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LOUISIANA CANDIDATES FOR CONGRESS IN 1864.
August 13th, 1864, the friends of a free Constitution met in New Orleans to ratify the nomination of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, and to express their approbation of the new Constitution which was to be submitted to the people of the State on the 5th of September.
A series of political meetings were proposed, for the purpose of obtaining a united support for the Free State condidates for Congress. On the 29th of August the delegates of the nominating Convention met at Liberty Hall, and proceeded to make choice of candidates for Congress which resulted as follows: First District, M. F. Bonzano; Second District, Col. A. P. Field; Third District, W. D. Mann. Judge Abell announced himself an independent candidate for Congress, in opposition to Mr. Bonzano. Said Dr. Dostie, in referring to the two last named candidates, at a republican meeting : “Gentlemen, you have now before you two candidates for Congress, both members of the late Convention, one in favor of slavery, the other the friend of liberty—which will you send to our National Councils to work for the people of Louisiana 2 Abell, the advocate of oppression, or Benzano, the lover of freedom.” “Bonzano !” was the cry of the people. In an address before a Union meeting, Dr. Dostie gives the following reasons for announcing himself an independent candidate for Congress against A. P. Field: “For the first time in my life I appear before you under circumstances of embarrassment. For the first time do I stand before you voluntarily as an aspirant for office. “You all know that I hold an office which I did rot seek. I refused the office of Secretary of State, and twice was the Auditorship offered me before I consented to accept it. Before the war I followed a profession which yielded me every desirable comfort, and I never was an office seeker. “But now I do ask your suffrages for the high and important position of a Representative to Congress. Not that I have the vanity to suppose myself more competent for that position than any other, but the Convention last night nominated Col. A. P. Field, whom you all know as the champion of the Masonic Hall clique—and as a foremost defender of Copperheadism— the friend of the Voorhees and the Vallandigham school. You know how Tinterrogated him a few nights ago, and how he evaded declaring himself for the new Constitution. How did he go to Congress? You all know how it was. And how, after Congress sent him home, they kindly gave him fifteen hundred dollars for his visit. I do not want a gentleman of such principles—allied to Copperheadism—to represent redeemed and disenthralled Louisiana in the Congress of my country. I am his equal in all the virtues of manhood—I am his superior in the advocacy of the God-given principle of liberty to all men. I do not wish Louisiana disgraced by sending a man of his Copperhead sentiments. Where have you ever heard his voice raised either in debate or on the streets in defence of the principles of liberty ? He has vilified Butler and others to whom you owe so much. It is for these reasons that I have voluntarily acquiesced in the solicitations of my friends, and become a candidate for Congress.” Col. T. B. Thorpe, the same evening spoke in defence of the new Constitution and of the necessity of having good and loyal men to represent the State in the Legislature and in the Congress of the United States, concluding his eloquent defense of the Constitution as follows: “Fellow-citizens, my name has been mentioned in connection with Congress. From causes to which I will not allude, a gentleman has been nominated in my place whom I have never heard of as practically sympathizing in this Free State movement, a gentleman, who, if his own language delivered on a recent occasion at the Jackson Railroad depot is to be believed, holds the Free State party, the Constitution, and the military representatives of the Federal Government in utter contempt. I respect Col. Field as a gentleman distinguished in the law, and I admired the boldness and power with which he assaulted the Free State party—with which he poured forth his utter condemnation upon our most cherished political principles. I was surprised, however, at his bitterness against the Federal Government, displayed in his sweeping denunciations of Federal officers and soldiers. Let the gentlemen who took the responsibility of the nomination bear the consequences, for it has either demoralized the party, or it will work a regeneration. “But the Free State party of Louisiana, our Constitution, and our attachment to the Union, do not depend upon single individuals; and while I step aside in the great contest, another name appears, bright with every association of loyalty; a name so identified with every step in the regeneration of Louisiana that it will shine brightly in history for years and years to come. I mean the chivalrous, zealous martyr-patriot, A. P. Dostie. He has been announced as the Union standard bearer in this Congressional contest, as he will come out by your free and independent suffrage, the orator of the field. He has not to come before you at the last moment to attest his love for free institutions; he has not to get up endorsements to prove that his heart and soul are with us. When the rebel rule was in its height in this city, Dr. Dostie, in the impetuosity of his nature, could not control his hatred of the tyrants who had ruined his country, and his open defiance of the men who were guilty, led to his banishment from your midst. What Dr. Dostie has done for the cause of freedom since his return from exile, you know as well as I; for a more indefatigable, a more thorough, a more genuine apostle of freedom never enlisted in the great Call Se. “Send Dr. Dostie to Congress—his earnestness in the national capitol will have a beneficial effect upon all who come in contact with him ; his indefatigable industry will surprise the sleepy guardians of the national honor, his unflinching determination to carry through his cherished principles, will give strength to those who are despondent, and comfort those who like himself are in earnest. He has qualities that are eminently needed to carry on a reform, to assert and maintain our civil rights, to defend our new Constitution, and to get Congress to receive our delegation, and once more admit our State in full fellowship in the glorious constellation of stars. Elect Dr. Dostie to Congress, and in your devotion to him show the people of the North that the Free State men of Louisiana have no compromise with Copperheadism, no matter in what form it makes its appearance, that we want no candidates who make deathbed repentances, or become suddenly converted just before the meeting of a nominating Convention; that we will have nothing but tried men who have served in the field, fought our battles, and helped to win our victories, none in this Congressional election but men like Dr. Dostie.”
The following from the pen of General Banks is expressive of the state of affairs during that Congressional COntest :
“The events of the day show that a more general interest will be manifested in the coming election than has been anticipated. The Times, hitherto studiously silent upon the ratification of the Constitution, although unsparing in its censure of the Convention that framed it, now urges its readers to its support. ‘We might,” it says, “with reason, advance many objections to this Constitution, but we could, with still more reason and justice, advance many arguments for its adoption. Therefore, we shall vote for it, and urge upon all who,