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Joliet; T. J. Pickett, Peoria; E. A. Dudley, Quincy; Wm. H. Herndon, Springfield; R. J. Oglesby, Decatur; Joseph Gillespie, Edwardsville; D. L. Phillips, Jonesboro, and Gustavus Korner and Ira O. Wilkinson, from the State at large.
Agreeably to the recommendation of the editorial convention, a State convention met at Bloomington, May 29. Many of the counties were unrepresented, but this did not deter the convention from organizing, and John M. Palmer was chosen permanent President, with J. A. Davis, of Stephenson, William Ross, of Pike, James McKee, of Cook, J. H. Bryant, of Bureau, A. C. Harding, of Warren, Richard Yates, of Morgan, H. O. Jones, of Piatt, D. L. Phillips, of Union, George Smith, of Madison, J. H. Marshall, of Coles, J. M. Ruggles, of Mason, G. D. A. Parks, of Will, and John Clark, of Schuyler, as Vice-Presidents. H. S. Baker, of Madison, C. L. Wilson, of Cook, John Tilson, of Adams, W. Bushnell, of LaSalle, and B. J. F. Hanna, of Randolph, were elected Secretaries.
After the usual forms and ceremonies, William H. Bissell, of St. Clair, was nominated for Governor; Francis A. Hoffman, for Lieut.-Governor, but subsequently the name of John Wood, of Adams, was substituted; O. M. Hatch, of Pike, for Secretary of State; Jesse K. Dubois, of Lawrence, for Auditor; James Miller, of McLean, for Treasurer, and W. H. Powell, of Peoria, for Superintendent of Public Instruction.
J. C. Conkling, of Sangamon, Asahel Gridley, of McLean, B. C. Cook, of LaSalle, C. H. Ray and N. B. Judd, of Cook, were constituted the State Central Committee.
Abraham Lincoln, O. H. Browning, Richard Yates, John M. Palmer, Owen Lovejoy, Lyman Trumbull and John Wentworth, were the minds which directed the destiny of the new party, and its platform was so framed as to have no uncertain sound regarding the further extension of
slavery, nor was there any want of devotion to the Union of the States. Here are the resolutions which related to the National questions:
"Resolved, That we hold, in accordance with the opinions and practices of all the great statesmen of all parties for the first sixty years of the administration of the government, that under the constitution Congress possesses the power to prohibit slavery in the Territories; and that whilst we will maintain all constitutional rights of the South, we also hold that justice, humanity, the principles of freedom, as expressed in our Declaration of Independence and our National Constitution, and the purity and perpetuity of our government, require that that power should be exerted to prevent the extension of slavery into Territories heretofore free.
"Resolved, That the repeal of the Missouri Compromise was unwise, unjust and injurious; an open and aggravated violation of the plighted faith of the States, and that the attempt of the present administration to force slavery into Kansas against the known wishes of the legal voters of that Territory, is an arbitrary and tyrannous violation of the rights of the people to govern themselves, and that we will strive by all constitutional means to secure to Kansas and Nebraska the legal guaranty against slavery of which they were deprived at the cost of the violation of the plighted faith of the Nation.
"Resolved, That we are devoted to the Union, and will, to the last extremity, defend it against the efforts now being made by the disunionists of this administration to compass its dissolution, and that we will support the Constitution of the United States in all its provisions, regarding it as the sacred bond of our union, and the only safeguard for the preservation of the rights of ourselves and our posterity.'
Upon this platform, as the fundamental principles of the new party, its standard bearers went forth to battle. It was the Presidential year. James Buchanan was the Democratic candidate for President; Millard Fillmore the Native American; and June 17, the anti-slavery Democrats and Whigs of the North met at Philadelphia and organized the National Republican party, thus adopting the name which had been assumed by the new party in Illinois, and nominated John C. Fremont for President. Thus stimulated,
the Republican party of Illinois went boldly forward to secure the election of their State ticket, and while Buchanan carried the State by a plurality of 9,150 over Fremont, the Republican State ticket was elected throughout. Bissell's majority over W. A. Richardson, the Democratic candidate for Governor, was 4,697.
THREE BRANCHES OF THE GOVERNMENT PRO-SLAVERY.
It is worthy of remark here, that when the Republican party carried the Presidential election in 1869, the proslavery men held control of three branches of the National Government-both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court-and added to this was a voluntary avowal by the incoming President that their domestic institutions would in no wise be disturbed by the change made in political rulers. Notwithstanding this, they abandoned their places in Congress and attempted to establish an independent government with slavery as its chief corner stone, and when the government at Washington refused to acknowledge their independence, they made war on the Union, the result of which is known to all who read history.
More than a quarter of a century has elapsed since the formation of the Republican party, and radical changes have taken place in the governments of the State and Nation, and with the change of issues a corresponding change in political affiliation. Many of the great leaders who took a prominent part in the formation of the Republican party are numbered with the silent dead. Some of those who gave it character, courage and power in its infancy are now affiliating with the Democratic party, and many of the Democratic leaders who were then pro-slavery in sentiment, now make their political home with the Republican party.
GROWTH OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.
The Republican party had a very small beginning in Sangamon county. When the Whig party dissolved, its members became Native Americans or Democrats. One of the first Republican caucuses held in Sangamon county was at Williamsville, in the spring of 1856, and the only Republicans present were S. H. Jones, more familiarly known as Sam Jones, and Jacob Beck. Mr. Jones occupied the chair, and Mr. Beck made the speech of the occasion. The meeting had been called at their instance, and although the house was full of spectators, there was no one outside of these gentlemen who dared to announce their adhesion to the new party. Jones was made the delegate to the county convention which met at Springfield, in the law office of Lincoln & Herndon. There were only about a dozen, in all, present. Lincoln was the leading spirit, and pointed out the way to victory. At the following November election, Williamsville cast fifteen votes for John C. Fremont; and in 1880, there were some three hundred votes polled for Garfield, and the Republican majority was seventy-five, which shows that the seed of the new party was sown in good ground.
The first Republican convention held in Cairo was in the spring of 1858. This was called to appoint delegates to the State convention at Springfield, which nominated Abraham Lincoln for United States Senator, in opposition to Douglas. The convention had been thoroughly advertised, and the house was well filled with people anxious to see how the new anti-slavery party progressed. Republicanism was by no means popular in that section at that time; and there were just four representatives in the convention, namely, D. J. Baker, John C. White, James Summerville and C. C. Brown, now a member of the well-known law firm of Stuart, Edwards & Brown. White was elected chairman and Baker secretary. While the
committee on resolutions, which consisted of Summerville and Baker, was out, Mr. Brown entertained the audience in a speech of some length, on the purpose and hope of the party; and next day the Chicago Tribune appeared with an extended account of the convention, entitling it the "First Gun from Egypt."
In 1859, when the Republican party was in its very infancy in Southern Illinois, William H. Green, then a Representative in the Twenty-first General Assembly, invited to his office, in Metropolis, a few prominent Democrats, for the purpose of consulting as to the best interests of the party. "Gentlemen," said he, "you may think this meeting unnecessary, or it may look to you like a farce, but I tell you now that the time is coming when the Democratic party of this State will have to thoroughly organize, if they wish to hold political supremacy; and I may say, that even in this county the Republican party will test our strength to the utmost." The Republicans of that county were not long in working out a literal fulfillment of Mr. Green's prediction. The first Republican organization in Massac county took place at Metropolis, in the spring of 1860. There were just five persons present-W. R. Brown, R. A. Peter, L. P. Stalcup, Tillman Robey and Thos. Moore. Mr. Brown was made chairman and Mr. Stalcup secretary. The vote in that county at the Presidential election was 910 for Douglas and Johnson, 122 for Lincoln and Hamlin, 82 for Bell and Everett, and 4 for Breckinridge and Lane. But how marvelous the revolution in public sentiment. Massac county now gives a Republican majority, ranging from 300 to 7 0, and the same can be said of many other counties in Southern Illinois, the stronghold of Democracy.