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full of music, over which he had rare command, he conquered as much by his logical persuasion and defiant manner as by his fervent eloquence. The writer first saw him in Cincinnati, where he was associated with him in the practice of the law as early as 1847. Mr. Pugh had then just returned from the Mexican War, in which, as he said, he had gained no other laurels than those which belonged to the soldier who had gallanted mules up the Rio Grande to Cammargo. Next to him came William A. Richardson, of Illinois, who was also in the Charleston Convention, and next to him was Henry B. Payne, the recently-elected Senator from Ohio, as a champion of Judge Douglas and his views of sovereignty. He made a strong impression at Charleston, and endeavored to reconcile the party with a view to avert disunion and war. The history of that convention is public property. It tells how they divided; how Caleb Cushing, the elegant casuist, ruled upon certain questions as to the casting of the vote of the states either individually or by unit; how a portion of them nominated Douglas, and Fitzpatrick of Alabama; and how another portion, representing the South, nominated John C. Breckenridge, of Kentucky, and Joseph Lane, of Oregon. These are facts well known. When the firm determination of the Douglas majority in the Charleston Convention to adhere to their platform became manifest, the delegates from seven of the Southern States withdrew from the convention; and soon after an adjournment to Baltimore was agreed upon. The anti-Douglas wing agreed to meet at Richmond, in Virginia. The Baltimore Convention, composed mainly of Northern men, nominated Stephen A. Douglas for President, and Herschel V. Johnson, of Georgia, for Vice-President. The Richmond Convention nominated John C. Breckenridge, of Kentucky, for President, and Joseph Lane, of Oregon, for Vice-President. Another Baltimore Convention nominated John Bell, of Tennessee, for President, and Edward Everett, of Massachusetts, for Vice-President. They styled themselves the “Constitutional Union ” party; but consisted only of the remnants of the Whigs and “Americans.” The Republicans met in convention at Chicago, and nominated Abraham Lincoln for President, and Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine, for Vice-President. This quadrilateral struggle for power marked the beginning of an eventful era in the history of the country. It resulted in the destruction of the chief basis of the old parties—slavery. The emancipated slaves came next in order. The question as to their status has passed away, and questions of finance, commerce, and honest administration alone absorb the public interest. The total popular vote cast in 1860 was 4,676,853, of which Mr. Lincoln received 1,866,352; Mr. Douglas received 1,375, 157; Mr. Breckenridge received 845,763; and Mr. Bell received 589,581. The total electoral vote was 303; of which Mr. Lincoln received 180; Mr. Breckenridge
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received 72 ; Mr. Bell 39, and Mr. Douglas 12. It thus appears that Mr. Douglas, whose popular vote was nearly equal to the combined votes given to Messrs. Breckenridge and Bell, received just one-sixth of the electoral votes of Mr. Breckenridge, and less than a third of those given to Mr. Bell.
Mr. Lincoln received the electoral votes of all the free states, except three of New Jersey's seven votes, which were given to Mr. Bell. Mr. Breckenridge received the electoral votes of twelve of the sixteen slave-holding states. Three of them, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, voted for Mr. Bell; and Missouri voted for Mr. Douglas.
The contest in these conventions was preliminary to that of 1860. It turned upon the administration of James Buchanan and its defiance by Stephen A. Douglas. As that administration was signalized by the unsuccessful attempt to bring Kansas into the Union under the Lecompton Constitution, and by unsuccessful attempts to enforce the fugitive-slave act, because of the action of Salmon P. Chase, Governor of Ohio, indorsed by the general sentiment of the Republican party of the North; so it became the shibboleth of the party cries of 1860. In addition, the contest was further embittered, if not energized, upon the question of slavery.
The election of Mr. Lincoln, which took place in November, 1860, not only settled the issues against the South, but against the friends and doctrine of Judge Douglas. Congress met in December following; then arose for desperate debate all the varied questions involving human servitude. It was to the composition of these questions that the good men of that time addressed themselves. That Congress was one of marked ability. The South, especially, was ably represented The hidden facts, the inner life, the scenes and incidents which never appear on public record, and seldom appear even in the newspaper, when they shall transpire will give to that Congress the graphic interest of a battle picture. Out of its discussions, devices, and seditions arose the bloody spectre of war ! It is the aim of the writer to illustrate some of the incidents and scenes of that period. There is much of interest as yet unwritten clinging to the actors in that drama — a drama whose last act had its tragical dénouement in the assassination of the kind, and good, and great Chief Magistrate of a newly-resurrécted nation.
THE THIRTY-SIXTH CONGRESS – ITS CHARACTERISTICS, OPINIONS, AND VOTES – CONGRESSIONAL ACTION LEADING TO DISUNION – THE SENATE LEADERS – ERFORTS TO STAY SECESSION – EXTREMISTS DEFEAT THE COMPROMISE – cRitten DEN's LAst AppEAL – JEFFERson DAvis Not ANxious TO SECEDE - THE ExtremistS IN THE HOUSE – THE UNION PHALANX – CLEMENT L. VALLANDIGHAM.
T is a common practice, since the great success of the Federal arms in putting down the insurgent states, to look upon the “Lost Cause” as having been altogether in the wrong; but unless there was great and general provocation to revolt, no such harmonious action in favor of secession could have been taken by the Southern States. It will not be forgotten by those who participated in the discussions of the Thirty-sixth Congress which preceded and presaged the war, that great attempts were then made by eminent statesmen to stay the progress of secession. Nor were these attempts confined to the Senate and House. They were made in “Peace Conventions,” and in other bodies, which had great influence with business boards and state legislatures. Those who thus acted must have had hopeful reason for their attempts to reconcile the sections. The faults were not all on one side. The greatest grievance of the South was not, perhaps, as openly expressed as it might have been. The moral sense of mankind did not sustain the institution of slavery. The breaches of the Constitution in respect to the fugitive-slave law had been frequent and aggravating. That law had been maintained by the decision of the Supreme Court. Its violation was a pregnant cause of complaint. On constitutional grounds that law should have been sustained. The action of certain states of the North in obstructing its execution, notably in Wisconsin and Ohio, was defended in and out of Congress on moral, constitutional, and legal grounds. Even such eminent men as Salmon P. Chase, then Governor of Ohio, when the famous Oberlin case of Plumb, Peck, et al. was before the state court upon the writ of /abeas corpus, did not hesitate to affirm that personal liberty
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was of greater moment than the Constitution; that state rights were superior to Federal decrees; and that no mandate of the Federal government should be obeyed for the return of human beings to bondage. It is well known that Mr. Chase advised Mr. Lincoln to let the seceding states go, rather than resort to armed coercion. Indeed, Mr. Chase had preached the state rights theory all his life in justification of state resistance to the enforcement of the fugitive-slave law. From the case of Jones vs. Van Zant, in 1842, to the celebrated Oberlin fugitive-slave rescue cases— Ex parte Langston and Ex parte Bushnell, in 1859, reported in the Ninth Ohio State Reports, the Ohio friends of Chase did not hesitate to express, in the most unqualified manner, their determination to nullify any Federal law or act of which they did not approve, in connection with the slavery question. The cases of Langston and Bushnell were prosecuted on a writ of habeas corpus, by the State Attorney-General, C. P. Wolcott, under the direction of Governor Chase, for the release of those parties who had been convicted under the Federal statute, and in a Federal court, for violating the fugitiveslave law. On that occasion Governor Chase openly declared that he would sustain by force, if necessary, the decision of the Supreme Court of Ohio against the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, even if it should result in a collision between the state and the general government. Not at any time in South Carolina, among the most ardent of the Calhoun school, was “nullification” more rife or aggressive than among the Ohio abolitionists. What cared either of these factionists for argument. They believed they were right; and if the Constitution disagreed with their theories, the Constitution must go — not their theories. The territorial question, already referred to, had no less magnitude in the minds of the Southern people. That grievance took the form of a complaint that the Constitution was violated by the popular sovereignty, in declaring against slavery in organic laws for the territories, preliminary to their admission as states. When the Thirty-sixth Congress assembled, the members who stood between the factional sections, under the leadership of Judge Douglas, George E. Pugh, Senator Stewart, of Michigan, and others in the Senate, and of William A. Richardson, Thomas L. Harris, and others in the House, found themselves in a small minority. They were between the two fires of implacable opponents. In attempting to emulate the Christian philosophy of reconciling enmities, many of these peacemakers found themselves driven from their party associations; and others were quick to respond to the allurements of the vigorous party which was then approaching power. Whatever justification there may have been for the complaints of the Southern statesmen and states against the mal-administration of Federal laws by Northern people and states, there was no such grievance as would justify secession and the dispartment of the country. There was no difference that would justify either secession or revolution. No revolutions, according to Sir James Macintosh, are justifiable, however well grounded upon grievances, without a reasonable probability of a successful termination. True, there was in that Congress an exaltation on the part of Southern men which led them to hope, even before Sumpter was fired upon, that the separation which they sought would be accomplished. Had they, even a priori, considered the mechanical forces of the North which are now so manifest in the results of the war, they might well have halted upon the dogma of Sir James Macintosh. But among the many fine traits of Southern men was that impetuosity and ardor of sentiment and heart which does not look to consequences when there is conviction in a justifiable cause. In the light of historical philosophy, an unbiased mind can apprehend what a tremendous hold the mere abstract doctrine of secession had upon these men, who anticipated a still larger curtailment of their constitutional rights. When it is remembered that there were real grounds for this apprehension, and when it was argued with so much logic and brilliancy that the rights of the states could be preserved only in a new confederacy, it is not marvelous that the call for secession fired the Southern heart. When the time for final action came, the movements in favor of secession were made with great formality and solemnity. Ordinances came with all the precision and regularity of legislative order. States withdrew in the presence of excited and awe-struck audiences, after the most dramatic and apparently authorized sanction. The great body of the oratory of that time came from such men as Benjamin, Davis, Curry, Lamar, Pugh of Alabama, Garnet, and Bocock. It developed all the graces of eloquence. Fair women from the galleries, warm with Southern blood, gave applause more precious than coronets of gold and jewels to the oratory of their impassioned champions. As one by one the states became unrepresented, not a word was heard, except, perhaps, in debate, of the abstract right to secede. There seemed to be a tacit acknowledgment that secession at present was the best course. No attempt was made to arrest any one. Prominent Republicans like Lieutenant-Governor Stanton, of Ohio, - not to mention his namesake, the Secretary of War, Mr. Greeley, and Mr. Chase, abetted the movement of secession by opposing any constraint upon the departing sisters. These facts, forerunners of the mighty conflict, seem now inexplicable to many persons, because it is forgotten that from December, 1860, until March, 1861, there was hope of reconciliation. Douglas and Crittenden were still sanguine when they telegraphed to Georgia that the rights of the South and of every state and section would be protected in the Union. The first efforts at compromise were by no means confined to the Democratic Senators and members. Governor Corwin, Charles Francis Adams, Edward Joy Morris, and others in the House; Senators Cameron, Baker, Dixon, Foster, Collamer, and others in the Senate, were, at the beginning of the session, and for some time afterwards, regarded as not indifferent to a