Imágenes de páginas

which have been represented since then as a justification for an unmanly and vindictive assault upon Mr. Douglas. All honor and credit to the illustrious Virginian who, rising above the petty instigations of rivalry, had the courage and independence to declare that he did not desire the election of Lincoln, and did desire the election of Douglas, the chosen leader of the Illinois Democracy. The Hon. James B. Clay, of Kentucky, also sent to his Democratic brethren of Illinois words of approval and of encouragement. The Hon. A. H. Stephens, of Georgia, was in Chicago during the summer, and an attempt was made by the Danites to use his name in approval of their proceedings. This, however, was unjust to that gentleman: he never, by word or deed, approved the election of the Republican candidates.

The labors of the campaign were excessive. The weather up to the tenth of October was oppressively warm. The most of Judge Douglas' appointments after that date were in northern Illinois. Then the weather changed; a cold blustering wind, often accompanied with rain, continued until the close. At Geneseo and Rock Island, where Mr. Douglas spoke on the Thursday and Friday preceding the election, it rained hard all day, yet he was listened to by thousands, many of whom had come hundreds of miles to hear him. On Saturday night, October 31, he reached Chicago pretty well fatigued, and voice almost exhausted from speaking so often in the open air, and exposed to the heavy rain. Sunday was a day of repose, and one he much needed. On Monday night he was again called out to address a mass meeting in Chicago, but a rain storm prevented his saying much.

Tuesday, at an early hour, the city was alive. Throughout the state an unusual excitement prevailed. In Chicago a rain continued at intervals all day. It is unnecessary to state here that the Republicans resorted to every possible means in the way of secret circulars to injure Mr. Douglas by representing him as being a Know-Nothing, and a Republican. All such attempts failed. The fate of Lincoln was sealed by the discussion at Ottawa, and nothing but a special interposition of Providence could have elected a Legislature favorable to his election to the Senate.

It only remains to add the result of the election:

[blocks in formation]

The Danite organs in the state, after the election, apologized and accounted for the smallness of their vote, by saying that the great bulk of their party, failing to see any other mode of "killing Douglas," had voted the Republican ticket direct. The Legislature, including those holding over, stood thus:

[blocks in formation]

This was the result of one of the most extraordinary political contests ever had in any state of the Union. It was a glorious personal as well as political triumph on the part of Mr. Douglas. It demonstrated the unpurchasable integrity of the Democracy of Illinois. It showed that they were without fear, and were above price. It showed also, and the fact was creditable to the intelligence of the American people, that no Federal authority can be successfully exercised to defeat the will and power of a free people.

The effort to defeat Mr. Douglas did not end with the decision of the people in November. It was at once noised about that among the Democratic senators holding over, were some who were under no obligation to vote for Mr. Douglas, and who were disposed to stand by the administration. The Legislature did not meet until January. The rumours concerning the fidelity of certain state senators were taken up and vouched for by Republican newspapers, and possibly found believers elsewhere. One federal officer in Illinois boasted that he held blank commissions to important federal offices, in which he was authorized to insert the names of such Demo


cratic senators as would refuse to vote for Douglas. This boast was too degrading to the administration to find any Democrat in Illinois who would believe it. The effect, however, was soon felt. The senators holding over were sterling Democrats; they did not relish the free use of their names by the Danite chieftains, and they took occassion to express their sentiments very freely and decidedly upon the matter. It was stated that, during the interval between the election and the meeting of the Legislature, a politician of a neighboring state, who had been prominent as an outside friend and supporter of the Danites, found occasion to cross that part of Illinois represented in the state Senate by Captain Coffee, one of the best and honestest Democrats in the west. The distinguished stranger stopped at a town in the vicinity of Coffee's residence and inquired particularly after his health. Coffee happened to be away from home at the time, and when he returned the landlord told him of the visit made by the “ inent statesman" from another state, and of his particular inquiries after Captain Coffee's health. The answer was as emphatic as its purport was unmistakable: he said, "Whencalls here on his way back, you tell him for me, that I am a Democrat, and if he dare to ask me to vote against Douglas he may be sure that either he or I will be the worst whipped man that ever saw the state of Illinois." Captain Coffee's fidelity was never doubted by any Democrat, indeed his determination to vote for Douglas was soon publicly announced, and the distinguished gentleman has never returned that way since to hear any additional particulars touching Captain Coffee's health, which it is hoped may never be anything else than in a high state of preservation.


According to custom the Democratio members of the Legislature met in caucus the night before the organization. Douglas was nominated by acclamation, and three days thereafter was, in joint meeting, re-elected United States senator.



MR. DOUGLAS was first married on the 7th of April, 1847, in Rockingham county, North Carolina, to MISS MARTHA DENNY MARTIN, only daughter of Col. Robert Martin, of that county. With his bride he returned to the State of Illinois, whose senator he had become but a month previously. Everywhere during his tour he was greeted with affection by his constituents, with all the attention that friendship could suggest, and all the respect which the gentleness and amiability of his accomplished bride could not fail to inspire. Her gentleness, and her strong native good judgment were of great service to him in many a season of perplexing and troublesome excitement. She made home an abiding place of peace and tranquility, where all the associations were of a refined and Christian character. In extending hospitality to the multitudes who thronged her husband's mansion, she was judicious and yet munificent. She won the respect of all his friends, and divided with him their unbounded admiration. After a happy life of nearly six years with a husband whose interest was the object of her wordly life, she died at his residence in Washington City, on the 19th of January, 1853, leaving three children, two boys, and one girl, the latter an infant, who survived its mother but a few months. The two boys are now bright, active, intelligent youths, and reside with their father.

In November, 1856, Mr. Douglas was married at Washington City to MISS ADELE CUTTS, the beautiful and accomplished daughter of Hon. James Madison Cutts, long a resident of that city.


In speaking of the domestic affairs of Judge Douglas, it may not be out of place to introduce and dispose of a matter which on frequent occasions has served his political and personal enemies with a pretext for the most unscrupulous abuse. That matter is his "ownership of slaves."

In 1847, on the day after his marriage, Colonel Martin

placed in Mr. Douglas' hands a sealed package of papers. Upon an examination of these papers Mr. Douglas found among them a deed of certain plantations, including the servants upon them, in the State of Mississippi, which deed vested the title to both land and servants in him absolutely. He at once, without one moment's hesitation, sought Colonel Martin and returned him the deed, stating that while he was no abolitionist, and had no sympathy with them in their wild schemes and ultra views respecting slavery, yet he was a northern man by birth, education and residence, and was totally ignorant of that description of property, and as ignorant of the manner and rules by which it should be governed, and was therefore wholly incompetent to take charge of it and perform his duty towards it properly, particularly at a distance or fifteen hundred miles from where he resided, and where he should continue to reside at all times with the people to whom he owed so much. He said that he preferred Colonel Martin should retain the property, at least during his lifetime, and if in the meantime no disposition was made of it, he could then by will leave directions as to the manner in which he desired it disposed of.

Colonel Martin died on the 25th of May, 1848, leaving a will in which he provided for the disposal of his entire estate. In this will he recited the fact that he had a year previously offered the plantations in Mississippi, with the slaves upon them, to his son-in-law, Stephen A. Douglas, who had declined to receive them. He then declared substantially, that in the event of the death of his daughter, Martha D. Douglas, leaving surviving children, it was his wish and desire that the slaves upon those Mississippi plantations should remain and continue the property of those children; and he willed this in the firm belief that the negroes would be better off and better cared for as slaves in the family in which they had been born and raised than if set at liberty and sent to the free states; but he provided, that in the event of his said daughter dying, leaving no surviving children, the negroes should be sent to the coast of Africa and should be supported there one year, at the expense of his estate, and then be declared free.

This is the entire history of the manner in which Mr. Doug las became "the owner of plantations stocked with slaves ;" and of the manner and the reasons by which the ownership of

« AnteriorContinuar »