Wednesday, July 21, 2010

This week in the American Civil War: July 15-21, 1860

This is the third in a series following the course of the American Civil War to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the war. The purpose of the series is to follow the history of the war as it occurred 150 years ago. This week, our timeline has advances to the third week of July 1860.

Horace Greeley took to the campaign stump for Abraham Lincoln on July 16, 1860 in New York City's Union Square. Greeley's message was aimed at former Whigs and members of the American Party and aimed at playing up Lincoln's conservatism. More than two thousand people turned out to hear what he had to say and Greeley's remarks were summarized by a reporter for the New York Times:
Mr. GREELEY said he believed he was addressing an audience composed largely of old Whigs, and believing so, he proposed to speak to them in favor of that old Whig, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, as against STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS. He was not surprised that at the last Presidential election many old Whigs preferred to vote for Mr. FILLMORE, who had always been a Whig, rather than to vote for Col. FREMONT, who had always been a Democrat; but he could not see any reason why old Whigs should favor the election of Mr. DOUGLAS, who had never been a Whig, and oppose Mr. LINCOLN, who was a Whig, while the Whig Party had a recognized existence. In this State there were some men, claiming to be Whigs, who were working against Mr. LINCOLN, on the alleged ground that he was a sectional man, holding sectional principles. Now he proposed to test the principles of Mr. LINCOLN, by the standard of acknowledged Whig doctrine; and in doing so he should, for that occasion, consider Mr. BROOKS, who was the most ardent opponent of Mr. LINCOLN in the City, an authority as to what Whig doctrine was. In 1847, Mr. JAMES BROOKS was a member of a Convention, and was appointed a member of the Committee on Resolutions. On that occasion Mr. Brooks drew the resolutions which were presented to the Convention, and among them was one strongly opposed to the conversion of Free territory into Slave territory. That was Whig doctrine, acknowledged as such, and as such was written by Mr. BROOKS. Now, he would ask whether Mr. LINCOLN or the Republican Party had ever gone further than that? He was positive they never had. That was good Republican doctrine; it was good Whig doctrine, and it was written by Mr. BROOKS. Then there was another man who was working actively against Mr. LINCOLN, and that man was WASHINGTON HUNT. He (Mr. GREELEY) proposed to try Mr. LINCOLN by Mr. HUNT's standard of Whig doctrine. In 1848, he (Mr. G.) went to Congress, and there found Mr. HUNT and Mr. LINCOLN; and, lately, he had been comparing their records, on all points of Whig doctrine that were voted on during that session. He had found them precisely the same -- always voting together, except in one case, and that case was a resolution prohibiting the Slave-trade in the District of Columbia. When the resolution came up, a motion was made to lay it on the table. Mr. LINCOLN voted in favor of laying it on the table, while Mr. HUNT, with Mr. GREELY voted against -- so that the only difference in their records showed Mr. LINCOLN to be the most conservative man. Mr. LINCOLN did not favor laying the resolution on the table because he was in favor of the Slave-trade, by any means, but because he deemed it inexpedient to raise the question at that time. How was it, then, that WASHINGTON HUNT was talking against Mr. LINCOLN on the ground of sectionalism? Mr. HUNT, during the time referred to, voted in every instance with the Northern Whigs. On every question touching that of Slavery in the Territories Mr. HUNT voted with Mr. GREELEY and the other Northern Whigs; and they all acted in accordance with the Whig doctrine laid down by Mr. BROOKS. How was it, then, that Mr. BROOKS and Mr. HUNT were now found helping Mr. DOUGLAS, the breaker down of the Missouri Compromise? Why was it they had turned against their old Whig friend, Mr. LINCOLN, and were found aiding Mr. DOUGLAS? On all questions of Slavery, Mr. HUNT voted with Mr. LINCOLN to let Slavery alone in the States where it existed, and to keep it out of the Territories. But they said Mr. LINCOLN was sectional, because in one of his speeches he had said he did not think the United States would always be divided on the Slavery question; that he believed they would at some time be either all Slave or all Free States. Well, if that doctrine was sectional, it was the doctrine held and declared by HENRY CLAY, and he believed Mr. CLAY was indorsed by Mr. BROOKS and Mr. HUNT. In conclusion, Mr. GREELEY referred to the time when the Chamber of Commerce of this City sent a protest to Congress against a proposition to let every State make its own improvements in its rivers and harbors, and tax the vessels of other States using their waters for commerce for the outlay. That bill, he claimed, would, if it had passed, have crippled the commerce of the States with each other, and proved greatly injurious to the country; and that was the policy proposed and advocated by Mr. DOUGLAS -- it was Mr. DOUGLAS, who proposed to erect State toll-gates across the highways of commerce, and Messrs. BROOKS and HUNT were helping Mr. DOUGLAS. Now, if the people wanted a government favorable to, and which would encourage commerce, they must elect Mr. LINCOLN on his old Whig doctrine. [Applause.] They must not help Mr. DOUGLAS as a means of electing Mr. BELL, for even if they could elect him (and he did not think it possible) he would have a Democratic Congress against him, and be voted down on every question. In short, if the people wanted a good Government they must elect Mr. LINCOLN, and have honest men to support him -- such men as could be found in the State of New-York.
You can read the remarks of the other speakers at this rally at the New York Times' archive site.

Alone among the four presidential candidates in 1860, Stephen A. Douglas chose to break with tradition and went on the road to actively campaign for himself. At about 7:30 PM on the evening of Monday, July 16, 1860, Douglas' train arrived in Hartford, Connecticut. There was more than one correspondent present and some disagreement as to what actually happened, so the New York Times took the unusual step of printing several versions of the evening's events:
Mr. DOUGLAS arrived in this city at 7 1/2 o'clock this evening. The Douglas wing of the Democratic party had arranged to receive and escort him to his quarters at the United States Hotel, where he was to have received his friends. The Breckinridge wing of the party have quietly been at work for a couple of days, headed by A.E. BURR, publisher of the Hartford Times, to take the reception in their own hands. The result was that they met Mr. D. at the depot, with Colt's Armory Band and Guards, and a carriage drawn by four horses, to escort him to the State-house, where he was welcomed. 100 guns were fired, church bells rung, and a large crowd turned out.

Mr. DOUGLAS expressed himself grateful for the reception given him. He denounced the Republican and Breckinridge Parties, calling them sectional, and claimed that he and his party occupied the middle and true ground, and were the regular Democratic Party, and the only party which could save the country. Mr. DOUGLAS is the guest of Mayor DEMING. A.E. BURR, who has refused to support DOUGLAS, rode in the carriage with him, while those who have worked faithfully, early and late, and claimed to be leaders of the Douglas wing, were allowed the privilege of staying out in the cold. It was the coolest operation ever witnessed in this city, and has occasioned much comment and merriment.


Senator DOUGLAS had a most glorious reception in this city this evening. There was a liberal outpouring of the masses. He was escorted from the depot by a company of military, headed by a band of music. A salute of 100 guns was fired in honor of his visit, and bells were rung, and the wildest demonstrations of enthusiasm made.

Mr. DOUGLAS was introduced to the vast multitude by Hon. R.D. HUBBARD, and made a short speech from the steps of the Phenix Bank, which was received with vociferous applause.

A noticeable feature of the reception was that it was shared in by the leading Democratic politicians who have not hitherto been favorable to Mr. DOUGLAS, and prominent amongst them was A.E. BURR, Esq., of the Hartford Times.

Mr. DOUGLAS leaves to-morrow for Boston. During his stay here he will be the guest of the Mayor of the City.

OFFICE OF THE HARTFORD TIMES, Monday, July 16, 1860.

Senator DOUGLAS arrived here this evening, on his way to Boston. He was received at the cars by two military companies, and guns were fired in the Park in his honor. He was also handsomely met by a large concourse of people without regard to party. He was escorted to State-House-square, where he was welcomed to the city by Hon. R.D. HUBBARD' who introduced him as standing on middle ground, politically, -- between the Arctic and the Antarctic extremes, where the olive and the vine grow spontaneously.

Mr. DOUGLAS replied that he did occupy that ground, and claimed that non-intervention was the true policy of the country, to prevent angry disputes and unhappy results. The large crowd of five or six thousand were orderly and quiet. Mr. DOUGLAS is the guest of his Honor Mayor DEMING.

Mr. DOUGLAS leaves for Boston to-morrow noon.
Standing at a distance of 150 years from this event, it isn't readily clear what we should make of this strange rally. Were the Breckinridge Democrats having a bit of fun at Douglas' expense? Or was this a genuine outpouring of respect, if not affection?  Stephen A. Douglas continued his precedent breaking campaign on July 17, 1860, campaigning in Massachusetts with stops in Worcester and Boston.
WORCESTER, Tuesday, July 17

Judge Douglas arrived here this afternoon, a few minutes past 3 o'clock, and was greeted by an immense crowd of people. A salute was fired from the open space opposite the depot, under the direction of Adjutant STUDLEY. A temporary platform was erected within a few feet of the cars, from which Judge DOUGLAS was introduced to the multitude, by Hon. ISAAC DAVIS, who, with a few other friends, had met him at the junction depot and accompanied him to the depot at Washington-square. Judge DOUGLAS spoke about eight minutes. The wildest enthusiasm prevailed as the train left the depot. The crowd followed some distance, unwilling "to give it up so," cheering and swinging their hats.


BOSTON, Tuesday, July 17.

Mr. DOUGLAS arrived here in the 5 P.M. train from New-Haven. He was met on the way by a Committee of his friends, and received at the depot by a large crowd, who enthusiastically cheered him. An open carriage, drawn by four horses, conveyed him through the principal streets to the Revere House. At 10 o'clock to-night he will be serenaded by his friends, when he is expected to make a speech. His presence creates great enthusiasm.
The Democratic Party's in-fighting continued elsewhere, as Douglas and Breckinridge both picked up endorsements from different parts of the badly splintered party.  From the New York Times of July 18, 1860:
Last evening, seven representatives from each Ward in the City, selected by a Committee appointed at a previous meeting of the Breckinridge and Lane Democrats, assembled at the Irving Buildings, Broadway, for the purpose of organizing a Breckinridge and Lane General Committee.

The meeting was organized temporarily by the appointment of STEPHEN P. RUSSELL, Esq., as Chairman, and DANIEL BROPHY and STEPHEN M. DREW as Secretaries. Communications from the seceders from Mozart Hall and the German Central Club were received, avowing their determination to support BRECKINRIDGE and LANE for President and Vice-President.

Two resolutions were then offered, one requiring the members of the Committee to pledge their support to BRECKINRIDGE and LANE, and withdraw from any other Committee of which they might be members, and the other ordering the selection of delegates from each Assembly District to attend the Breckinridge and Lane State Convention, to he held at Syracuse. The first resolution has for its object the expulsion of certain Douglas men who had crept into the meeting. They were laid on the table. The meeting adjourned to the 25th inst., when the Committee on Organization will report permanent officers, and state the place where regular meetings will hereafter be held.

This body held a regular meeting last evening, at their rooms at Stuyvesant Institute, when spirited addresses were made by Messrs. A.W. GRISWOLD, ROYAL S. CRANE and THOS. H. RODMAN, before a good audience. The addresses were interspersed with singing by the Rocky Mountain Glee Club.
Days later, a story circulated that their had been at least one pickpocket in the crowd, and more than one victim.

As for Douglas, on Wednesday, July 18, 1860, he paused his presidential campaign long enough to attend Harvard College's 219th commencement ceremonies in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In front of Senator Stephen A. Douglas, vice presidential candidate (Constitutional Union Party) Edward Everett, and Senator Charles Sumner, Harvard graduated 107 students, its largest class ever up to that time.  Someone surveyed the students and it was found that 75 were Republicans, 9 were Democrats, and the remaining 23 identified themselves as unionists.

If anyone was looking for a portent that July, then the natural world was only too willing to oblige.  Late in the evening of July 20, 1860--at about 10:00 PM--the night sky over the Northwestern and Northeastern United States was illuminated by a string of fireballs passing from west to east, beginning over Michigan and passing between New Haven and New York to disappear out over the Atlantic Ocean. This was "the Meteor of 1860" which would be recorded by Walt Whitman in a poem and by Frederick Church in a painting.
Year of Meteors [1859-60]
--Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

Year of meteors! brooding year!
I would bind in words retrospective some of your deeds and signs,
I would sing your contest for the 19th Presidentiad,
I would sing how an old man, tall, with white hair, mounted the scaffold in Virginia,
(I was at hand, silent I stood with teeth shut close, I watch'd, I stood very near you old man when cool and indifferent, but trembling with age and your unheal'd wounds you mounted the scaffold;)
I would sing in my copious song your census returns of the States,
The tables of population and products, I would sing of your ships and their cargoes,
The proud black ships of Manhattan arriving, some fill'd with immigrants, some from the isthmus with cargoes of gold,
Songs thereof would I sing, to all that hitherward comes would welcome give,
And you would I sing, fair stripling! welcome to you from me, young prince of England!
(Remember you surging Manhattan's crowds as you pass'd with your cortege of nobles?
There in the crowds stood I, and singled you out with attachment;)
Nor forget I to sing of the wonder, the ship as she swam up my bay,
Well-shaped and stately the Great Eastern swam up my bay, she was 600 feet long,
Her moving swiftly surrounded by myriads of small craft I forget not to sing;
Nor the comet that came unannounced out of the north flaring in heaven,
Nor the strange huge meteor-procession dazzling and clear shooting over our heads,
(A moment, a moment long it sail'd its balls of unearthly light over our heads,
Then departed, dropt in the night, and was gone;)
Of such, and fitful as they, I sing--with gleams from them would gleam and patch these chants,
Your chants, O year all mottled with evil and good--year of forebodings!
Year of comets and meteors transient and strange--lo! even here one equally transient and strange!
As I flit through you hastily, soon to fall and be gone, what is this chant,
What am I myself but one of your meteors?
Long after the fact, astronomers deduced that what Church, Whitman, and many others had seen was a "meteor procession" of three or more meteors or large meteor fragments.

This has been the third Daily Kos Civil War Roundtable roundup of the events that took place 150 years ago this week. Next week, Lincoln tightens his grasp on the coming presidential election.

This project is part of my commemoration of the American Civil War. You can follow along on a daily basis at my blog The American Civil War here. You can follow along with The American Civil War at Facebook by clicking the "Like" button. You can support this effort by going toCivil War Top Sites and voting for the American Civil War.

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