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rages in the South had so greatly incensed the North, had a most depressing influence upon the fortunes of the National Union party, and failed utterly in the object for which they were intended. The trip proved to be a grave political mistake. The undignified spectacle of a President receiving coarse personal abuse and retorting in scarcely less coarse expressions was quickly taken advantage of by his opponents; and the phrase "swinging around the circle” has assumed historic dignity as a description of his journey.
4. The “ off year" national convention plan adopted by the National Union Club was immediately accepted by the congressional party, which was no less active in preparations for the struggle. On July 4, the same day on which the Democratic congressmen issued their address to the people, representative Southern Unionists,' supporters of Congress, issued a call to “the Loyal Unionists of the South,” for a convention to be held in Philadelphia on September 3.? The call stated that the convention was “for the purpose of bringing the loyal Unionists of the South " into conjunction with the true friends of republican government in the North.
* The time has come when the restructure of Southern State government must be laid on constitutional principles. * * * We maintain that no State, either by its organic law or legislation, can make transgression on the rights of the citizen legitimate. * Under the doctrine of State sovereignty,' with rebels in the foreground, controlling Southern legislatures, and embittered by disappointment in their schemes to destroy the Union, there will be no safety for the loyal element of the South. Our reliance for protection is now on Congress, and the great Union party that has stood and is standing by our nationality, by the constitu
1 Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Missouri, Virginia, North Carolina and Alabama were represented among the signers to the call.
? McPherson, History of the Reconstruction, 124.
tional rights of the citizen, and by the beneficent principles of the government."
The convention met at the time appointed, with representatives present from all the lately insurrectionary States." James Speed of Kentucky, Attorney-General until July 18, was elected permanent chairman. For purposes of cooperation, the Northern States had been invited to send delegations, and all responded. Thus the convention was as truly national as the “ National Union ” convention of August 14 had been. It was decided, however, that for the purpose of rendering the declaration of the Southern Unionists more significant, the Northern and Southern Unionists should hold their sessions separately, and Governor Curtin of Pennsylvania was accordingly elected chairman of the Northern section.
The resolutions of the Southern section were reported by Governor Hamilton of Texas, chairman of the committee on resolutions, and they naturally endorsed the action of Congress in its entirety. While demanding the restoration of the States, they declared Johnson's policy to be “unjust, oppressive, and intolerable," and that restoration under his "inadequate conditions” would only magnify “the perils and sorrows of our condition.” They agreed to support Congress and to endeavor to secure the ratification of the 14th Amendment. Congress alone had power to determine the political status of the States and the rights of the people, "to the exclusion of the independent action of any and every other department of the Government.” “The organizations of the unrepresented States, assuming to be state governments, not having been legally established,” were declared "not legitimate governments until reorganized by Congress.' In addition to these resolutions, an address“ from the loyal
Blaine, Twenty Years of Congress, ii, 224–228.
men of the South to their fellow-citizens of the United States," was prepared and adopted after the formal adjournment of the convention.' This reaffirmed, in far stronger terms, the condemnation of President Johnson, specifying many ways in which he had wrought injury to them, and closing with the following significant and powerful declaration : “We affirm that the loyalists of the South look to Congress with affectionate gratitude and confidence, as the only means to save us from persecution, exile and death itself; and we also declare that there can be no security for us or our children, there can be no safety for the country against the fell spirit of slavery, now organized in the form of serfdom, unless the Government, by national and appropriate legislation, enforced by national authority, shall confer on every citizen in the States we represent the American birthright of impartial suffrage and equality before the law. This is the one all-sufficient remedy. This is our great need and pressing necessity.”2
A third convention of the year was the Cleveland convention of soldiers and sailors, organized on September 17, with General Wood of the regular army as chairman. This convention was composed of supporters of the administration, and, like the National Union convention, contained a considerable proportion of Democrats. The resolutions endorsed those of the National Union convention, and declared that “our object in taking up arms to suppress the late rebellion was to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution, and to preserve the Union with all the dignity, equality, and rights of the States unimpaired.”
The great mass of the soldiers, however, were earnest sup
McPherson, History of the Reconstruction, 242. ? The address was prepared by Senator Creswell, of Maryland. See Blaine, Twenty years of Congress, ii, 223-228.
3 McPherson, History of the Reconstruction, 243; Blaine, Twenty Years of Congress, ii, 228-230.
porters of Congress, and the results of the Cleveland convention were disappointing to its originators; its principal effect was to create great enthusiasm over the anti-administration convention of soldiers and sailors, which met in Pittsburg on September 25 and 26. This demonstration was intended to offset whatever influence the Cleveland convention might have had over the people, and it proved wonderfully effective. It was estimated that at least twentyfive thousand old soldiers were in the city at the time. The cause for this enthusiastic support is not difficult to find. The policy of the administration appealed to the moderates—those who wished as rapid a restoration to former conditions as possible, and those who were most influenced by the appeal to so-called justice. The majority of the soldiers, on the contrary, those who had made the greatest sacrifices for their country, were the most sensitive concerning the results of their sacrifices. Thoroughly accustomed to the thought of their great accomplishments, the manumission of the slaves and the preservation of the integrity of national power, they were keen to resent any steps which they thought tended toward the annulling of these results. With this natural bias, the arguments which the congressional party brought to bear upon them were accepted with enthusiasm ; and many of the leaders went into the political campaign to be followed by the same soldiers who had followed them through their military campaigns. The convention, however, was in no sense a convention of officers. While the permanent president, Jacob D. Cox, of Ohio, had been a general of volunteers, the temporary chairman, L. E. Dudley, had been a private, and the majority of the offices of the convention were filled by men below the rank of lieutenant.
Blaine, T wenty Years of Congress, ii, 230–233.
As was to be expected from the nature of the convention, the feeling against the administration was stronger and declared in more impassioned tones than in the previous anti-administration convention. Its influence upon the country was correspondingly greater. The army, recognized at this time as the great preserver of the commonwealth, had great influence over all classes of citizens. The antiadministration conventions, the New Orleans massacre, and the violent attacks on Congress by the President while "swinging around the circle," assured the triumph of the congressional party.
The resolutions adopted at Pittsburgh were presented by General Butler. They were emphatic in tone, commencing with the declaration that “the action of the present Congress in passing the pending constitutional amendment is wise, prudent, and just," and that it was unfortunate that it was not received in the proper spirit, the terms being the mildest "ever granted to subdued rebels." The President's policy was declared to be “as dangerous as it is unwise,” and “if consummated it would render the sacrifices of the nation useless." The power “to pass all acts of legislation that are necessary for the complete restoration of the Union" was declared to rest in Congress. The declaration of the President to the committee of the National Union convention, that he could have made himself dictator through the Freedmen's Bureau, aided by the army and navy, was characterized as an insult to “every soldier and sailor in the Republic.” The obligation of the soldiers and sailors to the loyal men of the South was acknowledged; and it was added: “We will stand by and protect with our lives, if necessary, those brave men who remain true to us when all around are false and faithless."
This, the most successful of the four conventions, com
1 McPherson, History of the Reconstruction, 242, 243.