Page images

to give Johnson a majority. The nomination of a candidate from Tennessee was especially agreeable to the Secretary of State for its effect abroad, where the possibility of reclaiming any Confederate State was persistently denied. There was, too, a general impression, in which Lincoln shared, that the ticket would be strengthened by the nomination of a Southern Democrat who had persistently adhered to the Union side. Nevertheless, the President felt a strong personal sympathy with his first associate on the Republican ticket - a sympathy that was nothing less than sincere regret for his defeat by the entirely free action of the convention. This sentiment would very naturally be uppermost in Lincoln's mind for the moment. As attested by Mr. Tinker, then of the telegraphic service at the War Department, where the President first received the news, he remarked, as if soliloquizing: “Well, I thought possibly he might be the man. Perhaps he is the best man, but”— The sentence remained incomplete. What he expressed can be readily interpreted, but even with the light of later events, we cannot read his hidden misgiving or the reflections to which it led. *

The convention having finished its work and dissolved, the committee appointed for the purpose waited on the President at the White House, on the gth of June, and officially announced its action. Responding with brevity, he said:

* Mr. Tinker's reminiscence appeared in the New York Sun, in July, 1891. Major Albert E. H. Johnson, who was confidential clerk to Secretary Stanton at the time in question, said of this incident (New York Evening Post, July 13, 1891) : “ The door had scarcely closed upon the President . when Mr. Tinker came in and told me the entire story, just as he has now told it in print. I remember it as if it were but yesterday.”

I will neither conceal my gratification nor restrain the expression of my gratitude that the Union people through their convention, in the continued effort to save and advance the nation, have deemed me not unworthy to remain in my present position. I know no reason to doubt that I shall accept the nomination tendered; and yet, perhaps, I should not declare definitely before reading and considering what is called the platform. I will say now, however, I approve the declaration in favor of so amending the Constitution as to prohibit slavery throughout the nation. When the people in revolt, with a hundred days of explicit notice that they could within those days resume their allegiance without the overthrow of their institution, and that they could not so resume it afterward, elected to stand out, such amendment to the Constitution as is now proposed became a fitting and necessary conclusion to the final success of the Union cause. Such alone can meet and cover all cavils. Now, the unconditional Union men, North and South, perceive its importance, and embrace it. In the joint names of Liberty and Union, let us labor to give it legal form and practical effect.

In the evening he was serenaded by a Cincinnati band, a large number of Western delegates and others being present, and in recognition of the courtesy he said:

I am very much obliged to you for this compliment. I have just been saying, and as I have just said it, I will repeat it: The hardest of all speeches which I have to answer is a serenade. I never know what to say on such occasions. I suppose that you have done me this kindness in connection with the action of the Baltimore convention which has recently taken place, and with which, of course, I am very well satisfied. What we want still more than Baltimore conventions or Presidential elections is success under General Grant. ... Now, without detaining you any longer, , I propose that you help me to close up what I am now saying with three rousing cheers for General Grant and the officers. and soldiers under his command.

The cheers were generously given, Lincoln, with hat in hand, taking the lead.

Next day he met in the East Room a delegation of the National Union League, and in a short speech made use of a homely illustration, then greeted with laughter and applause, and since famous:

I do not allow myself to suppose that either the convention or the League have concluded that I am either the greatest or best man in America, but rather they have concluded, like the old farmer, that it is not best to swap horses while crossing a river.

His answer (June 27th) to a written communication, more formally notifying him of his renomination, was very brief, its substance being in these words:

The nomination is gratefully accepted, as the resolutions of the convention called the platform -- are heartily approved. While the resolution in regard to the supplanting of republican government upon the Western Continent is fully concurred in, there might be misunderstanding were I not to say that the position of the Government in relation to the action of France in Mexico, as assumed through the State Department, and indorsed by the convention among the measures and acts of the Executive, will be faithfully maintained so long as the state of facts shall leave that position pertinent and applicable. I am especially gratified that the soldier and the seaman were not forgotten by the convention, as they forever must and will be remembered by the grateful country, for whose salvation they devote their lives.

For more than thirty years no President had been chosen for a second term. Never, in fact, had a Northern President leen re-elected. There were Republicans who had sought, without great success, to popularize a "one-term principle,” and there were malcontents whose voices were heard even at Baltimore, mainly outside the convention, but also in the Missouri delegation, who fortified their opposition with this among other reasons; but in the country at large sagacious politicians were not tardy in discovering that the road to popular favor did not lead in the direction of a new candidate.

No great anxiety had been caused by the scattering “ Cleveland Convention,” which, on the last day of May, nominated Major-General John C. Fremont for President, and Brigadier-General John Cochrane, of New York, for Vice-President, on a platform demanding the preservation of the Union, obedience to the Constitution and laws of the United States, and the suppression of the rebellionby force of arms and without compromise"; that “the rights of free speech, free press, and the habeas corpus be held inviolate, save in districts where martial law has been proclaimed"; favoring a constitutional amendment prohibiting slavery; declaring for “the one-term policy for the Presidency,” also to be “maintained by constitutional amendment." and for the election of President and Vice-President “by a direct vote of the people,” to be provided for in the same way; insisting that “the question of the reconstruction of the rebellious States belongs to the people, through their representatives in Congress, and not to the Executive"; and maintaining that “the confiscation of the lands of the rebels, and their distribution among the soldiers and actual settlers, is a measure of justice.” These were the chief declarations of principle and policy — “integrity and economy in administration, the right of asylum

except for crime subject to law,” (in evident allusion to the "Arguelles case," * about which the Opposition were declaiming somewhat loudly,) and the “ Monroe doctrine,” making up the remainder. Both the nominees formally and promptly accepted, each, however, taking exceptions to the confiscation clause of the platform.

Three or four hundred persons, very few of them the authorized representatives of any constituency, took part in this gathering - of which Lincoln thought there was a good description in the Scriptural account of a certain assemblage at the cave of Adullam. † If intended to have any effect at Baltimore the week following, its managers were disappointed. For a time, however, this “schism” was to serve as a menace, affording comfort to the Democratic Opposition, to the Southern enemies of the Government, and to their confidential employees over the Canada border.

Much of the first session of the Thirty-eighth Congress was occupied with questions relating to slavery and reconstruction. Senator Trumbull, on the ioth of February, reported from the Committee on the Judiciary a joint resolution proposing the following amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

* Mr. Seward had directed that one Arguelles, a Cuban slavedealer and fugitive from justice, (not a "political refugee,”) be surrendered at the request of the Spanish authorities, though not made obligatory by an extradition treaty between Spain and the United States. The “right of asylum ” for such men as Arguelles was insisted on a little too warmly in some quarters, as a matter of either principle or policy.

t1 Samuel, xxii. 2.

« PreviousContinue »