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Republicans were jubilant over it, the Democratic papers published it silently—one only, a weekly paper, edited by a federal office-holder, venturing very slight approval of it. The subsequent messages of the President, both by their manner as well as by their language—the very stupid exhibition of ill-concealed venom by Mr. Bigler, in his speech, which was represented as being an authorized expression of the views of the administration, and the Quixotical effort of Dr. Fitch to read Douglas and all who thought with him out of the party-could not fail to modify very greatly the personal interest previously entertained by the Democracy in the venerable President. The debates in Congress and the proceedings there have already been spoken of in these pages, and it will only be necessary to refer to them now as explaining proceedings in the state. On a previous page will be found some notice of a meeting held in Chicago in December responsive to the speech of Douglas in the Senate on the 9th of December. The names mentioned in those proceedings are of some moment, not because of any consequence attaching personally to the individuals, but as illustrating the depths to which rancorous enmity stooped for the selection of fitting instruments to accomplish its ends.
The resolutions of that meeting were reported by a committee consisting of the following persons: Thomas Hoyne, exUnited States Attorney; Iram Nye, ex-United States Marshal; Isaac Cook, ex-United States Postmaster; Brock M'Vickar, Surgeon United States Marine Hospital; William Price, postmaster; Thomas Dyer, B. F. Bradley, and H. D. Colvin.
The chairman of the meeting was Dr. Daniel Brainard, exSurgeon to the United States Marine Hospital, who appointed this committee, and who gave as his reason for placing upon
it the federal officers appointed by Mr. Buchanan, as well as • those who had been removed, that it was right that the admin
istration should know and be made to feel that no Democrat in Chicago, in office or out of it, could permit so gross a violation of the principles of the party to pass without expressing in the strongest terms a reprobation of the act. The meeting was addressed by Dr. Brainard and others; their speeches were not published, because the friends of Mr. Douglas and those who really desired harmony in the party thought that, if peace and harmony were to be restored, it could be better accomplished by suppressing the fierce invectives employed, and
sweeping denunciations, not only of Lecomptonism, but of its supporters. Had these speeches been preserved, it would be refreshing at this time to read how Mr. Bigler was denounced as an overgrown dunce, and Dr. Fitch as a bogus senator whose Pomeroy Letter* ought to have consigned him to a political oblivion so profound that not even a Lecompton Convention could resuscitate his memory.
The President subsequently appointed Messrs. Hoyne, Nye, Brainard, and Cook to office, they having become opponents of Douglas and supporters of Lecomptonism.
In February, Cook, one of the above-named committee, proceeded to Washington, and was nominated to the Senate as postmaster; he was then a defaulter to the government in a
* As Dr. Fitch, of Indiana, was one of the “foreign" disturbers in the Illinois contest, and as he was generally styled on the stump“Pomeroy Fitch,” it may not be out of place to state why he was so called. At one time he was nominated for Congress in Indiana by the Democracy, whose platform was the Nicholson Letter. Just previous to the election, some Abolitionists in the district, not satisfied with the Whig nominee, addressed a letter to Fitch, propounding questions to him, to which Fitch replied: his reply secured the Abolition vote. The correspondence was secret, and not known to the Democracy until too late to take action upon it. The correspondence on the part of the Abolitionists was conducted by Mr. Pomeroy. We give the letters without comment, except to say that Dr. Fitch very honorably kept all his pledges to Mr. Pomeroy, as will be seen by reference to the journals of the House of Representatives at the time.
" Plymouth, August 4, 1849. “SIR, -As there are a few who think you have not been quite definite enough on some of the questions involved in the present canvass, I wish you to answer the following questions, to wit:
“1. Will you, if elected, vote for the unconditional repeal of slavery in the District of Columbia ?
“ 2. Will you vote for the abolition of the inter-state slave-trade?
“3. Will you vote for the Wilmot Proviso being extended over the Territories of California and New Mexico, and against any law authorizing slaves to be taken there as property ? “Please answer the above questions yes or no, without comment.
“ GROVE POMEROY."
The Answer. “With pleasure I answer 'YES' to the above questions.
“ Entertaining the views indicated in my answer above, I shall not only vote 'yes' on these measures, but if no older or abler member, whose influence would be greater than mine, introduce them into Congress, I shall do it myself, if I have the honor of holding a seat there.
"G. N. FITCA."
very large sum, but nevertheless his confirmation was forced through the Senate-senators of honorable name and distinction uniting in the action. The nomination was not confirmed without opposition, and that, too, of the most determined character; the result was that Cook was not confirmed until after the first of March. In the mean time, while this unheard-of proscription was going on at Washington, letters from cabinet officers and senators were flooding the mails, all tendering office, profit, and honors to such of the gallant Democracy of Illinois as would abandon the principles of the party and take up the banner of hostility to Douglas. In more than one letter, and by more than one of these men who thus wrote in behalf of the President, it was suggested that as the President was too old to attend to business personally, particularly the distribution of patronage, the rewarding of friends would be the especial duty of the gentlemen to whom had been committed that business. It need not be stated that these letters were from presidential aspirants, some in Congress and some in the cabinet. It is with no pleasure that these, as well as other equally disgraceful proceedings on the part of " distinguished” men in the councils of the nation, are recorded here. We have abstained from giving names, because to do so would be to single out individuals and hold them up to scorn and contempt, when, in truth and in fact, they acted, so far as the attempt to corrupt the people, as the authorized exponents of a new and fatal policy which had been adopted for the purpose of defeating Stephen A. Douglas. The result of this species of attempted corruption was soon apparent. A prominent individual residing in Illinois, who perhaps had just received a letter from a member of the cabinet suggesting the importance of sustaining the administration and of defeating Douglas, and intimating that the administration would cheerfully bestow its best offices upon those who would aid in accomplishing these ends, while the writer, who already had the confident assurances of a majority in the Charleston Convention, would not fail to have a particular regard now and hereafter for the person who would publicly avow a hostility to Douglas, would be startled by receiving next day a letter of the same import from a senator, and, before the week was out, would possibly have on his table four or five letters from as many “distinguished Democrats," all praying the defeat of Douglas, and each con
cluding with the suggestion that the writer had already received promises sufficient to justify him in expecting the nomination at Charleston! The effect of such a course of action on the part of those who had taken the cause of the administration in hand was, as might be expected, entirely fatal. The work was overdone. There were too many engaged in it. No intelligent man who received such letters could have the slightest respect for the writers, or could place the least faith in any thing they said.
Before Cook's confirmation, the Illinois Democratic State Central Committee issued the call for the Democratic State Convention to nominate state officers. The call was signed by the Hon. ALEXANDER STARNE, of Pike County, as chairman, and was approved by all the members of the committee. It apportioned the number of votes which each county would be entitled to in convention, the number being based, according to custom, upon the Democratic vote at the previous presidential election. Counties were authorized, of course, to send as many delegates as they chose, but the number of votes which each county would be entitled to was fixed.
The convention was called to meet at Springfield, in the State-house, at ten o'clock A.M., April 21st. It has been stated that this convention was called at an unusually early day; but, by reference to a table published elsewhere in this volume, it will be seen that, with one exception, it was held later than any preceding Democratic State Convention ever held in Illinois. The exception was in 1856, when the convention was held on the first of May. The day after copies of this call reached Washington, Cook's nomination was confirmed ; longer delay was thought dangerous to the score of embryo presidents to whom had been pledged the eleven votes of Illinois at the Charleston Convention. He hurried home, and on the 17th of March assumed the duties of postmaster. He immediately turned out a number of competent, worthy men, and filled their places with individuals who had recommendations signed by Fitch, Bright, Cobb, Slidell, and other very excellent statesmen of that class. The best comment upon these appointments is the one furnished by time; two or three of them have since been sent to the Penitentiary, a few others are fugitives from justice, others have been removed by order of the Department, and others have sought safety and peace by voluntary resignation.
The administration had now a representative in Illinois, and if there was a disposition on the part of any one to reflect disrespectfully upon the Chicago postmaster or the policy of the administration, it might be said with great truth that that policy and its representative were eminently worthy of each other. This representative of the administration, being himself illiterate, selected from a brothel in Chicago a clerk, through whose penmanship the Chicago postmaster undertook, in the name and by the authority of the President of the United States, and of several members of his cabinet, to corrupt the Democracy of the state. As the personal and official character of the postmaster of Chicago is of itself not of sufficient importance to require more than a passing notice, even of its infamy, yet as, with a full knowledge of the man, the administration chose to place its character and fortunes in Illinois in his hands, there is no escape from the disagreeable task of recording a few particulars of the joint movements of principal and agent at that time. At Chatham, in Sangamon County, one N. S. Wright had been postmaster, and, up to the period of Cook's appointment to office, had been an ardent supporter of Douglas. By some means-possibly at a personal interviewthis man, Wright's, ambition or cupidity had been excited by a suggestion that he ought to be the postmaster at Springfield. That he had been in correspondence with Cook upon the subject is evident, for upon the eighth of April Cook addressed him a letter, warning him that it was the intention of the friends of Mr. Buchanan to get up a new organization in the state; that he, Wright, was expected to secure the election of anti-Douglas delegates to the state convention, but, if defeated in that, he was, by all means, to get up a new delegation. The letter closed with a suggestion that the business of appointing a new postmaster at Springfield would be settled at the meeting of the convention.
It will be seen by the above letter that the administration, through its agent, declared, in advance of the state convention, the purpose of reorganizing the Democracy of Illinois, and instructed the federal officer in that quarter that if he, the federal officer, was beaten in the choice of delegates at the regular Democratic county convention, "by all means to get up another delegation.” This letter, owing to the stupidity of some one connected with the Chicago Post-office, never got