George Oberkirsh Seilhamer.

History of the Republican party (Volume 1) online

. (page 19 of 61)
Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 19 of 61)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

leader of the House, and he took the extreme ground that the Union
as it was then constituted had no power to abolish slavery. His ten-
der regard for the peculiar institution of the States in rebellion led
him to look upon slavery as a part of the form and spirit of the Gov-
ernment, and he wanted it preserved for the wayward sisters when
they were compelled to return to their duty. Mr. Mallory contended
that President Lincoln had been compelled to issue the Emancipation
Proclamation by the War Governors, who had met at Altoona in 1862.
The principal speakers in behalf of the amendment were Mr. Morris,
of New York; Mr. Ingersoll, of Illinois, and Mr. Boutwell, of Massa-
chusetts. Daniel Morris, as well as Eben C. Ingersoll and George S.
Boutwell, was serving his first term in Congress. It seems extraordi-
nary now that the principal arguments in behalf of the most far-
reaching measure ever before Congress should have been committed
in its initial stages to men new to public life. The apparent indiffer-
ence of Stevens, W T ashburne, and Schenck was due, no doubt, to the
fact that the fate of the Senate resolution in the House was a foregone
conclusion. When the vote was taken the yeas were 93 to 65 nays,
27 short of the necessary two-thirds. Mr. Ashley, who had voted in
the negative for the purpose, moved to reconsider the vote, and an-
nounced that when Congress again assembled in December, 1864, he
would press his motion with the expectation that the measure would

In his annual message to Congress, after the Presidential elections
and the election of a new House of Representatives, largely Republi-
can, President Lincoln urged the passage of the Thirteenth Amend-
ment, making a special appeal to the Democrats who had voted



against it a few months before. " Without questioning the wisdom
or patriotism of those who stood in opposition," he said, " I venture
to recommend the reconsideration and passage of the measure at the
present session. Of course the abstract question is not changed, but
an intervening election shows almost certainly that the next Congress
will pass the measure if this Congress does not. Hence there is only
a question of time as to when the proposed amendment will go to the
States for their action, and as it is to go at all events, may we not
agree that the sooner the better? " The President was especially
anxious for the amendment to maintain the validity of the Emancipa-
tion Proclamation. " In presenting the abandonment of armed re-
sistance on the part of the insurgents as the only indispensable con-

dition to

ending the

war," he said,

" I retract nothing heretofore said as
to slavery. . . . While I remain
in my present position I shall not at-
tempt to retract or modify the
Emancipation Proclamation. Nor
shall I return to slavery any per-
son who is free by the terms of that
Proclamation or by any of the
Acts of Congress. If the people
should, by whatever mode or means,
make it an Executive duty to re-en-
slave such persons, another, and not
I, must be their instrument to per-
form it."

Having preserved the parliament-
ary status of the amendment, Mr.
Ashley was in a position to comply
with the President's wish for its

speedy consideration, and to verify his prediction of the final triumph
of a measure that Mr. Seward considered worth an army. Accord-
ingly, on the 6th of January, 1865, he again brought the question
before the House. Since the measure had failed at the previous ses-
sion a great change had taken place in the attitude of many of the
Democratic Representatives toward the amendment. Even Mr. Voor-
hees, of Indiana, while opposing it, recognized the thorough success
of the Union cause the complete downfall of the Confederacy. He
had been an extremist only less violent than Vallandigham and Long,
but the near approach of the end of the rebellion sobered him and
made him temperate of speech. Mr. Ashley opened the debate with a
forcible speech, but his greatest service to the measure, at this time,



was the pressure he brought to bear on every man on the Democratic-
side of the House, whose conscience inclined him to strike the dead-
liest blow that could be given to the rebellion by enfranchising the
slave. The peculiar attitude of the Southern leaders at this time on
the question of slavery proved a great help to the Thirteenth Amend-
ment in the crisis of its fate. " We are not fighting for slavery," Jef-
ferson Davis wrote to Governor Vance, of North Carolina, a few
mouths before; " we are fighting for independence; and that or ex-
termination we will have." If the South was not fighting for slavery
there was no reason why the North should consent to continue it.
" The party to which I belong loves the Union as dearly as the South
loves slavery," said Mr. Cox during the debate. " If they can let
slavery go for independence, the Democracy can let it go for the sake
of the Union." This was the line upon which the battle was fought
and won, for the amendment would have been compelled to wait an-
other year but for Democratic aid.

The first Democratic speech in favor of the measure was made by
Mr. Odell, of New York, and as Mr. Yeaman, of Kentucky, spoke on
the same side the same day, Mr. Pendleton determined to rally the op-
position. The speeches of Voorhees, Odell, and Yeaman were made on
the 9th of January, and Pendleton spoke on the 12th. Mr. Pendleton
had come out of the Presidential contest with increased rather than
diminished prestige with his own followers, notwithstanding the
overwhelming defeat of the Peace Democracy, and he succeeded in
prolonging the battle against the amendment. He held that the right
to amend was limited in two ways: (1) by the letter; and (2) by the
spirit, scope, and intent of the Constitution. It was a question of
compact. One State, the smallest Rhode Island could, of right,
resist such an amendment by force. These contentions called out a
number of the young orators on the Republican side of the House in
reply, including General Garfield in an elaborate argument; Mr.
Boutwell, of Massachusetts; Mr. Schofield, of Pennsylvania; Mr. Kas-
son, of Iowa, and Mr. Arnold, of Illinois. Fully one-third of
the House took part in the debate. Mr. Pendleton's most troublesome
antagonist, however, was one of his own colleagues a Democrat-
Mr. Cox. There never was a bolder or more logical Constitutional
lawyer in Congress than Cox. Where others showed their skill by
evading a question, he often exhibited greater skill by facing it as
sound Democratic doctrine. It was so in this case. " It was with
some amusement," he said, " that I listened to my two colleagues
(Messrs. Pendleton and Ashley) yesterday. How adroitly the Demo-
cratic member sought to catch the Republican. How he plied him to
admit the power to establish slavery! How shrewdly my colleague


on the other side evaded! On the other hand, members on the other
side sought to entangle my colleague (Mr. Pendleton) with some
of his former votes ! How both evaded the issues presented in their
former positions ! while the humbler member who now addresses
you sat complacently consistent amid the melodramatic performance,
ready to admit that the power to change the fundamental law by
amendment is unlimited, under the guards and modes prescribed,
even to the establishment of slavery or a monarchy of entire freedom
or entire democracy. Both of my friends deny this as extreme and
heterodox: the one, because he would have nothing but limited Re-
publicanism as the form of our government; that is my Democratic
colleague who is so Republican; the other, because he would have
nothing but sweeping Democracy as the basis of our Constitution;
that is my Republican colleague who is so Democratic. The wishes

of each color their present arguments as to
power. When slavery is to be guaranteed,
my colleague from Cincinnati believes with
me in the pow r er to amend, and my colleague
from Toledo denies it. When it is to be abol-
ished, my colleague from Toledo believes
with me in the power to amend, and the other
denies it. Both deny the power when slavery
is to be affected, and both admit it when slav-
ery is not to be affected. I have them both
on either side, and each on both sides, and
both with me. I accept the power in either
case as they claim it, but go beyond them

SAMUEL S. COX. J . ft . , ,,,,

both, for I stand on a principle. They are

enamored of the power only when one case is absent. Like the
fond lover of two maidens, they love the one l when the other dear
charmer's away.' Yet they are unfaithful to both because they are so
attached to either unfaithful because they are not upon the prin-
ciple. I can extend to them (as a member from New York used to
say here in olden times), from the serene Olympian heights of my
cerulean consistency, the eternal principle of Republicanism and
Democracy which will reconcile them both to duty and the Constitu-

The power to amend was the real question in dispute, and Cox had
accepted it, with its logical consequences, two days before Mr. Pen-
dleton's speech was made. While Mr. Kasson was speaking on the
10th Mr. Mallory, of Kentucky, asked him whether by an amendment
the Constitution might not be changed so as to convert the Govern-
ment into a monarchy, an aristocracy, or a despotism. With Kasson's



consent Cox interjected an affirmative reply. " I carry the Democratic
doctrine to such an extent," he said, " that I maintain that the people,
speaking through three-fourths of the States, in pursuance of the
mode prescribed by the Constitution, have the right to amend it in
every particular, except the two specified in that instrument; that
this includes the right to erect a monarchy; to make, if you please,
the King of Dahomey our King." Mr. Cox subsequently pointed out
in his reply to Mr. Pendleton that this power over the Constitution
was conceded by Madison, by Calhoun, and by Jefferson Davis. It
was, indeed, the power invoked by the Peace Conference of 1861, and
by the Crittenden Compromise. Mr. Bout well argued that the power
over the Constitution was limited only by its preamble, but Mr.
Thayer, of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Dawes, of Massachusetts, went fur-
ther and agreed that there were
no limitations that three-fourths
of the States could alter the pre-
amble as well as any other part
of the instrument. The debate
completely demolished the theory
propounded by Mr. Pendleton,
and so the only question that
remained was the one that con-
fronted the friends of the amend-
ment at the beginning whether
a majority of two-thirds could be
obtained in the House to submit it
for the approval of three-fourths
of the States.

Nearly all the Republican Rep-
resentatives who earned distinc-
tion in the debate on the Thirteenth Amendment thus paved the way
to national recognition and eminent public service. James A. Garfield
was only estopped from sitting in the United States Senate, as the
colleague of John Sherman, by his election to the Presidency. George
S. Boutwell was Secretary of the Treasury under President Grant,
and succeeded Henry Wilson in the Senate. Henry L. Dawes, after a
distinguished career in the House, became the successor of Charles
Sumner. Glenni W. Schofield and M. Russell Thayer, being Pennsyl-
vanians, went unrewarded of the higher preferment that Pennsyl-
vania has always denied to her ablest men in the House. Ebon C.
Ingersoll, who was the successor of Owen Lovejoy, and John A. Kas-
son remained in the House for many years, but George H. Yeaman
and James S. Rollins suffered later in the political upheaval in Ken-



rucky and Missouri. Three Democrats, Alexander H. Coffroth and
Archibald McAllister, of Pennsylvania, and Anson Herrick, of New
York, spoke for the amendment on the day of the vote, and voted as
they talked. The two Pennsylvania Representatives represented dis-
tricts wrested from the Republicans in 1802, and Herrick voted for a
similar constituency in New York. McAllister and Herrick had not
been re-elected, and Coffroth, although returned as elected, was un-
seated by his Republican competitor.

The final struggle over the Thirteenth Amendment took place on
Tuesday, January 31, 1865. In anticipation of the vote the galleries
of the House were crowded. It was a day of excitement both on the
floor and in the galleries. It was not until 4 o'clock in the afternoon
that the voting began. Most of the members kept careful tally dur-
ing the progress of the vote. All the Republicans voted for the
amendment. Eight Representatives were absent, all Democrats.
This list comprised Daniel Marcy, of New Hampshire; George Mid-
dleton and A. J. Rogers, of New Jersey; Jesse Lazear, of Pennsyl-
vania; John F. McKenny and Francis C. LeBlond, of Ohio; and Daniel
W. Voorhees and James F. McDowell, of Indiana. Some of them
were expected to vote for the measure, and it was alleged they were
absent by design. None of them was paired, which is proof that they
were unwilling to vote against the amendment and not prepared to
vote for it. Fourteen Democrats gave their votes for it. They were J.
E. English, of Connecticut; Anson Herrick, William Radford, Homer
A. Nelson, John B. Steele, and John Ganson, of New York; Joseph
Baily, A. H. Coffroth, and Archibald McAllister, of Pennsylvania;
AVells A. Hutchins, of Ohio; Augustus C. Baldwin, of Michigan;
Wheeler, of Wisconsin; and King and Rollins, of Missouri. Of these
all except Nelson, who was absent, had voted against the amendment
at the previous session. Radford and Steele were undecided until
the last moment, and changed their votes on the final passage. Mr.
Radford was the only one of the fourteen, with the exception of Coff-
roth, \vlio was unseated, who had been elected to the 39th Congress.
One Democrat went to the House with his speech in his pocket justi-
fying his vote, and voted with the opposition. This was Samuel S.
Cox. His course excited surprise and criticism, but it was character-
istic of the man. He learned after he reached the floor that Peace
Commissioners from the Confederacy were on their way to Washing-
ton, and he convinced himself that the amendment would prove an
obstacle to peace and union. " Weighing in the one scale," he wrote
long afterward, " the dead body of slavery, which was to be formally
abolished by this amendment, and in the other peace and union and
these latter without slavery how could he doubt the unwisdom of


an amendment which would postpone peace and imperil the Union? "
If slavery was an abstract question, as he claimed, made so through
powder and ball, the true course clearly was to prevent its resuscita-
tion by the passage of the amendment. Mr. Cox did not believe it
was dead. While he saw a chance of union with slavery, he was un-
willing to strike down the institution that was the cause of the seces-
sion, and after four years of war he still clung to it as a basis of
negotiations with the South.

The amendment was adopted by" a vote of 119 yeas to 56 nays. The
result was received with vociferous applause from the galleries and
handshakings and congratulations on the floor. So many eager
citizens were admitted to the hall of the House that members were
crowded from their places, and a jubilee was inaugurated in the
chamber. When order Avas restored Mr. Ingersoll, of Illinois, said:
" Mr. Speaker, in honor of this immortal and sublime event, I move
that the House do now adjourn." Mr. Harris, the only Representative
from Maryland who had voted against the amendment, demanded
the ayes and noes, and they were recorded 121 to 24.

The Thirteenth Amendment is as follows:

" Be it resolved, etc., That the following article be proposed to the
Legislatures of the several States as an amendment to the Constitu-
tion of the United States, which, when ratified by three-fourths of
said Legislatures, shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as a part
of the said Constitution, namely:

" Article XIII.

" Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as
a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly con-
victed, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to
their jurisdiction.

" Sec. 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by ap-
propriate legislation."

The vote in the House stood thus:

YEAS (Democrats in Italics).

Maine Elaine, Perham, Pike, Rice.
New Hampshire Patterson, Rollins.

Massachusetts Alley, Ames, Baldwin, Boutwell, Dawes, Eliot,
Gooch, Hooper, Rice, W. D. Washburn.
Rhode Island Dixon, Jenckes.

Connecticut Brandagee, Deming, English, J. H. Hubbard.
Vermont Baxter, Merrill, Woodbridge.


New York A. W. Clark, Freeman Clark, Davis, Frank, Ganson,
Griswold, Herrick, Hotchkiss, Hulburd, Kellogg, Littlejohn, Marvin,
Miller, Morris, Nelson, Odell, Ponieroy, Radford, Steele, Van Valken-

New Jersey Starr.

Pennsylvania Bailij, Broomall, Coffroth, Hale, Kelley, McAllister,
Moorhead, A. Myers, L. Myers, C. O'Neill, Schofield, Stevens, Thayer,
Tracy, Williams.

Delaware Smithers.

Maryland Cresswell, Henry Winter Davis, F. Thomas, Webster.

West Virginia Blair, Brown, Whaley.

Kentucky Anderson, Randall, Smith, Yeaman.

Ohio Ashley, Eckley, Garfield, Ihitchins, Schenck, Spaulding.

Indiana Colfax, Dumont, Julian, Orth.

Illinois Arnold, Farnsworth, Ingersoll, Norton, E. B. Washburne.

Missouri Blow, Boyd, Kiny, Knox, Loan, McClurg, J. 8. Rollins.

Michigan A. C. Baldwin, Beaman, Driggs, F. W. Kellogg, Long-
year, Upson.

Iowa Allison, Grinnell, A. W. Hubbard, Kasson, Price, Wilson.

Wisconsin Cobb, Mclndoe, Sloan, Wheeler.

Minnesota Donnelly, Windom.

Kansas Wilder.

Oregon McBride.

Nevada Worthington.

California Cole, Higby, Shannon. Total, 119.

NAYS (all Democrats).

Maine Sweat.

New York Brooks, Chanler, Kalbfleisch, Kernan, Pruyn, Town-
send, Ward, Winfleld, Ben. Wood, Fernando Wood.

New Jersey Perry, W. G. Steele.

Pennsylvania Ancona, Dawson, Dennison, P. Johnson, W. H.
Miller, S. J. Randall, Stiles, Strouse.

Maryland B. G. Harris.

Kentucky Clay, Grider, Harding, Mallory, Wadsworth.

Ohio Bliss, Cox, Finck, Wm. Johnson, Long, J. R. Morris, Noble,
J. O'Neill, Pendleton, C. A. White, J. W. White.

Indiana Cravens, Edgerton, Harrington, Holman, Law.

Illinois J. C. Allen, W. J. Allen, Eden, C. M. Harris, Knapp, Mor-
rison, Robinson, Ross, Stuart.

Wisconsin J. S. Brown, Eldridge.

Missouri Hall, Scott. Total, 56.

Not voting Lazear, Pennsylvania; Marcy, New Hampshire; Me-


Do well and Voorhees, Indiana; Le Blond and McKinney, Ohio; Mid-
dleton and Rogers, New Jersey all Democrats.
The vote in the Senate had been:

YEAS (Democrats in Italics).

Maine Fessenden, Merrill.
New Hampshire Clark, Hale.
Massachusetts Sumner, Wilson.
Rhode Island Anthon}^ Sprague.
Connecticut Dixon, Foster.
Vermont Collamer, Foot.
New York Harris, Morgan.
New Jersey Ten Eyck.
Pennsylvania Cowan.
Maryland Rcverdy Johnson.
West Virginia Van Winkle, Willey.
Ohio Sherman, Wade.
Indiana Henry S. Lane.
Illinois. Trumbull.
Missouri Brown, Henderson.
Michigan Chandler, Howard.
Iowa Grimes, Harlau.
Wisconsin Doolittle, Howe.
Minnesota Ramsey, Wilkinson.
Kansas J. H. Lane, Pomeroy.
Oregon Harding, Ncsinitli.
California Conness. Total, 38.

NAYS (all Democrats).

Delaware Riddle, Saulsbury.

Kentucky Davis, Powell.

Indiana Hendricks.

California McDougall. Total, 6.

Not voting Buckalew, Pennsylvania; Wright, New Jersey; Hicks,
Maryland; Bowden and Carlile, West Virginia; Richardson, Illinois-
all Democrats.

The Thirteenth Amendment adopted by Congress in 1865 was in
marked contrast with the one proposed and so strenuously urged in
1861. To prevent war all the Democrats and some Republicans were
willing to make slavery perpetual in the organic law. To end the war
with the only peace that could be perpetual slavery was abolished
for all time. But the final passage of the amendment by the House


of Representatives, and its approval by the President, was not the end
of the anxiety in regard to its validity, even should it receive the as-
sent of the necessary three-fourths of the States. The number of
States was 36. The number required for the ratification of the amend-
ment was 27. The number of the States in rebellion w r as 11. This
required its ratification by two of the seceding States, even if all the
States that had remained loyal accepted it. Two of the latter re-
jected it, Delaware and Kentucky, and others hesitated. Of the States
assenting when proclamation of the ratification was made, December
18, 1805, nine had been in rebellion. The only safe ground w r as that
the Ordinances of Secession were void, and that no State had been at
any time out of the Union. When the Thirteenth Amendment was
proclaimed the work of Reconstruction was the most important ques-
tion with w T hich Congress and the country were dealing.



The Hampton Koads Conference Lincoln's Second Inauguration-
Close of the War Last Confederate Hopes Assassination of
the President Mr. Lincoln's Character His Ideas of Recon-
struction A New Announcement to the South That Was Never

HE rumors of negotiations for peace that deterred Mr. Cox
from voting for the Thirteenth Amendment had some
foundation in fact. They were initiated by the venerable
Francis P. Blair, who visited Richmond early in January,
1865, and had a conference with Jefferson Davis. It was impossible
that they should have any result, because Mr. Davis insisted upon
treating on the basis of " two countries." Mr. Blair, however, suc-
ceeded in having three commission-
ers appointed to confer with Presi-
dent Lincoln and Secretary Seward,
and Alexander H. Stephens, Rob-
ert M. T. Hunter, and John A.
Campbell came to Hampton Roads,
where they dined with the Secre-
tary of State and had a conference
with the President. The meeting
took place on the 3d of February on
board the steamboat " River
Queen." Mr. Lincoln insisted on
three preliminary conditions: (1)
The absolute restoration of the na-
tional authority in all the States;
(2) no receding from the positions

taken on the slavery question; and (3) no cessation of military opera-
tions on the part of the Government till the hostile forces surrendered
and disbanded. What the commissioners sought they did not get an
armistice and recognition. What the President sought he did not ob-
tainimmediate submission. When the fact that the conference
had occurred became known there was a greater display of passion-
ate feeling on the part of the radical Republicans than the occasion
warranted. There was no public expression of disapproval in Con-



gress, but many of the Republicans were furious, and one-third of the
Republican members of the House refused to vote for a resolution of
thanks to the President, offered by Mr. Cox. The dissidents included
Thaddeus Stevens, of Pennsylvania; Henry Winter Davis and Francis
Thomas, of Maryland; Morrill, of Vermont; Dawes, of Massachusetts;
Windom, of Minnesota; Allison, of Iowa, and Wads worth, of Ken-
tucky. Two Democrats Long, of Ohio, and Rogers, of New Jersey-
voted against it. The resolution, emanating from a man who needed
it as a justification for voting against the Thirteenth Amendment,
was in the nature of an impertinence, but it was unnecessary to rebuke
the President by seeking to rebuke its ingenious author. Mr. Cox's
resolution was offered on the 6th of February, and two days later Mr.
Stevens introduced a resolution of inquiry which the House adopted.
To this the President made a full and frank reply, but the subject con-
tinued to disturb Congress until the time came for its adjournment.
Extreme men like James Brooks, of New York, continued to demand
an armistice until General Grant secured one, that was alike accept-
able to Democrats and Republicans, at Appomattox.

Mr. Blair's visit to Richmond and the Hampton Roads conference
bear some of the earmarks of Mr. Seward's peculiar diplomacy. There
was a recurrence to the idea of a foreign war as a bond of reunion.
By driving the French from Mexico a new empire south of the Rio
Grande could be acquired. Whether it was to be free or slave, fed-

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 19 of 61)