Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

treated in the direction of Raleigh. The following day, the 23d of March, the army, without further opposition, entered Goldsboro, whither Schofield two days before had preceded it.

The battle of Bentonville, honored by the presence of the 30th, 53d, 56th, 60th, 630, 64th, 86th, 920, 101st, 104th and 105th Illinois, was the last engagement of the campaign. It is needless to say they, in common with the rest of their comrades, fought well. The results speak for themselves. A track of country from Savannah to Goldsboro, 40 miles wide and nearly 500 long, had been successfully overridden. The immediate fruits of the march were Mobile, Charleston and Wilmington, which, hitherto, had defied some of the most destructive naval enginery the world has ever seen, while it largely contributed to the downfall of the confederate capital. Walled in on one side by the army of Grant, with Sherman rapidly approaching on the other, its evacuation was a military necessity.

Close of the War.--Sherman temporarily turned over his army to Schofield and hastened to City Point, where he had an interview with Gen. Grant and President Lincoln. The object of the meeting was to concert measures for striking the death blow of the rebellion. An important part in the closing drama was assigned to the army of the West, but the end was at hand. Before any important movement could be effected, Lee surrendered, and the civil war, whose throes had con vulsed the continent and dis. turbed the commerce of the world, existed only in history.

The slave power, corrupt, defiant and rebellious, had now measured its strength with the republic, and the latter had triumphed. Not a stripe was erased from her banners; every star still revolves in the frame work of the constitution; her domain is unbroken. May she still continue to prosper till her expanding dominion is only limited by the billows which at every point of the compass, break upon the ocean's shore; till her proud destiny becomes a realization of the prophecies written in her coal-fields, beds of iron and seams of gold; till all nations, taught by her example, are released from political oppression, and man attains the full measure of happiness forshadowed in the divinity of his nature.

How much the nation is indebted to Illinois for the auspicious ter. mination of the war, may be inferred from the fact that in the two great movements which severed the insurgent States, and so greatly paralyzed their efforts, her soldiers were more largely represented than those of any other member of the Union. Furthermore, we must place on the credit side of her balance sheet a large amount of legal talent, superior generalsbip and executive ability; for Trumbull was our lawyer, Grant our soldier, and Lincoln our president.

From the scene of its dangers and triumphs, Shermau's army proceeded to the national capital to share in the great review, which came off on the 23d and 24th of May, as a fitting close of the struggle in which it had been so long engaged. At the appointed time, in presence of the president,

the members of his cabi. net, foreign ministers, and other eminent personages, the united armies of the East and West moved along Pennsylvania avenue. Never had more gallant legions been entrusted with the destinies of empire than those which received the congratulations of the dense masses which packed the spacious streets. The pageant was grand, yet grander far was the scene when the mighty host which could have overrun a hemisphere, peacefully, joyfully melted a way into regiments and returned to their distant homes.

Again the cities and villages of Illinois were aglow with enthusiasm when the leugthened trains and crowded steamboats poured forth the thousands who had gone forth to battle. Everywhere they were met with expressions of welcome. Ovations were prepared for their reception, and long absent friends who had fol. lowed them with their sympathies through weary marches and perilous battles, gave them a happy greeting. The greatest reward, however, was the proud consciousness of having served and saved their country. Laying aside their military costume, they again assumed the habiliments and duties of civil life, and to-day the State is bounding forward in the career of greatness and power as the result of their thrift and enterprise.

Many who had been instrumental in saving the nation, never lived to see the consummation of their labors. On the Father of Waters; where the Tennessee wanders; by the southern sea; along the track of the great contending armies, may still be seen their last resting places. As long as vernal suns shall cause the earth to bloom, may the sons and daughters of freedom strew with flowers their graves and from the remembrance of their deeds, gather new inspiration to direct them in discharging their duties to the country they died to save.

CHAPTER LXV.

POLITICAL AND PARTY AFFAIRS DURING THE RE

BELLION.

.

Sentiments of the Illinois Democracy in the Winter of 1860-1861

Patriotic Feeling on the breaking out of Hostilities, irrespective of party, as inspired by Douglas-Revival of Partisan FeelingConstitutional Convention of 1862—Its high pretensionsConflict With the Governor-Some Features of the Instrument framed; it becomes a party measure-The vote upon it-Party Convention of 1862— The last Democratic Legislature-Frauds in passing billsReaction among the People against the Peace Movement-Military Arrests- Suppressing the Chicago Times-Secret PoliticoMilitary Societies Democratic Mass Convention of June 17th, 1863—Republican Mass Convention, September, 1863—Peace Meetings of 1864-Note, Chicago Conspiracy.

During the winter preceding Mr. Lincoln's first inauguration as president, when State after State was shooting madly from the orbit of the Union by passing secession ordinances, conservative men generally, to avoid the horrors of impending civil war, were anxious to conciliate the existing misunderstanding and restore harmony between the different sections of our country. Several propositions were offered in congress as plans for compromise ; one by Mr. Douglas; one by Mr. Crittenden, and one known as the Border State Proposition. With the feeling of compromise the democracy of Illinois were fully imbued, and for the sake of peace, they would have conceded much.

On the 16th of January, 1861, a Democratic State convention met in Springfield to give expression to their sentiments upon the state of the Union. Ninety-three counties were represented by over 500 delegates. The venerable Zadock Casey presided. More than 28 years before he had presided over the Illinois senate, when the legislature declared the position of the State upon the nullification of South Carolina, sustaining President Jackson in his proclamation, and instructing our senators and representatives in Congress "to unite in the most speedy and vigorous measures on the part of the government for the preservation of the peace, integrity and honor of the Union; and we do most solemnly pledge the faith of our State in support of the administration of the laws and constitution of our beloved country;" resolving further “That

disunion by armed force is treason, and should be treated as such by the constituted authorities of the nation.” But this convention of 1861 adopted a preamble and set of resolutions, counselling concession and compromise, and the acceptance of any of the propositions pending in congress to restore harmony between the sections; declared that an effort to coerce the seceding States, would plunge the country in civil war, and denied the military power of the government to enforce its laws in any State, except in strict subordination to the civil authorities; believed “that the perilous condition of the country had been produced by the agitation of the slavery question, creating discord and enmity between the different sections, which had been aggravated by the election of a sectional president;" condemned the party leaders, madly bent on fraternal strife; did not recognize any conflict' in the diversity of the domestic institutions and industries of the country, but rather discovered grounds for a more lasting and perfect union in its variety of soil and climate, and modes of thought of the people; denied the right of secession; commended the proposed Louisville convention, and proposed a national convention to amend the constitution so as to produce harmony and fraternity throughout the whole Uuion.

In the proceedings of this convention may be found the names of men, who, in antagonism to the high national ground occupied by Mr. Douglas, ever sought to place the democracy of Illinois in a false light before the country during the rebellion. These reso. lutions foreshadowed the views which two years later, in a modi. fied form, re-appeared in the Armistice resolutions of the 23d gen. eral assembly,and again in the enunciations of the so-called Demo. cratic mass convention of the 17th of June, 1863. But the full force of the rebellion was not yet, in January, 1861, realized. The bluster of extremists was so great in those days that much of it was dis. regarded. When the war was actually upon us, many other names seen there as participants, by their patriotic and gallant conduct, gave the lie to these enunciations. And prior to this, in December, 1860, the Hon. John A. McClernand, a leading representative democrat in congress from this State, in the discussions incident to the state of the Union, had exclaimed that

“The sacred obligations of patriotism would prompt every loyal citizen, whether in the North or in the South, to defend and maintain the integrity of the Union and the authority of its common government against the inroads of violence.

Is it coercion of a State for us to do what we are sworn to do-to support the constitution and the laws and treaties as the supreme law of the land ? Is it coercion for us to maintain peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must, possession of the treasure and other property of the United States? Is it coercion for us to stay the violent and lawless hand that would tear down the noblo structure of our government?. 'Sir, it is a perversion of all language; a mockery of all ideas, to say so."

Mr. Douglas, devotedly attached to the Union, and anxiously laboring for conciliation and compromise, exclaimed to the South: 6 What are you afraid of? You have now, and will have when Mr. Lincoln becomes president, two-thirds of the government, the supreme court, and both branches of congress." Unable to assign a sufficient reason, it was answered that they could not endure

*

• Ilinois State Register, Jan, 17, 1881.

the disgrace of a man in the White House, elected president by the Republicans. “Well," replied Douglas, “If the South secedes and takes up arms against the government, there will then be an end of compromise. You and your institutions will perish together."

The legislature of Virginia had adopted resolutions, extending invitations to the other States of the Union, to appoint commissioners to meet at Washington, February 4th, 1861, with similar commissioners from that State, to consider and suggest plans for the adjustment of the unhappy differences between the North and South. The basis of atljustment suggested by Virginia was the “Crittenden Compromise;" or to so amend the federal constitution that property in African slaves should be effectually protected in all the territory of the United States, now held, or hereafter to be acquired south of the parallel of 36 deg. 30 min., dur. ing the continuance of territorial governments therein." The legislature of Illinois (Republican) authorized the governor to ap. point 5 commissioners, as above, to be at all times, however, subject to the control of the general assembly, but disclaimed any admission, by their response to the invitation of Virginia, that any amendment of the federal constitution was requisite to secure the people of the slaveholding States adequate guarantees for their rights, or that it was an approval of the basis of settlement pro. posed by Virginia ; and declared it simply an expression of their willingness to unite in an earnest effort to adjust the present un. happy controversies. The resolutions in that form did not meet the approval of the democrats. In the senate every democrat, but one, voted against them. The governor appointed the following gentlemen as commissioners: Ex-Governor John Wood, Ex-Governor Koerner, (who declined, and the Hon. John M. Palmer was named instead), Judge Stephen T. Logan, Hon. B. 0. Cook and Hon. Thomas J. Turner, all republicans. The conference of these commissioners, known as the “Peace Congress," was duly held at Washington, but their labors were unsatisfactory from the start, incurring the severest criticism from every direction and their recommendations resulted in nothing.

The first determined expression from leading republican sources, and supposed to reflect the views of the new administration as to the course to be pursued with the rebels, came, also, from an Illinoisan. On the 28th of March, 1861, Mr. Trumbull, in the senate of the United States, offered a resolution that " in the opinion of the senate the true way to preserve the Union (was) to enforce the laws of the Union; that resistance to their enforcement, whether under the name of anti-coerciou or any other name, was disunion; and that it was the duty of the president to use all the means in his power to hold and protect the public property of the United States, and to enforce the law's thereof, as well in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana and Texas, as withiu the other States of the Union." It was not acted on; no fixed policy was settled upon or seemed to exist at the time.

When the news of the rebels opening their batteries upon Fort Sumter was received at Washington, Douglas, the great champion of popular rights, who truly represented more than nine-tenths of the mass of the lilinois democracy, freed immediately of all partizan feel

« AnteriorContinuar »