In 1855 Abraham Lincoln went to Cincinnati to act as co-counsel for John H. Manny. The other Manny Company attorneys - Peter H. Watson, George W. Harding and Edwin M. Stanton - froze him out of their work in the McCormick-Manny patent infringement case. Mr. "Lincoln looked forward with pardonable pride to this forensic debate, and prepared his brief with studious care," wrote Lincoln scholar Daniel J. Ryan.1 Historian Francis P. Weisenburger wrote: "Stanton was far from impressed by Lincoln's personal appearance and has been credited with extremely biting comments regarding it....During the Cincinnati sojourn Lincoln stayed at the home of Judge and Mrs. William M. Dickson, the latter a cousin of Mary Todd LIncoln, and he visited many places of interest in the vicinity. Judge [John] McLean entertained at dinner for the counsel for both sides at his home at Clifton, near Cincinnati, but Lincoln apparently was not deemed important enough to merit an invitation. Lincoln was grateful for such hospitality as he had received, but Stanton's treatment of him and perhaps the matter of the McLean dinner caused him to indicate that he never expected to visit the city again."2
"You have made my stay here most agreeable, and I am a thousand times obliged to you; but in reply to your request for em to come again, I must say to you, I never expect to be in Cincinnati again," Mr. Lincoln told his hosts. "I have nothings against the city, but things have so happened here as to make it undesirable for me ever to return here."3 But Mr. Lincoln did return to Cincinnati and Ohio in September 1859 - delivering a series of campaign speeches in reply to those by Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas the previous week. In the period leading up to the 1860 Republican National Convention, Mr. Lincoln paid particular attention to Ohio, and carefully cultivated its leaders. They also cultivated him although the state had three potential Republican presidential candidates among its own ranks.
Two of those candidates were more radical on slavery than Mr. Lincoln. Abolitionist sentiment controlled the Republican Party in Ohio - leading, in Mr. Lincoln's opinion, to political errors in 1859. Historian William B. Hesseltine wrote that Mr. Lincoln thought Ohio Republicans were playing "into the hands of those who charged Republicans with opposition to the Constitution. 'And it is the very thing,' he said, 'that will greatly endanger our cause, if it is not kept out of our national Convention.'"4
Mr. Lincoln exchanged letters with Salmon P. Chase who had expressed Mr. Lincoln's sympathy on the loss to Senator Douglas in 1858. Chase wrote in April 1859: "Permit me to congratulate you on the present aspects of the Republican cause. It is one of the circumstances not detracting from the satisfaction I feel in the contemplation of them, that your gallant campaign in Illinois was not crowned with deserved success. But the People will not forget the champion who merited if circumstances did not but permit him to achieve victory."5
"Of course I would have preferred success; but failing in that, I have no regrets for having rejected all advice to the contrary, and resolutely made the struggle," replied Mr. Lincoln. "Had we thrown ourselves into the arms of Douglas, as re-electing him by our votes would have done, the Republican cause would have been annihilated in Illinois, and, as I think demoralized, and prostrated everywhere for years, if not forever. As it is, in the language of [Thomas Hart] Benton 'we are clean' and the Republican star gradually rises higher everywhere."6
Mr. Lincoln wrote Chase again in early June: "It appears by the papers that the late Republican State convention of Ohio adopted a Platform, of which the following is one plank, 'A repeal of the atrocious Fugitive Slave Law.'" As historian Daniel J. Ryan wrote: "Lincoln was bitterly opposed to the principle of the law, but he favored obedience because it was the law. When he learned of the actions of the Ohio convention he did not hesitate to express himself."7 He wrote Chase:
This is already damaging us here. I have no doubt that if that plank be even introduced into the next Republican National convention, it will explode it. Once introduced, its supporters and it's opponents will quarrel irreconcilably. The latter believe the U.S. constitution declares that a fugitive slave 'shall be delivered up'; and they look upon the above plan as dictated by the spirit which declares a fugitive slave 'shall not be delivered up'
I enter upon no argument one way or the other; but I assure you the cause of Republicanism is hopeless in Illinois, if it be in any way made responsible for that plan. I hope you can, and will, contribute something to relieve us from it.8
Ryan noted: "When the Republican state convention met in Columbus, June 2, 1859, the air was charged with excitement because Judge Joseph R. Swan, a founder of the Republican party in Ohio, as chief justice of the state, had recently delivered a memorable decision. In a suit growing out of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue Case, he had affirmed, as all substantial precedent demanded, the constitutionality of the United States fugitive slave law. Because of this stand, the convention dropped him by refusing his renomination for the judicial office. Mr. Lincoln warned Chase two weeks later about taking a radical position on fugitive slave legislation:
"You say you would be glad to have my views. Although I think congress has constitutional authority to enact a Fugitive Slave law, I have never elaborated an opinion upon the subject. My view has been, and is, simply this: The U.S. constitution says the fugitive slave 'shall be delivered up' but it does not expressly say who shall deliver him up. Whatever the constitution says 'shall be done' and has omitted saying who shall do it, the government established by that constitution, ex vi termini, is vested with the power of doing; and congress, by the constitution, expressly empowered to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution all powers vested by the constitution in the government of the United States. This would be my view, on a simple reading of the constitution; and it is greatly strengthened by the historical fact that the constitution was adopted, in great part, in order to get a government which could execute it's own behests, in contradistinction to that under the Articles of confederation, which depended, in many respects, upon the States, for its' [sic] execution; and the other fact that one of the earliest congresses, under the constitution, did enact a Fugitive Slave law.
But I did not write you on this subject, with any view of discussing the constitutional question. My only object was to impress you with what I believe is true, that the introduction of a proposition for repeal of the Fugitive Slave law, into the next Republican National convention, will explode the convention and the party. Having turned your attention to the point, I wish to do no more.9
Less guarded was Mr. Lincoln's correspondence with to former Congressman Samuel Galloway. On July 28, 1859 Mr. Lincoln wrote attorney Galloway about the errors of the Ohio Republican Party: "Your very complimentary, not to say flattering letter of the 23rd. Inst. is received. Dr. Reynolds had induced me to expect you here; and I was disappointed, not a little, by your failure to come. And yet I fear you have formed an estimate of me which can scarcely be sustained on a personal acquaintaince."
Two things done by the Ohio Republican convention - the repudiation of Judge Swan, and the 'plank' for a repeal of the Fugitive Slave law - I very much regretted. These two things are of a piece; and they are viewed by many good men, sincerely opposed to slavery, as a struggle against, and in disregard of, the constitution itself. And it is the very thing that will greatly endanger our cause, if it be not be [sic] kept out of our national convention. There is another thing our friends are doing which gives me some uneasiness. It is their leaning towards 'popular sovereignty.' There are three substantial objections to this. First, no party can command respect which sustains this year, what is opposed last. Secondly, Douglas, (who is the most dangerous enemy of liberty, because the most insidious one) would have little support in the North, and by consequence, no capital to trade on in the South, if it were not for our friends thus magnifying him and his humbug. But lastly, and chiefly, Douglas' popular sovereignty, accepted by the public mind, as a just principle, nationalizes slavery, and revives the African Slave-trade, inevitably. Taking slaves into new teritories [sic], and buying slaves in Africa, are identical things - identical rights or identical wrongs - and the argument which establishes one will establish the other. Try a thousand years for a sound reason why congress shall not hinder the people of Kansas from having slaves, and when you have found it, it will be equally good one why congress should not hinder the people of Georgia from importing slaves from Africa.
As to Gov. Chase, I have kind side for him. He was one of the few distinguished men of the nation who gave us, in Illinois, their sympathy last year. I never saw him, suppose him to be able, and right-minded; but still he may not be the most suitable as a candidate for the Presidency.
I must say I do not think myself fit for the Presidency. as you propose a correspondence with me, I shall look for your letters anxiously.10
This correspondence led up to - but probably did not influence invitations Mr. Lincoln received to visit Ohio in September to respond to speeches by Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas. Mr. Lincoln told Ohio Republican leaders he would make two speeches; he made three times as many. Lincoln scholars Harry V. Jaffa and Robert W. Johannsen wrote: "The announcement that Douglas would speak in Ohio took the state Republican organization by surprise. The challenge of Douglas' participation in the campaign could not go unanswered. On the same day on which the announcement appeared, September 1, William T. Bascom, secretary of the Republican State Central Committee, wrote to Abraham Lincoln, inviting him to make several speeches in Ohio 'to head off the little gentleman.' Almost simultaneously with Bascom's invitation, a second appeal to Lincoln was made. Peter Zinn, a member of the Central Committee, invited Lincoln to speak in Cincinnati as soon after Douglas' visit as possible."11 Jaffa and Johannsen wrote: "In contrast to Douglas, Lincoln was but little known in Ohio in 1859. His earlier contacts with the state had been strictly legal and professional; he had never made a political speech there."12
Historian Francis P. Weisenburger noted that "in a way there were new Lincoln-Douglas debates, for both men spoke in Ohio, although not on the same platform on the same occasion. Douglas having been announced for a speech at Columbus, September 7, the Republican state committee sought Lincoln's services."13 Indeed, noted Mr. Lincoln in a letter declining an invitation to Iowa, his invitations to speak in Ohio were "prompted by Douglas' going there; and I am really tempted to make a flying trip to Columbus and Cincinnati."14 Douglas had campaigned for Rufus P. Ranney's gubernatorial campaign during the summer, but not without controversy since the Democratic Party was split between factions loyal to Douglas and to President James Buchanan. Douglas ignored advice from the editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer not to talk about Republican or slavery in the territories during his speaking tour.
The editor of the Cincinnati Commercial observed: "The republicans proposed that, as the democrats had made an immense lion of Mr. Douglas, they would cause Mr. Lincoln to play the lion on a scale equally extensive. But Mr. Douglas had a great advantage. He has become the most noted politician in the country. For some years he has been the central figure of American politics. There are thousands of person who have an abiding faith that he is to be some day the president of the United States, and, animated by a lively sense of favors to come, they take every occasion to show their devotion to his person. Mr. Lincoln is not conspicuous as a presidential candidate."15
Douglas attracted big crowds when he spoke in Columbus on September 6 and in Cincinnati on September 8. He stopped in Dayton on September but was too sick to deliver a speech there. The response to Douglas in the newspapers was predictably partisan, but most of his positions had earlier expounded in a lengthy Harper's Magazine article. Historian William E. Baringer noted: "The Douglas essay commanded all the publicity the press could give. Every paper reported and discussed it, went on to praise or condemn."16
Mr. Lincoln traveled to Ohio a week after Douglas departed. When the Lincolns - including son Willie - arrived in Columbus, probably on September 15, there was no welcoming party to meet them at the train station. The Lincolns checked into the Neil House and Mr. Lincoln prepared for two speeches the following day. At 2 P.M. on September 16, Mr. Lincoln delivered a major address outside the State Capitol to a relatively small audience. Of the five speeches he made in Ohio, this is the only one for which a text survives - probably because Mr. Lincoln characteristically provided it for the Illinois State Journal, which published it in full on September 24. Mr. Lincoln began in a typically self-deprecating way:
I cannot fail to remember that I appear for the first time before an audience in this now great State - an audience that is accustomed to hear such speakers as [Tom] Corwin, and [Salmon P.] Chase, and [Benjamin F. ] Wade, and many other renowned men; and remembering this, I feel that it will be well for you, as for me, that you should not raise your expectations to that standard to which you would have been justified in raising them had one of these distinguished men appeared before you. You would perhaps be only preparing a disappointment for yourselves, and, as a consequence of your disappointment, mortification to me. I hope, therefore, you will commence with very moderate expectations; and perhaps, if you will give me your attention, I shall be able to interest you to a moderate degree.17
Mr. Lincoln said: "Looking at these things, the Republican party, as I understand its principles and policy, believe that there is great danger of the institution of slavery being spread out and extended, until is ultimately made alike lawful in all the States of this union; so believing, to prevent that incidental and ultimate consummation, is the original and chief purpose of the Republican organization. I say 'chief purpose' of the Republican organization; for it is certainly true that if the national House shall fall into the hands of the Republicans, they will have to attend to all the others matters of national house-keeping, as well as this. This chief and real purpose of the Republican party is eminently conservative. It proposes nothing save and except to restore this government to its original tone in regard to this element of slavery, and there to maintain it, looking for no further change, in reference to it, than that which the original framers of the government themselves expected and looked forward to."18
I cannot fail to remember that I appear for the first time before an audience in this now great State - an audience that is accustomed to hear such speakers as Corwin, and Chase, and Wade, and many other renowned men; and remembering this, I feel that it will be well for you, as for me, that you should not raise your expectations to that standard to which you would have been justified in raising them had one of these distinguished men appeared before you. You would perhaps be only preparing a disappointment for yourselves, and, as a consequence of your disappointment, mortification to me. I hope, therefore, you will commence with very moderate expectations; and perhaps, if you will give me your attention, I shall be able to interest you to a moderate degree.
Appearing here for the first time in my life, I have been somewhat embarrassed for a topic by way of introduction to my speech; but I have been relieved from that embarrassment by an introduction which the Ohio Statesman newspaper gave me this morning. In this paper I have read an article, in which, among other statements, I find the following:
"In debating with Senator Douglas during the memorable contest of last fall, Mr. Lincoln declared in favor of negro suffrage, and attempted to defend that vile conception against the little Giant."
I mention this now, at the opening of my remarks, for the purpose of making three comments upon it. The first I have already announced - it furnishes me an introductory topic; the second is to show that the gentleman is mistaken; thirdly, to give him an opportunity to correct it. (A voice - 'That he won't do.')
In the first place, in regard to this matter being a mistake. I have found that it is not entirely safe, when one is misrepresented under his very nose, to allow the misrepresentation to go uncontradicted. I therefore purpose, here at the outset, not only to say that this is a misrepresentation, but to show conclusively that it is so; and you will bear with me while I read a couple of extracts from that very 'memorable' debate with Judge Douglas, last year, to which this newspaper refers. In the first pitched battle which Senator Douglas and myself had, at the town of Ottawa, I used the language which I will now read. Having been previously reading an extract, I continued as follows:
Now gentlemen, I don't want to read at any greater length, but this is the true complexion of all I have ever said in regard to the institution of slavery and the black race. This is the whole of it, and anything that argues me into his idea of perfect social and political equality with the negro, is but a specious and fantastic arrangement of words, by which a man can prove a horse chestnut to be a chestnut horse. [Laughter.] I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose directly indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which in my judgement will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong, having the superior position. I have never said anything to contrary, but I hold that notwithstanding all this, there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to these as the white man. I agree with judge Douglas he is not my equal in many respects - certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment. But in the right to eat the bread, without leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every living man.
Upon a subsequent occasion, when the reason for making a statement like this recurred, I said:
While I was at the hotel to-day an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing perfect equality between the negroes and white people. White I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races - that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, or intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position, the negro should be denied everything. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave, I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never seen to my knowledge a man, woman or child, who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men. I recollect of but one distinguished instance that I ever heard of frequently as to be satisfied of its correctness - and that is the case of Judge Douglas' old friend Col Richard M. Johnson. I will also add to the remarks I have made (for I am not going to enter at large upon this subject,) that I have never had the least apprehension that I or my friends would marry negroes, if there were no law to keep them from it; but as Judge Douglas and his friends seem to be in great apprehension that they might, if there were no law to keep them from it, I give him the most solemn pledge that I will to the very last stand by the law of the State, which forbids the marrying of white people with negroes.
There, my friends, you have briefly what I have, upon former occasions, said upon the subject to which this newspaper, to the extent of its ability, [laughter] has drawn the public attention. In it you not only perceive as a probability that in that contest I did not at any time say I was in favor of negro suffrage; but the absolute proof that twice - once substantially and once expressly - I declared against it. Having shown you this, there remains but a word of comment on that newspaper article. It is this: that I presume the editor of that paper is an honest and truth-loving man, [a voice - 'that's a great mistake,'] and that he will be very greatly obliged to me for furnishing him thus early an opportunity to correct the misrepresentation he has made, before it has run so long that malicious people can call him a liar. [Laughter and applause.]
The Giant himself has been here recently. [Laughter.] I have seen a brief report of his speech. If it were otherwise unpleasant to me to introduce the subject of the negro as a topic of discussion, I might be somewhat relieved by the fact that he dealt exclusively in that subject while he was here. I shall therefore, without much hesitation or diffidence, enter upon this subject.
The American people, on the first day of January, 1854, found the African slave trade prohibited by a law of Congress. In a majority of the State of this Union, they found African slavery, or any other sort of slavery, prohibited by State constitutions. They also found a law existing, supposed to be valid, by which slavery was excluded from almost all the territory the United State then owned. This was the condition of the country, with reference to the institution of slavery, on the 1st of January, 1854. A few days after that, a bill was introduced into Congress, which ran through its regular course in the two branches of the National Legislature, and finally passed into a law in the month of May, by which the acts of Congress prohibiting slavery from going into the territories of the United States was repealed. In connection with the law itself and, in fact, in the terms of the law, the then existing prohibition was not only repealed, but there was a declaration of a purpose on the part of Congress never thereafter to exercise any power that they might have, real or supposed, to prohibit the extension or spread of slavery. This was a very great change, for the law thus repealed was of more than thirty years' standing. Following rapidly upon the heels of this action of Congress, a decision of the Supreme Court is made, by which it is declared that the Congress, if it desires to prohibit the spread of slavery into the territories, has not constitutional power to do so. Not only so, but that decision lays down principles, which, if pushed to their logical conclusion - I say pushed to their logical conclusion - would decide that the constitutions of the Free States, forbidding slavery, are themselves unconstitutional. Mark me, I do not say the judge[s?] said this, and let no man say that I affirm the judge[s?] used these words; but I only say it is my opinion that what they did say, if pressed to its logical conclusion, will inevitably result thus. [Cries of 'Good! good!']
Looking at these things, the Republican party, as I understand its principles and policy, believe that there is great danger of the institution of slavery being spread out and extended, until is ultimately made alike lawful in all the States of this union; so believing, to prevent that incidental and ultimate consummation, is the original and chief purpose of the Republican organization. I say 'chief purpose' of the Republican organization; for it is certainly true that if the national House shall fall into the hands of the Republicans, they will have to attend to all the others matters of national house-keeping, as well as this. This chief and real purpose of the Republican party is eminently conservative. It proposes nothing save and except to restore this government to its original tone in regard to this element of slavery, and there to maintain it, looking for no further change, in reference to it, than that which the original framers of the government themselves expected and looked forward to.
The chief danger to this purpose of the Republican party is not just now the revival of the African slave trade, or the passage of a Congressional slave code, or the declaring of a second Dred Scott decision, making slavery lawful in all the States. These are not pressing us just now. They are not quite ready yet. The authors of these measures know that we are too strong for them; but they will be upon us in due time, and we will be grappling with them hand to hand, if they are not now headed off. They are not now the chief danger to the purpose of the Republican organization., but the most imminent danger that now threatens that purpose is that insidious Douglas Popular Sovereignty. This is the miner and sapper. While it does not propose to revive the African slave trade, nor to pass a slave code, nor to make a second Dred Scott decision, it is preparing us for the onslaught and charge of these ultimate enemies when they shall be ready to come on and the word of command for them to advance shall be given. I say this Douglas Popular Sovereignty - for there is a broad distinction, as I now understand it, between that article and a genuine popular sovereignty.
I believe there is a genuine popular sovereignty. I think a definition of genuine popular sovereignty, in the abstract, would be about this: That each man shall do precisely as he pleases with himself, and with all those things which exclusively concern him. Applied to government, this principle would be, that a general government shall do all those things which pertain to it, and all the local governments shall do all those things which pertain to it, and all the local governments shall do precisely as they please in respect to those matters which exclusively concern them. I understand that this government of the United States, under which we live, is based upon this principle; and I am misunderstood if it is supposed that I have any war to make upon that principle.
Now, what is Judge Douglas' Popular Sovereignty? It is, as a principle, no other than that, if one man chooses to make a slave of another man, neither that other man nor anybody else has a right to object. [Cheers and laughter.] Applied in government, as he seeks to apply it, it is this: If, in a new territory into which a few people are beginning to enter for the purpose of making their homes, they choose to exclude slavery from their limits, or to establish it there, however one or the other may affect the persons to be enslaved, or the infinitely greater number of persons who are afterward to inhabit that territory, or the other members of the families of communities, of which they are but an incipient member, or the general head of the family of States as parent of all - however their action may affect one or the other of these, there is no power or right to interfere. That is Douglas' popular sovereignty applied.
He has a good deal of trouble with his popular sovereignty. His explanations explanatory of explanations are interminable. [Laughter.] The most lengthy, and, as I suppose, the most maturely considered of his long series of explanations, is his great essay in Harper's Magazine. [Laughter.] I will not attempt to enter upon any very thorough investigation of his argument, as there made and presented. I will nevertheless occupy a good portion of your time here in drawing your attention to certain points in it. Such of you as may have read this document will have perceived that the Judge, early in the document, quotes form two persons as belonging to the Republican party, without naming them, but who can readily be recognized as being Gov. [William H.] Seward in New York and myself. It is true, that exactly fifteen months ago this day, I believe, I for the first time expressed a sentiment upon this subject, and in such a manner that it should get into print, that the public might see it beyond the circle of my hearers; and my expression of it at that time is the quotation that Judge Douglas makes. He has not made the quotation with accuracy, but justice to him requires me to say that it is sufficiently accurate not to change its sense.
The sense of that quotation condensed is this - that this slavery element is a durable element of discord among us, and that we shall probably not have perfect peace in this country with it until it either masters the free principle in our government, or is so far mastered by the free principle in our government, or is so far mastered by the free principle as for the public mind to rest in the belief that it is going to its end. This sentiment, which I have now express in this way, was, at no great distance of time, perhaps in different language, and in connections with some collateral ideas, expressed by Gov. Seward. Judge Douglas has been so much annoyed by the expression of that sentiment that he has constantly, I believe, in almost all his speeches since it was uttered, been referring to it. I find he alluded to it in his speech here, as well as in the copy-right essay. [Laughter.] I do not now enter upon this for the purpose of making an elaborate argument to show that we were right in the expression of that sentiment. In other words, I shall not stop to say all that might properly be said upon this point; but I only ask your attention to it for the purpose of making one or two points upon it.
If you will read the copy-right essay, you will discover that Judge Douglas himself says a controversy between the American Colonies and the government of Great Britain began on the slavery question in 1699, and continued from that time until the Revolution; and, while he did not say so, we all know that it has continued with more or less violence ever since the Revolution.
Then we need not appeal to history, to the declaration of the framers of the government, but we know from Judge Douglas himself that slavery began to be an element of discord among the white people of this country as far back as 1699, or one hundred and sixty years ago, or five generations of men - counting thirty years to a generation. Now it would seem to me that it might have occurred to Judge Douglas, or anybody who had turned his attention to these facts, that there was something in the nature of that thing. Slavery, somewhat durable for mischief and discord. [Laughter.]
There is another point I desire to make in regard to this matter, before I leave it. From the adoption of the constitution down to 1820 is the precise period of our history when we had comparative peace upon this question - the precise period of time when we came nearer to having peace about it than any other time of that entire one hundred and sixty years, in which he says it began, or of the eighty years of our own constitution. Then it would be worth our while to stop and examine into the probable reason of our coming nearer to having peace then than at any other time. This was the precise period of time in which our fathers adopted, and during which they followed a policy restricting the spread of slavery, and while Union was acquiescing in it. The whole country looked forward to the ultimate extinction of the institution. It was when a policy had been adopted and was prevailing, which led all just and right-minded men to suppose that slavery was gradually coming to an end, and that they might be quiet about it, watching it as it expired. I think Judge Douglas might have perceived that too, and whether he did or not, it is worth the attention of fair-minded men, here and else where, to consider whether that is not the truth of the case. If he had looked at these two facts, that this matter has been an element of discord for one hundred and sixty years among this people, and that the only comparative peace we have had about it was when that policy prevailed in this government, which he now wars upon, he might then, perhaps, have been brought to a more just appreciation of what I said fifteen months ago - that 'a house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe that this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the house to fall. I do not expect the Union to dissolve; but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind will rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, until it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, north as well as south.' That was my sentiment at that time. In connection with it, I said, 'we are now, far into the fifth year since a policy was inaugurated with the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of the policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented.' I now say to you here that we are advanced still farther into the sixth year since that policy of Judge Douglas - that Popular Sovereignty of his, for quieting the Slavery question - was made the national policy. Fifteen months more have been added since I uttered that sentiment, and I call upon you, and all other right-minded to say whether that fifteen months have belied or corroborated my words. ['Good, good! that's the truth!']
While I am here upon this subject, I cannot but express gratitude that this true view of this element of discord among us - as I believe it is - is attracting more and more attention. I do not believe that Gov. Seward uttered that sentiment because I had done so before, but because he reflected upon this subject and saw the truth of it. Nor do I believe, because Gov. Seward or I uttered it, that Mr. Hickman of Pennsylvania, in different language, since that time, has declared his belief in the utter antagonism which exists between the principles of liberty and slavery. You see we are multiplying. [Applause and laughter.] Now, while I am speaking of Hickman, let me say, I know but little about him. I have never seen him, and know scarcely anything about the man; but I will say this much of him: Of all the Anti-Lecompton Democracy that have been brought to my notice, he alone has the true, genuine ring of the metal. And now, without endorsing anything else he has said, I will ask this audience to give three cheers for Hickman. [The audience responded with three rousing cheers for Hickman.]
Another point in the copy-right essay to which I would ask your attention, is rather a feature to be extracted from the whole thing, than from any express declaration of it at any point. It is a general feature of that document, and, indeed, of all of Judge Douglas' discussions of this question, that the territories of the United States and the States of this Union are exactly alike - that there is no difference between them all - all that constitution applies to the territories precisely as it does to the States - and that the United States Government, under the constitution, may not do in a State what it may not do in a territory, and what it must do in a State, it must do in a territory. Gentlemen, is that a true view of the case? It is necessary for this squatter sovereignty; but is it true?
Let us consider. What does it depend upon? It depends altogether upon the proposition that the States must, without the interference of the general government, do all those things that pertain exclusively to themselves - that are local in their nature, that have no connection with the general government. After Judge Douglas has established this proposition, which nobody disputes or ever has disputed, he proceeds to assume, without providing it, that slavery is one of those little, unimportant, trivial matters which are of just about as much consequence as the question would be to me, whether my neighbor should raise horned cattle or plant tobacco (laughter); that there is no moral question about it, but that it is altogether a matter of dollars and cents; that when a new territory is opened for settlement, the first man who goes into it may plant there a thing which, like the Canada thistle, or some other of those pests of the soil, cannot be dug out by the millions of men who will come thereafter; that it is one of those little things that is so trivial in its nature that it has no effect upon anybody save the few men who first plant upon the soil; that it is not a thing which in any way affects the family of communities composing these States, nor any way endangers the general government. Judge Douglas ignores altogether the very well known fact, that we have never had a serious menace to our political existence, except it sprang from this thing which he chooses to regard as only upon a par with onions and potatoes. [Laughter.]
Turn it, and contemplate it in another view. He says, that according to his Popular Sovereignty, the general government may give to the territories governors, judges, marshals, secretaries, and all the other chief men to govern them, but they must not touch upon this other question. Why? The question of who shall be governor of a territory for a year or two, and pass away, without his track, being left upon the soil, or an act which he did for good or for evil being left behind, is a question of vast national magnitude. It is so much opposed in its nature to locality, that the nation itself must decide it; while this other matter of planting slavery upon a soil - a thing which once planted cannot be eradicated by the succeeding millions who have as much right there as the first comers or if eradicated, not without infinite difficulty and a long struggle - he considers the power to prohibit it, as one of these little, local, trivial things that the nation ought not to say a word about; that it affects nobody save the few men who are there.
Take these two things and consider them together, present the question of planting a State with the Institution of slavery by the side of a question of who shall be Governor of Kansas for a year or two, and is there a man here, - is there a man on earth, who would not say that the Governor question is the little one, and the slavery question is the great one? I ask any honest Democrat if the small, the local, and the trivial and temporary question is not, who shall be Governor? While the durable, the important and the mischievous one is, shall this soil be planted with slavery?
This is an idea, I suppose which has arisen in Judge Douglas' mind from his peculiar structure. I suppose the institution of slavery really looks to him. He is so put up by nature that a lash upon his back would hurt him, but a lash upon anybody else's back does not hurt him. [Laughter.] That is the build of the man, and consequently he looks upon the matter of slavery in this unimportant light.
Judge Douglas ought to remember when he is endeavoring to force this policy upon the American people that while he is put up in that way a good many are not. He ought to remember that there was once a good many are not. He ought to remember that there was once in this country a man by the name of Thomas Jefferson, supposed to be a Democrat - a man whose principles and policy are not prevalent amongst Democrats to-day, it is true; but that man did not take exactly this view of the insignificance of the element of slavery which our friend Judge Douglas does. In contemplation of this thing, we all know he was led to exclaim, 'I tremble for my country when I remember that God is just!' We know how he looked upon it when he thus expressed himself. There was danger to this country - danger of the avenging justice of God in that little unimportant popular sovereignty question of Judge Douglas. He supposed there was a question of God's eternal justice wrapped up in the enslaving of any race of men, or any man, and that those who did so braved the arm of Jehovah - that when a nation thus dared the Almighty every friend of that nation had cause to dred His wrath. Choose ye between Jefferson and Douglas as to what is the true view of this element among us. [Applause.]
There is another little difficulty about this matter of treating the Territories and States alike in all things, to which I ask your attention, and I shall leave this branch of the case. If there is no difference between them, why not make the Territories States at once? What is the reason that Kansas was not fit to come into the Union when it was organized into a Territory, in Judge Douglas' view? Can any of you tell any reason why it should not have come into the Union at once? They are fit, as he thinks, to decide upon the slavery question - the largest and most important with which they could possible deal - what could they do by coming into the Union that they are not fit to do, according to his view, by staying out of it? Oh, they are not fit to sit in Congress and decide upon the rates of postage, or question of ad valem or specific duties on foreign goods, or live oak timber contracts (laughter); they are not fit to decide these vastly important matters, which are national in their import, but they are fit, 'from the jump,' to decide this little negro question. But, gentlemen, the case is too plain; I occupy too much time on this head, and I pass on.
Near the close of the copyright essay, the Judge, I think, come very near kicking his own fat into the fire (laughter). I did not think, when I commenced these remarks, that I would read from that article, but I now believe I will:
This exposition of the history of these measures, shows conclusively that the authors of the Compromise Measures of 1850 and of the Kansas-Nebraska of 1854, as well as the members of the Continental Congress of 1774, and the founders of our system of government subsequent to the Revolution, regarded the people of the Territories and Colonies as political communities which were entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their provisional [provincial?] legislatures, where their representation could alone be preserved, in all cases of taxation and internal polity.
When the Judge saw that putting in the word 'slavery' would contradict his own history, he put in what he knew would pass as synonymous with it: 'internal polity.' Whenever we find that in one of his speeches, the substitute is used in this manner; and I can tell you the reason. It would be too bald a contradiction to say slavery, but 'internal polity' is a general phrase, which would pass in some quarters, and which he hopes will pass with the reading community for the same thing.
This right pertains to the people collectively, as a law-abiding and peaceful community, and not in the isolated individuals who may wander upon the public domain in violation of the law. It can only be exercised where there are inhabitants sufficient to constitute a government, and capable of performing its various functions and duties, a fact to be ascertained and determined by-
Why do you think? Judge Douglas says 'By Congress!' [Laughter.]
Whether the number shall be fixed at ten, fifteen, or twenty thousand inhabitants does not affect the principle.
Now I have only a few comments to make. Popular Sovereignty, by his own words, does not pertain to the few persons who wander upon the public domain in violation of law. We have his words for that. When it does pertain to them, is when they are sufficient to be formed into an organized political community, and he fixes the minimum for that at 10,000, and the maximum at 20,000. Now I would like to know what is to be done with the 9,000? Are they all to be treated, until they are large enough to be organized into a political community, as wanderers upon the public land in violation of law? And if so treated and drive out at what point of time would there ever be ten thousand? (Great laughter.) If they were not driven out, but remained there as trespassers upon the public land in violation of law, can they establish slavery there? No, - the Judge says Popular Sovereignty don't pertain to them then. Can they exclude it then? No, Popular Sovereignty don't pertain to them then. I would like to know, in the case covered by the Essay, what condition the people of the Territory are in before they reach the number of ten thousand?
But the main point I wish to ask attention to is, that the question as to when they shall have reached a sufficient number to be formed into a regular organized community, is to be decided 'by Congress.' Judge Douglas says so. Well, gentlemen, that is about all we want. [Here some one in the crowd made a remark inaudible to the reporter, whereupon Mr. Lincoln continued.] No, that is all the Southerners want. That is what all those who are for slavery want. They do not want Congress to prohibit slavery from coming into the new territories, and they do not want Popular Sovereignty to hinder it; and as Congress is to say when they are ready to be organized, all that the south has to do is to get Congress to hold off. Let Congress hold off until they are ready to be admitted as a State, and the south has all it wants in taking slavery into and planting it in all the territories that w now have, or hereafter may have. In a word, the whole thing, at a dash of the pen, is at last put in the power of Congress; for if they do not have this Popular Sovereignty until Congress organizes amounts to anything at all, Congress gives it to them. I submit this rather for your reflection than for comment. After all that is said, at last by a dash of the pen, everything that has gone before is undone, and he puts the whole question under the control of Congress. After fighting through more than three hours, if you undertake to read it, he at last places the whole matter under the control of that power which he had been contending against, and arrives at a result directly contrary to what he had been laboring to do. He at last leaves the whole matter to the control of Congress.
There are two main objects, as I understand it, of this Harper's Magazine essay. One was to show, if possible, that the men of our revolutionary times were in favor of his popular sovereignty; and the order was to show that the Dred Scott Decision had not entirely squelched out this popular sovereignty. I do not propose, in regard to this argument drawn from the history of former times, to enter into a detailed examination of the historical statements he has made. I have the impression that they are inaccurate in a great many instances. Sometimes in positive statement but very much more inaccurate by the suppression of statements that really belong to this history. But I do not propose to affirm that this is so to any very great extent; or to enter into a very minute examination of historical statements. Avoid doing so upon this principle - that if it were important for to pass out of this lot in the least period of time possible and I came to that fence and saw by a calculation of my known [own?] strength and agility that I could clear it at a bound, it would be folly for me to stop and consider whether I could or [could?] not crawl through a crack. [Laughter.] So I say of the whole history, contained in his essay, where he endeavored to link the men of the revolution to popular sovereignty. It only requires an effort to leap out of it - a single bound to be entirely successful. If you read it over you will find that he quotes here and there from documents of the revolutionary times, tending to show that the people of the colonies were desirous of regulating their own concerns in their own way, that the British Government should not interfere; that at one time they struggled with the British Government to be permitted to exclude the African slave trade; if not direct, to be permitted to exclude it indirectly by taxation insufficient to discourage and destroy it. From these and many things of this sort, Judge Douglas argues that they pleased from the time they settled upon the territory. Now, however his history may apply, and whatever of his argument there may be that is sound and accurate or unsound and inaccurate, if we can find out what these men did themselves do upon this very question of slavery in the territories, does it not end the whole thing? If, after all this labor and effort to show that the men of the revolution were in favor of his popular sovereignty and his mode of dealing with slavery in the territories, we can show that these very men took hold of that subject, and dealt with it, we can see for ourselves how they dealt with it. It is not a matter of argument or inference, but we know what they thought about it.
It is precisely upon that part of the history of the country, that one important omission is made by Judge Douglas. He selects parts of the history of the United States upon the subject of slavery, and treats it as the whole; omitted from his historical sketch the legislation of Congress in regard to the admission of Missouri, by which the Missouri Compromise was established, and slavery excluded from a country half as large as the present United States. All this is left out of history, and in no wise alluded in to by him, so far as I remember, save once, when he makes a remark, that upon his principle the Supreme Court were authorized to pronounce a decision that the act called the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional. All that history has been left out. But this part of history of the country was not made by the men of the Revolution.
There was another part of our political history made by the very men who were the actors in the Revolution, which has taken the name of the ordinance of '87. Let me bring that history to your attention. In 1784, I believe, this same Mr. Jefferson drew up an ordinance for the government of the country upon which we now stand; or rather a frame or draft of an ordinance for the government of this country, here in Ohio; our neighbors in Indiana; us who live in Illinois; our neighbors in Wisconsin and Michigan. In that ordinance, drawn up not only for the government of that territory, but for the territories south of the Ohio River, Mr. Jefferson expressly provided for the prohibition of slavery. Judge Douglas says, and perhaps is right, that that provision was lost from that ordinance. I believe that is true. When the vote was taken upon it, a majority of all present in the Congress of the Confederation voted for it; but there was [were?] so many absentees that those voting for it did not make the clear majority necessary, and it was lost. But three years after that the Congress of the Confederation were together again, and they adopted a new ordinance for the territory south of the river, for the States owning that territory had hitherto refrained from giving it to the general Government; hence they made the ordinance to apply only to what the Government owned. In that the provision excluding slavery was inserted and passed unanimously, or at any rate it passed and became a part in Ohio you were a territory, then an enabling act was passed authorizing you to form a constitution and State government, provided it was republican and not in conflict with the ordinance of '87. When you framed your constitution and presented it for admission, I think you will find the legislation upon the subject, it will show that, 'whereas you had formed a constitution that was republican and not in conflict with the ordinance of '87,' there you were admitted upon equal footing with the original States. The same process in a few years was gone through in Indiana, and so with Illinois, and the same substantially with Michigan and Wisconsin.
Not only did that ordinance prevail, but it was constantly looked to whenever a step was taken by a new Territory to become a State. Congress always turned their attention to it, and in all their movements upon this subject, they traced their course by that ordinance of '87. When they admitted new States they advertised them of this ordinance as a part of the legislation of the country. They did so because they had traced the ordinance of '87 throughout the history of this country. Begin with the men of the Revolution, and go down for sixty entire years, and until the last scrap of that territory comes into the Union in the form of the State of Wisconsin - everything was made to conform with the ordinance of '87 excluding slavery from that vast extent of country.
I omitted to mention in the right place that the Constitution of the United States was in process of being framed when that ordinance was made by the Congress of the Confederation; and one of the first acts of Congress itself under the new Constitution itself was to give force to that ordinance by putting power to carry it out into the hands of the new officers under the Constitution, in place of the old ones who had been legislated out of existence by the change in the government from the Confederation to the Constitution. Not only so, but I believe Indiana once or twice, if not Ohio, petitioned the general government for the privilege of suspending that provision and allowing them to have slaves. A report made by Mr. Randolph of Virginia, himself a slaveholder, was directly against it, and the action was to refuse them the privilege of violating the ordinance of '87.
This period of history which I have run over briefly is, I presume, as familiar to most of this assembly as any other part of the history of our country. I suppose that few of my hearers are not as familiar with that part of history as I am, and I only mention it to recall your attention to it at this time. And hence I ask how extraordinary a thing it is that a man who has occupied a position upon the floor of the Senate of the United States, who is now in his third term, and who looks to see the government of this whole country fall into his own hands, pretending to give a truthful and accurate history of the slavery question in this country, should so entirely ignore the whole of that portion of our history - the most important of all. Is it not a most extraordinary spectacle that a man should stand up and ask for any confidence in his statements, who sets out as he does with portions of history calling upon the people to believe that it is true and fair representation, when the leading part, and controlling feature of the whole history, is carefully suppressed.
But the mere leaving out is not the most remarkable feature of this most remarkable essay. His proposition is to establish that the leading men of the revolution were for his great principle of non-intervention by the government in the question of slavery in the territories; while history shows that they decided in the cases actually brought before them, in exactly the contrary way, and he knows it. Not only did they so decide at that time, but they stuck to it during sixty years, through thick and thin, as long as there was one of the revolutionary heroes upon the stage of political action. Through their whole course, from first to last, they clung to freedom. And now he asks the community to believe that the men of the revolution were in favor of his great principle, when we have the naked history that they themselves dealt with this principle, acting upon a precisely contrary ground. It is as impudent and absurd as if a prosecuting attorney should stand up before a jury, and ask them to convict A as the murderer of B, while B was walking alive before them. [Cheers and laughter.]
I say again, if Judge Douglas asserts that the men of the Revolution acted upon principles by which, to be consistent with themselves, they ought to have adopted his popular sovereignty, then, upon a consideration of his own argument, he had a right to make you believe that they understood the principles of government, but misapplied them - that he has arisen to enlighten the world as to the just application of this principle. He has a right to try to persuade you that he understands their principles better than they ought to have done. He has a right to go before the community, and try to convince them of this; but he has no right to attempt to impose upon any one the belief that these men themselves approved of his great principle. There are two ways of establishing the other is, to show that great men in former times have thought so and so, and thus to pass it by the weight of pure authority. Now, if Judge Douglas will demonstrate somehow that this is popular sovereignty - the right of one man to make a slave of another, without any right in that other, or any one else, to object - demonstrate it as Euclid demonstrated propositions - there is no objection. But when he comes forward, seeking to carry a principle by bringing to it the authority of men who themselves utterly repudiate that principle, I ask that he shall not be permitted to do it. [Applause.]
I see, in the Judge's speech here, a short sentence in these words, 'Our fathers, when they formed this government under which we live, understood this question just as well and even better than we do now.' That is true; I stick to that. [Great cheers and laughter.] I will stand by Judge Douglas in that to the bitter end. (Renewed laughter.) And now, Judge Douglas, come and stand by me, and truthfully show how they acted, understanding it better than we do. All I ask of you, Judge Douglas, is to stick to the proposition that the men of the revolution understood this proposition, that the men of the revolution understood this subject better than we now, and with that better understanding they acted better than you are trying to act now. [Applause and laughter.]
I wish to say something now in regard to Dred Scott decision, as dealt with by Judge Douglas. In that 'memorable debate,' between Judge Douglas and myself last year, the Judge thought fit to commence a process of cateschising me, and at Freeport I answered his questions, and propounded some to him. Among others propounded to him was one that I have here now. The substance, as I remember it, is, 'Can the people of a United States territory, under the Dred Scott decision, in any lawful way, against the wish of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from its limits, prior to the formation of a State Constitution?' He answered that they could lawfully exclude slavery from the United States territories, not withstanding the Dred Scott decision. There was something about that answer that has probably been a trouble to the Judge ever since. [Laughter.]
The Dred Scott decision expressly gives every citizen of the United States a right to carry his slaves into the United States' Territories. And now there was some inconsistency in saying that the decision was right, and saying too, that the people of the Territory could lawfully drive slavery out again. When all the trash, the words, the collateral matter was cleared away from it; all the chaff was fanned out of it, it was a bare absurdity - no less than a thing may be lawfully driven away from where it has a lawful right to be. [Cheers and laughter.] Clear it of all the verbiage, and that is the naked truth of his proposition - that a thing may be lawfully driven from the place where it has a lawful right to stay. Well, it was because the Judge couldn't help seeing this, that he has had so much trouble with it; and what I want to ask your especial attention to, just now, is to remind you, if you have not noticed that fact, that the Judge does not any longer say that the people cannot [can?] exclude slavery. He does not say so in the copyright essay; he did not say so in the speech that he made here, and so far as I know, since his re-election to the Senate, he has never said as he did at Freeport, that the people of the Territories can exclude slavery. He desires that you, who wish the Territories should believe that he stands by that position, but he does not say it himself. He escapes to some extent the absurd position. I have stated by changing in language, and well will consider whether it is not different in sense too. It is now that the Dred Scott decision, or rather the Constitution under that decision, does not carry slavery into the Territories beyond the power of the people of the Territories to control it as other property. He does not say the people can drive it out, but they can control it as other property. The language is different, we should consider whether the sense is different. Driving a horse out of this lot, is too plain a proposition to be mistaken about; it is putting him on the other side of the fence. [Laughter.] Or it might be a sort of exclusion of him form the lot if you were to kill him and let the worms devour him; but neither of these things is the same as 'controlling him as other property.' That would be to feed him, to pamper him, to ride him, to use and abuse him, to make the most money out of him 'as other property'; but, please you, what do the men who are in favor of slavery want more than this? [Laughter and applause.] What do they really want, other than that slavery being in the Territories, shall be controlled as other property. [Renewed applause.]
If they want anything else, I do not comprehend it. I ask your attention to this, first for the purpose of pointing out the change of ground the Judge has made; and, in the second place, the importance of the change - that that change is not such as , , to give you gentlemen who want his popular sovereignty the power to exclude the institution or drive it out at all. I know the Judge sometimes squints at the argument that in controlling it as other property by unfriendly legislation they may control it to death, as you might in the case of a horse, perhaps, feed him so lightly and ride him so much that he would die. [Cheers and laughter.] But when you come to legislative control, there is something more to be intended to. I have no doubt, myself, that if the people of the territories should undertake to control slave property as other property - that is, control it in such a way that it would be the most valuable as property, and make it bear its just proportion in the way of burdens as property - really deal with it as property - the Supreme Court of the United States will say, 'God speed you and amen.' But I undertake to give the opinion, at last, that if the territories attempt by any direct legislation to drive the man with his slave out of the territory, or to decide that his slave is free because of his being taken in there, or to tax him to such an extent that he cannot keep him there, the Supreme Court will unhesitatingly decide all such legislation unconstitutional, as long as that Supreme Court is constructed as the Dred Scott Supreme Court is. The first two things they have already decided, except that there is a little quibble among lawyers between the words dicta and decision. They have already decided a negro cannot be made free by territorial legislation.
What is that Dred Scott decision? Judge Douglas labors to show that it is one thing, while I think it is altogether different. It is a long opinion, but it is all embodied in this short statement: 'The Constitution of the United States forbids Congress to deprive a man of his property, without due process of law; the right of property in slaves is distinctly and expressly affirmed in that Constitution; therefore, if Congress shall undertake to say that a man's slave is no longer his slave, when he crosses a certain line into a territory, that is depriving him of his property without due process of law, and is unconstitutional.' There is the whole Dred Scott decision. They add that if Congress cannot do so itself, Congress cannot confer any power to do so, and hence any effort by the Territorial Legislature to do either of these things is absolutely decided against. It is a foregone conclusion by that court.
Now, as to this indirect mode by 'unfriendly legislation,' all lawyers here will readily understand that such a proposition cannot be tolerated for a moment, because a legislature cannot indirectly do that which it cannot accomplish directly. Then I say any legislation to control this property, as property, for its benefit as property, would be hailed by this Dred Scott Supreme Court, and fully sustained; but any legislation driving slave property out, or destroying it as properly, directly or indirectly, will most assuredly, by that court, be held unconstitutional.
Judge Douglas says if the Constitution carries slavery into the territories, beyond the power of the people of the territories to control it as other property, then it follows logically that every one who swears to support the Constitution of the United, must give that support to that property which it needs. And if the Constitution carries slavery into the territories, beyond the power of the people to control it as other property, then it also carries it into the States, because the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Now, gentlemen, if it were not for my excessive modesty, I would say that I told that very thing to Judge Douglas quite a year ago. This argument is here in print, and if it were not for my modesty, as I said, I might call your attention to it. If you read it, you find that I not only made that argument, but made it better than he has made it since. [Laughter.]
There is, however, this difference. I say now, and said then, there is no sort of question that the Supreme Court has decided that is the right of the slaveholder to take his slave and hold him in the territory; and saying this, Judge Douglas himself admits the conclusion. He says if that is so, this consequence will follow; and because this consequence would follow, his argument is, the decision cannot, therefore, by that way - 'that would spoil my popular sovereignty, and it cannot be possible that this great principle has been squelched out in the [this?] extraordinary way. It might be, if it were not for the extraordinary consequence of spoiling my humbug.' [Cheers and laughter.]
Another feature of the Judge's argument about the Dred Scott case is, an effort to show that that decision deals altogether in declaration of negatives; that the constitution does not affirm anything as expounded by the Dred Scott decision, but it only declarers a want of power - a total absence of power, in reference to the territories. It seems to be his purpose to make the whole of that decision to result in a mere negative declaration of a want of power in Congress to do anything in relation to this matter in the territories. I know the opinion of the Judges states that there is a total absence of power; but that is, unfortunately, not all it states; for the Judges affirmed in the constitution. It does not stop at saying that the right of property in a slave is recognized in the constitution, is declared to exist somewhere in the constitution, but says it is affirmed in the constitution. Its language [is?] equivalent to saying that it is embodied and so woven into that instrument that it cannot be detached without breaking the constitution itself. In a word, it is part of the constitution.
Douglas is singularly unfortunate in his effort to make out that decision to be altogether negative, when the express language at the vital part is that this is distinctly affirmed in the Constitution. I think myself, and I repeat it here, that this decision does not merely carry slavery into the Territories, but by its logical conclusion it carries it into the States in which we live. One provision of that Constitution is, that it shall be the supreme law of the land - I do not quote the language - any Constitution or law of any State to the contrary notwithstanding. This Dred Scott decision says that the right of property in a slave is affirmed in that Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, any State Constitution or law notwithstanding. Then I say that to destroy a thing which is distinctly affirmed and supported by the supreme law of the land, even by a State Constitution or law, is a violation of that supreme law and there is no escape from it. In my judgement there is no avoiding that result, save that the American people shall see that Constitutions are better construed than our Constitution is construed in that decision. They must take care that it is more faithfully and truly carried out than it is there expounded.
I must hasten to a conclusion. Near the beginning of my remarks, I said that this insidious Douglas popular sovereignty is the measure that now threatens the purpose of the Republican party, to prevent slavery from being nationalized in the United States. I propose to ask your attention for a little while to some propositions in affirmance of that that statement. Take it just as it stands, and apply it as a principle; extend and apply that principle elsewhere and consider where it will lead you. I now put this proposition that Judge Douglas' popular sovereignty applied will re-open the African slave trade; and I will demonstrate it by any variety of ways in which you can turn the subject or look at it.
The Judge says that the people of the territories have the right by his principle, to have slaves, if they want them. Then I say that the people of Georgia have the right to buy slaves in Africa, if they want them, and I defy any man on earth to show any distinction between the two things - to show that one is either more wicked or more unlawful; to show, on original principles, that one is better or worse than the other; or to show by the constitution, that one differs a whit from the other. He will tell me, doubtless, that there is no constitutional provision against people taking slaves into the new territories, and I tell him that there is equally no constitutional provision against buying slaves in Africa. He will tell you that a people, in the exercise of popular sovereignty, ought to do as they please about that thing, and have slaves if they want them; and I tell you that the people of Georgia are as much entitled to popular sovereignty and to buy slaves in Africa, if they want them, as the people of the territory are to have slaves if they want them. I ask any man, dealing honestly with himself, to point out a distinction.
I have recently seen a letter of Judge Douglas', in which without stating that to be the object, he doubtless endeavors, to make a distinction between the two. He says he is unalterably opposed to the repeal of the laws against the African Slave trade. And why? He then seeks to give a reason that would not apply to his popular sovereignty in the territories. What is that reason? 'The abolition of the African slave trade is a compromise of the constitution.' I deny it. There is no truth in the proposition that the abolition of the African slave trade is a compromise of the constitution. No man can put his finger on anything in the constitution, or on the line of history which shows it. It is a mere barren assertion, made simply for the purpose of getting up a distinction between the revival of the African slave trade and his 'great principle.'
At the time the constitution of the Untied States was adopted it was expected that the slave trade would be abolished. I should assert, and insist upon that, if Judge Douglas denied it. But I know that it was equally expected that slavery would be excluded from the territories and I can show by history, that in regard to these two things, public opinion was exactly alike, while in regard to positive action, there was more done in the Ordinance of '87, to resist the spread of slavery than was ever done to abolish the foreign slave trade. Lest I be misunderstood, I say again that at the time of the formation of the constitution, public expectation was that the slave trade would be abolished, but no more so than the spread of slavery in the territories should be restrained. They stand alike, except that in the Ordinance of '87 there was a mark left by public opinion showing that it was more committed against the spread of slavery in the territories than against the foreign slave trade.
Compromise! What word of compromise was there about it. Why the public sense was then in favor of the abolition of the slave trade; but there was at the time a very great commercial interest involved in it and extensive capital in that branch of trade. There were doubtless the incipient stages of improvement in the South in the way of farming, dependent on the slave trade, and they made a proposition to the Congress to abolish the trade after allowing it twenty years, a sufficient time for the capital and commerce engaged in it to be transferred to other channels. They made no provision that it should be abolished [in?] twenty years; I do not doubt that they expected it would be; but they made no bargain about it. The public sentiment left no doubt in the minds of any that it would be done away. I repeat there is nothing in the history of those time, in favor of that matter being a compromise of the Constitution. It was the public expectation at the time, manifested in a thousand ways, that the spread of slavery should also be restricted.
Then I say if this principle is established, that there is no wrong in slavery, and whoever wants it has a right to have it, is a matter of dollars and cents, a sort of question as to how they shall deal with brutes, that between us and the negro here there is no sort of question, but that at the South the question is between the negro and the crocodile. That is all. It is a mere matter of policy; there is a perfect right according to interest to do just as you please - when this is done, where this doctrine prevails, the miners and sappers will have formed public opinion for the slave trade. They will be ready for Jeff. Davis and Stephens and other leaders of that company, to sound the bugle for the revival of the slave trade, for the second Dred Scott decision, for the flood of slavery to be poured over the free States, while we shall be here tied down and helpless and run over like sheep.
It is to be a part and parcel of this same idea, to say to men who want to adhere to the Democratic party, who have always belonged to that party, and are only looking about for some excuse to stick to it, but nevertheless hate slavery, that Douglas' Popular Sovereignty is as good a way as any to oppose slavery. They allow themselves to be persuaded easily in accordance with their previous dispositions, into this belief, that it is about as good a way of opposing slavery as any, and we can do that without straining our old party ties or breaking up old political associations. We can do so without being called negro worshippers. We can do that without being subjected to the jibes and sneers that are so readily thrown out in place of argument where no argument can be found; so let us stick to this Popular Sovereignty - this insidious Popular Sovereignty. Now let me call your attention to one thing that has really happened, which shows this gradual and steady debauching of public opinion, this course of preparation for the revival of the slave trade, for the territorial slave code, and the new Dred Scott decision that is to carry slavery into the free States. Did you ever five years ago, hear of anybody in the world saying that the negro had no share in the Declaration of National Independence; that it did not mean negroes at all; and when 'all men' were spoken of negroes were not included?
I am satisfied that five years ago that proposition was not put upon paper by any living being anywhere. I have been unable at any time to find a man in an audience who would declare that he had ever known any body saying so five years ago. But last year there was not a Douglas popular sovereign in Illinois who did not say it. Is there one in Ohio but declares his firm belief that the Declaration of Independence did not mean negroes at all? I do not know how this is; I have not been here much; but I presume you are very much alike everywhere. Then I suppose that all now express the belief that the Declaration of Independence never did mean negroes. I call upon one of them to say that he said it five years ago.
If you think that now, and did not think it then, the next thing that strikes me is to remark that there has been a change wrought in you (laughter and applause), and a very significant change it is, being no less than changing the negro, in your estimation, from the rank of a man to that of a brute. They are taking him down, and placing him, when spoken of, among reptiles and crocodiles, as Judge Douglas himself expresses it.
Is not this change wrought in your minds a very important change? Public opinion in this country is everything. In a nation likes ours this popular sovereignty and squatter sovereignty have already wrought a change in the public mind to the extent I have stated. There is no man in this crowd who can contradict it.
Now, if you are opposed to slavery honestly, as much as anybody I ask you to note that fact, and the like of which is to follow, to be plastered on, layer after layer, until very soon you are prepared to deal with the negro everywhere as with the brute. If public sentiment has not been debauched already to this point, a new turn of the screw in that direction ins all that is wanting; and this is constantly being done by the teachers of this insidious popular sovereignty. You need but one or two turns further until your minds, now ripening under these teachings will be ready for all these things, and you will receive and support, or submit to, the slave trade; revived with all its horrors; a slave code enforced in our territories; and a new Dred Scott decision to bring slavery upon into the very heart of the free North. This, I must say, is buy carrying out those words prophetically spoken by Mr. Clay, many, many years ago. I believe more than thirty years when he told an audience that if they would repress all tendencies to liberty and ultimate emancipation, they must go back to the era of our independence and muzzle the cannon which thundered its annual joyous return on the Fourth of July; they must blow out the moral lights around us; they must penetrate the human soul and eradicate the love of liberty; but until they did these things, and others eloquently enumerated by him, they could not repress all tendencies to ultimate emancipation.
I ask attention to the fact that in a pre-eminent degree these popular sovereigns are at this work; blowing out the moral lights around us; teaching that the negro is no longer a man but a brute; that the Declaration has nothing to do with him; that he ranks with the crocodile and the reptile; that man, with body and soul, is a matter of dollars and cents. I suggest to this portion of the Ohio Republicans, or Democrats if there be any present, the serious consideration of this fact, that there is now going on among you a steady process of debauching public opinion on this subject. With this my friends, I bid you adieu.19
Historian William E. Baringer wrote: "His closing appeal in this staggering speech was a subtle stroke of practical politics. Following and re-emphasizing his previous argument, which showed the inefficacy of Douglasism as a preventive of slavery's spread, LIncoln in a superbly persuasive attack called upon Democrats who honestly opposed slavery to see the delusion of the Douglas teaching that 'popular sovereignty is as good a way as any to oppose slavery,' to desert Douglas and give their support to the only real instrument of opposition to slavery, the Republican Party."20
A young Ohio woman recalled many decades later: "There were seated on the east terrace about a score of women, when there came from the Capitol behind the group, a tall, sad-eyed, earnest, grave man. Taking up the assumptions of his rival, he showed the fallacy of the local option of dealing with the extension of slavery into the territories. He indulged in no jokes, no witticisms. The crisis was too real and too awfully pregnant with fate. The impression left on the mind by the address was the vast import of events which no trifling or jugglery or vainglorious and boastful pro-slavery or anti-slavery men could delude the Nation into excusing, viz.; the invasion of free territory by armed men and the bloody encounters which followed."21
Ohio journalist David R. Locke recalled: "I met Lincoln again in 1859, in Columbus, Ohio, where he made a speech, which was only a continuation of the Illinois debates of the year before. Douglas had been previously brought there by the Democracy, and Lincoln's speech was, in the main, an answer to Douglas. It is curious to note in this speech that Lincoln denied being in favor of negro suffrage, and took pains to go out of his way to affirm his support of the law of Illinois forbidding the intermarriage of whites and negroes.
I asked him if such a denial was worth while, to which he replied:
'The law means nothing. I shall never marry a negress, but I have no objection to any one else doing so. If a white man wants to marry a woman, let him do it - if the negro woman can stand it.'
By this time his vision had penetrated the future, and he had got a glimmering of what was to come. In his soul he knew what he should have advocated, but he doubted if the people were ready for the great movement of a few years later. Hence his halting at all the half-way houses.
'Slavery,' said he, 'is doomed, and that within a few years. Even Judge Douglas admits it to be an evil, and an evil can't stand discussion. In discussing it we have taught a great many thousands of people to hate it who had never given it a thought before. What kills the skunk is the publicity it gives itself. What a skunk wants to do is to keep snug under the barn -- in the day-time, when men are around with shot-guns.'
The discussions with Douglas made him the Republican nominee for the Presidency, and elected him President. 22
Afterwards, the Lincoln family went to the Franklin County Fair. That night, Mr. Lincoln delivered a second, shorter speech to the Young Men's Republican at City Hall. Historians Jaffa and Johannsen wrote: "A clue to Lincoln's rather cool reception in Columbus lies in Lincoln's conservative position on the issues of the state election, his criticism of the actions of the Republican state convention, and his relations with the radical state leader, Governor Salmon P. Chase. Chase was already being groomed as Ohio's favorite son candidate for the Republican nomination in 1860, and he may have considered Lincoln's presence in Ohio as a threat to that candidacy. Although Chase had been in the area several days before Lincoln's arrival, he was in northern Ohio at the time Lincoln spoke, thus avoiding what might have been an embarrassing situation." 23
On Saturday, September 17, Mr. Lincoln's schedule was even more hectic. He left Columbus by train for Dayton. Mr. Lincoln attracted a large crowd for his speech in front of Dayton's Greek Revival court house. Robert S. Harper wrote: "Dayton Republicans met him at the station and escorted him to the courthouse where he gave a speech, holding his listeners for nearly two hours 'with utmost attention.'"24 The Dayton Daily Empire, the Democratic newspaper, downplayed Mr. Lincoln's impact:
...instead of tens of thousands of persons being assembled in our city, and the streets being deluged with people...a meagre crowd, numbering scarcely two hundred, was all that could be drummed up, and they were half Democrats, who attended from curiosity.
Mr. Lincoln is a very seductive reasoner, and his address, although a network of fallacies and false assumptions throughout, was calculated to deceive any man, who would not pay very close attention to the subject and keep continually on the guard.25
According to the Weekly Dayton Journal, Mr. Lincoln reiterated themes from his earlier Columbus speech. "Mr. Lincoln directed the greater part of his speech to demonstrate the falsity of the assumption continued in the question in Senator Douglas' Harper's Magazine essay, by which he seeks to make the framers of this government consider slavery a desirable feature in the material out of which the Union was formed."
Mr. Lincoln met this assumption by a condensed statement of the facts in the history of the government, going to show that the framers of the government found slavery existing when the constitution was formed, and got along with it as well as they could in accomplishing the Union of the States, contemplating and expecting the advent of the period when slavery in the United States should no longer exist.
He referred to the limitation of the time for the continuance of the slave trade, by which the supply of slaves should be cut off - to the fact that the word slave does not occur in the constitution, for the reason given at the period of its formation, that when the constitution was formed, and got along with it as well as they could in accomplishing the Union of the States, contemplating and expecting the advent of the period when slavery in the United States should no longer exist.
Mr. Lincoln referred to the assertion of Mr. Douglas that the ordinance of 1787 had never made a free State, and that Ohio had been made free solely by the action of its own people. Mr. Lincoln spoke of the difficulty of getting rid of slavery wherever it gained a foothold. He spoke of the trouble which encompassed the formation of a free constitution in a territory where there were slaves held as property, and attributed the untrammeled action of the Convention which framed the constitution of Ohio in 1802 to the fact, that the Ordinance of 1787 had prohibited the ingress of slaves, and so had relieved the question of a free constitution of all embarrassment.
In connection with the action of the people of Ohio, Mr. Lincoln referred to what is said of the influence of climate and soil in inviting slave labor to agricultural pursuits. He contended that the soil and climate of Ohio were just as favorable to the employment of slave labor as were the soil and climate of Kentucky. And yet without the Ordinance of 1787 Kentucky was made a slave State, and with the Ordinance Ohio was made a free State.
Mr. Lincoln closed with an eloquent defense of the rights of free labor. The free white men had a right to claim that the new territories into which they and their children might go to seek a livelihood should be preserved free and clear of the incumbrance of slavery, and that no laboring white man should be placed in a position where, by the introduction of slavery into the territories, he would be compelled to toil by the side of a slave.26
The Dayton Journal was predictably favorable when it reported Mr. Lincoln was "remarkable for vigor of intellect, clearness of perception, and power of argumentation, and for fairness and honesty in the presentation of the facts." Lincoln scholar Harper wrote: "The accounts of the reception accorded Lincoln are so at variance it is impossible to ascertain just what took place that September afternoon. The Ohio State Journal's version was exactly opposite to the Statesman's. The Journal gave Lincoln half a column of laudatory comment, followed by text of his speech. The reporter wrote:
Mr. Lincoln was enthusiastically received, and held the attention of the audience for two hours, his clear and irresistible points eliciting frequent marks of approbation....The two Illinois champions are in themselves fair illustrations of the features of Democracy and Republicanism; Lincoln candid, logical and clear-headed, planting himself on principles that no one can controvert and winning the entire confidence of the audience; Douglas aiming at nothing higher than a political dodge."28
Harper wrote: "After Lincoln had gone on to Cincinnati, Dayton Republicans held a rally that night. Robert C. Schenck, a former Congressman and a former minister in Brazil, was the main speaker. He declared Lincoln was the 'proper man' for the Republican presidential nomination."29 Apparently, Mr. Lincoln must have thought it proper to get his photo taken while in Dayton and while the photo was being taken, a young artist was invited in to make a sketch, later turned into a small painting. Mr. Lincoln advised the painter to "Keep on, you may make a good one, but never a pretty one."30
Meanwhile, Mr. Lincoln made another, much briefer address to a crowd at the Hamilton train station before continuing on to his final Ohio stop in Cincinnati where he was enthusiastically received. That night, Mr. Lincoln spoke at Market House Square. One early Lincoln biographer, Ohio journalist Joseph H. Barrett, wrote: "Mr. Lincoln addressed an immense audience on the same general political topics, and in his ablest manner. He did not repeat or merely play variations upon his Columbus speech, but adopted new modes of illustrating and enforcing his views. He was listened to with an interest rarely excited by any orator who ever spoke in this city, even in the most exciting campaign. No extracts can give a true idea of its ability and power as a whole."31
"Lincoln's speech in Cincinnati provided a keynote of sorts in his attempt to generate broad northern support for the Republican Party and his own candidacy. Before the Civil War, Cincinnati was the largest city west of the Appalachians, the 'Queen City of the West,' and in fact the largest city in which Lincoln had ever spoken," wrote historian Kenneth J. Winkle. "Significantly, Lincoln took this opportunity not so much to address Ohioans - he had already done that in Columbus and Dayton - but rather to confront the South...His visit to this border city provided an opportunity to reach a southern audience for the first time."32
The Cincinnati Enquirer, which was unfriendly to Republicans, reported: "At quarter after eight o'clock he was driven...in a carriage, accompanied by a number of persons on horseback (many others following on the sidewalks,) arrangements having been made for him to speak from the portico of E. & D Kinsey's store and dwelling. Quite a crowd was assembled on the square, where bonfires were blazing, rockets whizzing, cannon firing and every effort making to give a show of enthusiasm to the scene."33 Mr. Lincoln spoke from a balcony and addressed both the citizens of Ohio and those of nearby Kentucky: At the end of his speech, Mr. Lincoln delivered a lecture on the economics of slavery and free labor.
Take the State of Ohio. Out of eight bushels of wheat, seven are raised by those men who labor for themselves, aided by their boys growing to manhood, neither being hired nor hiring, but literally laboring upon their own hook, asking no favor of capital, of hired laborer, or of the slave. That is the true condition of the larger portion of all the labor done in this community, or that should be the condition of labor in well-regulated communities of agriculturists. Thus much for that part of the subject.
Again: the assumption that the slave is in a better condition than the hired laborer, includes the further assumption that he who is once a hired laborer always remains a hired laborer; that there is a certain class of men who remain through life in a dependent condition. Then they endeavor to point out that when they get old they have no kind masters to take care of them, and that they fall dead in the traces, with the harness of actual labor upon their feeble backs. In point of fact that is a false assumption. There is no such thing as a man who is a hired laborer, of a necessity, always remaining in his early condition. The general rule is otherwise. I know it is so, and I will tell you why. When at an early age, I was myself a hired laborer, at twelve dollars per month; and therefore I do know that there is not always the necessity for actual labor because once there was propriety in being so. My understanding of the hired laborer is this: A young man finds himself of an age to be dismissed from parental control; he has for his capital nothing save two strong hands that God has given him, a heart willing to labor, and a freedom to choose the mode of his work and the manner of his employer; he has got no soil nor shop, and he avails himself of the opportunity of hiring himself to some man who has capital to pay him a fair day's wages for a fair day's work. He is benefited by availing himself of that privilege. He works industriously, he behaves soberly, and the result of a year or two's labor is a surplus capital. Now he buys land on his own book; he settles, marries, begets sons and daughters, and in course of time he too has enough capital to hire some new beginner.
In this same way every member of the whole community benefits and improves and his condition. That is the true condition of labor in the world, and it breaks up the saying of these men that there is a class of men chained down throughout life to labor for another. There is no such case unless he be of that confiding and leaning disposition that makes it preferable for him to choose that course, or unless he be a vicious man, who, by reason of his vice, is, in some way prevented from improving his condition, or else he be a singularly unfortunate man. There is no such thing as a man being bound down in a free country through his life as a laborer. This progress by which the poor, honest, industrious, and resolute man raises himself, that he may work on his own account, and hire somebody else, is that progress that human nature is entitled to, is that improvement in condition that is intended to be secured by those institutions under which we live, is the great principle for which this government that one man might do with himself as he pleases, and with another man too.
I hold that if there is any one thing that can be proved to be the will of God by external nature around us, without reference to revelation, it is the proposition that whatever any one man earns with his hands and by the sweat of his brow, he shall enjoy in peace. I say that whereas God Almighty has given every man one mouth to be fed, and one pair of hands adapted to furnish food for that mouth, if anything can be proved to be the will of Heaven, it is proved by this fact, that that mouth is to be fed by those hands, without being interfered with by any other man...34
Robert Harper wrote the Cincinnati "Gazette could not report the Cincinnati speech until Monday when it said Lincoln 'is deficient in claptrap, but excels in logic and honesty and herein he differs from Judge Douglas.' The Cincinnati Commercial, whose 'big man' on the staff was Murat Halstead, followed the Gazette's procedure. The story on Lincoln was not signed, but it was written in Halstead's style. It said in part:
The crowd was not as great as that drawn by Senator Douglas...but was three or four thousand strong. Among the appliances to bring out a crowd were a band of music, a cannon and rockets. The cannon was evidently fired without regard to economy in powder, for after every discharge there was a shrill jingle of falling glass....
It is not wonderful that he is called 'Old Abe,' for his personal appearance is odd enough, and eminently suggestive of kindly nick-names.
Harper noted: "The Gazette took issue with the Enquirer's statement that Lincoln spoke 'in a manner that puzzles the ear,' saying that he had a 'singular clearness of enunciation...duly punctuating every sentence as he uttered it."35
The Lincolns overnighted at Burnet House. Sunday was a day of rest and conversation before the Lincolns headed home. They visited with Mary's cousin, Annie Parker Dickson, just as Mr. Lincoln had stayed with the Dicksons four years earlier during the Manny trial. Republican attorney William H. Dickson would become a regular correspondent with Mr. Lincoln about political developments in Ohio. More than eight months later, the management of the Burnet House complained to Mr. Lincoln about his unpaid hotel bill - which was supposed to have been handled by his local Republican hosts. Dickson quietly paid the bill out of his own funds.
That Monday, the Lincolns headed back home, stopping in Indanapolis for Mr. Lincoln to give another political speech. Jaffa and Johannsen wrote: "Lincoln's visit to Ohio was generally received with enthusiasm by the rank and file, although his presence was not considered to be quite so important an event as was Douglas' several days before."36 Mr. Lincoln contributed in some part to the Republican sweep of Ohio elections in early October. Jaffa and Johannsen wrote that "there were many who felt that Douglas' visit had actually injured Democratic chances. His speeches had highlighted the internal quarrel in the Democratic party; one correspondent had speculated that the principal effect of Douglas' visit might be to bring out Republican voters who would otherwise have stayed home."37
Historian Francis Weisenburger noted: "Twenty-nine of Lincoln's friends in Ohio political circles signed a letter dated Columbus, December 7 1859, thanking him for his services in the recent campaign. They also sought and secured his assistance in providing them with authentic copies of his debates and speeches. This led to the publication of a volume which included the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 in Illinois and speeches delivered at Springfield, Chicago and Bloomington, along with those made at Columbus and Cincinnati."38 One of the principal architects of the publication was attorney Samuel Galloway.
On his return to Springfield, Mr. Lincoln wrote a letter of political advice to Salmon P. Chase: "This is my first opportunity to express to you my great regret at not meeting you personally while in Ohio. However, you are at work in the cause, and that, after all, was better. It is useless for me to say to you (and yet I cannot refrain from saying it) that you must not let your approaching election in Ohio so result as to give encouragement to Douglasism. That ism is all which now stands in the way of an early and complete success of Republicanism; and nothing would help it or hurt us so much as for Ohio to go over or falter just now. You must, one and all, put yours souls into the effort."39
Lincoln was a much more activist and astute politician than was Chase. Chase biographer John Niven wrote: "Chase made a major mistake in the fall of 1859 when he refused the invitation tendered to him by William Cullen Bryant and other leading New Yorkers to give an address in the city."40 Mr. Lincoln did not let the publicity from his Cooper Union speech go to his head. He did not disclaim interest but neither did he proclaim his candidacy. He wrote Ohio supporter Samuel Galloway in March 1860: "My name is new in the field; and I suppose I am not the first choice of a very great many. Our policy, then, is to give no offence to others - leave them in a mood to come to us, if they shall be compelled to give up their first love. This, too, is dealing justly with all, and leaving us in a mood to support heartily whoever shall be nominated. I believe I have once before told you that I especially wish to do no ungenerous thing towards Governor Chase, because he gave us his sympathy in 1858, when scarcely any other distinguished man did. Whatever you may do for me, consistently with these suggestions, will be appreciated, and gratefully remembered."41
One week later, Mr. Lincoln wrote another Ohio Republican to give his analysis of the Republican presidential candidates being proposed for nomination: "Remembering that when not a very great man begins to be mentioned, I concluded I am not the fittest person to answer the questions you ask. Making due allowance for this, I think Mr. [William H.] Seward is the very best candidate we could have for the North of Illinois, and the very worst for the South of it. The estimate of Gov. Chase here is neither better nor worse than that of Seward, except that he is a newer man. They are regarded as being almost the same, seniority giving Seward the inside track. Mr. [Edward] Bates, I think, would be the best man for the South of our State, and the worst for the North of it. If Judge [John] McLean was fifteen, or even ten years younger, I think he would be stronger than either, in our state, taken as a whole; but his great age, and the recollection of the deaths of Harrison and Taylor have, so far, prevented his being much spoken of here....I feel myself disqualified to speak of myself in this matter. I feel this letter will be of little value to you; but I can make it no better, under the circumstances. Let it be strictly confidential, not that there is any thing really objectionable in it, but because it might be misconstrued."42
At the Ohio State Convention that followed this correspondence, Chase's presidential candidacy was endorsed by a vote of 375-73, but his support was not solid. Former Congressman David Carter, the Republican state chairman, was not a strong Chase partisan. Chase's problem was that he made too many enemies in his own state -- such as current Senator Benjamin F. Wade and former Senator Thomas Ewing. Biographer Niven noted: "Ben Wade was running a covert campaign in part to block Chase for whom he had formed a distinct personal dislike and in part because he thought his credentials were as good if not better than any other western man for the nomination."43 Meanwhile, Mr. Lincoln had cultivated friendships with many Ohio Republicans - some dating back to their days together as Whig congressmen in Washington.
Samuel Galloway's friendship with Mr. Lincoln was one such; it would be rewarded by an appointment as judge advocate of Camp Chase in Columbus. On one visit to Washington, Mr. Lincoln reportedly told Galloway, "Well, what will you take? Here are thousands crowding upon me for places; it is a pity that I cannot give something to a man like you."44 Elizabeth Grimsley recalled that the "very genial and merry" Sam Galloway was a frequent and popular guest at the White House breakfast table early in the Lincoln Administration. She recalled:
"Mr. Lincoln would come in looking so sad and harrassed, seat himself, with a bare nod of recognition, saying 'Mother, I do not think I ought to have come.' Mr. Galloway would go on with some pleasant anecdote (often purposely begun, with Mr. Lincoln's entrance), for he also was an inveterate joker.
Presently Mr. Lincoln's mouth would relax, his eye brighten, and his whole face lighten, as only those who had seen the transformation would believe, and we would be launched into a sea of laughter - he himself falling in with his oft quoted expression 'And this reminds me'.45
Ohio, had a disadvantage the Republican National Convention in Chicago - its delegation was sharply divided. Although most delegates supported the candidacy of Salmon P. Chase, he had no leadership team such Judge David Davis led for Mr. Lincoln or Thurlow Weed led for William H. Seward. Moreover, pugnacious Senator Wade nursed serious presidential ambitions of his own. Support for him within the Ohio delegation split the state's vote and furthered animosity between himself and Governor Chase, which had developed when Chase opposed Wade's Senate election in 1851.
Historian Reinhard H. Luthin wrote: "Wade's refusal to withdraw was based on his hope that the Ohio delegation, after dropping Chase and McLean, would line up solidly for him. 'The reason that Chase was so soon dropped,' wrote Joshua R. Giddings, who was an Ohio delegate, 'was that his leading friends appointed by his request wanted to substitute Wade for him, and gave out notice as soon as we reached Chicago that we were to give Chase only a complimentary vote and then go for Wade.' Prior to this, Chase had requested the Ohio delegation to vote as a unit, in the belief that he had a majority of the delegation and might thus gain the state's unanimous vote. Many delegates who were only tepid toward Chase and wished to vote for Wade were willing to adopt the unit rule, seeing in it a chance to strengthen Wade. But the loyal Chase men at Chicago realized that following Chase's unwise instructions would defeat their favorite, and so they proceeded to defeat the unit system. To forestall further activity in behalf of Wade, Chase's managers threatened to vote for Seward if Wade's name were introduced in the convention. Chase and Wade succeeded admirably in knifing each other."46
Ohio journalist Halstead wrote: "The Wade movement died before this time. It had a brilliant and formidable appearance for a while; but the fact that it originated at Washington was against it, and the bitterness of those delegates from Ohio, who would not in any event go for any man from that State other than Chase, and who declared war to the knife against Wade, and as a second choice were for Lincoln or Seward, stifled the Wade project.
It does not appear by the record that 'old Ben. Wade' ever stood a chance for the place now occupied by 'old Abe Lincoln.' If his friends in Ohio could have brought the friends of Mr. Chase to agree, that the delegation should vote as a unit every time as the majority should direct, Wade might have been the nominee, and instead of hearing so much of some of the exploits of Mr. Lincoln in rail-splitting, when a farmer's boy, we should have information concerning the labors of Ben. Wade on the Erie Canal, where he handled a spade. 47
Although Ohio was not the focus of the pre-convention lobbying in Chicago by Mr. Lincoln's supporters, it played a critical role in the outcome. It was Ohio that helped put Lincoln over the top by switching four votes at the end of crucial third ballot when Mr. Lincoln was one and a half votes short of victory. Ohio journalist Murat Halstead wrote of the third and decisive ballot: "While this ballot was taken amid excitement that tested the nerves, the fatal defection from Seward in New England still further appeared - four votes going over from Seward to Lincoln in Massachusetts. The latter received four additional votes from Pennsylvania and fifteen additional votes from Ohio. It was whispered about - 'Lincoln's the coming man - will be nominated this ballot.'"
Halstead wrote when all the states had been called, those who had tallied the votes realized that how Mr. Lincoln was to winning the nomination: "There are always men anxious to distinguish themselves on such occasions. There is nothing that politicians like better than a crisis. I looked up to see who would be the man to give the decisive vote....In about ten ticks of a watch, Cartter of Ohio was up. I had imagined Ohio would be slippery enough for the crisis. And sure enough! Every eye was on Cartter, and every body who understood the matter at all, knew what he was about to do. He is a large man with rather striking features, a shock of bristling black hair, large and shining eyes, and is terribly marked with the small-pox. He has an impediment in his speech, which amounts to a stutter; and his selection as chairman of the Ohio delegation was, considering its condition, altogether appropriate. He had been quite noisy during the sessions of the Convention, but had never commanded, when mounting his chair, such attention as now. He said, 'I rise (eh), Mr. Chairman (eh), to announce the change of four votes of Ohio from Mr. Chase to Mr. Lincoln.' The deed was done. There was a moment's silence. The nerves of the thousands, which through the hours of suspense had been subjected to terrible tension, relaxed, and as deep breaths of relief were taken, there was a noise in the Wigwam like the rush of a great wind, in the van of a storm - and in another breath, the storm was there. There were thousands cheering with the energy of insanity."48
Chase was clearly disappointed by the convention decision - and by his fellow Ohioans. He wrote a friend: "Nobody doubts that had the Ohio delegation manifested the same disregard of personal preferences, which was exhibited by the New York, Illinois and Missouri delegations and given me, as the nominee of Ohio, the same earnest and genuine support which was given to Mr. Seward, Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Bates, by those delegates respectively, that my vote on the first ballot would have largely exceeded Mr. Lincoln's; and there are those who felt themselves constrained to vote for the other candidates in consequence of the division of the Ohio delegation, who do not hesitate to give it as their judgment that had our delegation acted toward me in the same generous spirit that was manifested by the other delegations towards the candidates presented by their states, the nomination would have been given to Ohio."49
On June 5, Chase wrote William G. Hose: "When I remember what New York did for Seward, what Illinois did for Lincoln and what Missouri did for Bates and remember also that neither of these gentlemen has spent a fourth part - if indeed a tithe of the time I have spent for our party in Ohio; and then reflect on the action of the Ohio delegation in Chicago toward me, I confess that I have little heart to write or think about it...I do feel the inglorious conduct of the Ohio delegation and the...conduct of those men out of Ohio, who brought forward the name of Mr. Wade to divide at home and abroad, those who would willingly have supported me but for this division. I have no reproaches for Mr. Wade but I must say that had he received the same expression from Ohio that was given me, and had I been in his place I would have suffered my arm to be wrenched from my body before I would have allowed my name to be brought into competition with his..." 50
Historian Reinhard H. Luthin wrote: "Chase blamed Wade, rather than Lincoln, for his defeat at Chicago. Ohio rank-and-file Republicans, with frontier love of rustic simplicity, were satisfied with Lincoln. His speeches in Ohio during the campaign of 1859 had gained admirers. The Republican state convention heartily endorsed the national nominees and platforms...With a united state party behind him, Lincoln enjoyed the support of 126 Ohio newspapers, whereas Douglas had the backing of 80."51 Historian Francis P. Weisenburger wrote: "In the campaign in Ohio, Lincoln was presented as a moderate, and even the old-time leader Thomas Ewing, 'the last of the Whigs,' was secured to make an election speech at Chillicothe for Lincoln, 'the Whig.' In that speech Ewing declared that the 'conservative element' had nominated Lincoln and would elect him."52 Ewing had been Secretary of the Interior in 1859 when Mr. Lincoln had sought appointment as federal commissioner of public lands; Ewing's intervention had assured that another Illinois candidate got the job over Mr. Lincoln .
"With the national Democratic party seriously divided, the Republicans had little trouble carrying Ohio for Lincoln," wrote historian Richard H. Abbott. "In October, the state elections returned Republicans with greater majorities than the previous year; and in November, even southern counties, which were conservative on slavery issues, but which were attracted by promises of a tariff to protect coal and iron, added to Lincoln's plurality of 40,000 over Democrat Stephen A. Douglas."53 In November, Mr. Lincoln received 52% of the Ohio vote, compared to 42% for Douglas.
On his way to Washington in February 1861, President-elect Lincoln avoided major speeches whenever possible. But of the 19 major speeches he delivered, nearly one-third were made in Ohio where he made major stops in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland. Mr. Lincoln turned 52 on the day he arrived in Cincinnati. He left Indianapolis that morning on a train which included two cars full of the Cincinnati reception committee. According to Lincoln biographer Josiah G. Holland, the day "was remarkably sunny and cheerful, and a large concourse of citizens had assembled to give Mr. Lincoln greeting and to catch a glimpse of his face. All the streets leading to the railroad depot were thronged with people; and the windows and roofs and every perch from which a lookout could be obtained were occupied. It took a large force of military and police to keep the way clear. A distant cannon announced the approach of the train, and then there went up from the multitude such a cheer as such a multitude alone can give. After some difficulty the party reached their carriages, and then the crowd went wild with enthusiasm, cheering the President and the Union, Mr. Lincoln rising in the carriage with uncovered head, and acknowledging the greetings that met him at every crossing. Mr. Lincoln's carriage was drawn by six white horses, and was surrounded by a detachment of police to keep off the crowd. Mayor Bishop occupied a seat by his side. All along the route of the procession houses were decorated with the national colors, and various devices for expressing personal and patriotic feeling. The Court House, Custom House, Catholic Institute, city buildings, newspaper offices, hotels, &c., were all gaily decorated. Banners, transparencies and patriotic emblems and mottoes were everywhere. At the Orphan Asylum, all the children came out and sang 'Hail Columbia.' Some incidents occurred that created special and peculiar interest, and some that excited no little amusement. A brawny German took a little girl in his arms, and carried her to the carriage, when she modestly presented to the President a single flower, which compliment he acknowledged by stooping and kissing the child. It was a small incident - a very pretty incident - but incidents like these depend for their effect on the susceptibilities of the observers; and many of the excited multitude were touched to tears. One German devised a characteristic compliment. He took a seat upon a huge beer barrel, and, with a glass of its contents in his hand, addressed the President thus: 'God be with you! Enforce the laws and save our country! Here's your health!'"54
Lincoln chronicler Melvin L. Hayes wrote: "The reception committee at the Burnet House included a future President and his wife, Mr. And Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes. Some newspapers reported that that the crowd 'almost wrung Lincoln's arms off' when he passed through the lobby. This was probably because, volunteered the Lynn (Mass.) Weekly Reporter, Lincoln would need only his legs when he got to Washington."55 Journalist Henry Villard wrote: "A more magnificent ovation than that extended by her this afternoon was never witnessed west of the Alleghenies. It was not the military pageantry, not the stateliness of civil dignitaries nor any other formal display that made the occasion a perfect success, but the spontaneous turnout of at least a hundred thousand people, comprising all classes, from the rich merchant and manufacturer down to the humblest day laborer to do honor to the man that will be called upon to save the Union by upholding the Federal Constitution and laws."56
"Twenty-four hours ago, at the Capital of Indiana, I said to myself I have never seen so many people assembled together in winter weather," Mr. Lincoln began. I am no longer able to say that. But it is what might reasonably have been expected - that this great city of Cincinnati would thus acquit herself on such an occasion. My friends, I am entirely overwhelmed by the magnificence of the reception which has been given, I will not say to me, but to the President elect of the United States of America. [Loud cheering.] Most hertily do I thank you, one and all for it. [Applause.]
I am reminded by the address of your worthy Mayor, that this reception is given not by any one political party, and even if I had not been so reminded by His Honor I could not have failed to know the fact by the extent of the multitude I see before me now. I could not look upon this vast assemblage without being made aware that all parties were united in this reception. [Applause.] This is at it should be. It is as it should have been if Senator Douglas had been elected. It is as it should have been if Mr. Bell had been elected - as it should have been if Mr. Breckinridge had been elected - as it should ever be when any citizen of the United States is constitutionally elected President of the United States. (Great applause.) Allow me to say that I think what has occurred here to-day could not have occurred in any other country on the face of the globe, without the influence of the free institutions which we have unceasingly enjoyed for three-quarters of a century. (Applause.) There is no country where the people can turn out and enjoy this day precisely as they please, save under the benign influence of the free institutions of our land.[Applause.]
I hope that, although we have some threatening National difficulties now - I hope that while these free institutions shall continue to be in the enjoyment of millions of free people of the United States, we will see repeated every four years what we now witness. [Applause.]
In a few short years, I and every other individual man who is now living will pass away. I hope that our national difficulties will also pass away, and I hope we shall see in the streets of Cincinnati - good old Cincinnati - for centuries to come, once every four years her people give such a reception as this to the constitutionally elected President of the whole United States. [Applause.] I hope you shall all join in that reception, and that you shall also welcome your brethren far across the river to participate in it. We will welcome them in every State of the Union, no matter where they are from. From away South we shall extend them a cordial good will when our present differences shall have been forgotten and blown to the winds forever."
"I have spoken but once, before this, in Cincinnati," Mr. Lincoln said. "That was a year previous to the late Presidential election. On that occasion, in a playful manner, but with sincere words, I addressed much of what I said, to the Kentuckians. I gave my opinion that we, as Republicans, would ultimately beat them as democrats; but that they could postpone that result longer by nominating Senator Douglas for the Presidency than they could in any other way. They did not, in any true sense of the word, nominate Douglas, and the result has come certainly as soon as even I expected. I also told them how I expected they would be treated, after they should have been beaten; and I now wish to re-call their attention to what I then said upon that subject. I then said: "When we do, as we say, beat you, you perhaps want to know what we will do with you. I will tell you, so far as I am authorized to speak for the opposition, what we mean to do with you. We mean to treat you, as near as we possibly can, as Washington, Jefferson, and Madison treated you. We mean to leave you alone, and in no way to interfere with your institution; to abide by all and every compromise of the constitution, and, in a word, coming back to the original proposition, to treat you, so far as degenerated men (if we have degenerated) may, according to the examples of those noble fathers - Washington, Jefferson and Madison. We mean to remember that you are as good as we; that there is no difference between us, other than the difference of circumstances. We mean to recognize, and bear in mind always, that you have as good hearts in your bosoms as other people, or as we claim to have, and treat you accordingly.'
Mr. Lincoln concluded: "I take your response as the most reliable evidence that it may be so, along with other evidence, trusting that the good sense of the American people, on all sides of all rivers in America, under the Providence of God, who has never deserted us, that we shall again be brethren, forgetting all parties - ignoring all parties."57 Mr. Lincoln also spoke to a group of German-Americans, whom he had been anxious to cultivate throughout the Midwest:
I deem it my duty - a duty which I owe to my constituents - to you, gentlemen, that I should wait until the last moment, for a development of the present national difficulties, before I express myself decidedly what course I shall pursue. I hope, then, not to be false to anything that you have to expect of me.
I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, that the working men are the basis of all governments, for the plain reason that they are the most numerous, and as you added that those were the sentiments of the gentlemen present, representing not only the working class, but citizens of other callings than those of the mechanic, I am happy to concur with you in these sentiments, not only of the native born citizens, but also of the Germans and foreigners from other countries.
Mr. Chairman, I hold that while man exists, it is his duty to improve not only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating mankind; and therefore, without entering upon the details of the question, I will simply say, that I am for those means which will give the greatest good to the greatest number.
In regard to the Homestead Law, I have to say that in so far as the Government lands can be disposed of, I am in favor of cutting up the wild lands into parcels, so that every poor man may have a home.
In regard to the Germans and foreigners, I esteem them no better than other people, nor any worse. [Cries of good.] It is not my nature, when I see a people borne down by the weight of their shackles - the oppression of tyranny - to make their life more bitter by heaping upon them greater burdens; but rather would I do all in my power to raise the yoke, than to add anything that would tend to crush them.
Inasmuch as our country is extensive and new, and the countries of Europe are densely populated, if there are any abroad who desire to make this the land of their adoption, it is in my heart to throw aught in their way, to prevent them from coming to the United States.58
From Cincinnati, Mr. Lincoln went on to Columbus. "The reception in Columbus had been a fortnight in preparation, the legislature taking the initiative," wrote Lincoln biographer Josiah G. Holland. "At noon, on the thirteenth, it was calculated that five thousand strangers were in the city. As the time approached for the arrival of the train, the crowd around the depot became almost overwhelming. A thirty-four-gun salute announced the coming train, and as it drove slowly into the depot, the crowd called upon the President elect to show himself. He stepped out upon the platform of the rear car, and with head uncovered bowed his acknowledgments to the hearty greeting he received. On alighting and entering a carriage for the passage to the State House, the scenes at Cincinnati were re-enacted. Streets were full of people, the air was ringing with shouts and huzzas, and the same sun smiled upon all. He was received in the hall of the House of Representatives, and Governor [William] Dennison introduced him to the Legislature. The President of the Senate responded in a speech of welcome..."59 In the welcome, Lieutenant Governor Robert C. Kirk said: "On this day and probably at this very hour the Congress of the United States will declare the verdict of the people, making you their President."60
The Electoral College did meet that day and news of Mr. Lincoln's formal election reached him in Columbus about 4:30 that afternoon. One journalist reported: "When he read it he smiled benignly and looking up, seeing everyone waiting for a word, he quietly put the dispatch in his pocket and said, 'What a beautiful building you have here, Governor Dennison."61 Mr. Lincoln told the legislators:
I cannot but know what you all know, that, without a name, perhaps without a reason why I should have a name, there has fallen upon me a task such as did not rest even upon the Father of his country, and so feeling I cannot but turn and look for the support without which it will be impossible for me to perform that great task. I turn, then, and look to the American people and to that God who has never forsaken them.
It is a good thing that there is no more anxiety, for there is nothing going wrong. It is a consoling circumstance that when we look out there is nothing that really hurts anybody. We entertain different views upon political questions, but nobody is suffering anything. This is a most consoling circumstance, and from it we may conclude that all we want is time, patience and a reliance on that God who has never forsaken this people.62
"The magnificent weather today again favored the President's travels," wrote journalist Henry Villard. "The President, although s, om, ewhat stiffened in his limbs by his handshaking exertion last night, and suffering from a cold, was in the best of humor all day, and chatted and laughed continually. Mrs. Lincoln was likewise in her most pleasant mood and conversed with the ladies and gentlemen around her in the most lively manner. Bob did not seem to feel any the worse from the sparkling Catawba with which the Republican youths of Cincinnati had plied him so liberally the previous evening, and contributed much to the general good feeling by his gay, colloquial ways. The two youngest Lincoln sprigs were also exuberant with juvenile delight at the exciting scenes they passed through."63
Villard wrote: "While the procession moved toward the State House with the honored guests of Ohio, such universal, genuine, spontaneous rejoicing as burst forth in every direction at the sight of the choice of the nation for the highest office in the land, proves most irresistibly that the popular mind of this section of the great Buckeye State is fully convinced that Abraham Lincoln will be worthy of the confidence reposed in him, and in the fulfillment of his high mission look only to his country's good. Party distinctions seem to be entirely wiped out among the western masses, the maintenance of the Union, the Constitution and the Federal laws, is the all pervading sentiment to which men of all parties expect the future Chief Magistrate of the country to respond in a truly patriotic manner."64
After Mr. Lincoln spoke, he stood in the rotunda of the State Capitol to shake hands with the crowd. The reception for President-elect Lincoln quickly got out of control. Aide John G. Nicolay wrote: "At Columbus, Ohio, Mr. Lincoln's friends had a chance to observe how necessary it was to look carefully to his personal surroundings at every moment. The magnificent State House in that city had recently been completed and the committee of arrangements had provided that after the morning ceremonies before the Legislature, an informal reception should take place in the afternoon, in the rotunda of the building or rather at the point of intersection where on the ground floor the two great public corridors cross each other. It was intended that there should be one entrance on one side, and the exit at the other side of the building, so that the people should pass through in a straight line. But an inadequate police force had been detailed to guard the entrance to the transverse corridor; these were soon forced open and a stream of humanity poured from the outside toward the center by three large avenues, leaving only one for exit, and before anyone was well aware of the occurrence there was a concentric jam of the crowd toward the President-elect which threatened to crush him and those about him. Fortunately Colonel [Ward Hill] Lamon of his suite who was a man of extraordinary size and herculean strength, was able to place himself before him and by formidable exertion to hold back the advancing pressure until Mr. Lincoln could be hurried to a more secure place behind the corner of a pilaster which projected a little more than the thickness of his person, and which thus formed a protecting barrier on two sides until the inflow at the entrance could be checked and regulated."65
One government official wrote: "For a while the President greeted the people with his right hand only, but as the officers gave way before the irresistible crowd, he shook hands right and left, with astonishing rapidity. The physical exertion must have been tremendous. People plunged at his arms with frantic enthusiasm, and all the infinite variety of shakes, from the wild and irrepressible pump-handle movement to the dead grip, was executed upon the devoted sinister and dexter of the President. Some glanced into his face as they grasped his hand; others invoked the blessings of heaven upon him; others affectionately gave him their last gasping assurance of devotion; others, bewildered and furious, with hats crushed over their eyes, seized his hand in a convulsive grasp, and passed on as if they had not the remotests idea who, what, or where they were, nor what anything was at all about. But at last the performance became intolerable to the President, who retired to the staircase in exhaustion, and contented himself with looking at the crowd as it swept before him. It was a very good natured crowd, nothing occurred to mar the harmony of the occasion, and the utmost enthusiasm prevailed."66
Before he left the Capitol, Mr. Lincoln addressed the crowd: "Knowing, as I do, that any crowd, drawn together as this has been, is made up of the citizens near about, and that in this county of Franklin there is great difference of political sentiment, and those agreeing with me having a little the shortest row, (laughter,) from this, and the circumstances I have mentioned, I infer that you do me the honor to meet me here without distinction of party. I think this is as it should be...If Senator Douglas had been elected to the Presidency in the late contest, I think my friends would have joined heartily in meeting and greeting him on his passage through your Capital, as you have me to-day."67
Before he left the Capitol, Mr. Lincoln was also informed that his election had indeed been ratified in Washington. Mr. Lincoln then went to Governor Dennison's home for a buffet supper and then back to the Capitol for a military ball in Deshler Hall.
The Lincolns stayed the night with the Dennisons. Historian Daniel Ryan wrote that there was private criticism of Mr. Lincoln's rhetoric at Columbus: "His optimism as to the future, his constant reiteration that everything would come out all right, and, as he said at Columbus,"It is a good thing there is no more than anxiety, for there is nothing going wrong", and, "When we look out, there is nothing that really hurts anybody"; all this threw many of the leading Republicans, not only in Ohio, but throughout the country, into a condition of alarm which they dared not express. It looked to them as if the policy of the triumphant party was to be one of laissez faire. They could not understand how the future President could say "all's well" while the very foundations of the Union were rocking, and its rafters were cracking over their heads."68 Historian Francis P. Weisenberger wrote: "Lincoln had been enthusiastically received in Ohio, but in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland there was widespread concern, for his attitude of serenity and confidence seemed oblivious of the dangerous situation in which the country found itself, and many thoughtful people wondered at the apparent nonchalant indecisiveness of the one who would soon be chief executive."69
On February 14, the Lincoln train left Columbus for a trip across Ohio to Pittsburgh - stopping briefly at Newark, Frazeysburg, Dresden, Coshocton, Newcomerstown, Uhrichsville, Cadiz Junction and Steubenville. According to journalist Henry Villard, "As the train approached Cleveland the turnout of the people along the raod grew more numerous. The train was stopped at a depot some two miles from the center of the city. Myriads of human beings consisting of soldiers, firemen and citizens generally, on horseback, in carriages and on foot, awaited its arrival. As the President and suite left the cars a universal, deafening shout escaped from tens of thousands. The anxiety to greet Honest Old Abe was evidently intense."70
"President-elect Lincoln had marched in a downpour through the mud of the Cleveland streets," wrote historian J. H. Cramer. "The good weather of February 16 brought a gala crowd of Clevelanders to the old depot on the lake front to bid Lincoln God speed and farewell. The Lake Shore Railroad had provided a special train, and the president's car was acknowledged to be the most palatial coach in which he had ridden since the departure from Springfield."71
Lincoln chronicler Melvin L. Hayes wrote: "In Cleveland the procession trooped through the principal streets to the Weddell House. There Lincoln complimented the crowd which had marched about two miles through snow, rain, and deep mud. He observed that the large numbers testified to the people's respect for the Union, not for him personally. He also expressed approval of other political groups having joined Republicans in making arrangements. 'If all do not join now to save the good old ship of Union this voyage,' Lincoln said feelingly, 'nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage.'"72
Mr. Lincoln told Cleveland residents: "In a community like this, whose appearance testifies to their intelligence, I am convinced that the cause of liberty and the Union can never be in danger. Frequent allusion is made to the excitement at present existing in our national politics, and it is as well that I should also allude to it here. I think that there is no occasion for any excitement. The crisis, as it is called, is altogether an artificial crisis. In all parts of the nation there are differences of opinion and politics. There are differences of opinion even here. You did not all vote for the person who now addresses you. What is happening now will not hurt those who are father away from here. Have they not all their rights now as they ever had had? Do they not have their fugitive slaves returned now as ever? Have they not the same constitution that they have lived under for seventy odd years? Have they not a position as citizens of this common country, and have we any power to change that position? (Cries of 'No.') What then is the matter with them? Why all this excitement? Whyall these complaints? As I said before, this crisis is all artificial. It has no foundation in facts. It was not argued up, as the saying is, and cannot, therefore, be argued down. Let it alone and it will go down of itself. (Laughter)."73
Ohio Republicans were not disappointed in Mr. Lincoln's choice of a cabinet representative from their state. Historian Ryan wrote: "On December 31, Lincoln wrote Senator Chase saying, "In these troublous times, I would much like a conference with you. Please visit me here at once." Chase immediately proceeded to Springfield, arriving there January 3, and Lincoln, hearing of his presence, waived all formality, and called upon him at his hotel. Lincoln had a special feeling of kindness for Chase, because he was the only one of the Republican leaders outside of Illinois that came into the state and gave him active support in the Lincoln-Douglas campaign."74 Although Chase had strong support for a Cabinet position, he was had some strong opposition. Much of the support came from New York (especially from Republican newspaper editors) as did the opposition (from friends of William H. Seward). Seward's friends worried about too many Democrats in the Lincoln cabinet. Chase worried about too many former Whigs in the Cabinet. Seward tried to keep out Chase and Chase in turn tried to keep Seward and Caleb Smith.
Some opposition to Chase came from Ohio. Ohio Republican leader Richard P. L. Baker wrote President-elect Lincoln: "You are also aware of the vindictiveness with which [Colombus] Delano, for seconding your nomination, on behalf of a portion of the delegates from Ohio - and other Lincoln men, have been slaughtered in Republican conventions, wherever that clique had the power. We had hoped that this feeling would die out in time, and accordingly our State Central Committee (a majority of whom were original Lincoln men) purposely gave the speakers of the other section of the party, prominence, during the campaign, and did everything in their power, to break down distinctions between Republicans as Chasemen, Wade men, or Lincoln men. But no sooner was the result of the Presidential election known, than a scheme was set on foot here to influence, if possible, the Cabinet appointments from the West, so as to use the patronage of your administration secretly, to favour the claims of a certain aspirant for the presidency, to the succession..."75
Senator-elect Chase traveled to Spring on January 4, 1861 for a face-to-face visit with President-elect Lincoln the following day. Chase finally accepted his appointment as secretary of the Treasury the day after President Lincoln's inauguration, writing "My distrust of my own judgment in this decision, and of my ability to perform adequately the duties about to devolve on me, is very great; but trusting to your indulgence and humbly invoking Divine favor and guidance, I will give my best endeavor to your service and our country's."76 Newspaperman Charles Dana recalled: "The second man in importance and ability to be put into the Cabinet was Mr. Chase, of Ohio. He was an able, noble, spotless statesman a man who would have been worthy of the best days of the old Roman republic. He had been a candidate for the presidency, though a less conspicuous one than Seward. Mr. Chase was a portly man; tall, and of an impressive appearance, with a very handsome, large head. He was genial, though very decided, and occasionally he would criticize the President, a thing I never heard Mr. Seward do. Chase had been successful in Ohio politics, and in the Treasury Department his administration was satisfactory to the public. He was the author of the national banking law. I remember going to dine with him one day -- I did that pretty often, as I had known him well when I was on the Tribune -- and he said to me: 'I have completed to-day a very great thing. I have finished the National Bank Act. It will be a blessing to the country long after I am dead.'"77
Historian Allan Nevins wrote that Chase "had gone into the Cabinet with the reputation of an unflinching radical, the doughtiest champion of those whom [Charles] F. Adams called the ramwells - that is, the diehards. But at the moment it was actually true that, as Greeley's Washington correspondent wrote, he was no extremist, but 'moderate, conciliatory, deliberate, and conservative.' One important factor in his hesitation was his fear that a war would be very difficult, and perhaps impossible, to finance. He was under pressure from Eastern bankers who had warned him that they would not take his pending eight-million-dollar loan unless the government pursued a peace policy. Now he wrote Lincoln that if relieving the fort meant enlisting huge armies and spending millions, he would not advise it. It was only because he believed that the South might be cajoled by full explanations and other conciliatory gestures into accepting the relief effort without war that he supported it. That is, he was for relief only with careful explanations."78
Ohio supporters and friends of supporters were rewarded with many patronage positions in the Lincoln Administration, including several diplomatic posts. German-American editor Friedrich Hassaurek was named Minister to Ecuador; journalist William Dean Howells was appointed Consul at Venice; Ohio Assembly speaker Richard C. Parson was named consul in Brazil. Former Ohio Secretary Thomas Corwin, who nominated John McLean at the Chicago convention, was appointed Minister to Mexico. In that post, Corwin had to finesse the interventions of England, France and Spain in Mexican affairs - including the appointment of Maximillian as Emperor of Mexico. Corwin had impressed Lincoln with his sense of humor, his oratory and his opposition to the Mexican-American War when the two served in Congress. In the winter of 1860-61, Corwin served as chairman of the House Committee of Thirty-Three that sought to find a compromise to avert secession. He resigned his post in Mexico in 1864 to return to the practice of law.
Former Congressman Joshua R. Giddings whom had served with and boarded with Congressman Lincoln in the late 1840s, had hoped for a cabinet post. Instead, Giddings was appointed consul general at Montreal, where he served until his death. He was a fervent abolitionist who refused to compromise on his beliefs. Historian James G. Randall w rote that "Joshua R. Giddings was a courageous and tireless advocate of antislavery causes in Congress, but his support was small, his cause was unpopular, and on one occasion, after presenting antislavery resolutions in the House of Representatives, he was censured by his angry Whig colleagues, who refused him the right even to speak in his own defense. Few indeed went so far as Giddings in futile congressional proceedings."79
The role of former Congressman David K. Cartter in Mr. Lincoln's nomination was first rewarded with appointment as Minister to Bolivia. Later, President Lincoln appointed him as chief justice for the District of Columbia. Cartter was a "rude, blunt, arrogant, but brilliant Ohioan," according to historian LeRoy Fischer. "His appointment as chief justice opened opportunities to promote the extremist tendencies of Radicals. Long an abolitionist, he had been appealed to for legal counsel by his friend John Brown, following the Harpers Ferry raid. Cartter was also a close confidant and admirer of General Butler and did much to promote his political and military fortunes," wrote Fischer. Although a Lincoln appointee, his loyalty was primarily to congressional Radicals like fellow Ohioan Wade. "Well, let's go up and swear at Lincoln a while," Cartter would sometimes say in order to get a group of Radicals to meet at the home of Michigan Senator Zachariah Chandler.80 Attorney General Bates called him "a fierce partizan, an inbred vulgarian and a truculent ignoramus."81
Ohio's size, location and leadership made the state critical for President Lincoln's administration of the Union during the Civil War. "In the War for the Union, Ohio assumed foremost rank among the greater states of the North in furnishing men and money to suppress the Revolution of the South," wrote historian Daniel J. Ryan. "Up to December 31, 1864, nearly 365,000 of her citizens had enlisted in the Federal armies; its political divisions, including the State itself, paid out for war purposes over $65,000,000. In the field Ohio led the states in furnishing the military commanders. By birth or residence she was credited with Generals Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan; Major Generals Buell, Cox, Crook, Custer, Garfield, Gilmore, Hazen, Leggett, McClellan, McCook, McDowell, Mitchel, Rosecrans, Stanley, Stedman, Swayne, and Weitzel. To these may be added one hundred and fifty brigadier generals"82
But Ohio's importance did not equate with political simplicity. Historian Weisenberger wrote that "rivalry among factions in the party in Washington, and in Ohio as well, made Lincoln's task an incredibly difficult one. In Ohio, radically inclined Republicans divided in their allegiance to Chase and to Ben Wade, and neither faction was really friendly to Lincoln."83 Ohioans frequently quarreled among themselves and Ohio Republicans were particularly quarrelsome. They changed governors, for example, at every opportunity during the rebellion.
Ohio's governor at the outbreak of the war was William Dennison, a wealthy businessman and lawyer who had won the Republican nomination in 1859 because he was the most prominent and electable candidate available. "The suave well-mannered gentleman seemed to most citizens to be a vain and haughty aristocrat," wrote historian Richard H. Abbott. 'In the months ahead, when the governor sought to mobilize Ohio for war, he lacked the full support of the state; Ohioans proved to be quick with criticism and slow with praise."84 Actually, according to historian William B. Hesseltine, Dennison's downfall began in 1859 because "Dennison lacked the common touch. He could compliment the people's intellects, but he could not reach their hearts. His inaugural address, prolix and stilted, missed entirely the emotional basis of the Republican crusade."85
Abbott wrote that "after learning from the Secretary of War how many troops were expected from him, Dennison issued a series of proclamation calling for thirteen regiments or 10,153 men. He asked the people of Ohio to rise above all party bias in order to uphold free institutions, the Union, and the state of Ohio. The response was immediate and enthusiastic; mass meetings resolved to support the Union cause, and David Tod, one of the state's leading Democrats who within a year would hold Dennison's job, promised Lincoln that 200,000 Ohio Democrats would stand by him in crushing treason and rebellion."86 Unfortunately for Dennison and the state, Ohioans joined regiments far quicker than they could be adequately organized, equipped and fed.
Governor Dennison appointed George B. McClellan to pull together the state's recruitment and training efforts, but conditions of new recruits quickly became a swamp of ineptitude. Dennison adopted a belligerent attitude toward Kentucky's "neutrality" and an energetic attitude toward combating secession. He had a bad image that belied his accomplishments, according to Abbott: "Despite early doubts of his executive capacity, no one could question his vigor in securing western Virginia for the Union and demanding speedy action in Kentucky. In the midst of innumerable difficulties, he had raised 23 regiments for three months and 82 regiments for three years, totaling slightly over 100,000 men, an excess of 20,000 over the calls made upon the state. Although he had handled large sums of money without legal authority, Dennison had paid the state's debts, supplied her soldiers, and furnished the state auditor with an account of every penny spent."87
Onetime Democrat David Tod quickly aligned himself with Republican Unionists. He became the logical Republican candidate to replace Governor Dennison. "Democrats could not be expected to vote for a man who had helped organize the Ohio Republican party, fought for repeal of the state's Black Laws, opposed the Fugitive Slave Act, and smothered compromise attempts," wrote Abbott. Republicans began plotting Dennison's replacement in the spring and held a Union convention in early September to make it a reality. In October 1861,Tod easily defeated Democrat H. J. Jewett.
Like Dennison, Tod was a businessman-lawyer. Like Dennison, Tod almost immediately ran into military and political problems that tested his abilities and powers. But, wrote historian Abbott: "his grim approach to his new duties and responsibilities seemed to mark a new man, utterly unlike the sociable, urbane, witty, and genial politician who had long been prominent in Democratic parleys. He had always given an appearance of frankness and honesty, even of firmness, but a tactful approach had hitherto characterized him."88
But Tod's difficulties in office were even worse than Dennison's - because recruiting demands were more onerous and the pool of potential recruits was relatively smaller. Ohio historian Delmar J. Trester wrote that Tod's "first year was not successful. General dissatisfaction with the war's progress, political arrests, and the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation contributed to the Union party's defeat in the state elections of 1862. The Democrats captured all state offices at stake and fourteen of the nineteen seats to the national congress. Encouraged by these results, Ohio's Copperheads fanned the flames of the 'fire in the rear.'"89
Tod's political standing was further hurt in the summer of 1862 by repeated Confederate invasions of Kentucky, which seemed to threaten Cincinnati and southern Ohio. Abbott noted: "Not all the dangers that Tod worried about were external: within the state, the governor battled with recalcitrant Democrats, unruly newspaper editors, draft rioters, and strange secret societies."90 But, noted Abbott, "Tod had embittered Ohio radicals by appointing Democrats to several state offices and by refusing to defend the Emancipation Proclamation."91 Tod nevertheless attempted to straddle the issues dividing Washington politicians. He wrote his friend, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, urging him to "stop the wrangling between the friends of McClellan and yourself in Congress. I ask this as the friend of both."
Ohio Quartermaster George Wright described Tod as "the intimate friend, co-worker and adviser of President Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton, and in daily communication with them. Mr. Lincoln once said of him, 'Governor Tod has aided me more and troubled me less than any other Governor. This was doubtless for the reason that the Governor never asked for anything that was not, in his judgment, necessary an of vital importance to the welfare of the Ohio troops."92 Senator John Sherman wrote:
"When he was elected Governor of Ohio, [David Tod] went to Washington to see Mr. Lincoln, to find out, as he said, what a Republican President wanted a Democratic Governor of Ohio do to in aid of the Union cause. He called at the White House, sent in his card, and was informed that the President was engaged, but desired very much to see Governor Tod, and invited him to call that evening at 7 o'clock. Promptly on time Governor Tod called and was ushered into the room were, for the first time, he saw Mr. Lincoln. Mutual salutations had scarcely been exchanged before the announcement was made that David K. Cartter was at the door. Mr. Lincoln asked the governor if he had any objection to Cartter hearing their talk. The governor said no, that Cartter was an old friend and law partner of his. Soon after Governor [James W.] Nye of Nevada was announced. The same inquiry was made and answered, and Nye joined the party, and in the same way Sam. Galloway, of Ohio, and a famous joker from New York, whose name I do not recall, came in. Then grouped around the table, Nye led off with a humorous description of life in the mines in the early days of California, and the others contributed anecdotes, humor and fun, in which Lincoln took the lead, 'and I' (as Tod told the story), 'not to be behindhand, told a story;' and so the hours flew on without any mention of the grave matters he expected to discuss with the President. When the clock announced the hour of eleven, Mr. Lincoln said he made it a habit to retire at eleven o'clock, and turning to Tod, said: 'Well, Governor, we have not had any chance to talk about the war, but we have had a good time anyway; come and see me again.' It then dawned upon the governor that this little party of kindred spirits, all friends of his, were invited by the President to relieve him from an interview about the future that would be fruitless of results. Neither could know what each ought to do until events pointed out a duty to be done. Lincoln knew that Tod was a famous story teller, as were all the others in the party, and availed himself of the opportunity to relieve his mind from anxious care.93
One evening while visiting the White House Mr. Lincoln said to the governor, "Look here, Tod, how is it that you spell your name with only one d. I married a Todd, but she spelled her name with two d's. All of her relations do the same. You are the first Tod I ever knew who spelled his name with so few letters." Mr. Tod, smiling, replied, "Mr. President, God spells His name with only one d, and what is good enough for God, is good enough for me." President Lincoln used to repeat this story to some of his intimate friends with great hilarity. Tod aide George B. Wright recalled:
I called on Mr. Lincoln with Governor Tod in the fall of 1863. We found Mr. Lincoln and Secretary of State Seward alone together. After our reception and a short interview on general matters, Governor Tod asked the following question: "Mr. President, how many candidates are there in your cabinet for President?" There had been much discussion among Republicans as to the propriety of renominating Mr. Lincoln for a second term. It was known that Mr. Chase and his friends were actively engaged in promoting his nomination over Mr. Lincoln. The friends of Mr. Seward were also hoping that he might be nominated in case of a contest. In reply to Governor Tod's question the President said: "Governor, your question reminds me of an experience I once had when practicing law in Illinois. One day a rather seedy looking man called at my office with a bundle under his arm, and requested to see me privately. I took him into my back room, when he told me he had invented a new augur to turn with a crank instead of the old- fashioned way, and if I approved of it he desired me to procure a patent for him. He unfolded his bundle and exhibited his model. I procured a plank and told him to bore a hole in it. He set the augur and began to turn the crank. But we discovered that he had set the screw the wrong way, and instead of boring itself in, it bored itself out." It proved a very apt illustration in the following almost unanimous nomination and election of Mr. Lincoln. After this Mr. Seward and Governor Tod each told an anecdote, and the interview ended.
In visiting the Capitol the next day, while in the hall of the Senate Chamber, I asked the Governor if he was not going to enter the Senate. He replied, "No, not until the people of Ohio send me there." He then had an idea, I think, that he might be elected to the Senate after the close of his term as Governor.
While on this visit to Washington an evening reception was given to the President and his Cabinet, and a few distinguished guests. In the course of the evening the President was talking to a circle of friends around him, among whom was his Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Wells. The President remarked that he had made a very interesting visit to the hospital that day. That he found one poor fellow approaching near his end, and he asked him if he could do anything for him. The soldier replied, "Mr. President, if you could only send for my grandmother, I think I could die happy after seeing her. She raised me, and I am very fond of her." I asked him where she lived, and he said in Iowa. I told him it would be impossible to get his grandmother there. "Oh, well," he said, "Mr. Lincoln, if you could send Secretary [Gideon] Welles to see me it would be a great comfort. He looks exactly like my grandmother."94
When Salmon P. Chase submitted his resignation in June 1864, Mr. Lincoln first sought to replace him with former Governor Tod, but the nomination had support from neither Tod, who claimed ill health, or members of the Senate who believed Tod ill-suited to the position. California Senator John Conness later wrote that Tod "had been one of the sturdiest of the 'War Governors,' and was known as a sterling patriot, but no one thought of him as a proper head of the Treasury Department then, or as a fitting success of Chase." When President Lincoln informed protesting Senators that Tod had declined, he added that "Dave [Tod] was considerable of a man."95
The 1863 gubernatorial election in Ohio was critical for the nation. The election centered almost completely around the Lincoln Administration. Historian Delmar Trester wrote that Governor "Tod ardently desired a second term and made an active canvass for it. Union party managers, however, disliked the frequency with which he filled vacancies with old Democratic friends. Furthermore, Tod was rather cool towards emancipation. These considerations robbed him of Union League support and resulted in the nomination of John Brough."96 Brough was a railroad magnate who had been out of politics for nearly two decades. Previously, he had been state auditor and state legislator; earlier, he had graduated from printer to newspaper owner (Cincinnati Inquirer) and railroad president. When Brough was president of the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad in the mid-1850s, his plans to charter the Mississippi and Atlantic Railroad in Illinois were opposed by Mr. Lincoln.
But Tod's support of emancipation was testified to by others who said that Tod told the President that emancipation would deeply hurt the Confederate cause.97 Brough himself acknowledged that he had opposed the Emancipation Proclamation. According to historian Richard H. Abbot, Brough "had a reputation for rough and ready politics with a temperament to match. Brough's heavy, corpulent body and loose attire seemed to indicate a lack of vigor and determination, but this was belied by his stern face and firm mouth. A blunt, outspoken, rude man who loved to chew tobacco, he presented quite a contrast to his two handsome and dignified predecessors, Dennison and Tod."98 But, noted Abbott, he was a better speaker than his predecessors.
Wright wrote: "Some of the men not friendly to Governor Tod began to discuss the question of his re-nomination for Governor, as had been done in the case of his predecessor, Governor Dennison. Governor Tod had, of course, made some enemies, but a large majority of the Union men in Ohio, and of the Ohio soldiers in the field, were believed to be friendly to him and desired his re-nomination. A few disappointed place-seekers opposed this and began to cast about for a man to succeed him."99 At the Republican convention Brough edged out Tod by a vote of 216-193. Tod telegraphed President Lincoln, contending "The opponents of the administration will attempt to attribute my defeat to the advocacy of the leading measures of your administration. Do not for a moment believe it. Personal considerations alone were the cause of my defeat. No man in Ohio will do more to secure the triumphant election of the ticket nominated than I will."100 President LIncoln telegraphed back: "I deeply regret that you were not renominated - not that I have ought against Mr. Brough. On the contrary, like yourself, I say, hurrah, for him."101
Lincoln friend Samuel Galloway seemed to blame the Brough nomination on Secretary of the Treasury Chase and unlike Tod, did not place the blame on the outgoing governor. Galloway wrote the President: "But for the unsolicited interposition of a prominent official in Washington and his Subordinates in Ohio Govr Tod would have been renominated. I cheerfully support Brough but he is not so eminently the man for the crisis as is Tod. My doctrine is, that a faithful servant who is prepared to make great sacrifices of personal comfort for the public good ought to be continued. The experience of two years service is of more avail than the gifts of genius Untried integrity ought not to be preferred to thoroughly tested integrity. My argument for his renomination is equally pertinent and powerful for yours and that of other faithful officials, in a day of public calamity It is alike your duty to self and friends that you protect yourself against all schemes framed for your overthrow, and the subversion of the policy of your administration. It is equally due to your present and future reputation, that the management and development of your policy and measures should be in the hands of tried and ardent friends. With perhaps as much intelligence upon the subject, as any other Ohioan possesses I can write that the patronage of Ohio with but a few honorable exceptions, has been conferred upon the special proteges and pets of men, who whilst consulting partly the public interests, have been prominently regarding their individual advancement It is but candid and just to you, and due to your friends to State, that there has been a systematic effort within the past two years to proscribe and impair the efficiency of your original and devoted friends in Ohio. It is notorious in this section, that men who have made themselves conspicuous by a depreceation [sic] of the most vigorous acts of your policy have been rewarded with the best offices of honor and of profit[.]"102
Brough took on the gubernatorial campaign with relish. He told one election audience that a victory by the Copperhead Democrat "would be an invitation to the rebels in arms to come up and take possession of our soil."103 According to historian Richard Abbott, "Although Republicans, including President Abraham LIncoln, were enormously concerned about the results of the Ohio election, the outcome was never in doubt. The peace issue weakened the Democratic party, and Unionist candidates benefited from optimism generated by federal victories in the East and the opening of the Mississippi in the West. Republicans organized 'Strong Bands' and Union Leagues to combat alleged secret Democratic organizations and to sir enthusiasm for their candidate."104
The Democratic candidate was ready-made for Republican demonizing. Clement L. Vallandigham had been elected to the House of Representatives in 1858 from a district around Dayton. Journalist Noah Brooks described him as "the leading spirit in the mischievious Peace faction on the Democratic side of the House. He was well built, and was then about forty years of age, with a small head, regular and somewhat delicate features, and dark hair slightly sprinkled with gray....he was altogether a personable man. He was a good speaker - smooth, plausible, and polished; and in private life he was a most agreeable and delightful talker."105 Indiana Congressman George W. Julian wrote in his memoirs that "Vallandigham "was conspicuous for his intellectual vigor, passionate earnestness, and hatred of Abolitionism. He had the courage of his opinions The Republicans hated him consumedly."106 Historian Daniel J. Ryan wrote that the "sinister influence which he cast over Ohio and the Nation, resulting finally in Lincoln's interference, was dangerous to the morale of both people and army."107 Maine Republican James G. Blaine wrote of Vallandigham that he had "ability, and a certain form of dogged courage, combined with a love of notoriety, which allured him to the assumption of extreme positions and the advocacy of unpopular measures."108
Vallandigham's mantra was "Not a man or a dollar for the war." One early Lincoln biographer, Ohio journalist Joseph H. Barrett, wrote: "To such an extent was his support of the rebellion carried, by haranguing his followers, and all who would hear him, against the Government and the measures it had adopted in the prosecution of the war, that he had been arrested by Gen. [Ambrose] Burnside....The proceedings under which he was thus condemned were fully reviewed before the United States District Court at Cincinnati, on a motion for a writ of habeas corpus, and sustained by the decision of Judge Leavitt. It may be added that this action was further confirmed, several months later, on a hearing before the Supreme Court of the United States."109 Vallandigham had become an early leader of Northern anti-War Democrats and later the Sons of Liberty, but Republicans pressed his defeat for reelection in 1862 by changing the contours of his district. At 24, Vallandigham had entered politics in 1844 with his election to the Ohio House of Representatives. He was elected speaker in the following session. His political principles could be curious -- opposing a principle but supporting a politician who supported that principle. He was a polarizing influence who was a useful political demon for Republicans in state and national elections.
Noah Brooks wrote: "When he made a set speech he often became greatly excited, his face wore an expression at time almost repulsive, and his voice rose with a wild shriek; his hands fluttered convulsively in the air, and the manner of the man underwent a physical transformation. His power over his party in the House was complete when 'fillibustering' tactics were going on. At a word from him, or a wave of his hand, the Peace Democrats would incontinently scud into the lobbies or cloakrooms; or his signal would bring them all back when they were needed in their seats."110 The climax of his anti-Union speechifying was an address to the House on January 14, 1863, after he had already been defeated for reelection. According to Daniel J. Ryan, "This speech had three effects: by it Vallandigham burned his bridges behind him and became an open antagonist of the government. With all his talk of Union and peace he was directly aiding and encouraging the enemy. Again, it spread the peace sentiment throughout the country, and lastly, it served to obstruct enlistments as well as to discourage the army in the field. By the friends of the Union everywhere it was regarded as "words of brilliant and polished treason.'"111 After speeches in the East in the same tone, Vallandigham returned to Ohio in March and continued his speeches - which alarmed the state's military commander, General Ambrose Burnside. He issued a brief order which was clearly aimed at Vallandigham: "The habit of declaring sympathies for the enemy will not be allowed in this Department. Persons committing such offences will be at once arrested, with a view to being tried as above stated, or sent beyond our lines into the lines of their friends. It must be distinctly understood that treason, expressed or implied, will not be tolerated in this Department. All officers and soldiers are strictly charged with the execution of this order."112
Vallandigham was arrested on May 5, 1863. Military justice worked swiftly. Lincoln biographer Josiah G. Holland wrote: "Vallandigham had his trial, was convicted, and was sentenced to confinement in some fortress of the United States, to be designated by General Burnside, who approved the finding of the court, and designated Fort Warren as his prison. The President, however, modified the sentence, and directed that the convict should be sent within the rebels lines, among the people which he held in such cordial sympathy, with the direction that he should not return until after the termination of the war. The man thus sent to his own found safe conduct through the rebel states, and managed to reach Canada, from whose territory he subsequently emerged, without waiting for the termination of the war, and without saying to the President, 'By your leave.'"113 Vallandigham proceeded to Wilmington, North Carolina where he boarded a blockade runner that took him to Bermuda. He moved on to Canada where he took up a position near the border.
Lincoln biographer Isaac N. Arnold wrote: "The case of Vallandigham, who was arrested, tried by court martial, found guilty of expressing in public speeches disloyal sentiments, and sentenced to confinement during the war, was very much discussed. Public meetings were held in Albany, New York, and in Ohio, by the democratic friends of Vallandigham, and memorials were drawn up and presented to the President, asking him to restore Vallandigham to liberty. To these memorials the President made full and careful replies in which, with the clearness, earnestness, and great ability for which his papers were distinguished, he discussed the questions involved."114
In a well-publicized response to a petition by a group of New York State Democrats headed by Congressman Erastus Corning, President Lincoln rebuffed their protest of Vallandigham's arrest: "They assert in substance that Mr. Vallandigham was by a military commander seized and tried "for no other reason than words addressed to a public meeting, in criticism of the course of the administration, and in condemnation of the military orders of the General." Now, if there be no mistake about this - if this assertion is the truth and the whole truth - if there was no other reason for the arrest, then I concede that the arrest was wrong. But the arrest, as I understand, was made for a very different reason. Mr. Vallandigham avows his hostility to the war on the part of the Union; and his arrest was made because he was laboring, with some effect, to prevent the raising of troops, to encourage desertions from the army, and to leave the rebellion without an adequate military force to suppress it. He was not arrested because he was damaging the political prospects of the administration, or the personal interests of the commanding general; but because he was damaging the army, upon the existence, and vigor of which, the life of the nation depends. He was warring upon the military; and this gave the military constitutional jurisdiction to lay hands upon him. If Mr. Vallandigham was not damaging the military power of the country, then his arrest was made on mistake of fact, which I would be glad to correct on reasonably satisfactory evidence."115
Ohio Democratic congressmen later sent President Lincoln their lengthy protest against Vallandigham's arrest. "The undersigned assure your Excellency, from our personal knowledge of the feelings of the people of Ohio, that the public safety will be far more endangered by continuing Mr. Vallandigham in exile than by releasing him....Mr. Vallandigham may differ with the President, and even with some of his own political party, as to the true and most effectual means of maintaining the Constitution and restoring the Union; but this difference of opinion does not prove him to be unfaithful to this duties as an American citizen."116
Ryan noted that President "Lincoln answered in his best argumentative vein, impressively, but good-naturedly."117 Mr. Lincoln answered: "You ask in substance whether I really claim that I may override all the guaranteed rights of individuals, on the plea of conserving the public safety - When I may choose to say the public safety requires it. This question, divested of the phraseology calculated to represent me as struggling for an arbitrary personal prerogative, is either a question who shall decide, or an affirmation that nobody shall decide, what public safety does require in cases of rebellion or invasion. The Constitution contemplates the question as likely to occur for decision, but it does not expressly declare who is to decide it, By necessary implication, when rebellion or invasion comes, the decision is to be made from time to time; and I think the man whom, for the time the people have, under the Constitution made the Commander-in-Chief of their army and navy, is the man who holds the power and ears the hands, to be dealt with by the modest they have reserved to themselves in the Constitution."118
Mr. Lincoln went on to state that "I solemnly declare my belief that this hindrance of the military, including maiming and murder, is due to the course in which Mr. Vallandigham has been engaged in a greater degree than to any other cause, and is due to him personally in a greater degree than to any other one man."119
"The Peace Democracy pursued their campaign with remarkable intensity and enthusiasm," wrote historian Daniel J. Ryan. "Their great issue was Vallandigham himself. To them he was an exiled patriot. His sentence was a violation of free speech, personal liberty and the rights of Magna Charta. Not a word about the preservation of the Union. On the other hand, the Unionists denounced him as an "unhung traitor," and declared that his election would prolong the war and possibly give success to the Confederacy."120 Democrats chose Vallandigham as their gubernatorial candidate at a convention on June 11 in Columbus. They then waged an energetic campaign led by their candidate for lieutenant governor, George E. Pugh, who had served in the Senate until 1861. Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg wrote that Pugh "shouted from the campaign platform that if his running mate, Vallandigham, were elected governor there would be 'fifty thousand fully armed and equipped freemen of Ohio to receive their Governor-elect at the Canadian line and escort him to the State house to see that he takes the oath of office.'" Historian David E. Long wrote: "Racist rhetoric and resistance to the draft became basic to the Ohio Democratic Party....As home to one of the strongest and most virulent Copperhead populations, Ohio became a battleground between the supporters of the war and peace-at-any-price men during the last two years of the war."122
President LIncoln was deeply concerned about the outcome of the Ohio election on October 13 and telegraphed Brough for results early on the morning after the election: "What is your majority now?" When President Lincoln learned near daybreak that that Brough had resoundingly defeated Vallandigham, he telegraphed him: to God in the Highest, Ohio has saved the Nation."123
The next day, President Lincoln talked Navy Secretary Gideon Welles, who wrote in his diary: "I stopped in to see and congratulate the President, who is in good spirits and greatly relieved from the depression of yesterday. He told me he had more anxiety in regard to the election results of yesterday than he had in 1860 when he was chosen. He could not, he said, have believed four years ago, that one genuine American would, or could, be induced to vote for such a man as Vallandigham, yet he has been made the candidate of a large party, their representative man, and has received a vote that is a discredit to the country. The President showed a good deal of emotion as he dwelt on the subject."124
Brough proved more cantankerous than his gubernatorial predecessors. In Abbott's words, Brough was "the most vigorous, and also the most unpopular" of the three wartime governors.125 He promoted the draft as the only way for Ohio to meet its recruitment quotas. He lacked Governor Tod's friendship with the President, but promoted Mr. Lincoln's reelection over the presidential pretensions of Secretary of the Treasury Chase.
President Lincoln's relations with Ohio's congressional delegation were more difficult than his relations with its governors. Attorney John Sherman was a prominent Ohio congressman when president Lincoln took office. He served on the 1856 House committee investigating Kansas disturbances and lost an 1859 bid for speaker of the House because of his association with a controversial anti-slavery book. He was more temperate and cool than William T. Sherman, however, in his personal conduct. Unlike his brother, John Sherman was a committed abolitionist. Nevertheless, complained Lincoln aide John Hay, John Sherman had a "passion for cutting down other men's salaries and saving his own amounts to a monomania. There has not been a session of late years in which the honorable gentleman from Ohio has not made a nuisance of himself by impertinent intermeddling with somebody's pay. The Government has been paying him at the rate of ten dollars a day, to pitch in abuses amounting in the aggregate to a yearly waste of five hundred dollars."126
In later years, Sherman was known for his stern defense of principles. However, Pennsylvania Republican Alexander K. McClure recalled "When he entered Congress a comparatively young man, in 1854, he was one of the most genial and jovial of the Republican leaders in the House, and while he was one of the ablest and most indefatigable workers of the party, he won the nomination for the Speakership at the beginning of his third term quite as much because of the personal affection cherished for him as because of his admitted ability."127 Historian David M. Potter described him as "a thoughtful, moderate man, primarily interested in finance, and he was not a militant on the slavery question."128
Sherman had considered seeking Speakership again in 1861. "I suppose I should have been made Speaker - that I had the best chance. But when it was understood that Chase had been tendered a Cabinet appointment, and would probably accept[,] my friends wrote to me from Ohio asking me to become a candidate for the Senate in his place. I preferred this to the Speakership. I and my friends found, on canvassing the Legislature that my chances would be good. I found too that Chase was in my favor."129
In early March 1861, Senator Sherman took his West-Point-trained brother William Tecumseh Sherman to the White Houser. At the outset of the Civil War, William was superintendent of a Louisiana military college. Far more conservative than his brother in Congress, "Cump's" sympathies were neither really with the North nor the South. The President asked him, "Ah how are they getting along down there?" Sherman's reply was that the secessionists were "getting along swimmingly - they are preparing for war," The President replied, "Oh well, I guess we'll manage to keep house." Future General Sherman was so annoyed at this flippant response that he told his brother that the nation's politicians "have got things in a hell of a fix and you may get them out as best you can."130 Ignoring his brother's pleas, the future Union general returned to St. Louis and to a job as president of a streetcar company.
William T. Sherman's attitude toward the President would mellow, but John Sherman's attitude would sharpen. Lincoln friend Ward Hill Lamon remembered: "In 1862 Senator Sherman had prepared a very elaborate speech in which he devoted a good portion of it to prove that Mr. Lincoln was a failure and unless something was soon done by Congress, the war would be a failure. Someone told Mr. Lincoln that Senator Sherman intended to make such a speech. Lincoln said: "Well Sherman is a patriot and a statesman and is thoroughly for the Union; perhaps his opinion of me may be just. It may do good. I would not have him change a word.' Lincoln's remarks that night were repeated to Sherman and they made such an impression on him that he omitted from his speech the criticism on Lincoln."131 John Sherman himself later said: "At times, I thought him slow, but he was fast enough to be abreast with the body of his countrymen, and his heart beat steadily and hopefully with them."132
Mr. Lincoln had prickly relations with many Ohio politicians who were critical of his handling of the war and emancipation. The disaffection of Ohio Republicans is reflected in the diary of William Parker Cutler, a relatively undistinguished one-term congressman from Southeast Ohio. After the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, Cutler wrote in his diary: "Lincoln himself seems to have no nerve or decision in dealing with great issues - it is said today that he may veto the Bill admitting West Virginia. He has urged in his message a most impracticable scheme of compensated emancipation nobody likes - nobody will give it a cordial support & yet he has loaded his friends down with its odium while probably nothing will be done with it."133
President Lincoln's relationships with Ohio's other Senator, Benjamin F. Wade, were always difficult. Wade was coarse, obstreperous, and often found something about Mr. Lincoln about which to complain. Journalist Ben Perley Poore wrote that Wade's 'honesty was strongly tinged by ambition, and who looked at the contest with the merciless eyes of a gladiator about to close in a death grip."134 Illinois Congressman Isaac N. Arnold described him as "staunch, rude, earnest, and true."135 Indiana Congressman George W. Julian wrote in his memoirs that Wade "was 'a man of uncommon downrightness.' There was even a sort of fascination about his profanity. It had in it a spontaneity and heartiness which made it almost seem the echo of a virtue."136
Historian Allan G. Bogue wrote that "Wade was no orator, and his contributions to debate were usually short and, on occasion, intemperate...."137 Historian Allan Nevins wrote that Wade's "Powerful frame, strong, dark face, deep raucous voice, defiant laugh, and gift for vituperative speech, all stamped him as a man of coarse fibre and brute strength."138 Historian T. Harry Williams wrote that Wade "took particular delight in puncturing the solemn speeches of his opponents with shafts of crude and brutal wit that reduced their best effects to farce. His devastating sallies into the ranks of the cavaliers and his constant verbal readiness to use his squirrel gun in settling disputes gave him a vivid national reputation....He was of average height, but square-built, heavy, and slightly stooped. His long white hair fell straight back from a good forehead. His complexion was clear and dark, his eyes small, jet black, staring. His protruded aggressively and his upper lip doubled at the corners over the lower, giving his face a ferocious appearance."139
"Bluff Ben" was a onetime law partner of Congressman Joshua Giddings and former state senator and judge with a rough frankness and stubborn belief in his own principles. Lincoln aide John Hay wrote that on Wade's "rough face a smile never comes, out of whose firm lips little praise ever issues. But in his ill-conditioned life there is much of the daily beauty that makes ugly the smoother ways of scoundrels, and through his careless grammar and tangled rhetoric often struggle gleams of a light inspired by a devotion to his country as real as it is unreasoning. Though we may not once in a year agree with him, his words have this claim on our respect - he thoroughly believes them himself."140 For most of the war, Senator Wade served as chairman of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. Biographer Hans L. Trefousse wrote:
"That Wade and Lincoln should not have found each other congenial is not surprising. To be sure, their backgrounds were similar; both had been poor, grown to maturity with the frontier, and supporting the Whig party. Their aims, also, were not too far apart, since both were basically opposed to slavery and insisted on the unconditional restoration of the union. In other ways, however, the two men were completely different. If Wade was daring, Lincoln was cautious; if Wade was radical, Lincoln was conservative; if Wade was bluff, Lincoln was diplomatic. Lincoln would preserve the Union by granting temporary concessions to slaveholders; Wade was adamant about the unconditional assertion of national authority. As a result, they became antagonists; but while the Senator never managed to grasp the President's greatness, Lincoln knew well how to utilize Wade's energy without falling victim to his impetuousness.
Even before the inauguration, Wade had begun to have reservations about Lincoln. The President's choice of advisers had perturbed the Senator, who was convinced that the cabinet constituted a 'disgraceful surrender to the South.' His misgivings increased when it became apparent that Seward wanted to abandon Fort Sumter. Temporarily reassured by Lincoln's refusal to yield to the Carolinians, within a week he received another shock, when he heard that the President was willing to appease the secessionists of Baltimore, where Union troops had been fired upon. 141
Historian Bruce Tap wrote that "Wade persisted in the belief that the essence of military strategy was to confront the enemy and slug it out until one of the combatants was annihilated."142 "One of Wade's persistent themes was that military training was overrated," wrote Wade. "Committee members were persistent critics of West Point and its graduates and believers in the intrinsic superiority of volunteer troops over regular army troops."143 On one occasion, Wade went to the White House to demand that President Lincoln replace General George B. McClellan. "Well, Wade," Mr. Lincoln said, "now put yourself for a moment in my place. If I relieve McClellan, whom shall I put in command? Who of all these men is to supersede him?" Wade said: "Why, anybody" said Wade. `Mr. Lincoln responded: "Wade, anybody will do for you, but not for me. I must have somebody."144
Lincoln friend Ward Hill Lamon wrote that one day, the President remarked, as I came in, "I fear I have made Senator Wade, of Ohio, my enemy for life." "How?" I asked. "Well," continued the President, "Wade was here just now urging me to dismiss Grant, and, in response to something he said, I remarked, "Senator, that reminds me of a story." "What did Wade say?" I inquired of the President. "'He said, in a petulant way,' the President responded, "It is with you, sir, all story, story! You are the father of every military blunder that has been made during the war. You are on your road to hell, sir, with this government, by your obstinacy, and you are not a mile off this minute." "What did you say then?" I good-naturedly said to him,' the President replied, "Senator, that is just about from here to the Capitol, is it not?" He was very angry, grabbed up his hat and cane, and went away."145
Wade was co-author of Wade-Davis bill on reconstruction which was pocket vetoed by President Lincoln and the subsequent Wade-Davis Manifesto - both major thorns in Mr. Lincoln's presidential life.
Wade' antipathy to President and his policies ran deep. On April 12, 1865, U.S. Commissioner of Buildings Benjamin French Brown was returning by steamer from Richmond with several members of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. He brought on board some newspapers that suggested that President Lincoln had given his approval for the assembly of the Virginia State Legislature. The committee members were appalled: "Mr. Wade said in substance, if not in exact words, that there had been much talk of the assassination of Lincoln - that if he authorized the approval of that paper...by God, the sooner he was assassinated the better!"146 Indiana Congressman George W. Julian wrote in his memoirs that after the assassination, Wade told new President Andrew Johnson: "Johnson, we have faith in you. By the gods, there will be no trouble now in running the government!"147
Like Wade Congressman James M. Ashley was militantly anti-slavery. He was the author of legislation to end slavery in District of Columbia. The irascible and erratic lawyer also led the fight for passage of 13th Amendment in the House. As chairman of the Committee on Territories, he tried to make money on Colorado land sales through family appointments and other deals; it led to a public scandal. A leading supporter of Salmon Chase for Governor in 1855 and for President in 1860 and 1864, Ashley was later a leader in the House impeachment of Andrew Johnson. His career included stints a drugstore owner, riverboat hand, and editor. Ashley was the House floor leader for passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in the spring of 1864. When it failed, Ashley decided: "We must go to the country on this issue."148 Ashley triumphed when the House passed the amendment in January 1865.
James Garfield rose from lieutenant colonel, when he was commissioned at the beginning of the Civil War, to major general as a result of his victory at the Battles of Middle Creek and Chickamauga. The future president was elected to Congress in 1862 while still in the army. As a general and a congressman, he was critical of President Lincoln and administration policies he regarded as too moderate. Journalist Noah Brooks described "Garfield's manner [as] rather boyish, even when in public view. He would sometimes wind his arm round the waist of one of his associates in the House and walk him up and down in the space behind the seats of the members, apparently oblivious to the fact that hundreds of people were regarding him with amusement."149 Illinois Congressman Isaac N. Arnold wrote that "his manly appearance, his ruddy complexion, bronzed by exposure and hardship as a soldier, as well as his fervid eloquence, attracted general attention."150 Garf, ield, did not support President Lincoln's reelection and when up for reelection himself told Republicans: "I hold it to be my privilege under the Constitution and as a man to criticize any acts of the President of the United States."151 Biographer Ira Rutkow called Garfield "one of Lincoln's severest in-house critics."152 Reacting to the Emancipation Proclamation, Garfield said it was a "strange phenomenon in the world's history, when a second-rate Illinois lawyer is the instrument to utter words which shall form an epoch memorable in all future ages."153
Former Congressman Robert C. Schenck entered the Union Army shortly after the start and was named a brigadier general of Volunteers by President Lincoln. In the late 1840s, Schenck had served with Mr. Lincoln Congress. In November 1860, he and attorney Donn Piatt had accompanied Mr. Lincoln to Chicago where he was to hold meetings with Vice President-elect Hannibal Hamlin. Piatt later wrote: "The invitation was so pressing that I believed Mr. Lincoln intended calling General Schenck to his Cabinet. I am still of this opinion, and attributed the change to certain low intrigues hatched at Chicago by the newly created politicians of that locality, who saw in the coming Administration opportunities for plunder that Robert C. Schenck's known probity would have blasted."154 General Schenck served heroically on the battlefield and controversially as the Union commander in Maryland in 1863. He resigned his military commission in December 1863 to return to Congress. He had defeated Congressman Vallandigham the previous year after the boundaries of Vallandigham's district had been changed to assure his defeat. Schenck became head of the House Committee on Military Affairs.
The Lincoln Administration must have conflicted opinions of Democratic Congressman Samuel S. "Sunset" Cox, a frequent critic of President Lincoln who had defeated Lincoln friend Samuel Galloway when he was first elected in 1856. Iowa politician Josiah B. Grinnell wrote that Cox "was alert, almost ubiquitous, voluble, ready in debate, witty in retort, and an able parliamentarian. His industry as a legislator and his classic tastes always won respectful and delight hearers, while he lacked that power to which learning, eloquence and thirty years service gave him title."155 He was defeated for reelection in 1864 but remained in Congress long enough to help pass the 13th Amendment, a favorite project of President Lincoln.
With the exception of Schenck's defeat of Vallandigham, the 1862 Elections were devastating for Republicans in Ohio. Democrats won control of 14 of the state's 19 congressional positions although Republicans managed to defeat Copperhead Democrat Clement Vallandigham. Historian Allan Nevins wrote that "the small Democratic margin could be traced, at least in part, to the absence of many Union men in the army, and to the fact that, as the Cincinnati Commercial put it, 'the prejudice of race has been inflamed, and used by the Democratic party with an energy and ingenuity perfectly infernal.'"156 The 1862 elections led to the defeat of several important Republican congressmen, including John A. Bingham, Albert Gallatin Riddle, and John A. Gurley, for whom the President sought other federal jobs. Riddle served one term in Congress before he was appointed by President Lincoln as consul general in Cuba. He had been one of President Lincoln's staunchest defenders in the House.
Bingham was offered the post of federal judge at Key West, Florida, but he declined in August 1863. Bingham was a strong proponent of emancipation, whom Illinois Congressman Isaac N. Arnold described as "one of the most ready and effective debaters on the floor."157 While advocating passage of emancipation for the District of Columbia in April 1862, Bingham contended: "One year ago slavery opened its batteries of treason upon Fort Sumter at Charleston; let the anniversary of the crime be signalized by the banishment of slavery from the national capital."158 Indiana Congressman George W. Julian wrote in his memoirs that Bingham "was a reader of books and a master of English. He loved poetry, and was one of the most genial and companionable of men, but he was irritable and crispy in temper, and a formidable customer in debate."159
President Lincoln admired but did not particularly like Treasury Secretary Chase. Chase didn't like or particularly admire President Lincoln. He instinctively believed that he could do a better job than the President and encouraged his supporters in Congress and in the Treasury Department bureaucracy to project his candidacy. Political events came to a head in February 1864. Historian William Frank Zornow wrote: the "Chase national committee with its subordinate state organizations was a nebulous affair, but within a few weeks it assumed more definite shape and the membership became more permanent. It was also apparent that most of its strength came from Ohio. The national committee in its expanded form became know as the Republican National Executive Committee with Senator Samuel Pomeroy of Kansas as chairman. Chase was fully aware of what was going one, for he wrote to a friend in Ohio on January 18 that a committee composed of 'prominent Senators and Representatives and citizens' had been formed for the purpose of making him president. He also added, 'This Committee, through a sub-committee, has conferred with me...and I have consented to their wishes.' As the election year dawned, Chase was afield in full panoply, and a committee had been organized to press his claims for the Presidency. 'The fight will narrow between Lincoln and Chase,' was the opinion of one observer, and it was shared by many."160
. But when a circular letter was distributed by Senator Pomeroy boosting Chase's candidacy, public opinion backfired on Chase - at a time when President Lincoln's own patronage operation created a string of Republican endorsements in northern states. Chase offered to resign after word of the Pomeroy Circular surfaced. President Lincoln declined to accept. To Chase's dismay President Lincoln's supporters, under ex-Governor William Dennison and former congressman John A Bingham, even controlled the Ohio Republican State Convention in May and endorsed his renomination.
Dennison presided at the Republican National Convention in Baltimore at the beginning of June. On June 10, a committee of notification called on President Lincoln at the White House, "Ex-Governor Dennison of Ohio, president of the convention, made a very good little speech, and presented Lincoln with an engrossed copy of the resolutions adopted by the convention. The President appeared to be deeply affected by the address, and with consideration emotion and solemnity accepted the nomination in a short speech," wrote journalist Noah Brooks.161 Dennison told the President:
The National Union Convention, which closed its sittings at Baltimore yesterday, appointed a Committee consisting of one from each State, with myself as Chairman, to inform you of your unanimous nomination by that Convention for election to the office of President of the United States., That Committee, I have the honor of now informing you, is present. On its behalf I have also the honor of presenting you with a copy of the resolutions or platform adopted by that convention, as expressive of its sense, and of the sense of the loyal people of the country, which it represents, of the principles and policy that should characterize the administration of the Government in the present condition of the country. I need not say to you, sir, that Convention, in thus unanimously nominating you for reelection but gave utterance to the almost universal voice of the loyal people of the country. To doubt of your triumphant election, would be little short of abandoning the hope of a final suppression of the Rebellion and the restoration of the Government over the insurgent States. Neither the Convention nor those represented by that body entertained any doubt as to the final result. Under your administration, sustained by that loyal people, and by our noble Army and gallant Navy. Neither did the Convention, nor do this Committee doubt the speedy suppression of this most wicked and unprovoked Rebellion. (A copy of the resolutions was here handed to the President.) I would add, Mr. President, that it would be the pleasure of the Committee to communicate to you, within a few days, through one of its most accomplished members, Mr. [George William] Curtis of New York, by letter, more at length the circumstances under which you have been placed in nomination for the Presidency.162
At the end of June, differences with President Lincoln over Treasury patronage in New York City led Chase again to resign. To Chase's chagrin, President Lincoln, who had rejected previous resignation letters, accepted this one. Mr. Lincoln's political mind turned immediately to former Governor Tod; telling an aide that "he is my friend, with a big head full of brains....He made a good governor, and has made a fortune for himself."163 Tod wisely declined nomination as Treasury secretary. Governor John Brough was in Washington at the time and came across President Lincoln in the area between the War Department and the White House. Mr. Lincoln insisted that he accompany him back to his office. "I have a little matter on hand which concerns the State of Ohio, and which I have a notion to tell you, though you must remember that it is not public until tomorrow." Governor Brough asked: "What is it - another Treasury imbroglio?" The President acknowledged it was Governor asked if mediation was possible. The President acknowledged that was possible but said: "But this is the third time he has thrown it at me, and I don't think I am called on to continue to beg him to take it back, especially when the country would not go to destruction consequence."164
Presidential aide William O. Stoddard wrote in a newspaper dispatch : "Perhaps the event of the past week was the generally unexpected resignation of Mr. Secretary Chase. The financial world do not seem to regard his retirement as a national calamity, and in a political point of view the general opinion here is that he has injured himself far more than any one else. The people are not in a temper to regard with favor any officer, civil or military, who 'resigns in presence of the enemy without sufficient cause.' Every one who knows anything at all about it, knows that Mr. Chase did not resign for any principle, or because any great measure of his had been defeated, or because the Government or Mr. Lincoln did not sustain him; but because for once, among so many thousand appointments, he could not have his own way. The people will in this matter approve of the course of Mr. Lincoln."165 Ohio was without a representative in the Lincoln Cabinet for several months until former Governor Dennison was named in September 1864 to succeed Montgomery Blair as Postmaster General.
Inadvertently, former Congressman Vallandigham helped reelect President Lincoln. When the Democrats held their national convention in Chicago at the end of August, Vallandigham pushed through a "peace platform" at odds with the views of the Democratic nominee, George B. McClellan. Lincoln biographer Josiah G. Holland wrote: "Mr. Vallandigham's tongue was busy, in and out of the convention. He was treated as a man who had suffered persecution for the sake of democratic truth. He moved that the nomination of McClellan be made unanimous. He was active in all the affairs of the occasion; and he did more than any other man to destroy the prospects of the democratic party."166 Republican prospects, which had seemed bleak before the convention, suddenly brightened. The Democratic candidate for vice president was Ohio Congressman George H. Pendleton, a leading ally of Vallandigham. He didn't help the ticket. In the 1864 election in Ohio, President Lincoln received over 56% of the vote.
In his letter to Ohio congressman who protested the arrest of Vallandigham in the spring of 1863, Mr. Lincoln had written: "I am grateful to the State of Ohio for many things, especially for the brave soldiers and officers she has given in the president National trial to the armies of the Union."167 Some of President Lincoln's most telling comments on the Union cause came in brief speeches to Ohio regiments parading past the White House in the summer of 1864. When Ohio Private George T. Harding visited the White House, he told the President, "We are boys from the Buckeye State," President Lincoln replied: "Well, I am very glad to meet you. The Buckeye State has been loyal to me and I certainly appreciate it."168
130th Ohio on June 11, 1864 : "Soldiers, I understand you have just come from Ohio - come to help us in this the nations' day of trials, and also of its hopes. I thank you for your promptness in responding to the call for troops. Your services were never needed more than now. I know not where you are going. You may stay here and take the places of others who will be sent to the front; or you may go there yourselves. Where you go I know you will do your best. Again I thank you."169
164th Ohio on August 18, 1864: "We have, as all will agree, a free Government, where every man has a right to be equal with every other man. In this great struggle, this form of Government and every form of human right is endangered if our enemies succeed. There is more involved in this contest than is realized by every one. There is involved in this struggle the question whether your children and my children shall enjoy the privileges we have enjoyed."170
166th Ohio on August 22, 1864: "It is not merely for to-day, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our children's children this great and free government, which we have enjoyed all our lives. I beg you to remember this, not merely for my sake, but for yours. I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am a living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father's child has. It is in order that each of you may have through this free government which we have enjoyed, an open field and a fair chance for your industry, enterprise and intelligence; that you may all have equal privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations. It is for this the struggle should be maintained, that we may not lose our birthright - not only for one, but for two or three years. The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel."171
148th Ohio on August 31, 1864: "It is vain and foolish to arraign this man or that for the part he has taken, or has not taken, and to hold the government responsible for his acts. In no administration can there be perfect equality of action and uniform satisfaction render by all. But this government must be preserved in spite of the acts of any man or set of men. It is worthy your every effort. Nowhere in the world is presented a government of so much liberty and equality. To the humblest and poorest amongst us are held out the highest privileges and positions. The present moment finds me at the White House, yet there is as good a chance for your children as there was for my father's.
Again I admonish you not to be turned from your stern purpose of defending your beloved country and its free institutions by any arguments urged by ambitious and designing men, but stand fast to the Union and the old flag. Soldiers, I bid you God-speed to your homes.172