The Great Conspiracy

And Senator McDougall of California–his life-long friend–in describing
the shock of the first intelligence that reached him, of his friend’s
sudden death, with words of even greater power, continued: “But, as,
powerless for the moment to resist the tide of emotions, I bowed my head
in silent grief, it came to me that the Senator had lived to witness the
opening of the present unholy War upon our Government; that, witnessing
it, from the Capital of his State, as his highest and best position, he
had sent forth a War-cry worthy of that Douglass, who, as ancient
legends tell, with the welcome of the knightly Andalusian King, was

‘”Take thou the leading of the van,
And charge the Moors amain;
There is not such a lance as thine
In all the hosts of Spain.’

“Those trumpet notes, with a continuous swell, are sounding still
throughout all the borders of our Land. I heard them upon the mountains
and in the valleys of the far State whence I come. They have
communicated faith and strength to millions. * * * I ceased to grieve
for Douglas. The last voice of the dead Douglas I felt to be stronger
than the voice of multitudes of living men.”

And here it may not be considered out of place for a brief reference to
the writer’s own position at this time; especially as it has been much
misapprehended and misstated. One of the fairest of these statements*
runs thus:

[Lusk’s History of the Politics of Illinois from 1856 to 1884, p.

“It is said that Logan did not approve the great speech made by Senator
Douglas, at Springfield, in April, 1861, wherein he took the bold ground
that in the contest which was then clearly imminent to him, between the
North and the South, that there could be but two parties, Patriots and
Traitors. But granting that there was a difference between Douglas and
Logan at that time, it did not relate to their adhesion to the Cause of
their Country Logan had fought for the Union upon the plains of Mexico,
and again stood ready to give his life, if need be, for his Country,
even amid the cowardly slanders that were then following his pathway.

“The difference between Douglas and Logan was this: Mr. Douglas was
fresh from an extended campaign in the dissatisfied Sections of the
Southern States, and he was fully apprised of their intention to attempt
the overthrow of the Union, and was therefore in favor of the most
stupendous preparations for War.

“Mr. Logan, on the other hand, believed in exhausting all peaceable
means before a resort to Arms, and in this he was like President
Lincoln; but when he saw there was no alternative but to fight, he was
ready and willing for armed resistance, and, resigning his seat in
Congress, entered the Army, as Colonel of the Thirty-first Illinois
Infantry, and remained in the field in active service until Peace was

This statement is, in the main, both fair and correct.

It is no more correct, however, in intimating that “Logan did not
approve the great speech made by Senator Douglas, at Springfield, in
April, 1861, wherein he took the bold ground that in the contest which
was then clearly imminent to him, between the North and the South, that
there could be but two parties, Patriots and Traitors,” than others have
been in intimating that he was disloyal to the Union, prior to the
breaking out of hostilities–a charge which was laid out flat in the
Senate Chamber, April 19, 1881.

[In Dawson’s Life of Logan, pp. 348-353, this matter is thus
alluded to:

“In an early part of this work the base charge that Logan was not
loyal before the War has been briefly touched on. It may be well
here to touch on it more fully. As was then remarked, the only man
that ever dared insinuate to Logan’s face that he was a Secession
sympathizer before the War, was Senator Ben Hill of Georgia, in the
United States Senate Chamber, March 30, 1881; and Logan instantly
retorted: ‘Any man who insinuates that I sympathized with it at
that time insinuates what is false,’ and Senator Hill at once
retracted the insinuation.”

“Subsequently, April 19, 1881, Senator Logan, in a speech,
fortified with indisputable record and documentary evidence,
forever set at rest the atrocious calumny. From that record it
appears that on the 17th December, 1860, while still a Douglas
Democrat, immediately after Lincoln’s election, and long before his
inauguration, and before even the first gun of the war was fired,
Mr. Logan, then a Representative in the House, voted affirmatively
on a resolution, offered by Morris of Illinois, which declared an
‘immovable attachment’ to ‘our National Union,’ and ‘that it is our
patriotic duty to stand by it as our hope in peace and our defense
in war;’ that on the 7th January, 1861, Mr. Adrian having offered
the following ‘Resolved, That we fully approve of the bold and
patriotic act of Major Anderson in withdrawing from Fort Moultrie
to Fort Sumter, and of the determination of the President to
maintain that fearless officer in his present position; and that we
will support the President in all constitutional measures to
enforce the laws and preserve the Union’–Mr. Logan, in casting his
vote, said: ‘As the resolution receives my unqualified approval, I
vote Aye;’ and that further on the 5th of February, 1861, before
the inauguration of President Lincoln, in a speech made by Logan in
the House in favor of the Crittenden Compromise measures, he used
the following language touching Secession:

“‘Sir, I have always denied, and do yet deny, the right of
Secession. There is no warrant for it in the Constitution. It is
wrong, it is unlawful, unconstitutional, and should be called by
the right name–revolution. No good, sir, can result from it, but
much mischief may. It is no remedy for any grievances. I hold
that all grievances can be much easier redressed inside the Union
than out of it.’

“In that same speech he also * * * said:

“‘I have been taught that the preservation of this glorious Union,
with its broad flag waving over us as the shield for our protection
on land and on sea, is paramount to all the parties and platforms
that ever have existed or ever can exist. I would, to day, if I
had the power, sink my own party and every other one, with all
their platforms, into the vortex of ruin, without heaving a sigh or
shedding a tear, to save the Union, or even stop the revolution
where it is.’

“In this most complete speech of vindication–which Senator Logan
said he put upon record, ‘First, that my children, after me, may
not have these slanders thrown in their faces without the power of
dispelling or refuting them; and second, that they may endure in
this Senate Chamber, so that it may be a notice to Senators of all
parties and all creeds that hereafter, while I am here in the
Senate, no insinuation of that kind will be submitted to by me,’–
the proofs of the falsity of the charge were piled mountain-high,
and among them the following voluntary statements from two
Democratic Senators, who were with him before the War, in the House
of Representatives:

“‘United States Senate Chamber,
WASHINGTON, April 14, 1881.

“‘DEAR SIR: In a discussion in the Senate a few weeks since you
referred to the fact that a Southern Senator, who had served with
you in Congress before the War, could testify that during your term
of service there you gave no encouragement to the Secession of the
Southern States, adding, however, that you did not ask such
testimony. I was not sure at the time that your reference was to
me, as Senator Pugh of Alabama, was also a member of that Congress.

“‘Since then, having learned that your reference was to me, I
propose on the floor of the Senate, should suitable occasion offer,
to state what I know of your position and views at the time
referred to. But, as I may be absent from the Senate for some
time, I deem it best to give you this written statement, with full
authority to use it in any way that seems proper to you.

“‘When you first came to Congress in —-, you were a very ardent
and impetuous Democrat. In the division which took place between
Mr. Douglas and his friends, on the one hand, and the Southern
Democrats, on the other, you were a warm and uncompromising
supporter of Mr. Douglas; and in the course of that convention you
became somewhat estranged from your party associates in the South.
In our frequent discussions upon the subjects of difference, I
never heard a word of sympathy from your lips with Secession in
either theory or practice. On the contrary, you were vehement in
your opposition to it.’

“‘I remember well a conversation I had with you just before leaving
Washington to become a candidate for the Secession convention. You
expressed the deep regret you felt at my proposed action, and
deplored the contemplated movement in terms as strong as any I
heard from any Republican.’
Yours truly,
“‘L. Q. C. LAMAR

“United States Senate, Washington, D. C.’
“Senate Chamber, April 14, 1881.

“‘Having read the above statement of Senator Lamar, I fully concur
with him in my recollection of your expressions and action in
opposition to Secession.
Truly yours, J. L. PUGH.’

“At the conclusion of Senator Logan’s speech of refutation, Senator
Brown of Georgia (Democrat) said:

“‘Our newspapers may have misrepresented his position. I am now
satisfied they did. I have heard the Senator’s statement with
great interest, and I take pleasure in saying–for I had some idea
before that there was some shadow of truth in this report–that I
think his vindication’ is full, complete, and conclusive.’

“‘I recollect very well during the war, when I was Governor of my
State and the Federal army was invading it, to have had a large
force of militia aiding the Confederate army, and that Gen. Logan
was considered by us as one of the ablest, most gallant, and
skillful leaders of the Federal army. We had occasion to feel his
power, and we learned to respect him.’

“Senator Beck, of Kentucky (Democrat), referring to the fact that
he was kept out of the House at one time, and a great many
suggestions had been made to him as to General Logan, continued:

“‘As I said the other day, I never proposed to go into such things,
and never have done so; but at that time General Frank Blair was
here, and I submitted many of the papers I received to him,–I
never thought of using any of them,–and I remember the remark that
he made to me: Beck, John Logan was one of the hardest fighters of
the war; and when many men who were seeking to whistle him down the
wind because of his politics when the war began, were snugly fixed
in safe places, he was taking his life in his hand wherever the
danger was greatest–and I tore up every paper I got, and burnt it
in the fire before his eyes.’

“Senator Dawes of Massachusetts (Republican), also took occasion to

“Mr. President, I do not know that anything which can be said on
this side would be of any consequence to the Senator from Illinois
in this matter. But I came into the House of Representatives at
the same session that the Senator did.

“‘He was at that time one of the most intense of Democrats, and I
was there with him when the Rebellion first took root and
manifested itself in open and flagrant war; and I wish to say as a
Republican of that day, when the Senator from Illinois was a
Democrat, that at the earliest possible moment when the Republican
Party was in anxiety as to the position of the Northern Democracy
on the question of forcible assault on the Union, nothing did they
hail with more delight than the early stand which the Senator from
Illinois, from the Democratic side of the House, took upon the
question of resistance to the Government of the United States.

“I feel that it is right that I should state that he was among the
first, if not the very first, of the Northern Democrats who came
out openly and declared, whatever may have been their opinion about
the doctrines of the Republican Party, that when it came to a
question of forcible resistance, they should be counted on the side
of the Government, and in co-operation with the Republican Party in
the attempt to maintain its authority.’

“‘I am very glad, whether it be of any service or not, to bear this
testimony to the early stand the Senator from Illinois took while
he was still a Democrat, and the large influence he exerted upon
the Northern Democracy, which kept it from being involved in the
condition and in the work of the Southern Democracy at that

So far from this being the case, the fact is–and it is here mentioned
in part to bring out the interesting point that, had he lived, Douglas
would have been no idle spectator of the great War that was about to be
waged–that when Douglas visited Springfield, Illinois, to make that
great speech in the latter part of April, 1861, the writer went there
also, to see and talk over with him the grave situation of affairs, not
only in the Nation generally, but particularly in Illinois. And on that
occasion Mr. Douglas said to him, substantially: “The time has now
arrived when a man must be either for or against his Country. Indeed so
strongly do I feel this, and that further dalliance with this question
is useless, that I shall myself take steps to join the Array, and fight
for the maintenance of the Union.”

To this the writer replied that he was “equally well convinced that each
and every man must take his stand,” and that he also “purposed at an
early day to raise a Regiment and draw the sword in that Union’s

This was after Sumter, and only seventy days before Congress was to meet
in Called Session. When that session met, Douglas had, weeks before,
gone down to the grave amid the tears of a distracted Nation, with the
solemn injunction upon his dying lips: “Obey the Laws and Defend the
Constitution”–and the writer had returned to Washington, to take his
seat in Congress, with that determination still alive in his heart.

In fact there had been all along, substantial accord between Mr. Douglas
and the writer. There really was no “difference between Douglas and
Logan” as to “preparations for War,” or in “exhausting all Peaceable
means before a resort to Arms,” and both were in full accord with
President Lincoln on these points.

Let us see if this is not of record: Take the writer’s speech in the
House of Representatives, February 5, 1861, and it will be seen that he
said: “I will go as far as any man in the performance of a
Constitutional duty to put down Rebellion, to suppress Insurrection, and
to enforce the Laws.” Again, he said, “If all the evils and calamities
that have ever happened since the World began, could be gathered in one
Great Catastrophe, its horrors could not eclipse, in their frightful
proportions, the Drama that impends over us.”

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