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Abraham Lincoln, Volume I by John T. Morse

While the Seward men were marching


In

May the convention of the Constitutional Union party met, also at Baltimore. This organization was a sudden outgrowth designed only to meet the present emergency. Its whole political doctrine lay in the opening words of the one resolution which constituted its platform: "That it is both the part of patriotism and of duty to recognize no political principle other than the Constitution of the country, the union of the States, and the enforcement of the laws." This party gathered nearly all the peaceable elements of the community; it assumed a deprecatory attitude between angry contestants, and of course received the abuse and contempt of both; it was devoid of combative force, yet had some numerical strength. The Republicans especially mocked at these "trimmers," as if their only platform was moral cowardice, which, however, was an unfair statement of their position. The party died, of necessity, upon the day when Lincoln was elected, and its members were then distributed between the Republicans, the Secessionists, and the Copperheads. John Bell of Tennessee, the candidate for the presidency, joined the Confederacy; Edward Everett of Massachusetts, the candidate for the vice-presidency, became a Republican. The party never had a hope of electing its men; but its existence increased the chance of throwing the election into Congress; and this hope inspired exertions far beyond what its own prospects warranted.

On May 16 the Republican Convention

came together at Chicago, where the great "Wigwam" had been built to hold 10,000 persons. The intense interest with which its action was watched indicated the popular belief that probably it would name the next President of the United States. Many candidates were named, chiefly Seward, Lincoln, Chase, Cameron, Edward Bates of Missouri, and William L. Dayton of New Jersey. Thurlow Weed was Seward's lieutenant. Horace Greeley, chiefly bent upon the defeat of Seward, would have liked to achieve it by the success of Bates. David Davis, aided by Judge Logan and a band of personal friends from Illinois, was manager for Lincoln. Primarily the contest lay between Seward and Lincoln, and only a dead-lock between these two could give a chance to some one of the others. But Seward's friends hoped, and Lincoln's friends dreaded, that the New Yorker might win by a rush on the first ballot. George Ashmun of Massachusetts presided. With little discussion a platform was adopted, long and ill-written, overloaded with adjectives and rhetoric, sacrificing dignity to the supreme pleasure of abusing the Democracy, but honest in stating Republican doctrines, and clearly displaying the temper of an earnest, aggressive party, hot for the fight and confident of victory. The vote of acceptance was greeted with such a cheering that "a herd of buffaloes or lions could not have made a more tremendous roaring."

The details of the brief but sharp contest for the nomination are not altogether gratifying. The partisans of Seward set about winning votes by much parading in the streets with banners and music, and by out-yelling all competitors within the walls of the convention. For this intelligent purpose they had engaged Tom Hyer, the prize fighter, with a gang of roughs, to hold possession of the Wigwam, and to howl illimitably at appropriate moments. But they had undertaken a difficult task in trying to outdo the great West, in one of its own cities, at a game of this kind. The Lincoln leaders in their turn secured a couple of stentorian yellers (one of them a Democrat), instructed them carefully, and then filled the Wigwam full actually at daybreak, while the Seward men were marching; so in the next yelling match the West won magnificently. How great was the real efficiency of these tactics in affecting the choice of the ruler of a great nation commonly accounted intelligent, it is difficult to say with accuracy; but it is certain that the expert managers spared no pains about this scenic business of "enthusiasm."


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