The Great Conspiracy

“But I am not prepared to recommend the violence implied in these views.
In stating this argument in favor of freedom, ‘peaceably if we can,
forcibly if we must,’ let me not be misunderstood. The redress can be
found only in appeals to the magnanimity of the people of the whole
State.” * * *

If “these views” were his own, and not those of the Rebel Conclave, he
would either have been “prepared to recommend the violence implied in
them,” or else he would have suppressed them altogether. But his
utterance is that of one who has certain views for the first time placed
before him, and shrinks from the consequences of their advocacy–shrinks
from “the violence implied” in them–although for some reason he dares
not refuse to place those views before the people.

And, in carrying out his promise to do so–“In stating this argument,”
presumably of the Rebel Conclave, “in favor of freedom, ‘peaceably if we
can, forcibly if we must'”–the language used is an admission that the
argument is not his own. Were it his own, would he not have said in
“making” it, instead of in “stating” it? Furthermore, had he been
“making” it of his own accord, he would hardly have involved himself in
such singular contradictions and explanations as are here apparent. He
was plainly “stating” the Rebel Conclave’s argument, not making one
himself. He was obeying orders, under the protest of his fears. And
those fears forced his trembling pen to write the saving-clause which
“qualifies” the Conclave’s second-hand bluster preceding it.

That the Rebels hoped for Northern assistance in case of Secession, is
very clear from many speeches made prior to and soon after the election
of Mr. Lincoln to the Presidency–and from other sources of information.
Thus we find in a speech made by Representative L. M. Keitt, of South
Carolina, in Charleston, November, 1860, the following language,
reported by the Mercury:

“But we have been threatened. Mr. Amos Kendall wrote a letter, in which
he said to Colonel Orr, that if the State went out, three hundred
thousand volunteers were ready to march against her. I know little
about Kendall–and the less the better. He was under General Jackson;
but for him the Federal treasury seemed to have a magnetic attraction.

“Jackson was a pure man, but he had too many around him who made
fortunes far transcending their salaries. [Applause.] And this Amos
Kendall had the same good fortune under Van Buren. He (Kendall)
threatened us on the one side, and John Hickman on the other. John
Hickman said, defiantly, that if we went out of the Union, eighteen
millions of Northern men would bring us back.

“Let me tell you, there are a million of Democrats in the North who,
when the Black Republicans attempt to march upon the South, will be
found a wall of fire in the front. [Cries of ‘that’s so,’ and
applause.]”

Harper’s Weekly of May 28, 1864, commenting on certain letters of M. F.
Maury and others, then just come to light, said:

“How far Maury and his fellow-conspirators were justified in their hopes
of seducing New Jersey into the Rebellion, may be gathered from the
correspondence that took place, in the spring of 1861, between Ex-
Governor Price, of New Jersey, who was one of the representatives from
that State in the Peace Congress, and L. W. Burnet, Esq., of Newark.

“Mr. Price, in answering the question what ought New Jersey to do, says:
‘I believe the Southern confederation permanent. The proceeding has
been taken with forethought and deliberation–it is no hurried impulse,
but an irrevocable act, based upon the sacred, as was supposed, equality
of the States; and in my opinion every Slave State will in a short
period of time be found united in one Confederacy. * * * Before that
event happens, we cannot act, however much we may suffer in our material
interests. It is in that contingency, then, that I answer the second
part of your question:–What position for New Jersey will best accord
with her interests, honor, and the patriotic instincts of her people? I
say emphatically she would go with the South from every wise,
prudential, and patriotic reason.’

“Ex-Governor Price proceeds to say that he is confident the States of
Pennsylvania and New York will ‘choose also to cast their lot with the
South, and after them, the Western and Northwestern States.'”

The following resolution,* was adopted with others, by a meeting of
Democrats held January 16, 1861, at National Hall, Philadelphia, and has
been supposed to disclose “a plan, of which ex-Governor Price was likely
aware:”

“Twelfth–That in the deliberate judgment of the Democracy of
Philadelphia, and, so far as we know it, of Pennsylvania, the
dissolution of the Union by the separation of the whole South, a result
we shall most sincerely lament, may release this Commonwealth to a large
extent from the bonds which now connect her with the Confederacy, except
so far as for temporary convenience she chooses to submit to them, and
would authorize and require her citizens, through a Convention, to be
assembled for that purpose, to determine with whom her lot should be
cast, whether with the North and the East, whose fanaticism has
precipitated this misery upon us, or with our brethren of the South,
whose wrongs we feel as our own; or whether Pennsylvania should stand by
herself, as a distinct community, ready when occasion offers, to bind
together the broken Union, and resume her place of loyalty and
devotion.”

Senator Lane of Oregon, replying to Senator Johnson of Tennessee,
December 19, 1860, in the United States Senate, and speaking of and for
the Northern Democracy, said:

“They will not march with him under his bloody banner, or Mr. Lincoln’s,
to invade the soil of the gallant State of South Carolina, when she may
withdraw from a Confederacy that has refused her that equality to which
she is entitled, as a member of the Union, under the Constitution. On
the contrary, when he or any other gentleman raises that banner and
attempts to subjugate that gallant people, instead of marching with him,
we will meet him there, ready to repel him and his forces. He shall not
bring with him the Northern Democracy to strike down a people contending
for rights that have been refused them in a Union that ought to
recognize the equality of every member of the Confederacy. * * * I now
serve notice that, when War is made upon that gallant South for
withdrawing from a Union which refuses them their rights, the Northern
Democracy will not join in the crusade. THE REPUBLICAN PARTY WILL HAVE
WAR ENOUGH AT HOME. THE DEMOCRACY OF THE NORTH NEED NOT CROSS THE
BORDER TO FIND AN ENEMY.”

The following letter from Ex-President Pierce is in the same misleading
strain:

“CLARENDON HOTEL, January 6, 1860.–[This letter was captured, at Jeff.
Davis’s house in Mississippi, by the Union troops.]

“MY DEAR FRIEND:–I wrote you an unsatisfactory note a day or two since.
I have just had a pleasant interview with Mr. Shepley, whose courage and
fidelity are equal to his learning and talents. He says he would rather
fight the battle with you as the standard-bearer in 1860, than under the
auspices of any other leader. The feeling and judgment of Mr. S. in
this relation is, I am confident, rapidly gaining ground in New England.
Our people are looking for ‘the coming man,’ one who is raised by all
the elements of his character above the atmosphere ordinarily breathed
by politicians, a man really fitted for this exigency by his ability,
courage, broad statesmanship, and patriotism. Colonel Seymour (Thomas
H.) arrived here this morning, and expressed his views in this relation
in almost the identical language used by Mr. Shepley.

“It is true that, in the present state of things at Washington and
throughout the country, no man can predict what changes two or three
months may bring forth. Let me suggest that, in the running debates in
Congress, full justice seems to me not to have been done to the
Democracy of the North. I do not believe that our friends at the South
have any just idea of the state of feeling, hurrying at this moment to
the pitch of intense exasperation, between those who respect their
political obligations and those who have apparently no impelling power
but that which fanatical passion on the subject of Domestic Slavery
imparts.

“Without discussing the question of right, of abstract power to Secede,
I have never believed that actual disruption of the Union can occur
without blood; and if, through the madness of Northern Abolitionism,
that dire calamity must come, THE FIGHTING WILL NOT BE ALONG MASON’S AND
DIXON’S LINE MERELY. IT [WILL] BE WITHIN OUR OWN BORDERS, IN OUR OWN
STREETS, BETWEEN THE TWO CLASSES OF CITIZENS TO WHOM I HAVE REFERRED.
Those who defy law and scout Constitutional obligations will, if we ever
reach the arbitrament of arms, FIND OCCUPATION ENOUGH AT HOME.

“Nothing but the state of Mrs. Pierce’s health would induce me to leave
the Country now, although it is quite likely that my presence at home
would be of little service.

“I have tried to impress upon our people, especially in New Hampshire
and Connecticut, where the only elections are to take place during the
coming spring, that while our Union meetings are all in the right
direction, and well enough for the present, they will not be worth the
paper upon which their resolutions are written unless we can overthrow
political Abolitionism at the polls and repeal the Unconstitutional and
obnoxious laws which, in the cause of ‘personal liberty,’ have been
placed upon our statute-books. I shall look with deep interest, and not
without hope, for a decided change in this relation.

“Ever and truly your friend,
“FRANKLIN PIERCE.

“Hon. JEFF. DAVIS,
“Washington, D. C.”
But let us turn from contemplating the encouragements to Southern
Treason and Rebellion, held out by Northern Democratic Copperheads, to
the more pleasing spectacle of Loyalty and Patriotism exhibited by the
Douglas wing of Democracy.

Immediately after Sumter, and while the President was formulating his
Message, calling for 75,000 volunteers, Douglas called upon him at the
White House, regretted that Mr. Lincoln did not propose to call for
thrice as many; and on the 18th of April, having again visited the White
House, wrote, and gave the following dispatch to the Associated Press,
for circulation throughout the Country:

“April 18, 1861, Senator Douglas called on the President, and had an
interesting conversation on the present condition of the Country. The
substance of it was, on the part of Mr. Douglas, that while he was
unalterably opposed to the administration in all its political issues,
he was prepared to fully sustain the President in the exercise of all
his Constitutional functions, to preserve the Union, maintain the
Government, and defend the Federal Capital. A firm policy and prompt
action was necessary. The Capital was in danger and must be defended at
all hazards, and at any expense of men and money. He spoke of the
present and future without any reference to the past.”

It is stated of this meeting and its immediate results: “The President
was deeply gratified by the interview. To the West, Douglas
telegraphed, ‘I am for my Country and against all its assailants.’ The
fire of his patriotism spread to the masses of the North, and Democrat
and Republican rallied to the support of the flag. In Illinois the
Democratic and Republican presses vied with each other in the utterance
of patriotic sentiments. * * * Large and numerously attended Mass
meetings met, as it were with one accord, irrespective of parties, and
the people of all shades of political opinions buried their party
hatchets. Glowing and eloquent orators exhorted the people to ignore
political differences in the present crisis, join in the common cause,
and rally to the flag of the Union and the Constitution. It was a noble
truce. From the many resolutions of that great outpouring of patriotic
sentiment, which ignored all previous party ties, we subjoin the
following:

“‘Resolved, that it is the duty of all patriotic citizens of Illinois,
without distinction of party or sect, to sustain the Government through
the peril which now threatens the existence of the Union; and of our
Legislature to grant such aid of men and money as the exigency of the
hour and the patriotism of our people shall demand.’

“Governor Yates promptly issued his proclamation, dated the 15th of
April, convening the Legislature for the 23rd inst. in Extraordinary
Session.

* * * * * * *

“On the evening of the 25th of April, Mr. Douglas, who had arrived at
the Capital the day before, addressed the General Assembly and a densely
packed audience, in the Hall of Representatives, in that masterly
effort, which must live and be enshrined in the hearts of his countrymen
so long as our Government shall endure. Douglas had ever delighted in
the mental conflicts of Party strife; but now, when his Country was
assailed by the red hand of Treason, he was instantly divested of his
Party armor and stood forth panoplied only in the pure garb of a true
Patriot.

“He taught his auditory–he taught his Country, for his speeches were
telegraphed all over it–the duty of patriotism at that perilous hour of
the Nation’s Life. He implored both Democrats and Republicans to lay
aside their Party creeds and Platforms; to dispense with Party
Organizations and Party Appeals; to forget that they were ever divided
until they had first rescued the Government from its assailants. His
arguments were clear, convincing, and unanswerable; his appeals for the
Salvation of his Country, irresistible. It was the last speech, but
one, he ever made.”

Among other pithy and patriotic points made by him in that great speech
–[July 9, 1861.]–were these: “So long as there was a hope of a
peaceful solution, I prayed and implored for Compromise. I have spared
no effort for a peaceful solution of these troubles; I have failed, and
there is but one thing to do–to rally under the flag.” “The South has
no cause of complaint.” “Shall we obey the laws or adopt the Mexican
system of War, on every election.” “Forget Party–all remember only
your Country.” “The shortest road to Peace is the most tremendous
preparation for War.” “It is with a sad heart and with a grief I have
never before experienced, that I have to contemplate this fearful
Struggle. * * * But it is our duty to protect the Government and the
flag from every assailant, be he who he may.”

In Chicago, Douglas repeated his patriotic appeal for the preservation
of the Union, and tersely declared that “There can be no Neutrals in
this War–only Patriots and Traitors.” In that city he was taken with a
mortal illness, and expired at the Tremont House, June 3, 1861–just one
month prior to the meeting of the called Session of Congress.

The wonderful influence wielded by Douglas throughout the North, was
well described afterward by his colleague, Judge Trumbull, in the
Senate, when he said: “His course had much to do in producing that
unanimity in support of the Government which is now seen throughout the
Loyal States. The sublime spectacle of twenty million people rising as
one man in vindication of Constitutional Liberty and Free Government,
when assailed by misguided Rebels and plotting Traitors, is, to a
considerable extent due to his efforts. His magnanimous and patriotic
course in this trying hour of his Country’s destiny was the crowning act
of his life.”

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