Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Bloomington, Illinois – May 27, 1860

May 27, 2010

news of the day

Addressed to Hon. Josiah H. Drummond, of Portland, Maine, shortly after the nomination of Mr. Lincoln at Chicago, this letter “describes the whole historical scene in graphic expressions worthy of perusal and preservation:” – (Lincoln’s campaign: or, the political revolution of 1860 By Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, c 1896)

“I made the acquaintance of Mr. Lincoln early in the year 1849. Since then we have twice a year traveled over five counties, spending together most of the time from September until January, and from March until June, inclusive. Originally most of the lawyers did this, but lately one by one they have abandoned the circuit; and for perhaps five years Lincoln and myself have been the only ones who have habitually passed over the whole circuit. It seems to me I have tried 10,000 lawsuits with or against him. I know him as intimately as I have ever known any man in my life, perhaps more intimately, if possible, than I knew you when I left Waterville.

“I was with him the week before the Convention. In speaking of the propriety of his going to it, he said he was most too much of a candidate to go, and not quite enough to stay at home.

“Our delegation was instructed for him, but of the twenty-two votes in it, by incautiously selecting the men, there were eight who would gladly have gone for Seward. * * * The first thing after getting our headquarters was to have the delegation proper invite the co-operation of outsiders as though they were delegates. Thus we began. The first State approached was Indiana. She was about equally divided between Bates and McLean. Saturday, Sunday and Monday were spent upon her, when finally she came to us unitedly with twenty-six votes, and from that time acted efficiently with us.

“Seward came there with very nearly strength enough to nominate him, that is, men who intended to vote for him. Bates was the next strongest, but that element was an opposition to Seward, because he was not available in the doubtful States, and would, as we well knew, come to the winning man in opposition to him. Pennsylvania wanted Cameron, and insisted Seward would not carry that State. New Jersey wanted Dayton, and insisted Seward would not carry that State. So, the first point was gained, that is, the united assertion of the four doubtful States, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana and Illinois, that Seward would be defeated.

“We let Greeley run his Bates machine, but got most of them for a second choice. Our programme was to give Lincoln 100 votes on the first ballot, with a certain increase afterwards, so that in the Convention our fortunes might seem to be rising, and thus catch the doubtful. Vermont had agreed to give us her second vote, so had Delaware, New Hampshire, an increase. It all worked to a charm. After the first days we were aided by the arrival of at least 10,000 people from Central Illinois and Indiana.

“It was a part of the Seward plan to carry the Convention by outside pressure. Thursday the preliminary work was done. The friends of all parties Friday morning gathered to the capacious Wigwam. About 12,000 people were then inside and more out. A line of men were stationed on the roof, the nearest to the speaker’s stand, catching from an open skylight the proceedings within and reporting to his next man, and so on to the man on the front of the building, who, with stentorian lungs, announced to the thousands in the street. Stores were closed, and, seemingly, the whole city was there.

“First, opening the war, was the nomination of Seward. It was greeted with a deafening shout, which, I confess, appalled us a little. Afterward, Bates, McLean, Cameron and Chase came with moderate applause. Then came Lincoln, and our people tested their lungs. We beat them a little. They manifested this by seconding the nomination of Seward, which gave them another chance. It was an improvement upon the first, and placed us in the background. Caleb B. Smith, of Indiana, then seconded the nomination of Lincoln, and the West came to the rescue. No mortal eye before saw such a scene. The idea of our Hoosiers and Suckers being outscreamed would have been as bad to them as the loss of their man. Five thousand people at once leaped to their seats, women not wanting in the number, and the wild yell made soft whisper breathing of all that had preceded. No language can describe it. A thousand steam whistles, ten acres of hotel gongs, a tribe of Comanches, headed by a choice vanguard from pandemonium, might have mingled in the scene unnoticed.

“This was not the most deliberate way of nominating a President, I will confess; but among other things, it had its weight, and I hope convinced the New York gentlemen that when they came West some other tactics must be resorted to.

“Our increase after the first ballot was a little more than we calculated. On the third the ground swell was irresistible, and bore our man through, and the shout from the Wigwam and the shout from the street, as the man from the top shouted ‘Old Abe, hallelujah!’ and the cannon with its mimic thunder, told the city and surroundings we had won.

“It was a glorious nomination. Seward could not have carried Illinois or Indiana; nothing is more certain than this. Our people, when they opposed Seward, did it from no other motive than for the reason that it lost us our State, our Senator Trumbull his place, and placed us under the ban of Loco Focoism for twenty years. We felt as though we could not endure this, and hence the earnest effort for Lincoln.

“The nomination saves us. We will sweep the whole Northwest. The nomination is from the people, and not the politicians. No pledges have been made, no mortgages executed, but Lincoln enters the field a free man. He will continue so until the day of the election. He is a pure-minded, honest man, whose ability is second to no one in the nation. In twenty years he has raised himself from the captaincy of a flatboat on the Mississippi to the captaincy of a great party in this nation, and when he shall be elected he will restore the government to its pristine purity.”

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