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The Baltimore Convention.


May/June 1860

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, June 27, 1860.



[Special Correspondence of the Missouri Democrat.]

BALTIMORE, June 22, 1860.

The deed is done—the evitable secession has no longer been delayed, but this evening after the last act of the Convention in refusing virtually to reconsider the vote on the admission of Louisiana and Alabama contestants—most of the Southern States seceded. The particulars have doubtless by this time reached you, in common with all of the Western cities, and speculation is rife upon the probably result. This extraordinary secession is, as predicted, a much more extensive affair than the bolt and Charleston. Virginia led the van and the Democratic party was soon rent in twain beyond hope of recovery. It was all the work of a few moments, and no violence was manifested, until Austin E. Smith, of California, attempted to speak on behalf of that State. Mr. Smith is a native of Virginia, a son of Extra Billy, and at present Navy agent for the port of San Francisco. Filled with the hottest imaginable temper, and an acknowledged duelist, he came very new precipitating the Convention into a general row. In effect he charged that one of the Illinois delegation had confessed that the majority report resolutions had been carried by a trick. This brought nearly the whole of Illinois to the floor, and both Mr. Merrick and Col. Richardson of that State sought to demand the name of the delegate, but they gesticulated in vain. He said that the explanation would all come in due time, and when it did the Illinois gentlemen would be willing to hide their heads in shame. This remark added new fuel to the fire, and a movement was made by those around, as if to attack Mr. Smith. It was fortunately quelled, however, by the interposition of the police, and the continual calls of order from the Chair.

The scenes which attended the secession were not remarkably interesting. As State after State withdrew there was a slight cry of applause from the mob in the gallery, and a shout of derision from the Douglas delegates and others. The Illinois and Indiana delegates caucused among themselves whether it was best or not to nominate Douglas by acclamation and adjourn till to-morrow, but no conclusion was arrived at and the Convention adjourned. Upon a count since the secession there were only 198 votes left, including 35 from New York, which though compelled to vote as a unit, was in fact evenly divided on the question of nominating Douglas. The excitement is intense, but deserves no more notice than to say that is swayed with the masses. When anti-Douglas noise was set up, the anti-Douglasites, shoulder-strikers and Plug Uglies called it “good order.” At the late meeting of the Convention was presented the call for a meeting by the majority of the delegates. As Caleb Cushing has likewise decided to go, the irregulars, including all the Southern and part of the Northern delegates who seceded, will be properly called together and a second nomination made.

It was as certain as fate from the time of the first information respecting the terms of the majority and minority reports, that if the contestants were admitted that there would be another split, and the event therefore took nobody by surprise. Each of the extreme parties is now discriminating upon the other, but the irrepressible conflict sticks out as plain as daylight. No possible plan of agreement could have been suggested that would harmonize the two pro-slavery wings of the party, and it has, therefore, been only a question of time as to when it would be done, instead of a question of as to its occurrence. Strange to say, now that it is over, each side professes to be perfectly satisfied. The Douglas men say that a good whipping will do the Southerners good; and if they want a taste of Black Republicanism, the now certain election of Lincoln will give it to them. On the other hand, the anti-Douglasites say that as the only concession asked for from the other side was that of a man—not a principle—which demand has been indignantly refused, the friends of Douglas must content themselves with seeing their candidate laid up in political ordinary for some time to come. As for Lincoln—they will go home and consult among themselves as to the proper course to be pursued in case of Lincoln’s election.

The preliminaries of this contest have depended altogether upon the vote of New York, and it is doubtful whether, in all the annals of political conventions, such another example of juggling, turning, shuffling and twisting has ever been witnessed. The majority of the delegates have without doubt been controlled by one or two men, and to report them as Dean Richmond and Peter Cagger would not be far from right-Cagger had been playing a deep game and the attempt to carry water on both shoulders yesterday, in favor of all the resolutions in the majority report of the Committee on Credentials was a miserable failure. The single State of Georgia, in which it was proposed to admit half of the seceding and half of the contesting delegates, was accepted, for the sneaking declaration of N. F. Otis is regarded as a bid to conciliate moderate Democrats, not bitterly opposed to him. Rynders and one or two office holders are indirectly doing all they know how to aid Douglas, though not daring to vote for him openly. Rynders said yesterday that he thought nobody but Douglas could carry N. Y. against Lincoln. Great stress is laid upon this dissatisfaction by the Northwest. It is argued that the sentiment of the people is so strong in N. Y. that even Federal officials are bound to acknowledge its force. N. Y., even at the last stage to-day, on the motion to lay on the table the motion to reconsider the vote on the adoption of several separate resolutions, changed front so as to afford time for consultation, and when the Convention met again, after a recess, the same State wheeled around again, and refused to reconsider an equivalent proposition to the one proposing to lay the other resolution on the table.

The city is more crowded than ever now, and in view of the meeting of two Conventions to-morrow, it is expected that the crowd will largely increase.