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North than was Lincoln's Monitory Proclamation in the elections of
1862. This arraignment in itself could do Lincoln no real injury with
the delegates already pledged to his support, but it was coupled with
an intimation that might have been effective if the Radicals had shown
themselves capable of a serious diversion. Fremont hinted that if
Lincoln was set aside he would retire in favor of the Republican can-
didate, but he boldly proclaimed his purpose to organize all the ele-
ments of opposition against Lincoln's election. There was only one
man whose name gave any promise of success should it be presented
in opposition to the nomination of Lincoln. This man was Lieutenant-
General Grant, whose vigorous operations against Lee in Virginia
w^ere arousing the admiration and enthusiasm of the country. After
the capture of Yicksburg Grant had rapidly risen from a subordinate
position to the command of all the armies of the United States. For
the first time since the beginning of the war the capture of Richmond
ceased to be the primary purpose of the Army of the Potomac, and the
destruction of Lee's army was made the main object of the campaign



138



HISTORY OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.



in the East. The destruction of the army under General Joseph E.
Johnston in the Southwest was the task set for General Sherman.
The campaign against Lee, under Grant's personal direction, had be-
gun with the bloody battle of the Wilderness, on the 4th of May and
subsequent days. The bloody battle of Spottsylvania, and the opera-
tions on the North Anna, the Pamunky, and the Tolopotomy followed.
On the 3d of June Grant's army made the fruitless attack at Cold Har-
bor, that was afterward so severely criticised. For the next day a
mass meeting was appointed to be held in New York city to voice the
gratitude of the country to Grant for his vigorous campaign. If Grant
had countenanced the design the New York meeting would have been
used to bring him forward as a Presidential candidate, but he per-
emptorily refused to permit the use
of his name for political purposes,
and thus all hope of defeating Lin-
coln was frustrated.

The third Republican National
Convention contained more eminent
men than were ever assembled as
delegates in a political body. There
were not fewer than six Republican
Governors, five of them leading
War Governors, on the floor of the
Convention the eloquent John A.
Andrew, of Massachusetts; Marcus
L. Ward and William A. Newell, of
New Jersey; William Dennison and
David Tod, of Ohio, and Austin
Blair, of Michigan. Vermont sent
Solomon Foot, who was among the

faithful in the United States Senate before the war. Among the New
York delegation were Henry J. Raymond, the gifted editor of the
New York Times; Daniel S. Dickinson, a representative War Demo-
crat, and Lyman Tremaine, a War Democrat, who, like Dickinson, be-
came an able and eloquent exponent of Republican principles. The
Pennsylvania delegation contained three of the most distinguished
Republicans from that State Galusha A. Grow, Thaddeus Stevens,
and Simon Cameron. Among the delegates from the Northwest were
Omer D. Conger, of Michigan; Angus Cameron, of Wisconsin, and
George W. McCrary, of Iowa. Burton C. Cook was at the head of
the delegation from Illinois. As a whole the Convention was a more
sedate body than that which had nominated Abraham Lincoln four
years before, but it was not less inspiring, nor does its work embrace
a less important chapter in the history of the Republican party.




GEN. U. S. GRANT.



THE THIRD REPUBLICAN CONVENTION. 139

The Convention was opened with a brief speech by Governor Mor-
gan, of New York, Chairman of the National Committee, in which he
advocated a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. Morgan's
address was followed by the announcement of the selection of the Rev.
Dr. Robert J. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, as temporary chairman. This
selection w r as the occasion of one of the dramatic features of the Con-
vention. Dr. Breckinridge was one of the most venerable and distin-
guished divines of the Presbyterian Church. He was a Breckinridge
of the Breckinridges the Breckiuridges of Virginia and Kentucky.
Of his family he was the only distinguished member who remained
true to the Union. He was eminent for his piety, his learning, his elo-
quence, and his great skill in controversy. He was a man of resolute
and unyielding character aggressive, inflexible, and courageous.
When he took the chair his tall figure, strong face, and patriarchal
beard marked him as a leader of men. His speech was in keeping with
the character of the man and the character of the assemblage before
which it was made. It w r as sharp, sinewy, and defiant bold, broad,
and national. Its opening sentences proclaimed his own uncompro-
mising attitude and that of the party for which he was the spokesman
" the nation shall not be destroyed." He dissipated the plea that
the Constitution was a shield for those who were seeking to destroy
the Union, and exclaimed, " We shall change the Constitution if it
suits us to do so." He made no humanitarian plea for the men who
were seeking to break up the Union, among whom were his own kins-
men, but declared that " the only enduring, the only imperishable
cement of all free institutions has been the blood of traitors." Recog-
nizing slavery as the institution that had lifted the sword against the
Union, he aroused the enthusiasm of the Convention by the announce-
ment that we must " use all power to exterminate and extinguish it."
" I know very well," he said, " that the sentiments which I am utter-
ing will cause me great odium in the State in which I was born, which
I love, where the bones of two generations of my ancestors and some
of my children are, and where very soon I shall lay my own. . . .
But we have put our faces toward the way which we intend to go, and
we will go in it to the end." With this inspiring prelude the work of
the Convention began.

At the evening session A. K. McClure made the report in behalf of
the Committee on Organization, recommending William Dennison,
of Ohio, for permanent president. Governor Dennison repeated the
sentiments already expressed by Governor Morgan and Dr. Breckin-
ridge on taking the chair. There w r ere no disputed questions in regard
to any of the delegations from the Northern States, nor to those of
four of the border States Delaware. Maryland, West Virginia, and



140 HISTORY OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

Kentucky. But there were two delegations from Missouri, and Thad-
deus Stevens objected to calling the roll of the Southern States and
receiving their delegates on the ground that such an act might be
regarded as recognizing the right of States in rebellion to vote in the
Electoral College. These questions were referred to the Committee
on Credentials. Preston King, of New York, on behalf of the com-
mittee, reported in favor of admitting the liadical Union delegation
from Missouri, and excluding the Conservative Union, or Blair dele-
gation. There was probably little difference between the two in the
regularity of their election, but as the latter was favorable to Lin-
coln's nomination, while the Radicals supported General Grant, it
was thought to be good policy to favor Grant's Missouri friends at
the expense of Lincoln's supporters. This view prevailed in the Con-
vention by a vote of 440 to 4. The delegations from Tennessee, Arkan-
sas, and Louisiana were admitted to the floor of the Convention with-
out the right to vote. The delegation from South Carolina was re-
jected. Three of the Territories Nebraska, Colorado, and Nevada-
were accorded the rights of States on the ground that they were soon
to be admitted into the Union, but the delegations from the other
Territories, and those from Virginia and Florida, were only accorded
admittance to the floor. As a matter of fact, Nevada was the only
one of the three favored Territories that voted in the Electoral
College in 1865.

The report of the Committee on Resolutions was made through
Henry J. Raymond, by whom the platform was written. The resolu-
tions enforced the duty of maintaining the Union and quelling the
rebellion by force of arms; approved the determination of the Govern-
ment to enter into no compromise with rebels; indorsed the acts done
against slavery, and declared in favor of an amendment to the Con-
stitution prohibiting it in all the States; gave thanks to the soldiers
and sailors; applauded the practical wisdom, unselfish patriotism,
and unswerving fidelity of Abraham Lincoln; recommended harmony
in the national councils; claimed the full protection of the law for the
colored troops; favored foreign immigration, and the speedy con-
struction of a railroad to the Pacific; pledged the national faith for
the redemption of the public debt, and reaffirmed the Monroe doc-
trine. The harmony Cabinet resolution was aimed at Postmaster-
General Blair, but it was conveyed in vague terms and ought not to
have been adopted. The reaffirmation of the Monroe doctrine at that
time was also a declaration against the practical wisdom of Abraham
Lincoln in not driving the French out of Mexico. This resolution
wrought no harm, for the President was fully in sympathy with its
purpose, although he was too busy just then with other matters to



THE THIRD REPUBLICAN CONVENTION. 141

carry it into effect. As a whole the platform was elevated in tone, and
direct and unequivocal in expression. -

When the time came to nominate a candidate for President, Gen-
eral Simon Cameron offered a resolution declaring Abraham Lincoln
the choice of the party for President, and Hannibal Hamlin its candi-
date for Vice-President. As this was not what General Cameron
either expected or w r anted to be done, it was not done. The night
before the vote was taken he did some missionary work among the
Pennsylvania delegation, suggesting that after casting the solid vote
of the State for Hamlin it should be given solidly for Johnson. This
was done, but some of the Pennsylvania delegates would have clung
to Hamlin if his nomination had been possible. If the Convention had
been unanimous for the old ticket Cameron's resolution would have
been accepted without objection, but objection was made, and so with-
out taking the sense of the Convention by insisting on a vote, Cam-
eron withdrew it. Grant's Missouri friends w r anted to vote for their
candidate for President quite as seriously as the friends of Johnson
and Dickinson wanted to try conclusions with Hamlin. Accordingly
nomination by ballot was ordered in both cases. Lincoln received
497 votes to 22 for Grant, all from Missouri. The nomination was
then made unanimous. On the ballot for Vice-President Andrew John-
son, of Tennessee, received 200 votes; Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine,
145; Daniel S. Dickinson, of New York, 113; Benjamin P. Butler, of
Massachusetts, 26; and L. H. Rousseau, of Kentucky, 21. There were
a few scattering votes. If there had been a serious purpose to nomi-
nate either Hamlin or Dickinson it was possible to do it, but without
waiting for the announcement of the result of a ballot that was know r n

^

to be indecisive, there was a break for Johnson that was continued
until he had 492 votes to his credit, only IT of Dickinson's friends and
9 of Hamlin's remaining true to them. Such a result would have been
impossible if the Convention had not been fully impressed by the
belief that Mr. Lincoln desired it.

Although the same influences that defeated Mr. Hamlin brought
about the defeat of Mr. Dickinson, the New York candidate always
attributed his failure to the hostile element in his own delegation.
Mr. Dickinson had many qualities to make him a strong candidate,
not only as against Mr. Hamlin, but as against Mr. Johnson. He had
been not only a Democrat, but a Hunker; he sustained Secretary
Marcy and Polk's administration against the powerful influence of
Silas Wright, then Governor of New York, when he entered the

~

United States Senate as Wright was leaving it. Such was his popu-
larity that he was talked of as an available candidate for the Presi-
dencv as earlv as 1852. When the war came he declared himself un-



142



HISTORY OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.



reservedly for the Union, and the administration had no more hearty
or eloquent supporter. He was a man of fine talents, extensive ac-
quirements, and great legal learning. As a political speaker he was
distinguished for wit and repartee. He was especially apt in his use
of anecdotes, and his facility in applying Bible illustrations gave him
the nickname of " Scripture Dick." He was besides a man of com-
manding presence, and his long, silvery locks rendered him very im-
pressive. As a man, as a lawyer, and as a statesman he was greatly
Johnson's superior; and as a Union man and a War Democrat he was
as deserving as his successful rival, except that he belonged to the
North, while Johnson came from the South. With Lincoln neutral
and his own State united in his support, he would have been nomi-
nated. The opposition in his own delegation came from the Whig ele-
ment in the Republican party of New
York, that was averse to the political
advancement of War Democrats. It
was even claimed that his election as
Vice-President might jeopardize Mi-.
Seward's place in the Cabinet. On a
test vote in the delegation he received
only 28 votes to 32 for Johnson and G
for Hamlin. It was Raymond's leader-
si dp that deprived Dickinson of a ma-
jority of the delegation, and Raymond's
only motive for supporting Johnson
against a New York candidate so emi-
nently worthy was the wish of Lincoln
for Johnson's nomination.

If Johnson's character had beeu
better understood lie would not have

secured Lincoln's preference, and with it the second place on the
ticket. The same qualities that attracted Lincoln made him a favor-
ite with the Northern people. A Southern Senator at the time of
secession, he stood manfully by the Union. As Military Governor of
Tennessee afterward he deepened this favorable impression by his
boldness and vigor. At the time he was successfully rehabilitating
his State and restoring it to the Union. His humble origin, his early
struggles and energy, his indebtedness to his wife for a rudi-
mentary education, his rise from a village alderman to a Senator
in Congress from his State, were facts that made him a suitable mate
for the rail -splitter of Illinois. His assessment of rich secessionists
in 1862 to support the destitute families of Confederate soldiers, his
vigorous treatment of rebel sympathizers in 1862-3, and his ready ac-




DANIEL S. DICKINSON.



THE THIRD REPUBLICAN CONVENTION. 143

ceptauce of the emancipation policy, and his efforts to make Tennessee
a free State added to his popularity. The selection was a good one so
far as men could see even those wno were not favorable to his nomi-
nation could urge no strong objections against it. He certainly added
to the strength of the ticket in the campaign of 1864.

Mr. Hamliu's defeat wrought him no real injury. The reasons for
Johnson's nomination were so specious, and it was accepted so heart-
ily by the country, that Hamlin and his friends felt compelled to
smother their disappointment with the best grace they were able to
command. Hanilin believed that Lincoln was favorable to his nomi-
nation for a quarter of a century. " I was really sorry to be dis-
abused/' he wrote in 1889.

The Democratic National Convention did not meet until the 29th of
August, when it assembled in Chicago, and nominated General George
B. McClellan for President, and George H. Pendleton, of Ohio, for
Vice-President. It contained many representative Democrats of that
and a later period, including such men as Josiah G. Abbott and
George Lunt, of Massachusetts; William W. Eaton, of Connecticut;
Dean Richmond, Horatio Seymour, Sanford E. Church, Washington
Hunt, and Samuel J. Tilden, of New York; William Bigler and Will-
iam A. Wallace, of Pennsylvania; William Allen, Allen G. Thurman,
and Clement L. Vallandigham, of Ohio, and Joseph E. McDonald, of
Indiana. It was a Peace Convention, and its utterances properly be-
long to the campaigns then in progress those of Grant and Sherman
in the South, and that of Lincoln and Johnson in the North.



V.

THE LINCOLN AND JOHNSON CAMPAIGN.

Gloomy Outlook when the Canvass Opened Democratic Hopes
Sentiments of Belmont, Bigler, and Seymour at Chicago The
Jewett-Greeley Peace Fiasco Object of the Negotiations Resig-
nation of Secretary Chase Democratic Conspiracies Knights
of the Golden Circle Objections Made to McClellan's Nomina-
tion Lincoln and McClellan McClellan's Body-guard Mc-
Clellan's Dismissal The Soldier Candidate of the Peace Party-
Turn in the Tide Union Victories Election Responses to the
War Bulletins Montgomery Blair His Unpopularity The
Pressure for His Removal Lincoln's Intervention Demanded
by the Politicians Vallandigham Insists on the Chicago Plat-
form Results of the Elections.




HE Presidential campaign of 1864 was so intimately associ-
ated with the progress of the war that Republican hopes
rose and fell with the fortunes and misfortunes of the
armies under Grant and Sherman. When the Baltimore
Convention adjourned the full effects of the defeat at Cold Harbor
vere not felt. It was confidently expected that the re-election of
Lincoln and the close of the war would be celebrated at the same
time. The reverse and the certainty that much hard fighting was still
before the Army of the Potomac before Lee could be crushed were
rude shocks to this optimistic feeling. A period of deep gloom fol-
lowed one of great exaltation. Many Republicans even joined
in the denunciation of Grant. It is possible that the battle ought not
to have been fought at all; but this claim rests only on the assump-
tion that no general should fight and fail. It is unnecessary to discuss
the failure here, but the magnitude of our losses, the demoralizing
effect of the disaster upon the morale of the ariity, the utter hopeless-
ness of crushing Lee north of the James, appalled the country. The
luckless events that followed it Sheridan's failure to unite with
Hunter in Lee's rear, Hunter's failure to capture Lynchburg and his
disastrous retreat, Early's swoop across the Potomac, the defeat of
Wallace at the Monocacy, the demonstrations on the outskirts of
Washington and the suburbs of Baltimore, the deadly mine ex-
plosion at Petersburg, and the burning of Chambersburg were not
encouraging concomitants for an administration seeking a popular



THE LINCOLN AND JOHNSON CAMPAIGN.



145



indorsement. In the army in the South and Southwest the prospect
was almost equally dark and gloomy. Sturgis was beaten by Forrest
at Guntown, Sherman was repulsed at Kenesaw r . All this can be
read with critical dispassion now it can even be read with a feeling
of pride that through these manifold dangers and disasters came the
final triumph but the war bulletins that told the achievements of a
triumphant enemy with all possible reserve were not fruitful cam-
paign documents for the responsible party in the approaching Presi-
dential election. Even Lincoln began to fear the portentous mean-
ing of a cloud that seemed to have no silver lining.

While the Republicans were discouraged by the series of disasters
that followed fast and fol-
lowed faster from the early
June days of Cold Harbor far
into the midsummer, the Peaco
Democracy took heart of hope.
The meeting of the Democratic-
National Convention had been
originally fixed for the 4th of
July. It w r as postponed until
the closing days of August, in
order to take advantage of the
later phases of popular discon-
tent, owing to an unfavorable
course of military events. The
wished-for reverses exceeded
even the wildest Democratic
hopes. In their joy the leaders
lost all prudence, and went to
the extreme of unpatriotic par-
tisanship. With a wildness of

rhetoric that was expressive of the violence of their passions, the war
and the war party were arraigned by the Convention orators. " Four
years of misrule," said August Belmont, Chairman of the National
Committee, in opening the proceedings, " by a sectional, fanatical, and
corrupt party have brought our country to the very verge of ruin. . . .
The past and the present are sufficient warning of the disastrous con-
sequences which would befall us if Mr. Lincoln's re-election should be
made possible by our want of patriotism and unity." Our whole
political and social system was to go to everlasting smash, amid
bloodshed and anarchy, in that event. The notes of the raven were
repeated by Governor Bigler, of Pennsylvania, the temporary chair-
man. But to Governor Horatio Seymour, of New York, the permanent




HORATIO SEYMOUR.



146 HISTORY OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

president, was committed the task of giving the keynote to the Con-
vention and the party. He was well adapted to lead the forces of re-
action and surrender. He was able, adroit, and eloquent specious,
subtle, and mischievous. He w r as, moreover, the acknowledged leader
of the Peace Democracy a pre-eminence that he owed less to his im-
portant place as Governor of New York than to his prepossessing-
manner and polished and persuasive speech. It was his duty to put
virulent utterances into apparently temperate but plausible form.
He performed this duty with great skill. He affected to treat the
Republican party more in sorrow than in anger. " Four years ago,"
he said, " a convention met in this city when our country was peace-
ful, prosperous, and united. Its delegates did not mean to destroy our
Government, to overwhelm us with debt, or to drench our land in
blood; but they were animated by intolerance and fanaticism, and
blinded by an ignorance of the spirit of our institutions, the character
of our people, and the condition of our land. They thought they might
safely indulge their passions, and they concluded to do so. Their pas-
sions have wrought out their natural results." To this man and those
who heard him the championship of the expansion of slavery was
not fanaticism; secession and disunion were not the indulgence of
passions. It was the Republican party that had gone to war with the
South, not the South that was making war on the Union. It was
easy for him to suggest an armistice involving surrender, and for
those to whom he was speaking to accept the suggestion. " The ad-
ministration," he said, " will not let the shedding of blood cease, even
for a little time, to see if Christian charity and the wisdom of states-
manship may not work out a method to save our country. Nay, more,
they will not listen to a proposal of peace which does not offer that
which this Government has no right to ask." After three years of
war, slavery, which had caused it, was still as sacred in the eyes of
Horatio Seymour as before the war began. The address closed with a
threat. " But for us," said the spokesman of the Peace Democracy,
" we are resolved that the party which has made the history of our
country since its advent to power seem like some unnatural and ter-
rible dream shall be overthrown. We have forborne much because
those who are now charged with the conduct of public affairs know
but little about the principles of our Government." The platform to
which these sentiments were the prelude was in its vital part a dec-
laration that the war was a failure. It demanded a cessation of hos-
tilities, while the rebels had no thought of laying down their arms,
and a Peace Convention to arrange terms of surrender to a triumphant
enemy. On such a platform George B. McClellan, a Union soldier, was
nominated by the party of surrender. He accepted, and for a time
even Abraham Lincoln regarded his election as a possibility.



THE LINCOLN AND JOHNSON CAMPAIGN. 147

An episode of the campaign, between the War Convention at Balti-
more and the Peace Convention at. Chicago, was the peace mission,
so obtrusively proposed and so reluctantly undertaken by Horace
Greeley. It originated with a grotesque adventurer who called him-
self William Cornell Jewett, of Colorado. Jew T ett was a type of the
busybody who occupied a position midway between such intermed-
dlers as the famous Chevalier Wykoff and the mischievous Joseph
Howard, Jr. Wykoff, in his day, was a self-appointed intermediary
for royal and imperial potentates. Howard was the author of a forged
proclamation, imputed to President Lincoln, calling out a new levy
of troops on the assumed basis that the war was proving a failure.
Jewett was neither so adroit as Wykoff nor so reckless as Howard in



Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 16 of 61)