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Who the New York Tribune Thinks Should Be Nominated by the Chicago Convention.


January/February 1860

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, January 11,

Who the New York Tribune thinks should be Nominated by the Chicago Convention.

[From the New York Tribune, Feb. 20.]

We judge that there is no longer a shadow of hope that the National Committee will change the time originally designated for the meeting of the Chicago Convention. We have not, within the last six weeks met a Republican outside of that committee who did consider the postponement of that Convention to the middle of June a deplorable mistake-as in effect giving away the two best months of the campaign. Until the nominations shall have been made, very little will or can be done to secure success in the ensuing election. We shall be wrangling with each other about our prospective candidates, rather than rallying and organizing our forces for effective service against the common adversary.

The evil effects of this postponement are manifest in the terms and temper in which the selection of our Presidential candidates are discussed in many Republican journals. A portion of them virtually assume that, should A be nominated, our defeat will be inevitable. Another portions retorts that if B should be the man, he will not be heartily nor generally supported. Thus, heat is generated, and hasty words uttered–nay, printed–which the utterers will deplore and wish they had withheld before we are half through the canvass. The purport, the drift, of these ill considered fulminations, is that, should a candidate of one class be chosen, we shall throw away the election; if of another class, we shall only succeed, if we succeed at all, at the expense of our principles. All this is idle, mischievous, untrue. And, as the Tribune is continually quoted as saying, or doing, or purposing, something different from the fact, we propose briefly to set forth out views on these questions:

We hold, then, that if the Republican party is strong enough to elect as next President whomsoever it will, there are two men who, above all others, are entitled to consideration at Chicago. These men are Wm. H. Seward, of New York, and Salmon P. Chase, of Ohio. Being members of the Federal Senate when Mr. Douglas introduced, remodelled, and passed through his Nebraska bill, they opposed and exposed it, with a promptness, energy, address and resolution which have rarely been equalled. Others did nobly; but it is pre-eminently due to these two that the country was early and generally apprised of the real character and purpose of this iniquitous measure, and that the hollow hypocrisy of its claims to justification on the basis of “popular sovereignty” were held up to the indignant gaze of all who were not willfully blind. As Mr. Douglas is very likely to be the candidate of the sham Democracy, there would be eminent fitness in pitting against him one of his two chief antagonists in the memorable struggle which dissolved old organizations and called the Republican party into being. Each of them is, by original character, by training, by experience, emphatically a statesman of unquestioned ability, unsullied integrity, broad national views and feelings, and thoroughly Republican principles and aspirations. No sane American, no matter of what section, would have any fear that the national interests or honor would suffer under the sway of Seward or Chase, while the noisy swash of disunion would be rebuked and exploded by the election and administration of them, and stand exposed to all the world as the hollow mask it really is. No earnest Republican could refuse to work, as well as vote, for either Chase or Seward, or to every honorable thing within his power to secure the election of whichever should be nominated.

Is the Republican party strong enough to elect Chase or Seward? Could they or either of them, carry Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Illinois, or all the free States except Pennsylvania? If yes, then the only practical question is, which of these two foremost Republicans shall be our standard bearer in 1860?

We propose to leave both these questions to the Chicago Convention. We have our opinions with respect to them, but we do not desire that the Convention shall be governed or influenced by them. We only urge that all the States, but especially the pivotal States above named should send able, candid, impartial delegates to Chicago-there to state exactly what these doubtful States can and cannot do, and that the Convention shall give earnest heed to those statements and take actions accordingly.

And it does seem to us-though we hold this view subject to the representations of the delegates to Chicago from the doubtful States-that, if we cannot probably elect Seward or Chase, it will be vain to nominate instead either Banks, or Fessenden, or Dayton, or Cameron, or Lincoln. Good men and true are they all; but wherein or on what ground can we rationally hope to obtain for either of them any considerable support which will not be accorded to Chase or Seward? All of these are simply and thoroughly Republicans, who fought with us the good fight of 1856, and bear the scars of that well fought and glorious, though unsuccessful struggle. No one will seriously contend that serving [illegible line] against Douglas and his iniquity in 1854. On what plausible ground could we hope to secure for them the votes denied us in 1856?

If, then, our Convention shall decide that it cannot safely nominate Seward or Chase, we hold, with due submission, that the man for the hour is Edward Bates, of Missouri. Mr. Bates is commended to our judgment, because, while essentially a Republican, he has not hitherto been identified with our party, and is not exposed to the unjust prejudices which incessant misrepresentation has excited against our veteran leaders. Born, reared, and always residing in a slave State, it will be morally impossible to make anybody believe that he meditates disunion as a means of getting rid of slavery, or that his election would result in disunion. A practical emancipationist, it would be hard to work to make him odious to sane Abolitionists, while we might safely count, in his behalf, on the noisy, malignant, untiring denunciations of the little handful of disunion Abolitionists who refuse to vote even for Seward or Chase, yet insist on damaging these statesmen by speaking well of them. This little coteries of common scolds, who never emancipated a slave, and probably never will, will be certain to aid by their opposition the first practical emancipationist ever nominated for President, whether he be Bates or anyone else. “The Old Line Whigs” and other supporters of Fillmore and Donelson in 1856, would be compelled either to support Bates, if a candidate, or to virtually confess that they oppose him simply because he is adverse to the extension of slavery. The tariff men cannot object to him, for he is fully with them. The river and harbor men will be glad to hail as a candidate the President of the Chicago River and Harbor Convention. As to the Pacific Railroad, the word St. Louis tells all that need be said on that subject.

The gallant emancipationists of Missouri, who have borne the free soil flag aloft in the darkest days, are unanimous and earnest in urging Mr. Bates’ nomination. They say that he can carry their State, which we greatly doubt; but he would at least thoroughly contest it, and thereby hasten the day of the consecration of the soil of that noble State to free labor alone. So throughout the border line of slave States; we do not say that Bates would carry one of them, though we believe he would stand a good chance for Maryland and Delaware; but he would have an electoral ticket in every one of those States, and a respectable support in each, led by such men as John Bell, H. Winter Davis, John J. Crittenden (we trust), and many others who are not Republicans. And it would be to us a very pungent commendation of such a choice, that it would be smoke to the eyes of the little junta of workers in darkness who have sold out the remains of the American party to the sham Democracy, and would find themselves utterly unable to deliver the goods in case Bates were our candidate.

But enough for the day. If the Chicago Convention shall see fit to nominate one of our most pronounced Republicans, we shall believe this is an authentic evidence that the Republican party is stronger than we had supposed it, and shall go to work with a will to justify that confidence in its strength. If, on the other hand, it shall present the name of Edward Bates, we shall feel a double assurance that the domination of the slave power in our national councils will finally cease and determine on the 4th of March, 1861.