It was during the evening session, Monday, April 30, that the delegates of eight states withdrew from the convention. They then assembled at St. Andrew's Hall to determine upon a future course of action. Many members of state delegations which had not withdrawn were present, among whom Snead of Missouri and Fisher of Virginia were appointed on the committee to report permanent officers for the organization.1 The Wood delegation from New York was also present by invitation from Yancey and Fisher. Desiring to the very last to preserve the unity of their party organization, no one had given thought to the questions that would arise in such an exigency as had occurred. They had followed out the instructions of their state conventions; but the national convention had adopted the Cincinnati platform without explanation. That platform had been given two constructions, one at the South, the other at the North. If in its future action, the convention should nominate upon that platform a man who was in sympathy with the Southern construction, the seceding delegates would be in an embarrassing position. They had first of all to remember their relation to those states which had not withdrawn p56 but whose interests were coincident with their own; and they had to consider their status with regard to their constituents. They had been instructed to withdraw from the convention if certain contingencies arose, but no provision had been made for their future action. Having withdrawn, were their commissions at an end? If so, then whatever action they might take would be as private citizens, and in no sense binding upon the Democracy of their respective states. Yancey, Bayard, and Mouton concurred in that opinion. It was their conviction that no further action could be taken until the following day, inasmuch as other Southern state delegations would probably join them. They should then perfect their organization and remain in session until the remnant of the regular convention took some definite action. If Douglas should be nominated, the proper procedure would be to adopt the majority platform, make their own nominations, and seek vindication for their action before the country at large. This sentiment prevailed and nothing further was attempted.
The bolting delegates reassembled on Tuesday, May 1, at Military Hall. It had been decided, after more sober reflection thatº the swiftly moving events of the previous evening had that the convention should restrict its membership to those delegates who had withdrawn from the regular convention. In compliance with this ruling, the Wood delegation retired from the convention, once more assuring that body of their whole-hearted coöperation. The convention then unanimously adopted a report of the committee nominating Bayard as permanent chairman; and upon assuming that office he urged the members present to rely upon their own consciousness of right as vindication for the course they were pursuing. If p57 the rump convention nominated Douglas, thereby endorsing the popular sovereignty construction of the Cincinnati platform, he was willing to unite in nominating candidates for the presidency and vice presidency. Yancey then submitted a series of resolutions which were in substance the majority platform the regular convention had refused to endorse. These resolutions were referred to a committee of one from each of the nine states represented and the convention adjourned until the following day.2
The adjournment of the Democratic convention to Baltimore without having nominated a candidate for the presidency forced the bolting delegates to change their plans. They had, during the three days of their session, confidently expected the nomination of Douglas. They had been unanimous in their determination, in that event, to continue their organization as an opposition party, make nominations, and go before the country as the true national Democratic party. But Douglas had not been nominated; his strength had been barely more than one third of the whole; and, if his opponents remained firm, Hunter or some other man recognized as truly Southern in principle might be nominated. Such a course would give to the platform adopted — the Cincinnati platform — a Southern construction, save the party, and perchance the Union. Had Douglas been nominated, and the convention adjourned sine die, the whole course of events might have been changed.
It is doubtful if there were many men in the South but hoped for the preservation of the Union, if what they believed to be their constitutional rights might at the same time be secured. Those who were courageous enough to p58 declare for secession if a Republican were elected, however, were also the most insistent upon a Southern platform for the Democratic party. It was but natural, therefore, that those men who withdrew from the ranks of the Democracy at Charleston should be branded as disunionists. The Douglas adherents seized the opportunity in an effort to spread dissension in the ranks of the bolters and charged some of them with deliberately disrupting the party in order to further their scheme for disunion. They made the cry of disunion their political capital. They utilized it at Baltimore to exclude delegations from the Southern states which came there honestly seeking to preserve the party; and, when their own intransigence drove the remainder of the slave states and portions of the delegations from six free states from the Baltimore convention, they sought refuge behind the charge that the original Charleston bolters had come to Baltimore in order to complete the disruption of the party. Thereafter the entire membership of the constitutional Democracy was denounced as disunionist; and, although that party carried nine states in the presidential election, polled nearly three hundred thousand votes in the free states, and failed to carry Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee by the narrowest of margins, the charge has met little challenge in the subsequent years.
How much outside influence entered into the proceedings of the bolting delegates on that last day at Charleston we will probably never know. Dissension arose over a resolution offered by Judge Meek, that a committee be appointed to prepare an address to the country explaining the bolt. Barry of Mississippi hoped that the platform would be reopened at Baltimore and changed to meet the views of the South. He maintained that they were still p59 delegates to that convention until their constituents released them or filled their places, and that they ought to go there and preserve the party organization, if possible. Hooker, also of Mississippi, opposed Barry's contention because they had separated from the others on matters of principle and would lose the moral effect of their action by going to Baltimore. He argued for immediate nominations and a resolute maintenance of their organization. It was upon this issue that the charge of disunion crept into the proceedings. Jackson of Georgia charged those who were seeking immediate and irrevocable action with an attempt to prevent the possibility of a reunion of the party. Yancey held that in proposing an address they were seeking "neither to preserve nor destroy the Union, but rather to preserve the constitutional rights of the South, and define the position of the Southern States in retiring from the Convention, and their subsequent action." Simons of South Carolina opposed the resolution because he was unwilling to allow a committee to speak for him, unless he could previously examine the address. He was opposed to a reunion of the party at Baltimore. So fearful was he of a disunion movement that he resigned his position and retired from the convention.3 The united opposition of Texas and Mississippi finally defeated the resolution, and the convention adjourned to meet again at Richmond on the second Monday in June.4
Before adjourning at Charleston, the rump convention had recommended that the party organizations in the several states make provision "for supplying all vacancies p60 in their respective delegations to this Convention, when it shall reassemble."5 This recommendation transferred to the constituencies of those delegates who had vacated their seats at Charleston the responsibility of deciding their future relation to the party. Those delegates had done nothing to embarrass their constituencies. The Democratic party organizations in the several states were free to adopt any one of several courses: they might endorse the action of their delegates, accept the division of the party as a fact, and send them to Richmond to complete the organization of the constitutional Democratic party; they might repudiate the action of their delegates and send others to Baltimore to unite with the Douglas Democracy in making nominations on the Cincinnati platform; or they might endorse the action of their delegates, send them to Baltimore in hope of reuniting the party on a revised platform, and also accredit them to Richmond in case the Douglas Democracy refused to compromise.
That permanent disruption of the Democratic party was regarded with apprehension by its Southern leaders is apparent from remarks of Jefferson Davis in the Senate four days after the adjournment at Charleston. While engaged in debate on his resolutions, he said with reference to the proceedings:
After days of discussion, we saw that party convention broken. We saw the enemies of Democracy waiting to be invited to its funeral, and jestingly looking into the blank faces of those of us to whom the telegraph brought the sad intelligence. I hope this is, however, but the mist of the morning. I have faith in the Democracy, and that it still lives. . . . Thanks to a sanguine temperament, thanks to an abiding faith, thanks to a confidence in the Providence which has so long ruled for good the destiny of my country, I believe p61 it will reunite, and reunite upon sound and acceptable principles. At least, I hope so.6
Benjamin predicted that within six weeks the party would be reunited upon sound principles, and that the Northern members who had acted on the basis of expediency, although privately agreeing with the South in principle, would openly acknowledge the justice of the cause of the South. "I do not know when," he said, "in the whole course of my life, I felt such an utter shrinking of my whole being; I do not know whether I ever felt my heart sink within me as it did at the news that the Democratic party was about to break into two sectional divisions."7 Faith in the ultimate reunion of the party was not confined to these two leading representatives of the Democracy of the Southwest. Clingman, non-interventionist senator from North Carolina, relied upon the great vitality of the party, and upon its "good and true men in every section of the country," to effect a restoration of harmony.8 Acting upon their expressed convictions, a portion of the senators and representatives from the states in question united in an address to their constituents urging them to accredit delegates to Baltimore.9
Delegations from other Southern states had remained in the convention at Charleston because they were led to believe that the platform would be modified by explanatory amendments to suit their demands. Subsequent proceedings of the convention had strengthened the prospect of such action at Baltimore. A modification of the platform would remove the cause of separation, and a failure p62 to modify it would certainly lead to the withdrawal of the remainder of the Democratic states. United action on the part of all the Democratic states would result in either case. This faith in the reunion of the party at Baltimore had its origin in what was known as the Tennessee resolution. After the separation at Charleton, constant conferences were held between the delegates of the slave states who remained in the convention and those who had withdrawn. The purpose of these conferences was to unite the South, and, if possible, reunite the party. The tangible result was the following resolution, offered by Howard of Tennessee in the regular convention:
Resolved, That the citizens of the United States have an equal right to settle with their property in the Territories of the United States; and that, under the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, which we recognize as the correct exposition of the Constitution of the United States, neither the rights of person nor of property can be destroyed by congressional or territorial legislation.10
The New York delegation drafted this resolution and sent it to the Tennessee delegation as a compromise which they would support providing no other states withdrew.11 Russell of Virginia stated at the time that this resolution was approved by every Southern state in the convention, was acceptable to New York, and could be passed as indicated by a poll of the convention delegates. Its adoption either at Charleston or at Baltimore would probably have reunited the party, and the assurance of its adoption if brought to a vote is the one thing which kept the remaining Southern states in the convention at Charleston. In p63 the interval of adjournment it was, more than anything else, the hope which induced the states of the lower South to return delegations to Baltimore, and the main factor in the reluctance of other states to participate in a separate organization movement previous to that convention.
Meanwhile Southern sentiment was adjusting itself to the new situation. The one prevailing idea of the Southern-rights men was to unite the South. When it adjourned at Charleston, the party was committed to the Cincinnati platform and to that alone, with respect to the vital issue of slavery. It was apparent from the proceedings of the convention that the Southern states which remained in the convention would accept the platform if a Southern man were nominated. They refused to accept Douglas because his nomination would place a popular sovereignty interpretation upon that platform. It was believed in all parts of the South that, if his nomination were persisted in again at Baltimore, every Southern state and a portion of the Northern states would leave the convention. The idea, therefore, that the meeting at Richmond, June 11, would be joined by the delegations from all the Southern states in advance of the Baltimore meeting began to wane; and the Democratic press of the upper South strongly urged the states of the lower South to return their delegations to Baltimore.12
p64 In opposition to this course there was an interesting combination of those Southern-rights men who had been seeking for years to establish a Southern political party; of the Douglas minority faction who saw an opportunity to purge the Democratic party of its extreme Southern-rights element; and of the unaffiliated Southern-rights Whigs who hoped to reconstruct their former organization on the ruins of a divided Democracy.
The questions at issue were most confusing. Was the Tennessee resolution a sufficient guarantee of Southern rights? Would the bolters at Charleston be readmitted to the Baltimore convention, especially if contesting Douglas delegations were present? Did the resolution requesting the states to return full delegations have reference to vacancies created by the bolters?
The Yancey-Rhett followers were opposed to the Tennessee resolution because, like the Cincinnati platform, it was susceptible of a double interpretation.13 They had urged the bolters to make nominations at Charleston. They insisted that the Douglas followers would never yield, and that if the Southern delegations should go to Baltimore the result would be a reënactment of the Charleston drama. Upon returning to Alabama, therefore, Yancey exerted all his influence to prevent such p65 action. At last, finding the opposition too strong, he bowed to the inevitable and announced that he had been mistaken and would support the program of returning delegates to the convention at Baltimore as "a duty he owed to the Democracy of the States, of the Cotton States, and of the Union."14 In South Carolina, however, the sentiment prevailed that Southern interests would be served best by the maintenance of an exclusively Southern-rights party, and that state accredited a new delegation to Richmond only.
In Alabama and Louisiana, the two states in which the Douglas followers held conventions and sent contesting delegations to Baltimore, a small minority from the first had denounced the action of their state delegation at Charleston as a movement for disunion. When news of the disruption reached New Orleans, a call was issued through the Bee for a "Union Demonstration" meeting in opposition to the "secession action of the State delegation at Charleston."15 The meeting was held on Tuesday evening, May 8, and was a distinct failure, most of those in attendance being hostile to its purpose.16 A resolution was adopted by those present pledging their opposition "to all parties or fragments of parties and all aspirants for public office whose claims to public confidence are in any manner identified with disorganization or disunion sentiment and designs."17 The action of the state delegation p66 at Charleston, however, received the hearty support of nearly the entire New Orleans Democracy. Six hundred business and professional men, representing the commercial and industrial interests of the city, issued a call for a mass meeting on Saturday evening, May 12. The signers designated themselves "friends of the Constitution, impressed with the necessity of upholding, within the Union, the Constitutional Rights of the several States as the only safeguard against a dissolution of the Confederacy."18 The meeting, one of the largest ever assembled in the city, was enthusiastic and unanimous in its endorsement of the action of the state delegation. General W. R. Miles presided and T. J. Semmes, Attorney General of Louisiana, and Colonel D. C. Glenn of Mississippi were the principal speakers. This was a gathering of business men in the second greatest commercial city of the country. Their interests were indissolubly bound up with those of the planters of nearly every state whose delegations had opposed the doctrine of popular sovereignty to the disruption of the party. They were dependent for their wealth upon permanence and peace for the vested interests of these tributary states, and the phenomenal growth of abolitionism at the North had driven them to the point where they were ready to say, with Miles, that they would have guarantees for their constitutional rights "in the Union if we can; out of the Union if we must."19 p67 Semmes spoke of the meeting as having "been convoked to satisfy the nation that New Orleans, the great emporium of slave products, into whose lap is poured a glittering stream of wealth from the seven states which abandoned the convention, is animated by the determination to support and uphold the population of the South in their constitutional demands."20 The assembly then adopted resolutions endorsing the demands of the slavery interests for protection in the territories by every department of the federal government, and commending the Louisiana delegation to Charleston for refusing "to accept temporary success at the price of principles involving the very existence of our institutions." A final resolution stated: "That in view of the prospect of an adjustment of the differences which occurred at Charleston, and considering that harmonious action will strengthen the bond of union, it is expedient and proper to reassemble the late State Convention, which met at Baton Rouge in March last, for the purpose of determining the course to be pursued by the State in reference to the Presidency."
In accordance with the general wish of the Democracy in the state, as expressed by this and similar assemblies elsewhere, the executive committee issued a call for the former convention to assemble at Baton Rouge. The theory upon which this was done was that the delegates to Charleston had not resigned, but had simply withdrawn from the convention, which had no power to receive resignations even had they been tendered. The delegates were the representatives of the Democratic party in Louisiana and that organization alone possessed the power to accept their resignations, to censure, or to p68 return them to the adjourned convention. The Baltimore convention was not a new convention, but an adjourned meeting of the Charleston body; and during the interval of adjournment, whatever action might be taken by state organizations should be taken by those conventions which had previously appointed the delegations. There was, therefore, no more necessity for a new convention in Louisiana than in Illinois or any other state.21
Meanwhile Pierre Soulé had identified himself with the Douglas forces, and through his influence a second opposition meeting was held in New Orleans on the night of May 19.22 The entry of Soulé into the controversy altered the prospect, for it marked the beginning of a definite Douglas or popular sovereignty party in the state as opposed to the regular party organization. A resolution was adopted at this second meeting, calling a convention at Donaldsonville, June 6, and delegates were appointed to it. This faction justified its action upon the resolution adopted at Charleston requesting the Democracy of the several states to fill all vacancies. It held that the former p69 delegates had resigned their seats,23 and that it was the duty of the state Democracy to send a new delegation to Baltimore, or return the same delegation with new instructions. The state executive committee had approved the action of the delegates, and had reconvened the old convention which had previously adjourned sine die. That procedure would not secure an expression of the sentiments of the party regarding the new issue presented. It was, therefore, the duty of the party, meeting in local assemblies, to send delegates to this new convention at Donaldsonville, that a true expression of the will of the majority might be secured.24
The Douglas convention assembled at Donaldsonville, June 6, 1860. It was composed of one hundred forty-nine delegates, representing personally or by proxy only twenty of the thirty-nine parishes in the state, and was as unrepresentative of the state Democracy as it was irregular. Among its members were many former members of the Whig and American parties.25 The convention adopted p70 a series of resolutions and appointed delegates to represent the state at Baltimore. The resolutions (1) denounced the action of the "seceding delegates as an unwarranted rebellion against that great principle of Democracy and paramount rule of party discipline which pledges the assent and submission of the minority to the will and resolves of the majority"; (2) endorsed the doctrine of popular sovereignty; (3) branded the demand for protection by congressional legislation as the "delusive hallucinations of political dreamers"; and (4) expressed its preference for the nomination of Douglas at Baltimore.26
In Alabama, the division in the ranks of the Democracy did not, as in Louisiana, develop after the adjournment of the Charleston convention, but had its beginning in the state elections of 1859. In the state convention of January, 1860, which appointed delegates to Charleston, a further division occurred over the question of federal protection and popular sovereignty with respect to slavery in the territories. The majority, led by Yancey, demanded protection by every department of the federal government, and a small minority under the leadership of Forsyth and Seibels endorsed Douglas and popular sovereignty.27 The division carried over into the state legislature, Forsyth protesting most vigorously against the action of that body in providing for arming the state and for a state convention in the event of a Republican victory in November.28 During the debate on these measures, Forsyth declared that the platform adopted by the January state convention p71 could not be adopted at Charleston without disrupting the national party organization; and when the Alabama delegates withdrew from the latter convention he denounced their action as part of a prearranged plot to disrupt the union by breaking up the party.
The eleventh resolution of the platform adopted by the convention in January had provided for an executive committee which should, in case the delegation withdrew at Charleston, issue a call for a new convention.29 In accordance with this instruction, the committee issued a call for a state convention to meet at Montgomery on June 4. Primary meetings were held in forty-four counties, and delegates were appointed to this convention. The procedure was regular, and the convention, so far as any convention could, represented the Democratic party of the state. The convention reaffirmed the state platform adopted in January, approved the action of the delegation at Charleston, and appointed a new delegation, consisting largely of the members of the Charleston delegation, to Richmond and Baltimore.30
Meanwhile Ex-Governor Winston had deserted the ranks of the regular Democracy and joined Forsyth in denouncing the action of the state delegation at Charleston p72 as a plot on the part of Yancey to break up the Union. A call was issued by Forsyth, Seibels, and Figures for a state convention of the "National Democracy" to be held at Montgomery, June 4, the same day and place of meeting of the regular state convention. Participation in the movement was not limited to members of the Democratic party. In the Montgomery Confederation "all Democrats and all other persons who are in favor of Alabama being represented in the Baltimore Convention" were urged to hold county meetings and send delegates to the convention. The Mobile Register extended the invitation to "all those who are in favor of the perpetuity of the institutions of the government, the integrity, power, and authority of the Democratic party." The Huntsville Advocate urged all conservatives and friends of Stephen A. Douglas to participate. This convention, consisting of delegates from twenty-eight of the fifty-two counties of the state, endorsed the doctrine of popular sovereignty and appointed delegates to the Baltimore convention.31
In Texas and Arkansas, because of the slow means of communication, there was not sufficient time for a state p73 convention to assemble. The state executive committee of Texas, therefore, reappointed the former delegation and accredited it to Richmond and Baltimore. In Arkansas, conventions of the two congressional districts were in session when the Charleston delegation returned to the state. These district conventions reappointed the former delegates and accredited them to Baltimore only.32 In the northern district, a mass meeting was called at Madison by an anonymous advertisement in the Memphis newspapers. The meeting was attended by about four hundred men from twelve of the twenty-seven counties in the district, and a contesting delegation was appointed to the Baltimore convention.33
The Georgia state convention, consisting of approximately four hundred members, and representing every county in the state, assembled at Milledgeville, reappointed the entire Charleston delegation, and accredited them to Baltimore and Richmond. Forty-one members dissented, withdrew from the convention, and appointed a new delegation to Baltimore only. The Florida state convention reappointed its former delegation and accredited them to Richmond, with authority to return to the Baltimore convention if a compromise appeared probable.
Whether the party would reunite at Baltimore depended upon the attitude of that convention toward two fundamental propositions: (1) the admission of the regularly p74 appointed delegations from those states in which there were contesting delegations; and (2) the adoption of the Tennessee resolution. The decision rested with the leaders of those states which held the balance of power. The attitude of Douglas and Pugh toward the vital issues, as indicated in the Senate debates, did not augur well for peace. With regard to the admission of the Southern delegates at Baltimore, Pugh said:
They have no business here. Their seats are vacant. . . . I will sit and vote until the 4th of March, 1861, against allowing one man of them to come back again, unless he is newly elected as a delegate to that convention. . . . I can tell the gentleman [Benjamin] he is mistaken if he supposes that men who stood there at Charleston for two weeks in that atmosphere voting down your resolutions again and again, and voting for Stephen A. Douglas, are going to be tired when it comes to Baltimore, which is a much more agreeable atmosphere for them.34
This was a clear indication that the test for admission at Baltimore would be the endorsement of Douglas as the party candidate for the presidency.35
Likewise Douglas, May 16, virtually ended all possibility of the acceptance of the Tennessee resolution compromise platform by indicating the interpretation it would receive by him if adopted. It meant, he said, "that p75 every citizen of the United States has an equal right in the Territories; that whatever right the citizens of one State have,º may be enjoyed by the citizens of all the States; that whatever property the citizens of one State may carry there, the citizens of all the States may carry; and on whatever terms the citizens of one State can hold it and have it protected, the citizens of all States can hold it and have it protected, without deciding what the right is, which still remains for decision."36 This was but little removed from sound Republican doctrine, and Benjamin, who had previously supported the resolution, now thanked Douglas for warning the South in advance as to how he would evade the force of the resolution if it were adopted, and said: "The South will be fools if they do not take advantage of the warning, and see if something cannot be devised which the astute and practiced ingenuity of the Senator from Illinois cannot get around, if the English language can hold him."37
In pursuance of the general policy adopted at the South of attempting to prevent a final division in the ranks of the Democracy, the Constitutional Democratic Convention at Richmond did virtually nothing.38 No platform was adopted, nor nominations made, and after a two‑day session of what could scarcely be termed a convention, the few delegates present, except for those of South Carolina, proceeded on to Baltimore. En route to that city, Yancey stopped at Washington where he was approached by p76 George N. Sanders of the New York delegation with an offer of the vice presidency on the ticket with Douglas. He scorned the offer, and so preposterous did the idea seem to be that the Douglas forces in the ensuing campaign vehemently denied that it had ever been made. There is no evidence that the Douglas forces as a whole were a party to the transaction and it is entirely possible that they were not aware of it at the time. That the offer was made, however, in the presence of Fisher of Virginia, S. S. Baxter of Washington, D. C., and Pugh of Alabama, and that Douglas's illness and probable death at an early date were urged as an inducement, there seems to be little doubt.39
1 Proceedings of the Delegates who withdrew from the National Democratic Convention at Charleston, in April, 1860, 3.
2 Ibid., 6. The convention met at the Charleston Theater during the last two days of its session.
3 Ibid., 9‑10.
4 Ibid., 11‑12.
5 Proceedings of the Conventions at Charleston and Baltimore, 152.
6 Davis, Remarks in the Senate, May 7, 1860. Cong. Globe, 36 Cong., 1 Sess., III, 1939.
7 Benjamin, Remarks in the Senate, May 8, 1860, ibid., 1967.
8 Clingman, Remarks in the Senate, May 8, 1860, ibid., 1965.
9 Montgomery Advertiser, May 23, 1860.
10 Proceedings of the Conventions at Charleston and Baltimore, 136.
11 Andrew Ewing, Sam Milligan, Alfred Robb, "Address to the Democracy of Tennessee," in the Nashville Union and American, July 1, 1860.
12 "We respectfully, but earnestly, appeal to the convention that will assemble in Richmond on the 11th of June next, to take no decided action until they shall be informed of the measures adopted by the Baltimore Convention on the 18th of July. As matters now stand, the question of a platform is still open, and we yet trust that the Democratic Baltimore Convention will see the vital importance of adopting a platform that will meet the views of the Richmond Convention, and thus secure the harmonious and united action of the Democracy of every section of the Confederacy." The Richmond Enquirer, May 11, 1860; see, also, the Daily Courier, Louisville, May 4, 1860; and the Richmond Semi-Weekly Examiner, May 11, 1860.
13 See The Charleston Mercury, May 3, 1860. The Daily Delta, New Orleans, May 15, 1860, said: "It simply repudiates the right of the Federal Government to impair the rights of person or property in the Territories, thus leaving open the great question whether slaves are property, and as such entitled to the same protection that is extended to all other kinds of property. Even a Black Republican could stand on such a platform as that, and logically deduce from it the power even to prohibit slavery in the Territories! If we cannot have the aid of the Northern Democracy without deceiving them, or being ourselves deceived, we should a thousand times prefer defeat. The time has passed for ambiguous resolutions and fraudulent platforms." For an opposite view, see the Daily Courier, Louisville, May 10, 1860.
14 Substance of Speech by William L. Yancey in Estella Hall, Montgomery, May 12, 1860; and Yancey, Speech in the Democratic Meeting at Marion, Perry County, May 19, 1860.
15 The New Orleans Bee, May 3, 1860.
16 The Daily Delta, May 9, 1860.
17 The principal speaker at this meeting was Colonel Isaac E. Morse, late Attorney General of Louisiana. Morse had been a bitter secessionist four years previously over Kansas; had delivered what was claimed to have been the only disunion speech ever delivered in New Orleans; and had been defeated later as a candidate for representative as a result. He was the leader of the opposition forces in May, 1860, until Pierre Soulé later identified himself with the movement. In this meeting, Morse appeared to be devoted to the Union which less than four years before he had designated a "miserable abstraction" and an "ignominious bondage." See The Daily Delta, May 12, 1860, for a comparison of the two speeches.
18 The Daily Delta, May 13, 1860.
19 Ibid., May 11, 1860.
20 Ibid., May 13, 1860.
21 This position was supported by the Democratic press of the upper South. The Daily Courier, Louisville, June 9, 1860, said: "Their withdrawal from the Convention then in session certainly cannot be held to have excluded them from any future Democratic Convention to which they may be sent; nor from the adjourned session of the Charleston Convention, particularly if they, on their return to their constituents, be again accredited as representatives. . . . The delegates from Alabama, for instance, were instructed in positive terms to pursue a certain course. Knowing that such instructions had been given by the body which appointed them, they were admitted into the Charleston Convention as Democrats, no voice being raised against their recognition. . . . If they did not represent a Democratic constituency, they were not entitled to seats in the National Convention; if their constituents were Democrats then, they are Democrats now, having committed no offense." For the "Address of the Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee," see The Daily Delta, May 15, 1860.
22 Soulé had been one of the leaders of the resistance party in 1850 and had been denounced at the time as a traitor and disunionist.
23 This was the interpretation placed upon that resolution by the extreme Southern-rights wing of the Democratic party and by the opposition press. "The National Convention has already considered their places vacant, and cannot repudiate its own action. It will have before it the applications for admission of those who were chosen in lieu of the Seceders, and it cannot so far stultify itself as to reject the delegates elected at its own request, to receive those who had spurned its authority and disobeyed its fiat." The New Orleans Bee, May 24, 1860. "The resolutions adopted inviting Democrats from the seceding States to send Delegates to fill vacancies, could not have looked to vacancies which might occur in the ordinary course of things, for that was provided against by the alternates appointed for every Delegate in the Convention. The invitation, therefore, could have had reference only to the vacancies occasioned by the seceding Delegates." The Charleston Mercury, June 30, 1860.
24 "Proceedings of the Douglas Meeting at Odd Fellows Hall, May 19, 1860," in The Daily Delta, May 20, 1860; "Proceedings of the Donaldsonville Convention, June 6, 1860, in ibid., June 8, 1860.
25 Colonel Preston Pond of East Feliciana had been a candidate for Congress on each ticket, and in each case had been defeated by the Democratic candidate.
26 "Proceedings of the Donaldsonville Convention, June 6, 1860," in The Daily Delta, June, 1860.
27 Proceedings of the Democratic State Convention held in the city of Montgomery, commencing Wednesday, January 11, 1860.
28 For details of the resolutions passed by the Alabama legislature at this time, see Shorter to Brown, January 3, 1861, in Official Records . . . Armies, Series IV, Vol. 1, 15‑17.
29 "That should any emergency arise, either by the failure of the Charleston Convention to meet the just expectations of the South, or to erect a platform of principle before the nomination of a candidate for the Presidency as to cause a majority of the Southern delegates to retire from said Convention, then, and in that case, our delegates are instructed to report the same to the executive committee, who shall thereupon proceed to call a State Convention, that such action may be had in the premises as the exigencies of the crisis may demand." Proceedings of the Democratic State Convention, held in the City of Montgomery, commencing Wednesday, January 11, 1860, 30.
30 Montgomery Daily Mail, June 5, 1860; Proceedings of the Conventions at Charleston and Baltimore, 190; Address of the Democracy of Alabama to the National Democratic Convention, at Baltimore, June 18, 1860, 4.
31 The Mobile Register, June 5, 1860. The report of the delegation sent to Baltimore by the regular convention said in part: "We are advised that in this Forsyth Convention . . . were leading opponents both of the State and National Democracy, who had never voted a Democratic ticket. Among them were Thomas McPrince and Lewis E. Parsons, both leading and prominent Whigs and Know-Nothings. The latter was a candidate upon the electoral Fillmore ticket in 1856, and is a delegate appointed by that body to this National Democratic Convention. Two others, H. W. Hilliard and Alexander White, were recent additions to the Democratic ranks, but ancient leaders in the Whig ranks, the former a candidate on the Fillmore electoral ticket in 1856, for the State at large. Among the Delegates sent here, and who contest our seats, are persons who were members of the State Convention in January, 1860, and were Delegates at Charleston, and who thus are bound by it, as the regular Convention of the Democracy, to wit: J. C. Bradley, P. G. King, William Garrett, Thomas B. Cooper, M. J. Bulger." Address of the Democracy of Alabama to the National Democratic Convention, at Baltimore, June 18, 1860, 7.
32 Democratic National Executive Committee, Address to the Democracy of the United States, July 18, 1860, 11. National Democratic Executive Committee, "Address to the People of the United States," in Arkansas True Democrat, September 1, 1860.
33 How poorly this meeting represented the sentiments of the district may be judged from the fact that Hindman, one of the regular delegates to Charleston, who was reappointed to Baltimore by the district convention then in session, represented the district in Congress and had been elected in 1858 by a majority of 18,000 out of a total of 25,000 votes.
34 Pugh, Remarks in the Senate, May 22, 1860, Cong. Globe, 36 Cong., 1 Sess., III, 2247.
35 The extent to which the gravity of the crisis was realized by those seeking to restore harmony may be gathered from the following statement in the Daily Courier, Louisville, June 6, 1860: "If factions prevail, and local prejudices control the convention, all will be lost; the last bond of union between the States will be sundered; sectionalism and fanaticism will hold their revels in the Federal Capital; the Constitution and the rights of the States will be disregarded; and disunion, and the establishment of but two separate confederacies, as preferable to anarchy, civil war, and internecine strife, will be the choice of evils."
36 Douglas, Remarks in the Senate, May 16, 1860, Cong. Globe, 36 Cong., 1 Sess., IV, Appendix, 316.
37 Benjamin, Remarks in the Senate, May 22, 1860, ibid., III, 2239.
38 Delegates in attendance: Alabama 21, South Carolina 32, Mississippi 6, Louisiana 12, Georgia 5, Texas 5, Tennessee 1, Virginia 1, Florida 6, Arkansas 6. Halstead, Caucuses of 1860, 154‑159; "Richmond Convention," in Important Political Pamphlet for the Campaign of 1860, 24‑25.
39 William M. Browne (editor of the Constitution), to S. S. Baxter, and Baxter to Browne, in the Richmond Semi-Weekly Examiner, August 22, 1860; a more complete discussion of the incident is to be found in the Montgomery Weekly Advertiser, October 17, 1860. For a denial which in substance was a tacit admission that the offer was seriously made see Sanders to the editor of the Charleston Courier, October 22, 1860, in The Daily True Delta, New Orleans, October 30, 1860.
Images with borders lead to more information.
The thicker the border, the more information. (Details here.)
A page or image on this site is in the public domain ONLY
if its URL has a total of one *asterisk.
If the URL has two **asterisks,
the item is copyright someone else, and used by permission or fair use.
If the URL has none the item is © Bill Thayer.
See my copyright page for details and contact information.
Page updated: 30 Jul 08