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The state of Massachusetts having sent to the senate a series of resolutions relating to this serious attack upon one of her senators, Mr. Seward, in a very appropriate and feeling speech, reviewed the whole affair, and vindicated the legislature of that state in the course it had adopted.
"Every one knew," said Mr. Seward, "that the sufferer in that scene was my cherished personal friend and political associate. Every one knew that he had fallen senseless and, for all that was at first known, lifeless, on the floor of the senate of the United States, for utterances which, whether discreet or indiscreet, were utterances made in the cause of truth, humanity, and justice-a cause in which he was a distinguished fellow-laborer with myself."
Besides the speeches made by Mr. Seward on "Kansas affairs," the "Clayton and Bulwer treaty," and the "Sumner assault," he also spoke at considerable length on the naval retiring board; the origination of appropriation bills; Senator Trumbull's seat; the Danish Sound dues; Nicaragua; the compensation bill; military and civic officers; and mail steamers. He also delivered a brief eulogium on the Hon. T. H. Bayley, late a representative from Virginia and formerly governor of that state.
Congress adjourned on the 18th of August, 1856. But it having failed to grant the required supplies for carrying on the Indian wars, the president convened an extra session, which met on the 23d of the same month. Mr. Seward's speeches at this session, on the army bill and its relation to the affairs of Kansas, throw new light on the subject. The extra session terminated on the 30th of August.
On the 22d day of February, 1856, a convention, representing the people of various sections of the country, opposed to the recent repeal of the Missouri compromise, the invasion of Kansas, and the aggressions of slavery, assembled at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
At this meeting the initiative steps were taken for the national organization of the republican party. Delegates from every free state, and from Kentucky, Maryland, and Virginia, were present. The venerable Francis P. Blair, of Maryland, presided; and among the members present were some of the most distinguished leaders of the whig and democratic parties.
The convention issued an eloquent and stirring address' to the people, and called a national convention to meet in Philadelphia, on the
1 This address was written by Hon. H. J. Raymond, editor of the New York Times and lien tenant-governor of New York.
17th of June ensuing, to nominate candidates for the offices of president and vice-president of the United States. State conventions of a similar kind had been held in most of the free states. One, at Saratoga Springs, in the state of New York, in August, 1854, was remarkable alike for its great numbers and respectable character.'
On the 17th of June, 1856, in pursuance of the call adopted at Pittsburgh, a convention of the opponents of the recent aggressions of the slave power, and friends of the admission of Kansas as a free state and the restoration of the action of the federal government to the principles of Washington and Jefferson, assembled in Philadelphia to nominate candidates for the offices of president and vicepresident of the United States.
A democratic convention, held at Cincinnati on the 2d day of the same month, nominated James Buchanan for the presidency; and the Americans had nominated Mr. Fillmore as early as February preceding.
The Philadelphia convention presented the names of John C. Fremont, of California, and William L. Dayton, of New Jersey, as their candidates, and adopted a resolution in its platform inviting the affiliation and coöperation of all freemen supporting its principles, however differing in other respects. The supporters of this ticket became known throughout the Union as the "Republican Party," and entered upon the contest with a zeal inspired by their devotion to the cause of human nature. The following extracts from the platform adopted by this convention contain the essential principles of the new party:
"Resolved, That, with our republican fathers, we hold it to be a self-evident truth, that all men are endowed with the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that the primary object and ulterior designs of our federal government were, to secure these rights to all persons within its exclusive jurisdiction; that, as our republican fathers, when they had abolished slavery in all our national territory, ordained that no person should be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, it becomes
1 Among the distinguished men of all parties who participated in its proceedings were Preston King, John A. King, William T. McCoun, Robert Emmett, John Jay, Horace Greeley, and Henry J. Raymond.
2 On the first ballot, Colonel Fremont had three hundred and fifty-eight votes and Judge McLean one hundred and ninety-nine. On the second, the vote stood five hundred and thirty-four to thirtyseven for the same candidates. The names of Messrs. Seward, Chase and others were withdrawn before any ballot was taken. For vice-president, on an informal ballot, Mr. Dayton received two hundred and fifty-nine, Abraham Lincoln one hundred and ten, David Wilmot forty-three, Charles Sumner thirty-six.
our duty to maintain this provision of the constitution against all attempts to violate it for the purpose of establishing slavery in any territory of the United States, by positive legislation, prohibiting its existence or extension therein. That we deny the authority of congress, of a territorial legislature, of any individual or association of individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any territory of the United States, while the present constitution shall be maintained."
"Resolved, That the constitution confers upon congress sovereign power over the territories of the United States for their government, and that, in the exercise of this power, it is both the right and the duty of congress to prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism-polygamy and slavery."
Mr. Seward engaged in the presidential canvass with his accustomed zeal and ability. His speeches at Auburn, Detroit, and Oswego are consummate statements of the questions at issue, and masterly expositions of the republican creed. Like nearly all his speeches, they possess an interest and value beyond the occasion that produced them.
The election resulted in the choice of Mr. Buchanan, and in the success of the democratic party in the nation. In thirteen of the sixteen free states, however, the republicans elected their state tickets and gave Colonel Fremont a majority, in those states, of more than two hundred thousand votes over Mr. Buchanan. In New York, the republicans elected twenty-five members of Congress and the entire state administration. Colonel Fremont's plurality in the state over Mr. Buchanan was eighty thousand-over Mr. Fillmore one hundred and fifty-two thousand. Only two free states (Pennsylvania and Indiana) cast a majority of their popular votes for Mr. Buchanan.
In the slaveholding states, the republicans were not allowed to maintain an organization. Individuals expressing sentiments in favor of the republican party were driven from their homes, and became exiles in the free north. A few republican votes, less than twelve hundred in all, were given in the more favored portions of Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and Virginia.
Although failing of complete success, the "friends of human liberty" had now organized a party of more than thirteen hundred
thousand intelligent freemen, never to be disbanded until a triumph over slavery has been achieved.
Such a party had long existed in the prophetic vision of Mr. Seward. He had himself planted the acorn from which this vigorous tree had sprung, nearly twenty years ago, when he was governor of his native state; and his life may be said to have been spent in watching and cultivating its growth. In 1845, in a private letter to a friend, Mr. Seward, in full view of the then recent triumph of the slave power in the annexation of Texas and the election of President Polk, thus clearly indicated the rallying of this new party:
'Friends of human liberty," he wrote, " may for a season be divided, and range themselves under different banners, but time will speedily indicate a rallying ground, and that ground being once gained, they will be invincible.
"There is no enchantment against them-neither is there any divination against their sublime and benevolent mission.
"Let it be pursued in a spirit of patriotism and christian charity-let our motto be uncompromising hostility to human slavery-peace and security to the slaveholder, and perpetual support of the American Union."
The third session of the thirty-fourth congress assembled on the first Monday in December, 1856.
Among its earliest proceedings was the announcement of the death of John M. Clayton. Mr. Seward's eulogium on the character of this eminent statesman was an eloquent and feeling tribute to an old political associate and personal friend.
The claims of the officers of the revolutionary army were ably advocated by Mr. Seward in a speech of great research and power. He showed by abundant evidence that the bill before the senate rested on the policy established by General Washington himself, while at the head of the army, and throughout the war; and that its enactment would be the fulfillment of his promises and more acceptable to his serene and awful shade than all the tributes which have been paid, and all that are yet to be paid, by a redeemed nation and grateful world.
Among the new republican senators who appeared in the senate at the present session was James Harlan, of Iowa. His right to his seat, however, was disputed by the majority and was arbitrarily denied to him, by a vote of twenty-eight to eighteen. Mr. Seward, in a lucid argument, conclusively established the validity of Mr
Harlan's election, and the legislature of Iowa confirmed it at their next session by a decisive majority. On the 23d of December, 1856, Mr. Seward submitted a resolution to the senate, which was unanimously adopted, requesting the president to communicate to the senate such information as he might have, concerning the present condition and prospects of a proposed plan for connecting, by submarine wires, the magnetic telegraph lines on this continent and Europe. On the 7th of January the president replied, transmitting a report from the secretary of state. Mr. Seward, on the 9th of the same month, introduced a bill to expedite telegraph communication for the use of the government in foreign intercourse. The senate proceeded to the consideration of the bill after it had been reported upon, favorably, by a committee, without amendment, and after an interesting debate passed it by a vote of twenty-nine to eighteen. Mr. Seward's remarks on the subject, during its discussion, were eloquent and timely.
After the wires had been laid between the coast of Ireland and Newfoundland, there was a spontaneous gathering of people in Auburn, as in many other places, to rejoice over the happy event. Mr. Seward, and Governor King, who was then on a visit to Auburn, delivered enthusiastic and eloquent speeches. In the course of his remarks, Mr. Seward related the following incidents in the passage of the telegraph bill through congress:
'Cyrus W. Field, by assiduity and patience, first secured consent and conditional engagement on the part of Great Britain, and then, less than two years ago, repaired to Washington. The president and secretary of state individually favored his proposition, but the jealousies of parties and sections in congress forbade them to lend their efficient aid and sanction. He appealed to me. I drew the necessary bill. With the generous aid of others, northern representatives, and the indispensable aid of the late Thomas J. Rusk, a senator from Texas, that bill, after a severe contest, was carried through the senate of the United States by a bare majority. It escaped defeat in the house of representatives with equal difficulty. I have said the aid of Mr. Rusk was indispensable. If any one has wondered why I, an extreme northern man, loved and lamented Thomas J. Rusk, an equally extreme southern man, they have here an explanation. There was no good thing which, as it seemed to me, I could not do in congress with his aid. When he died, it seemed to me that no good thing could be done by any one.
1 On the death of Senator Rusk, Mr. Seward delivered an eloquent eulogium on his life and scrvices.