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« July 5,
tary camps;' and ultimately, as circumstantial evidence seems to show, for the assassination of the President and his Cabinet, and other leading men near the head of the Government. These agents were visited by members of the Peace Faction; and when the Opposition Convention met at Chicago, that city swarmed with the enemies of the Republic, who dared to openly express sympathy with the Confederates.
Meanwhile, the Confederate agents, at the suggestion, it is said, of a conspicuous leader of the Peace Faction, arranged a scheme for making the great majority of the loyal people, who were earnestly yearning for an end of war, dissatisfied with the Administration, by placing the President and his friends in an attitude of hostility to measures calculated to insure peace. If that could be done, the election of the Chicago nominee might be secured, and the way would be thus opened for the independence of the “Confederate States," and the permanent dissolution of the Union. To do this, a
letter was addressed to Horace Greeley, of New York, from the “Clifton House," Canada, by George N. Sanders, a politician of
the baser sort, and then high in the confidence of the Conspirators, who said that himself and C. C. Clay, of Alabama, and J. P. Holcombe, of Virginia, were authorized to go to Washington City, in the interest of peace, if full protection should be guarantied to them.
This letter was sent by Mr. Greeley to the President, together with a “Plan of Adjustment "3 drawn up by the former, and he urged Mr. Lincoln to respond to it. The sagacious President was satisfied that not only was there no hope for any adjustment with the Conspirators on terms compatible with the dignity of the Government and the integrity of the Union, but that there was a covered trick in the matter. Yet he was unwilling to seem heedless of any proposition for peace, and he deputed Mr. Greeley to bring to him any person or persons “professing to have any proposition of Jefferson Davis, in writing, for peace, embracing the restoration of the Union and abandonment of slavery,” with an assurance of safe conduct for him or them, each way. Considerable correspondence ensued. Mr. Greeley went to Niagara Falls. Then there was, on the part of Davis's agents, real or pretended misunderstanding. The matter became vexatious, and the President put an end to the unofficial negotiations by sending instructions to Mr. Greeley, explicitly prescribing what kind of a proposition he would receive
Conspirators, in Canada, attempted their release in September. When the passenger steamer Philo Parsons was
on her way from Detroit to Sandusky,' she stopped at Malden,where twenty passengers went on Sept. 19. board of her. At six o'clock that evening they declared themselves to be Confederate soldiers,
and seized the boat. They then captured and destroyed another steamer, the Irland Queen and stood in for Sandusky, where they expected to be joined by secret and armed allies in capturing the National gun-boat Michigan, lying there, and with her effect the release of the prisoners. Their signals were not answered, and the expected re-enforcements were not seen, so they hastened to the Detroit River, and running the bont ashore near Sandwich, escaped.
1 A physician, named Blackburn, was employed in gathering up clothing taken from the victims of small-pox and yellow fever, and sending them to National camps. Some of these were sent to New Berne, North Carolins, and produced grcat mortality among the soldiers and citizens. Jacob Thompson (see page 367, volume L), seems to have been more directly concerned in this part of the business of the Confederate agents, than any of the others.
2 See page 340, volume I.
3 This plan contemplated a restoration of the Union; the abolition of slavery; a complete amnesty for all political offenses, and a restoration of all the inhabitants in States wherein rebellion existed, to all privileges, as if rebellion had never occurred; the payment by the Government of $400,000,000 to the owners of the emancipated slaves; a change in representation of the slave-labor States; and a National Convention to ratify and settle in detail, such adjustment.
OPPOSITION CONVENTION AT CHICAGO.
and consider.' This was precisely what the Conspirators and their emissaries wanted. They knew Mr. Lincoln would not consider any other proposition than an unconditional surrender, which they were firmly resolved never to accept voluntarily; so they used his declaration to “fire the Southern heart," and to sow the seeds of discontent among the loyal people of the land.
But on this, as on other occasions, the purposes of the enemies of the Government were frustrated by their own machinations. The peace errand to Niagara Falls thereby evoked, and made in good faith by a patriotic citizen, in connection with another peace errand to Richmond, at the same time, brought before the excited public mind the clear enunciation by the President and the chief Conspirator, the terms, in sharp-cut language, on which peace might be made. No room was left for doubt as to duty, on the part of a lover of the Union and his country; and the question of loyalty and disloyalty to the Republic was fairly before the people in the ensuing
It was clearly perceived that, if the life of the Nation was to be preserved, the Administration must be sustained, and the war prosecuted with vigor. These services were nobly performed by the people.
The Opposition, or Democratic National Convention, assembled at Chicago, on the 29th of August, and Horatio Seymour, of New York, was chosen its president. His address, on taking the chair, gave the key-note to the proceedings of the Convention. It was extremely hostile to the Government and condemnatory of the war for the Union, and gave encouragement to the open and secret foes of the Republic. The latter were then crowding Chicago, and represented, in large numbers, according to a report of the Judge-Advocate of the United States, the membership of a conspiracy in the form of a military organization, west of the Alleghanies. It was composed, at the time of this Convention, of about half a million men, with a commander-in-chief, and general and subordinate officers, all bound to a blind obedience to the orders of their superiors, and pledged “ to take up arms
1 The instructions, dated the 18th of July, were as follows:—“ To whom it may concern :- Any proposition which embraces the restoration of peace, the integrity of the whole Union, and the abandonment of slavery, and which comes by and with an authority that can control the armies now at war against the United States, will be received and considered by the Executive Government of the United States, and will be met by liberal terms on substantial and collateral points; and the bearer or bearers thereof shall have safe conduct both ways."
7 At about the time of Mr. Greeley's unofficial mission to Niagara, two other citizens were on a secret peace missiop, at Richmond, whither they went clandestinely, without the President's permission, but with his knowledge. The men engaged in the errand were Colonel J. F. Jaques, of the Seventy-third Illinois, and J. R. Gilmore, a civilian, of New York. They were allowed to pass through the Union lines, and at Richmond they obtained an interview, first with Benjamin, “ Secretary of State," and then with Jefferson Davis. They held a free talk with the latter, who said, after declaring that he had tried to avert the war, "Now it must go on till the last inan of this generation falls in his tracks, and his children seize his musket and fight our battle, unless you acknowledge our right to self-government. We are not fighting for slavery. We are fighting for Independence, and that, or extermination, we will hare !"
3 The bitterness of that hostility was everywhere conspicuous, and seemed to increase with the manifest gains of the National forces over those in rebellion. In no way was that hostility more offensively and inappropriately manifested than by the Mayor of the City of New York, C. Godfrey Gunther, who took the occasion of officially announcing the proclamation of the President, setting apart the 4th of August as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer to Almighty God, to make an unseemnly attack on the great body of the clergy of that city. The following sentence, excepting a few lines setting forth that it had become his duty to " call attention" to the President's proclamation, was the whole of the mayor's communication on the subject :-"To the ministers of the various churches on whom will devolve the duty of offering prayer in the presence of their congregations, and especially those ministers who have inculcated the doctrine of war and blood, so much at variance with the teachings of their Divine Master, I would humbly recommend that they will, on that solemn occasion, invoke the mercy of Heaven to hasten the relief of our suffering people, by turning the hearts of those in anthority to the blessed ways of peace."
A SECRET REVOLUTIONARY CONSPIRACY.
against any government found waging war against a people endeavoring to establish a government of their own choice,”—in other words, to assist the insurgents then in arms against their country. The method, as we have observed,' was a general rising of the members of this organization in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, in co-operation with a force under Price, who was to invade Missouri. As we have already observed,' Price performed his part with the open enemies of the Republic; but the cowardly secret enemies failed to meet their engagements. The plot, it is said, originated with the Conspirators at Richmond, and was chiefly directed by Jacob Thompson, in Canada, assisted by the agents of the Confederacy there, with whom leaders of the Peace Faction were in continual council.:
The first blow—the signal for the uprising-was to be struck at Chicago, during the sittings of the Democratic Convention, when eight thousand Confederate prisoners, confined in Camp Douglas, near that city, were to be liberated and armed by the rebel refugees from Canada there assembled, and five thousand sympathizers with the Conspirators, and members of the treasonable league, resident in Chicago. Then the Confederate prisoners at Indianapolis were to be released and armed, and the hosts of the Knights of the Golden Circle were to gather at appointed rendezvous, to the number of full one hundred thousand men. This force, springing out of the earth, as it were, in the rear of Grant and Sherman, would, it was believed, compel the raising of the siege of Richmond and Atlanta, and secure peace on the basis of the independence of the “Confederate States.” Vallandigham, as we have observed, was to go boldly from exile in Canada to Chicago, to act as circumstances should require. When the Convention met, he was there. The rebel refugees in Canada were there; and a vast concourse of sympathizers with the cause of the Conspirators, and members of the traitorous league, were there, and were harangued from balconies of hotels and other places in the most incendiary and revolutionary language."
Fortunately for the country, there was a young officer in command at Camp Douglas, possessed of courage, rare sagacity, and a cool brain ; and
1 See pages 275, 276.
? See page 277.
3 See page 445. 4 It will be remembered that the kind President modified the severe sentence of Vallandigham, who was condemned for treasonable practices, with the provision that if he should return from exile without permission, he should suffer the penalty prescribed by the court. (See page 84.) He did so return, at the time we are considering, and was unmolested. The Government was charged with weakness in not arresting and punishing him. It deserve praise for patriotism. The Speaker of the House of Representatives (Schuyler Colfas), in s speech at Peru, Indiana, explained the matter. He said :—" When Mr. Vallandigham returned, it was very natural that the first place he went to, should be a democratic convention. He thought Mr. Lincoln would arrest him. Mr. Lincoln know the fact that, at that time, there was a secret organization in the Northwest, the details of which he may not have been familiar with; but he knew the intention was to make Vallandigham's arrest a pretext for lighting the torch of civil war all over the Northwest. Anxious to preserve the peace at your own homes, Mr. Lincoln passed over the return of Vallandigham."
Mr. Greeley, in his American Conflict, ii. 667, gives specimens of speeches by two clergymen, belonging in the Peace Faction, at outside meetings in Chicago. One of them, named Chauncey C. Burr, said that Mr. Lin. coln “ had stolen a good many thousand negroes; but for every negro he had thus stolen, he had stolen ten thousand spoons. It had been said that, if the South would lay down their arms, they would be received back into the Union. The South could not honorably lay down their arms, for she was fighting for her honor. Two millions of men had been sent down to the slaughter-pens of the South, and the army of Lincoln could not again be filled, either by enlistments nor conscription." The other clergyman alluded to, named Henry Clay Dean, esclaimed:-“Such a failure has never been known. Such destruction of human life had never been seen since the destruction of Sennacherib by the breath of the Almighty. And still the monster usurper wants more men for his slaughter-pens.
Ever since the usurper, traitor, and tyrant had occupied the Presidential chair, the republican party had shouted War to the knife, and the knife to the hilt!' Blood has fowed in torrents, and yet the thirst of the old monster was not quenched."
THE CHICAGO PLATFORM.
exercised sleepless vigilance. Disabled in the field, he had been sent there for lighter duty, as successor to General Orme," and he was there made the instrument, under God's good providence, in saving his
* May 2, country from a calamity with which it was threatened by one of the most hellish conspiracies recorded in the history of the race. This young officer became acquainted with the secret of the Conspirators, and took measures accordingly.' The managers of the League were informed of this, and prudently postponed action to a more propitious season ;' and Price and his ten thousand armed followers in Missouri found no adequate support, as we have observed. That young officer was Colonel B. J. Sweet, whose right elbow had been crushed by a bullet, in the battle of Perryville, in Kentucky.
In the Democratic Convention, a committee composed of one delegate from each State represented, was appointed to prepare a "platform of principles.” James Guthrie, of Kentucky, was chosen its chairman. Vallandigham was the ruling spirit in the committee. The platform was soon constructed, in the form of six resolutions, which the Convention adopted. By these, that body, representing the Opposition party, declared its “ fidelity to the Union under the Constitution ;" that the war was a failure, and that “humanity, liberty, and the public welfare" demanded its immediate cessation;' that the Government, through its military power, had interfered with
lections in four of the late slave-labor States, and was, consequently, guilty of revolutionary action, which should be resisted; that the Government had been guilty of unwarrantable usurpations, which were specified, and had also been guilty of a shameful disregard of duty respecting the exchange of prisoners, and the release of its suffering captives. The resolutions closed with an assurance that the Democratic party extended their sympathy to the Union soldiers, and that, "in the event,” they said, “ of our attaining power,” those soldiers “shall receive all the care and protection,
1 We have observed that the Democratic Convention was to have been held on the 4th of July. In June, the commandant at Camp Douglas observed that a large number of letters, written by the prisoners (which were not sealed until they passed inspection at head-quarters), were only brief notes, written on large paper. Suspecting all was not right, he submitted these letters to the action of heat, when it was found that longer epistles were on the paper, written in invisible or "sympathetic" ink, and in which the friends of the writers were informed that the captives at Camp Douglas expected to keep the 4th of July in a peculiar way. The Convention, as we have seen, was postponed to the 29th of August. The vigilance of the commandant never relaxed, and more than a fortnight before that Convention assembled, he informed his conimanding general of the impending danger. He had positive knowledge of the preparations in Canada for striking the blow at Chicago, at the time of the Convention. “We outnumbered you two to one," said a leader in the conspiracy to a writer in the Atlantic Monthly;a" but our force was badly disciplined. Success in such circumstances was impossible, and on the third day of the Convention we announced from head-quarters that an attack at that
July, 1865. time was impossible.”
2 It was arranged for the blow for the release of the prisoners at Camp Donglus, and the subsequent action dependent thereon, to be given on the night of the Presidential election. At that time a large number of rebel officers were in Chicago. Their plans were all matured, but when they were about to put them into execution, Colonel Sweet interfered by the arrest of about one hundred of these men and Ilinois traitors. With them hundreds of fire-arins were seized. Again that young otficer had saved his country from great calamity.
3 See page 277.
4 The following is a copy of the resolution :-Resowed, That this Convention does explicitly declare, as the sense of the American people, that, after four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war, during which, under the pretense of a military necessity, of a war-power higher than the Constitution, the Constitution itself has been disregarded in every part, and public liberty and private right alike trodden down, and the material prosperity of the country essentially impaired. Justice, humanity, liberty, and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities, with a view to an ultimate convention of all the States, or other peaceable means, to the end that, at the earliest practicable moment, peace may be restored on the basis of be
Union the States."
RECEPTION OF THE CHICAGO PLATFORM.
* Nov, 5,
regard and kindness,” that they deserved. Then General George B. McClel-
before," was nominated for the office of President, and George
gress and out of it, had een, next to Vallandigham, one of
The Convention soon afterward adjourned, but did not dissolve.'
The Platform adopted by the Convention was read by the people with
The proposition at Chicago for the Government to abandon further
dent of the Republic had, by proclamation, asked the people to Sept. 31,
give common thanks in their respective places of public worship on
the ensuing Sabbath, and directed salutes of one hundred guns to be fired at all military and naval arsenals of the land.
1 Mr. Wickliffe, of Kentucky, after saying, that circumstances might make it necessary, between that time and the inauguration of a new President, for “ the Democracy of the country to meet in Convention again," offered a resolution that the Convention should not dissolve, but retain its organization, and be subject to a call by the proper committee. This resolution was adopted.
2 " The action of the Chicago Convention," Alexander H. Stephens wrote, on the 22d of September, " so far as its platform of principles goes, presents a ray of light, which, under Providence, may prove the dawn of the day to this long and cheerless night-the first ray of light I have seen from the North since the war began. This cheers the heart, and toward it I could almost exclaim, • Hail, holy light, offspring of heaven, first born of the eternal co-eternal beam, may I express thee, unblamed, since God is light!” The general sentiment of leading men in the Confederacy was that the election of the Chicago nominees would secure the independence of that Confederacy, and it stimulated them to fight our soldiers more desperately, feeling that success on the part of the Confederate armies would assist the election of McClellan. "All of us perceive," said the Charleston Courier, “the intimate connection existing between the arinies of the Confederacy and the peace men in the United States. These constitute two immense forces, that are working together for the procurement of peace. The party whose nomination and platform we are considering are altogether dependent for succees on tẢ. courage and resolution of our fighting men. If their generalship, sagacity, valor, and vigilance are unable to obtain victories, and to arrest the progress of the invading hordes, the existing administration will laugh to scorn all the efforts of the opposition, and, in spite of the most powerful combinations, will continge to hold the places they occupy. OUR SUCCESS IN BATTLE INSURES THE SUCCESS OF McClellan. Our Failure WILL INEVITABLY LEAD TO HIS DEFEAT. It is the victories that have crowned our arms since this year began, that have given existence, strength, and harmony to that organization which has arrayed itself with firm, defiant front against tho despot and his minions."
3 See page 444