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tial office; that we approve and indorse, as demanded by the emer-
gency and essential to the preservation of the nation and as within
the provisions of the Constitution, the measures and acts which he
has adopted to defend the nation against its open and secret foes;
that we approve, especially, the proclamation of emancipation and
the employment as Union soldiers of men heretofore held in slavery;
and that w r e have full confidence in his determination to carry these
and all other constitutional measures essential to the salvation of the
country into full and complete effect.

6. Resolved, That we deem it essential to the general welfare that
harmony should prevail in the national councils, and we regard as
worthy of public confidence and official trust those only who cordially
indorse the principles proclaimed in these resolutions, and which
should characterize the administration of the Government.

7. Resolved, That the Government owes to all men employed in its
armies, without regard to distinction or color, the full protection of
the laws of war; and that any violation of these laws or of usages of
civilized nations in time of war, by the rebels now in arms, should be
made the subject of prompt and full redress.

8. Resolved, That foreign immigration, which in the past has added
so much to the wealth, development of resources, and increase of
power to this nation the asylum of the oppressed of all nations-
should be fostered and encouraged by a liberal and just policy.

9. Resolved, That we are in favor of a speedy construction of the
railroad to the Pacific coast.

10. Resolved, That the national faith, pledged for the redemption of
the public debt, must be kept inviolate, and that for this purpose we
recommend economy and rigid responsibility in the public expendi-
tures, and a vigorous and just system of taxation; and that it is the
duty of every loyal State to sustain the credit and promote the use of
the national currency.

11. Resolved, That we approve the position taken by the Govern-
ment, that the people of the United States can never regard with in-
difference the attempt of any European power to overthrow by force,
or to supplant by fraud, the institutions of any republican govern-
ment on the Western continent; and that they will view with extreme
jealousy, as menacing to the peace and independence of their own


country, the efforts of any such power to obtain new footholds for
monarchical governments, sustained by foreign military force, in near
proximity to the United States.


In answer to the committee appointed to notify him of his nomina-
tion, headed by Governor Dennison, Mr. Lincoln said:

u I will neither conceal my gratification nor restrain the expression
of my gratitude that the Union people, through their convention, in
the continued effort to save and advance the nation, have deemed me
not unworthy to remain in my present position. I know no reason to
doubt that I shall accept the nomination tendered; and yet perhaps
I should not declare definitely before reading and considering what
is called the platform. I will say now, however, I approve the dec-
laration in favor of so amending the Constitution as to prohibit
slavery throughout the nation. When the people in revolt, with a
hundred days of explicit notice that they could within those days re-
sume their allegiance without the overthrow of their institutions and
that they could not so resume it afterward, elected to stand out, such
amendment to the Constitution as is now proposed became a fitting
and necessary conclusion to the final success of the Union cause.
Such alone can meet and cover all cavils. Now the unconditional
Union men, North and South, perceive its importance and embrace it.
In the joint names of Liberty and Union, let us labor, to give it legal
form and practical effect."


Resolved, That in the future, as in the past, we will adhere with
unswerving fidelity to the Union under the Constitution as the only
solid foundation of our strength, security, and happiness as a people,
and as a framework of government equally conducive to the welfare
and prosperity of all the States, both Northern and Southern.

Resolved, That this Convention does explicitly declare, as the sense
of the American people, that after four years of failure to restore the
Union by the experiment of war, during which, under the pretense of
a military necessity, or war power higher than the Constitution, the
Constitution itself has been disregarded in every part, and public
liberty and private right alike trodden down, and the material pros-
perity of the country essentially impaired justice, humanity, liberty,
and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a
cessation of hostilities, with a view to an ultimate convention of the
States, or other peaceable means, to the end that, at the earliest prac-


ticable moment, peace may be restored on the basis of the Federal
Union of the States.

Resolved, That the direct interference of the military authorities of
the United States in the recent elections held in Kentucky, Maryland,
Missouri, and Delaware was a shameful violation of the Constitution;
and a repetition of such acts in the approaching election will be held
as revolutionary, and resisted with all the means and power under
our control.

Resolved, That the aim and object of the Democratic party is to
preserve the Federal Union and the rights of the States unimpaired;
and they hereby declare that they consider that the administrative
usurpation of extraordinary and dangerous powers not granted by
the Constitution; the subversion of the civil by military law in States
not in insurrection; the arbitrary military arrest, imprisonment, trial,
and sentence of American citizens in States where civil law exists in
full force; the suppression of freedom of speech and of the press; the
denial of the right of asylum; the open and avowed disregard of
State rights; the employment of unusual test oaths; and the inter-
ference with and denial of the right of the people to bear arms in their
defense, are calculated to prevent a restoration of the Union and the
perpetuation of a government deriving its just powers from the con-
sent of the governed.

Resolved, That the shameful disregard of the administration to its
duty in respect to our fellow-citizens who are now, and long have been,
prisoners of war and in a suffering condition, deserves the severest
reprobation, on the score alike of public policy and common hu-

Resolved, That the sympathy of the Democratic party is heartily
and earnestly extended to the soldiery of our army and the sailors of
our navy, who are and have been in the field and on the sea, under
the flag of our country; and, in the event of its attaining power, they
will receive all the care, protection, and regard that the brave soldiers
and sailors of the Kepublic have so nobly earned.



The Thirty -eighth Congress Schuyler Colfax, Speaker Cox and
Long Henry Winter Davis and Robert C. Schenck Grant Made
Lieutenant-General Ashley and the Amendment It Passes the
Senate General Henderson Defeated in the House Oppo-
nents and Champions Holman, Wood, and Randall Pendleton
President Lincoln's Message Reconsidered in the House
The Debate Mr. Cox's Able Argument The Vote Ratification
of the Amendment.

HE period of Reconstruction properly begins with the adop-
tion of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the
United States in the 38th Congress. The House of Repre-
sentatives in this Congress, chosen in the year of reaction,
1862, was a body unlike any of its predecessors. Few of its members
had been prominent in preceding Congresses. Some of the leading
Republican members of the 37th Congress had declined a re-election,
fearing defeat, and others had been beaten. The names of E. G.
Spaulding, Roscoe Conkling, Charles B. Sedgwick, and A. B. Olin
disappeared from the roll of the New York delegation. Galusha A.
Grow was not returned from Pennsylvania. John A. Bingham and
Samuel Shellabarger, of Ohio, were both beaten in Republican dis-
tricts. The most active and distinguished members of the new House
included Isaac N. Arnold, John F. Farnsworth, Owen Lovejoy, and
E. D. Washburne, of Illinois; Schuyler Colfax and George W. Julian,
of Indiana; Frederick A. Pike, of Maine; Henry L. Dawes, Daniel W T .
Gooch, and Alexander H. Rice, of Massachusetts; William Windom,
of Minnesota; James M. Ashley, of Ohio; Thaddeus Stevens and Will-
iam D. Kelley, of Pennsylvania, and Justin S. Morrill, of Vermont.
The new Republican members w T ho became prominent comprised
Godlove S. Orth, of Indiana; William B. Allison, John A. Kasson, and
James F. Wilson, of Iowa; James G. Blaine, of Maine; John A. J.
Cresswell and Henry Winter Davis, of Maryland ; Oakes Ames, George
S. Boutwell, Samuel Hooper, and William B. Washburn, of Massa-
chusetts; Ignatius Donnelly, of Minnesota; Robert C. Schenck, of
Ohio; Leonard Myers, Charles O'Neill, and Glenni W. Schofield, of



Pennsylvania, and Thomas A. Jencks, of Rhode Island. Lovejoy died
before the expiration of his term, and Fenton resigned to become
Governor of New York. Among the few prominent Democrats who
were re-elected were William S. Holman and Daniel W. Voorhees, of
Indiana; Benjamin Wood, of New York, and Samuel S. Cox and
George H. Peudleton, of Ohio. The Democratic leaders of subsequent
years, who came to the House for the first time, included William M.
Morrison and John T. Stuart, of Illinois; James Brooks, Francis Ker-
nan, and Fernando Wood, of New York; Alexander Long, of Ohio;
Samuel J. Randall, of Pennsylvania, and Charles A. Eldridge, of Wis-
consin. The new Republican Senators were Nathan A. Farwell, of
Maine, who succeeded William Pitt Fessendeu; Alexander Kamsey,
of Minnesota; B. Gratz Brown, of
Missouri; Edwin D. Morgan, of New
York, and William Sprague, of
Rhode Island. The new Democratic
Senators were William A. Richard-
son, of Illinois; Thomas A. Hen-
dricks, of Indiana; Reverdy John-
son, of Maryland; William Wright,
of New Jersey, and Charles R. Buck-
alew, of Pennsylvania.

If Mr. Grow had been re-elected
he would, as a matter of course,
have been accorded the Speaker-
ship of the House, but in his ab-
sence the Republicans chose Schuy-
ler Colfax as his successor. Mr.
Colfax had already served eight
years in Congress from a dis-
trict previously Democratic and

always close. In 1862 his majority was only 229. He was descended
from good Revolutionary stock, his grandfather being Captain
William Colfax, of the Connecticut Line, and his grandmother a
cousin of General Philip Schuyler. His father, Schuyler Colfax,
who held a position in a New York bank, died before his son and
namesake was born, leaving his widow and child in straitened
circumstances. W 7 hat education young Colfax received was in the
public schools of New York city, but he was withdrawn at an early
age to earn his livelihood and help to support his mother. The widow
Colfax married a second time, and with her husband emigrated to
Indiana, taking her son, Schuyler, with her. There he learned the
trade of a printer, and conducted a successful weekly newspaper at




South Bend before he entered public life. He was very industrious,
and in Congress he was soon recognized as one of the ablest parlia-
mentarians in the House. His cordiality of manner earned him the
nickname of " Smiler " Colfax, but his moderation and tact made him
very popular. He came to the chair with the good-will of both sides
of the House, and as Speaker he was able, prompt, fair-minded, gen-
erous, and dignified.

The principal opponent of Mr. Colfax for the Speakership was Mr.
Cox, of Ohio. Cox received 42 votes to 101 for Colfax, and 39 divided
between six other candidates. He was serving his third term in the
House, but his personal popularity was greater than the esteem in
which he was held politically. He was too independent in his speeches
to make a good Peace Democrat, and too conservative in his votes to

be accepted as a good War Democrat.
The consequence was that he was un-
able to command the united vote of his
party in a Congress in which Alexander
Long was one of his colleagues. Long
came very near expulsion in April, 1864,
for saying in a speech in the House that
he was in favor of the recognition of the
Southern Confederacy. Men of the
Long type voted for John L. Dawson, of
Pennsylvania, for Speaker, because Cox
w r as not bold enough to suit them, but
Cox long afterward cherished the delu-
sion that a resolution for the appoint-
ment of Peace Commissioners, offered
by Long in 1864, was identical with a
resolution offered by him in 1861. Mr.

Cox failed to see in his later years that in 1861 a resolution might not
be offensive, while the same resolution in 1864 was disloyal.

The oratorical honors of the 38th Congress went to Henry Winter
Davis, of Maryland. Davis had served six years in the House as an
" American," 1855-61. He supported Bell and Everett in 1860, and
was beaten as a candidate for re-election. The war made him a Re-
publican, and it was as a Republican that he was elected as a Repre-
sentative from Baltimore in 1862. As a debater he was unrivaled,
and as an orator he was brilliant beyond any of his contemporaries.
Although he was mainly instrumental in holding his State in its
loyalty to the Union, he w r as never in hearty accord w r ith President
Lincoln's administration, and sought to prevent Lincoln's renomina-
tion in 1864. But the leader of the House in the 38th Congress was




General Robert C. Schenck, not Henry Winter Davis. Schenck had
entered the army at the beginning of the war, but, like most of the
political generals Banks, Butler, McClernand, and others less famous
he had not proved exceptionally brilliant as a soldier. In 1862 he
was selected to oppose the re-election of Vallandigham, and succeeded
in defeating that blatant advocate of secession in Ohio, in a Demo-
cratic district, in a year when the Democrats captured eight Repub-
lican districts in the State. General Schenck had previously served
eight years in Congress, 1843-51, and was the American Minister at
Rio Janeiro under President Fillmore. As a Whig he had not ac-
cepted the Wilmot Proviso, but as a Republican in the 38th Congress
he supplanted Stevens as the leader, first in Committee of the Whole
and then as chairman of the Com-
mittee on Ways and Means. In the
discussions under the five-minute
rule he was a marvel of clear and
compact statement. His first posi-
tion after the organization of the
House was chairman of the Com-
mittee on Military Affairs, at that
time of greater importance even
than the W T ays and Means. In ora-
tory Schenck was not as graceful
as Davis, but " on his feet," Mr.
Blaine says, " he had no equal in
the House." The younger men in
both chambers will be treated at
length as they won their way to

The first of the military meas-
ures in the 38th Congress to draw

the political fire of the soldier statesmen was a bill introduced on the
opening day of the session to empower the President to appoint a
lieutenant-general for all our armies. The fact that this measure was


presented by E. B. Washburne, of Illinois, pointed unmistakably to
the appointment of General Grant to this controlling place. Wash-
burne, like Grant, was from Galena, but the two townsmen had never
spoken to each other before the outbreak of the rebellion. It was to
Washburne, however, that Grant owed his first commission as a
brigadier-general, and as the Congressman was the sponsor, so he
was afterward the constant friend of the soldier. Washburne made
no secret of the fact that the superlative rank to be created by his
measure was intended for Grant. In the House Military Committee





the bill had only one enthusiastic supporter, General Farnsworth, by
whom it was reported in an able speech. General Schenck, the
chairman of the committee, thought it premature. Not a very success-
ful soldier himself, he was prone
to doubt the military qualities of
the more successful generals.
Eighteen months before, McClel-
lan would have been selected;
after the battle of Gettysburg,
Meade would have been the man;
in the midst of his successes in
the Southwest, Rosecrans might
have been appointed at the
time it was difficult to predict
who would have precedence in
the end. These assumptions were
scarcely true, and they had no
force when applied to Grant. In
spite of his doubts, Schenck an-
nounced his intention to support
the bill. But there was one young soldier statesman from Ohio on the
Military Committee, who had set squadron in the field too often to sur-
render his judgment, when it came to selecting a great commander for

all the armies of the Union. He
was the Representative from the
Ashtabula district, and sat in the
seat so long filled by Joshua R. Gid-
dings. He had become president
of an Ohio college almost as soon
as he became an alumnus of Will-
iams; he had studied law, and had
been a member of the Ohio Sen-
ate; entering the army at the be-
ginning of the war in command
of a regiment, he served as chief
of staff to General Rosecrans, and
was rewarded for distinguished
services bv being; made in suc-


cession a brigadier-general and

major-general of volunteers. At

Chickamauga his achievements were especially brilliant. General
Garfield was in Congress only a few days when he evinced his oppo-
sition to the bill, and one of his first speeches in the House was against


its passage. The bill was passed by 96 yeas to 41 nays. Stevens and
Winter Davis, as well as Garfield, voted against it. Randall, of Penn-
sylvania; Morrison, of Illinois; Eldridge, of Wisconsin, and Voorhees,
of Indiana, were among the Democrats who voted for it.

The test measure of the 38th Congress was the Thirteenth Amend-
ment to the Constitution. It was first offered in the House, December
14, 1863, by James M. Ashle}^ of Ohio. Ashley was as radical on the
slavery question as Giddings had been for many years before, but he
never obtained the fame of the older Ohio Abolitionist. He spoke
with earnestness and force in behalf of his favorite measure, and he
will always be remembered for the watchful care he bestowed upon it
in a Congress not disposed to adopt it. After its introduction, Mr.
Holman, of Indiana, objected to the second reading of the bill, but the
objection was overruled, and it w r as referred to the Judiciary Com-
mittee. It soon became apparent that the
measure had no chance of receiving the neces-
sary two-thirds vote at that session of Con-
gress. Mr. Arnold, of Illinois, introduced a
joint resolution proposing a like amendment
to the Constitution a few days later. Mr. Hol-
man moved to lay this resolution on the table.
His motion failed by only 79 nays to 58 yeas.
Before any action was taken in the House on
Mr. Ashley's bill, a joint resolution, providing
for the abolition of slavery by a Constitutional
amendment, was offered in the Senate by Mr.
Henderson, of Missouri, reported from the Ju- GEN. JOHN B. HENDKRSON.
diciary Committee, and passed by a vote of 38

yeas to 6 nays. The Senators voting in the negative were Garrett
Davis, and Powell, of Kentucky; Hendricks, of Indiana; McDougall,
of California, arid Kiddle and Saulsbury, of Delaware. " I bid fare-
well to all hope of reconstruction of the Union," Saulsbury said upon
the anouncement of the vote.

John B. Henderson, the author of the resolution, had been ap-
pointed a Senator from Missouri after the expulsion of Trusten Polk
in January, 1862. General Henderson had been a Douglas Democrat,
but as one of the most prominent and active Union men of his State,
he was of great service in frustrating the schemes of the Secessionists
in 1861. He was a man of marked ability and probity. When he be-
came a Republican the geniality of his nature prevented him from be-
coming a bitter partisan. He opposed the Confiscation Act of 1862
because it would " cement the Southern mind against us, and drive
new armies of excited and deluded men from the border States to


espouse the cause of rebellion," but lie earnestly supported Mr. Lin-
coln's Compensated Emancipation policy, and labored strenuously
to secure the passage of the Missouri Compensation bill. When this
measure was defeated by the factious opposition of the Democratic
Representatives from his own State, he took the lead in the Senate in
proposing the complete abolition of slavery. Garrett Davis was a
Kentucky Whig, who had succeeded John C. Breckinridge a man
of unquestionable loyalty, but opposed to any interference with
slavery. When the bill abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia
was before Congress in 1862, he wanted it amended so as to provide
for colonization beyond the limits of the United States, on the ground
that the residence of liberated slaves among the whites would result
in a war of races. When General Henderson's resolution was reported
in the Senate in February, 1863, Mr. Davis moved to amend it so as to
exclude all the descendants of negroes on the maternal side from all
places of office and trust under the Government of the United States,
and he carried his pro-slavery feeling so far as to propose a Constitu-
tional amendment for the consolidation of the six New England States
into two States, to be called East New England and West New Eng-
land. Thomas A. Hendricks, the successor of Jesse D. Bright, who
was expelled for disloyalty, was a man of pure character, eminent
abilities, and courteous manners, and he was highly respected even by
the Senators from whom he differed so radically on the slavery ques-
tion. He objected to any interference with slavery because the eleven
States then in rebellion were not represented in Congress. James A.
McDougall had succeeded William M. Gwin, the rabid secessionist
leader of California. He entered the Senate as a War Democrat, and
for a while sustained the administration, but he soon fell back into
the ranks of the old Democracy. Both the Delaware Senators, George
Eeed Kiddle and Willard Saulsbury, clung tenaciously to slavery be-
cause their State was nominally a slave State, and they believed, sin-
cerely, no doubt, that the Union could not be restored unless slavery
was preserved.

When the Senate resolution reached the House its reception was
even more discouraging than that of the resolution offered by Mr.
Arnold. It was met at the threshold by an objection to its second
reading by Mr. Holman, who had previously objected in a like man-
ner to Arnold's resolution, and was already acquiring his lasting
reputation as the " great objector." Holman had entered the 36th
Congress as a moderate Democrat, and his conservative spirit always
led him to interpose objections to any of the war measures that con-
templated the destruction of slavery. The first test vote showed that
there were 55 members opposed to the amendment, and only 76 for it,


in a House that would require 110 votes for its passage. In the debate
that followed the principal speakers in opposition to the resolution
were Fernando Wood, Samuel J. Randall, and George H. Pendleton,
Northern Democrats, and Robert Mallory, a Kentucky Whig. Wood
was Mayor of New York City at the beginning of the war, and had
been accused of a w r ild scheme of making the metropolis a free city.
Although he had the reputation of being the leader of the turbulent
element, he was a man of polished manners and dignified bearing.
He, no doubt, believed in his own denunciations of the measure as
" unjust in itself, a breach of good faith utterly irreconcilable with
expediency." Kandall \vas beginning a distinguished career in the
House, but, like most young Democrats, he could see in the proposed
amendment only the beginning of radical changes in the Constitu-
tion, and he regarded the abolition of slavery as the forerunner of
usurpations of which the conservative young men of that period had
imaginary but overwhelming fears. Pendleton was the Democratic

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 18 of 61)