electoral ticket was agreed upon at Ht*rrir,burg. This ticket, if elected, was
to be distributed between Fremont and Fillmore in the proportion that each
of them should become indorsed by the popular vote.
The state was entitled to 27 electors. By this arrangement 26 of these
electors were to be common to both tickets but the twenty-seventh electorâ€”
or really the first elector at largeâ€” was to be a different person upon each
ticket. To make the matter as comprehensible to the people as possible, the
name of John C. Fremont was placed at the head of one ticket as one of the
electors at large, and the name oi Millard Fillmore was placed at the head of
the other ticket as one of the electors at large â€” all the other electors, be-
ginning with a Mr. Irwin as the second elector at large, being the same upon
both tickets. If then this combination ticket should be elected, and Fremont,
t.s an elector, should receive, say two-thirds of all the votes cast for such
ticket, and Fillmore, as an elector, cne- third â€” then the electoral vote was to
bo divided between them in the same proportion â€” two-thirds to be cast for
i^'remont and one-third for Fillmore.
What complications might haA^o arisen out of this curious and anomalous
arrangement had the ticket been successful it is difficult to say, but the
country was saved all anxiety upon that score; for when the November elec-
tion occurred, Mr. Buchanan, ha'-lng the great prestige of the October election
in his favor, swept the state with such a large plurality as to leave no question
for controversy about the famous combination ticket. And the vote of his
state also made him president of the ITnited States; for without the electoral
vote of Pennsylvania, he would have lacked two votes of having a majority of
the electoral college.
I am to-night simply reciting some of the historic incidents of this memor-
able campaign, and I do not feel that it is my province to go into a discussion
of the ethical questions arising from Mr. Gibbons's refusing at the last moment
to enter the side door of Mr. Sandersons office, or whether it was right, or
whether it was wrong, to engage in that sort of business at all. And yet, at
the time, the position taken by Senator Smith seemed to be the proper one;
for if it was wrong at all, it was as v/rong at the beginning of the negotiations
as at any stage in their progress. The vote was well understood to be in the
market. It would determine Ihe October state election, and after that the
federal election, and consign the national government into the hands of the
old democratic â€” then pro-slavery â€” party, or into the hands of the new repub-
lican â€” then anti-slavery â€” party, for the ensuing four years. Mr. Gibbons as
well as Mr. Forney had been in negotiation for that vote. Having gone as far
as he did, and the vote being of such incalculable value to the party he repre-
56 Kansas State Historical Society.
sented, it seemed inexplicable that Mr. Gibbons should have dropped the whole
business when he did, where he did, and in the manner he did, and on account
of the supposed questionable character of the transaction.
The old adage that "you must fight the devil with fire" could never have
been more appropriately applied than in this instance. If Mr. Gibbons could
not control this vote, Mr. Forney v/ould, and the vote would control the elec-
tion. By the failure, then, of Mr. Gibbons, at this critical moment, to meet
and satisfy the extraordinary demands of the occasion, he lost the election to
his party, permitted Mr. Buchanan to carry his state, and surrendered the
control of the national administration to the democratic party for the ensuing
But the great poet and dramatist has told us:
"There's a divinity that shapes our ends.
Rough-hew them how we will."
And may not that divinity have interposed itself at so unexpected and so
unostentatious a place as the simple side door of John P. Sanderson's ofllce?
Victor Hugo, speaking of the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, asks: "Was
it possible, then, that Napoleon should have won that battle? We answer.
No. Why? Because of Wellington? No. Because of Blucher? No. Then
why? Because of God." Not perhaps, so far as the autonomy and integrity
of nations were concerned, but in its grander and more far-reaching effects
upon the human race, the election of 1656 was of vastly greater importance
than was the battle of Waterloo. Viewing it in that light, is it too much for
us to say that, like Waterloo, that election terminated as it did, "because of
The election of General Fremont to the presidency in 1856 would have
precipitated the great civil war just as surely, and just as quickly as it was
precipitated after the election of Mr. Lincoln in 1860. But was the Union
sentiment of the nation as well prepared for the conflict in 1856 as it was in
1860? Did it not require still four years more for the new party to become
strong enough and adhesive enough to withstand the terrific shock of the
confederate government, its organization and its armies? The union numbers
were there; but were they sufficiently organized? The union sentiment pre-
vailed; but was it fully crystallized? The half dozen different party organiza-
tions which sprang up in the northern states after the defeat of the old whig
party, had to be gathered together and molded into one, to make them
effective, and it required these intervening four years between 1856 and 1860
to bring about that result.
But again: Would Senator Douglas with his enormous following in the
democratic party, including many of the ablest statesmen in the republic,
have been as prompt in tendering his services and theirs to President Fremont
as they afterwards tendered to President Lincoln, and without whose patriotic
and enthusiastic support the great rebellion might have had a different end-
ing? In short, were the friends of the union sufficiently organized and pre-
pared for the great conflict in 1856? or did it not, rather, require another
four years to strengthen and solidify the union sentiment and the union forces
to successfully withstand and beat back the terrific rebellion which arrayed
itself against the life of the nation in â€žhe spring of 1861? Therefore, was it
possible for Fremont to win the election? No. Why? "Because of God."
And then again: With Fremont elected and in the presidential chair, who
could have forecast the future? His intense patriotism, his abhorrence of
Addresses before the Society. 57
slavery and love of liberty, no one will quiistion. These were the principal
elements in the formation of his character. But with his fiery, impetuous and
uncontrolable zeal,, what errors of administration he might have made.
What blunders, as commander-in-chief of the army, he might have committed,
as several incidents in his public career fully show. Might not his enthusi-
asm and impetuosity have carried him away beyond his people â€” beyond their
physical and financial support â€” and thus brought irreparable disaster to the
union cause? In this view of the case, it is, perhaps, well for our countryâ€”
the entire country, both north and south â€” well for the four millions of slaves
in the southern states, well for those held in bondage in all other lands, well
for the cause of freedom throughout the world, and well for republican insti-
tutions in all enlightened nations, that Jr'remont failed of an election to the
presidency in 1856, and that the mighty interests at stake to the republic and
to mankind should devolve upon one who was to come after him.
Aside from the campaign proper, but intimately associated with it, there
were two incidents which should be briefly noticed in this connection. When
the result of the October election became known, it was vigorously urged by
some of the republican managers that the presidential election could still be
carried for Fremont; for the reason, as they claimed, that at the October elec-
tion the Quakers had not voted. But ihat now, seeing how close the state con-
test had been, they, the Quakers, would rally with all their strength and con-
tribute votes enough, at the November election, to seat General Fremont safely
in the presidential chair. This promise, as we have already seen, proved to be
a d^fmal failure. The quakers did not vote; or, if they did, getting alarmed at
the threats of disunion in the event of E'remont's election, they went quietly to
the polls and voted for Mr. Buchanan.
But it became a current witticism of the day, that while the Quakers failed
to vote at either the October or November elections, they made a grand rally
and did some splendid voting at Harrisburg on the 13th of January following,
when a United States senator was to be chosen. The legislature on joint bal-
lot stood 68 democrats to 65 republicans â€” or, rather, all shades of the opposi-
tion. Assurances became circulated, confidentially, among the opposition,
that if their 65 votes could be solidly concentrated upon General Simon Cam-
eron, he could, and would, secure from me democratic members the two or
three additional votes requisite for his election.
Mr. Forney had been thrust forward as the democratic candidate for sena-
tor, and Mr. Buchanan, as a reward for the splendid service rendered him,
wrote a letter to his party friends at Harrisburg, insisting upon Mr. Forney's
election. This letter proved to be very unfortunate, not only for Mr. Forney,
but it also seriously injured Mr. Buchanan himself, with Henry D. Foster,
William Wilkins, and other senatorial aspirants and their friends. But it
made General Cameron's work all the easier; for it gave three of the disaf-
fected democrats a good excuse to change their votes. And so, on the day of
the election, as the voting progressed, representatives Lebo and Wagonseller,
from Schuylkill county, and Menear, from York county, deserted Mr. Forney
and cast their votes for General Cameron, thus securing his election to the
United States senate by one majority. Schuylkill and York were not consid-
ered very good Quaker counties, and Lebo, Menear and Wagonseller did not
sound very much like good Quaker names; but the result was hailed all the
same as a grand Quaker triumph, especially by the republicans, who felt most
aggrieved against Mr. Forney for his general course during the campaign, and
particularly for the Sanderson affair.
58 Kansas Slate Historical Society.
The other incident to which reference laas been made, concerns Mr.
Forney's radical change of front upon the Kansas question. I never could
understand why Mr. Forney should be regarded as the special favorite of
Kansas, when we remember the violent manner in which he attacked the
cause of Kansas and the friends of Kansas throughout that memorable cam-
paign; and also when we remember the extraordinary service he rendered
Mr. Buchanan, without which service Mr. Buchanan could not have carried
his own state and been elected president. He saved Pennsylvania to
Buchanan, but did it at the expense and injury of Kansas. The principal
plank in the Philadelphia republican platform was to settle the Kansas contro-
versy, and stop the outrages in our territory by the admission of Kansas into
the union under the Topeka constitution. Had Fremont been elected, Kansas
would have speedily been admitted, and all our troubles would have ended.
But to all this Mr. Forney was bitterly opposed, and carried his point by the
election of Mr. Buchanan, and by the very questionable methods to which he
resorted. Hence, as before suggested, I cannot understand why Kansas should
exhaust herself in conferring honors upon Mr. Forney, or in shouting hosannas
to him as one of the saviours of the commonwealth.
'Tis true he afterwards broke with President Buchanan and the democratic
party, and championed the cause of Kansas, when its admission under the
Lecompton constitution was the absorbing topic. But whether this v/as an
honest conversion on the principles involved, or only resentment against his
party for their failure to elect him senator, or against President Buchanan
for not inviting him to a seat in his cabinet, is a question.
At the organization of the second congress under President Buchanan's
administrationâ€” the off year â€” Mr. Forney was chosen clerk of the house of
representatives by the republican and anti-administrative members, as
Governor Pennington, of New Jersey, had been elected speaker two days
previously. Mr. Forney was serenaded the same evening, and, in his speech
of thanks for the compliment, quoted these memorable lines from Lord
"They little thought, that day of pain.
When launched, as on the lightning's flash.
They bade me to destruction dash.
That one day I should come again,
With twice five thousand horse, to thank
The count for his uncourteous ride.
hey played me then a bitter prank,
When, with the wild horse for my guide.
They bound me to his foaming flank.
At length I played them one as frank.
For time at last sets all things even;
And if we do but watch the hour,
There never yet was human power
Which could evade, if unforgiven,
The patient watch and vigil long
Of him who treasures up a wrong."
While our people were thankful to Mr. Forney that he had ceased to be our
enemy and had become our friend, the lines just quoted strongly indicate that
he became our friend more to "get even with somebody" than from any special
love to either Kansas, her cause, or her people. Besides the election of
General Banks as speaker of the popular branch of congress in 1855-'56, and
of Governor Pennington in 1859-'60, and the 400,000 popular majority against
Mr. Buchanan at the recent election, all may have had something to do with
Addresses before the Society. 59
his change of front, as they all pointed with unerring certainty to the course
of political supremacy in the very near future. If Mr. Forney had been chosen
senator on January 13 insted of General Cameron, or if President Buchanan
had placed him in his cabinet, would he have been as earnest a friend of
Kansas during the Lecompton period as he afterwards became? Let his
Mazeppa speech supply the answer.
In reviewing the situation, then, from to-day's standpoint, we repeat that
it seems well that General Fremont failed of an election to the presidency in
1856, and that the almost overwhelming responsibilities growing out of the
great civil war were transferred from him and his day to Abraham Lincoln
four years later.
But the Fremont campaign was by no means a disaster to the party or to
the country. Except in the mere matter of Fremont's non-election, it must be
regarded as a great success. It brought the friends of freedom squarely upon
the same platform: First, to resist the establishment of slavery in Kansas;
and second, to demand its exclusion from all the territories â€” not even except-
ing New Mexico and Arizona, to which it might have gone under the implied
permission of the Missouri compromise. It brought the union sentiment of
the country to see clearly the dangers threatening the republic, and to measure
the extremities to which the pro-slavery element would resort in order to
carry their institution beyond its heretofore prescribed limits. But besides
all that, it showed the relative popular strength of parties. While Mr.
Buchanan was chosen president by a large plurality, the popular vote showed
a majority of nearly 400,000 against him and his party. It also showed with
inspiring â€” almost religious â€” enthusiasm that a grand movement in the cause
of freedom and against the institution of human slavery could be conducted.
It was, indeed, the campaign of enthusiasm. Who that witnessed them will
ever forget the huge processions and the enormous crowds which everywhere
characteinzed the Fremont campaign? the eloquent speeches which were
delivered? the inspiring songs which were sung?
The very large majority of the young men of the countryâ€” in the free states
of course â€” who M'ere to cast their first votes at that election were on the side
of Fremont, free Kansas, and free territories. Nor did they stop to reason
very elaborately of the rights of slavery under the constitution and laws of the
land. Because, they claimed, such rights had become forfeited in the attempt
to break down the rights of others; that if slaveholders had no respect for the
traditions and compacts of the nation, whore their interests were involved,
they must not expect others to hold their asserted rights in very high esteem.
Therefore, from day to day, as the campaign went on, they became more and
more educated to the idea that slavery was wrong, morally wrong; and being
wrong, that its further extension should be prohibited, and that thereafter it
should be made to take care of itself without the intervention or support of the
federal government. They said, in effect, to the slave power: "You are not
content to let your institution rest securely in its past protected limits, but
must needs violate the most binding obligations, and remove the ancient land-
mark, which the fathers have set up in order to extend it into territories here-
fore dedicated to freedom. Now you must suffer the consequences of your own
acta. As ycu have removed the 'ancient landmark' which has been the line
of demarkation between the free states and the slave states for a third of a
century, you and your institution must suffer the curse entailed."
As the canvass progressed and these ideas became moreand more prevalent,
the campaign assumed rather the character of a great moral upheaval than of
60 Kansas State Historical Society.
a mere political contest. In fact, it became lifted out of the domain of politics
pure and simple, and was elevated, as it were, upon the higher plane of mor-
ality. In the discussions which ensued, the highest rights of man became
more and more the principal topic for consideration â€” his right to possess his
own person and to appropriate and enjoy the fruits of his own toil; and the
denial of this right to one â€” "no matter what complexion an African or an In-
dian sun may have burnt upon him"â€” was regarded as a menace to the rights
Toward the close of the campaign, therefore, what grand and imposing
scenes were witnessed; one thousand, five thousand, ten thousand, aye, even
twenty thousand voices together chanting De Lisle's marvelous hymn, which
required but little paraphrasing to adapt it to these occasions:
"Oh, Liberty, can man resign thee.
Once having felt thy generous flame?
Can threats subdue, or bolts confine thee?
Or whips thy noble spirit tame?
Too long the world has v/ept, bewailing
That falsehood's dagger tyrants wield;
But freedom is our sword and shield,
And all their arts are unavailing."
This, they found, was just as applicable and inspiring to them in beating
back the encroachments of slavery as it was to the French citizen struggling
for more enlarged personal liberty in his native land.
And then what wild, what tumultuous enthusiasm would be aroused in the
breasts of those great masses of the people as the grand chorus, appropriate
only to that campaign, would swell out upon the scene:
"Arise, arise, ye brave.
And let your war-cry be.
Free speech, free press, free soil, free men,
Fremont and victory!'
An enthusiasm to be likened only to that which the French soldiery ox-
hibited at the storming of the Malakoff under the inspiring strains of the
same grand hymn, or which impelled the crusader onward, when following
the cross, to the rescue of the holy sepulchre.
And how splendidly the young leader of the republican party sustained
himself throughout all that great campaign. Not a misstep did he make. Not
a blunder did he commit. No stain attached to his brilliant character. Even
his name, as seen in the alliterative connection just presented, greatly
heightened the interest in the canvass:
Free speech, free press, free soil, free men,
Fremont and victory.
And while he failed of the election, yet to him mtist be accorded the dis-
tinguished honor of being the first standard bearer of the national republican
party; of giving strength and character and solidity to that party; of exhibit-
ing to itself its vast resources, its powers and its capabilities; and of 'organiz-
ing it for the battle to be fought and the victory to be won at the next
campaign. Surely, then, liberal honors should be awarded him for the grand
achievements which have become the inheritance of that party in after years.
Without Fremont we might not have had Lincoln. The work of the one
was preliminary and necessary to the success of the other. Like that other
John, like that other "Pathfinder," the forerunner, he was the voice of one
crying, Prepare the way, and make the paths straight for that most resplend-
ent character of the nineteenth century, the savior of his country, who, in the
next four years, should come after him.
Addresses before the Society. 61
HISTORY AND HISTORICAL COMPOSITION.
Address of Hon. James S. Emery, President of the Society, at tlie annual meeting, January 19,
Gentlemen: We bring to the services of tliis annual gathering a bittei'
sorrow. Since our last meeting the high and the low have fallen. Many of
those whose names were indissolubly connected with our society, either ap
active or as honorary members, have passed beyond the boundary of this
eai-thly life. Several of these were active as founders of our organization
All of them were good and true men, ana their memories are left to be
treasured up in the archives of this society. Most of tnem crowned with
years have gone down to the grave in the calm decay of their autumnal season.
But one, notably, had hardly passed the bright summer of his high career:
he whose auspicious prim.e held out the flattering promise that his past busy
years of work for the state were only the pledge of a still ampler if not a
higher service. We cannot bury these many colaborers with us in the found-
ing and upbuilding of Kansas in utter silence. We are moved to the proper
commemoration of their services by all the better instincts of our nature, and
hence I am glad to announce, here on the threshold of this discourse, that
appropriate provisions have already been made by this society to properly
commemorate the lives of these men, and to commit their memories to endur-
I wish to say som.ething about our work, and therefore I will call my sub-
ject: History and Historical Composition.
Ours is a young state; and hence we are chiefly concerned, in all we are
doing in the State Historical Society, with the beginnings and the origins of
things. So, for some 20 years since this society was founded, we have listened
at all our annual meetings to papers and speeches about the first things which
Kansas did as she started out in her territorial career in 1854. These papers,
these speeches, and unnumbered printed documents, numerous personal re-
citals of individual experiences in the first settlement of the territory, together
with a collection of portraits, drawings and paintings of both men and things,
all crowned with an immense newspaper bureau â€” tucked away in quarters all
too narrow and circumscribed â€” all these accumulations of the past 20 years.
go to the credit account of our work as a society. This feature of our doings
seems now quite complete. When we shall have catalogued what we have
gotten together, so that the student may gain ready access to the various
sources of the particular information he may be in quest of, then this society
wall have securely laid the corner-stone of that splendid edifice which those
who shall come after us are to carry on to completion. This society is to-day
a gatherer; it will some time become a builder.
Historical work is never done and finished up, ready to be laid away as a
job completed. Just as long as human society goes on, just so long historical
material accumulates and piles up, so to speak. And this is only saying that
"Politics to-day becomes history to-morrow." The State Historical Society
of Kansas will not have completed its legitimate work, and will not have
finally discharged its trust to our people and to the state, when it shall have
garnered up and safely deposited in its archives full and exhaustive data of
62 Kansas State Historical Society.
all that has been done In Kansas in the last generation and a quarter. We
are yet in the infancy of things in our state, and this Society is enlisted in a
work that has no end.
It is destined to lead in stimulating nistorical studies in the entire Missouri