Page images
PDF
EPUB

Lincoln, who in the mean time “blushed, but seemed to shake with inward laughter." In response to the repeated appeals he rose and said,

“Gentlemen, I suppose you want to know something about those things” (pointing to old John and the rails). “ Well, the truth is, John Hanks and I did make rails in the Sangamon Bottom. I don't know whether we made those rails or not; fact is, I don't think they are a credit to the makers” (laughing as he spoke). “But I do know this: I made rails then, and I think I could make better ones than these now."

By this time the innocent Egyptians began to open their eyes: they saw plainly enough now the admirable Presidential scheme unfolded to their view. The result of it all was a resolution declaring that “ Abraham Lincoln is the first choice of the Republican party of Illinois for the Presidency, and instructing the delegates to the Chicago Convention to use all honorable means to secure his nomination, and to cast the vote of the State as a unit for him."

The crowd at Decatur, delegates and private citizens, who took part in these proceedings, was estimated at five thousand. Neither the numbers nor the enthusiasm was a pleasant sight to the divided and demoralized Democrats. They disliked to hear so much about "honest Old Abe,” “the rail-splitter,” “the flat-boatman," “ the pioneer.” These cries had an ominous sound in their ears. Leaving Decatur on the cars, an old man out of Egypt, devoted to the great principles of Democracy, and excessively annoyed by the demonstration in progress, approached Mr. Lincoln and said, “So you're Abe Lincoln ?" “ That's my name, sir,” answered Mr. Lincoln. “ They say you're a self-made man,” said the Democrat.

Well, yes,” said Mr. Lincoln, “what there is of me is selfmade.” — “Well, all I've got to say,” observed the old man, after a careful survey of the statesman before him, " is, that it was a d-n bad job.”

In the mean time Mr. Lincoln's claims had been attractively presented to the politicians of other States. So early as

وو

1858, Mr. Herndon had been to Boston partly, if not entirely, on this mission; and latterly Judge Davis, Leonard Swett, and others had visited Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Maryland in his behalf. Illinois was, of course, overwhelmingly and vociferously for him.

On the 16th of May, the Republican Convention assembled at Chicago. The city was literally crammed with delegates, alternates, “outside workers," and spectators. No nominating convention had ever before attracted such multitudes to the scene of its deliberations.

The first and second days were spent in securing a permanent organization, and the adoption of a platform. The latter set out by reciting the Declaration of Independence as to the equality of all men, not forgetting the usual quotation about the right to “ life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The third resolution denounced disunion in any possible event; the fourth declared the right of each State to “ order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively;" the fifth denounced the administration and its treatment of Kansas, as well as its general support of the supposed rights of the South under the Constitution; the sixth favored "economy;

economy;” the seventh denied the new dogma, that the Constitution, of its own force, carries slavery into any or all of the Territories of the United States;” the eighth denied the “authority of Congress, of a Territorial Legislature, or of any individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any Territory of the United States ;” the ninth called the African slave-trade a “burning shame ;” the tenth denounced the governors of Kansas and Nebraska for vetoing certain antislavery bills; the eleventh favored the admission of Kansas ; the twelfth was a high-tariff manifesto, and a general stump speech to the mechanics; the thirteenth lauded the Homestead policy ; the fourteenth opposed any Federal or State legislation “ by which the rights of citizenship, hitherto accorded to immigrants from foreign lands, shall be abridged or impaired,” with some pretty words, intended as a further bid for the foreign vote; the fifteenth declared for

[ocr errors]

“river and harbor improvements," and the sixteenth for a “ Pacific Railroad.” It was a very comprehensive“ platform ;" and, if all classes for whom planks were provided should be kind enough to stand upon them, there could be no failure in the election.

On the third day the balloting for a candidate was to begin. Up to the evening of the second day, Mr. Seward's prospects were far the best. It was certain that he would receive the largest vote on the first ballot; and outside of the body itself the “crowd” for him was more numerous and boisterous than for any other, except Mr. Lincoln. For Mr. Lincoln, however, the “pressure" from the multitude, in the Wigwam, in the streets, and in the hotels, was tremendous. It is sufficiently accounted for by the fact that the “ spot was Chicago, and the State Illinois. Besides the vast numbers who came there voluntarily to urge his claims, and to cheer for him, as the exigency demanded, his adherents had industriously “drummed up” their forces in the city and country, and were now able to make infinitely more noise than all the other parties put together. There was a large delegation of roughs there for Mr. Seward, headed by Tom Hyer, the pugilist. These, and others like them, filled the Wigwam toward the evening of the second day in expectation that the voting would begin. The Lincoln party found it out, and determined to call a check to that game. They spent the whole night in mustering and organizing their “loose fellows" from far and near, and at daylight the next morning “ took charge ” of the Wigwam, filling every available space, and much that they had no business to fill. As a result, the Seward men were unable to get in, and were forced to content themselves with curbstone enthusiasm.

Mr. Lincoln seemed to be very sure, all along, that the contest would be ultimately between him and Mr. Seward. The 66 Bates men

were supposed to be conservative, that is, not Abolitionists; and the object of the move in favor of Mr. Bates was to lower the fanatical tone of the party, and save the votes of certain “Union men ” who might otherwise be against it. But a Seward man had telegraphed to St. Louis, to the friends of Mr. Bates, to say that Lincoln was as bad as Seward, and to urge them to go for Mr. Seward in case their own favorite should fail. The despatch was printed in “ The Missouri Democrat," but was not brought to Mr. Lincoln's attention until the meeting of the Convention. He immediately caught up the paper, and “ wrote on its broad margin,” “Lincoln agrees with Seward in his irrepressible-conflict idea, and in negro equality ; but he is opposed to Seward's Higher Law.” With this he immediately despatched a friend to Chicago, who handed it to Judge Davis or Judge Logan.

Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania was nominally a candidate ; but, in the language of Col. McClure, “it meant nothing:" it was a mere sham, got up to enable Cameron to make a bargain with some real candidate, and thus secure for himself and his friends the lion's share of the spoils in the event of à victory at the polls. The genuine sentiment of the Pennsylvania delegation was divided between Judge Bates and Judge McLean. But Cameron was in a fine position to trade, and his friends were anxious for business. On the evening of the second day, these gentlemen were gratified. A deputation of them — Casey, Sanderson, Reeder, and perhaps others -- were invited to the Lincoln Head-quarters at the Tremont House, where they were met by Messrs. Davis, Swett, Logan, and Dole, on the part of Mr. Lincoln. An agreement was there made, that, if the Cameron men would go for Lincoln, and he should be nominated and elected, Cameron should have a seat in his Cabinet, provided the Pennsylvania delegation could be got to recommend him. The bargain was fulfilled, but not without difficulty. Cameron's strength was more apparent than real. There was, however, “ a certain class of the delegates under his immediate influence;" and these, with the aid of Mr. Wilmot and his friends, who were honestly for Lincoln, managed to carry the delegation by a very small majority, -- "about six.”

About the same time a similar bargain was made with the friends of Caleb B. Smith of Indiana ; and with these two contracts quietly ratified, the Lincoln men felt strong and confident on the morning of the third day.

While the candidates were being named, and when the ballotings began, every mention of Mr. Lincoln's name was received with thundering shouts by the vast mass of his adherents by whom the building had been packed. In the phrase of the day, the "outside pressure was all in his favor. On the first ballot, Mr. Seward had 1731 votes ; Mr. Lincoln, 102; Mr. Cameron, 501 ; Mr. Chase, 49; Mr. Bates, 48; Mr. Dayton, 14; Mr. McLean, 12; Mr. Collamer, 10; and 6 were scattered. Mr. Cameron's name was withdrawn on the second ballot, according to the previous understanding ; Mr. Seward had 1841 ; Mr. Lincoln, 181 ; Mr. Chase, 42; ; Mr. Bates, 35; Mr. Dayton, 10; Mr. McLean, 8; and the rest scattered. It was clear that the nomination lay between Mr. Seward and Mr. Lincoln, and the latter was receiving great accessions of strength. The third ballot came, and Mr. Lincoln ran rapidly up to 2311 votes ; 233 being the number required to nominate. Hundreds of persons were keeping the count; and it was well known, without any announcement, that Mr. Lincoln lacked but a vote and a half to make him the nominee. At this juncture, Mr. Cartter of Ohio rose, and changed four votes from Mr. Chase to Mr. Lincoln. He was nominated. The Wigwam shook to its foundation with the roaring cheers. The multitude in the streets answered the multitude within, and in a moment more all the holiday artillery of Chicago helped to swell the grand acclamation. After a time, the business of the convention proceeded amid great excitement. All the votes that had heretofore been cast against Mr. Lincoln were cast for him before this ballot concluded; and, upon motion, the nomination was made unanimous. The convention then adjourned for dinner, and in the afternoon finished its work by the nomination of Hannibal Hamlin of Maine for Vice-President.

All that day and all the day previous Mr. Lincoln was in Springfield, trying to behave as usual, but watching the proceedings of the Convention, as they were reported by tele

« PreviousContinue »