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Prior was to become a " rebel brigadier," " Extra Billy " Smith a
major-general, and A. G. Jenkins to lead the cavalry when Lee en-
tered Pennsylvania; North Carolina had Branch, killed at Antietam,
Ruffin, who died of his wounds while a prisoner, and Vance, better
known after than during the war; South Carolina was represented
by only one future brigadier, Bonham, but Keitt fell at the head of
his regiment at Cold Harbor, and Ashmore served in an humbler


capacity; Georgia, too, had only one Congressional brigadier, Gart-
rell; Tennessee had three Hatton, killed at Seven Pines, Quarles,and
Wright; Alabama had two Confederate colonels Moore, killed in
the seven days' fight, and Curry, afterward Minister to Spain and
then a clergyman; and Mississippi had Barksdale, killed at Gettys-
burg, General Otho K. Singleton, Reuben Davis, a colonel, and L. Q.
C. Lamar, whose highest rank was lieutenant-colonel. In the Senate
was Mallory, of Florida, who became Secretary of the Confederate
Navy, and in the House, Reagan, of Texas, the Confederate Postmas-
ter-General. Colonel Lines used to say that he once saved the fortifi-
cations at Richmond by crying out, " Reagan and his troops to the
right," u Mallory and his brigades to the left."

In the 36th Congress there were many Republicans who were con-
spicuous then, and were to be more conspicuous afterward Lot M.
Morrill and William Pitt Fessenden, of Maine; John P. Hale, of New
Hampshire; Collamer and Foot, of Vermont; Sumner and Wilson,
of Massachusetts; Anthony, of Rhode Island; Seward and Preston
King, of New York; Simon Cameron, of Pennsylvania; Wade, of
Ohio; Chandler and Bingham, of Michigan; Trumbull, of Illinois;
Durkee and Doolittle, of Wisconsin; Rice, of Minnesota, and Harlan
and Grimes, of Iowa, in the Senate; and in the House, besides those
who served in the war, Justin S. Morrill, of Vermont; Charles Francis
Adams, John B. Alley, Anson Burlinganie, Henry L. Dawes, Alexan-
der H. Rice, and Eli Thayer, of Massachusetts; Roscoe Conkling,
Reuben E. Fenton, and Francis E. Spinner, of New York; John Co-
vode, Galusha A. Grow, Edward McPherson, and Thaddeus Stevens,
of Pennsylvania; James M. Ashley, John A. Bingham, Thomas Cor-
win, and John Sherman, of Ohio; William A. Howard, of Michigan;
Schuyler Colfax, of Indiana; Owen Lovejoy and E. B. Washburne, of
Illinois; and William Windom, of Minnesota. There was also a num-
ber of Democrats conspicuous then and afterward Horace F. Clark
and John B. Haskin, of New York; John Hickman, of Pennsylvania;
William Allen, Samuel S. Cox, and Clement L. Vallandingham, of
Ohio; and William H. English, William S. Holman, and William E.
Niblack, of Indiana. The prominent " Americans " were Henry Win-
ter Davis, of Maryland, and Horace Maynard, of Tennessee. In the
Senate still lingered James A. Bayard, of Delaware, and John J. Crit-
tenden, of Kentucky, and Andrew Johnson was the junior Senator
from Tennessee.

In the elections that gave the Republicans virtual control of the
3(>th Congress they owed much to Governor Walker's repudiation of
the frauds in Kansas, followed by his manly resignation of an office
he could no longer hold with honor. Sent to the Territory by an ad-


ministration that had betrayed the solemn pledge that had made Mr.
Buchanan's election possible, it was believed by the Pro-Slavery men
that Walker would be in hearty sympathy with their plans. It was
Walker's protest, more than anything else, that paved the way to the
freedom of Kansas and the annihilation of the Pro-Slavery conspiracy
in Kansas and in Congress. His manly course thrilled the people of
the whole country, and aided to demolish the Democracy in nearly all
the Free States. It destroyed Democratic prestige in New York, and
revolutionized some of the most constant and intensely Democratic
districts in Pennsylvania. It swept New Jersey for the Republicans.
It gave courage to the anti-Lecompton Democrats to antagonize the
administration in spite of its power and patronage, and to win the
battle for freedom. Walker was, of course, proscribed by the South

and by the administration; but this
very proscription was an impulse to-
ward Republican success, and helped
to give vitality to the Republican
party. The proscription of Walker
was followed by others equally malig-
nant, and all the more inexcusable be-
cause they were petty as well as malig-
nant. The anti-Lecompton Democrats
were treated with all the contumely it
was possible to heap upon them. Men
like Haskin and Hickman were beyond
pardon, and even Mr. Cox, of Ohio, then
a very young man, and ardent and im-
pulsive, was made to feel that he had
lost caste with the administration.

Great and small alike were made to suffer from the President's dis-
pleasure. All this helped to widen the breach in the Democratic
ranks, and it not only tended to inspire the Republicans with unflag-
ging enthusiasm, but almost daily brought them new recruits.

In the autumn of 1859, only six w r eeks before the meeting of the
36th Congress, an event occurred that had consequences singularly
out of proportion to its importance. This was John Brown's raid on
Harper's Ferry, on the 17th of October. Brown was a man of little
education, but of stern principles and inflexible courage, who had
gone to Kansas in 1855, w r here he became a terror to the slaveholders
on the Missouri border. He was no politician, and as an Abolitionist
he was a disciple of Nat Turner, rather than of Garrison and Phillips.
When he emigrated to Kansas he went not to settle, but to fight, and
he found plenty of fighting without going far out of his way to seek



it. Old as he was, he met the Missourians with extraordinary prow-
ess, and worsted them in many a fierce encounter. When the Kansas
conflict was ended Captain Brown was not yet satisfied. He was not
a Eepublican and distrusted the Republican leaders. " Republicans
of 1858," he said, " will be the Democrats of 1860." He thought that
Republican success in the ensuing Presidential election would be a
serious check to the cause he had at heart, that the people would be
deceived, that the Republicans would be as conservative of slavery
as the Democrats. For the enslaved black he saw no hope in the fu-
ture, except by force of arms. Believing that the Lord directed him
in visions what to do, it was easy for him to conceive that he was di-
vinely commissioned not only to resist the extension of slavery, but
to free four millions of bondmen. Trusting in his divine commission,
he projected the enterprise which startled and astounded the country,

and in the end brought about the achievement
for which he so ardently longed.

The contemplated crusade was arranged
with great deliberation and consummate abil-
ity, considering the paucity of means with
which it w r as to be started. The entire force
with which Brown made his attack upon Har-
per's Ferry consisted of seventeen white men
and five negroes. The night of the 24th of Oc-
tober \vas originally fixed upon for the first
blow against slavery in Virginia, but suspect-
ing that one of his party was a traitor, he re-
solved that he must strike prematurely, or not
JOHN BROWN. at all. On Saturday, the 15th, a plan of opera-

tions was discussed, and unanimously ap-
proved the next evening. That night this extraordinary army
entered Harper's Ferry without creating alarm, and took pos-
session of the armory buildings belonging to the United States,
which were guarded by only three watchmen. These were seized
and locked up in the guard house. Then the watchman at the
Potomac Bridge was captured and secured. At a quarter past
one the western train on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad arrived, and
found the bridge guarded by armed men. Almost simultaneously
w r ith the detention of the train the house of Colonel Lewis W. Wash-
ington was visited by Brown's men, under Captain Stevens, who
seized his arms and horses, and liberated his slaves. Every male citi-
zen who ventured into the street during the rest of the night was cap-
tured and confined in the armory, until the number of prisoners was
between 40 and 50. One of the workmen asked by what authoritv the



arsenal had been seized, and was told, " By the authority of Almighty
God." Every workman who approached the armory, as day dawned,
was seized and imprisoned. By 8 o'clock the number of prisoners ex-
ceeded GO. Soon after daybreak the fight began, and a grocer named
Boerly was killed by the return fire from the army of occupation.
Soon afterward one of Brown's sons, Walter, was mortally wounded
by a shot fired by some Virginians, w r ho had obtained possession of a
room overlooking the armory gates. The alarm was spread over the
surrounding country, and at noon a militia force, consisting of 100


men, arrived from Charlestown, the county seat, and were so disposed
as to command every available exit from the armory. The attacking
force was rapidly augmented and the fight was continued, another of
Brown's sons, Oliver, meeting the fate of his brother earlier in the
day. The assailants being in overwhelming force, Brown retreated
to the engine-house, where he succeeded in repulsing them, with a
loss to the Virginians of two killed and six wounded. Night found
Brown's force only three unwounded whites besides himself. Eight
of his men were already dead, another was dying, two were captives


mortally wounded, and one was a prisoner unhurt. A party, sent out
to capture slave-holders and liberate slaves early in the day, was ab-
sent. They fled during the night through Maryland into Pennsyl-
vania, but most of them were ultimately taken. It was not till the next
morning that the engine-house was captured by a force of United
States marines, two of the marines being wounded. Brown was
struck in the face by a saber, and knocked down. After he fell the old
man received two bayonet thrusts at the hands of an infuriated sol-
dier. Brown and the rest of his little band, who fell into the hands
of the Virginians, were tried and executed at the town of Charles-
town, all of them djdng with calm and unflinching courage. It was a
mad scheme, with a tragic ending, but it has been immortalized in
song and story in every land where the spirit of liberty is cherished.

John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, doomed to failure from its
inception, as any one not blinded by a fanaticism that has no mis-
givings might have foreseen, was in consequence of the events that
were its immediate outcome the prelude to the civil war. Henry A.
Wise was Governor of Virginia. He was a man of fine talents and
ardent temperament, with much of the reckless bravado and arrogant
impulsiveness that marked the Pro-Slavery leaders of the epoch.
Governor Wise was eager to connect the Northern people and the
Kepublican party with John Brown's acts and purposes. In attempt-
ing this he gave official expression to fears and forebodings that had
no foundation in fact. He affected to see in Brown and his handful of
followers only the advance guard of other invasions, for the purpose
of inciting and promoting servile insurrections, and even of rescuing
the captured Harper's Ferry raiders from the custody of Virginia.
He alleged that organizations existed in some of the Free States
having these objects in view, and he addressed a letter to President
Buchanan in which he declared that " if another invasion should as-
sail the State of Virginia, he should pursue the invaders into any
territory, and punish them wherever they could be reached by arms."
Copies of this letter were sent to Governor Chase, of Ohio, and other
Northern governors, w r ith a repetition of his purpose to pursue in-
vaders into adjoining States. This arrogant action was received in
the usual manner in the North with truckling assent and humility
by the Democrats, and with indignant scorn by the Republicans. Gov-
ernor Packer, of Pennsylvania, made haste to offer ten thousand men
for service at the call of Virginia, but Governor Chase, of Ohio,
promptly informed Governor Wise that the people of that State would
not consent " to the invasion of her territory by armed bodies from
other States, even for the purpose of pursuing and arresting fugitives
from justice." As no such organizations as those complained of by


Governor Wise existed anywhere in the North, nothing came of the
matter, except the irritation of feeling it was intended to provoke,
with corresponding irritation and agitation in the South. There is
no reason to believe that the fear and demoralization that swept over
the Slave States, after Brown's futile foray on Harper's Ferry, was
feigned. The specter of a slave insurrection, or even a series of slave
insurrections, promoted by Northern Abolitionists, had become a
portent of imminent danger to the Southern people. The leaders of
public opinion in the South constantly sought to misdirect and mis-
lead them. According to the slaveholding extremists, the Wilniot
Proviso was aimed at slavery in the same spirit as had been John
Brown's fantastic provisional constitution. In the end, the South
looked upon the teachings of Seward as identical with those of Gerrit
Smith, and could see no difference between the mad freak of John
Brown and the supposed purposes of the " Black Republicans."

The effort to hold the Republican party responsible for the John
Brown raid was a political device of Senator Mason, of Virginia. His
defiant and autocratic manner well fitted him for the part of its ac-
cuser, if the purpose of the accusation was to strengthen it with the
Northern people. Early in the 36th Congress Mr. Mason moved a
Committee of the Senate to investigate the causes leading up to the
raid on Harper's Ferry. The motion was opposed by Trumbull, of
Illinois, who moved that a raid from Missouri into Kansas should be
included in the investigation, and it was mercilessly ridiculed by
Senator Hale, of New Hampshire, but it prevailed, and the committee
was appointed. An incident of the investigation was the arrest of
Frank B. Sanborn, of Concord, Massachusetts, for refusing to go to
Washington to testify before the Senate Committee touching his
knowledge of the raid. Sanborn was seized by persons deputed by
the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate, forced into a carriage and hand-
cuffed, but his Concord neighbors interfered, invoking the assistance
of a writ of habeas corpus, and his release was ordered. Sanborn after-
ward presented a memorial to the Senate through Mr. Sumner, where-
upon Mr. Mason moved that the memorial be rejected. There was no
love lost between the Senator from Massachusetts and the Senator
from Virginia, and the incident led to one of those sulphurous out-
bursts for which Sumner had become famous. " The Senator moves,"
he said, " . . . . that the memorial be rejected ; and he makes this
unaccustomed motion with a view to establish a precedent in such a
case. I feel it my duty to establish a precedent in such a case by en-
tering an open, unequivocal protest against such an attempt. Sir,
an ancient poet said of a judge in hell that he punished first and heard
afterward Castif/atquc audltquc and permit me to say that the



Senator from Virginia, on this occasion, takes a precedent from that
Court." The protest of the Republican party against Senator Mason's
effort to fix the odium of John Brown's raid upon it was equally open
and unequivocal. The challenged party declined to stand on the de-
fensive. It attempted no exculpation from the idle imputation.
Prominent Republicans frankly expressed their pity for the brave old
man who had sacrificed his life for his principles, and the party, in-
stead of being weakened by an episode that was unforeseen by any
of its leaders, grew stronger from the effort of the South to make the
unfortunate occurrence a political issue. The Senate Committee
failed to trace the origin of the project beyond the narrow circle of
John Brown's immediate associates, and it was not felt that any dis-
avowal of Republican sympathy was required because on the day of
Brown's execution bells were tolled,
and " prayers offered up for him
as if he were a martyr."

The action of the Senate in trying
to fix the responsibility for the John
Brown raid upon the Republican
party was supplemented by an at-
tempt in the House to fasten a
charge of inciting insurrection upon
the two Republicans who were voted
for for the Speakership on the first
ballot John Sherman and Galusha
A. Grow. Both Sherman and Grow
had indorsed a book called " The Im-
pending Crisis," with a compendium
that was even less startling than
the book itself. The book was com-
piled by Hinton R. Helper, and it

was, in fact, little more than a compilation of dry statistics, but it gave
great offense to the South. Sherman indorsed it without reading it,
and then forgot all about the indorsement. This act was little short of
a crime in the eyes of Southern statesmen, and after Sherman and
Grow were voted for for Speaker, Mr. Clark, of Missouri, offered a
resolution reciting the fact of the indorsement of Helper's book by the
two Republican culprits, and declaring that " its doctrines and senti-
ments " were " insurrectionary and hostile to the domestic peace and
tranquillity of the country, and that no member of this House, who
had indorsed and recommended it, or the Compend from it, is fit
to be Speaker of the House." No poor book ever got a better
advertisement, for, impervious to ridicule, the excited South-




erners kept up their attacks upon it throughout the prolonged
contest over the Speakership. The only comfort they obtained from
the gratuitous advertisement of Helper's dull book was that the Black
Republican who was finally elected was not one of the men who had
indorsed it, and that both these " would have to roost lower the rest
of their lives." In the effort to rebuke a poor book the House finally
contented itself with a poor Speaker. In the House, as in the Senate,
the only effect of the attempts to arraign the Kepublican party was
to combine wavering voters in the Free States in support of Kepubli-
can doctrines, and incidentally to widen the breach between Douglas
and the South, and hasten the disruption of the Democratic party.
The bitterness of the South only served to consolidate the North, and
to pave the way for the Republican triumph of 1860.



Nominations in 1860 The Charleston Convention Republican Or-
ganization Complete The Chicago Convention William H.
Seward Signs of Opposition to His Candidature The Candi-
dates Enthusiasm of the New York Delegation Weed and
Evarts The Republican Wigwam Organization of the Con-
vention The Platform Naming the Candidates The Ballots
Analysis of the Vote Lincoln Nominated Causes of Seward ? s
Defeat Abraham Lincoln Hannibal Hainlin Enthusiastic
Reception of the Ticket.

HEN the National Republican Convention of i860 met at
Chicago on the 16th of May the Democratic party was in
the throes of dissolution. The Democratic Convention had
met at Charleston on the 23d of April, and adjourned on
the 3d of May to meet in Baltimore on the 18th of June. The Con-
vention at Charleston neither nomi-
nated a candidate nor adopted an
acceptable platform, and before the
adjournment the breach between
the Northern and Southern w r ings of
the Democracy was complete. The
Convention organized by the election
of Caleb Gushing, of Massachusetts,
as its President. Mr. Gushing
had been elected to Congress as a
Whig as early as 1834, and was
an active participant on the Anti-
Slavery side of the discussions
in the House. In the quarrel be-
tween President Tyler and Mr. Clay
he adhered to the administration,
and after being sent as Commissioner to China in 1843, he joined
the Democracy, and was made brigadier-general by President Polk in
the war with Mexico. He subsequently served as attorney-general
under President Pierce. As a Democrat he became a partisan of the
extreme State-rights school, and not even the services of Jefferson
Davis were of greater value to the Pro-Slavery Democracy. His



selection to preside over the Charleston Convention was in itself a
triumph for the Southern Democracy, but apart from a sympathetic
presiding officer, the South gained an advantage even greater from
the support accorded it by the California and Oregon delegations in
constituting the Committee on Resolutions. In 1800 the number of
States in the Union was 33; of these 18 were Free and 15 Slave States.
The support of the Pacific States gave the South a majority of one in
committee. The majority of the committee accordingly reported a
platform taking the most advanced ground ever assumed by the
South. It contained an explicit assertion of the right of citizens to
settle in the Territories, with their slaves " a right not to be de-
stroyed or impaired by Congressional or Territorial legislation," and
the further declaration that it was the duty of the Federal Govern-
ment, when necessary, " to protect slavery in the Territories, and
wherever else its constitutional authority extends."

The supporters of Mr. Douglas saw that they would be hopelessly
destroyed in the North if they consented to these extreme demands
of the South, and for the first time in the history of the Democratic
party the Northern delegates in a National Convention refused to
submit to Southern dictation. A substitute was accordingly reported
by the minority, that declared that " inasmuch as differences of opin-
ion exist in the Democratic party as to the nature and extent of the
powers and duties of a Territorial Legislature, and as to the powers
and duties of Congress under the Constitution of the United States
over the institution of slavery within the Territories, the Democratic
party will abide by the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United
States upon questions of constitutional law." This was a temporizing
expedient, cunningly contrived, but evasive. The Southern delegates
promptly and sternly refused to accept the compromise. The Douglas
men, on the other hand, would not yield In the Convention the mi-
nority platform was substituted for that of the majority by a vote of
165 to 138. Although fairly outvoted, the Southern delegates refused
to abide by the decision, and seven States Louisiana, Alabama,
South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Texas, and Arkansas withdrew
from the Convention, and organized a separate body. This left the
supporters of Douglas in control of the regular Convention, but the ac-
ceptance of the two-thirds rule in a full Convention rendered the
nomination of Douglas, even with a large part, of the South elimi-
nated, impossible. It w r as finally determined to fill vacancies occa-
sioned by the withdrawal of delegates from the South, and the ad-
journment to Baltimore was taken to allow r this to be done. At
Baltimore there was a second secession, including the withdrawal of
Mr. Gushing, the President, whose place was then taken by Governor


Tod, of Ohio. Stephen A. Douglas was then nominated for President
and Benjamin Fitzpatrick, of Alabama, for Vice-President. Mr.
Fitzpatrick declined the nomination, and Herschel V. Johnson, of
Georgia, was afterward substituted by the National Committee. The
seceders from the Convention at Baltimore subsequently met and
nominated John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, for President, and
Joseph Lane, of Oregon, for Vice-President. This Convention adopted
the platform reported by the majority of the Committee on Resolu-
tions of the Charleston Convention. The nominations and platform
of the seceding Convention at Baltimore were accepted by the seced-
ing Convention at Richmond the same day, the 28th of June. Mean-
time another convention had been held at Baltimore by the Constitu-
tional Union party, as it called itself, at which John Bell, of Tennes-
see, was nominated for President, and Edward Everett, of Massachu-
setts, for Vice-President. Thus there were three parties and three
tickets arrayed against the Republicans and their candidates.

The disrupted Charleston Convention had adjourned to meet at

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 61)