The History of New York State
Book XII, Chapter 8, Part 1

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam

 

CHAPTER VIII
POLITICS IN NEW YORK STATE
The Civil War Period

Whig leaders during 1855 gave their affairs very close scrutiny. It was obvious that their nets were much torn. Indeed, they soon came to the conclusion that they could not be repaired, and that they might as well think of altogether new nets. Seward and Weed, in New York held many conferences with leaders of the Anti-Nebraska, or Republican party; an when the time for State conventions came it happened that both Republicans and Whigs send their delegates to the same city, Syracuse, to convene on the same date. The delegates well know that after a preliminary period of separate convention, the two would merge, thereafter becoming Republican. This was the plan of Seward, undoubtedly now the anti-Slavery leader.

Seward, it was thought, would be a candidate for the Presidency in 1856. Raymond, in June, 1854, in the New York "Times" had written confidently of Seward's chances. "The repeal; of the Missouri compromise", wrote Raymond, has developed a popular sentiment in the North which will probably elect Governor Seward to the Presidency in 1856, by the largest vote from the free States ever cast for any candidate." Without a doubt, Seward's prestige was high at the moment; yet such opposition developed in the Legislature in 1855 that for many days it was doubtful whether he would be re-nominated as United States Senator. In the Assembly, Whigs seemed to be everywhere; but Whig lapels were now tagged with Know Nothing badges or silver Gay antipathies. Seward had a strong supporter in Raymond, of the "Times," but now found Greeley and the "Tribune" in opposition. Raymond, as Lieutenant-Governor, was sitting where Greeley would have liked to be sitting--in the presiding chair of the State Senate. However, after considerable excitement, Raymond was able to announce that "William H. Seward was duly elected as a Senator of the United States for six years from the fourth of March, 1855."

Seward had not visited Albany at all during this exciting time. Indeed, throughout his political career, Seward never seems to have exerted himself to solicit office. Always, he had found others only too wager to place him in office. In this instance, Seward was engrossed in law practice, while the legislators at Albany wee wrangling over the Senatorial question. When re-election was uncertain, Seward had written to Weed that he did not "have the least possible anxiety about it," and that he did not wish his friend, Weed, to "suffer one moment's pain on the ground that I am not likely to be content and satisfied with whatever may happen"; yet, five months or so later, on his fifty-fifth birthday, we find Seward, happy and contented, penning to Weed a note which reads: "I snatch a minute to express not so much my deep and deepened gratitude to you, as my amazement at the magnitude and complexity of the angers through which you have conducted our shattered bark, and the sagacity and skill with which you saved us from so imminent a wreck." Had Fillmore instead of Seward been favored for the Senatorial seat, it is doubtful whether the merger of Whigs and Republicans would have been effected in New York--at least in that year. Upon the personal fortune great movements often depend.

The Kansas elections of 1855 were ruthless enough to stir both North and South--the south to enthusiasm and the North to angry protest. Anti-slavery lines were drawn closer. Hunker and Barnburner State conventions showed that the Democratic factions were still at loggerheads, on the burning question. Anti-Nebraskans of New York assembled in convention at Syracuse on September 26, and on the same day the Whigs gathered. The Anti-Nebraska or Republicans convention was presided over by a former Democrat of the Barnburner persuasion, Reuben E. Fenton, a young lawyer who was more successful as a political manger than at the bar or on the platform. The Whigs gathered under John A. King, a man twice as old as Fenton. When, after organizing separately, the Whigs "marched in a body to the hall of the Republican convention" and the two presiding officers sat side by side on the same platform, they seemed, in themselves, to testify for their party--King, old and war-worn, representing the Whigs; Fenton, young and vigorous, representing the Republicans. The delegates merged admirably, and the joint ticket put out was in the name of the Republican party. The Whig party had passed away; and Seward, in a public address a few weeks later, delivered an obituary.

To some of the less alert Whigs, who were still groping for the Whig ticket, Seward said: "Shall we report ourselves to the Whig party? Where is it? It was a strong and vigorous party, honorable for energy, noble achievement, and still more noble enterprises. It was moved by panics and fears to emulate the Democratic Party in its practiced subserviency; and it yielded in spite of your remonstrance's, and mine; and now there is neither Whig Party nor Whig, south of the Potomac. Let then the Whig party pass. It committed a grievous fault and grievously hath it answered it. Let it march off the field, with all the honours . . . . .The Republican organization has laid a new, sound and liberal platform. Its principles are equal and exact justice; its speed open, decided and frank. Its banner is untorn in former battles and unsullied by past errors. That is the party for us." #1

Seward had sounded "the keynote of the new party," but not quite early enough. Know Nothings were at the head of the poll in New York state in 1855, electing Joel T. Headley to the Secretaryship of State by 148557 votes with Preston King, the Republican candidate, next with 136,698 votes; Hatch, Softs or Barnburner, 91, 336; and Ward, Hards or Hunker, 59,353. Sixteen Republicans and eleven Americans (Know Nothings) gained seats in the State Senate, the Democrats only having four Senators. In the Assembly, however, the Democrats of both factions, hard and soft, had 50 seats, the American 44, the Republicans 33, and there was still one lone, lost Whig.

Some of the Republicans look apprehensively at the American strength, but Seward thought that Know Nothings would never develop permanent legs. No party could shut out the Slavery issue, and only those that faced it could live.

The Republicans did much better in New York, and indeed elsewhere throughout the North, in 1856. The Northern Anti-Slavery forces were gaining in strength and cohesion. The attempt to foist slavery upon Kansas had failed, thanks chiefly to New York efforts. Beecher's "bibles," which were rifles carried by resolute Kansas settlers from New York had made the Missouri rifles hesitate to again attempt the intimidation of Kansas voters. In the Senate of the United States a great New Yorkers, Seward, was meeting Douglas blow for blow on the Kansas question. However, President Pierce did all he possibly could to turn Kansas to the South, even using United States troops.

This was a Presidential year. Pierce had little chance for the North was up in arms against him. Buchanan was chosen as the Democratic nominee, Pierce failing to secure re-nomination for the same reason that Fillmore had been denied it. Their administrative acts bearing on the Great Question had brought them into disfavor. They had had no option, or at least only to fall on one or other side of the Dixie line. If they fell on the south side of the wall, the North forgot them; if they toppled on the north side, the South cursed them. So, the only course open to the delegates was to find another candidate.

The Republicans met in National convention at Philadelphia, and made Fremont, the Pathfinder, their candidate. William H. Seward, though the logical candidate, was persuaded by Weed not to become a candidate. Weed feared that Seward would lose the Republicans of the pivotal State of Pennsylvania. Thurlow weed was no longer dictator, but he had done so much for Seward in the past, that the Senator had left to his advisers all matters of campaign policy. Seward once declared: "Seward is Weed and Weed is Seward. What I do, Weed approves. What he say, I endorse. We are one" #2 there is not the least doubt that Seward regretted bowing so implicitly to Weed in this case, for it made his chance in the next presidential year, 1860, no better. Seward suspected that Greeley had had a hand in changing Weed's mind. "The understanding all around me," wrote Seward to his wife on June 14, 1856, "is that Greeley has struck hands with enemies of mine and sacrificed me for the good of the cause. . . . .and that Weed has concurred in demanding my acquiescence." Sot he Republican mantle fell upon Fremont. His shoulders, however, were not quite broad enough; so the Republicans had to wait for the coming of a man of greater political stature in 1860. Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, went to the White House, and there passed four perplexing years of inactivity, while the Republican champion was growing to his full stature.

With the Republican party grew the great leader, Abraham Lincoln. At least, it was in party issues that the greatness of Lincoln was seen. He came prominently before the convention of 1856, being one of those considered as Vice-Presidential nominee. In the next year, he came more into notice as candidate for the seat held by United States Senator Stephen A. Douglas, the author of the Kansas-Nebraska bills. He came still more favorably before the public in debates with this great Illinois Senator. Lincoln was climbing rapidly at a period when Seward was slipping backward.

Local politics in New York developed promisingly in 1856. The Democrats followed the example set them by the Whigs a year earlier. Hards and Softs met in separate convention in the same city at the same time, and after some preliminaries, merged. They even came harmoniously to believe that they could indorse the Pierce administration. Horatio Seymour controlled the convention, and brought about the nomination of Amasa J. Parker for Governor. Justice Parker was of good judicial record, having served on the bench of both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court; but he never was and never could become a politician, though he had served in both Assembly and Congress. Judge Parker was only in his fiftieth year, but he was at the end of his public career, though he was destined to continue busily in law practice in Albany for another thirty-five years. He had no chance of winning the Governorship in 1856, owing to the strong Anti-Slavery sentiment that then prevailed. It was the heyday of Republicanism. The Republicans also met in State convention at Syracuse in September. The nomination lay between James S. Wadsworth and John Alsop King, both excellent men, the latter a son of Rufus King, the first United States Senator from New York. After some balloting, the choice fell upon king, who, as Weed pointed out, came nearest to the ideals of the young party. "I have come to have a great liking for the Kings," wrote Seward in 1850. "They have withstood the seduction of the seducers, and are like a rock in the defense of the right. They have been tried as through fire." #3

John Alsop King, in due course, was inaugurated as the first Republican Governor of New York. Although Buchanan, heading the party which, at this time, "advocated one country, one union, one constitution," defeated Fremont, whom the Democrats called "the sectional candidate of the advocates of dissolution," and absolutely buried Millard Fillmore, who had acted unwisely in accepting nomination by the Know Nothing Party, there was no doubt as to the strength of the Republican party in New York. Seward was not at all active in the campaign, but Henry Ward Beecher, Horace Greeley, William Cullen Bryant, Henry J. Raymond, and Washington Irving were among those who rallied Republicans out of the old Whig highways and byways. Fremont was given 276,007 votes in New York, and Buchanan only 195,878. Fillmore polled a better vote in New York State--as of course he should--than in any other. His support was 124,604. John Alsop King received 264,400 votes for the Governorship, and his chief opponent, Justice Parker, received 198,616. By comparison with the Governorship returns of the previous decade or two, when in some cases the successful candidate could count only a few hundred more votes than the defeated, the result in 1856 indicated mot than a victory--it was a landslide, to ward the new party. The Republican Assemblymen numbered eighty-one, the next highest being the Democrats with thirty-one.

In the Senate, there were sixteen Republican, out of thirty-two Senators; but when the time came to elect a successor to United States Senator Hamilton fish, it became obvious that Republicans of Democratic antecedents would not walk the Weed way that had been so well trodden by Whigs for a generation. Democratic Republicans had not taken enthusiastically to the nomination of John A. King for Governor. It was then agreed that the next United States Senator should be of former Democratic affiliation. Preston King was most in mind for the seat, but other aspirants included Ward Hunt, James S. Wadsworth, and David Dudley Field. Hunt, who was soon to go to the Court of appeals, and James S. Wadsworth, whose life was to end on the field of battle six years later, gave way tot he distinguished Codifier, David Dudley Field. Preston King still remained and Weed insisted that faith be kept with him. Finally, Weed prevailed upon the Legislature to leave the election to Republicans of Democratic history. Preston King thus became the successor of Hamilton Fish.

John Alsop King, the first Republican Governor, was most outspoken as to slavery in his first message. New York State, by "deliberate and irreversible decree," he declared, had decided that slavery should not be extended. "This conclusion," he said, "I most unreservedly adopt, and am prepared to abide by it at all times, under all circumstances and in any emergency." He recommended that the New York Legislature make a generous appropriation for the relief of the citizens of Kansas. The Legislature did not follow his suggestions, but it nevertheless resolved that New York "would not allow slavery within her borders in any form, or under any pretense, or for any time, however short."

The year 1857 was one of disastrous financial stringency. Panic seized the moneyed interests, and business disaster became almost general. Of course, the political party in power had to bear the brunt of the universal condemnation. In New York State, where the Republicans were in power, the business disasters and money stringency were attributed to Republican extravagance. In the Nation, the Democratic President came in for condemnation. It is not, therefore, surprising to find that the republican landslide of 1856 in New York had not forever buried the Democrats. The Democrats carried the State in the next year, electing Gideon J. Ticker Secretary of State, Sanford E. Church Secretary of State, Sanford E. Church comptroller, Lyman Tremaine Attorney-General, and Hiram Denio to the Court of Appeals. Know Nothings contributed to this victory, but probably the money panic was the main reason for the change in political thought.

In 1858, the panic was forgotten, and the Republican delegates who met in convention at Syracuse in September, to nominate a governor were more engrossed in the game of baiting or saving Thurlow weed than in anything else. The Anti-Weed faction embraced Republicans of American Barnburners, Abolitionists, and Prohibitionist record. They wanted Timothy Jenkins for Governor., Weed favored Simeon Draper, though later, when he realized how strong was the opposition, he proposed Edwin D. Morgan. For the first time in a generation, Weed himself became a delegate; and he had a very exciting day. Greeley did his best to hamper him, and most of the Know Nothings complained of Morgan's 'broad sympathies with the foreign-born citizens." However, Weed was still the strongest factor in New York politics. Morgan was nominated and elected, Amasa J. Parker again running second. #4 The "irrepressible conflict," slavery, was uppermost again. Lincoln had declared earlier in the year that "this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free"; and Seward, at campaign time, had declared that North and South could no longer evade the issue. The political system of the South must inevitably collide with that of the North. "Shall I tell you what this collision means? They who think it is accidental, unnecessary, the work of interested or fanatical agitators, and therefore ephemeral, mistake the case altogether. It is the irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces, and it means that the United States must and will, sooner or later, become either entirely a slave-holding nation, or entirely a free labor nation." Either the South "will ultimately be tilled by free labor," or the North must "be again surrendered by their farmers to slave culture and to the production of slaves, and Boston and New York become once more markets for trade in the bodies and souls of men." #5 Other people now began to realize that the "irrepressible conflict" was fast approaching, although those public men who considered themselves as generally opposed to Senator Seward tried to belittle his arguments, by denouncing him as "vile," "wicked," "malicious," "vicious." To the editor of the New York "Herald," Seward was an "arch-agitator"; and even the New York "Times" thought that Seward's argument was somewhat fanciful. The New York "Tribune," however, praised Seward for discarding "all minor temporary and delusive issues," and showing only "what is final and essential." General Webb, in the "Courier and Enquirer," was inclined to believe that Seward's speech made "Seward and Republicanism one and inseparable, and settled the question in New York as to who should be the standard-bearer in 1860."

General Webb probably did not fully gauge the power and intensity of Seward's enemies. The Republican party would have been honored if Seward became its standard bearer, but it is doubtful whether he could have carried the party into National office in 1860. Even in 1858, Republicans in New York were attributing the reduced majority in State elections to "the clamor against Sewardism." John A. King, in 1856, had had a majority of 65,000, but Edwin D. Morgan had beaten Judge Parker by only 17,440. Still, Republicanism was spreading over the northern States. indeed, of the free States, only California and Oregon now supported Buchanan. Even the President's own State, Pennsylvania, was now Republican.

State conventions in 1859 were mainly skirmishes for presidential favor. Weed, it seems, tried to hold Whig and Democratic Republicans in good humor, so as to rally them all in the next year in support of Seward. The Democrats repeated their rowdyism of a few years before, the Softs, of Tammany hall, trying to oust the Hards by physical force. Finally, the leader of the Softs, Daniel S. Dickinson, gained the upper hand--by tact, not force. The Know Nothings confused matters by dividing their votes, and while the Democrats secured the Secretaryship of State, Republicans were elected to the other State offices. In the new Senate, the Republicans had 32 seats; and in the Assembly could array 91 republicans against 37 Democrats. The Know Nothings had intended to bring confusion to Seward; instead they had furthered his chances. In any case, they had grown to be so small a party that one does not wonder that they never again figured in a campaign in New York.

Senator Seward was in Europe for the greater part of 1859. Returning to Washington in December, he found the capital in alarming commotion. Most Southerners were angry at the thought that Seward might be the next President. "We will never submit to the inauguration of a Black Republican President," declared one Congressman. "You may elect Seward to be President of the North; but of the South, never! Whenever a President is elected by a fanatical majority be what they may, to gall back on their reserved rights and say 'As to this Union we have no longer any lot or part in it.'" #6 all that was needed to dissolve the Union was to secede, seemed to be the general thought. "This Union," said another Legislator from the land of cotton, "great and powerful as it is, can be tumbled down by the act of any one southern State. If Florida withdraws, the Federal Government would not dare attack her. If it did, the bands would dissolve as if melted by lightning." The Congressman merely voiced the opinion common throughout the South. Angry passions blurred their perspectives, would not let them think. Few grasped the basic truth--that the return journey usually takes as long as the outward. The union had taken almost a century--much of it marked in blood and sacrifice--to get where it was in 1860. How foolish to imagine that it could be turned and hustled back to its starting point again in a day, or a year, or a decade--at the command of a few disgruntled associates, who had been laboring under the delusion that their own will, not that of the majority, would prevail.

While Seward was preparing to introduce into the Senate a bill which would carry the Union one step farther forward, admitting Kansas to the commonwealth of States, another great defender of the Union, Abraham Lincoln, was on his way eastward to make his bow to the people of Seward's home State. Lincoln had been in New York only once before--in 1848--and while most New Yorkers now knew him by repute, few even of the political leaders knew him intimately. William Cullen Bryant had met him thirty years before in Illinois, and now took the chair at the Cooper Institute, New York City, to introduce the lanky Illinoisian to a gathering of the leading people of the leading city. Lincoln, with his carpet bag and rumpled coat and baggy trousers, did not altogether dispose of the doubts the poet had had that his "prairie acquaintance" of thirty years before would properly meet New York Lyceum requirements. However, on February 27, 1860, the Cooper Institute was filled to overflowing with the cultured elite of the metropolis, all eager to hear the man who had confounded the eloquent Douglas in debate--the man who had shown how impossible it was for Republicans to merge with Douglas Democrats. Lincoln did not disappoint them. "Since the day of Clay and Webster," reported the "Tribune," "no man has spoken to a larger assemblage of the intellect and mental culture of our city." That he spoke well, Horace Greeley himself testified many years afterwards, saying that Lincoln's address was "the beat political address" to which he had ever listened; and he had heard "some of Webster's grandest."

New York was as much impressed by the man as by his words. In every gesture, behind every pensive furrowing of his much-lined face, behind those soft, steady eyes and smile-wrinkled mouth one saw a true Democrat--not a man who in theory believed that all men were created equal, but who in almost all his daily contact with his fellows instinctively lived the principle of liberty, fraternity, and equality; moreover, one who has happy in doing so. To impress, one has to live the part. One canalways penetrate the veneer of even great actors. But one could not be long in the presence of Lincoln before becoming convinced that his words came from his heart, and that no political canker at any time affected its beating. It throbbed with human brotherhood, yearned to transmit to all other American hearts--black and white, North and South--the impulse of good fellowship, human understanding, and brotherly love, which would bring all men to see that human slavery was wrong; that it was, indeed, one of the darkest of crimes. Certainly, Lincoln's speech at Cooper Union went straight to fundamentals. Political expediency could not make Lincoln take a tortuous route, down side streets and back alleys, to get where he wanted to get--to the alter of freedom. His was a straight course, lighted by the torch of Liberty. He drew the attention of his audience, and especially of the agitated South, to the fact that the principle de advocated and the South condemned was not revolutionary but conservative, "since it maintained the doctrine of the fathers who held and acted upon the opinion that congress had the power to prohibit slavery in the territories." Hoping particularly that his words would reach the Southern people, Lincoln said: "Some of you are for reviving the foreign slave trade; some for Congress forbidding the territories to prohibit slavery within their limits; some for maintaining slavery in the territories through the judiciary; some for the 'great principle' that of one man could enslave another no third man should object, fantastically called popular sovereignty; but never a man among you is in favor of federal prohibition of slavery in federal territories, according to the practice of our father who formed the government under which we live. . . . .It was not we but you who discarded the old policy of the fathers."

The New York audience was much impressed. The "Tribune" thought that Lincoln was "one of Nature's orators." He was, indeed, one of Nature's gentlemen; the trueness of his life brought to his lips words that rang true.

Seward was still battling manfully in the Senate. He was still the leader of the North, or at least of the East; still the logical candidate for the Presidency. Now, after the great Illinoisian had come East and had spoken, Seward's voice seemed to rasp slightly. Seward was a great defender, but Lincoln, in his gentler, broader, more humane attitude might dispose of the trouble without blows. Sward's great speeches were bringing him more and more enemies. His words were sledge-hammer blows, yet they did not seem to have the true ring that his "irrepressible conflict" speech of 1858 had had. The New Yorker's words did not now rest wholly in the "higher law"; politics was weakening them slightly. The "irrepressible conflict" was now a fearful event to contemplate. Wendell Phillips said that "Seward makes a speech in Washington on the tactics of the Republican party, but phrases it to suit Wall Street." Horace Greeley added a stab. Governor Seward had, he said, "long been stigmatized as a radical," ye the thought that future generations, reading his speeches of 1860, would wonder hot he "should ever have been denounced as an incendiary." In short, his utterances of 1860 were not consistent with those of earlier years.

The National conventions of that year were most sensational. The Democrats gathered in April, in Charleston, South Carolina, but after seven days of strife, were no nearer agreement than when they began; rather, they were more ominously in disagreement. North and South had proved impossible to unite. Douglas' squatter sovereignty, or popular sovereignty, would not suit the South. They wished to have a Democratic platform which would affirm that slavery was right and its extension legitimate; the North would go no farther than to abide by the decision of the Supreme Court on the question of constitutional law. An Alabama delegate scored Northern Democrats for harboring the Free Soil spirit at all. "You acknowledged," he said, "that slavery did not exist by the law of nature, or by the law of God--that it only existed by State law; that it was wrong, but that you were not to blame. That was your position; and it was wrong. If you taken the position directly that slavery was right. . . . you would have triumphed. But we have gone down before the enemy so that they have their foot upon your neck;. . . . .When I was a schoolboy in the Northern States, Abolitionists were pelted with rotten eggs. But now this band of Abolitionists has spread and grown into three bands--the black Republican, the free Soilers, and Squatter Sovereignty men--all representing the common sentiment that slavery is wrong." #7 The South again demanded that Northern Democrats declare slavery right and its extension legitimate; and although, after much perilous hesitation, the Douglas Democrats, as a party, were prepared to conciliate the South, they could not prevent some fervent, conscientious, freedom-loving delegates from protesting. Finally, a stampede of secession seized the Southern delegates. Their action was defended by a delegate from Mississippi. "Our going," he said, "is not conceived in passion or carried out from mere caprice or disappointment. It is the firm resolve of the great body we represent. The people of Mississippi ask, what is the construction of the platform of 1860? You of the North say it means one thing; we of the South another. They ask which is right and which is wrong? The North have maintained their position, but, while doing so, they have not acknowledged the rights of the South. We say, go your way and we will go ours. Bit the South leaves not like Hagar, driven into the wilderness, friendless and alone, for in sixty days you will find a united South standing should to shoulder." Oil was poured on troubled waters for many day, but after fifty-seven ballots all the delegates realized that neither of the two leading candidates--Douglas, who in the last ballot had received 151-1/2 votes or Guthrie who have received 65-1/2--could be nominated. The South would not tolerate Douglas, and the stronger North insisted that he be the standard-bearer of the Democratic party. Therefore, on the tenth day of the convention, it was resolved to adjourn, reassembling at Baltimore on June 18. Dean Richmond had been the dominating delegate of the New York group. He had hoped to bring about unity and harmony by dropping Douglas and putting forward Horatio Seymour of New York, but the chance did not come.

The delegates departed from Charleston, not at all sure that they would all meet again at Baltimore. "Men will be cutting one another's throats in a little while," said one Southern delegate. "In less then twelve months we shall be in war, and that the bloodiest in history. Men seem to be utterly blinded to the future." Though some of the departing delegates may be thought this a far-fetched opinion, there were few who failed to see that the Democratic party held such contrary factions that success in the next campaign could hardly be expected.

When the Baltimore convention opened, it was seen that some of the seceding delegates were there, apparently wishful to be seated as though nothing had happened, but Northern delegates protested. If southerners would participate, they must leave behind the opinions that caused them to secede; they must not attempt to thrust their minority opinion down the throats of the convention. Moreover, other delegates from the same States had presented themselves; and as they were pledged to support Douglas, they were admitted, and the seceders were excluded. Dean Richmond had all the while been looking for an opportunity to start a stampede in the direction of Seymour; but the convention ended without any good opportunity coming of breaking the Douglas support. So, the great man of Squatter Sovereignty fame became the Democratic candidate--or, to be more correct, the nominee of the Douglas Democrats.

The southern delegates who had seceded in the first convention and had been excluded from the second held a convention of their own and chose John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, as their Presidential candidate. Even some New York delegates accepted Breckinridge, but they did so more our of resentment against the suppressive tactics of Dean Richmond than of confidence in the Breckinridge platform.

It seems that a small minority of the New York delegates at both conventions had been pledged to Daniel s. Dickinson, of Binghamton.

Throughout almost the whole of the balloting at Charleston, Dickinson's name was on the list, the vote cast for him never rising above sixteen, and falling back to as low as the splitting of one vote. The Dickinson faction attributed the inconspicuous showing of their candidate to the stifling tactics of Richmond.

There was indeed no hope for the Democratic party, factional jealousies might have been overcome, but the "irrepressible conflict" was ever hanging over them. The could never disappear except by bursting.

The Republican convention opened in Chicago on May 16. A building capable of hold 10,000 persons had been erected to accommodate delegates and spectators; but this "wigwam," which was five times as large as that in which the convention of 1856 had been held, was not half large enough to admit all who sought to enter. Republicanism was rampant, and New York was there in force. The empire state had been properly organized behind Seward, and monopolized the whole of one hotel, sported a uniformed band and a stalwart body of marchers, led by a well-known pugilist. Seward would be the candidate and the next President, was the spirit of New York headquarters.

 

The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie Axtman

You are the [an error occurred while processing this directive] Visitor to this USGenNet Safe-Site™ Since September 5, 2004.

2004

[Index][Book Index][NY][AHGP]