The Great Conspiracy

But from the very beginning of the year 1864, as if instinctively aware
that their Rebel friends were approaching the crisis of their fate, and
needed now all the help that their allies of the North could give them,
the Anti-War Democrats, in Congress, and out, had been stirring
themselves with unusual activity.

In both Houses of Congress, upon all possible occasions, they had been
striving, as they still strove, with the venom of their widely-
circulated speeches, to poison the loyal Northern and Border-State mind,
in the hope that the renomination of Mr. Lincoln might be defeated, the
chance for Democratic success at the coming Presidential election be
thereby increased, and, if nothing else came of it, the Union Cause be
weakened and the Rebel Cause correspondingly strengthened.

At the same time, evidently under secret instructions from their
friends, the Conspirators in arms, they endeavored to create heart-
burnings and jealousies and ill-feeling between the Eastern (especially
the New England) States and the Western States, and unceasingly attacked
the Protective-Tariff, Internal Revenue, the Greenback, the Draft, and
every other measure or thing upon which the life of the Union depended.

Most of these Northern-Democratic agitators, "Stealing the livery of
Heaven to serve the Devil in," endeavored to conceal their treacherous
designs under a veneer of gushing lip-loyalty, but that disguise was
"too thin" to deceive either their contemporaries or those who come
after them. Some of their language too, as well as their blustering
manner, strangely brought back to recollection the old days of Slavery
when the plantation-whip was cracked in the House, and the air was blue
with execration of New England.

Said Voorhees, of Indiana, (January 11, 1864) when the House was
considering a Bill "to increase the Internal Revenue and for other

"I want to know whether the West has any friends upon the floor of this
House? We pay every dollar that is to be levied by this Tax Bill. * *
* The Manufacturing Interest pays not a dollar into the public Treasury
that stays there. And yet airs of patriotism are put on here by men
representing that interest. I visited New England last Summer, * * *
when I heard the swelling hum of her Manufactories, and saw those who
only a short time ago worked but a few hands, now working their
thousands, and rolling up their countless wealth, I felt that it was an
unhealthy prosperity. To my mind it presented a wealth wrung from the
labor, the sinews, the bone and muscle of the men who till the soil,
taxed to an illegitimate extent to foster and support that great System
of local wealth. * * * I do not intend to stand idly by and see one
portion of the Country robbed and oppressed for the benefit of another."

And the same day, replying to Mr. Morrill of Vermont, he exclaimed: "Let
him show me that the plethoric, bloated Manufacturers of New England are
paying anything to support the Government, and I will recognize it."

Washburne, of Illinois got back at this part of Mr. Voorhees's speech
rather neatly, by defending the North-west as being "not only willing to
stand taxation" which had been "already imposed, but * * * any
additional taxation which," said he, "may be necessary to crush out this
Rebellion, and to hang the Rebels in the South, and the Rebel
sympathizers in the North." And, he pointedly added: "Complaint has
been made against New England. I know that kind of talk. I have heard
too often that kind of slang about New England. I heard it here for ten
years, when your Barksdales, and your Keitts's, and your other Traitors,
now in arms against the Government, filled these Halls with their
pestilential assaults not only upon New England, but on the Free North

Kelley of Pennsylvania, however, more fitly characterized the speech of
Voorhees, when he termed it "a pretty, indeed a somewhat striking,
paraphrase of the argument of Mr. Lamar, the Rebel Agent,--[in 1886,
Secretary of the Interior]--to his confreres in Treason, as we find it
in the recently published correspondence: 'Drive gold coin out of the
Country, and induce undue Importation of Foreign products so as to
strike down the Financial System. You can have no further hope for
Foreign recognition. It is evident the weight of arms is against us;
and it is clear that we can only succeed by striking down the Financial
System of the Country.' It was an admirable paraphrase of the
Instructions of Mr. Lamar to the Rebel Agents in the North."

The impression was at this time abroad, and there were not wanting
elements of proof, that certain members of Congress were trusted
Lieutenants of the Arch-copperhead and Outlaw, Vallandigham. Certain it
is, that many of these leaders, six months before, attended and
addressed the great gathering from various parts of the Country, of
nearly one hundred thousand Vallandigham-Anti-War Peace-Democrats, at
Springfield, Illinois--the very home of Abraham Lincoln--which adopted,
during a lull, when they were not yelling themselves hoarse for
Vallandigham, a resolution declaring against "the further offensive
prosecution of the War" as being subversive of the Constitution and
Government, and proposing a National Peace Convention, and, as a
consequence, Peace, "the Union as it was," and, substantially such
Constitutional guarantees as the Rebels might choose to demand! And
this too, at a time (June 13, 1863), when Grant, after many recent
glorious victories, had been laying siege to Vicksburg, and its Rebel
Army of 37,000 men, for nearly a month, with every reason to hope for
its speedy fall.

No wonder that under such circumstances, the news of such a gathering of
the Northern Democratic sympathizers with Treason, and of their adoption
of such treasonable Resolutions, should encourage the Rebels in the same
degree that Union men were disheartened! No wonder that Lee, elated by
this and other evidences of Northern sympathy with Rebellion, at once
determined to commence a second grand invasion of the North, and on the
very next day (June 14th,) moved Northward with all his Rebel hosts to
be welcomed, he fondly hoped, by his Northern friends of Maryland and
elsewhere! As we have seen, it took the bloody Battle of Gettysburg to
undeceive him as to the character of that welcome.

Further than this, Mr. Cox had stumped Ohio, in the succeeding election,
in a desperate effort to make the banished Traitor, Vallandigham--the
Chief Northern commander of the "Knights of the Golden Circle"
(otherwise known as the "Order of the Sons of Liberty," and "O. A. K."
or "Order of American Knights")--Governor of that great State.

[The Rebel General Sterling Price being the chief Southern
commander of this many-named treasonable organization, which in the
North alone numbered over 500,000 men.

August, 1864.--See Report of Judge Advocate Holt on certain "Secret
Associations," in Appendix,]

And it only lacked a few months of the time when quantities of copies of
the treasonable Ritual of the "Order of American Knights"--as well as
correspondence touching the purchase of thousands of Garibaldi rifles
for transportation to the West--were found in the offices of leading
Democrats then in Congress.

When, therefore, it is said, and repeated, that there were not wanting
elements of proof, outside of Congressional utterances and actions, that
leading Democrats in Congress were trusted Lieutenants of the Supreme
Commander of over half a million of Northern Rebel-sympathizers bound
together, and to secrecy, by oaths, which were declared to be paramount
to all other oaths, the violation of which subjected the offender to a
shameful death somewhat like that, of being "hung, drawn, and
quartered," which was inflicted in the middle ages for the crime of
Treason to the Crown--it will be seen that the statement is supported by
circumstantial, if not by positive and direct, evidence.

Whether the Coxes, the Garret Davises, the Saulsburys, the Fernando
Woods, the Alexander Longs, the Allens, the Holmans, and many other
prominent Congressmen of that sort,--were merely in close communion with
these banded "Knights," or were actual members of their secret
organizations, may be an open question. But it is very certain that if
they all were not oath-bound members, they generally pursued the precise
methods of those who were; and that, as a rule, while they often loudly
proclaimed loyalty and love for the Union, they were always ready to act
as if their loyalty and love were for the so-called Confederacy.

Indeed, it was one of these other "loyal" Democrats, who even preceded
Voorhees, in raising the Sectional cry of: The West, against New
England. It was on this same Internal Revenue Bill, that Holman of
Indiana had, the day before Voorhees's attack, said:

"If the Manufacture of the Northwest is to be taxed so heavily, a
corresponding rate of increase must be imposed on the Manufactures of
New England and Pennsylvania, or, will gentlemen tax us without limit
for the benefit of their own Section? * * * I protest against what I
believe is intended to be a discrimination against one Section of the
Country, by increasing the tax three-fold, without a corresponding
increase upon the burdens of other Sections."

But these dreadfully "loyal" Democrats--who did the bidding of
traitorous masters in their Treason to the Union, and thus, while
posturing as "Patriots," "fired upon the rear" of our hard-pressed
Armies--were super-sensitive on this point. And, when they could get
hold of a quiet sort of a man, inclined to peaceful methods of
discussion, how they would, terrier-like, pounce upon him, and extract
from him, if they could, some sort of negative satisfaction!

Thus, for instance, on the 22nd of January, when one of these quiet men
--Morris of New York--was in the midst of an inoffensive speech, Mr. Cox
"bristled up," and blusteringly asked whether he meant to say that he
(Cox) had "ever been the apologist or the defender of a Traitor?"

And Morris not having said so, mildly replied that he did "not so
charge"--all of which little bit of by-play hugely pleased the touchy
Mr. Cox, and his clansmen.

But on the day following, their smiles vanished under the words of
Spalding or Ohio, who, after referring to the crocodile-tears shed by
Democratic Congressmen over the Confiscation Resolution--on the pretense
that it would hunt down "innocent women and children" of the Rebels,
when they had never a word of sympathy for the widows and children of
the two hundred thousand dead soldiers of the Union-continued:

"They can see our poor soldiers return, minus an arm, minus a leg, as
they pass through these lobbies, but their only care is to protect the
property of Rebels. And we are asked by one of my colleagues, (Mr. Cox)
does the gentleman from New York intend to call us Traitors? My friend,
Mr. Morris, modestly answered no! If he had asked that question of me,
he knows what my answer would have been! I have seen Rebel officers at
Johnson's Island, and I have taken them by the hand because they have
fought us fairly in the field and did not seek to break down the
Government while living under its protection. Yes, Sir, that gentleman
knows that I would have said to him that I have more respect for an open
and avowed Traitor in the field, than for a sympathizer in this Hall.
Four months have scarcely gone by since that gentleman and his political
friends were advocating the election of a man for the Gubernatorial
office in my State, who was an open and avowed advocate of Secession--AN

And old Thaddeus Stevens--the clear-sighted and courageous "Old
Commoner"--followed up Spalding, and struck very close to the root and
animus of the Democratic opposition, when he exclaimed:

"All this struggle by calm and dignified and moderate 'Patriots;' all
this clamor against 'Radicals;' all this cry of 'the Union as it Was,
and the Constitution as it Is;' is but a persistent effort to
reestablish Slavery, and to rivet anew and forever the chains of Bondage
on the limbs of Immortal beings. May the God of Justice thwart their
designs and paralyze their wicked efforts!"


The treacherous purposes of professedly-loyal Copperheads being seen
through, and promptly and emphatically denounced to the Country by Union
statesmen, the Copperheads aforesaid concluded that the profuse
circulation of their own Treason-breeding speeches--through the medium
of the treasonable organizations before referred to, permeating the
Northern States,--would more than counteract all that Union men could
say or do. Besides, the fiat had gone forth, from their Rebel masters
at Richmond, to Agitate the North.

Hence, day after day, Democrat after Democrat, in the one House or the
other, continued to air his disloyal opinions, and to utter more or less
virulent denunciations of the Government which guarded and protected

Thus, Brooks, of New York, on the 25th of January (1864), sneeringly
exclaimed: "Why, what absurdity it is to talk at this Capitol of
prosecuting the War by the liberation of Slaves, when from the dome of
this building there can be heard at this hour the booming of cannon in
the distance!"

Thus, also, on the day following, Fernando Wood--the same man who, while
Mayor of New York at the outbreak of the Rebellion, had, under Rebel-
guidance, proposed the Secession from the Union, and the Independence,
of that great Metropolis,--declared to the House that: "No Government
has pursued a foe with such unrelenting, vindictive malignity as we are
now pursuing those who came into the Union with us, whose blood has been
freely shed on every battle-field of the Country until now, with our
own; who fought by our side in the American Revolution, and in the War
of 1812 with Great Britain; who bore our banners bravest and highest in
our victorious march from Vera Cruz to the City of Mexico, and who but
yesterday sat in these Halls contributing toward the maintenance of our
glorious institutions."

Then he went on, in the spirit of prophecy, to declare that: "No purely
agricultural people, fighting for the protection of their own Domestic
Institutions upon their own soil, have ever yet been conquered. I say
further, that no revolted people have ever been subdued after they have
been able to maintain an Independent government for three years." And
then, warming up to an imperative mood, he made this explicit
announcement: "We are at War. * * * Whether it be a Civil War,
Rebellion, Revolution, or Foreign War, it matters little. IT MUST
CEASE; and I want this Administration to tell the American People WHEN
it will cease!" Again, only two days afterward, he took occasion to
characterize a Bill, amendatory of the enrollment Act, as "this
infamous, Unconstitutional conscription Act!"

C. A. White, of Ohio, was another of the malcontents who undertook, with
others of the same Copperhead faith, to "maintain, that," as he
expressed it, "the War in which we are at present engaged is wrong in
itself; that the policy adopted by the Party in power for its
prosecution is wrong; that the Union cannot be restored, or, if
restored, maintained, by the exercise of the coercive power of the
Government, by War; that the War is opposed to the restoration of the
Union, destructive of the rights of the States and the liberties of the
People. It ought, therefore, to be brought to a speedy and immediate

It was about this time also that, emboldened by immunity from punishment
for these utterances in the interest of armed Rebels, Edgerton of
Indiana, was put forward to offer resolutions "for Peace, upon the basis
of a restoration of the Federal Union under the Constitution as it is,"

«- Previous | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 | View All | Next -»

Be the first to comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.