
irrevocable, its initial point should be the 4th of March. He is
opposed to any Southern convention, merely for the purpose of
consultation. If a Southern convention is held, it must be of
delegates empowered to _act_, whose action is at once binding on the
States they represent.

But he desires me to impress upon you his conviction, that any attempt
to precipitate the actual issue upon this Administration will be most
mischievous--calculated to produce differences of opinion and destroy
unanimity. He thinks it of great importance that the cotton crop
should go forward at once, and that the money should be in the hands
of the people, that the cry of popular distress shall not be heard at
the outset of this move.

My own opinion is that it would be well to have a discreet man, one
who knows the value of silence, who can listen wisely, present in
Milledgeville, at the meeting of the State Legislature, as there will
be there an outside gathering of the very ablest men of that State.

And the next point, that you should, at the earliest possible day of
the session of our own Legislature, elect a man as governor whose name
and character will conciliate as well as give confidence to all the
men of the State,--if we do act, I really think this half the
battle,--a man upon whose temper the State can rely.

I say nothing about a convention, as I understand, on all hands, that
that is a fixed fact, and I have confined myself to answering your
question. I will be much obliged to you if you will write me soon and
fully from Columbia.

It is impossible to write to you, with the constant interruption of
the office, and as you want Cobb's opinions, not mine, I send this to



  [Sidenote] MS. Confederate Archives.

CHARLESTON, 3d Nov., 1860.

On the 22d of last month I was in Washington, and called upon the
Secretary at War, in company with Senator Wigfall, of Texas, to make
inquiries as to the efficiency and price of certain muskets belonging
to the United States, which had been altered by the Ordnance
Department from flint to percussion. They will shoot for 200 yards as
well as any smooth-bored gun in the service, and if _rifled_ will be
effective at 500 yards. But if the conical ball will be made lighter
by enlarging the hollow at the base of the cone, the effective range
may be increased to seven hundred yards. Should your Excellency give a
favorable consideration to the above, I can have the whole of what I
have stated authenticated by the board of ordnance officers, who
inspected and reported to the Secretary at War upon these muskets. If
ten thousand or more of these muskets are purchased, the price will be
two ($2) dollars each; for a less quantity the charge will be $2.50
each. If a portion or all of them are to be rifled, the Secretary says
he will have it done for the additional cost of one ($1) dollar per
barrel. As this interview with Mr. Secretary Floyd was both
semi-official and confidential, your Excellency will readily see the
necessity, should this matter be pursued further, of appointing an
agent to negotiate with him, rather than conduct the negotiation
directly between the State and the Department ... I unhesitatingly
advise purchasing several thousand of them ... There are many other
important facts in connection with the above that I could disclose,
but will reserve them for some other occasion, that I may give them
verbally as soon as I can find a day to wait upon your Excellency in

The State of Texas has engaged twenty thousand (20,000) of these
muskets, and the State of Kentucky purchased several thousand last

  [Sidenote] Ibid.

CHARLESTON, 6th Nov., 1860.

I have only within a few hours received yours of the 5th inst.,
authorizing me to purchase from the War Department at Washington ten
thousand rifles of pattern and price indicated in my letter to your
Excellency of the 3d inst.

I accept the appointment and will discharge the duty assigned to the
best of my ability and with the least possible delay. For I feel that
the past and present agitation are ruinous to our peace and prosperity
and that our only remedy is to break up with dispatch the present
Confederacy and construct a new and better one. I will communicate
with Mr. Secretary Floyd to-night and have the rifles put in
preparation so as to have them for use at an early day....

I would wish that my agency in this transaction be kept private _until
I reach Washington_, or indeed till I write to say the arms are on
their way to Columbia....

  [Sidenote] Ibid.

CHARLESTON, 8th Nov., 1860.

I have just received your letter of the 7th inst., and I think I can
render you all the information you desire, without resorting to any
agent. If my ability can only be made to keep pace with my zeal, I
hope yet to render some service to the dear old State of South


  [Sidenote] MS. Confederate Archives.

CHARLESTON, 16th Nov., 1860.

I have been most reluctantly detained here by an accidental fall, and
also by business of an urgent kind associated with the railroad. My
absence from Washington, however, has not delayed the execution of
your order for the rifles; the Secretary of War has had the preparation
of them in hand for some time.

When I write to you from Washington, had I not better address you
through your private secretary ... Please address me at Washington to
the care of Wm. H. Trescott, Esq. ... I will give strict attention to
your letter of the 7th inst., and hope to furnish you with much of the
information you desire, for I am quite sensible of the importance of
knowing the views and policy of the President at this juncture.

  [Sidenote] MS. Confederate Archives.

WASHINGTON, 19th Nov., 1860.

... I called this morning upon the Secretary of War to make
arrangements for the immediate transmission of the rifles to Columbia,
but much to my astonishment he informed me that since he had looked
over the report of "Small Fire-arms" (now inclosed) that he found he
had labored under an error in stating to me that the ten thousand
rifles I had engaged were ready for delivery when called for by me. He
said he could have them rifled, but it would take three or four months
to execute the contract, but suggested that we should purchase the
10,000 smooth-bored muskets instead, as a more efficient arm,
particularly if large-sized buckshot should be used, which, put up in
wire case capable of containing 12 of them, would go spitefully
through an inch plank at 200 yards. I was much astonished at the
result of my interview with Governor Floyd to-day, for he had not only
informed me that the rifles would be ready for me on my arrival, but
told Mr. Trescott so likewise, and that if I had been in Washington
last Saturday I could have got them.... If you will be satisfied with
the smooth-bored muskets like the specimen forwarded to you, I will
purchase them. Better do this, although not the best pattern, than be
without arms at a crisis like the present. Colonel Benjamin Huger can
give you much information about these muskets. This is derived not
only from Mr. Floyd, but also from General J.E. Johnston,
Quartermaster-General, who was President of the Ordnance Board who had
these muskets changed from flint to percussion, and also from
smooth-bore to rifle, and he says that for our purposes the
smooth-bored musket is preferable to the altered rifle. The why I
cannot explain to-day.... I also send you a letter from Mr. Trescott,
in reply to certain inquiries from me. I am unable to make any
comments upon them nor to add other facts which I will forward you
more leisurely to-morrow....

  [Sidenote] MS. Confederate Archives.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 1860.

(Private, Confidential.)

MY DEAR DRAYTON: It is difficult to reply specifically to your
inquiries, partly because I do not believe that the exact course of
the Administration has been yet determined on, and partly because my
knowledge, or rather my inference, of its intentions is derived from
intercourse with its members which I am bound to consider
confidential. I do not regard it of serious importance to you to know
the individual opinions of either the President or the Cabinet. No
action of any sort will be taken until the message has been sent
indicating the opinions of the Executive, and that message, whatever
it be, will find our Legislature in session, and the convention on the
point of meeting. I think it likely that the President will state
forcibly what he considers the grievances of the South, that he will
add that he does not think, if the right of secession existed, it
would be a wise policy for the State to adopt, and that he does not
think the right to secede does exist, and then refer the whole matter
to Congress; what he will do when the State does secede, he has not
said, and I do not know, nor any man, I believe. He will do, as we
will, what he believes to be his duty, and that duty, I suppose, will
be discharged in full view of the consequences following any line of
action that may be determined on. But I think that, as long as Cobb
and Thompson retain seats in the Cabinet, you may feel confident that
no action has been taken which seriously affects the position of any
Southern State.

I think that I may safely rely upon my knowledge of what will be done,
and you may rely upon my resignation as soon as that knowledge
satisfies me of any move in a direction positively injurious to us, or
altering the present condition of things to our disadvantage. When you
pass through on Wednesday, however, I will speak to you more fully.



  [Sidenote] Ibid.

WASHINGTON, 19th Nov., 1860.

Mr. Buchanan, while he can discover no authority under the
Constitution to justify secession by a State, on the other hand he can
find no power to coerce one to return after the right of secession has
been exercised. He will not allow entry or clearance of a vessel
except through the Custom-house, to be established as soon as
secession is declared, upon the deck of a man-of-war off the harbor of
Charleston. He will enforce the collection of duties, not by navy, but
by a revenue cutter, as our collector now would do if his authority
was resisted. I will write to you more fully when I return from New
York, where I go to-morrow at daylight, at the suggestion of the
Secretary of War, who deems it important that I should go there to
make arrangements for shipping the arms (should you still want them)
from that point instead of this city ... Do send a copy of the list of
arms at the arsenals to H.R. Lawton, Milledgeville, Ga. I am getting
some smooth-bored muskets for Georgia, like the specimen I sent you.

  [Sidenote] MS. Confederate Archives.

WASHINGTON, 23d Nov., 1860.

I arrived here at 6 A.M. from New York, where I had gone at the
suggestion of Mr. Floyd to engage Mr. G.B. Lamar, President of the
Bank of the Republic, to make an offer to the Secretary for such a
number of muskets as we might require. The Secretary at War was
reluctant to dispose of them to me, preferring the intermediate
agency. Mr. Lamar has consented to act accordingly, and to-day the
Secretary has written to the commanding officer [at] Watervliet
Arsenal to deliver five or ten thousand muskets (altered from flint to
percussion) to Mr. Lamar's order. Mr. Lamar will pay the United States
paymaster for them, and rely upon the State to repay him. I have been
most fortunate in having been enabled to meet the payments for the
arms through Mr. L., for I feel satisfied that without his
intervention we could not have effected the purchase at this time....
I expect to return at daylight to-morrow to New York, for I am very
anxious about getting possession of the arms at Watervliet, and
forward them to Charleston. The Cabinet may break up at any moment, on
differences of opinion with the President as to the rights of
secession, and a new Secretary of War might stop the muskets going
South, if not already on their way when he comes into office.

I will write to you again by the next mail. The impression here and
elsewhere among many Southern men is, that our Senators have been
precipitate in resigning; they think that their resignations should
have been tendered from their seats after they had announced to the
Senate that the State had seceded. Occupying their seats up to this
period would have kept them in communication with Senators from the
South and assisted very powerfully in shaping to our advantage coming

If any further quotation be necessary to show the audacity with which
at least three Secretaries and one Assistant Secretary of Mr.
Buchanan's Cabinet engaged in flagrant conspiracy in the early stages
of rebellion, it may be found in an interview of Senator Clingman with
the Secretary of the Interior, which the former has recorded in his
"Speeches and Writings" as an interesting reminiscence. It may be
doubted whether Secretary Thompson correctly reported the President as
wishing him success in his North Carolina mission, but the Secretary
is, of course, a competent witness to his own declarations and acts.

  [Sidenote] T.L. Clingman, "Speeches and Writings," pp. 526, 527.

About the middle of December [1860] I had occasion to see the
Secretary of the Interior on some official business. On my entering
the room, Mr. Thompson said to me, "Clingman, I am glad you have
called, for I intended presently to go up to the Senate to see you. I
have been appointed a commissioner by the State of Mississippi to go
down to North Carolina to get your State to secede, and I wished to
talk with you about your Legislature before I start down in the
morning to Raleigh, and to learn what you think of my chance of
success." I said to him, "I did not know that you had resigned." He
answered; "Oh, no, I have not resigned." "Then," I replied, "I suppose
you resign in the morning." "No," he answered, "I do not intend to
resign, for Mr. Buchanan wished us all to hold on, and go out with him
on the 4th of March." "But," said I, "does Mr. Buchanan know for what
purpose you are going to North Carolina?" "Certainly," he said, "he
knows my object." Being surprised by this statement, I told Mr.
Thompson that Mr. Buchanan was probably so much perplexed by his
situation that he had not fully considered the matter, and that as he
was already involved in difficulty, we ought not to add to his
burdens; and then suggested to Mr. Thompson that he had better see Mr.
Buchanan again, and by way of inducing him to think the matter over,
mention what I had been saying to him. Mr. Thompson said, "Well, I can
do so, but I think he fully understands it." In the evening I met Mr.
Thompson at a small social party, and as soon as I approached him, he
said, "I knew I could not be mistaken. I told Mr. Buchanan all you
said, and he told me that he wished me to go, and hoped I might
succeed." I could not help exclaiming, "Was there ever before any
potentate who sent out his own Cabinet ministers to excite an
insurrection against his Government!" The fact that Mr. Thompson did
go on the errand, and had a public reception before the Legislature,
and returned to his position in the Cabinet is known, but this
incident serves to recall it.

To this sketch of the Cabinet cabal it is necessary to add the testimony
of his participation, by one who, from first to last, was a principal
and controlling actor. Jefferson Davis records that:

  [Sidenote] Jefferson Davis, "Rise and Fall of the Confederate
  Government," Vol. I., pp. 57, 58, 59.

In November, 1860, after the result of the Presidential election was
known, the Governor of Mississippi, having issued his proclamation
convoking a special session of the Legislature to consider the
propriety of calling a convention, invited the Senators and
Representatives of the State in Congress to meet him for consultation
as to the character of the message he should send to the Legislature
when assembled.... While engaged in the consultation with the Governor
just referred to, a telegraphic message was handed to me from two
members of Mr. Buchanan's Cabinet, urging me to proceed "immediately"
to Washington. This dispatch was laid before the Governor and the
members of Congress from the State who were in conference with him,
and it was decided that I should comply with, the summons ... On
arrival at Washington, I found, as had been anticipated, that my
presence there was desired on account of the influence which it was
supposed I might exercise with the President (Mr. Buchanan) in
relation to his forthcoming message to Congress. On paying my respects
to the President, he told me that he had finished the rough draft of
his message, but that it was still open to revision and amendment, and
that he would like to read it to me. He did so and very kindly
accepted all the modifications which I suggested. The message was,
however, afterwards somewhat changed.

In the documents we have presented, though they manifestly form but
the merest fragment of the secret correspondence which passed between
the chief conspirators, and of the written evidence recorded by them
in various forms, then and afterwards, we have a substantial unmasking
of the combined occult influences which presided over the initiatory
steps of the great American Rebellion--its central council--the master
wheel of its machinery--and the connecting relation which caused all
its subordinate parts to move in harmonious accord.

With the same mind to dictate a secession message to a Legislature and
a non-coercion message to Congress--to assemble insurrectionary troops
to seize Federal forts and withhold Government troops from their
protection--to incite governors to rebellion and overawe a weak
President to a virtual abdication of his rightful authority, history
need not wonder at the surprising unity and early success of the
conspiracy against the Union.

[1] Printed on pages 791 to 794 in "The Life and Times of Robert E.
Lee," etc. By a distinguished Southern journalist. (E.A. Pollard,
author of "The Lost Cause.")



The secret circular of Governor Gist, of South Carolina, heretofore
quoted, inaugurated the great American Rebellion a full month before a
single ballot had been cast for Abraham Lincoln. This was but
repeating in a bolder form the action taken by Governor Wise, of
Virginia, during the Frémont campaign four years before. But, instead,
as in that case, of confining himself to a proposed consultation among
slave-State executives, Governor Gist proceeded almost immediately to
a public and official revolutionary act.

On the 12th of October, 1860, he issued his proclamation convening the
Legislature of South Carolina in extra session, "to appoint electors
of President and Vice-President ... and also that they may, if
advisable, take action for the safety and protection of the State."
There was no external peril menacing either the commonwealth or its
humblest citizen; but the significance of the phrase was soon

  [Sidenote] South Carolina "House Journal," Called Session, 1860,
  pp. 10, 11.

A caucus of prominent South Carolina leaders is said to have been held
on October 25, at the residence of Senator Hammond. Their
deliberations remained secret, but the determination arrived at
appears clearly enough in the official action of Governor Gist, who
was present, and who doubtless carried out the plans of the
assemblage. When the Legislature met on November 5 (the day before the
Presidential election) the Governor sent them his opening message,
advocating both secession and insurrection, in direct and undisguised
language. He recommended that in the event of Lincoln's election, a
convention should be immediately called; that the State should secede
from the Federal Union; and "if in the exercise of arbitrary power and
forgetful of the lessons of history, the Government of the United
States should attempt coercion, it will be our solemn duty to meet
force by force." To this end he recommended a reorganization of the
militia and the raising and drilling an army of ten thousand
volunteers. He placed the prospects of such a revolution in a most
hopeful and encouraging light. "The indications from many of the
Southern States," said he, "justify the conclusion that the secession
of South Carolina will be immediately followed, if not adopted
simultaneously, by them, and ultimately by the entire South. The
long-desired coöperation of the other States having similar
institutions, for which the State has been waiting, seems to be near
at hand; and, if we are true to ourselves, will soon be realized."

Governor Gist's justification of this movement as attempted was (in
his own language) "the strong probability of the election to the
Presidency of a sectional candidate by a party committed to the
support of measures, which if carried out will inevitably destroy our
equality in the Union, and ultimately reduce the Southern States to
mere provinces of a consolidated despotism to be governed by a fixed
majority in Congress hostile to our institutions."

This campaign declamation, used throughout the whole South with great
skill and success, to "fire the Southern heart," was wholly defective
as a serious argument.

As to the alleged destruction of equality, the North proposed to deny
to the slave-States no single right claimed by the free-States. The
talk about "provinces of a consolidated despotism to be governed by a
fixed majority" was, in itself an absurd contradiction in terms, which
repudiated the fundamental idea of republican government. The
acknowledgment that any danger from anti-slavery "measures" was only
in the future, negatived its validity as a present grievance.
Hostility to "our institutions" was expressly disavowed by full
constitutional recognition of slavery under State authority. The
charge of "sectionalism" came with a bad grace from a State whose
newspapers boasted that none but the Breckinridge ticket was tolerated
within her borders, and whose elsewhere obsolete "institution" of
choosing Presidential electors by the Legislature instead of by the
people, combined with such a dwarfed and crippled public sentiment,
made it practically impossible for a single vote to be cast for either
Lincoln or Douglas or Bell--a condition mathematically four times as
"sectional" as that of any State of the North.

Finally, the avowed determination to secede because a Presidential
election was about to be legally gained by one of the three opposing
parties, after she had freely and fully joined in the contest, was an
indulgence of caprice utterly incompatible with any form of government

There is no need here to enter upon a discussion of the many causes
which, had given to the public opinion of South Carolina so radical
and determined a tone in favor of disunion. Maintaining persistence,
and gradually gathering strength almost continuously since the
nullification furor of 1832, it had become something more than a
sentiment among its devotees: it had grown into a species of cult or
party religion, for the existence of which no better reason can be
assigned than that it sprang from a blind hero-worship locally
accorded to John C. Calhoun, one of the prominent figures of American
political history. As representative in Congress, Secretary of War
under President Monroe, Vice-President of the United States under
President John Quincy Adams, for many years United States Senator from
South Carolina, and the radical champion of States Rights,
Nullification, and Slavery, his brilliant fame was the pride, but his
false theories became the ruin, of his State and section.

  [Sidenote] South Carolina "House Journal," Called Session, 1860,
  pp. 16, 17.

Governor Gist and his secession coadjutors had evidently still a
lingering hope that the election might by some unforeseen contingency
result in the choice of Breckinridge. On no other hypothesis can we
account for the fact that on the 6th of November, when Northern
ballots were falling in such an ample shower for Lincoln, the South
Carolina Legislature, with due decorum and statute regularity,
appointed Presidential electors for the State, and formally instructed
them to vote for Breckinridge and Lane. The dawn of November 7
dispelled these hopes. The "strong probability" had become a stubborn

When the certain news of Lincoln's election finally came, it was
hailed with joy and acclamation by both the leaders and the people of
South Carolina. They had at length their much coveted pretext for
disunion; and they now put into the enterprise a degree of
earnestness, frankness, courage, and persistency worthy of a better
cause. Public opinion, so long prepared, responded with enthusiasm to
the plans and calls of the leaders. Manifestations of disloyalty
became universal. Political clubs were transformed into military
companies. Drill-rooms and armories were alive with nightly meetings.
Sermons, agricultural addresses, and speeches at railroad banquets
were only so many secession harangues. The State became filled with
volunteer organizations of "minute men."

The Legislature, remaining in extra session, and cheered and urged on
by repeated popular demonstrations and the inflamed speeches of the
highest State officials, proceeded without delay to carry out the
Governor's programme. In fact, the members needed no great incitement.
They had been freshly chosen within the preceding month; many of them
on the well-understood "resistance" issue. Their election took place
on the 8th and 9th days of October, 1860. Since there was but one
party in South Carolina, there could be no party drill; but a
tyrannical and intolerant public sentiment usurped its place and
functions. On the sixteen different tickets paraded in one of the
Charleston newspapers, the names of the most pronounced disunionists
were the most frequent and conspicuous. "Southern rights at all
hazards," was the substance of many mottoes, and the palmetto and the
rattlesnake were favorite emblems. There was neither mistaking nor
avoiding the strong undercurrent of treason and rebellion here
manifested, and the Governor's proclamation had doubtless been largely
based upon it.

  [Sidenote] South Carolina, "House Journal," Called Session, 1860,
  pp. 13, 14.

The first day's session of the Legislature (November 5) developed one
of the important preparatory steps of the long-expected revolution.
The Legislature of 1859 had appropriated a military contingent fund of
one hundred thousand dollars, "to be drawn and accounted for as
directed by the Legislature." The appropriation had been allowed to
remain untouched. It was now proposed to place this sum at the control
of the Governor to be expended in obtaining improved small arms, in
purchasing a field battery of rifled cannon, in providing
accouterments, and in furnishing an additional supply of tents; and a
resolution to that effect was passed two days later, The chief measure
of the session, however, was a bill to provide for calling the
proposed State Convention, which it was well understood would adopt an
ordinance of secession. There was scarcely a ripple of opposition to
this measure. One or two members still pleaded for delay, to secure
the coöperation of Georgia, but dared not record a vote against the
prevailing mania. The chairman of the proper committee on November 10
reported an act calling a convention "for the purpose of taking into
consideration the dangers incident to the position of the State in the
Federal Union," which unanimously became a law November 13, and the
extra session adjourned to meet again in regular annual session on the

Meanwhile public excitement had been kept at fever heat by all manner
of popular demonstrations. The two United States Senators and the
principal Federal officials resigned their offices with a public
flourish of their insubordinate zeal. An enthusiastic ratification
meeting was given to the returning members of the Legislature. To give
still further emphasis to the general movement a grand mass meeting
was held at Charleston on the 17th of November. The streets were
filled with the excited multitude. Gaily dressed ladies crowded
balconies and windows, and zealous mothers decorated their children
with revolutionary badges. There was a brisk trade in fire-arms and
gunpowder. The leading merchants and prominent men of the city came
forth and seated themselves on platforms to witness and countenance a
formal ceremony of insurrection. A white flag, bearing a palmetto tree
and the legend _Animis opibusque parati_ (one of the mottoes on the
State seal), was, after solemn prayer, displayed from a pole of
Carolina pine. Music, salutes, and huzzahs filled the air. Speeches
were addressed to "citizens of the Southern Republic." Orations and
processions completed the day, and illuminations and bonfires occupied
the night. The preparations were without stint. The proceedings and
ceremonies were conducted with spirit and abandon. The rejoicings were
deep and earnest. And yet there was a skeleton at the feast; the
Federal flag, invisible among the city banners, and absent from the
gay bunting and decorations of the harbor shipping, still floated far
down the bay over a faithful commander and loyal garrison in Fort



President Buchanan and his Administration could not, if they would,
shut their eyes to the treasonable utterances and preparations at
Charleston and elsewhere in the South; but so far neither the speeches
nor bonfires nor palmetto flags, nor even the secession message of
Governor Gist or the Convention bill of the South Carolina
Legislature, constituted a statutory offense. For twelve years the
threat of disunion had been in the mouths of the Southern slavery
extremists and their Northern allies the most potent and formidable
weapon of national politics. It was declaimed on the stump, elaborated
in Congressional speeches, set out in national platforms, and paraded
as a solemn warning in executive messages.

Mr. Buchanan had profited by the disunion cry both as politician and
functionary; and now when disunion came in a practical and undisguised
shape he was to a degree powerless to oppose it, because he was
disarmed by his own words and his own acts. The disunionists were his
partisans, his friends, and confidential counselors; they constituted
a remnant of the once proud and successful party which, by his
compliance and coöperation in their interest, he had disrupted and
defeated. Their programme hitherto had been the policy upon which he
had staked the success or failure of his Administration, so that in
addition to every other tie he was bound to them by the common sorrow
of political disaster.


Being in such intimate relations and intercourse with the leaders of
the Breckinridge wing of the Democratic party during the progress of
the Presidential canvass, and that party being made up so exclusively
of the extreme Southern Democrats, the President must have had constant
information of the progress and development of the disunion sentiment
and purpose in the South. He was not restricted as the other parties
and the general public were to imperfect reports and doubtful rumors
current in the newspapers.

But in addition there now came to him an official warning which it was
a grave error to disregard. On October 29, one week before the election,
the veteran Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott, General-in-Chief of
the Army, communicated to him in writing his serious apprehensions
of coming danger, and suggested such precautions as were then in the
power of the Administration. Beginning life as a farmer's boy,
collegian, and law student, General Scott from choice became a
soldier, devoting himself to the higher aims of the profession of
arms, and in a brilliant career of half a century had achieved
world-wide renown as a great military captain. In the United States,
however, the military is subordinated to the civic ambition, and Scott
all his life retained a strong leaning to diplomacy and statesmanship,
and on several important occasions gave his country valuable service
in essentially civic functions. He had been the unsuccessful
Presidential candidate of the Whig party in 1852, a circumstance which
no doubt greatly increased his personal attention to current politics,
then and afterwards. As the first military officer of the nation, he
was also the watchful guardian of the public peace.

  [Sidenote] Lieut.-General Winfield Scott, "Autobiography," Vol. I.,
  p. 234.

The impending rebellion was not to him, as it was to the nation at
large, a new event in politics. Many men were indeed aware, through
tradition and history, that it was but the Calhoun nullification
treason revived and pushed to a bolder extreme. To General Scott it
was almost literally the repetition of an old experience. A generation
before, he was himself a prominent actor in opposing the nullification
plot. About the 4th of November, 1832, upon special summons, he was
taken into a confidential interview by President Jackson, who, after
asking Scott's military views upon the threatened rebellion of the
nullifiers in Charleston harbor, by oral orders charged him with the
duty of enforcing the laws and maintaining the supremacy of the Union;
the President placing at his orders the troops and vessels necessary
for this purpose. Scott accepted the trust and went to Charleston, and
while humoring the nullification Quixotism existing there, he executed
the purpose of his mission, by strengthening the defenses and
reenforcing; the Federal forts.[1] His task was accomplished with the
utmost delicacy, but with firmness. The rebellion was indeed abandoned
upon pretense of compromise; but had a conflict occurred at that time
the flag of the Union would probably not have been the first to be
lowered in defeat.

It was, therefore, most fitting that in these new complications
Lieutenant-General Scott should officially admonish President
Buchanan. He addressed to him a paper entitled "Views suggested by the
imminent danger (October 29, 1860) of a disruption of the Union by the
secession of one or more of the Southern States"; and also certain
supplementary memoranda the day after, to the Secretary of War, the
two forming in reality but a single document. General Scott was at
this time residing in New York City, and the missives were probably
twenty-four hours in reaching Washington. This letter of the commander
of the American armies written at such a crisis is full of serious
faults, and is a curious illustration of the temper of the times,
showing as it does that even in the mind of the first soldier of the
republic the foundations of political faith were crumbling away. The
superficial and speculative theories of Scott the politician stand out
in unfavorable contrast to the practical advice of Scott the soldier.

Once break the Union by political madness, reasons Scott the politician,
and any attempt to restore it by military force would establish
despotism and create anarchy. A lesser evil than this would be to form
four new confederacies out of the fragments of the old.[2] And on this
theme he theorizes respecting affinities and boundaries and the folly
of secession.

  [Sidenote] "Mr. Buchanan's Administration," Appendix, p. 289.

The advice of Scott the soldier was wiser and more opportune. The
prospect of Lincoln's election, he says, causes threats of secession.
There is danger that certain forts of national value and importance,
six totally destitute of troops, and three having only feeble and
insufficient garrisons, may be seized by insurgents. "In my opinion
all these works should be immediately so garrisoned as to make any
attempt to take any one of them, by surprise or _coup de main_,
ridiculous." There were five companies of regulars within reach,
available for this service. This plan was provisional only; it
eschewed the idea of invading a seceded State; and he suggested the
collection of customs duties, outside of the cities.

  [Sidenote] "Mr. Buchanan's Administration," p. 104.

  [Sidenote] Buchanan, in the "National Intelligencer," Oct. 1, 1862.

Eight to ten States on the verge of insurrection--nine principal
sea-coast forts within their borders, absolutely at the mercy of the
first handful of street rabble that might collect, and only about four
hundred men, scattered in five different and distant cities, available
to reënforce them! It was a startling exhibit of national danger from
one professionally competent to judge and officially entitled to
advise. His timely and patriotic counsel President Buchanan treated
with indifference and neglect. "From the impracticable nature of the
'Views,' and their strange and inconsistent character, the President
dismissed them from his mind without further consideration." Such is
Mr. Buchanan's own confession. He indulges in the excuse that to have
then attempted to put these five companies in all or part of these
nine forts "would have been a confession of weakness instead of an
exhibition of imposing and overpowering strength." "None of the Cotton
States had made the first movement towards secession. Even South
Carolina was then performing all her relative duties, though most
reluctantly, to the Government," etc. "To have attempted such a
military operation with so feeble a force, and the Presidential
election impending, would have been an invitation to collision and
secession. Indeed, if the whole American army, consisting then of only
sixteen thousand men, had been 'within reach' they would have been
scarcely sufficient for this purpose."

The error of this reasoning was well shown by General Scott in a
newspaper controversy which subsequently ensued.[3] He pointed out
that of the nine forts enumerated by him, six, namely, Forts Moultrie
and Sumter in Charleston harbor, Forts Pickens and McRae in Pensacola
harbor, and Forts Jackson and St. Philip guarding the Mississippi
below New Orleans, were "twin forts" on opposite sides of a channel,
whose strength was more than doubled by their very position and their
ability to employ cross and flanking fire in mutual support and
defense. These works, together with the three others mentioned by
General Scott, namely, Fort Morgan in Mobile harbor, Fort Pulaski
below Savannah, and Fortress Monroe at Hampton Roads, were all,
because of their situation at vital points, not merely works of local
defense, but of the highest strategical value. The reënforcements
advised would surely have enabled the Government to hold them until
further defensive measures could have been arranged; and the effect of
such possession on the incipient insurrection may be well imagined
when we remember the formidable armaments afterwards employed in the
reduction of such of them as were permitted, without an effort on the
part of President Buchanan to prevent it, to be occupied by the

But the warning to the Administration that the Southern forts were in
danger came not alone from General Scott. Two of the works mentioned
by him as of prime importance were Forts Moultrie and Sumter in
Charleston harbor. There was still a third fort there, Castle
Pinckney, in a better condition of repair and preparation than either
of the former, and much nearer the city. Had it been properly occupied
and manned, its guns alone would have been sufficient to control
Charleston. But there was only an ordnance sergeant in Castle
Pinckney, only an ordnance sergeant in Fort Sumter, and a partial
garrison in Fort Moultrie. Both Sumter and Moultrie were greatly and
Castle Pinckney slightly out of repair. During the summer of 1860
Congress made an appropriation for these works; and the engineer
captain who had been in charge for two years had indeed been ordered
to begin and prosecute repairs in the two forts.

  [Sidenote] Report, F.J. Porter. W.R.[4] Vol. I., pp. 70-72.

  [Sidenote] Craig to Floyd, Oct. 31, 1860, with Floyd's indorsement.
  W.R. Vol. I., pp. 67-8.

Captain J.G. Foster, the engineer to whom this duty was confided, was
of New England birth and a loyal and devoted soldier. He began work on
the 12th of September; and not foreseeing the consequences involved,
employed in the different works between two and three hundred men,
partly hired in Charleston, partly in Baltimore. There were in the
several forts not only the cannon to arm them, but also considerable
quantities of ammunition and other government property; and aware of
the hum of secession preparation which began to fill the air in
Charleston, Captain Foster in October asked the Ordnance Bureau at
Washington for forty muskets, with which to arm twenty workmen in Fort
Sumter and twenty in Castle Pinckney. "If," wrote the Chief of
Ordnance to the Secretary of War, "the measure should on being
communicated meet the concurrence of the commanding officer of the
troops in the harbor, I recommend that I may be authorized to issue
forty muskets to the engineer officer." Upon this recommendation,
Secretary of War Floyd wrote the word "approved." Under the usual
routine of peaceful times the questions went by mail to Colonel
Gardner, then commander of the harbor, "Is it expedient to issue forty
muskets to Captain Foster? Is it proper to place arms in the hands of
hired workmen? Is it expedient to do so?"

  [Sidenote] Gardner to Craig, November 5, 1860. W.R. Vol. I.,
  pp. 68-9.

To this Colonel Gardner replied, under date of November 5, that,
repeating what he had already written, his fears were not of any
attack on the works, authorized by the city or State, but there was
danger of such an attempt from a sudden tumultuary force; and that
while in such an event forty muskets would be desirable, he felt
"constrained to say that the only proper precaution--that which has no
objection--is to fill these two companies with drilled recruits (say
fifty men) at once, and send two companies from Old Point Comfort to
occupy, respectively, Fort Sumter and Castle Pinckney."

  [Sidenote] Dawson, "Historical Magazine," January, 1872, p. 37.

  [Sidenote] F.J. Porter to Cooper, November 11, 1860. W.R. Vol. I.,
  pp. 70-72.

His answer and recommendation were both business-like and soldierly,
and contained no indications that justify any suspicion of his loyalty
or judgment. Meanwhile, on the heels of this official call for
reënforcements, came a still more urgent one. It is alleged on the one
hand that complaints of the inefficiency of Colonel Gardner had
reached Washington, and that, in consequence thereof, either the
Secretary of War or the President sent for specific information in
regard to it. Major Fitz John Porter, then Assistant Adjutant-General,
on duty in the War Department, went in person to Charleston, and made
the examination. There are, on the other hand, several vague
allegations by the insurgents, to the substantial effect that this
call for reënforcements was Colonel Gardner's real offense; leaving
the implication that Major Fitz John Porter's inspection was purposely
instituted to find reasons for removing the Colonel and thus
frustrating the obligation to send him additional troops. The order
for Major Porter's visit was made on November 6; he returned to
Washington and made an oral statement, and on the 11th of November
wrote out his report for the Department in due form.

  [Sidenote] Doubleday, "Forts Sumter and Moultrie," p. 19.

According to this report, while Colonel Gardner had been remiss in a
few minor details, he had in reality been vigilant, loyal, and
efficient in main and important matters. He had foreseen the coming
danger, had advised the Government, and called for reënforcements; had
recommended not only strengthening the garrison of Moultrie, but the
effective occupation of both Sumter and Castle Pinckney; and had made
an effort in good faith to remove the public arms and goods from their
exposed situation in the arsenal in the city of Charleston, to the
security of the fort. Though Southern in feeling and pro-slavery in
sentiment, he was true to his oath and his flag; and had he been
properly encouraged and supported by his Government, would evidently
have merited no reproach for inefficiency or indifference.

  [Sidenote] 1860.

But the fatal entanglement of Buchanan's Administration with the
slavery extremists had the double effect of weakening loyalty in army
officers and building up rebellion among the Southern people. Instead
of heeding the advice of Colonel Gardner to reënforce the forts, it
removed him from command, and within two months the President
submitted silently to the taunt of the South Carolina rebel
commissioners that it was in punishment for his loyal effort to save
the Government property. Whatever the motive may have been, the
Government was now fully warned, as early as November 11, a week
before the first secession jubilee in Charleston, and more than a
month before the passage of the secession ordinance, of the imminence
of the insurrection and danger to the forts. General Scott had warned
it, Colonel Gardner had warned it, and now again Major Porter, its
special and confidential agent, had not only repeated that warning,
but his report had been made the basis of Government discussion in the
change of commanders.

The action of the Government was unusually prompt. On November 11, as
we have seen, Major Porter made his written report, and on the 13th he
delivered to Major Robert Anderson in New York the order to take
command of the forts and forces in Charleston harbor. Major Anderson,
suitably qualified by meritorious service, age, and rank, was deemed
especially acceptable for the position because he was a Kentuckian by
birth, and related by marriage to a prominent family of Georgia. Such
sympathies as might influence him were supposed to be with the South,
and his appointment would not, therefore, grate harshly on the
susceptibilities of the Charlestonians.

The statement, many times repeated, that he owned a plantation in the
South is incorrect. He never owned a plantation in Georgia or anywhere
else. On the death of his father he came into possession of a small
number of slaves. These he liberated as soon as the proper papers
could be executed and sent to him at his distant post; and he always
afterwards helped them when they were in need and applied to him.[5]

  [Sidenote] F.J. Porter to Dawson. "Historical Magazine," January,
  1872, pp. 37, 38.

The army headquarters being then in New York, Major Anderson on the
same day called on General Scott, and in conversation with the veteran
General-in-Chief learned that army affairs were being carried on at
Washington by Secretary Floyd, without consulting him. Under these
circumstances Scott did not deem himself authorized to interfere even
by suggestion. Nevertheless, the whole Charleston question seems to
have been fully discussed, and the relative strength of the forts, and
the possible necessity of occupying Sumter commented upon in such
manner as no doubt produced its effect in the subsequent action of
Anderson. Major Anderson next went to Washington, and received the
personal instructions of Secretary Floyd, and returning thereafter to
New York, General Scott in that city gave him on November 15th formal
written orders to proceed to Fort Moultrie and take command of the

[1] His policy, frankly written in a friendly letter to a prominent
nullifier, could scarcely provoke the most captious criticism:

"You have probably heard of the arrival of two or three companies at
Charleston in the last six weeks, and you may hear that as many more
have followed. There is nothing inconsistent with the President's
message in these movements. The intention simply is that the forts in
the harbor shall not be wrested from the United States.... The
President, I presume, will stand on the defensive, thinking it better
to discourage than to invite an attack--better to prevent than to
repel one."--Lieut.-Gen. Winfield Scott, "Autobiography." Vol. I., p.

[2] "All the lines of demarkation between the new Unions cannot be
accurately drawn in advance, but many of them approximately may. Thus,
looking to natural boundaries and commercial affinities, some of the
following frontiers, after many waverings and conflicts, might perhaps
become acknowledged and fixed:

"1. The Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic. 2. From
Maryland along the crest of the Alleghany (perhaps the Blue Ridge)
range of mountains, to some point on the coast of Florida. 3. The line
from say the head of the Potomac to the west or north-west, which it
will be most difficult to settle. 4. The crest of the Rocky Mountains.

"The South-east Confederacy would, in all human probability, in less
than five years after the rupture, find itself bounded by the first
and second lines indicated above, the Atlantic, and the Gulf of
Mexico, with its capital at say Columbia, South Carolina. The country
between the second, third, and fourth of those lines would, beyond a
doubt, in about the same time, constitute another Confederacy, with
its capital at probably Alton or Quincy, Illinois. The boundaries of
the Pacific Union are the most definite of all, and the remaining
States would constitute the Northeast Confederacy with its capital at
Albany."--Scott, "Views," printed in "Mr. Buchanan's Administration,"
pp. 287-288, Appendix.

[3] "But the ex-President sneers at my weak device for saving the
forts. He forgets what the gallant Anderson did with a handful of men
in Fort Sumter, and leaves out of the account what he might have done
with a like handful in Fort Moultrie, even without further augmentation
of men to divide between the garrisons. Twin forts on the opposite
sides of a channel not only give a cross fire on the head of attack,
but the strength of each is more than doubled by the flanking fire of
the other."--Gen. Scott, in the "National Intelligencer" of November
12, 1862.

[4] (As reference to the Government publication, "War of the Rebellion:
Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies," will be so
frequent in the course of this work, and under its full title would
require so much space, the authors have decided to adopt the simple
abbreviation "W.R.," as above. Where the number of the series is not
mentioned, Series I. will always be implied.)

[5] We are indebted to Mrs. Anderson, not only for the correction of
this error, but for permission to examine many private papers relating
to Major Anderson's experience in Fort Sumter. It affords us the
highest pleasure to add that though all her relatives in Georgia
became secessionists, she remained enthusiastically and devotedly
loyal to the Union, and that her letters carried constant cheer and
encouragement to her husband during the months he was besieged in
Charleston harbor.



  [Sidenote] Foster to De Russey, November 24, 1860. W.R. Vol. I.,
  p. 76.

Major Anderson reached Fort Moultrie and assumed command on the 21st
of November, 1860. Having from his several interviews with the
President, Secretary of War, and Lieutenant-General Scott become fully
impressed with the importance of his trust, he proceeded as a first
duty to acquaint himself thoroughly with his situation and resources.
The great Charleston secession celebration on the 17th had been held
while he was on his way; the glare of its illumination was
extinguished, the smoke of its bonfires had been dissipated by the
fresh Atlantic breezes, and its holiday insurgents had returned to
the humdrum of their routine employments. It was, therefore, in
uninterrupted quiet that on the 23d of November he in company with
Captain Foster made a tour of inspection to the different forts, and
on the same day wrote out and transmitted to the War Department a
somewhat detailed report of what he saw with eyes fresh to the scenes
and surroundings, which, as he already felt, were to become the
subjects of his most intense solicitude. On the main point, indeed,
there was no room for doubt. Agreeing with General Scott, with Colonel
Gardner, and with Major Porter, he gave the Government its fourth
warning that the harbor must be immediately and strongly reenforced.

  [Sidenote] Anderson to Adjutant-General, November 23, 1860. W.R.
  Vol. I., p. 74.

    ... The garrison now in it [Moultrie] is so weak as to invite an
    attack, which is openly and publicly threatened. We are about
    sixty, and have a line of rampart of 1500 feet in length to
    defend. If beleaguered, as every man of the command must be either
    engaged or held on the alert, they will be exhausted and worn down
    in a few days and nights of such service as they would then have
    to undergo.

Such, in brief, was the condition of the fort he had been sent to
hold. Moultrie was clearly the weak point of the situation. Already
informed, to some extent at least, by the superior military genius of
General Scott, in his recent interviews with that distinguished
commander, Major Anderson now more forcibly, from personal inspection,
comprehended its strong points. What was then perfectly obvious to the
trained military insight of Scott and Anderson is now in the light of
historical events quite as obvious to the civilian. Look at any good
map of Charleston harbor, and it will be seen that the city lies on
the extreme point of a tongue of land between the Ashley and Cooper
rivers, every part being within easy range under the guns of Castle
Pinckney, on a small island, three-quarters of a mile distant. Four
miles to seaward is the mouth of the harbor, and nearly midway therein
stood the more extensive and imposing work of Fort Sumter, its guns
not only sweeping all the approaches and ship-channels, but the shores
and islands on either hand. It needs but a glance at the map to see
that with proper garrisons and armaments Fort Sumter commanded the
harbor. and Castle Pinckney commanded the city.

If the Government could hitherto plead ignorance of these advantages
against the rising insurrection, that excuse was no longer left after
the report of Major Anderson. In this same report he calls attention
to them in detail. Though not in a complete state of defense, he gives
notice that Fort Sumter "is now ready for the comfortable
accommodation of one company, and indeed for the temporary reception
of its proper garrison. Captain Foster states that the magazines
(four) are done and in excellent condition; that they now contain
forty thousand pounds of cannon-powder and a full supply of ammunition
for one tier of guns. This work [Sumter] is the key to the entrance of
this harbor; its guns command this work [Moultrie], and could soon
drive out its occupants. It should be garrisoned at once."

Still more strenuously does he insist upon the value of Castle
Pinckney. "Castle Pinckney, a small casemated work, perfectly
commanding the city of Charleston, is in excellent condition with the
exception of a few repairs, which will require the expenditure of
about five hundred dollars.... It is, in my opinion, essentially
important that this castle should be immediately occupied by a
garrison, say, of two officers and thirty men. The safety of our
little garrison would be rendered more certain, and our fort would be
more secure from an attack by such a holding of Castle Pinckney, than
it would be from quadrupling our force. The Charlestonians would not
venture to attack this place [Moultrie] when they knew that their city
was at the mercy of the commander of Castle Pinckney.... If my force
was not so very small I would not hesitate to send a detachment at
once to garrison that work." So full of zeal was Major Anderson that
the Government should without delay augment its moral and material
strength, that in default of soldiers he desired to improvise a
garrison for it by sending there a detachment of thirty laborers in
charge of an officer, vainly hoping to supply them with arms and
instruct them in drill, and hold the work until reënforcements should
come. Having in detail proposed protective measures, he again, in the
same letter, forcibly presents the main question of the hour to the
Secretary of War, whose weakness and treachery were as yet

  [Sidenote] Anderson to Adjutant General, Nov. 23, 1860. W.R. Vol.
  I., pp. 75-6.

    Fort Sumter and Castle Pinckney must be garrisoned immediately if
    the Government determines to keep command of this harbor. I need
    not say how anxious I am--indeed determined, so far as honor will
    permit--to avoid collision with the citizens of South Carolina.
    Nothing, however, will be better calculated to prevent bloodshed
    than our being found in such an attitude that it would be madness
    and folly to attack us.... The clouds are threatening and the
    storm may break upon us at any moment. I do, then, most earnestly
    entreat that a reënforcement be immediately sent to this garrison,
    and that at least two companies be sent at the same time to Fort
    Sumter and Castle Pinckney--half a company, under a judicious
    commander, sufficing, I think, for the latter work.... With these
    three works garrisoned as requested, and with a supply of ordnance
    stores, for which I shall send requisitions in a few days, I shall
    feel that, by the blessing of God, there may be a hope that no
    blood will be shed, and that South Carolina will not attempt to
    take these forts by force, but will resort to diplomacy to secure
    them. If we neglect, however, to strengthen ourselves, she will,
    unless these works are surrendered on their first demand, most
    assuredly immediately attack us.

  [Sidenote] Adjutant-General to Anderson, Nov. 24, 1860. W.R. Vol.
  I., p. 76.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., Nov 28, 1860, W.R. Vol. I., p. 77.

If Major Anderson had added no further word to the clear and
straightforward statement and recommendation thus far quoted, his
professional judgment and manly sense of duty would stand honorably
vindicated before posterity. But his language of loyalty, of wisdom,
of humanity, of soldierly devotion, which ought to have elicited a
reply as inspiring as a drum-roll or a trumpet-blast, brought him no
kindred echo. There was fear in the Executive Mansion, conspiracy in
the Cabinet, treason and intrigue in the War Department. Chilling
instructions came that he might employ civilians in fatigue and police
duty, and that he might send his proposed party of laborers to Castle
Pinckney. Meanwhile some of his suggestions would be under
consideration; besides, he was cautioned to send his communications to
the Adjutant-General or Secretary of War, with the evident purpose to
forestall and prevent any patriotic order or suggestion which might
otherwise reach him from General Scott.

Nevertheless, Anderson did not weary in his manifest duty. His letters
of November 28 and December 1, though perhaps not as full and urgent,
are substantial repetitions of his former recommendations. The growing
excitement of the Charleston populace and the increasing danger to the
forts are restated with emphasis. He says that there appears to be a
romantic desire urging the South Carolinians to have possession of
Fort Moultrie. Various reports come, that as soon as the State should
secede the forts would be demanded, and if not surrendered, they would
be taken. All rumors and remarks indicate a fixed purpose to have
these works. The Charlestonians are drilling nightly, and making every
preparation for the fight which they say must take place.

  [Sidenote] Anderson to Adjutant-General, Nov. 28, 1860. W.R. Vol.
  I., pp. 78-9.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., Dec. 1, 1860. W.R. Vol. I. pp. 81-2.

Once more he repeated that the security of Fort Moultrie would be more
greatly increased by throwing garrisons into Castle Pinckney and Fort
Sumter than by anything that could be done in strengthening its own
defenses. He sent a detailed report of his command to force again upon
the attention of the Department his fatal deficiency in numbers, and
to show the practical impossibility of repelling an assault, or
resisting a siege with any reasonable hope of success. His letters
reached the same inevitable conclusion: "The question for the
Government to decide--and the sooner it is done the better--is,
whether, when South Carolina secedes, these forts are to be
surrendered or not. If the former, I must be informed of it, and
instructed what course I am to pursue. If the latter be the
determination, no time is to be lost in either sending troops, as
already suggested, or vessels of war to this harbor. Either of these
courses may cause some of the doubting States to join South Carolina.
I shall go steadily on preparing for the worst, trusting hopefully in
the God of battles to guard and guide me in my course."

While Anderson was thus penning the plain issue, as it lay in the
clear light of a soldier's conception of right and conviction of duty,
another pen was framing the reply agreed upon by the President and
his advisers at Washington. Major Anderson might have faith in the
God of battles, but what faith could he have in a Government holding
one-third of a vast continent peopled by thirty millions of freemen
which could not or would not, in face of the most urgent reiterated
appeals and the most imminent and palpable necessity, send him two or
three companies of recruits, when the possession of three forts, the
peace of a city, the allegiance of a State, if not the tremendous
alternative of civil war, hung in the balance?

  [Sidenote] Adjutant-General to Anderson, Dec. 1, 1860. W.R. Vol.
  I., pp. 82, 83.

"It is believed,"--so ran the reply, and apparently the final decision
of the Government,--"from information thought to be reliable, that an
attack will not be made on your command, and the Secretary has only to
refer to his conversation with you, and to caution you that should his
convictions unhappily prove untrue, your actions must be such as to be
free from the charge of initiating a collision. If attacked, you are,
of course, expected to defend the trust committed to you to the best
of your ability. The increase of the force under your command, however
much to be desired, would, the Secretary thinks, judging from the
recent excitement produced on account of an anticipated increase, as
mentioned in your letter, but add to that excitement and might lead to
serious results."

This renunciation by the War Department of the proper show of authority
and power, demanded by plain necessity and repeatedly urged by its
trusted agents, must have touched the pride of Anderson and his brother
officers. But a still deeper humiliation was in store for them, The
same letter brought him the following notice: "The Secretary of War has
directed Brevet Colonel Huger to repair to this city as soon as he can
safely leave his post, to return there in a short time. He desires you
to see Colonel Huger, and confer with him prior to his departure on the
matters which have been confided to each of you."

  [Sidenote] Abner Doubleday, "Reminiscences of Forts Sumter and
  Moultrie," p. 42.

Colonel Huger was an ordnance officer of the army, then stationed for
duty in Charleston, of distinguished connections in that city, and
having on that account as well as personally great local influence.

What the precise nature of the instructions were, which the Department
sent him, does not appear from any accessible correspondence. The
result of the action which the two officers took thereunder is,
however, less doubtful.

It appears to have been, in effect, a mission by two army officers of
honorable rank, in obedience to direct commands from the Secretary of
War, to humbly beg the Charlestonians not to assault the forts. Major
Anderson on his part dismisses the distasteful mission with a
significantly curt report: "I have the honor to acknowledge the
receipt on the 4th of your communication of the 1st instant. In
compliance therewith I went yesterday to the city of Charleston to
confer with Colonel Huger, and I called with him upon the Mayor of the
city, and upon several other prominent citizens. All seemed
determined, as far as their influence or power extends, to prevent an
attack by a mob on our fort; but all are equally decided in the
opinion that the forts must be theirs after secession."

What a bitter confession for a brave and sensitive soldier, who knew
that with half a company of artillerymen in Castle Pinckney, as he had
vainly demanded, the Charleston mob, with the conspiring Governor and
insurgent secession convention, would have been compelled to accept
from him, as the representative of a forbearing Government, the safety
of their roof-trees and the security of their hearthstones.

  [Sidenote] Anderson to Adjutant-General, Dec. 6, 1860. W.R. Vol.
  I., pp. 87, 88.

But, his duty was to obey, and so he resigned himself without a
murmur to the hard conditions which had fallen to his lot. "I shall,
nevertheless," adds Anderson, "knowing how excitable this community
is, continue to keep on the _qui vive_ and, as far as is in my power,
steadily prepare my command to the uttermost to resist any attack that
may be made.... Colonel Huger designs, I think, leaving Charleston for
Washington to-morrow night. He is more hopeful of a settlement of
impending difficulties without bloodshed than I am."



Less than a month intervened between the November election at which
Lincoln had been chosen and the annual session of Congress, which would
meet on the first Monday of December, and it was necessary at once to
begin the preparation of the annual message. A golden opportunity
presented itself to President Buchanan. The suffrages of his
fellow-citizens had covered his political theories, his party measures,
and his official administration with condemnation, in an avalanche of
ballots.[1] But the Charleston conspirators had within a very few days
created for him a new issue overshadowing all the questions on which
he had suffered political wreck. Since the 6th of November the campaign
of the Border Ruffians for the conquest of Kansas, and the wider
Congressional struggle for the possession of the Territories, might be
treated as things of the past. Even had they still been pending issues,
they paled into insignificance before the paramount question of
disunion. Face to face with, this danger, the adherents of Lincoln, of
Douglas, of Bell, and the fraction of the President's own partisans in
the free-States would be compelled to postpone their discords and as
one man follow the constitutional ruler in a constitutional defense of
the laws, the flag, and the territory of the Union.

Without change of position, without recantation of principle, without
abatement even of declared party doctrine, honestly executing only the
high mandate of the Constitution, he could turn from the old issues and
take up the new. A single stride, and from the flying leader of a
discomfited rout he might become the mailed hero of an overpowering
host. Tradition, patriotism, duty, the sleepless monition of a solemn
official oath, all summoned him to take this step, and the brilliant
example set by President Jackson--an incident forever luminous in
American history--assured him of the plaudits of posterity.

Unfortunately for himself and for his country, President Buchanan had
neither the intellectual independence nor the courage required for such
an act of moral heroism. Of sincere patriotism and of blameless
personal rectitude, he had reached political eminence by slow promotion
through seniority, not by brilliancy of achievement. He was a
politician, not a statesman. Of fair ability, and great industry in his
earlier life, the irresolution and passiveness of advancing age and
physical infirmity were now upon him. Though from the free-State of
Pennsylvania, he saw with Southern eyes and heard with Southern ears,
and had convinced himself that the South was acting under the impulse
of resentment arising from deliberate and persistent injuries from the

The fragment of an autograph diary of John B. Floyd, Secretary of
War,[2] affords the exact evidence of the temper in which President
Buchanan officially confronted the rebellion of the Southern States.
The following are extracts from entries, on several days, beginning
with November 7, 1860, the day following the Presidential election:

    WASHINGTON CITY, November 7, 1860.

    ... The President wrote me a note this evening, alluding to a
    rumor which reached the city to the effect that an armed force
    had attacked and carried the forts in Charleston harbor. He
    desired me to visit him, which I did, and assured him that the
    rumor was altogether without foundation, and gave it as my
    opinion that there was no danger of such an attempt being made.
    We entered upon a general conversation upon the subject of
    disunion and discussed the probabilities of it pretty fully. We
    concurred in the opinion that all indications from the South
    looked as if disunion was inevitable. He said that whilst his
    reason told him there was great danger, yet his feelings repelled
    the conviction of his mind.

    Judge Black, the Attorney-General, was present during a part of
    the conversation, and indicated an opinion, that any attempt at
    disunion by a State should be put down by all the power of the

    November 9 ... A Cabinet meeting was held as usual at I o'clock;
    all the members were present, and the President said the business
    of the meeting was the most important ever before the Cabinet
    since his induction into office. The question, he said, to be
    considered and discussed, was as to the course the Administration
    should advise him to pursue in relation to the threatening aspect
    of affairs in the South, and most particularly in South Carolina.
    After a considerable amount of desultory conversation, he asked
    the opinions of each member of the Cabinet as to what should be
    done or said relative to a suggestion which he threw out. His
    suggestion was that a proposition should be made for a general
    convention of the States as provided for under the Constitution,
    and to propose some plan of compromising the angry disputes
    between the North and the South. He said if this were done, and
    the North or non-slaveholding States should refuse it, the South
    would stand justified before the whole world for refusing longer
    to remain in a confederacy where her rights were so shamefully
    violated. He said he was compelled to notice at length the
    alarming condition of the country, and that he would not shrink
    from the duty.

    General Cass spoke with earnestness and much feeling about the
    impending crisis--admitted fully all the great wrongs and
    outrages which had been committed against the South by Northern
    fanaticism, and deplored it. But he was emphatic in his
    condemnation of the doctrine of secession by any State from the
    Union. He doubted the efficacy of the appeal for a convention,
    but seemed to think it might do well enough to try it. He spoke
    warmly in favor of using force to coerce a State that attempted
    to secede.

    Judge Black, the Attorney-General, was emphatic in his advocacy
    of coercion, and advocated earnestly the propriety of sending at
    once a strong force into the forts in Charleston harbor, enough
    to deter, if possible, the people from, any attempt at disunion.
    He seemed to favor the idea of an appeal for a general convention
    of all the States.

    Governor Cobb, the Secretary of the Treasury, declared his very
    decided approbation of the proposition for two reasons--first,
    that it afforded the President a great opportunity for a high and
    statesmanlike treatment of the whole subject of agitation, and
    the proper remedies to prevent it; secondly, because, in his
    judgment, the failure to procure that redress which the South
    would be entitled to and would demand (and that failure he
    thought certain), would tend to unite the entire South in a
    decided disunion movement. He thought disunion inevitable, and
    under present circumstances most desirable.

    Mr. Holt, the Postmaster-General, thought the proposition for the
    convention dangerous, for the reason that if the call should be
    made and it should fail to procure redress, those States which
    now are opposed to secession might find themselves inclined, from
    a feeling of honor, to back the States resolving on disunion.
    Without this common demand and common failure he thought there
    would be no such danger of united action, and therefore a
    stronger prospect of some future plan of reconciliation.

    Mr. Thompson, the Secretary of the Interior, thought well of the
    plan of calling for a general convention--thought his State
    (Mississippi) about equally divided between the union and
    disunion men. He deprecated the idea of force, and said any show
    of it by the Government would instantly make Mississippi a unit
    in favor of disunion.

    Mr. Toucey, Secretary of the Navy, thought well of the appeal for
    the convention--coincided in an opinion I had expressed, that
    retaliatory State measures would prove most availing for bringing
    the Northern fanatics to their senses.

    I expressed myself decidedly opposed to any rash movement, and
    against the idea of secession at this time. I did so because I
    think that Lincoln's administration will fail, and be regarded as
    impotent for good or evil within four months after his
    inauguration. We are to meet to-morrow at 1 o'clock.

  [Sidenote] Pollard, "Life and Times of Robert E. Lee," etc., pp.

    November 10 ... We had a Cabinet meeting to-day, at which the
    President read a very elaborate document, prepared either as a
    part of his message or as a proclamation. It was well written in
    the main, and met with extravagant commendation from General
    Cass, Governor Toucey, Judge Black, and Mr. Holt. Cobb, Thompson,
    and myself found much to differ from in it,--Cobb because it
    inculcated submission to Lincoln's election and intimated the use
    of force to coerce a submission to his rule, and because it
    reprehended the policy of the Kansas-Nebraska bill; Thompson
    because of the doctrine of acquiescence and the hostility to the
    secession doctrine. I objected to it because I think it misses
    entirely the temper of the Southern people and attacks the true
    State-Rights doctrine on the subject of secession. I do not see
    what good can come of the paper, as prepared, and I do see how
    much mischief may flow from it.

It is an open question whether we may accept these extracts at their
full literal import. Either the words "coerce," "submission," "use of
force," and so on, are written down by the diarist in a sense
different from that in which they were spoken, or the President and
several of his counselors underwent an amazing change of sentiment.
But in a general way they show us that on the fourth day after
Lincoln's election the Buchanan Cabinet was already divided into
hostile camps. Cass of Michigan, Secretary of State, Toucey of
Connecticut, Secretary of the Navy, Black of Pennsylvania,
Attorney-General, and Holt of Kentucky, Postmaster-General, were
emphatic Unionists; while Cobb of Georgia, Secretary of the Treasury,
Thompson of Mississippi, Secretary of the Interior, and Floyd of
Virginia, Secretary of War, were secessionists--the latter yet
professing devotion to the Union, but with such ifs and buts as left
sufficiently clear evidence of his inevitable drift to disloyalty.

All impulses of prudence and patriotism ought to have moved the
President to reconstruct his Cabinet. But instead of some energetic
executive act of this character, he seems to have applied himself to
the composition of a political essay to teach the North its duty; as
if his single pen had power to change the will of the people of the
United States upon a point which they had decided by their votes only
four days previously after six years of discussion. In the draft of
this document, which he read to his Cabinet on November 10, we have
the important record that "it inculcated submission to Lincoln's
election, and intimated the use of force to coerce a submission to his
rule"--positions which Floyd records were "met with extravagant
commendations from General Cass, Governor Toucey, Judge Black, and Mr.
Holt." This was a true touchstone; it instantly brought out not only
the open secessionism of Cobb and Thompson, but the disguised
disloyalty of Floyd.

It is a strange historical phenomenon that, with the President and a
majority of the Cabinet in this frame of mind, the South should have
been permitted to organize rebellion. The solution seems to lie in the
temporizing feebleness of Buchanan and in the superior finesse and
daring conspiracy of Cobb, Thompson, and Floyd.

Many indications make it evident that a long factional struggle took
place over the preparation of the President's message. The telegraph
announced several protracted Cabinet sessions; and as early as the
21st of November the points under discussion and the attitude of the
President and his several official advisers were accurately
foreshadowed in the newspapers. Nor were these momentous deliberations
confined to the Cabinet proper. All the varieties of suggestion and
contradictory counsels which were solicited or tendered we may never
learn, and yet we know enough to infer the highest extremes and
antagonisms of doctrine and policy. Jefferson Davis, the future chief
of the rebellion, came on the one hand at the urgent call of his
fellow-conspirators; Edwin M. Stanton, afterwards Buchanan's
Attorney-General and Lincoln's Secretary of War,[4] was on the other
hand called in by Mr. Buchanan himself, to help him through, the
intricate maze of his perplexed opinions and inclinations. How many
others may have come voluntarily or by summons it is impossible to
guess. Many brains and hands, however, must have joined in the work,
since the document is such a heterogeneous medley of conflicting
theories, irreconcilable doctrines, impracticable and irrelevant
suggestions. For at length the hesitating and bewildered President,
unable to decide and impotent to construct, seems to have made his
message a patchwork from the contributions of his advisers, regular
and irregular, with the inevitable effect, not to combine and
strengthen, but to weaken and confuse the warring thoughts and alien

Aside from the mere recapitulation of department reports, the message
of President Buchanan delivered to Congress on the 4th of December
occupied itself mainly with two subjects--slavery and disunion. On the
question of slavery it repeated the assertions and arguments of the
Buchanan faction of the Democratic party during the late Presidential
campaign, charging the present peril entirely upon the North. As a
remedy it recommended an amendment to the Federal Constitution
expressly[5] recognizing slavery in States which had adopted or might
adopt it, and also expressly giving it existence and protection in the
Federal Territories. The proposal was simply childish. Precisely this
issue had been decided at the Presidential election; to do this would
be to reverse the final verdict of the ballot-box.[6]

On the question of disunion or secession, the message raised a vague
and unwarrantable distinction between the infractions of law and
allegiance by individuals, and the infractions of law and allegiance
by the commonwealth, or body politic denominated a State. Under the
first head it held: That the Union was designed to be perpetual; that
the Federal Government is invested with sovereign powers on special
subjects, which can only be opposed or abrogated by revolution; that
secession is unconstitutional, and is, therefore, neither more nor
less than revolution; that the Executive has no right to recognize the
secession of a State; that the Constitution has established a perfect
government in all its forms, legislative, executive, and judicial, and
this government, to the extent of its powers, acts directly upon the
individual citizen of every State and executes its own decrees by the
agency of its own officers; and, finally, that the Executive cannot be
absolved from his duty to execute the laws.

But, continued the President, the laws can only be executed in certain
prescribed methods, through the agency of courts, marshals, _posse
comitatus_, aided, if necessary, by the militia or land and naval
forces. The means and agencies, therefore, fail, and the performance
of this duty becomes impraticable, when, as in South Carolina,
universal public sentiment has deprived him of courts, marshals, and
_posse_. Present laws being inadequate to overcome a united
opposition, even in a single State, Congress alone has the power to
decide whether they can be effectually amended.[7]

It will be seen from the above summary, that the whole of the
President's rambling discussion of the first head of the disunion
question resulted logically in three ultimate conclusions: (1) That
South Carolina was in revolt; (2) that the Constitution, the laws, and
moral obligation all united gave the Government the right to suppress
this revolt by executing the laws upon and against the citizens of
that State; (3) that certain defects in the laws paralyzed their
practical enforcement.

Up to this point in his argument, his opinions, whatever may be
thought of their soundness, were confined to the legitimate field of
executive interpretation, and such as in the exercise of his official
discretion he might with undoubted propriety communicate to Congress.
But he had apparently failed to satisfy his own conscience in thus
summarily reasoning the executive and governmental power of a young,
compact, vigorous, and thoroughly organized nation of thirty millions
of people into sheer nothingness and impotence. How supremely absurd
was the whole national panoply of commerce, credit, coinage, treaty
power, judiciary, taxation, militia, army and navy, and Federal fag,
if, through the mere joint of a defective law, the hollow reed of a
secession ordinance could inflict a fatal wound!

[Illustration: JAMES BUCHANAN.]

  [Sidenote] Appendix, "Globe," Dec. 3, 1860, p. 3.

The President proceeds, therefore, to discuss the second head of the
disunion question, by an attempt to formulate and define the powers
and duties of Congress with reference to the threatened rebellion. He
would not only roll the burden from his own shoulders upon the
National Legislature, but he would by volunteer advice instruct that
body how it must be borne and disposed of. Addressing Congress, he
says in substance: "You may be called upon to decide the momentous
question, whether you possess the power by force of arms to compel a
State to remain in the Union.... The question, fairly stated, is: Has
the Constitution delegated to Congress the power to coerce a State
into submission which is attempting to withdraw, or has actually
withdrawn, from the Confederacy! If answered in the affirmative, it
must be on the principle that the power has been conferred upon
Congress to declare and make war against a State. After much serious
reflection I have arrived at the conclusion that no such power has
been delegated to Congress, or to any other department of the Federal
Government.... It may be safely asserted that the power to make war
against a State is at variance with the whole spirit and intent of the
Constitution.... But if we possessed this power, would it be wise to
exercise it under existing circumstances?... Our Union rests upon
public opinion, and can never be cemented by the blood of its citizens
shed in civil war.... Congress possesses many means of preserving it
by conciliation; but the sword was not placed in their hand to
preserve it by force."

Why did the message thus leap at one bound without necessary connection
or coherence from the discussion of executive to those of legislative
powers? Why waste words over doubtful theories when there was pressing
need to suggest practical amendments to the statute whose real or
imaginary defects Mr. Buchanan had pointed out? Why indulge in
lamentations over the remote possibility that Congress might violate
the Constitution, when the occasion demanded only prompt preventive
orders from the Executive to arrest the actual threatened violation of
law by Charleston mobs? Why talk of war against States when the duty
of the hour was the exercise of acknowledged authority against
insurrectionary citizens?

The issue and argument were wholly false and irrelevant. No State had
yet seceded. Execute such laws of the United States as were in
acknowledged vigor, and disunion would be impossible. Buchanan needed
only to do what he afterwards so truthfully asserted Lincoln had
done.[8] But through his inaction, and still more through his declared
want of either power or right to act, disunion gained two important
advantages--the influence of the Executive voice upon public opinion,
and especially upon Congress; and the substantial pledge of the
Administration that it would lay no straw in the path of peaceful,
organized measures to bring about State secession.

  [Sidenote] Correspondence, N.Y. "Evening Post".

  [Sidenote] Washington "Constitution" of December 19, 1860.

  [Sidenote] London "Times," Jan. 9, 1851.

The central dogma of the message, that while a State has no right to
secede, the Union has no right to coerce, has been universally
condemned as a paradox. The popular estimate of Mr. Buchanan's
proposition and arguments was forcibly presented at the time by a
jesting criticism attributed to Mr. Seward. "I think," said the New
York Senator, "the President has conclusively proved two things: (1)
That no State has the right to secede unless it wishes to; and (2)
that it is the President's duty to enforce the laws unless somebody
opposes him." No less damaging was the explanation put upon his
language by his political friends. The recognized organ of the
Administration said: "Mr. Buchanan has increased the displeasure of
the Lincoln party by his repudiation of the coercion theory, and his
firm refusal to permit a resort to force as a means of preventing the
secession of a sovereign State." Nor were intelligent lookers-on in
foreign lands less severe in their judgment: "Mr. Buchanan's message,"
said the London "Times," a month later, "has been a greater blow to
the American people than all the rant of the Georgian Governor or the
'ordinances' of the Charleston Convention. The President has
dissipated the idea that the States which elected him constitute one

[1] There were 3,832,240 opposition popular votes against 847,953 for
Breckinridge and Lane, the Presidential ticket championed by Mr.
Buchanan and his adherents.

[2] Printed in "The Early Life, Campaigns, and Public Services of
Robert E. Lee, with a record of the campaigns and heroic deeds of his
companions in arms, by a distinguished Southern journalist." 8vo. E.B.
Treat, publisher, New York, 1871; p. 789; article, Major-General John
B. Floyd. It says: "Among his private papers examined after his death
the fragment of a diary was found, written in his own hand, and which
is here copied entire." The diary also bears internal evidence of

[3] The astounding mysteries and eccentricities of politics find
illustration in the remarkable contrast between this recorded impulsive
and patriotic expression of Attorney-General Black on November 7, and
his labored official opinion of an apparently opposite tenor, certified
to the President under date of November 20. See "Opinions of the
Attorneys-General." Vol. IX., p. 517.

[4] "It was while these plans for a _coup d'état_ before the 4th of
March were being matured in the very Cabinet itself and in the presence
of a President too feeble to resist them and too blind oven to see them,
that Mr. Stanton was sent for by Mr. Buchanan to answer the question,
'Can a State be coerced?' For two hours he battled, and finally
scattered for the time being the heresies with which secession had
filled the head of that old broken-down man. He was requested to prepare
an argument in support of the power, to be inserted in the forthcoming
message."--Hon. H.L. Dawes, in the "Boston Congregationalist." See
 "Atlantic Monthly," October, 1870, p. 468.

[5] Slavery existed by virtue of express enactments in the several
constitutions of the slave States, but the Constitution of the United
States gave it only implied recognition and toleration.

[6] "It was with some surprise, I confess, that I read the message of
the President. The message laid down certain conditions as those upon
which alone the great Confederacy of the United States could be
preserved from disruption. In so doing the President appeared to be
preparing beforehand an apology for the secession. Had the conditions,
indeed, been such as the Northern States would be likely to accept, the
message might have been considered one of peace. But it seems very
improbable that the Northern States should now, at the moment of their
triumph, and with large majorities of Republicans in their assemblies,
submit to conditions which, during many years of struggle, they have
rejected or evaded."--Lord John Russell to Lord Lyons, December 26,
1860. British Blue Book.

[7] The logic of the message breaks down by the palpable omission to
state the well-known fact that, though every citizen of South
Carolina, or any other State, might refuse to accept or execute the
office of United States marshal, or, indeed, any Federal office, the
want could be immediately lawfully supplied by appointing any qualified
citizen of any other State, who might lawfully and properly lead either
a _posse_, or Federal forces, or State militia, to put down obstruction
of the Federal laws, insurrection, or rebellion. President Buchanan
admitted his own error, and repudiated his own doctrine, when on
January 2, following, he nominated a citizen of Pennsylvania for the
office of collector of the port of Charleston, South Carolina.

Sections two and three of the Act of February 28, 1795, authorize the
President, when the execution of the laws is obstructed by insurrection
too powerful for courts and marshals, to call forth the militia of any
and all the States, first and primarily to "suppress such
combinations," and, secondly, "to cause the laws to be duly executed,
and the use of militia so to be called forth may be continued, if
necessary, until the expiration of thirty days after the commencement
of the then next session of Congress." In performing this duty the act
imposes but a single condition or prerequisite on the Executive: he
shall "by proclamation command the insurgents to disperse." These
sections are complete, harmonious, self-sufficient, and, in their chief
provisions, nowise dependent upon or connected with any other section
or clause of the act. They place under the President's command the
whole militia, and by a subsequent law (March 3, 1807) also the entire
army and navy of the Union, against rebellion. The assertion that the
army can only follow a marshal and his writ in case of rebellion, is
not only unsupported by the language of the act, but utterly refuted by
strong implication. The last section repeals a former provision
limiting the President's action to cases of insurrection of which
United States judges shall have given him notice, and thereby remits
him to any and all of his official sources of information. Jackson's
famous force bill only provided certain supplementary details; it
directly recognized and invoked the great powers of the Act of 1795,
and expiring by limitation, left its wholesome plenitude and broad
original grant of authority unrepealed and unimpaired.

[8] "Happily our civil war was undertaken and prosecuted in self-defense,
not to coerce a State, but to enforce the execution of the laws within
the States against individuals, and to suppress an unjust rebellion
raised by a conspiracy among them against the Government of the United
States."--Buchanan, in "Mr. Buchanan's Administration," p. 129.



As President Buchanan might have foreseen, his inconsistent message
proved satisfactory to neither friend nor foe. The nation was on the
eve of rebellion and had urgent need of remedial acts, not of
temporizing theories, least of all theories which at the late
Presidential election had been rejected as errors and dangers. The
message served as a topic to initiate debate in Congress; but this
debate, resting only on the main subject long enough to cover the
Chief Magistrate's views and recommendations as a whole, with almost
unanimous expressions of dissent, and even of contempt, passed on to
words of mutual defiance and open declarations of revolutionary

The conspirators in the Cabinet had done their work. By the official
declarations of the President of the United States, the Government had
tied its own hands--had resolved and proclaimed the duty and policy of
non-resistance to organized rebellion. Henceforth disunionists,
secessionists, nullifiers, and conspirators of every kind had but to
combine under alleged State action, and through the instrumentalities
of State Legislatures and State conventions cast off without let or
hinderance their Federal obligations by resolves and ordinances. The
semblance of a vote, a few scratches of the pen, a proclamation, and a
new flag, and at once without the existence of a corporal's squad, or
the smell of burnt powder, there would appear on the horizon of
American politics, if not a _de jure_ at least a _de facto_ State!

If there had hitherto been any doubt or hesitation in the minds of the
principal secession leaders of the South, it vanished under the
declared policy of inaction of the Federal Administration. The
President's message was a practical assurance of immunity from arrest
and prosecution for treason. It magnified their grievances,
specifically pointed out a contingent right and duty of revolution,
acknowledged that mere public sentiment might override and nullify
Federal laws, and pointedly bound up Federal authority in narrow legal
and Constitutional restrictions. It was blind as a mole to find
Federal power, but keen-eyed as a lynx to discover Federal impotence.

The leaders of secession were not slow to avail themselves of the
favorable situation. Between the date of the message and the incoming
of the new and possibly hostile Administration there intervened three
full months. It was the season of political activity--the period
during which legislatures meet, messages are written, and laws
enacted. It afforded ample time to authorize, elect, and hold State
conventions. Excitement was at fever heat in the South, and public
sentiment paralyzed, despondent, and divided at the North.

Accordingly, as if by a common impulse, the secession movement sprang
into quick activity and united effort. Within two months the States of
South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and
Texas, in the order named, by formal ordinances of conventions,
declared themselves separated from the Union. The recommendation of
Yancey's "scarlet letter" had been literally carried out; the Cotton
States were precipitated into revolution.

In this movement of secession the State of South Carolina was the
enthusiastic pioneer. At the date of the President's message she had
already provided by law for the machinery of a convention, though no
delegates had been elected. Nevertheless, her Legislature at once
plunged pell-mell into the task of making laws for the new condition
of independent sovereignty which by common consent the convention was
in a few days to declare. Questions of army and navy, postal
communication, and foreign diplomacy, for the moment eclipsed the
baser topics of estray laws or wolf-scalp bounties, and the little
would-be Congress fully justified the reported sarcasm of one of her
leading citizens that "the Palmetto State was too small for a republic
and too large for a lunatic asylum."

But, with all their outward fire and zeal for nationality, her
politicians were restrained by an undercurrent of prudence. A
revolution even under exceptional advantages is a serious thing.

  [Sidenote] Speech of Mr. Magrath in the South Carolina Convention,
  Dec. 19, 1860. "Annual Cyclopedia," 1861, p. 619.

Therefore the agitators of South Carolina scanned the President's
message with unconcealed eagerness. In that paradox of assertions and
denials, of purposes to act and promises to refrain, they found much
to assure them, but also something to cause doubt. "As I understand
the message of the President of the United States," explained Mr.
Magrath to the South Carolina Convention, "he affirms it as his right,
and constitutional duty, and high obligation to protect the property
of the United States within the limits of South Carolina, and to
enforce the laws of the Union within the limits of South Carolina. He
says he has no constitutional power to coerce South Carolina, while at
the same time he denies to her the right of secession. It may be, and
I apprehend it will be, Mr. President, that the attempt to coerce
South Carolina will be made under the pretense of protecting the
property of the United States within the limits of South Carolina. I
am disposed, therefore, at the very threshold to test the accuracy of
this logic, and test the conclusions of the President of the United

  [Sidenote] "Mr. Buchanan's Administration," p. 126.

President Buchanan had indeed declared in his message that the
Constitution gave the Federal Government no power to coerce a State.
He had further said that the laws gave him no authority to execute
civil or criminal process or suppress an insurrection with the help of
the militia, or the army and navy, "in a State where no judicial
authority exists to issue process, and where there is no marshal to
execute it, and where, even if there were such an officer, the entire
population would constitute one solid combination to resist him."

So far as mere political theories could go, this was certainly an
important concession to the conspirators. In virtue of these
doctrines, they could proceed, without danger to life and property, to
hold conventions, pass secession ordinances, resign and refuse Federal
offices, repudiate Northern debts, and effectively stop all Federal
mails at the State line. But reading another passage in this
paradoxical message of President Buchanan, they found these other
propositions and purposes, involving a flat contradiction, and which
with sufficient reason excited the apprehensions of Mr. Magrath and
his fellow-conspirators. Said the message:

    "The same insuperable obstacles do not lie in the way of
    executing the laws for the collection of the customs. The revenue
    still continues to be collected as heretofore at the custom-house
    in Charleston, and should the collector unfortunately resign, a
    successor may be appointed to perform this duty."

  [Sidenote] "Mr. Buchanan's Administration," p. 126.

    "Then in regard to the property of the United States in South
    Carolina. This has been purchased for a fair equivalent 'by the
    consent of the Legislature of the State,' 'for the erection of
    forts, magazines, arsenals,' etc., and over these the authority
    'to exercise exclusive legislation' has been expressly granted by
    the Constitution to Congress. It is not believed that any attempt
    will be made to expel the United States from this property by
    force; but if in this I should prove to be mistaken, the officer
    in command of the forts has received orders to act strictly on
    the defensive. In such a contingency the responsibility for
    consequences would rightfully rest upon the heads of the

It was, of course, in vain that Mr. Magrath and other South Carolina
constitutional expounders protested against this absurd want of logic.
It was in vain that they could demonstrate that protecting the
property of the Union was but another name for coercion; that if the
President could lawfully from another State appoint a successor to the
Federal collector, he could in the same manner appoint a successor to
the Federal judge, district attorney, and marshal; that if he could
execute the revenue laws he could execute the steamboat laws, the
postal laws, or the criminal laws; that if, with Federal bayonets, he
could stop a mob at the door of the custom-house, he could do the same
at the door of the court-room; that it would be no more offensive war
to employ a regiment to protect a bonded warehouse than a jail; a
shipping dock than a post-office; a dray-load of merchandise passing
across a street than a mail car _in transitu_ across a State; that
coercing a Charleston belle to pay the custom duties on her silk gown,
and a Palmetto orator to suffer the imposition of foreign tribute on
his champagne was in fact destroying the whole splendid theory of
exclusive State sovereignty.

It followed, therefore, that the issue was not one of constitutional
theory, but of practical administration; not of legislation, but of
war. The argument of the President's message was palpably illogical
and ridiculous, but there in black and white stood his intention to
collect the revenue and protect the public property; yonder in the bay
were Pinckney, Moultrie, and Sumter; under the flag of the Union was a
devoted band of troops and a brave officer, with orders to hold the

For the present, then, the wall of Fort Moultrie was the iron collar
around the neck of the coveted "sovereignty" of South Carolina. How to
break that fetter was the narrow, simple problem. A half-finished
inclosure of brick walls, standing in the midst of sand-hills which
gave commanding elevations, and buildings which effectually masked the
approach of an assaulting column, and containing, all told, but sixty
men to guard 1500 feet of rampart. The street rabble of Charleston
could any night clamber over the thinly defended walls, and at least a
score of companies of minute men, drilled and equipped, could be
brought by rail from the interior of the State to garrison and hold
it. But what then? That would bring Federal troops in Federal ships of
war, and in a short, quick struggle the substantial standing
preparations of the Government would overcome the extemporized
preparations of the State, and the insurrection would be hopelessly

  [Sidenote] Trescott's Narrative, Samuel Wylie Crawford, "Story of
  Sumter." pp. 28-30.

To prevent reënforcement was the vital point, and this had been
clearly perceived and acted upon from the beginning. While the
preparation of President Buchanan's message was yet under discussion
the Cabinet cabal had earnestly deliberated upon the most effective
intrigue to be employed to deter the President from sending additional
troops to Charleston harbor. In pursuance of the scheme agreed upon by
them in caucus, Trescott wrote a letter to Governor Gist suggesting
that the Governor should write a letter "assuring the President that
if no reënforcements were sent, there would be no attempt upon the
forts before the meeting of the convention, and that then commissioners
would be sent to negotiate all the points of difference; that their
hands would be strengthened, the responsibility of provoking collision
would be taken from the State, and the President would probably be
relieved from the necessity of pursuing this policy." Governor Gist
acted upon the suggestion and wrote, under date of November 29, back
to Trescott (giving him liberty to show the letter to the President):

  [Sidenote] Gist to Trescott, Nov. 29, 1860. Crawford, p. 31.

    Although South Carolina is determined to secede from the Federal
    Union very soon after her convention meets, yet the desire of her
    constituted authorities is, not to do anything that will bring on
    a collision before the ordinance of secession has been passed and
    notice has been given to the President of the fact; and not then,
    unless compelled to do so by the refusal of the President to
    recognize our right to secede, by attempting to interfere with
    our exports or imports, or by refusal to surrender the forts and
    arsenals in our limits. I have found great difficulty in
    restraining the people of Charleston from seizing the forts, and
    have only been able to restrain them by the assurance that no
    additional troops would be sent to the forts, or any munitions of
    war.... If President Buchanan takes a course different from the
    one indicated and sends on a reënforcement, the responsibility
    will rest on him of lighting the torch of discord, which will
    only be quenched in blood.

  [Sidenote] Trescott's Narrative, Crawford, pp. 34 (line 16) and 42
  (lines 13-16).

Mr. Trescott showed this letter to the President on the evening of
Sunday, December 2, and while his narrative does not mention any
expression by Mr. Buchanan of either approval or dissent, his
subsequent acts show a tacit acquiescence in Governor Gist's

There immediately followed by the leaders in Charleston, and their
agents and spokesmen in Washington, the daily repetition of threats and
complaints (thus originated by the latter), which were continued for
nearly three and a half months. The purpose was twofold: first, by
alternately exciting the fears and hopes of the Government to induce it
to withhold reënforcement as a prudential measure of magnanimity and
conciliation; secondly, to make it a cloak to hide, as far as might be,
their own preparations for war. Had the Federal Government been in a
condition of normal health and vigor, the farce would not have been
effective for even a single day; but, with capital alarmed, with,
parties divided into factions, with three traitors in the Cabinet, and
a timid and vacillating Executive, by successive, almost imperceptible,
degrees, the farce produced a policy and the policy led to an opening
drama of civil war.

Leaving out of view anterior political doctrines and discussions, the
first false step had been taken by the Administration in its doctrine
of non-coercion, announced in the message; the second false step half
logically resulting from the first, in its refusal on the first day of
December to send Major Anderson the reënforcements he so urgently
demanded. The Charlestonians clung to the concession with a tenacity
which demonstrated their full appreciation of its value. Immediately
there began to flow in upon Mr. Buchanan and his advisers, on the one
hand magnified reports of the daily clamors of the Charleston mob, on
the other hand encouraging intimations from the Charleston authorities
that they, while adhering to their political heresies and demands, were
yet averse to disorder and bloodshed, and to this end desired and
invoked the utmost forbearance of the Government. Put in truthful
language, their request would have been, "Help us keep the peace while
we are preparing to break the law. Let the Government send no ships,
men or supplies to the forts, in order that we may without danger or
collision build batteries to take them. Armament by the Federal
sovereignty is war, armament by State authority is peace." And it will
forever remain a marvel that a President of the United States consented
to this certain process of national suicide.



  [Sidenote] 1860.

The concession yielded by Mr. Buchanan, instead of tending to
conciliate the conspirators only brought upon him additional demands.
It so happened that the principal Federal ships of war were absent
from the harbors of the Atlantic coast on service in distant waters.
But now, as a piece of good fortune amid many untoward occurrences,
the steam sloop-of-war _Brooklyn_, a new and formidable vessel of
twenty-five guns, which had been engaged in making preliminary surveys
in the Chiriqui Lagoon to test the practicability of one of the
proposed interoceanic ship canals, unexpectedly returned to the Norfolk
navy yard on the 28th of November, less than a week before the meeting
of Congress. She had until recently been under the command of Captain
Farragut, afterwards famous in the war of the rebellion, and was, with
trifling exceptions, ready for sea.

In the Cabinet, where the feasibility of collecting the customs revenue
at Charleston on shipboard had already been discussed as a possible
contingency, and especially where the forcible protection of the public
property had also received serious consideration, this sudden
appearance of the _Brooklyn_ must have furnished a conclusive reason in
favor of both these propositions. Be this as it may, when the President
affirmed these duties in his message, the conspirators realized that he
held the means of practical enforcement at instantaneous command. With
a ship of war ready at Norfolk, with troops at Fortress Monroe, might
not a careless _émeute_ at Charleston bring the much-dreaded
reënforcements to Moultrie, Sumter, and Pinckney, precipitate a
_dénouement_, and prematurely ruin all their well-concocted schemes?
There was urgent need to prevent the sailing of the steamer on such an

  [Sidenote] Buchanan to Burnwell, Adams, and Orr, Dec. 31, 1860. W.R.
  Vol. I., p. 116.

On Saturday, December 8, four of the Representatives in Congress from
South Carolina requested an interview of President Buchanan, which he
granted them, in which they rehearsed their well-studied prediction of
a collision at Charleston. One of their number has related the
substance of their address with graphic frankness:

  [Sidenote] Hon. Wm. Porcher Miles, Statement before the South
  Carolina Convention, "Annual Cyclopedia," 1861, pp. 649-50.

    "Mr. President, it is our solemn conviction that if you attempt
    to send a solitary soldier to these forts, the instant the
    intelligence reaches our people (and we shall take care that it
    does reach them, for we have sources of information in Washington
    so that no orders for troops can be issued without our getting
    information) these forts will be forcibly and immediately

    "We all assured him that if an attempt was made to transport
    reënforcements, our people would take these forts, and that we
    would go home and help them to do it; for it would be suicidal
    folly for us to allow the forts to be manned. And we further said
    to him that a bloody result would follow the sending of troops to
    those forts, and that we did not believe that the authorities of
    South Carolina would do anything prior to the meeting of this
    convention, and that we hoped and believed that nothing would be
    done after this body met until we had demanded of the general
    Government the recession of these forts."

Here was an avowal to the President himself, not only of treason at
Charleston, but of conspiracy in the Executive departments at
Washington; a demand coupled with a menace; a proposal for a ten days'
truce supplemented by a declaration of intention to proceed to
extremities after its expiration. Instead of meeting these with a
stern rebuke and dismissal, the President cowered and yielded to their
demand. The sanctity of the Constitution, the majesty of the law, the
power of the nation, the patriotism of the people, all faded from his
bewildered vision; his irresolute will shrank from his declared
purpose to protect the public property and enforce the revenue laws.
He saw only the picture of strife and bloodshed which the glib tongues
of his persecutors conjured up, and failed to detect the theatric
purpose for which it was employed.

  [Sidenote] Buchanan to Commissioners, Dec. 31, 1860. W.R. Vol. I.,
  p. 117.

He hastened to assure his visitors that it was his determination "not
to reënforce the forts in the harbor, and thus produce a collision,
until they had been actually attacked," or until he had "certain
evidence that they were about to be attacked." Though this was only
another concession, much like the first in outward semblance, it was
nevertheless in its vital essence a fatal hurt to the rapidly
shrinking Federal authority. The conspiracy had won the choice of
position; when the combat should come it was in the attitude necessary
to deal the first blow.

[Illustration: LEWIS CASS.]

The main point secured, there was an exhibition of abundant diplomatic
politeness between the parties. The President suggested that "for
prudential reasons" it would be best to put in writing what they had
said to him verbally. This they readily promised, and on Monday, the
10th, gave him, duly signed by five of the South Carolina
Representatives, this important paper:

  [Sidenote] W.R. Vol. I., p. 116.

    WASHINGTON, December 9, 1860.

    In compliance with our statement to you yesterday, we now express
    to you our strong convictions that neither the constituted
    authorities nor any body of the people of the State of South
    Carolina will either attack or molest the United States forts in
    the harbor of Charleston previously to the action of the
    convention, and we hope and believe not until an offer has been
    made through an accredited representative to negotiate for an
    amicable arrangement of all matters between the State and Federal
    Government, provided that no reënforcements shall be sent into
    those forts, and their relative military status shall remain as
    at present.

  [Sidenote] Buchanan to Commissioners, Dec. 31, 1860. Ibid.

When President Buchanan came to look at the explicit language of this
document, he shrank from the definite programme to which it committed
him. "I objected to the word 'provided,' as it might be construed into
an agreement on my part which I never would make. They said nothing
was further from their intention; they did not so understand it, and I
should not so consider it." There followed mutual protestations that
the whole transaction was voluntary, informal, and in the nature of a
mediation; that neither party possessed any delegated authority or
binding power. They were not frank enough to explain to one another
that the true object of each was delay--of the President, "that time
might be gained for reflection"; of the Members, that time might be
gained for the unmolested meeting of the convention, for passing the
ordinance of secession, for further organizing public sentiment, and
pushing forward military preparations at Charleston.

  [Sidenote] Buchanan to Commissioners, Dec. 31, 1860. W.R. Vol. I.,
  p. 117.

The mask of official propriety worn over this pernicious intrigue, the
disclaimers, the implications and mental reservations of which it was
made up--all became absurd in view of the results it produced. The
President, indeed, explains that it was no pledge or agreement. "But I
acted," he naïvely admits, "in the same manner as I would have, done
had I entered into a positive and formal agreement with parties
capable of contracting, although such an agreement would have been, on
my part, from the nature of my official duties, impossible. The world
knows that I have never sent any reënforcements to the forts in
Charleston harbor, and I have certainly never authorized any change to
be made in their 'relative military status.'"

While the conspirators were thus taking effectual steps to bind the
future acts of the Executive in respect to the forts in Charleston
harbor, and to make sure that the rising insurrection in South
Carolina should not be crippled or destroyed by any surprise or sudden
movement emanating from Washington, they were not less watchful to
counteract and prevent any possible hostile movement against them on
the part of Major Anderson and his handful of officers and troops in
Fort Moultrie, undertaken on his own discretion. Their boast of secret
sources of information in Washington, coupled with subsequent events,
furnish presumptive evidence that Mr. Floyd, Secretary of War, though
yet openly opposing disunion, was already in their confidence and
councils, and was lending them such active coõperation as might be
disguised or perhaps still excused to his own conscience as tending to
avert collision and bloodshed.

Shortly before, or about the time of the truce we have described,
Secretary Floyd sent an officer of the War Department to Fort Moultrie
with special verbal instructions to Major Anderson, which were duly
communicated, and the substance of them reduced to writing and
delivered to that officer on the 11th of December, the day following
the conclusion of the President's unofficial truce at Washington. The
importance of this document renders it worthy of reproduction in
complete form.

    Memorandum of verbal instructions to Major Anderson, 1st
    Artillery, commanding at Fort Moultrie, South Carolina:

    You are aware of the great anxiety of the Secretary of War that
    a collision of the troops with the people of this State shall
    be avoided, and of his studied determination to pursue a course
    with reference to the military force and forts in this harbor
    which shall guard against such a collision. He has, therefore,
    carefully abstained from increasing the force at this point, or
    taking any measures which might add to the present excited state
    of the public mind, or which would throw any doubt on the
    confidence he feels that South Carolina will not attempt by
    violence to obtain possession of the public works or interfere
    with their occupancy. But as the counsel and acts of rash and
    impulsive persons may possibly disappoint these expectations of
    the Government, he deems it proper that you shall be prepared
    with instructions to meet so unhappy a contingency. He has,
    therefore, directed me verbally to give you such instructions.

  [Sidenote] Buchanan to Commissioners, Dec. 31, 1860. W.R. Vol. I.,
  p. 117.

    You are carefully to avoid every act which would needlessly tend
    to provoke aggression, and for that reason you are not, without
    evident and imminent necessity, to take up any position which
    could be construed into the assumption of a hostile attitude. But
    you are to hold possession of the forts in this harbor, and if
    attacked you are to defend yourself to the last extremity. The
    smallness of your force will not permit you, perhaps, to occupy
    more than one of the three forts, but an attack on or attempt to
    take possession of either one of them will be regarded as an act
    of hostility, and you may then put your command into either of
    them which you may deem most proper, to increase its power of
    resistance. You are also authorized to take similar defensive
    steps whenever you have tangible evidence of a design to proceed
    to a hostile act.

    D.C. BUELL, Assistant Adjutant-General.
    FORT MOULTRIE, S.C., December 11, 1860.

    This is in conformity to my instructions to Major Buell.

    JOHN B. FLOYD, Secretary of War.

  [Sidenote] Doubleday, "Forts Sumter and Moultrie," p. 51.

Upon mere superficial inspection these instructions disclosed only the
then dominant anxiety of the Administration to prevent collision. But
if we remember that they were sent to Major Anderson without the
President's knowledge, and without the knowledge of General Scott,[1]
and especially if we keep in sight the state of public sentiment of
both Charleston and Washington and the paramount official influences
which had taken definite shape in the President's truce, we can easily
read between the lines that they were most artfully contrived to lull
suspicion while effectually restraining Major Anderson from any act or
movement which might check or control the insurrectionary preparations.
He must do nothing to provoke aggression; he must take no hostile
attitude without evident and imminent necessity; he must not move his
troops into Fort Sumter, unless it were attempted to attack or take
possession of one of the forts or such a design were tangibly
manifested. Practically, when the attempt to seize the vacant forts
might come it would be too late to prevent it, and certainly too late
to move his own force into either of them. Practically, too, any
serious design of that nature would never be permitted to come to his
knowledge. Supplement these literal negations and restrictions by the
unrecorded verbal explanations and comments said to have been made by
Major Buell, by his disapproval of the meager defensive preparations
which had been made, such as his declaration that a few loop-holes
"would have a tendency to irritate the people," and we can readily
imagine how a faithful officer, whose reiterated calls for help had
been refused, felt, that under such instructions, such surroundings,
and such neglect "his hands were tied," and that he and his little
command were a foredoomed sacrifice.[2]

[1] "The President has listened to him [General Scott] with due
friendliness and respect, but the War Department has been little
communicative. Up to this time he has not been shown the written
instructions of Major Anderson, nor been informed of the purport of
those more recently conveyed to Fort Moultrie verbally by Major
Buell."--Gen. Scott (by G.W. Lay) to Twiggs, Dec. 28, 1860. W.R. Vol.
I., p. 580.

[2] In a Senate speech, January 10, 1861, "Globe," page 307, Jefferson
Davis, commenting on these orders, while admitting that they empowered
Major Anderson to go from one post to another, said, "Though his
orders were not so designed, as I am assured."



Thus far Mr. Buchanan's policy of conciliation through concession had
brought him nothing but disappointment, and whatever faint hope his
loyal Cabinet advisers may have had at the outset in its saving
efficacy was by practical experiment utterly destroyed. The
non-coercion doctrine had been adopted as early as November 20, in
the Attorney-General's opinion of that date. The fact was rumored,
not only in the political circles of the capital, but in the chief
newspapers of the country; and the three secession members of the
Cabinet had doubtless communicated it confidentially to all their
prominent and influential confederates. Since that time South Carolina
had continued her preparation for secession with unremitting industry;
Mississippi had authorized a convention and appointed commissioners
to visit all the slave-States and propagate disunion, among them Mr.
Thompson, Buchanan's Secretary of the Interior, who afterwards
exercised this insurrectionary function while yet remaining in the
Cabinet; the North Carolina Legislature had postponed the election of
United States Senator; Florida had passed a convention bill; Georgia
had instituted legislative proceedings to bring about a conference of
the Southern States at Atlanta; both houses of the National Congress
had rung with secession speeches, while frequent caucuses of the
conspirators took place at Washington.

  [Sidenote] Cobb to Buchanan, "Washington Constitution," Dec. 12,

Mr. Buchanan's truce with the South Carolina Representatives had as
little effect in arresting the secession intrigues as his non-coercion
doctrine officially announced in the annual message. On the evening of
the day (December 8)[1] on which he received the South Carolina
pledge, the Secretary of the Treasury, Howell Cobb, of Georgia,
tendered his resignation, announcing in the same letter his intention
to embark in the active work of disunion. It had been generally
understood that the non-coercion theories of the message were adopted
by the President in deference to the wishes and under the influence of
Cobb, Thompson, and Floyd, and undoubtedly they had also been largely
instrumental in bringing about the unofficial truce at Charleston. If,
amid all his fears, Mr. Buchanan retained any sensibility, he must
have been profoundly shocked at the cool dissimulation with which Mr.
Cobb, everywhere recognized as a Cabinet officer of great ability, had
assisted in committing the Administration to these fatal doctrines and
measures, and then abandoned it in the moment of danger. "My
withdrawal," he wrote to the President, "has not been occasioned by
anything you have said or done. Whilst differing from your message
upon some of its theoretical doctrines, as well as from the hope so
earnestly expressed that the Union can be preserved, there was no
practical result likely to follow which required me to retire from
your Administration. That necessity is created by what I feel it my
duty to do; and the responsibility of the act, therefore, rests alone
upon myself." Ignoring the fact that the Treasury was prosperous and
solvent when he took charge of it, and that at the moment of his
leaving it could not pay its drafts, Mr. Cobb, five days later,
published a long and inflammatory address to the people of Georgia,
concluding with this exhortation: "I entertain no doubt either of your
right or duty to secede from the Union. Arouse, then, all your manhood
for the great work before you, and be prepared on that day to announce
and maintain your independence out of the Union, for you will never
again have equality and justice in it."

  [Sidenote] G.T. Curtis, "Life of James Buchanan." Vol. II., p. 399.

The President had scarcely found a successor for Mr. Cobb when the
head of his Cabinet, Lewis Cass, Secretary of State, tendered his
resignation also, and retired from the Administration. Mr. Cass had
held many offices of distinction, had attained high rank as a
Democratic leader, and had once been a Presidential candidate. His
resignation was, therefore, an event of great significance from a
political point of view. The incident brings into bold relief the
mental reservations under which Buchanan's paradoxical theories had
been concurred in by his Cabinet. A private memorandum, in Mr.
Buchanan's handwriting, commenting on the event, makes the following
emphatic statement: "His resignation was the more remarkable on
account of the cause he assigned for it. When my late message (of
December, 1860) was read to the Cabinet before it was printed, General
Cass expressed his unreserved and hearty approbation of it,
accompanied by every sign of deep and sincere feeling. He had but one
objection to it, and this was, that it was not sufficiently strong
against the power of Congress to make war upon a State for the purpose
of compelling her to remain in the Union; and the denial of this power
was made more emphatic and distinct upon his own suggestion."

  [Sidenote] See proceedings of convention in "Charleston Courier,"
  Dec., 1860.

But this position was probably qualified and counterbalanced in his
mind by the President's direct promise that he would collect the
Federal revenue and protect the Federal property. In the nature of
things the execution of this policy must not only precede but exclude
all other theories and abstractions, and the Secretary of State
probably waited in good faith to see the President "execute the laws."
Little by little, however, delay and concession rendered this
impossible. The collector at Charleston still nominally exercised
his functions as a Federal officer; but it was an open secret among
the Charleston authorities, and one which, must also by this time
have become known to the Government at Washington, that he was only
holding the place in trust for the coming secession convention. As to
protecting the Federal property, the refusal to send Anderson troops,
the President's truce, the gradual development of Mr. Buchanan's
irresolution and lack of courage, and finally Mr. Cobb's open defection
must have convinced Mr. Cass that, under existing determinations,
orders, and influences, it was a hopeless prospect.

  [Sidenote] Floyd's Richmond Speech, N.Y. "Herald," Jan. 17, 1861,
  p. 2.

The whole question seems to have been finally decided in a long and
stormy Cabinet session held on December 13. The events of the few
preceding days had evidently shaken the President's confidence in his
own policy. He startled his dissembling and conspiring Secretary of War
with the sudden questions, "Mr. Floyd, are you going to send recruits
to Charleston to strengthen the forts?" "Don't you intend to strengthen
the forts at Charleston?" The apparent change of policy alarmed the
Secretary, but he replied promptly that he did not. "Mr. Floyd,"
continued Mr. Buchanan, "I would rather be in the bottom of the Potomac
to-morrow than that these forts in Charleston should fall into the
hands of those who intend to take them. It will destroy me, sir, and,
Mr. Floyd, if that thing occurs it will cover your name with an infamy
that all time can never efface, because it is in vain that you will
attempt to show that you have not some complicity in handing over those
forts to those who take them."

The wily Secretary replied, "I will risk my reputation, I will trust my
life that the forts are safe under the declarations of the gentlemen of
Charleston." "That is all very well," replied the President, "but does
that secure the forts?" "No, sir; but it is a guaranty that I am in
earnest," said Floyd. "I am not satisfied," said the President.

Thereupon the Secretary made the never-failing appeal to the fears and
timidity of Mr. Buchanan. He has himself reported the language he used:
"I am sorry for it," said he; "you are President, it is for you to
order. You have the right to order and I will consider your orders when
made. But I would be recreant to you if I did not tell you that this
policy of garrisoning the forts will lead to certain conflicts; it is
the inauguration of civil war, and the beginning of the effusion of
blood. If it is a question of property, why not put an ordnance
sergeant into them--a man who wears worsted epaulets on his shoulders
and stripes down his pantaloons--as the representative of the property
of the United States. That will be enough to secure the forts. If it is
a question of property, he represents it,[2] and let us wait until the
issue is made by South Carolina. She will go out of the Union and send
her commissioners here. Up to that point the action is insignificant.
Action after this demands the attention of the great council of the
nation. Let us submit the question to Congress--it is for Congress to
deal with the matter."

  [Sidenote] Floyd's Richmond Speech, N.Y. "Herald," Jan. 17, 1861,
  p. 2.

This crafty appeal to the President's hesitating inclinations, and in
accord with his policy hitherto pursued, was seconded by the active
persuasions of the leading conspirators of Congress whom Floyd promptly
called to his assistance. "I called for help from that bright Saladin
of the South, Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi--and I said, 'Come to
my rescue; the battle is a little more than my weak heart can support.
Come to me;' and he came. Then came that old jovial-looking,
noble-hearted representative from Virginia, James M. Mason. Here came
that anomaly of modern times, the youthful Nestor, here came Hunter....
From the north, the south, the east, and the west there came up the
patriots of the country, the champions of constitutional liberty, and
they talked with the President of the United States, and they quieted
his fears and assured him in the line of duty. They said, 'Let there be
no force'; and the President said to me, 'I am content with your
policy'; and then it was that we determined that we would send no more
troops to the harbor in Charleston."

Strip this statement of its oratorical exaggeration, and the reader
can nevertheless see, in the light of after occurrences, a vivid and
truthful picture of a conspiring cabal, stooping to arts and devices
difficult to distinguish from direct personal treachery, flattering,
threatening, and coaxing by turns, and finally lulling the fears of the
President, through his vain hope that they would help him tide over a
magnified danger, and shift upon Congress a responsibility he had not
the courage to meet.

Mr. Cass, however, could no longer be quieted. Through all the rhetoric,
sophistry, and bluster of the conspirators he saw the diminishing
resources of the Government and the rising power of the insurrection.
With a last bold effort to rouse the President from his lethargy, he
demanded, in the Cabinet meeting of the 13th, that the forts should be
strengthened. But he was powerless to break the spell. Says Floyd: "The
President said to him in reply, with a beautiful countenance and with a
heroic decision that I shall never forget, in the council chamber, 'I
have considered this question. I am sorry to differ from the Secretary
of State; I have made up my mind. The interests of the country do not
demand a reënforcement of the forces in Charleston. I cannot do it--and
I take the responsibility of it upon myself.'"

The letters which were exchanged between the President and his premier
set out the differences between them with the same distinctness. Mr.
Cass, after premising that he concurred with the general principles
laid down in the message, says:

  [Sidenote] Cass to Buchanan, Dec. 12, 1860. Curtis, "Life of Buchanan,"
  Vol. II., p. 397.

    In some points which I deem of vital importance, it has been my
    misfortune to differ from you. It has been my decided opinion,
    which for some time past I have urged at various meetings of the
    Cabinet, that additional troops should be sent to reënforce the
    forts in the harbor of Charleston, with a view to their better
    defense, should they be attacked, and that an armed vessel should
    likewise be ordered there, to aid, if necessary, in the defense,
    and also, should it be required, in the collection of the
    revenue; and it is yet my opinion that these measures should be
    adopted without the least delay. I have likewise urged the
    expediency of immediately removing the custom-house at Charleston
    to one of the forts in the port, and of making arrangements for
    the collection of the duties there, by having a collector and
    other officers ready to act when necessary, so that when the
    office may become vacant the proper authority may be there to
    collect the duties on the part of the United States. I continue
    to think that these arrangements should be immediately made.
    While the right and the responsibility of deciding belong to you,
    it is very desirable that at this perilous juncture there should
    be, as far as possible, unanimity in your councils, with a view
    to safe and efficient action.

To this statement the President replied:

  [Sidenote] Buchanan to Cass, Dec. 15, 1860. Curtis, "Life of Buchanan,"
  Vol. II, p. 398.

    The question on which we unfortunately differ is that of ordering
    a detachment of the army and navy to Charleston, and is correctly
    stated in your letter of resignation. I do not intend to argue
    this question. Suffice it to say that your remarks upon the
    subject were heard by myself and the Cabinet, with all the
    respect due to your high position, your long experience, and your
    unblemished character; but they failed to convince us of the
    necessity and propriety, under existing circumstances, of
    adopting such a measure. The Secretaries of War and of the Navy,
    through, whom the orders must have issued to reenforce the forts,
    did not concur in your views; and whilst the whole responsibility
    for the refusal rested upon myself, they were the members of the
    Cabinet more directly interested. You may have judged correctly
    on this important question, and your opinion is entitled to grave
    consideration; but under my convictions of duty, and believing as
    I do that no present necessity exists for a resort to force for
    the protection of the public property, it was impossible for me
    to have risked a collision of arms in the harbor of Charleston,
    and thereby defeated the reasonable hope which I cherish of the
    final triumph, of the Constitution and of the Union.

  [Sidenote] Holt, conversation with J.G.N., 1874.

The other Union members of the Cabinet received the rumor of Mr. Cass's
resignation with gloomy apprehensions. Postmaster-General Holt, with
whom by reason of their kindred opinions he had been on intimate
terms, hastened to him to learn whether it were indeed true and
whether his determination were irrevocable. Cass confirmed the report,
saying that representing the Northern and loyal constituency which he
did, he could no longer without dishonor to himself and to them remain
in such treasonable surroundings. Holt endeavored to persuade him that
under the circumstances it was all the more necessary that the loyal
members of the Cabinet should remain at their posts, in order to
prevent the country's passing into the hands of the secessionists by
mere default. But Cass replied, No; that the public feeling and
sentiment of his section would not tolerate such a policy on his part.
"For you," he said, "coming from a border State, where a modified,
perhaps a divided, public sentiment exists, that is not only a
possible course, but it is a true one; it is your duty to remain, to
sustain the Executive and counteract the plots of the traitors. But my
duty is otherwise; I must adhere to my resignation."

In this honorable close of a long public career, General Cass gave
evidence of the spirit which was to actuate many patriotic Democrats
when the final ordeal came. It was to be regretted that he had not
taken issue with his chief when his paradoxical message was read to
the Cabinet, but much is to be allowed to the inertness of a man in
his seventy-ninth year. Life-long placeman and unflinching partisan
that he was, there was still so much of patriotic conscience in him
that he could not stand by and see premeditated dishonor done to the
flag he had followed in his youth and as Jackson's Secretary of War
upheld in his maturer years. If Mr. Buchanan had been capable of
amendment, he might have learned a salutary lesson from the manner in
which this veteran politician ended his half century of public

[1] Cobb to Buchanan, "Washington Constitution," Dec. 12, 1860. The
President's reply says: "I have received your communication of
Saturday evening, resigning," etc.

[2] Jefferson Davis in his "Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government,"
Vol. I., page 215, also lays claim to this artful suggestion:

"The President's objection to this was, that it was his bounden duty
to preserve and protect the property of the United States. To this I
replied, with all the earnestness the occasion demanded, that I would
pledge my life that, if an inventory were taken of all the stores and
munitions in the fort, and an ordnance sergeant with a few men left in
charge of them, they would not be disturbed."



The President's message provoked immediate and heated controversy
in Congress. In the Senate the battle was begun by the radical
secessionists, who at once avowed their main plans and purposes. Mr.
Clingman, of North Carolina, opening the debate, predicted that the
same political organization which had elected Lincoln must soon
control the entire Government, and being guided by a sentiment hostile
to the Southern States would change the whole character of the
Government without abolishing its forms. A number of States would
secede within the next sixty days.

Mr. Brown, of Mississippi, said the accumulating wrongs of years had
finally culminated in the triumph of principles to which they could
not and would not submit. All they asked was to be allowed to depart
in peace.


  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 5 1860, p. 11.

Mr. Iverson, of Georgia, invoking not only secession, but revolution
and assassination, announced specifically the hopes of the conspirators.
"I am satisfied that South Carolina will resolve herself into a separate
sovereign and independent State before the Ides of January; that Florida
and Mississippi, whose conventions are soon to meet, will follow the
example of South Carolina, and that Alabama ... will go out of the
Union on the 7th of January. Then the Georgia Convention follows on the
16th of that month; and if these other surrounding sisters shall take
the step, Georgia will not be behind ... I speak what I believe on this
floor, that before the 4th of March five of the Southern States at
least will have declared their independence; and I am satisfied that
three others of the Cotton States will follow as soon as the action of
the people can be had. Arkansas, whose Legislature is now in session,
will in all probability call a convention at an early day. Louisiana
will follow. Her Legislature is to meet; and although there is a clog
in the way of the lone star State of Texas, in the person of her
Governor, ... if he does not yield to public sentiment, some Texan
Brutus will arise to rid his country of the hoary-headed incubus that
stands between the people and their sovereign will. We intend, Mr.
President, to go out peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must."

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 5, 1860, p. 14.

Senator Wigfall, of Texas, took a high revolutionary attitude. "We
simply say that a man who is distasteful to us has been elected and we
choose to consider that as a sufficient ground for leaving the Union."
He said he should "introduce a resolution at an early moment to
ascertain what are the orders that have gone from the War Department to
the officers in command of those forts" at Charleston. If the people of
South Carolina believed that this Government would hold those forts,
and collect the revenues from them, after they had ceased to be one of
the States of this Union, his judgment was that the moment they became
satisfied of that fact they would take the forts, and blood would then
begin to flow.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., Dec. 10, 1860, p. 35.

Mr. Mason, of Virginia, said he looked upon the evil as a war of
sentiment and opinion by one form of society against another form of
society. The remedy rested in the political society and State councils
of the several States and not in Congress. His State and a great many
others of the slaveholding States were going into convention with a
view to take up the subject for themselves, and as separate sovereign
communities to determine what was best for their safety.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., Dec. 5, 1860, p. 12.

Senator Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, was more reticent and politic,
though no less positive and significant in his brief expressions. As a
Senator of the United States he said he was there to perform his
functions as such; that before a declaration of war was made against
the State of which he was a citizen he expected to be out of the
Chamber; that when that declaration was made his State would be found
ready and quite willing to meet it.

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 5, 1860, p. 9.

The Republican Senators maintained for the greater part a discreet
silence. To exult in their triumph would be undignified; to hasten
forward officiously with offers of pacification or submission, and
barter away the substantial fruits of their victory, would not only
make them appear pusillanimous in the eyes of their own party, but
bring down upon them the increased contempt of their assailants. There
remained therefore nothing but silence and the feeble hope that this
first fury of the disunion onset might spend itself in angry words, and
be followed by calmer counsels. Nevertheless, it was difficult to keep
entirely still under the irritating provocation. On the third day of
the session, Senator Hale, of New Hampshire, replied to both the
President's message and Clingman's speech. Mr. Hale thought "this state
of affairs looks to one of two things; it looks to absolute submission,
not on the part of our Southern friends and the Southern States but of
the North--to the abandonment of their position; it looks to a
surrender of that popular sentiment which has been uttered through the
constituted forms of the ballot-box; or it looks to open war. We need
not shut our eyes to the fact. It means war, and it means nothing else;
and the State which has put herself in the attitude of secession so
looks upon it.... If it is preannounced and determined that the voice
of the majority expressed through the regular and constituted forms of
the Constitution will not be submitted to, then, sir, this is not a
Union of equals; it is a Union of a dictatorial oligarchy on the one
side, and a herd of slaves and cowards on the other. That is it, sir;
nothing more, nothing less."

While the Southern Democratic party and the Republican party thus
drifted into defiant attitudes the other two parties to the late
Presidential contest naturally fell into the rôle of peacemakers. In
this work they were somewhat embarrassed by their party record, for
they had joined loudly in the current charge of "abolitionism" against
the people of the North, and especially against the Republican party.
Nevertheless, they not only came forward to tender the olive branch,
and to deprecate and rebuke the threats and extreme measures of the
disunionists, but even went so far as to deny and disapprove the staple
complaints of the conspirators.

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 4, 1860, p. 5.

It must be remembered to the lasting honor of Senator Crittenden that
at the very outset of the discussion he repudiated the absurd theory of
noncoercion. "I do not agree that there is no power in the President to
preserve the Union; I will say that now. If we have a Union at all, and
if, as the President thinks, there is no right to secede on the part of
any State (and I agree with him in that), I think there is a right to
employ our power to preserve the Union."

  [Sidenote] Ibid., Dec. 11, 1860, pp. 51, 52.

Senator Pugh, of Ohio, saying that he lived on the border of the
slave-holding and non-slave-holding States, contended that the
fugitive-slave law was executed every day, or nearly every day. It was
in constant operation. He would venture to say that the slave-States
had not lost $100,000 worth of slave property since they had been in
the Union, through negligence or refusal to execute it.

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 11, 1860, p. 52.

Senator Douglas, of Illinois, said he supposed the fugitive-slave law
was enforced with quite as much fidelity as that in regard to the
African slave trade or the laws on many other subjects. "It so happens
that there is the greatest excitement upon this question just in
proportion as you recede from the line between the free and the
slave-States.... If you go North, up into Vermont where they scarcely
ever see a slave and would not know how he looked, they are disturbed
by the wrongs of the poor slave just in proportion as they are ignorant
of the South. When you get down South, into Georgia and Alabama, where
they never lose any slaves, they are disturbed by the outrages and
losses under the non-fulfillment of the fugitive-slave law just in
proportion as they have no interest in it, and do not know what they
are talking about."

  [Sidenote] Ibid., Dec. 10, 1860, p. 24.

Meanwhile, Senator Powell, of Kentucky, having given notice on the 5th,
had on the 6th of December introduced a resolution to raise a special
committee (afterwards known as the Senate Committee of Thirteen) to
concert measures of compromise or pacification, either through
legislation or Constitutional amendments. He said, however, he did not
believe any legislation would be a remedy. Unequivocal constitutional
guarantees upon the points indicated in the resolution under
consideration were in his judgment the only remedies that would reach
and eradicate the disease, give permanent security, and restore
fraternal feeling between the people, North and South, and save the
Union from speedy dissolution. "Let us never despair of the republic,
but go to work promptly and so amend the Constitution as to give
certain and full guarantees to the rights of every citizen, in every
State and Territory of the Union."

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 10, 1860, p. 25.

  [Sidenote] Ibid.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., p. 28.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., p. 34.

The Republicans on this resolution generally offered only verbal
criticisms or expressed their full approbation of its provisions.
Senator King, of New York, offering an amendment, explained that while
we hear occasionally of a mob destroying property, we also hear
occasionally of a mob which assails an individual. He thought the
security of person as important as that of property, and would
therefore extend the inquiry to all these objects, if made at all.
Senator Collamer, of Vermont, suggested striking out all about the
condition of the country and the rights of property, and simply
referring that part of the message which relates to the state of the
Union to a special committee. Senator Foster, of Connecticut, said if
there was a disposition here to promote the peace and harmony of the
country, the resolution was a most appropriate one under which to make
the effort. Senator Hale, of New Hampshire, said he was willing to meet
any and everybody and say that if there can be pointed out anything in
which the State that he represented had come short of her whole
constitutional duty in letter and in spirit, she will do what she never
did in the face of an enemy, and that is take a backward step. She was
ready to perform her whole constitutional duty, and to stand there.

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 1860, pp. 25, 26.

Senator Green, of Missouri, while he joined in the general cry of
Northern anti-slavery aggression and neglect of constitutional
obligations, deemed it his duty to assist in making a united effort to
save the Union. If he believed the present state of public sentiment of
the North was to be enduring, he would say it is folly to talk about
patching up the Union; but he looked forward to a reaction of public
sentiment. Amendments to the Constitution, legal enactments, or repeal
of personal liberty laws are not worth a straw unless the popular
sentiment or the strong arm of the Government goes with them. He
proposed to employ adequate physical force to maintain existing
constitutional rights. He did not want any additional constitutional
rights. He offered a resolution to inquire into the propriety of
providing by law for establishing an armed police force, upon all
necessary points along the line separating the slave-holding States
from the non-slave-holding States, for the purpose of maintaining the
general peace between those States; of preventing the invasion of one
State by the citizens of another, and also for the efficient execution
of the fugitive-slave law.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., pp. 28-30.

Senator Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, denounced this proposition as
a quack nostrum. He feared it was to rear a monster which would break
the feeble chain provided, and destroy the rights it was intended to
guard. Establishing military posts along the borders of States
conferred a power upon this Federal Government, which it does not now
possess, to coerce a State; it was providing, under the name of Union,
to carry on war against States. From the history and nature of our
government no power of coercion exists in it.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., p. 33.

Senator Brown, also of Mississippi, was no less emphatic in his
condemnation of the scheme. He said, that a Southern Senator
representing a State as much exposed as Missouri should deliberately,
in times like these, propose to arm the Federal Government for the
purpose of protecting the frontier, to establish military posts all
along the line, struck him with astonishment. He saw in this
proposition the germ of a military despotism. He did not know what was
to become of these armies, or what was to be done with these military
posts. He feared in the hands of the enemy they might be turned against
the South; they would hardly ever be turned against the North.

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 10, 1860, pp. 30, 31.

Senator Green, in his reply, justly exposed the whole animus and thinly
concealed import of these rough criticisms, by retorting that, to call
that a military despotism amounts to just this: we are going out of the
Union, right or wrong, and we will misrepresent every proposition made
to save the Union. Who has fought the battles of the South for the last
twenty-five years, and borne the brunt of the difficulty upon the
border? Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland, while Mississippi
and Louisiana have been secure; and while you have lost but one
boxed-up negro, sent on board a vessel, that I remember, we have lost
thousands and thousands. He knew it was unpopular in some sections to
say a word for the Union. He hoped that feeling would react. Means to
enforce and carry out the Constitution ought not to be ridiculed by
calling it a quack remedy.

It is more likely that we may find in the response of Senator Iverson,
of Georgia, the true reason which actuated the Cotton-State leaders in
driving their people into revolution, regardless of the remonstrances
of the border States.

    Sir, the border slave-States of this Union complain of the Cotton
    States for the movement which is now in progress. They say that we
    have no right to take them out of the Union against their will. I
    want to know what right they have to keep us in the Union against
    our will. If we want to go out let us go. If they want to stay let
    them stay. They are sovereign and independent States, and have a
    right to decide these questions for themselves. For one, I shall
    not complain when, where, or how they go. I am satisfied, however,
    that they will go, when the time comes for them to decide. But,
    sir, they complain of us that we make so much noise and confusion
    on the subject of fugitive slaves, when we are not affected by the
    vitiated public sentiment of the Northern States. They say that we
    do not lose fugitive slaves; but they suffer the burden. We heard
    that yesterday. I know that we do not suffer in this respect; it
    is not the want of good faith in the Northern people, so far as
    the reclamation of fugitive slaves is concerned, that is causing
    the Southern States around the Gulf of Mexico and the Southern
    Atlantic coast to move in this great revolution now progressing.
    Sir, we look infinitely beyond this petty loss of a few negroes.
    We know what is coming in this Union. It is universal emancipation
    and the turning loose upon society in the Southern States of the
    mass of corruption which will be made by emancipation. We intend
    to avoid it if we can. These border States can get along without
    slavery. Their soil and climate are appropriate to white labor;
    they can live and nourish without African slavery; but the Cotton
    States cannot. We are obliged to have African slavery to cultivate
    our cotton, our rice, and our sugar fields. African slavery is
    essential not only to our prosperity, but to our existence as a

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 11, 1860, pp. 49-51.

    I understand one of the motives which influence the tardy action
    of these two States [Virginia and Maryland], They are a little
    afraid of the opening of the African slave trade, and the
    cheapening of negroes. Now, sir, while I state here that I am
    opposed to the opening of the African slave-trade, because our
    negroes will increase fast enough, God knows, for our interest and
    protection and security; and while I believe that the great masses
    of the Southern people are opposed to it, yet I will not stand
    security that if the Cotton States alone form a confederacy they
    will not open the African slave-trade; and then what will become
    of the great monopoly of the negro market which Virginia and
    Maryland and North Carolina now possess?

The disunion Senators, while indulging in the violent and uncompromising
language already quoted, had nevertheless here and there interjected
phrases indicating a willingness to come to an understanding and
adjustment, but their object in this seemed to be twofold: for a few
days longer it would serve as a partial screen to their more active
conspiracy, and in the possible event (which they evidently did not
expect) of a complete surrender and abdication of their political
victory by the Republican party, it would leave them in the
advantageous condition of accepting triumph as a fruit of compromise.

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 4, 1860, p. 4.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., Dec. 10, 1860, p. 29.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., p. 34.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., Dec. 12, 1860, p. 72.

Thus, Senator Clingman said, "If gentlemen on the other side have
anything to propose of a decisive and satisfactory character, I have no
doubt the section from which I come would be willing to hear it."
Senator Davis said, "If we are mistaken as to your feelings and
purposes, give a substantial proof, that here may begin that circle
which hence may spread out and cover the whole land with proofs of
fraternity, of a reaction in public sentiment, and the assurance of a
future career in conformity with the principles and purposes of the
Constitution." Senator Brown said he never intimated they would not
listen to appeals; he never said this case could not be adjusted; but
he said there was no disposition on the Republican side to do it.
Senator Wigfall said, "What is the use of our discussing on this side
of the Chamber what we would be satisfied with when nothing has been
offered us!"

It requires a minute search to find these scattered words of moderation
in the torrent of defiance which characterized the speeches of the
extreme disunionists during the first ten days of the session of
Congress, and indications were not lacking that even these were wholly
insincere, and meant only to mislead their opponents and the public.
Strong proof of this is found in the careful speech of Senator
Jefferson Davis, in which he lays down the issue without reserve, at
the same time dealing in such vague and intangible complaints as showed
intention and desire to remain unanswered and unsatisfied.. He said
he believed the danger to be that a sectional hostility had been
substituted for the general fraternity, and thus the Government
rendered powerless for the ends for which it was instituted.

    The hearts of a portion of the people have been perverted by that
    hostility, so that the powers delegated by the compact of union
    are regarded not as means to secure the welfare of all, but as
    instruments for the destruction of a part--the minority section.
    How, then, have we to provide a remedy? By strengthening this
    Government? By instituting physical force to overawe the States,
    to coerce the people living under them as members of sovereign
    communities to pass under the yoke of the Federal Government?...

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 10, 1860, p. 29.

    Then where is the remedy, the question may be asked. In the hearts
    of the people is the ready reply; and therefore it is that I turn
    to the other side of the Chamber, to the majority section, to the
    section in which have been committed the acts that now threaten
    the dissolution of the Union.... These are offenses such as no
    people can bear; and the remedy for these is in the patriotism and
    the affection of the people, if it exists; and if it does not
    exist, it is far better, instead of attempting to preserve a
    forced and therefore fruitless union, that we should peacefully
    part, and each pursue his separate course.... States in their
    sovereign capacity have now resolved to judge of the infractions
    of the Federal compact and of the mode and measure of redress....
    I would not give the parchment on which the bill would be written
    which is to secure our constitutional rights within the limits of
    a State where the people are all opposed to the execution of that
    law. It is a truism in free governments that laws rest upon public
    opinion, and fall powerless before its determined opposition.

To all that had so far been said, Senator Wade, of Ohio, made, on the
17th day of December, a frank and direct as well as strong and eloquent
reply, which was at once generally accepted by the Republican party of
the Senate and the country as their well-considered and unalterable
position on the crisis. Said he:

    I have already said that these gentlemen who make these complaints
    have for a long series of years had this Government in their own
    keeping. They belong to the dominant majority.... Therefore, if
    there is anything in the legislation of the Federal Government
    that is not right, you and not we are responsible for it.... You
    have had the legislative power of the country, and you have had
    the executive of the country, as I have said already. You own the
    Cabinet, you own the Senate, and I may add, you own the President
    of the United States, as much as you own the servant upon your own
    plantation. I cannot see then very clearly why it is that Southern
    men can rise here and complain of the action of this
    Government.... Are we the setters forth of any new doctrines under
    the Constitution of the United States? I tell you nay. There is no
    principle held to-day by this great Republican party that has not
    had the sanction of your Government in every department for more
    than seventy years. You have changed your opinions. We stand where
    we used to stand, That is the only difference.... Sir, we stand
    where Washington stood, where Jefferson stood, where Madison
    stood, where Monroe stood. We stand where Adams and Jackson and
    even Polk stood. That revered statesman, Henry Clay, of blessed
    memory, with his dying breath asserted the doctrine that we hold
    to-day.... As to compromises, I had supposed that we were all
    agreed that the day of compromises was at an end. The most solemn
    compromises we have ever made have been violated without a
    _whereas_. Since I have had a seat in this body, one of
    considerable antiquity, that had stood for more than thirty years,
    was swept away from your statute books.... We nominated our
    candidates for President and Vice-President, and you did the same
    for yourselves. The issue was made up and we went to the people
    upon it; ... and we beat you upon the plainest and most palpable
    issue that ever was presented to the American people, and one that
    they understood the best. There is no mistaking it; and now when
    we come to the capitol, I tell you that our President and our
    Vice-President must be inaugurated and administer the government
    as all their predecessors have done. Sir, it would be humiliating
    and dishonorable to us if we were to listen to a compromise [only]
    by which he who has the verdict of the people in his pocket should
    make his way to the Presidential chair. When it comes to that you
    have no government.... If a State secedes, although we will not
    make war upon her, we cannot recognize her right to be out of the
    Union, and she is not out until she gains the consent of the Union
    itself; and the chief magistrate of the nation, be he who he may,
    will find under the Constitution of the United States that it is
    his sworn duty to execute the law in every part and parcel of this
    Government; that he cannot be released from that obligation....
    Therefore, it will be incumbent on the chief magistrate to proceed
    to collect the revenue of ships entering their ports precisely in
    the same way and to the same extent that he does now in every
    other State of the Union. We cannot release him from that
    obligation. The Constitution in thunder tones demands that he
    shall do it alike in the ports of every State. What follows? Why,
    sir, if he shuts up the ports of entry so that a ship cannot
    discharge her cargo there, or get papers for another voyage, then
    ships will cease to trade; or, if he undertakes to blockade her,
    and thus collect it, she has not gained her independence by
    secession. What must she do? If she is contented to live in this
    equivocal state, all would be well perhaps; but she could not live
    there. No people in the world could live in that condition. What
    will they do? They must take the initiative and declare war upon
    the United States; and the moment that they levy war, force must
    be met by force; and they must, therefore, hew out their
    independence by violence and war. There is no other way under the
    Constitution, that I know of, whereby a chief magistrate of any
    politics could be released from this duty. If this State, though
    seceding, should declare war against the United States, I do not
    suppose there is a lawyer in this body but what would say that the
    act of levying war is treason against the United States. That is
    where it results. We might just as well look the matter right in
    the face....

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 17, 1860, pp. 100-104.

    I say, sir, I stand by the Union of these States. Washington and
    his compatriots fought for that good old flag. It shall never be
    hauled down, but shall be the glory of the Government to which I
    belong, as long as my life shall continue.... It is my inheritance.
    It was my protector in infancy, and the pride and glory of my riper
    years; and although it may be assailed by traitors on every side,
    by the grace of God, under its shadow I will die.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., Dec. 20, 1860, p. 158.

The Senate Committee of Thirteen was duly appointed on December 20 as
follows: Lazarus W. Powell and John J. Crittenden, of Kentucky; R.M.T.
Hunter, of Virginia; Wm. H. Seward, of New York; Robert Toombs, of
Georgia; Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois; Jacob Collamer, of Vermont;
Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi; Benjamin F. Wade, of Ohio; William
Bigler, of Pennsylvania; Henry M. Rice, of Minnesota; James E.
Doolittle, of Wisconsin, and James W. Grimes, of Iowa.

It was a strong and representative committee, chosen from the four
great political parties to the late Presidential election, and
embracing recognized leaders in each, We shall see in a future chapter
how this eminent committee failed to report a compromise, which was the
object of its appointment. But compromise was impossible, because the
conspiracy had resolved upon disunion, as already announced in the
proclamation of a Southern Confederacy, signed and published a week
before by Jefferson Davis and others.



  [Sidenote] Compare Boteler's statement of origin of his resolution,
  "Globe," Jan. 10, 1861, p. 316.

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 4, 1860, p. 6.

While this discussion was going on in the Senate, very similar
proceedings were taking place in the House of Representatives, except
that declarations of revolutionary purpose were generally of a more
practical and decisive character. The President's message had no sooner
been received and read, and the usual formal motion made to refer and
print, than the friends of compromise, representing here, as in the
Senate, the substantial sentiment of the border slave-States, made a
sincere effort to take control and bring about the peaceable
arrangement and adjustment of what they assumed to be the extreme
differences between the South and the North. Mr. Boteler, of Virginia,
seizing the momentary leadership, moved to amend by referring so much
of the message "as relates to the present perilous condition of the
country" to a special committee of one from each State. The Union being
at that time composed of thirty-three States, this committee became
known as the Committee of Thirty-three. Several other amendments were
offered but objected to, and the previous question having been ordered,
the amendment was agreed to and the committee raised by a vote of 145
yeas to 38 nays; the negative vote coming, in the main, from the more
pronounced anti-slavery men.

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 4, 1860, p. 7.

  [Sidenote] Ibid.

  [Sidenote] Ibid.

  [Sidenote] Ibid.

  [Sidenote] Ibid.

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 4, 1860. p. 7.

[Illustration: JUSTIN S. MURPHY.]

Though this was the first roll-call of the session, the disunion
conspirators, one after another, made haste to declare the treasonable
attitude of their States. Pending the vote, Mr. Singleton declined
recording his name for the reason that Mississippi had called a
convention to consider this subject. He was not sent here for the
purpose of making any compromise or to patch up existing difficulties.
Mr. Jones, of Georgia, said he did not vote on this question because
his State, like Mississippi, had called a convention to decide all
these questions of Federal relations. Mr. Hawkins, of Florida, said his
people had resolved to determine, in convention in their sovereign
capacity, the time, place, and manner of redress. It was not for him to
take any action on the subject. His State was opposed to all and every
compromise. The day of compromise was past. Mr. Clopton, of Alabama,
declined voting because the State of Alabama is proceeding to consider
in a convention what action is required to maintain her rights, honor,
and safety. Believing that a State has the right to secede, and that
the only remedy for present evils is secession, he would not hold out
any delusive hope or sanction any temporizing policy. Mr. Miles, of
South Carolina, said "the South Carolina delegation have not voted on
this question because they conceive they have no interest in it. We
consider our State as already withdrawn from the confederacy in
everything except form." Mr. Pugh, of Alabama, said: "As my State of
Alabama intends following South Carolina out of the Union by the 10th
of January next, I pay no attention to any action taken in this body."

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 10, 1860, p. 36, 37.

These proceedings occurred on the second day of the session, December
4; two days later the Speaker announced the committee, placing at the
head, as chairman, Thomas Corwin, of Ohio, and appointing such members
from the different States as to make it of marked influence and
ability; the disunion faction being distinctly recognized by several
extreme representatives. The names were announced on Thursday, December
6;[1] and at the close of the day's session the House adjourned to the
following Monday, the 10th, on which day the general discussion was
fairly launched on the request of Mr. Hawkins, of Florida, to be
excused from serving on the committee. He said he had asked the
opinions of many Southern Members, and, with one or two exceptions,
they most cordially agreed with the course he had taken. To serve on
the committee would place him in a false position. Florida had taken
the initiative; her Legislature had ordered an election to choose
members to a convention to be convened on the 3d day of January, 1861.
The committee was a Trojan horse to gain time and demoralize the South;
he regretted that it emanated from a Virginia Representative. He would
tell the North that Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South
Carolina were certain to secede from the Union within a short period.
Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas were certain to follow within the
ensuing six months.

Three Democratic Representatives responded to this outburst, the
Republican members of the House, as in the Senate, remaining discreetly
silent. These Democratic speakers alleged an unfair composition of the
committee, and joined in denouncing the Republican party. But upon the
vital and practical question of disunion their utterances were widely
divergent. As the name of each of them will assume a degree of
historical prominence in the further development of the rebellion,
short quotations from their remarks made at that early period will be
read with interest. Daniel E. Sickles, of New York, said:

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 10, 1860, pp. 40, 41.

    The city of New York will cling to the Union to the last; while
    she will look upon the last hour of its existence as we would upon
    the setting sun if we were never to see it more, yet when the call
    for force comes--let it come when it may--no man will ever pass
    the boundaries of the city of New York for the purpose of waging
    war against any State of this Union which, through its constituted
    authorities and sustained by the voice of its people, solemnly
    declares its rights, its interests, and its honor demand that it
    should seek safety in a separate existence.... The city of New
    York is now a subjugated dependency of a fanatical and puritanical
    State government that never thinks of the city except to send its
    tax-gatherers among us or to impose upon us hateful officials,
    alien to our interests and sympathies, to eat up the substance of
    the people by their legalized extortions.... Nothing has prevented
    the city of New York from asserting her right to govern herself,
    except that provision of the Federal Constitution which prohibits
    a State from being divided without its own consent.... When that
    restraint shall no longer exist, when the obligation of those
    constitutional provisions, which forbid the division of a State
    without its own consent, shall be suspended, then I tell you that
    imperial city will throw off the odious government to which she
    now yields a reluctant allegiance; she will repel the hateful
    cabal at Albany, which has so long abused its power over her, and
    with her own flag sustained by the courage and devotion of her own
    gallant sons, she will, as a free city, open wide her gates to the
    civilization and commerce of the world.

Doubtless the secessionists drew hopeful auguries and fresh inspiration
from this and other visionary talk frequent amid the unsteady political
thought of that day. But, if so, it would have been wiser to ponder
deeply the significance of the following utterances coming from a
different quarter, and representing a more persistent influence, a more
extended geographical area, and a greater numerical force. Clement L.
Vallandigham, of Ohio, said:

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 10, 1860, p. 38.

    I speak now as a Western man; and I thank the gentleman from
    Florida heartily for the kindly sentiments towards that great West
    to which he has given utterance. Most cordially I reciprocate
    them, one and all. Sir, we of the North-west have a deeper
    interest in the preservation of this Government in its present
    form than any other section of the Union. Hemmed in, isolated, cut
    off from the seaboard upon every side; a thousand miles and more
    from the mouth of the Mississippi, the free navigation of which
    under the law of nations we demand and will have at every cost;
    with nothing else but our other great inland seas, the lakes, and
    their outlet, too, through a foreign country--what is to be our
    destiny? Sir, we have fifteen hundred miles of Southern frontier,
    and but a little narrow strip of eighty miles, or less, from
    Virginia to Lake Erie bounding us upon the East. Ohio is the
    isthmus that connects the South with the British possessions, and
    the East with the West. The Rocky Mountains separate us from the
    Pacific. Where is to be our outlet! What are we to do when you
    shall have broken up and destroyed this government? We are seven
    States now, with fourteen Senators and fifty-one Representatives,
    and a population of nine millions. We have an empire equal in area
    to the third of all Europe, and we do not mean to be a dependency
    or province either of the East or of the South; nor yet an
    inferior or secondary power upon this continent; and if we cannot
    secure a maritime boundary upon other terms, we will cleave our
    way to the seacoast with the sword. A nation of warriors we may
    be; a tribe of shepherds never.

No less outspoken were the similar declarations of John A. McClernand,
of Illinois, who said the question of secession disclosed to his vision
a boundless sea of horrors.

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 10, 1860, p. 39.

    Peaceable secession, in my judgment, is a fatal, a deadly
    illusion.... If I am asked, Why so? I retort the question. How can
    it be otherwise? How are questions of public debt, public archives,
    public lands, and other public property, and, above all, the
    questions of boundary to be settled? Will it be replied that, while
    we are mutually unwilling now to yield anything, we will be
    mutually willing, after awhile, to concede everything? That, while
    we mutually refuse to concede anything now for the sake of national
    unity, we will be mutually ready to concede everything by and by
    for the sake of national duality? Who believes this? What, too,
    would be the fate of the youthful but giant Northwest in the event
    of a separation of the slave-holding from the non-slave-holding
    States? Cut off from the main Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico on
    one hand, or from the eastern Atlantic ports on the other, she
    would gradually sink into a pastoral state, and to a standard of
    national inferiority. This the hardy and adventurous millions of
    the North-west would be unwilling to consent to. This they would
    not do. Rather would they, to the last man, perish upon the
    battlefield. No power on earth could restrain them from freely and
    unconditionally communicating with the Gulf and the great mart of
    New York.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., Dec. 10, 1860, p. 59.

No further noteworthy discussion occurred for a time, except the
declaration of Mr. Cobb, of Alabama, that if anything were done to save
his State it must be done immediately. The election for delegates to
the convention would take place on the 24th of that month, and the
convention would meet on the 7th of the next month. His State would not
remain in this Confederacy longer than the 15th of January unless
something were done.

  [Sidenote] Ibid.

The House refused to excuse the several objecting members from serving
on the committee; and the temper in which they proceeded to the
discharge of their duty is perhaps best illustrated by the remarks of
Representative Reuben Davis, of Mississippi. He said he could "but
regard this committee as a tub thrown out to the whale, to amuse only,
until the 4th of March next, and thus arrest the present noble and
manly movements of the Southern States to provide by that day for their
security and safety out of the Union. With these views I take my place
on the committee for the purpose of preventing it being made a means of
deception by which the public mind is to be misled and misguided; yet
intending honestly and patriotically to entertain any fair proposition
for adjustment of pending evils which the Republican members may

On Wednesday, December 12, the morning hour was by agreement set apart
for receiving all bills and resolutions to be submitted to the
Committee of Thirty-three. They were duly read and referred, without
debate, to the number of twenty-three.[2] They came principally from
Northern members, though all four parties of the late Presidential
campaign were represented, the attitude of which they mainly reflected.
In substance, therefore, they embodied the same medley of affirmations
and denials, of charges and countercharges, of evasions and subterfuges
which party discussion had worn threadbare.

These twenty-three propositions, which were by subsequent additions
increased to forty or fifty, exhibit such a variety of legislative
plans that it is impossible to subject them to any classification. They
give us an abstract of the divergent views which Members of Congress
entertained concerning the cause of the crisis and its remedy. They
range in purport from a mere assertion of the duty of preserving and
administering the government as then existing, in its simple form and
symmetrical structure, to proposals to destroy and change it to a
complex machine, fantastic in proportion and impracticable in its
workings. They afford us evidence of the bewilderment which beset
Congress as well as the outside public, and not so much the absence of
reasonable political principles as the absence of a simple and direct
political will, which would resolutely insist that recognized
principles and existing laws should be respected and obeyed.

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Dec. 12, 1860, p. 77.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., p. 78.

Among the propositions submitted then and afterwards were several wild
and visionary projects of government. Thus Mr. Jenkins, a Virginia
member, proposed an arrangement requiring separate sanction of the
slave-holding interest to each and every operation of government; a
dual executive; a dual senate, or dual majority of the senate, or other
advisory body or council. Mr. Noell, of Missouri, proposed to abolish
the office of President, create an executive council of three members,
from districts of contiguous States, give each member the veto power,
and establish equilibrium between the free and the slave-States in the
Senate by voluntary division of some of the slave-States.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., Dec. 13, 1860, pp. 82, 83.

Stronger minds were not entirely free from the infection of this mania
for innovation and experiment. On the 13th of December, 1860, Andrew
Johnson, of Tennessee, afterwards President of the United States,
submitted to the Senate a proposal to amend the Constitution in
substance as follows: That the Presidential election should take place
in August; that a popular plurality in each district should count as
one vote; that Congress should count the votes on the second Monday of
October; that the President chosen in 1864 be from a slave-holding
State, and the Vice-President from a free-State; and in 1868 the
President be from a free-State and the Vice-President from a slave
State, and so alternating every four years. Senators to be elected by
vote of the people. Federal judges to be divided so that one-third of
the number would be chosen every fourth year; the term of office to be
twelve years; also all vacancies to be filled, half from free and half
from slave States, the Territories to be divided, establishing slavery
south and prohibiting it north of a fixed line, and providing that
three-fifths representation and inter-State slave trade shall not be

  [Sidenote] "Globe," Feb. 7, 1861, pp. 794, 795.

Perhaps the most complicated project of government was that gravely
suggested in the House on the 7th of February, 1861, by Clement L.
Vallandigham, of Ohio, who, not content with the clogs of a dual form,
proposed the following absurd quadruple machinery: The Union to be
divided into four sections: North, West, Pacific, and South. On demand
of one-third of the Senators from any section, for any action to which
the concurrence of the House of Representatives may be necessary,--except
on adjournment,--a vote shall be by sections, and a majority of
Senators from each section shall be necessary to the validity of such
action. A majority of all the electors in each of the four sections to
be necessary to choice of President and Vice-President; they should
hold the office six years; not to be eligible to reëlection except by
vote of two-thirds of the electors of each section; or of the States of
each section whenever the choice devolved upon the Legislature;
Congress to provide for the election of President and Vice-President
when electors failed. No State might secede without consent of the
Legislatures of all States of that section, the President to have power
to adjust differences with seceding States, the terms of agreement to
be submitted to Congress; neither Congress nor Territorial Legislatures
should have power to interfere with citizens immigrating--on equal
terms--to the Territories, nor to interfere with the rights of person
or property in the Territories. New States to be admitted on an equal
footing with old ones.

The adoption of any or all of the legislative nostrums which were
severally suggested, presupposed a willingness on the part of the South
to carry them out and be governed thereby. The authors of these
projects lost sight of the vital difficulty, that if the South refused
obedience to laws in the past she would equally refuse obedience to any
in the future when they became unpalatable. It was not temporary
satisfaction, but perpetual domination which she demanded. She did not
need an amendment of the fugitive-slave act, or a repeal of personal
liberty bills, but a change in the public sentiment of the free-States.
Give her the simple affirmation that slaves are property, to be
recognized and protected like other property, embody the proposition in
the Constitution, and secure its popular acceptance, and she would snap
her fingers at an enumeration of other details. Fugitive-slave laws,
inter-State slave trade, a Congressional slave code, right of transit
and sojourn in the free States, compensation for runaways, new slave
States, and a majority in the United States Senate would follow, as
inevitably as that the well planted acorn expands by the forces of
nature into roots, trunk, limbs, twigs, and foliage. This was what
Jefferson Davis formulated in discussing his Senate resolutions of
February, 1860,[3] and the doctrine for which Yancey rent the
Charleston Convention in twain. This is what Jefferson Davis would
again demand of the Senate Committee of Thirteen; and, knowing the
North would never concede it, he would, even prior to the demand, join
in instigating and proclaiming secession.

[1] The following were members of the Committee of Thirty-three:
Messrs. Thomas Corwin, of Ohio; John S. Millson, of Virginia; Charles
F. Adams, of Massachusetts; Warren Winslow, of North Carolina; James
Humphrey, of New York; William W. Boyce, of South Carolina; James H.
Campbell, of Pennsylvania; Peter E. Love, of Georgia; Orris S. Ferry,
of Connecticut; Henry Winter Davis, of Maryland; Christopher Robinson,
of Rhode Island; William G. Whiteley, of Delaware; Mason W. Tappan, of
New Hampshire; John L.N. Stratton, of New Jersey; Francis M. Bristow,
of Kentucky; Justin S. Morrill, of Vermont; Thomas A.R. Nelson, of
Tennessee; William McKee Dunn, of Indiana; Miles Taylor, of Louisiana;
Reuben Davis, of Mississippi; William Kellogg, of Illinois; George S.
Houston, of Alabama; Freeman H. Morse, of Maine; John S. Phelps, of
Missouri; Albert Rust, of Arkansas; William A. Howard, of Michigan;
George S. Hawkins, of Florida; Andrew J. Hamilton, of Texas; Cadwalader
C. Washburn, of Wisconsin; Samuel E. Curtis, of Iowa; John C. Burch, of
California; William Windom, of Minnesota; and Lansing Stout, of
Oregon.--"Globe," December 6, 1860, page 22.

[2] Below are brief extracts of the salient points of twenty-one of
them; the other two, are given in the text:

1. By Eli Thayer, of Massachusetts: No further acquisition of
territory. No Congressional legislation about slavery. Presidential
electors to be chosen by districts.

2. By John Cochrane, of New York: Divide the Territories on the line of
36º 30', prohibiting slavery north and permitting it south. No
prohibition of inter-State slave trade. Unrestricted right of transit
and sojourn with slaves in free States. Personal liberty laws to be
null and void.

3. By Garnett B. Adrain, of New Jersey: Non-intervention by Congress.
Repeal of personal liberty laws. Fraternity, conciliation, and

4. By Edward Joy Morris, of Pennsylvania: To investigate personal
liberty laws, and suggest amendments to fugitive-slave law.

5. By James A. Stewart, of Maryland: Investigation to secure
constitutional rights of States in the Union. If this be impracticable,
to investigate best mode of separation.

6. By Shelton F. Leake, of Virginia: No constitutional power to abolish
slavery or slave-trade in the States, Territories, or District of
Columbia. Protection to slavery in Territories, and in transit through
or sojourn in free-States. Fugitive slaves lost through State
legislation, or by act of State authorities, to be paid for.

7. By William Smith, of Virginia: Declare out of the Union every State
which shall by her legislation aim to nullify an act of Congress.

8. By Samuel S. Cox, of Ohio: Punishment of executives, judges,
attorney-general, or other officers who obstruct the execution of the
fugitive-slave law.

9. By John Hutchins, of Ohio: Laws against kidnaping, lynching, or
unreasonable search or seizure.

10. By John Sherman, of Ohio: Laws to enforce all obligations imposed
by the Constitution. Division of all Territory into States, and their
prompt admission into the Union.

11. By John A. Bingham, of Ohio: Laws to suppress rebellion, to protect
United States property against unlawful seizure and citizens against
unlawful violence.

12. By Robert Mallory, of Kentucky: Prohibit slavery north and protect
it south of the line of 30º 36'. Admit States with or without slavery.
No prohibition or abolition of the inter-State slave trade or slavery
in the District of Columbia, or in arsenals, dockyards, etc., of the
United States.

13. By John W. Stevenson, of Kentucky: Declare resistance to
fugitive-slave law, or rescue of slaves from custody of officers,

14. By William H. English, of Indiana: Divide Territories. Congress
shall not impair right of property in slaves. Double compensation from
cities, counties, or townships for slaves rescued by mob violence or
State legislation.

15. By David Kilgore, of Indiana: Trial by jury and writ of error under
fugitive-slave law. Criminal prosecution against forcible hindrance or
rescue of fugitives. Payment by the United States for fugitives rescued
by force.

16. By William S. Holman, of Indiana: The Constitution is a compact of
mutual and permanent obligation. No right of secession. Laws should be
enforced in good faith and with temperate firmness. Ample legal
provision against any attempt to nullify the laws.

17. By William E. Niblack, of Indiana: Payment by offending cities,
counties, or districts for fugitive slaves rescued.

18. By John A. McClernand, of Illinois: Indemnity for fugitive slaves
rescued. A special Federal police to execute United States laws, and
suppress unlawful resistance thereof.

19. By Thomas C. Hindman, of Arkansas: Right of property in slaves in
slave-States. No interdiction of inter-State slave trade. Protection of
slavery in all Territories. Admission of States with or without
slavery. Right to hold slaves in transit through free-States. Deprive
States enacting personal liberty laws of representation in Congress.
Give slave-holding States an absolute negative upon all action of
Congress relating to slavery. States to appoint the officers exercising
Federal functions within their limits. Make these provisions, together
with three-fifths representation, unrepealable.

20. By Charles H. Larrabee, of Wisconsin: A convention to amend

21. By Thomas L. Anderson, of Missouri: Submit to the Supreme Court of
the United States the questions at issue between the slave-holding and
non-slave-holding States. Carry into effect by law the opinion of said
Court as a final settlement. (Submitted Dec. 13.)--"Globe," Dec. 12 and
13, 1860, pp. 76-79, and 96.

[3] "We want nothing more than a simple declaration that negro slaves
are property, and we want the recognition of the obligation of the
Federal Government to protect that property like all other." Senate
Speech, "Globe," May 17, 1860, p. 2155.



To a great majority of the people the hopes and chances of a successful
compromise seemed still cheering and propitious. There was indeed a
prevailing agitation in the Southern part of the Union, but it had
taken a virulent form in less than half a dozen States. In most of
these a decided majority still deprecated disunion. Three of the great
political parties of the country were by the voice of their leaders
pledged to peace and order; the fourth, apparently controlled as yet by
the powerful influences of official subordination and patronage, must,
so it seemed, yield to the now expressed and public advice of the
President in favor of Union and the enforcement of the law; especially
in view of the forbearance and kindness he was personally exercising
towards the unruly elements of his faction. Throughout the Northern
States the folly and evils of disunion appeared so palpable that it was
not generally regarded as an imminent danger, but rather as merely a
possible though not probable event. The hasty and seemingly earnest
action of the people and authorities of South Carolina was looked upon
as a historical repetition of the nullification crisis of 1831-32; and
without examining too closely the real present condition of affairs,
men hoped, rather than intelligently expected, that the parallel would
continue to the end. Some sort of compromise of the nature of that of
1850 was the prevailing preoccupation in politics.

This was the popular view of the situation. But it was an erroneous
view, because it lacked the essential information necessary to form a
correct and solid judgment. The deep estrangement between the sections
was imperfectly realized. The existence of four parties, a very unusual
occurrence in American politics, had seriously weakened party cohesion,
and more than quadrupled party prejudice and mistrust. There was a
strong undercurrent of conviction and purpose, not expressed in
speeches and platforms. But the most serious ignorance was in respect
to the character and fidelity of the high officers of the Government.
Of the timidity of Mr. Buchanan, of the treachery of three members of
the Cabinet, of the exclusion of General Scott from military councils,
of the President's refusal to send troops to Anderson, of his
stipulation with the South Carolina Members, of the intrigue which
drove General Cass from the head of the State Department and from the
Cabinet, the people at large knew nothing, or so little that they could
put no intelligent construction upon the events. The debates of
Congress shed the first clear light upon the situation, but the very
violence and bitterness of the secession speeches caused the multitude
to doubt their sincerity, or placed their authors in the category of
fanatics who would gain no followers.

While, therefore, the Republicans in Congress and in the country
maintained, as a rule, an expectant and watchful silence, the
conservatives, made up for the greater part of the supporters of Bell
and Everett, were active in setting on foot a movement for compromise,
in the final success of which they had the fullest confidence; and it
is but justice to their integrity and ability to add that this
confidence was warranted by the delusive indications of surface
politics. Highly patriotic in purpose and prudent in act, their leading
men in Congress had promptly opposed secession, had moved a Senate
Committee of Thirteen, and secured the appointment and the organization
of the House Committee of Thirty-three. Already some twenty-three
different propositions of adjustment had been submitted to this
committee, and under the circumstances it actually seemed as if only a
little patience and patriotic earnestness were needed to find a
compromise,--perhaps an amendment of the Constitution,--which the
feverish unrest and impatience of the nation would compel Congress to
enact or propose, and the different States and sections, willing or
unwilling, to accept arid ratify.

Superior political wisdom and more thorough information, as well as a
finer strategy, a quicker enthusiasm, and a more unremitting industry,
must be accorded to the conspirators who now labored night and day in
the interest of disunion. They discerned more clearly than their
opponents the demoralization of parties at the North, the latent
revolutionary discontent at the South, the influence of brilliant and
combined leadership, and the social, commercial, and political
conditions which might be brought into action. They recognized that
they were but a minority, a faction; but they also realized that as
such they had a substantial control of from six to eleven States
whenever they chose to make that control effective, and that, for
present uses at least, the President was, under their influence, but as
clay in the hands of the potter.

Better than the Republicans from the North, or even the conservatives
from the border States, they knew that in the Cotton States a
widespread change of popular sentiment was then being wrought and might
very soon be complete. Except upon the extreme alternative of disunion,
the people of the border States were eager to espouse their quarrel,
and join them in a contest for alleged political rights. Nearly half
the people of the North were ready to acknowledge the justness of their
complaints. The election of Lincoln was indeed a flimsy pretext for
separation, but it had the merit of universal publicity, and of
rankling irritation among the unthinking masses of the South.
Agriculture was depressed, commerce was in panic, manufacturing
populations were in want, the national treasury was empty, the army was
dispersed, the navy was scattered. The national prestige was humbled,
the national sentiment despondent, the national faith disturbed.

Meanwhile their intrigues had been successful beyond hope. The
Government was publicly committed to the fatal doctrine of
non-coercion, and was secretly pursuing the equally fatal policy of
concession. Reënforeements had been withheld from Charleston, and must,
from motives of consistency, be withheld from all other forts and
stations. An unofficial stipulation, with the President, and a
peremptory order to Anderson, secured beyond chance the safe and early
secession of South Carolina, and the easy seizure of the Government
property. The representatives of foreign governments were already
secretly coquetting for the favor of a free port and an advantageous
cotton-market. Friendly voices came to the South from the North, in
private correspondence, in the public press, even in the open debates
of Congress, promising that cities should go up in flames and the fair
country be laid waste before a single Northern bayonet should molest
them in their meditated secession.

Upon such a real or assumed state of facts the conspirators based their
theory, and risked their chances of success in dismembering the
republic,--and it must be admitted that they chose their opportunity
with a skill and foresight which for a considerable period of time gave
them immense advantages over the friends of the Union. One vital
condition of success, however, they strangely overlooked, or rather,
perhaps, deliberately crowded out of their problem--the chance of civil
war, without foreign intervention. For the present their whole plan
depended upon the assumption that they could accomplish their end by
means of the single instrumentality of peaceable secession; and with
this view they proceeded to put their scheme into prompt execution.

  [Sidenote] Correspondence New York "Tribune", Dec. 10, 1860.

The House Committee of Thirty-three had been organized by the selection
of Thomas Corwin as its chairman, and had entered hopefully upon the
task confided to it. A caucus of active conspirators was said to have
been held the week previous, to intimidate the members from the Cotton
States and induce them to refuse to serve on the committee, but this
coercive movement only partly succeeded. The Committee of Thirty-three
held a long meeting on December 12, and now, on the morning of the
13th, was once more convened for work. The informal propositions and
discussions of the day previous were renewed, but resulted only in
calling out views and schemes too vague on the one hand or too extreme
on the other. The subject was about to be laid over to the following
Saturday, when Albert Rust, of Arkansas, startled the committee with
the information that the extremists were obtaining signatures to a
paper to announce to the South that no further concession was expected
from the North, and that any adjustment of pending difficulties had
become impossible. He, therefore, offered a resolution to meet this
unexpected crisis, but accepted the following substitute, offered by
William McKee Dunn, of Indiana:

    _Resolved_, That in the opinion of this Committee, the existing
    discontent among the Southern people and the growing hostility
    among them to the Federal Government are greatly to be regretted,
    and that whether such discontent and hostility are without just
    cause or not, any reasonable, proper, and constitutional remedies
    and effectual guarantees of their peculiar rights and interests,
    as recognized by the Constitution, necessary to preserve the peace
    of the country and the perpetuation of the Union, should be
    promptly and cheerfully granted.

  [Sidenote] Proceedings of the committee and card of Hon. Reuben Davis,
  "National Intelligencer," Dec. 14 and 15, 1860.

  [Sidenote] Gen. Scott, "Autobiography," Vol. II., p. 613.

Other amendments were voted down, and this proposition was adopted by a
vote of twenty-two to eight, and thus, in good faith, a tender of
reasonable concession and honorable and satisfactory compromise was
made by the North to the South. But the peace-offering was a waste of
patience and good-will. Caucus after caucus of the secession leaders
had only grown more aggressive, and deepened and strengthened their
inflexible purpose to push the country into disunion. The presence of
General Scott, who after a long illness had come from New York to
Washington, on December 12, to give his urgent advice to the work of
counteracting secession by vigorous military preparation, did not
disconcert or hinder the secession leaders. His patriotic appeal to the
Secretary of War on the 13th naturally fell without effect upon the
ears of one of their active confederates. Neither the temporizing
concession of the President nor the conciliatory and half-apologetic
resolution of the Committee of Thirty-three for one instant changed or
affected the determination to destroy the Government and dissolve the

Friday, December 14, 1860, was a day of gloom and despondency in Mr.
Buchanan's office, bringing to his mind more forcibly than he had ever
before realized the utter wreck into which he had guided his
Administration. To the jubilant secessionists it was not only a day of
triumph achieved, but also of apparently assured successes yet to come.
The hitherto official organ of the Administration in its issue of the
following morning contained two publications which gave startling
notice to the country of the weakness of the right and the strength of
the wrong in the swiftly approaching struggle for national existence.

The first of these documents was a proclamation from the President of
the United States, saying that in response to numerous appeals he
designated the fourth day of January, proximo, as a day of humiliation,
fasting, and prayer. The "dangerous and distracted condition of our
country" was therein thus set forth:

  [Sidenote] Washington "Constitution," Dec. 15, 1860.

    The Union of the States is at the present moment threatened with
    alarming and immediate danger--panic and distress of a fearful
    character prevail throughout the land--our laboring population
    are without employment, and consequently deprived of the means of
    earning their bread--indeed, hope seems to have deserted the
    minds of men. All classes are in a state of confusion and dismay,
    and the wisest counsels of our best and purest men are wholly
    disregarded.... Humbling ourselves before the Most High, ... let
    us implore him to remove from our hearts that false pride of
    opinion which would impel us to persevere in wrong for the sake
    of consistency, rather than yield a just submission to the
    unforeseen exigencies by which we are now surrounded.... An
    omnipotent Providence may overrule existing evils for permanent

The second manifesto was more practical and resolute. As the first
public and combined action of the conspirators, it forms the hinge upon
which they well-nigh turned the fate of the New World Republic. It was
a brief document, but contained and expressed all the essential
purposes of the conspiracy. It was signed by about one-half the
Senators and Representatives of the States of North Carolina, South
Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and
Arkansas. It precedes every ordinance of secession, and is the
"official" beginning of the subsequent "Confederate States," just as
Governor Gist's October circular was the "official" beginning of South
Carolina secession.

  [Sidenote] Washington "Constitution," Dec. 15, 1860.


    WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 1860.

    The argument is exhausted. All hope of relief in the Union
    through the agency of committees, Congressional legislation, or
    constitutional amendments is extinguished, and we trust the South
    will not be deceived by appearances or the pretense of new
    guarantees. In our judgment the Republicans are resolute in the
    purpose to grant nothing that will or ought to satisfy the South.
    We are satisfied the honor, safety, and independence of the
    Southern people require the organization of a Southern
    Confederacy--a result to be obtained only by separate State
    secession--that the primary object of each slave-holding State
    ought to be its speedy and absolute separation from a Union with
    hostile States.

    J.L. Pugh of Alabama.
    David Clopton of Alabama.
    Sydenham Moore of Alabama.
    J.L.M. Curry of Alabama.
    J.A. Stallworth of Alabama.
    J.W.H. Underwood of Georgia.
    L.J. Gartrell of Georgia.
    James Jackson of Georgia.
    John J. Jones of Georgia.
    Martin J. Crawford of Georgia.
    Alfred Iverson, U.S. Senator, Georgia.
    George S. Hawkins of Florida.
    T.C. Hindman of Arkansas.
    Jefferson Davis, U.S. Senator, Mississippi.
    A.G. Brown, U.S. Senator, Mississippi.
    Wm. Barksdale of Mississippi.
    O.R. Singleton of Mississippi.
    Reuben Davis of Mississippi.
    Burton Craige of North Carolina.
    Thomas Ruffin of North Carolina.
    John Slidell, U.S. Senator, Louisiana.
    J.P. Benjamin, U.S. Senator, Louisiana.
    J.M. Landrum of Louisiana.
    Louis T. Wigfall, U.S. Senator, Texas.
    John Hemphill, U.S. Senator, Texas.
    J.H. Reagan of Texas.
    M.L. Bonham of South Carolina.
    Wm. Porcher Miles of South Carolina.
    John McQueen of South Carolina.
    John D. Ashmore of South Carolina.

This proclamation of revolution, when analyzed, reveals with sufficient
clearness the design and industry with which the conspirators were step
by step building up their preconcerted movement of secession and
rebellion. Every justifying allegation in the document was notoriously

Instead of the argument being exhausted, it was scarcely begun. So far
from Congressional or constitutional relief having been refused, the
Southern demand for them had not been formulated. Not only had no
committee denied hearing or action, but the Democratic Senate, at the
instance of a Southern State, had ordered the Committee of Thirteen,
which the Democratic and Southern Vice-President had not yet even
appointed; and when the names were announced a week later, Jefferson
Davis, one of the signers of this complaint of non-action, was the only
man who refused to serve on the committee--a refusal he withdrew when
persuaded by his co-conspirators that he could better aid their designs
by accepting. On the other hand, the Committee of Thirty-three, raised
by the Republican House, appointed by a Northern Speaker, and presided
over by a Northern chairman, had the day before by more than a
two-thirds vote distinctly tendered the Southern people "any reasonable,
proper, and constitutional remedies and effectual guarantees."

Outside of Congressional circles there was the same absence of any new
complications, any new threats, any new dangers from the North. Since
the day when Abraham Lincoln was elected President there had been
absolutely no change of word or act in the attitude and intention of
himself or his followers. By no possibility could they exert a particle
of adverse political power, executive, legislative, or judicial, for
nearly three months. Not only was executive authority in the hands of a
Democratic Administration, which had made itself the peculiar champion
of the Southern party, but it had yielded every successive demand of
administrative policy made by the conspirators themselves. The signers
of this address to their Southern constituents had not one single



Like the commandant of Fort Moultrie, the other officers of the
garrison keenly watched the development of hostile public sentiment,
and the steady progress of the secession movement. Some had their wives
and families with them, and to the apprehensions for the honor of their
flag, and the welfare of their country, was added a tenderer solicitude
than even that which they felt for their own lives and persons.
Hostility from the constituted authorities of South Carolina or a
tumultuary outbreak of the Charleston rabble was liable to bring
overwhelming numbers down upon them at any hour of the day or night.

The special study of this danger, or rather of the means to meet and
counteract it, fell to Captain J.G. Foster, of the engineer corps, who
had been assigned to the charge of these fortifications on the 1st of
September. But his services were also in demand elsewhere, and for more
than two months afterwards the works at Baltimore appear to have
claimed the larger part of his time. On the day after the Presidential
election he was directed to give the Charleston forts his personal
supervision, and he arrived there on the 11th of November, remaining
thenceforward till the surrender of Sumter.

  [Sidenote] Lieut. Breck to Major Deas, June 18, 1860.

In time of peace, the administration of military affairs in the United
States is somewhat spasmodic, resulting directly and unavoidably from
the fact of our maintaining only the merest skeleton of a standing army
compared to the vast territorial extent of the Union. As an incident of
this system, Fort Moultrie had been allowed to become defenseless. "A
child ten years old can easily come into the fort over the sand-banks,"
wrote an officer June 18, 1860, "and the wall offers little or no
obstacle." "The ease with which the walls can now be got over without
any assistance renders the place more of a trap, in which the garrison
may be shot down from the parapet, than a means of defense. To persons
looking on it appears strange, not to say ridiculous, that the only
garrisoned fort in the harbor should be so much banked in with sand,
that the walls in some places are not one foot above the tops of the

  [Sidenote] Foster to De Russy, Nov. 14, 1860, W.R. Vol. I., p. 73.

By the 14th of November Captain Foster had removed the sand which had
drifted against the walls, repaired the latter, and supplied certain
expedients in the way of temporary obstructions and defenses which were
suggested by his professional skill, and available within his
resources. "I have made these temporary defenses as inexpensive as
possible," he writes, "and they consist simply of a stout board fence
ten feet high, surmounted by strips filled with nail-points, with a dry
brick wall two bricks thick on the inside, raised to the height of a
man's head, and pierced with embrasures and a sufficient number of
loop-holes. Their immediate construction has satisfied and gratified
the commanding officer, Colonel Gardiner, and they are, I think,
adequate to the present wants of the garrison."

Of what avail, however, all the resources of engineering science, where
forts were absolutely soldierless, and their walls without even a
solitary sentinel? This was the condition of Fort Sumter and Castle
Pinckney, after weeks of warning and positive entreaty to the
Government at Washington, by engineer, inspectors, and commandants
alike, all without having brought one word of encouragement or a single

But though the President and Secretary of War neglected their proper
duty, Captain Foster did not remit his efforts. The exposed condition
of these two priceless forts was the daily burden of his thoughts.
Under Colonel Gardiner he had asked for forty muskets to arm his
workmen to defend Sumter. The engineer bureau at Washington, seconding
the suggestion, had obtained the approval of the Secretary of War, and
had issued the order to the storekeeper of the Charleston arsenal. But
when the matter was brought to the notice of Colonel Gardiner he
objected. He was unwilling that this expedient, of doubtful utility at
best, should serve as an excuse to the Secretary of War to refuse to
send him the substantial reënforcement of two regular companies and
fifty drilled recruits which he had requested.

  [Sidenote] Foster to De Russy, Nov. 24, 1860. W.R. Vol. I., p. 77.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., Dec. 2, 1860.

  [Sidenote] Indorsement, Dec. 6 and 7. W.R. Vol. I., pp. 83, 84.

  [Sidenote] Wright to Foster, Nov. 28, 1860. W.R. Vol. I., p. 78.

  [Sidenote] Foster to De Russy, Dec. 2, 1860.

  [Sidenote] Indorsement, Dec. 6 and 7.

It has already been stated how Colonel Gardiner, instead of obtaining
his reënforcements, lost his command, and as a consequence Captain
Foster's order for the forty muskets was duly put to slumber in a
pigeon-hole at the arsenal. When Major Anderson arrived and assumed
control he not only, as we have seen, repeated the demand for
additional troops, but recognizing at a glance the immense interests at
stake had himself renewed to Captain Foster the suggestion about arming
some engineer workmen. Captain Foster promptly made the application to
the department for permission, and soon after for arms. Permission came
in due course of mail; but by this time Secretary Floyd would issue no
order for the hundred muskets asked for.

  [Sidenote] Foster to De Russy, Dec. 4, 1860, W.R. Vol. I., p. 85.

Nevertheless, the working party of thirty was quartered in Castle
Pinckney as quietly as possible, in order not to irritate the sensitive
Charlestonians, and the officers and overseers in the two forts were
instructed to sound and test the loyalty and trustworthiness of the
mechanics and laborers. Those in Sumter had been brought from
Baltimore, and in them Captain Foster placed his greatest hopes; but
they disappointed him. On December 3 his overseer informed him that
while they professed a willingness to resist a mob, they were
disinclined to fight any organized volunteer force, and he was
reluctantly compelled to abandon the scheme, at least as to Fort
Sumter. But he still clung to the hope that the thirty men sent to
Castle Pinckney, having been chosen with more care, might prove of some
service in the hour of need. He gave orders to his officers to resist
to the utmost any demands or attempts on the works, "Having done thus
much," he wrote to the department, "which is all I can do in this
respect, I feel that I have done my duty, and that if any overt act
takes place, no blame can properly attach to me. I regret, however,
that sufficient soldiers are not in this harbor to garrison these two
works. The Government will soon have to decide the question whether to
maintain them or to give them up to South Carolina. If it be decided to
maintain them, troops must instantly be sent and in large numbers."

Though neither Major Anderson nor Captain Foster could obtain any
official replies to distinct and vital questions involving the issue of
peace or war, a trivial episode soon furnished them a very broad hint
as to what the Secretary of War would ultimately do about the forts.

  [Sidenote] Ibid., Dec. 20, 1860. W.R. Vol. I., p. 100.

On the same day on which, the South Carolina secession convention met
at Columbia, the State capital, Captain Foster had occasion to go to
the United States arsenal in the city of Charleston to procure some
machinery used in mounting heavy guns. While there he remembered that
two ordnance sergeants, respectively in charge of Fort Sumter and
Castle Pinckney, had applied to him for the arms to which they were by
regulations entitled. He therefore asked the military storekeeper in
charge of the arsenal for two muskets and accouterments for those two
sergeants. The storekeeper replied that he had no authority for the
issue of two muskets for this purpose, but that the old order for forty
muskets was on file, and the muskets and accouterments were ready
packed for delivery to him. Foster received them, and after issuing two
muskets to the ordnance sergeants at Fort Sumter and Castle Pinckney,
placed the remainder in the magazines of those two forts.

  [Sidenote] Humphreys to Foster, Dec. 18, 1860. W.R. Vol. I., p. 96.

Whether the vigilance of a spy or the subservient fear or zeal of the
storekeeper gave the Charleston authorities information of this
trifling removal of arms, cannot now be ascertained. The muskets had
scarcely reached their destination when Captain Foster was astonished
by receiving a letter from the military storekeeper saying that the
shipment of the forty muskets had caused intense excitement; that
General Schnierle, the Governor's principal military officer, had
called upon him, with the declaration that unless the excitement could
be allayed some violent demonstration would be sure to follow; that
Colonel Huger had assured the Governor that no arms should be removed
from the arsenal. He (Captain Humphreys) had pledged his word that the
forty muskets and accouterments should be returned "by to-morrow
night," and he therefore asked Captain Foster to make good his pledge.

Captain Foster wrote a temperate reply to the storekeeper, which, in
substance, he embodied in the more vigorous and outspoken report he
immediately made to the Ordnance Department at Washington: "I have no
official knowledge (or positive personal evidence either) that Colonel
Huger assured the Governor that no arms should be removed from the
arsenal, nor that, if he did so, he spoke by authority of the
Government; but on the other hand I do know that an order was given to
issue to me forty muskets; that I actually needed them to protect
Government property and the lives of my assistants, and the ordnance
sergeants under them at Fort Sumter and Castle Pinckney, and that I
have them in my possession. To give them up on a demand of this kind
seems to me as an act not expected of me by the Government, and as
almost suicidal under the circumstances. It would place the two forts
under my charge at the mercy of a mob. Neither of the ordnance
sergeants at Fort Sumter and Castle Pinckney had muskets until I got
these, and Lieutenants Snyder and Meade were likewise totally destitute
of arms."

  [Sidenote] Foster to De Russy, Dec. 18, 1860. W.R. Vol. I., pp. 95,

"I propose to refer the matter to Washington, and am to see several
gentlemen, who are prominent in this matter, to-morrow. I am not
disposed to surrender these arms under a threat of this kind,
especially when I know that I am only doing my duty to the Government."

  [Sidenote] Foster to De Russy, Dec. 20, 1860. W.R. Vol. I., p. 101.

  [Sidenote] Foster to De Russy, Dec. 19, 1860. W.R. Vol. I., pp. 97,

According to his promise, Captain Foster went to the city on the 19th
to hold an interview with General Schnierle and "several other
prominent citizens of Charleston" on the subject of the alleged
"intense excitement" which was again paraded as a menace to induce him
to return the arms. If he was originally surprised at the reported
excitement he was now still more astonished to find that it did not
exist except in the insurrectionary zeal of those who were performing
this farcical rôle purely for its theatrical effect. A majority of the
"prominent citizens," who had been convoked as a part of the stage
retinue to intimidate him by the threat of a mob, had not yet even
heard of the affair. Detecting readily the sham and pretense of the
performance, he seems to have at least accorded them the merit of an
honest delusion. He quietly and politely explained to them the
regularity of his orders and proceedings, and the good faith of himself
and his brother officers. But he firmly declined to return the muskets
until he should be directed to do so by the Government. Yet willing to
go to the verge of his discretion to allay irritation, he agreed to
appeal immediately by telegraph to the Ordnance Bureau for a decision.

He had not long to wait for a solution of the question. The Government
was in all appearance deaf to the advice of its Secretary of State,
General Cass, of its General-in-Chief, Lieutenant-General Scott, of its
Charleston Commander, Major Anderson, of its engineer, Captain Foster,
so long as the problem was the safety of three great forts. But when
the question became the possession of forty muskets, and the arming of
two ordnance sergeants, "men with worsted epaulettes on their shoulders
and stripes down their pantaloons" in the language of the Secretary of
War, that eminent functionary could sacrifice his rest and slumber to
the crisis. Captain Foster, who had returned from the city to Fort
Moultrie, was awakened a little after midnight to receive the following
peremptory instruction:

  [Sidenote] W.R. Vol. I., p. 100.

    I have just received a telegraphic dispatch informing me that you
    have removed forty muskets from Charleston arsenal to Fort
    Moultrie. If you have removed any arms return them instantly.

    JOHN B. FLOYD, Secretary of War.

  [Sidenote] Foster to De Russy, Dec. 20, 1860. W.R. Vol. I., p. 101.

It was probably in no hopeful mood nor with enviable feelings that this
brave officer returned by telegraph the strict routine answer of a
loyal subordinate: "I received forty muskets from the arsenal on the
17th, I shall return them in obedience to your order."[1] The necessary
consequence he embodied in his report to the department on the next
day: "The order of the Secretary of War of last night I must consider
as decisive upon the question of any efforts on my part to defend Fort
Sumter and Castle Pinckney. The defense now can only extend to keeping
the gates closed and shutters fastened and must cease when these are

[1] "Although this would place my officers and Forts Sumter and
Pinckney entirely at the mercy of any mob, I considered myself bound
as an officer to obey the order, which I did by the prompt return
of the muskets by 10 o'clock that morning."--Foster, Report to The
Committee on Conduct of the War.


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