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The Fate of Douglas.


May/June 1860

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, May 5, 1860.


Between this and the eighteenth of June we shall probably be treated with a repetition of the political clap trap and ridiculous nonsense that has been used for months pas to convince the world in general, and the Democratic convention lately adjourned at Charleston in particular, that there is only one man in the country fit for President of the United States, and that man, the Senator from Illinois, Stephen A. Douglas. Already the thunder of fifty-seven guns have belched forth the opening of the scene at Indianapolis, where the admirers of Douglas fired that number of rounds in honor of the Indiana delegation, who stuck to their candidate through every ballot. We shall hear of guns, of county and State conventions, public speeches, letters from retired politicians, North and South, urging his nomination by the dozen. The legitimate legislation demanded of Congress will have to stop and wait while the frantic friends of the Little Giant proclaim his mental, moral and political superiority over everybody else. These speeches will provoke replies, and the Democratic Convention for the nonce be transferred from Charleston to Washington.

All this, however, will be of no avail. The fate of Douglas was sealed when the Convention at Charleston adjourned, and all the noise and gunpowder expended hereafter to advance either his claims or his chances will be wasted. The President knows well the materials Northern Democrats are made of, and having success fully manipulated the Massachusetts delegation by appointing some of them to lucrative positions in the Boston Custom House, he will have offices enough to spare in New York to win over that delegation. Douglas managed to get the vote of New York by means of the resolution passed by the State Convention instructing the delegation to vote as a unit. Of the seventy delegates from that State, Douglas was the choice of only thirty-seven—a bare majority. Three of these votes changed, and Douglas will be beaten. The delegation from Massachusetts having been transferred to the opposition, New York very likely will follow suit. Take away these thirty five votes and he can never again get a majority of the electoral college. Add to this loss, the probably defection of his Southern supporters by the powerful pressure of Southern sentiment, and there is not the least hope left for his nomination. Consider the combinations against him, and weigh the force of a united South in a Democratic Convention, backed by the whole power and influence of the Federal Administration, and the most sanguine of Douglas’ adherents must give it up, and believe that defeat at Baltimore is as inevitable as success at Charleston was impossible. Yet, as before, the Douglas men will be the noisiest, the loudest and the fiercest in the fray. No falsehood or exaggeration will be too great to tell or repeat. Every breeze will be a Douglas breeze—every air loaded with arguments for his nomination—every flower, in their judgment, calls for his selection. People who have watched and seen their maneuvering before the last Convention met, however, are not to be deceived by the blasts from Douglas’ bugles hereafter.

One result of the adjournment seems to have been overlooked. The opposition to Douglas heretofore has been split up and divided within itself, but now an opportunity is offered to gather up the fragments and reconstruct the party entirely. The South is remarkably true to itself in every emergency, and upon an issue so momentous as that involving the power to hold slaves in the Territories, the South will not yield. Even the pliant tools of Missouri politicians will have to give way to the extreme pro-slavery sentiments of the National Democracy of the interior, and concede this to their co-laborers in Alabama and Mississippi. When the roll is called at Baltimore, Douglas will find arrayed against him a power that no intermediate theatricals or sham fights with wooden swords to create a popular sympathy in his behalf can weaken. The Illinois Senator has five years yet to serve in public life, and the time ought to be spent in preparing for that long retirement to private seclusion which will follow his defeat in Baltimore, and departure from the Senate. Requiescat in pace.