The Great Conspiracy

Finally the treasonable language was taken down by the Clerk, and, while
a Resolution for the expulsion of Mr. Harris was being written out, Mr.
Fernando Wood–coming, as he said, from a bed of “severe sickness,”
quoted the language used by Mr. Long, to wit:

“I now believe there are but two alternatives, and they are either the
acknowledgment of the Independence of the South as an independent
Nation, or their complete subjugation and extermination as a People; and
of these alternatives I prefer the former”–and declared that “if he is
to be expelled for the utterance of that sentiment, you may include me
in it, because I concur fully in that sentiment.”

[He afterwards (April 11,) said he did not agree with Mr. Long’s

Every effort was unavailingly made by the Democrats, under the lead of
Messrs. Cox–[In 1886 American Minister at Constantinople.]–and
Pendleton,–[In 1886 American Minister at Berlin.]–to prevent action
upon the new Resolution of expulsion, which was in these words:

“Whereas, Hon. Benjamin G. Harris, a member of the House of
Representatives of the United States from the State of Maryland, has on
this day used the following language, to wit: ‘The South asked you to
let them go in peace. But no; you said you would bring them into
subjection. That is not done yet, and God Almighty grant that it never
may be. I hope that you will never subjugate the South.’ And whereas,
such language is treasonable, and is a gross disrespect of this House:
Therefore, “Be it Resolved, That the said Benjamin G. Harris be expelled
from this House.”

Upon reaching a vote, however, the Resolution was lost, there being only
81 yeas, to 58 (Democratic) nays–two-thirds not having voted
affirmatively. Subsequently, despite Democratic efforts to obstruct, a
Resolution, declaring Harris to be “an unworthy Member” of the House,
and “severely” censuring him, was adopted.

The debate upon the Long-expulsion Resolution now proceeded, and its
mover, in view of the hopelessness of securing a two-thirds affirmative
vote, having accepted an amendment comprising other two Resolutions and
a Preamble, the question upon adopting these was submitted on the 14th
of April. They were in the words following:

“Whereas, ALEXANDER LONG, a Representative from the second district of
Ohio, by his open declarations in the National Capitol, and publications
in the City of New York, has shown himself to be in favor of a
recognition of the so-called Confederacy now trying to establish itself
upon the ruins of our Country, thereby giving aid and comfort to the
Enemy in that destructive purpose–aid to avowed Traitors, in creating
an illegal Government within our borders, comfort to them by assurances
of their success and affirmations of the justice of their Cause; and
whereas, such conduct is at the same time evidence of disloyalty, and
inconsistent with his oath of office, and his duty as a Member of this
Body: Therefore,

“Resolved, That the said Alexander Long, a Representative from the
second district of Ohio, be, and he is hereby declared to be an unworthy
Member of the House of Representatives.

“Resolved, That the Speaker shall read these Resolutions to the said
Alexander Long during the session of the House.”

The first of these Resolutions was adopted, by 80 yeas to 69 nays; the
second was tabled, by 71 yeas to 69 nays; and the Preamble was agreed
to, by 78 yeas to 63 nays.

And, among the 63 Democrats, who were not only unwilling to declare
Alexander Long “an unworthy Member,” or to have the Speaker read such a
declaration to him in a session of the House, but also refused by their
votes even to intimate that his conduct evidenced disloyalty, or gave
aid and comfort to the Enemy, were the names of such democrats as Cox,
Eldridge, Holman, Kernan, Morrisson, Pendleton, Samuel J. Randall,
Voorhees, and Fernando Wood.

Hence Mr. Long not only escaped expulsion for his treasonable
utterances, but did not even receive the “severe censure” which, in
addition to being declared (like himself) “an unworthy Member,” had been
voted to Mr. Harris for recklessly rushing into the breach to help him!

[The Northern Democracy comprised two well-recognized classes: The
Anti-War (or Peace) Democrats, commonly called “Copperheads,” who
sympathized with the Rebellion, and opposed the War for the Union;
and the War (or Union) Democrats, who favored a vigorous
prosecution of the War for the preservation of the Union.] CHAPTER XXVI.


The debate in the House of Representatives, upon the Thirteenth
Amendment to the Constitution–interrupted by the treasonable episode
referred to in the last Chapter–was subsequently resumed.

Meanwhile, however, Fort Pillow had been stormed, and its garrison of
Whites and Blacks, massacred.

And now commenced the beginning of the end-so far as the Military aspect
of the Rebellion was concerned. Early in May, Sherman’s Atlanta
Campaign commenced, and, simultaneously, General Grant began his
movement toward Richmond. In quick succession came the news of the
bloody battles of the Wilderness, and those around Spottsylvania, Va.;
at Buzzard Roost Gap, Snake Creek Gap, and Dalton, Ga.; Drury’s Bluff,
Va.; Resaca, Ga.; the battles of the North Anna, Va.; those around
Dallas, and New Hope church, Ga; the crossing of Grant’s forces to the
South side of the James and the assault on Petersburg. While the Union
Armies were thus valiantly attacking and beating those of the Rebels, on
many a sanguinary field the loyal men of the North, both in and out of
Congress, pressed for favorable action upon the Thirteenth Amendment.
“Friends of the wounded in Fredericksburg from the Battle of the
Wilderness”–exclaimed Horace Greeley in the New York Tribune, of May
31st,–“friends and relatives of the soldiers of Grant’s Army beyond the
Wilderness, let us all join hands and swear upon our Country’s altar
that we will never cease this War until African Slavery in the United
States is dead forever, and forever buried!”

Peace Democrats, however, were deaf to all such entreaties. On the very
same day, Mr. Holman, in the House, objected even to the second reading
of the Joint Resolution Amendatory of the Constitution, and there were
so many “Peace Democrats” to back him, that the vote was: 55 yeas to 76
nays, on the question “shall the Joint Resolution be rejected!”

The old cry, that had been repeated by Hendricks and others, in the
Senate and House, time and again, was still used–threadbare though it
was–“this is not the right time for it!” On this very day, for
instance, Mr. Herrick said: “I ask if this is the proper time for our
People to consider so grave a measure as the Amendment of the
Constitution in so vital a point? * * * this is no fitting time for
such work.”

Very different was the attitude of Kellogg, of New York, and well did he
show up the depths to which the Democracy–the Peace Democracy–had now
fallen. “We are told,” said he, “of a War Democracy, and such there
are–their name is legion–good men and true; they are found in the
Union ranks bearing arms in support of the Government and the
Administration that wields it. At the ballot-box, whether at home or in
the camp, they are Union men, and vote as they fight, and hold little in
common with the political leaders of the Democratic Party in or out of
this Hall–the Seymours, the Woods, the Vallandighams, the Woodwards,
and their indorsers, who hold and control the Democratic Party here, and
taint it with Treason, till it is a stench in the nostrils of all
patriotic men.”

After referring to the fact that the leaders of the Rebellion had from
the start relied confidently upon assistance from the Northern
Democracy, he proceeded:

“The Peace Democracy, and mere Party-hacks in the North, are fulfilling
their masters’ expectations industriously, unceasingly, and as far as in
them lies. Not even the shouts for victory, in these Halls, can divert
their Southern allies here. A sullen gloom at the defeat and
discomfiture of their Southern brethren settles down on their disastrous
countenances, from which no ray of joy can be reflected. * * * They
even vote solid against a law to punish guerrillas.

“Sir,” continued he, “in my judgment, many of those who withhold from
their Country the support they would otherwise give, find allegiance to
Party too strong for their patriotism. * * * Rejecting the example and
counsels of Stanton and Dickinson and Butler and Douglas and Dix and
Holt and Andrew Johnson and Logan and Rosecrans and Grant and a host of
others, all Democrats of the straightest sect, to forget all other ties,
and cleave only to their Country for their Country’s sake, and rejecting
the overtures and example of the Republican Party to drop and forget
their Party name, that all might unite and band together for their
Country’s salvation as Union men, they turn a deaf ear and cold
shoulder, and sullenly pass by on the other side, thanking God they are
not as other men are, and lend, if at all, a calculating, qualified, and
conditional and halting support, under protest, to their Country’s
cause; thus justifying the only hope of the Rebellion to-day, that Party
spirit at the North will distract its counsels, divide and discourage
and palsy its efforts, and ultimately make way for the Traitor and the
parricide to do their worst.”

Besides the set speeches made against the proposed
Constitutional amendment in the House, Peace-Democrats of the Senate
continued to keep up a running fire at it in that Chamber, on every
possible occasion. Garrett Davis was especially garrulous on the
subject, and also launched the thunders of his wrath at the President
quite frequently and even vindictively. For instance, speaking in the
Senate–[May 31,1864,]–of the right of Property in Slaves; said he:

“This new-born heresy ‘Military Necessity,’ as President Lincoln claims,
and exercises it, is the sum of all political and Military villanies * *
* and it is no less absurd than it is villanous. * * * The man has
never spoken or lived who can prove by any provision of the
Constitution, or by any principle, or by any argument to be deduced
logically and fairly from it, that he has any such power as this vast,
gigantic, all-conquering and all-crushing power of Military Necessity
which he has the audacity to claim.

“This modern Emperor, this Tiberius, a sort of a Tiberius, and his
Sejanus, a sort of a Sejanus, the head of the War Department, are
organizing daily their Military Courts to try civilians. * * *

“Sir, I want one labor of love before I die. I want the President of
the United States, I want his Secretary of War, I want some of his high
officers in Military command to bring a civilian to a Military
execution, and me to have the proud privilege of prosecuting them for
murder. * * * I want the law and its just retribution to be visited
upon these great delinquents.

“I would sooner, if I had the power, bring about such an atonement as
that, than I would even put down the Rebellion. It would be a greater
victory in favor of Freedom and Constitutional Liberty, a thousand-fold,
of all the People of America besides, than the subjugation of the Rebel
States could possibly be.”

But there seemed to be no end to the’ attacks upon the Administration,
made, in both Houses, by these peculiar Peace-Democrats. Union blood
might flow in torrents on the fields of the rebellious South, atrocities
innumerable might be committed by the Rebels, cold-blooded massacres of
Blacks and Whites, as at Fort Pillow, might occur without rebuke from
them; but let the Administration even dare to sneeze, and–woe to the

It was not the Thirteenth Amendment only, that they assailed, but
everything else which the Administration thought might help it in its
effort to put down the Rebellion. Nor was it so much their malignant
activity in opposition to any one measure intended to strengthen the
hands of the Union, but to all such measures; and superadded to this was
the incessant bringing forward, in both Houses of Congress, by these
restless Rebel-sympathizers, of Peace-Resolutions, the mere presentation
of which would be, and were, construed by the Rebel authorities at
Richmond, as evidences of a weakening.

Even some of the best of the Peace-Democrats, like S. S. Cox, for
instance, not only assailed the Tariff–under which the Union Republican
Party sought to protect and build up American Industry, as well as to
raise as much revenue as possible to help meet the enormous current
expenditures of the Government–but also denounced our great paper-money
system, which alone enabled us to secure means to meet all deficiencies
in the revenues otherwise obtained, and thus to ultimately conquer the
hosts of Rebellion.

He declared (June 2, 1864) that “The People are the victims of the
joint-robbery of a system of bounties under the guise of duties, and of
an inconvertible and depreciated paper currency under the guise of
money,” and added: “No man is now so wise and gifted that he can save
this Nation from bankruptcy. * * * No borrowing system can save us.
The scheme of making greenbacks a legal tender, which enabled the debtor
to cheat his creditor, thereby playing the old game of kingcraft, to
debase the currency in order to aid the designs of despotism, may float
us for a while amidst the fluctuations and bubbles of the day; but as no
one possesses the power to repeal the Law of the Almighty, which decrees
(and as our Constitution has established) that gold and silver shall be
the standard of value in the World, so they will ever thus remain,
notwithstanding the legislation of Congress.”

Not satisfied with this sort of “fire in the rear,” it was attempted by
means of Democratic Free-Trade and antipaper-currency sophistries, to
arouse jealousies, heart-burnings and resentful feelings in the breasts
of those living in different parts of the Union–to implant bitter
Sectional antagonisms and implacable resentments between the Eastern
States, on the one hand, and the Western States, on the other–and thus,
by dividing, to weaken the Loyal Union States.

That this was the cold-blooded purpose of all who pursued this course,
would no doubt be warmly denied by some of them; but the fact remains no
less clear, that the effect of that course, whether so intended or not,
was to give aid and comfort to the Enemy at that critical time when the
Nation most needed all the men, money, and moral as well as material
support, it was possible to get, to put an end to the bloody Rebellion,
now–under the continuous poundings of Grant’s Army upon that of Lee in
Virginia, and the advance of Sherman’s Army upon that of Johnston in
Georgia–tottering to its overthrow. Thus this same speaker (S. S. Cox),
in his untimely speech, undertook to divide the Union-loving States
“into two great classes: the Protected States and the Unprotected
States;” and–having declared that “The Manufacturing States, mainly the
New England States and Pennsylvania, are the Protected States,” and “The
Agricultural States,” mainly the eleven Western States, which he named,
“are the Unprotected States”–proceeded to intemperately and violently
arraign New England, and especially Massachusetts, in the same way that
had years before been adopted by the old Conspirators of the South when
they sought–alas, too successfully!–to inflame the minds of Southern
citizens to a condition of unreasoning frenzy which made attempted
Nullification and subsequent armed Rebellion and Secession possible.

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