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violent opposition came from those who had been most persistent and most clamorous in their exactions. And as it was unavoidable that, in wielding so terrible and so absolute a power in so terrible a crisis, vast multitudes of active and ambitious men should be disappointed in their expectations of position and personal gain, the renomination of Mr. Lincoln was sure to be contested by a powerful and organized effort.
At the very outset this movement acquired consistency and strength by bringing forward the Hon. S. P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, a man of great political boldness and experience, and who had prepared the way for such a step by a careful dispensation of the vast patronage of his department, as the rival candidate. But it was instinctively felt that this effort lacked the sympathy and support of the great mass of the people, and it ended in the withdrawal of his name as a candidate by Mr. Chase himself.
The National Committee of the Union Republican party had called their convention, to be held at Baltimore, on the 8th of June. This step had been taken from a conviction of the wisdom of terminating as speedily as possible all controversy concerning candidates in the ranks of Union men; and it was denounced with the greatest vehemence by those who opposed Mr. Lincoln’s nomination, and desired more time to infuse their hostility into the public mind. Failing to secure a postponement of the convention, they next sought to overawe and dictate its action by a display of power, and the following call was accordingly issued about the 1st of May, for a convention to be held at Cleveland, Ohio, on the 31st day of that month:
TO THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES.
After having labored ineffectually to defer, as far as was in our power, the critical moment when the attention of the people must inevitably be fixed upon the selection of a candidate for the chief magistracy of the country; after having interrogated our conscience and consulted our duty as citizens, obeying at once the sentiment of a mature conviction and a profound affection for the common country, we feel ourselves impelled,
on our own responsibility, to declare to the people that the time has
Two other calls were issued after this, prominent among the signers of which were some of the Germans of Missouri and some of the old Radical Abolitionists of the East.
The convention thus summoned met at the appointed time, about one hundred and fifty in number. No call had ever been put forward for the election of delegates to it, and no one could tell whether its members represented
any constituency other than themselves. They came from
liberty of the press, and, as a crowning shame, its aban
donment of the right of asylum, dear to all free nations
as I believe it would be fatal to the country to indorse a policy and renew a power which has cost us the lives of thousands of men and needlessly put the country on the road to bankruptcy, there will remain no alternative but to organize against him every element of conscientious opposition, with the view to prevent the misfortune of his re-election.” And he accepted the nomination, and announced that he had resigned his commission in the army. The convention, the nomination, and the letter of acceptance, fell dead upon the popular feeling. The time had been when Fremont's name had power, especially with the young men of the country. Many had felt that he had received less than he deserved at the hands of the Administration, and that if the opportunity had been afforded he would have rendered to the country distinguished and valuable service. But the position which he had here taken at once separated him from those who had been his truest friends, whose feelings were accurately expressed by Governor Morton, of Indiana, in a speech at Indianapolis on the 12th of June, when he said: “I car. ried the standard of General Fremont to the best of my poor ability through the canvass of 1856, and I have since endeavored to sustain him, not only as a politician, but as a military chieftain, and never until I read this letter did I have occasion to regret what I have done. It has been read with joy by his enemies and with pain by his friends, and, omitting one or two sentences, there is nothing in it that might not have been written or subscribed without inconsistency by Mr. Wallandigham.” The next form which the effort to prevent Mr. Lin. coln's nomination and election took, was an effort to bring forward General Grant as a candidate. A meeting had been called for the 4th of June, in New York, ostensibly to express the gratitude of the nation to him and the soldiers under his command, for their labors and successes. As a matter of course the meeting was large and enthusiastic. President Lincoln wrote the following letter in answer to an invitation to attend :—
Executive MANsion, WashingtoN, June 3, 1864. Hon. F. A. CoNKLING and others: GENTLEMEN:—Your letter, inviting me to be present at a mass meeting of loyal citizens, to be held at New York, on the 4th instant, for the purpose of expressing gratitude to Lieutenant-General Grant for his signal services, was received yesterday. It is impossible for me to attend. I approve, nevertheless, of whatever may tend to strengthen and sustain General Grant and the noble armies now under his direction. My previous high estimate of General Grant has been maintained and heightened by what has occurred in the remarkable campaign he is now conducting, while the magnitude and difficulty of the task before him does not prove less than I expected. He and his brave soldiers are now in the midst of their great trial, and I trust that at your meeting you will so shape your good words that they may turn to men and guns, moving to his and their support. Yours truly, A. LINcolN.
Whatever political purposes prompted the call for this meeting, they were entirely overborne by the simple but resistless appeal, made by the President in this letter, to the patriotism of the country. Its effect was to stimulate instantly and largely the effort to fill up the ranks of the army, and thus aid General Grant in the great campaign by which he hoped to end the war. In a private letter to a personal friend, however, General Grant put a decisive check upon all these attempts of politicians to make his name the occasion of division among Union men, by peremptorily refusing to allow himself to be made a candidate, and by reiterating in still more emphatic and hopeful terms the President's appeal to the people for aid and support.
None of these schemes of ambitious aspirants to political leadership had any effect upon the settled sentiment and purpose of the great body of the people. They appreciated the importance of continuing the administration of the government in the same channel, and saw clearly enough that nothing would more thoroughly impress upon the rebels and the world the determination of the people to preserve the Union at all hazards, and at whatever cost, than the indorsement by a popular vote, in spite of all mistakes and defects of policy, of the