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Victory for the Emancipationists


November-December 1862

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 5, 1862.


We exult. We rejoice with exceeding joy. Much as we have reason to congratulate ourselves on personal grounds, we have far more to boast of in the triumph of our principles. Who now will pretend to deny that there is a radical sentiment in St. Louis? Who now will claim that the proclamation of the President has not been vindicated upon slave soil, in the magnificent indorsement it has received in the Queen City of the West? The spirit of a people aspiring to freedom has received a splendid exemplification in the unprecedented victory we have won.

The extent of our triumph may be approximated, for it cannot be fully understood without a personal participation in the exciting incidents of the short and sharp campaign which is just concluded, we may refer briefly to some of its distinguishing features.

Less than on month ago we had no organized party in St. Louis representing our principles. On the other hand our opponents and the opponents of our principles, were thoroughly compacted and harmonized, in possession of party watchwords, led by a chief of eminent political craft and distinguished prestige, and supported by a host of able co-workers, supplied with all the appliances which the possession of place, power and spoils almost unlimited in consequence of the enjoyment of lucrative offices and fat Government contracts was calculated to give them, and confident of their own invincibility.

In defiance of every discouragement, and in the face of this powerful and insolent party—subject to their jeers and maledictions—we began the work of the campaign.

The public is familiar with the circumstances attending the withdrawal of a small number of delegates from the Mercantile Library Hall Emancipation Convention of October 7th, nine in number, in consequence of what they claimed to be gross frauds [illegible] the packing of the delegations to that convention by the members of the “Union” party. These nine met and in conjunction with a few coadjusters, twenty-two in all, issued an address to the public, in which they assigned the reasons which impelled them to the separation and to take and independent position before the world, stating their determination to put a ticket in the field as a faithful representative of their principles, and to ask the support of an honest community in its behalf. In pursuance of this resolution they subsequently met in a small hall in the third story of one of our business houses, (a back room, Mr. Blair called it) laid down a platform of principles, selected their ticket, organized their committees, and began the work of the canvass. Such, to all appearances, was the insignificant beginning of a movement which has led to such magnificent results.

The public is familiar with the efforts made by the party rallying round the standard of Mr. Blair, to crush out this new candidate to popular favor. All recollect how it exulted in those “holes in the faction ticket,” caused by the declension of certain parties nominated upon it, and boasted that before the day of the election, it would have fallen to pieces and disappeared from sight. All will distinctly remember how blatantly the organs of Mr. Blair denounced us as “miserable factionists,” and refused to recognize us as a party and as rivals. All these things are fresh in the minds of the people.

We fought the campaign, thus inauspiciously inaugurated less than four weeks ago, upon principle alone. We (meaning the party) have not in the entire course of it, for all political purposes, expended one thousand dollars, while we have reliable authority for asserting that fifty thousand dollars would not more than cover the outlays of the other party in the same time and for the same objects.

A word as to the principles upon which the canvass has been made, and the significance to be attributed to its conclusion.

The authors of the movement were Emancipationists. They approved of the President’s emancipation proclamation. They differed with Mr. Blair, who held that the proclamation was possessed of no “vitality,” except as derived from legislation of Congress, and that so far as it transcended this legislation, it was a dead letter. They held that the proclamation was simply the exercise of a “war power,” possessed by the President under the Constitution, and most wisely and fittingly exercised.

They differed with Mr. Blair, who held that slavery was not the cause of the war, and that the rebellion was not a slaveholders’, but a non-slaveholders’ rebellion. They held that slavery was the immediate, moving cause of the war, and the essential spirit of the rebellion, and as such, had merited by its insubordinate opposition to the Government, the heavy hand of the chief executive, even to the penalty of its utter extinction.

These propositions were boldly asserted and upon them the issue was made and fought. The victory is therefore the triumph of RADICAL EMANCIPATION.

The effect of this most signal victory upon the future of Missouri can scarcely be estimated. It demonstrates the existence of a sentiment in the breasts of the most influential community upon her soil, which is utterly and irrevocably opposed to slavery as an institution of our State. It is the first of a succession of similar conflicts, which must lead to similar results. The man is blind who does not read in the verdict of yesterday’s election in St. Louis, and in both the First and Second Congressional Districts, the death sentence of slavery in Missouri. It does immediately more than that. It crushes out forever that truckling, fawning conservatism, which, under the name of Blairism, was leading many honest, conscientious Emancipationists in Missouri to kneel in subserviency at the shrine of this domestic Baal. It set them free to act the part of their truthful sentiments, by divorcing them from the baneful influence of their leader. At home it secures an advantage more immediately perceptible than all others. It breaks the power of clique, which, having secured through the influence of its leader, the patronage of the Government in the distribution of offices and contract, was fast becoming—nay, had already become an intolerable source of party despotism and personal corruption.

It goes far to vindicate the good name of the people of St. Louis, from the stains the abuses of this local oligarchy was engaged in fastening upon it.

May we not safely rejoice—not only we of St. Louis, but lovers of freedom and honest citizens everywhere?