George W Allen.

Seymour. His past and present position (Volume 1) online

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His Past and Present Position,



1 ww"!


Mr. President and Fellow- citizen*:

In the brief space allowed me this evening,
I will pass by the subjects of reconstruction,
finance and taxation, that now agitate the
public mind, and confine myself exclusively
to the status of the great political parties
that now divide the country, and I will be as
brief as possible, yet will endeavor to devel-
op and make plain the points 1 propose to
consider. ,

Far be it from me to knowingly falsify a
single fact, or, intrntionally, to misrepresent
any man, however high or however humcte
be his position.

The two great parties of the country are
led, in the pending canvass, by men well
known to the people, and they represent
distinct and divergent views and intentions;
the one led by Seymour and Blair, and the
other by Grant and Colfax. In analyzing
the views and position of Mr. Seymour, 1
*hall be careful to do him no injustice. Hav-
ing known him from Marly life— having met
'.; • c*en »u«! w eh urea: pfrscnal pleasure
— L would under to circamswnoes revea
anything that was private or confidential,
even were I in possession of anything of that
kind, that was in my power to be revealed.
Governor Seymour is a refined, cultivated
Christian gentleman. He is an intense par-
tisan, hence an unBiife leader. Uo Bees

nothing wrong in his own party— he sees
nothing good in au opposing party. He is
simply a politician. Into the high and pure
atmosphere of statesmanship he never soared.
Asa member of the legislature of the State-
of New York, or as its Governor, his name
is connected with no great measure, and his-
fame is identified with nothing that would
elevate or exalt his state. He has always
been essentially a follower than a leader,
mounting the crest of public opinion, rather
than contributing to form that crest. The
recent letter of our Minister to France, Gen.
John A. Dix, contains a perfect analysis
of his mental and moral qualities.

To form a correct judgment of the views
and position of Mr. Seymour at the
commencement and during the progress of
the war, it is necessary to go back a little-
and examine the state of the country, and
especially the position of the Democratic
party, and the utterances of its leaders,
previous to the bombardment of Fort Sum-

You will all, zent-lcmen. readily cail to
mind this position and these utterances.
President Buchanan devoted a large share
of his last annual message to demonstrate
that our government was a men; rope of
Sand— that it had no inherent powers for
P ( iervation— that a ■- '•'■ could not bo

coerced — that if it chose to secede it could
do so, and there was no power in the govern-
ment, under the Constitution, to prevent it.
This was not the doctrine of President Jack-
son and the Democratic party under the ear-
ly nullification of South Carolina. But it
was the doctrine held oy President Buchanan
aDd the Democratic party in 1860 and 1861.
It was given out by the leaders of that party
that the election of the sectional (so called)
candidate, Mr. Lincoln, was a just cause
for the South to withdraw from the Union,
and that as there was no power, under the
Constitution, to prevent their withdrawal, no
such power should be exercised — no armed
force should be attempted — and that if a
Republican army should attempt to march
South to coerce a seceding state, it would
have to march over the dead bodies of arm-
ed Democrats. One prominent Democratic
orator went so far as to promise the South
ten thousand men from the city of New
York alone. It was these utterances and
these assertions that nerved the South to
make the attempt. I will waste no time in
quotations substantiating these facts. They
are within the memories of most of you, and
the public press of those times is full to re-
pletion upon the point.

These positions and declarations of the
Democratic party were, to me, the darkest
feature in those troubles that were then cu-
mulating upon us. I well knew that our
Union was destroyed if the Democratic party
of the North were to join the side of the re-
bellion. Time wore on, and event rapidly
tread upon event. One state after another
passed ordinances of secession, and joined
an organization called the "Confederate
States of America." Not a hand was raised
to prevent it. One after another of our cus-
tom houses and public forts were seized. Not
a hand was raised to prevent it. The Dem-
ocratic rarty declared we had no power to
prevent it, and that no doubtful power should
be exercised. The Republican party was
powerless to act alone. Mr. Lincoln, after his
inauguration, saw no solution to the problem.
The Union was dissolving away, quietly but
peacefully. The fact was being fast accom-
plished, and there was no sentiment evoked
that could prevent it. Had the entire con-
summation been effected in this way, it is
now clear that the Southern Confederacy
would have been established and maintained.
But an overruling Providence opened the
way to a solution of the problem, and thus
prevented the establishment of that great
iniquity. Whom the gods would destroy they
first make mad. Not satisfied with the grad-
ual and peaceful yet sure progress their
scheme was making, it entered their minds
that the Southern heart must be fired — so they
fired on Sumter, and that fatal fire threw the
whole North into one consuming fire of
indignation and patriotism. The lamented
Douglas, who did more for his country than
an hundred thousand men upon its battle-
fields, denounced the mad and desecrating

act, and called upon his party to arm. The
theories of non-coercion of a few days before
were laid aside, and there was but one voice
and but one emotion through the whole
North, and that was that the insult to the
flag on Sumter must be avenged, and that
the sequence must follow that the Union
must be preserved. At this critical time in
our history Gov. Seymour, of New York, was
in our city. A large meeting was held in
the street at mid-day, in front of the old
Chamber of Commerce rooms. It was ad-
dressed entirely by life-long Democrats. It
was soon noised about that Gov. Seymour
was at the Newhall House, and that the
meeting should be adjourned there and he
called out. Knowing him as I did, I has-
tened to apprise him of their coming, in or-
der that he might have a few moments for
reflection. I found him in the public parlor,
in apparent health, and fondling his hat.
He told me he felt very well, in reply to ray
inquiry after his health. I then told him a
very large crowd of people would soon be
there to call him out upon the subject of our
national troubles and the attack upon Sum-
ter. He replied, quickly and impetuously,
"I will not go." Full of feeling as 1 then
was, his reply — both the words and manner
— appalled me, and I started back, and soon
said: "Governor, what do you mean ?" He
replied: "I don't know how this thing is
going to turn yet." I then added that the
crowd of people would be there in a moment.
He asked me to go to the balcony, on their
arrival, and tell them that he was sick.
Rightly or wrongly is not for me to deter
mine, but the impression on me at the time
was irresistible that this was a mere subter-
fuge, and I declined to do so, and left. What
occurred immediately afterwards at the
Newhall House I have no personal knowl-
edge. I immediately left for my business
office, and related to several gentlemen what
had occurred precisely, as I have related it
to you here to-night.

Gentlemen, 1 now ask your careful atten-
tion to a brief examination of the facts as
here related. Mr. Seymour had held that
there was no constitutional power to coerce a
state, that we had no power, and hence no
right to prevent a state from seceding, and
hence it logically follows that a state had the
right to secede at her pleasure — to put it in
another form — if a state had a right to se-
cede, we had no right to prevent it, and
if we had no right to prevent it. it
had a clear right to doit. So far Mr. Sey-
mour was committed against the exercise of
any war power against the seceding states.
Furthermore, he had held and repeatedly
declared that the election of Mr. Lincoln
was a serious and not-to-be-forgiven offense
against the South, that the entire sentiments
and policy held by the Republican party,
which elected Mr. Lincoln, were at war
against the South, and at war with the peace
and best interests of our country, that the
South was the offended and the aggrieved


piirty. Holding these views, his head and ty to the war and to the administration of
his heart were necessarily both in sympathy £he government than in any other place with
with the South. which 1 was acquainted. It was a Republi-

Other prominent Democrats had held the can town, and yet most of its people were
same views and made the same utterances, deeply and deadly hostile to the war. On
The firing upon Sumter had fired their souls inquiring of why such a state of sentiment,
with patriotic indignation, and they at once I found it all to be ascribed to Horatio bey-
took their stand on the side of their country, mour. They so ascribed it themselves. He
Not so with Mr. Seymour. He felt none of had family friends residing there, often vis-
this fire, his soul was unmoved by the surges ited there, and poisoned the whole public
that rolled over other men's souls. He mind against the "unholy and unnatural
wished for time to deliberate. From his war." I found other places equally
previous sentiments and utterances, a ray of affected by his visits and influence,
charity, however small that ray, can be He never failed to attack the a^
thrown upon his position at this time. His ministration and all its war measures — he
course following this, and during the war, I maligned the motives of the administration,
will detail briefly. and denounced its war measures as uncon-

I have often seen it stated in the public stitutional and tyrannical — that the life of
press, that Mr. Seymour made a speech dur- the nation was not worth preserving, unless
ing the war, in which he stated that, if the it was preserved by the nostrums that he
question lay between the preservation of the should prescribe. On every defeat of our
government and the extermination of slave- arms, he would take occasion to throw the
ry, he would say, let the government go, and war cause into disrepute. When clouds
slavery be preserved. Whether this be true hung over us, he never failed to deepen
or not, I have no personal knowledge; I only their hue — he left nothing unturned to crip-
hope, for one common humanity, that it is pie the administration and bring to nought
false. That he gave an open and' qualified all its efforts for the suppression of the re-
support to the war is true. That at times he bellion. And in July, 1863, in the city of
may have rendered some service to the coun- New York, at the time that Vicksburg sur-
try is also undoubtedly true. That he did, rendered, as the result of one of the most
as Governor of the state of New York, on the skillful campaigns ever recorded in military
occasion of the invasion of Pennsylvania annals — and when, also, our brave boys of
by Lee's army, receive the commendations the Potomac army, wearied and exhausted
of the War Department, while no other Gov- by long marches in July heats, without
ernor did, is true. The fatted calf was not food or water, were brought upon the bloody
brought forth for the son who had always fields of Gettysburgh — while they were there
remained dutiful and faithful, but it was re- pouring out their blood like water which
served for the wandered and returning prod- they could not get — and while the fate of the
igal. While he professed loyalty to the gov- nation lay trembling in the balance — on that
ernment, it is equally true, and a part of the fated day, when every heart that could be
history of those times, that he placed every moved, was imploring the God of battles for
obstacle in his power in the way of the His aid in that awful hour, Horatio Seymour
prosecution of the war. That the admimstra- stood up and slandered the bravery of our
tion committed errors in the prosecution of men and the ability of our officers, and with
the war admits of no question. Nor is it a a cant that knew no patriotic] emotion,
matter of surprise that it did. Civil war whined out, ''where, oh where are the victo-
was a new thing with us, the whole path ries that h;ive been promised us for all these
was untried and full of difficulties, the very sacrifices ?" If there has been one day of
power of self-defense had been denied on my life characterized above all others for be-
high authority and by a large party. The ing in the depths of humiliation, it was the
power exercised was the war power, not de- day on which I read that utterance from
fined in the Constitution, and the right to Horatio Seymour. Poisoning the public
exercise it was the right that inheres in all mind on every possible occasion against the
governments — the right to protect and pre- war, thus crippling its power in the center
serve itself. The ways and means of doing it of its resources, yet all the time claiming to
were not provided in the organic law, be loyal — he was like the man who stood be-
hence much depended upon circumstances hind the horse and told him to go ahead, and
and the best judgment that would be brought yet with his scimetar ham strung him, so that
to bear. Instead of looking with forbear- he could not stir, and then beat him unmer-
ance upon the actions and judgments of cifully, because he did not accomplish what
men thus placed with all their responsibili- he himself had deprived him of the power
ties upon them, Mr. Seymour took every oc- of accomplishing.

easion to harpoon the government for it* er- In my own mind I have often compared
rors, to malign it for its exercise of neces- Gov. Seymour with Mr. Breckenridge. Mr.
sary powers, and to taunt and goad it when Breckenridge remained in the Senate of the
its best effirts were not attended with sue- United States under protestations of loyal-
cess. During the war I had occasion to ty, and while there at the extra session used
visit my native village in the state of New every device of which his ingenuity was ca-
York, and while thery I found more hostili- pible to thwart the government in its proa-

edition of the war, denouncing all its meas-
nres as unconstitutional and tyrannical, and
did succeed in largely poisoning the public
mind against the war. He remained behind
for this express purpose, for thus he could
render the rebellion infinitely more service
than any aid of his could render it upon the
field of battle. I ascribe no such motives to
Mr Seymour— far from it — but I do say. that
being at and in and of the North, and under
the professions of loyalty, and yet with his
unsparing denunciations of war measures,
his discouragements to soldiers, his predic-
tions of ultimate failure, and his constant
fault-findings, intentionally or unintention-
ally, he did more for the rebellion, in his
position, than any army corps in the rebel ser-

I have already detained you longer than
I had intended, but the picture is not com-
plete without a few words more. It is sta-
ted, after a careful analysis, that 150 to 200
of the delegates that composed the conven-
tion which placed Mr. Seymour in nomina-
tion, were officers in the rebel army, mem-
bers of rebel legislatures, and those at the
North who gave aid and sympathy to the re-
bellion. The sentiment represented by these
men controlled all the proceedings of that
convention — dictated its platform and select-
ed its candidates. One after another of the
men who had been loyal during the war, and
who still remained loyal, were stricken down.
The unsubdued rebellion demanded that all
the proceedings should be in its interest and
all its issues should serve its purpose. Hence
the support of every unrepentant rebel was
given te Mr. Seymour, and he was nomina-
ted. And to secure a man as second upon
the ticket, one Frank Blair was selected,
solely upon the ground that he had recently
declaed that he was in favor of another
civil war— that he had recommended the use
of the army and navy in dispersing Congress
and preventing the execution of the laws —
tkat he would batter the Constitution to
pieces, in order to preserve it, and fill the
land with carnage and death, with anarchy
and chaos, in order to give it peace ! Thus
were Seymour and Blair, par nohile fratrum,
yoked together, to draw the heavy load of
treason into respectability, and to sccom-
plish the yet unaccomplished work of the
original conspirators. Can this latter charge
be true ? Let us examine the evidence.
Leading rebel conspirators, on their
return to the South, told their constituencies
that in the convention they had everything
their own way; that the "lost cause" was not
irretrievably lost, but was to be regained
under Seymour and Blnir, their faithful al-
lies. Thereis no question of this fact. Their

speeches, published in their own papers, af-
ford the testimony, past all cavil or ques-

Who do Seymour and Blair now repre-
sent ? I will "not deny that in the present
Democratic orgnnization there are many
loyal, patriotic men, who did their country
service upon the field of battle — men who
were loyal through the whole war — but they
are few, and stand as feeble, glimmering
lights amid the general darkness that sur-
rounds them. All rebeldom, with all its
armed and unarmed hosts, are the basis and
main element of that organization. To
these are added all at the North who sympa-
thized with the rebellion, and never ceased
to embarrass the administration, in every
manner and form possible, in its efforts to
put down the rebellion and maintain the in-
tegrity of the nation. Such is the organiza-
tion aptly and appropriately led by Horatio
Seymour and Frank P. Blair. For what
purposes they desire success is too apparent
from the elements of its own organization.
If other evidence is wanting, you have but
to examine the public press of the South, and
the utterances of its leading public men-
Even on their way to the New York Conven-
tion, stopping at Lee's College, in Virginia,
they declared their purpose yet to establish
their Southern Confederacy. One of the
toasts uttered and applauded to the echo on
that occasion was that '"the cause for which
Stonewall Jackson fell could not die." Their
purposes are unmistakable — they are written
everywhere, upon the clouds and upon the
earth, upon the tree-top and in the valley.

At the North these things are covered and
concealment attempted. You aro told by
their press of the oppressions our Southern
brethren are compelled to undergo, of the
dangers they constantly stand in. They
regale you with accounts of deeds of blood,
of anarchy and chaos, and implore your
forbearance and aid. Who are the causes of
this anarchy and this blood? At every riot
it is only Republicans that are killed, at
every assassination it is only loyal men that
are assassinated. In face of such facts can
they turn the tables upon loyalty and upon
Republicans ? Can any man be so simple as
to be thus deceived ?

Arrayed against these leaders, and this
party so composed, are Grant and Colfax,
and the grert party of loyalty and patriot-
ism, that carried the country safely through
all its trials, and now only demands that the
fruits of all our suffering and expenditures
in the war be not lost. It demands no indem-
nity for the past, only peace for the present
and security for the future. Choose ye be-
tween them.




Levi Woodbury is descended from that intrepid
and strong-minded race of men who left their homes
in England early in the seventeenth century, to en-
joy their rights as freemen, and settled upon the
rocky shores of the North. The American nation
is indebted to their foresight and sagacity for many
of those institutions which have given character and
efficiency to our system of self-government. How-
ever obscure as individuals, each of those practical
democrats held that station in society, and possess-
ed the weight and influence in its government, to
which his talents, industry, and usefulness en-
titled him.

In Farmer's account of the early emigrants to
New England, it is stated that the ancestors of Mr.
Woodbury were among the original settlers of
Salem, one of the first plantations in the colony of
Massachusetts. From that part of the ancient
town of Salem, which is now comprehended with-
in the limits of Beverly, Peter Woodbury went, at
an early age, to Francestown, an agricultural set-
tlement in the interior of New Hampshire, where
his eldest son, the subject of the present sketch,
was born, about the commencement of 1790.

Mr. Woodbury, from his childhood, was trained
to those habits of industry which are so general
among the population of New England. His prin-
cipal elementary education was obtained in the
free schools kept in his native village, during the
winter months, when farming labor is suspended,
as is the usual practice under the system of laws
which were originally established by the Pilgrims.
On reaching a suitable age he was sent to perma-
nent seminaries away from home, for short periods,
during the summer season, in order to acquire a
sufficient knowledge of the rudiments of the Latin
and Greek languages, to enable him to enter col-
lege. He was early distinguished for his applica-
tion to study, and manifested, even in his boy-
hood, that ardor in the pursuit of knowledge, and
that readiness of apprehension, and decision of

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