Page images

quarter. Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Indiana declared that if Mr. Seward should be nominated they could do nothing; Douglas would beat them ten to one. Illinois, devoted to Mr. Lincoln, joined in the cry, but the New Yorkers scouted the idea that Mr. Seward could not sweep with victory every northern state. The Lincoln men were quite as busy as the friends of Mr. Seward, and less noisy. Mr. Greeley telegraphed to the New York Tribune, on the evening of the seventeenth: "My conclusion, from all that I can gather, is, that the opposition to Governor Seward cannot concentrate on any candidate, and that he will be nominated;" and this, it must be remembered, was not in accordance with Mr. Greeley's wishes.

The platform upon which the party proposed to conduct the campaign was adopted on the second day. The action upon this showed that the party had not quite come to the standard of Mr. Lincoln, moderate as he had been. Hon. Joshua R. Giddings, one of the old enemies of slavery and the slave power, wished to introduce into the platform that part of the Declaration of Independence which asserts, as self-evident truths, "that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are those of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," and that governments are instituted among men to secure the enjoyment of these rights; but objections were made. The old man walked grieved and disgusted out of the wigwam, amid the protestations of the crowd. Mr. George W. Curtis, a New York delegate, made an appeal to the convention that was irresistible, and the declaration went in, and all felt the stronger and better for it. The utterances of Mr. Lincoln have already given us the substance of this platform. It contravened no right of slavery in the states, under the Constitution, denounced the subserviency of Mr. Buchanan's administration to a sectional interest and the dogma that the Constitution carried slavery into the territories and protected it there, declared that the normal condition of all the territory of the United States is that of freedom, and that a sound policy


requires a protective tariff, &c., &c. It was the platform of the old whig party, repeated in most particulars, except that, in the matter of slavery, it introduced, not widely modified, the old platform of the "free soilers." The platform was adopted amid demonstrations of the wildest enthusiasm. eye witness of the scene* says: "all the thousands of men in that enormous wigwam commenced swinging their hats, and cheering with intense enthusiasm; and the other thousands of ladies waved their handkerchiefs and clapped their hands. The roar that went up from that mass of ten thousand human beings is indescribable. Such a spectacle as was presented for some minutes has never before been witnessed at a convention. A herd of buffaloes or lions could not have made a more tremendous roaring."

The Seward men still carried a confident air on the third

day. They had reason to do so. Their candidate was in many respects the greatest man in the party. He was a statesman of acknowledged eminence, and had been for many years the leading representative of the principles upon which the republican party stood. They were strong, too, in the convention; and they were sure to secure upon the first ballot more votes for their candidate than could be summoned to the support of any other man.

On the assembling of the convention, everybody was anxious to get at the decisive work, and, as a preliminary, the various candidates in the field were formally nominated by their friends. Mr. Evarts of New York nominated Mr. Seward, and Mr. Judd of Illinois named Abraham Lincoln. Afterwards, Mr. Dayton of New Jersey, Mr. Cameron of Pennsylvania, Mr. Chase of Ohio, Edward Bates of Missouri, and John McLean of Ohio, were formally nominated; but no enthusiasm was awakened by the mention of any names except those of Mr. Seward and Mr. Lincoln. Caleb B. Smith of Indiana seconded the nomination of Mr. Lincoln, as did also Mr. Delano of Ohio, while Carl Schurz of Wisconsin and Columbus: Follett,

*M. Halstead, author of "Caucuses of 1860.” Foster & Co.

Mr. Blair of Michigan seconded the nomination of Mr. Seward. It was certain that one of these two men would be nominated. On every pronunciation of their names, their respective partisans raised their shouts, vieing with each other in the strength of their applause. The excitement of this mass of men at that time cannot be measured by those not there, or by men in their sober senses.

Virginia, which was exSeward, gave fourteen of Indiana gave her twenty

The ballot came. Maine gave nearly half her vote for Lincoln; New Hampshire, seven of her ten for Lincoln. Massachusetts was divided. New York voted solid for Mr. Seward, giving him her seventy votes. pected also to vote solid for Mr. her twenty-two votes for Lincoln. six votes for Lincoln without a break. Thus the balloting went on, amid the most intense excitement, until the whole number of four hundred and sixty-five votes was cast. It was necessary to a choice that one candidate should have two hundred and thirty-three. William H. Seward had one hundred and seventy-three and a half, Abraham Lincoln one hundred and two, Edward Bates forty-eight, Simon Cameron fifty and a half, Salmon P. Chase forty-nine. The remaining fortytwo votes were divided among John McLean, Benjamin F. Wade, William L. Dayton, John M. Reed, Jacob Collamer, Charles Sumner and John C. Fremont,-Reed, Sumner and Fremont having one each.

On the second ballot, the first gain for Lincoln was from New Hampshire. Then Vermont followed with her vote, which she had previously given to her senator, Mr. Collamer, as a compliment. Pennsylvania came next to his support, with the votes she had given to Cameron. On the whole ballot, he gained seventy-nine votes, and received one hundred and eighty-one; while Mr. Seward received one hundred and eighty-four and a half votes, having gained eleven. The announcement of the votes given to Mr. Seward and Mr. Lincoln was received by deafening applause by their respective partisans. Then came the third ballot. All felt that it was likely to be the decisive one, and the friends of Mr. Seward

trembled for the result. Hundreds of pencils were in operation, and before the result was announced it was whispered through the immense and excited mass of people that Abraham Lincoln had received two hundred and thirty-one and a half votes, only lacking one vote and a half of an election. Mr. Cartter of Ohio was up in an instant, to announce the change of four votes of Ohio from Mr. Chase to Mr. Lincoln. That finished the work. The excitement had culminated. After a moment's pause, like the sudden and breathless stillness that precedes the hurricane, the storm of wild, uncontrollable and almost insane enthusiasm descended. The scene surpassed description. During all the ballotings, a man had been standing upon the roof, communicating the results to the outsiders, who, in surging masses, far outnumbered those who were packed into the wigwam. To this man one of the secretaries shouted: "Fire the salute! Abe Lincoln is nominated!" Then, as the cheering inside died away, the roar began on the outside, and swelled up from the excited masses like the noise of many waters. This the insiders heard, and to it they replied. Thus deep called to deep with such a frenzy of sympathetic enthusiasm that even the thundering salute of cannon was unheard by many upon the platform.

When the multitudes became too tired to cheer more, the business of the convention proceeded. Half a dozen men were on their feet announcing the change of votes of their states, swelling Mr. Lincoln's majority. Missouri, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Virginia, California, Texas, District of Columbia, Kansas, Nebraska and Oregon insisted on casting unanimous votes for Mr. Lincoln, before the vote was declared. While these changes were going on, a photograph of the nominee was brought in and exhibited to the convention. When the vote was declared, Mr. Evarts, on behalf of the New York delegation, expressed his grief that Mr. Seward had not been nominated, and then moved that the nomination of Mr. Lincoln should be made unanimous. John A. Andrew of Massachusetts and Carl Schurz of Wisconsin seconded the motion, and it was carried. Before the nomination of a vice

president, the convention adjourned for dinner. It is reported that such had been the excitement during the morning session that men who never tasted intoxicating liquors staggered like drunken men, on coming into the open air. The nervous tension had been so great that, when it subsided, they were as flaccid and feeble as if they had but recently risen from a fever.

The excitement in the city only began as it subsided in the convention. Mr. Lincoln was the favorite of Chicago and of Illinois-he was the people's idol. Men shouted and sang, and did all sorts of foolish things in the incontinence of their joy. After dinner the convention met again, and for the last time. The simple business was the completion of the ticket by the nomination of a candidate for vice-president; and the result was the selection of Hannibal Hamlin of Maine.

The defeat of Mr. Seward was a sad blow to his friends. They had presented to the convention one of the prominent statesmen of the nation; and he had undoubtedly been slaughtered to satisfy the clamor for "availability." The country at large did not know Mr. Lincoln in any capacity except that of a political debater; and many sections had no familiarity with his reputation, even in this character. Mr. Seward, on the contrary, had been in public life for thirty years; and his name and fame were as common and as well established in the regard of the nation, as the name and fame of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster had been. He was a man of great accomplishments, of wide experience, of large influence and surpassing ability-recognized as such abroad as well as at home. Their disappointment is not to be wondered at, or blamed. Mr. Lincoln had not been proved. His capacity for public affairs had yet to be demonstrated; and he had been nominated over the head of Mr. Seward partly for this reason—the reason that he was a new man, and had no public record. If events have proved that the choice between these two men was a fortunate one, they can hardly have proved that it was a wise one-that it was the result of an intelligent and honest choice between the two men. It is pleasant to remem

« PreviousContinue »