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The Chicago Convention–The Great Wigwam Opening.


May/June 1860

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, May 15, 1860.


The Great Wigwam Opening.


The St. Louis Delegation.


[Special correspondence of Missouri Democrat.]

CHICAGO, Sunday Evening, May 13.

A most agreeable ride over the Terre Haute, Alton and St. Louis Railroad and Illinois Central brought me last night at 9 o’clock to Chicago. Delegates and others from St. Louis will find this a very pleasant route. Dinner at Mattoon, and an afternoon’s spirited bowling over one of the finest expanses of country in the world-the prairie along the railroad from Mattoon to Chicago.

I found the Tremont House (the head-quarters of the Missouri Delegation, and, in fact, the great hive around and in which swarm all classes and shades of politicians) already filled to overflowing. Farther up Lake street, at the corner of Market street, I also found the great wigwam of which our readers have had some little notion. It was its grand opening night, and in it were congregated at least seven thousand persons, mostly live Republicans from abroad, but also many ladies and citizens of this place. The building, though constructed since the first of April, is a very substantial structure, and after its use by the Convention, will be preserved, as I understand, for a grand rallying hall of the Republicans in Chicago. It has large entrances, a number of Committee rooms, extensive galleries, admirable acoustic qualities, &c., &c.

The opening was commenced by prayer, after which the Chairman of the Building Committee made a brief address. Then followed letters of congratulation from Sumner, Hassaurik, Potter and Clay. Then again speeches from Judge Goodrich, Hon. R. M. Corwin, D. M. Cheeseman, Joshua R. Giddings, Col. Henry S. Lane, Gov. Morrill, and Hon. N. B. Judd. After which appropriate resolutions and more speeches. Intermingled with all was a great deal of spirited music and the most cordial cheers. It will be gratifying to the friends of our Congressional representative to learn that the first call in the Wigwam, (it was a prolonged and unanimous one,) was for “Frank Blair!” “Frank Blair!” The wigwam meeting continued up to a late hour. The confabs of the political coteries and cliques around the Tremont, however, were prolonged to an early hour the next morning.


There are hundreds of notable men already here, chief among whom may be mentioned Horace Greeley, Gov. Corwin, Francis P. Blair, of Silver Springs, Judge Montgomery Blair, Gov. Morgan, Gov. Morrill, Thurlow Weed, Gov. Dennison, and David Dudley Field.


The scarcity of St. Louis delegates and outsiders, had been complained of by the friends of Judge Bates. The few who are here have been laboring earnestly and effectually, but in the midst of the great outside pressure for particular favorites, more help has been needed for our man and cause. We are in hopes that every one who is intending to come will be here by to-morrow night.


Horace Greeley, after a half day’s conversation with delegates from all sections, remarked this morning in our head quarters, with evident gratification, that he was much surprised at the feeling for Mr. Bates, and felt very much encouraged at the prospects. Mr. Blair, of Silver Springs, is also in favor of Bates, and McLean is reported discouraged as to the latter’s chances, and very much encouraged in his hopes of the former. In my windings in and out, by and through the congregated masses, I have heard a great deal of discussion, and the only debatable subject has seemed to be Bates or Seward. For every Seward man with his strong personal preference and his ultra Republican views, I have found a moderate, yet firm Bates man, tenacious of his candidate’s soundness and most strenuous in his views of availability. It may not be inappropriate to mention that Mr. John J. Mudd, formerly of St. Louis, now a merchant of this city, has already signalized himself by his devotion to the cause of Mr. Bates, and his plain and logical talk about the necessity of running such a man as Mr. Bates in Southern Illinois, in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, has had a good effect. The impression of so much of our delegation, as is already here, is that our candidate has an excellent chance. All are in fine spirits. Undoubtedly the outside influence of this city is against us. The New York representatives, who are in great numbers, and men of high talent, are most enthusiastic, and are uncompromising for a radical man. Still, there are counteracting influences at work which we think gain strength as the delegations arrive. We find the most of these uninstructed and in favor of the man whom the Republican party can elect. Mr. Bates has nothing to fear from McLean, Chase, Cameron, or Lincoln. The contest seems to be narrowed down to Bates and Seward for first choice; after which, should neither succeed, come in Wade and Fremont prominently for second choice. We rely upon a few votes in New England, the whole of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, half of Illinois, Iowa and Ohio, and two-thirds of Indiana.


Seward’s center column is of course New York, and the delegation from that State is very formidable. He will, according to my best information, get about half the New England States, half of Illinois and Iowa, one-third of Ohio, and all of Wisconsin, Kansas, Michigan and Minnesota. Indiana may also give him a few votes. Pennsylvania goes entirely for Cameron for first choice and for any body after him but Seward and Chase.


Not much in the market.


Confined chiefly to Illinois, though there is a warm feeling for him in the Indiana delegation.


Strong in Pennsylvania and its influence extending into Iowa.


Generally diffused, though it will not assume any tangible shape, except in case of a failure with Seward and Bates.


Located chiefly among the Germans, and decidedly at par in the New England States.


Prominent only in Ohio, with a considerable sympathy from some of the New England States.


Rumors of that convention of Germans in this city, for purposes hostile to Bates, are exploded. Fremont is evidently the first choice of the Germans. Seward is popular with many of them. They will not take willingly to Mr. Bates, though recent efforts on the part of the Anzeiger des Westens of St. Louis, and one or two of the Cincinnati German papers, have done a great deal to conciliate them. Carl Schurz will exert a good influence among them. They will support the candidate, whoever he may be.


To-morrow will be a day of general canvassing and wire-working. We shall have speeches at night—one, as we are promised from Corwin. It is to be regretted, indeed, that the St. Louis delegation will not be here until to-morrow night, or Tuesday morning. Every one of them could be doing good work at this time.

Yours, etc., G. W. F.


In addition to our correspondence and special dispatches from Chicago, we find a few items of interest in the special dispatch to the Cincinnati Gazette, dated Sunday evening:

The German Republican hostility to Bates is subsiding. His friends claim the votes of ten states.

Fremont has instructed the California delegation to withdraw his name if presented to the Convention.

Morgan and Spaulding are understood to be averse to pressing Seward, but the latter insists that his claims shall be urged and recognized. Horace Greeley is strongly opposed to this.

The New York delegation is not unanimous in his support. Some of the New England delegates will give Seward a complimentary vote, but will not adhere to him unless he is speedily nominated, and that now looks doubtful.

Cameron’s friends are here and very active. He will have a good vote.

Bates prospects are improving among many delegates now here.

Little is said abut McLean, Wade and Fremont.

Lincoln has only the Illinois vote. Illinois, in case it fails to secure the nomination for President, wishes the Vice Presidential nomination.

Thurlow Weed arrived to-night. He says the Democracy is hopelessly split. He predicts the defeat of Douglas at Baltimore and says the Democracy will run two tickets, giving Seward a good chance. His views are not generally adopted. There is a strong outside influence here from the doubtful States, opposing Seward.