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the material resolution of the Chicago platform, and carried it through the sub-committee and the general committee in spite of the most desperate and persistent opposition on the part of Cassidy and his friends, Mr. Cassidy himself in an adjoining room laboring to defeat it.
with no hates, no prejudices, no passions." And might have been modified or defeated in full so, as he imagined, without prejudices, convention if the war Democrats had had the without hatred, and without passion, he went on courage of their convictions; but they were so denouncing his Government and the majority of intent upon the nomination of McClellan that his fellow-citizens with eloquent fury to the end they considered the question of platform as of of his speech. His address was greeted at its secondary importance, and these fatal resoluclose with loud applause, not unmingled with tions were therefore adopted without debate, calls on the part of the peace men for Vallan- and the convention passed to the nomination digham. He did not respond at that moment, of candidates. General McClellan was nomibut the most weighty utterance of the con- nated by Mr. Stockton of New Jersey, folvention was his, nevertheless the second lowed by S. S. Cox of Ohio; Mr. Saulsbury of resolution of the platform, reported by the Delaware nominated Mr. Powell of Kentucky, chairman, Mr. Guthrie of Kentucky. There who with compliments declined; Mr. Stuart, had been on the organization of the committee a in behalf of the peace faction from Ohio, nomicontest between Guthrie and Vallandigham for nated Mr. Seymour of Connecticut; and Mr. the chairmanship. "Through the artifices of Wickliffe of Kentucky raised the specter of the Cassidy, Tilden, and other New York politi- old-fashioned Democracy in the convention cians," Mr. Guthrie of Kentucky received by nominating ex-President Pierce in a speech twelve votes to eight for Vallandigham; but more amusing than effective. McClellan rewhatever managers may accomplish, the strong- ceived 174 votes, but before the result was deest man with the strongest force behind him clared the vote was raised upon revision to generally has his way, and when the committee 202; Seymour received a little more than onegot to work Vallandigham carried too many tenth of that number. Mr. Vallandigham, who guns for Guthrie. He wrote, to use his own had taken possession of the convention through words, his platform, now adopted the candidate also, and put the seal of his sinister approval upon General McClellan by moving that his nomination be made unanimous, which was done with great cheering. Mr. Wickliffe, the comic old man of the convention, then offered a resolution that General McClellan, immediately after his inauguration in March next, should "open Abraham Lincoln's prison doors and let the captives free." Mr. Guthrie and Mr. Pendleton were the principal names mentioned in the first ballot for Vice-President, but on the second New York changed from Guthrie to Pendleton, and, all the other candidates being withdrawn, he was nominated, unanimously. Pendleton came to the stand and briefly addressed the convention, accepting the nomination and promising to continue "faithful to those principles which lay at the very bottom of the organization of the Democratic party.” The convention did not adjourn as usual sine die. On the motion of Mr. Wickliffe, who said that "the delegates from the West were of the opinion that circumstances might occur between now and the 4th of March next which would make it proper for the Democracy of the country to meet in convention again," the convention resolved to "remain as organized, subject to be called at any time and place that the Executive National Committee shall designate." The motives of this action were not avowed. It was taken as a significant warning that the leaders of the Democratic party held themselves ready for any extraordinary measures which the exigencies of the time might provoke or invite.
This Vallandigham resolution is the only one in the platform worth quoting. All the rest was a string of mere commonplaces declaring devotion to the Union, denouncing interference of the military in elections, enumerating the illegal and arbitrary acts of the Government, expressing the sympathy of the convention with soldiers and sailors and prisoners of war. But the resolution written by Mr. Vallandigham and by him forced upon his party
Resolved, 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, or 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 the States, or other peaceable means, to the end that at the earliest practicable moment peace may be restored on the basis of the Federal Union of the States.
It is altogether probable that this distinct proposition of surrender to the Confederates 1 Letter of Vallandigham to the New York "News," Oct. 22, 1864.
The New Yorkers had, however, the last
word. Mr. Seymour, as Chairman of the Convention, was chairman of the committee to inform McClellan of his nomination, and before he wrote the letter Atlanta had fallen, the tide had turned, and the winds of popular opinion, which had seemed stagnant throughout the midsummer, now began to blow favorably to the national cause. The committee, in their letter dated a week after the convention adjourned, said:
Be assured that those for whom we speak were animated with the most earnest, devoted, prayerful desire for the salvation of the American Union, and preservation of the Constitution of the United States, and that the accomplishment of these objects was the guiding and impelling motive in every mind; and we may be permitted to add that their purpose to maintain the Union is manifested in their selection, as their candidate, of one whose life has been devoted to its cause, while it is their earnest hope and confident belief that your election will restore to our country Union, Peace, and Constitutional Liberty.
The general answered on the same date.1 He also felt with the New York politicians that the poison of death was in the platform of the convention; that if he accepted it pure and simple the campaign was hopeless; his only possible chance for success was in his war record; his position as a candidate on a platform of dishonorable peace was no less desperate than ridiculous. He, therefore, in his letter of acceptance renewed his assurances of devotion to the Union, the Constitution, the laws, and the flag of his country.
The reestablishment of the Union [he said] in all its integrity is, and must continue to be, the indispensable condition in any settlement. So soon as it is clear, or even probable, that our present adversaries are ready for peace, upon the basis of the Union, we should exhaust all the resources of statesmanship practiced by civilized nations and taught by the traditions of the American people, consistent with the honor and interests of the country, to secure such peace, reëstablish the Union, and guarantee for the future the constitutional rights of every State. The Union is the one condition of peace. We ask no more. Let me add, what I doubt not was, although unexpressed, the sentiment of the convention, as it is of the people they represent, that when any one State is willing to return to the Union it should be received at once, with a full guarantee of all its constitutional rights. . . . But the Union must be preserved at all hazards. I could not look in the face of my gallant comrades of the army and navy, who have survived so many bloody battles, and tell them that their labors and the sacrifice of
so many of our slain and wounded brethren had been in vain, that we had abandoned that Union for which we have so often periled our lives. A vast majority of our people, whether in the army and navy or at home, would, as I would, hail with un1 Sept. 8, 1864.
2 At Sidney, Ohio, Sept. 24.
bounded joy the permanent restoration of peace, on the basis of the Union under the Constitution without the effusion of another drop of blood. But no peace can be permanent without union.
Having thus absolutely repudiated the platform upon which he was nominated, he coolly concluded, "Believing that the views here expressed are those of the convention and the people you represent, I accept the nomination."
Upon this contradictory body of doctrine McClellan began his campaign. The platform of the convention was the law, his letter was the gospel, and the orators of the party might reconcile the two according to their sympathies or their ingenuity. The Ohio wing had no hesitation in taking its stand. "The Chicago platform," said Mr. Vallandigham, speaking from the same platform with Mr. Pendleton on the 17th of September, "enunciated its policy and principles by authority and was binding upon every Democrat, and by them the Democratic Administration must and should be governed. It was the only authorized exposition of the Democratic creed, and he repudiated all others." And a week afterwards2 he went still further and specifically contradicted
The two principal points in his letter of acceptance to which I object were brought before the committee. The one containing the threat of future war was unanimously rejected. The other, to the effect that until the States and people of the South had returned to the Union we would not exhaust these arts of statesmanship, as they are called, received but three votes in that committee, though presented almost in the very words of the letter itself.
CONSPIRACIES IN THE NORTH.
OPPOSITION to the Government by constitutional means was not enough to gratify the vehement and resentful feelings of those Democrats in the North whose zeal for slavery seemed completely to have destroyed in their hearts every impulse of patriotism. They were ready to do the work of the Southern Confederacy in the North, and were alone prevented by their fear of the law. To evade the restraints of justice and the sharp measures of the military administration, they formed throughout the country secret associations for the purpose of resisting the laws, of embarrassing in every way the action of the Government, of communicating information to the rebels in arms, and in many cases of inflicting serious damage on the lives and property of the Unionists. They adopted various names in different parts of the country, but the designation adopted by the society having the largest number of lodges in the different States was the "Knights of the Golden Circle." As fast as one name was discovered and pub
lished it was cast aside and another adopted, and the same organization with the same membership appeared successively under the name we have mentioned and that of "The Order of American Knights," "The Order of the Star," and the "Sons of Liberty." These secret organizations possessed a singular charm to uneducated men, independent of their political sympathies; and this attraction, combined with the fact that they could not in plain daylight inflict any injury upon the Government, drove many thousands of the lower class of Democrats into these furtive lodges. It is impossible to ascertain, with any degree of exactness, the numbers of those who became affiliated with the orders. The numbers claimed by the adepts vary widely. A million was not infrequently the membership of which they boasted. Mr. Vallandigham asserted, in a public speech, that the organized body numbered half a million. Judge Holt, in his official report, accepted this aggregate as being something near the truth. The heaviest force was in Illinois and in Indiana; in Ohio they were also very numerous, and in the border States of Kentucky and Missouri. Their organization was entirely military; the State lodges were commanded by major-generals, the congressional districts by brigadiers, the counties by colonels, and the townships by captains. They drilled as much as was possible under the limitations of secrecy; they made large purchases of arms. General Carrington estimated that 30,000 guns and revolvers were brought into Indiana alone, and the adherents of the order in the State of Illinois were also fully armed. In the month of March, 1864, it was estimated that the entire armed force of the order capable of being mobilized for active service was 340,000 men. It is altogether probable that this estimate was greatly exaggerated; and even if so large a number had been initiated into the order, their lack of drill, discipline, and moral character rendered them incapable at any time of acting as an army. The order was large enough at least to offer the fullest hospitality to detectives and to Union men who volunteered to join with the purpose of reporting what they could to the authorities; so that the Government was speedily put in possession of the entire scheme of organization, with the names of the prominent officers of the order and written copies of their constitutions, oaths, and books of ritual. The constitutions of secret societies are generally valuable only as illustrations of human stupidity, and these were no exception to the rule. Their declaration of principles begins with this lucid proposition: "All men are endowed by the Creator with certain rights; equal 1 Report of Judge-Advocate General Holt.
as far as there is equality in the capacity for the appreciation, enjoyment, and exercise of those rights." The institution of slavery receives the approval of this band of midnight traitors in the following muddled and brutal sentences:
In the divine economy no individual of the huto mar its aspects of transcendent beauty, nor to imman race must be permitted to encumber the earth, pede the progress of the physical or intellectual man, neither in himself nor in the race to which he belongs. Hence a people . . . whom neither the divinity within them nor the inspirations of divine and beautiful nature around them can impel to virtuous action and progress onward and upward, and tutelage to the superior race until they shall be should be subjected to a just and humane servitude able to appreciate the benefits and advantages of civilization.
They also declare in favor of something they imagine to be the theory of State rights, and also the duty of the people to expel their rulers from the Government by force of arms when they see good reason. "This is not revolution," they say, "but solely the assertion of State rights." Had they been content to meet in their lodges at stated times and bewilder themselves by such rhetoric as this there would have been no harm done; but there is plenty of evidence that the measures they adopted to bring what they called their principles into action were of positive injury to the national welfare. One of their chief objects was the exciting of discontent in the army and the encouraging of desertion; members of the order enlisted with the express purpose of inciting soldiers to desert with them; money and citizens' clothing were furnished them for this purpose; lawyers were hired to advise soldiers on leave not to go back and to promise them the requisite defense in the courts if they got into trouble by desertion. The adjutant-general of Indiana, in his report for 1863, says that the number of deserters and absentees returned to the army through the post of Indianapolis alone, during the last month of 1862, was about 2600. The squads of soldiers sent to arrest deserters were frequently attacked in rural districts by these organized bodies; the most violent resistance was made to the enrollment and the draft. Several enrolling officers were shot in Indiana and in Illinois; about sixty persons were tried and convicted in Indiana for conspiracy to resist the draft.2 A constant system of communication with the rebels in arms was kept up across the border; arms, ammunition, and, in some instances, recruits, were sent to aid the Confederates; secret murders and assassinations were not unknown; the plan of establishing a North-western Confederacy in hostility to the East and in alliance with the Southern Confederacy was the favor
ite dream of the malignant and narrow minds controlling the order. The Government wisely took little notice of the proceedings of this organization. It was constantly informed of its general plans and purposes; the Grand Secretary of the order in Missouri made a full confession of his connection with it. In August a large number of copies of the ritual of the order of American Knights were seized in the office of D. W. Voorhees, a prominent Democratic member of Congress at Terre Haute.1 A private soldier in the Union army, named Stidger, had himself initiated into the order, and with infinite skill and success rose to a high position in it, becoming Grand Secretary for the State of Kentucky. Thus thoroughly informed of the composition and the purposes of the society, the Government was constantly able to guard against any serious disturbances of the public peace; and whenever the arrest of any of the ringleaders was determined upon, the evidence for their conviction was always overwhelming.
The fullest light was thrown upon the organization and plans of these treasonable orders by the trials of certain conspirators in Indiana in the autumn of 1864. We will make no reference to the testimony of Government detectives who joined the conspiracy with the purpose of revealing its secrets. It is sufficient to quote the unwilling and unquestionably truthful statements of members of the order, brought into court by subpoena. William Clayton,2 a farmer of Warren County, Illinois, testified that he was initiated a member of the order of American Knights "at a congregation formed in the timber"; he took a long and bombastic oath, the only significant part of which was the pledge to take up arms if required, in the cause of the oppressed against usurpers waging war against a people endeavoring to establish a government for themselves in accordance with the eternal principles of truth; this, he testified, bound him to assist the South in its struggle for independence. He said he understood the purpose of the order was primarily to beat the Republicans at the polls, and that force of arms was to be resorted to in case of necessity; that they contemplated a rebel invasion in support of these objects; that the understanding was that in case the rebels came into Illinois, they and the brethren of this organization were to shake hands and be friends; that they were to give aid and assistance to the invaders; that death was the penalty for divulging the secrets of the order. Other members testified that they took an oath providing that in case of treachery
1 Report of Judge-Advocate General.
2 Treason trials at Indianapolis, p. 39.
3 Ibid., p. 45. 4 Ibid., p. 125. 5 Ibid., p. 174. VOL. XXXVIII.—72-73.
they were to be drawn and quartered, their mangled remains to be cast out at the four gates. When these dwellers in prairie villages were asked what they meant by "the four gates," they said they did not know. Clayton further said their objects were to resist the conscription or anything else that pushed them too hard." 3 Another farmer said he joined "because he had been a Democrat all his life"; another, that he "went in out of curiosity' and this was doubtless a motive with many. In communities where there is little to interest an idle mind these secret mummeries possess a singular attraction. The grips, the passwords, the emblems, formed a great part of whatever temptation the order offered to the rural conspirators. Their favorite cognizance was the oak; not on account of any civic association, but because the word was formed of the initials of the name, "Order of American Knights." Their grand hailing cry of distress was "Oak-houn," the last syllable taken from the name of the South Carolina statesman whose principles they imagined they were putting in operation.
By far the most important witness for the Government was Horace Heffren, a lawyer of Salem, Indiana, a man high in the councils of the order. He was indicted for treasonable practices, and concluded to make a clean breast of it. He gave an apparently truthful account; detailed the scheme for forming a North-western Confederacy, or, if that failed, for joining the Southern army; the State Government of Indiana was to be seized, Governor Morton was to be held for a hostage or killed. He confirmed the story of the general uprising which was to have taken place on the 16th of August in conjunction with a rebel raid from Cumberland Gap, the great feature of which was the liberation of the Confederate prisoners in Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana. But when the time came the rebels did not, and the conspirators lacked heart for the fight. Vallandigham, the supreme head of the order, was too far away for intelligent and efficient direction. The whole conspiracy was shabby and puerile, although it included many editors and politicians of local standing. They were not all cravens; some of them stood up stoutly before the military commission and defended the cause of the South. I assert," said one, "that the South has been fighting for their rights as defined in the Dred Scott decision." 5 But there was very little display of heroism when the time of trial arrived. There was much that was ignoble and sordid; a scramble for the salaried places, a rush to handle the money provided for arms; one man intriguing for a place on the staff" because he had a sore leg"; a cloud of small politicians, who hardly knew whether
they were members or not; "they had heard a ritual read, but paid little attention to it"; they were anxious to be members if the scheme succeeded, and to avoid the law if it failed.
The President's attitude in regard to this organization was one of good-humored contempt rather than anything else. Most of the officers commanding departments, however, regarded the machinations of these dark-lantern knights as a matter of the deepest import. Governor Morton was greatly disquieted by their work in his State, and sent a telegram to the President in January, 1863,1 expressing his fear that the legislature, when it met, would pass a joint resolution to acknowledge the Southern Confederacy and urge the North-west to dissolve all constitutional relation with the New England States. But when the legislature came together, although it evinced a hearty good-will in giving the governor all the worry and annoyance possible, it took no such overt step of treason as he feared.
Their action was, indeed, sufficiently violent and contumacious. The House of Representatives insolently returned his message to him and passed a resolution accepting in its stead that of the Democratic governor of New York. Measures were introduced to take the military power of the State away from the governor and to confer it upon the Democratic State officers. To defeat these unconstitutional proceedings the Republicans adopted the equally irregular course of abandoning the legislature and leaving it without a quorum; in consequence of which no appropriation bills were passed, and the governor had to appeal to the people of the State for means to carry on the government. These were furnished in part by the voluntary offerings of banks, private corporations, and individuals; but needing a quarter of a million dollars for an emergency, he came to Washington and obtained it from the General Government, by virtue of a statute of July 31, 1861, which set aside two millions for the purchase of munitions of war to be used in States in rebellion or "in which rebellion is or may be threatened." In view of the revolutionary attitude of the legislature, and the known treasonable organization and purposes of the Sons of Liberty, the Secretary of War decided that Indiana was so "threatened," and made Governor Morton a disbursing officer to the amount of 250,000 dollars. It is related that Morton remarked, as he took the warrant, " If the cause failed, they would be called heavily to account for this"; to which Stanton replied, "If the cause fails, I do not wish to live."2
1 Morton to Stanton, Jan. 3, 1863.
2 Henry Wilson. Article E. M. Stanton, "Atlantic Monthly," February, 1870.
3 Rosecrans to Lincoln, June 22, 1864. MS.
General Rosecrans, commanding in Missouri, was thrown into something like panic by the doings of the Knights, and Governor Yates of Illinois shared fully in his trepidation. In June, 1864, the governor and the general joined in an earnest demand that the President should order Colonel Sanderson, of Rosecrans's staff, to Washington for a personal interview upon matters of overwhelming importance. The President was unwilling that either Rosecrans or his subordinate should come to Washington upon this errand, under the temptation to magnify his office by alarming reports. He therefore concluded to send one of his own private secretaries to St. Louis to see precisely what were the facts which had thrown the general commanding into such a state of consternation. Rosecrans then repeated the entire story of the organization of the order of American Knights and the Golden Circle, facts which were already well known to the President and the Secretary of War; but the immediate cause of his excitement was the expected return of Vallandigham, which, he said, was in accordance with the resolution adopted by the order at the convocation held in Windsor, Canada. General Rosecrans thought that his return would be the signal for the rising of the Knights throughout the North-west, and for serious public disorders.
The President, on receiving his secretary's report, declined to order Sanderson to Washington; and in reference to Rosecrans's strict injunctions of secrecy he said that a secret confided on the one side to half a million Democrats, and on the other to five governors and their staffs, was hardly worth keeping. He said the Northern section of the conspiracy merited no special attention, being about an equal mixture of puerility and malice.
General Rosecrans, after he was convinced that the President would not overrule the Secretary of War by ordering Colonel Sanderson to Washington, concluded at last to send his voluminous report in manuscript, accompanying it with the following letter, which we copy as giving in few words the results of his researches: 3
Since Major Hay's departure, bearing my letter about the secret conspiracy we have been tracing out, we have added much information of its Southern connexions, operations, uses, and intentions.
We have also found a new element in its workings under the name of McClellan minute men.
The evident extent and anti-national purposes of this great conspiracy compel me to urge the consideration of what ought to be done to anticipate its workings and prevent the mischief it is capable of producing again upon your attention.
Therefore, I have sent the report of Colonel Sanderson with the details of evidence covering a thousand pages of foolscap, by himself, to be carried or forwarded to you by safe hands.