1864 Democratic Convention


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, July 2, 1864

Harper's Weekly newspapers were the primary source of information for people who lived at the time of the War. There were hundreds of thousands of subscribers, and millions of readers. Today, these original documents serve as an important research tool enabling the serious student to gain new insights into the war.

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General Lee

Robert E. Lee

Democratic Convention

1864 Democratic Convention


Attack on Petersburg



General Logan

General Johnny Logan

Escaped Slave

Escaped Slave

Map March

Map of Sherman's March

Escaped Slave

Escaped Slave, Union Soldier

Custer Cavalry Charge

Custer Cavalry Charge


Battle of Fort Powhatan









[JULY 2, 1864.



THERE were shouts in the crowded street, And a martial music-strain,

And banners waved, and loud drums beat, As the men of the city came out to greet The lumber-men of Maine.

A thousand strong and more

From the woods and streams came they; From where the Kennebec's fountains roar, And the swift Penobscot twists the oar,

And Passamaquoddy Bay.

Strong knights of the axe and pole,

Kings of the raft and saw,

In brawny limb and dauntless soul

By the breath of the forest air made whole And the use of nature's law.

They marched with a steady tread

Toward the front of death and pain,

Where the splintered stumps of the trees were red, And the rivers waited to raft the dead

Of the lumber-men of Maine.

And a thousand more forsook

The axe and the setting-pole,

And the forest camp by the swollen brook, And in squads the vacant places took To keep the torn ranks whole.

Dusty and hot and worn

The regiment came to-day,

With a battle-flag all soiled and torn, And a dozen footless heroes borne Behind on a rumbling dray.

Through the city's double tide

Slowly they marched again, With a look of modest, manly pride

That made them tall as they marched beside

The throng of common men.

But a hundred strong and three

They came from the battle-plain; The others will never fell the tree,

Or sing and dance, when the raft floats free,

With the lumber-men of Maine.



GENERAL McCLELLAN made a speech at the late dedication of the Battle Monument at West Point, in which he laid down the platform upon which he is to be nominated, if at all, by the Chicago Convention. It is significant as an indication of the present feeling of the shrewder but smaller part of the politicians who are hoping to return to power under the name of Democracy. We say under the name of Democracy for two reasons. In the first place, the unshrinking opponents of the natural rights of man can have no philosophical claim to the name Democrat ; and, in the second place, as a party name, it belongs quite as much to ANDREW JOHNSON, DANIEL S. DICKINSON, BENJAMIN F. BUTLER, and thousands more, as to HORATIO SEYMOUR, AUGUST BELMONT, JAMES BROOKS, and their friends.

The speech of General McCLELLAN shows that the shrewder part of the gentlemen who depend for success upon the name Democracy, understand that the people intend the war to continue until the rebellion is subdued. Unless, therefore, they are utterly outnumbered they will construct a war platform at Chicago, and place General McCLELLAN, their only available man, upon it. But they must look for his support to all the disaffected and peace men in the loyal States. The followers of VALLANDIGHAM and FERNANDO WOOD must be induced to vote for the candidate. Now, if there be any truth in our political situation clearer than another, it is that the majority of those who since the war began have voted for what is called a Democratic candidate and against a Union candidate, as, for instance, for Mr. SEYMOUR in Connecticut and Mr. VALLANDIGHAM in Ohio, would stop the war upon any terms, however humiliating, if they could. If, then, the combination of all the elements of opposition could succeed in electing the Chicago nominee even upon a war platform, his policy as President must be the distinctive policy of all who vote for him. Is it unfair to say that the common ground of that opposition—not the first choice either of the left wing or the right, but the common ground—is negotiation in some form ; some arrangement, some adjustment which, as they amusingly assert, will be "honorable" both to the United States and the rebels?

The necessary results of the election of General McCLELLAN, therefore, even upon his own platform, are easy to foresee. For who are the men who would come into power with him ? They are the SEYMOURS, the WOODS, VALLANDIGHAM, LONG, COX, and company. They are the men upon whose success at the ballot-box the rebels declare that they count next to their own victories in the field. They are the men in whose ranks are the apologists of the rebellion, and the steady opponents of all the measures proposed for its overthrow; who declare the rebels invincible ; who prophesy only woe and ruin to the country from a continued prosecution of the war; who are constantly deploring the lost prosperity of the nation, and

deprecating what they call an unnatural and fratricidal strife. They are the men, in a word, among whom are those who supply the material for the malignant correspondence of the English papers, and cheer the rebel heart with the hope of a divided North.

The peace men are not the shrewdest part of the Opposition, but they are the most logical and the most numerous. They do not prefer General McCLELLAN as a candidate, they would rather take VALLANDIGHAM, or HORATIO SEYMOUR. But they will yield to the nomination, knowing that a candidate like M'CLELLAN will increase the chances of success at the polls ; and that if by that means he could be elected they and their policy would succeed to power. Would not the election of Judge WOODWARD, as Governor of Pennsylvania last year, have been a terrible disaster to the Union cause ? Would his policy as President be less disastrous ? Yet were not General M'CLELLAN, and FERNANDO WOOD, and VALLANDIGHAM, with all the Copperhead papers, equally, with the leading rebel papers which frankly expressed their hopes of a "Democratic" success, ardent supporters of Judge WOODWARD?

No sincere Union man can forget these things. No observer of our history for the last three years can suppose that the national integrity or honor are safe in such hands. The Chicago Convention could not be adjourned. For the adjournment would be only a plain confession that the managers see no man in the country who seems to them to have even a remote chance of defeating the Union nominations before the people. It would be a confession of doubt and dismay which they would not dare to make. The Convention will meet, and it must choose between an open " peace" candidate and a war candidate. If it adopts the former, he will never be heard of again. If it takes the latter, it can not avoid General McCLELLAN, for whom many of the delegates are instructed. If it nominates him, he will be supported by the " peace" men of every shade. The practical question, then, for every sincere Union man, will be whether he wishes to sit at a feast of which these gentlemen are the hosts ?

It is vain to say that General McCLELLAN is not a peace man. In a war so vital and tremendous as this, every man must be strongly for it or strongly against it. He must strike the enemy every where and every how. He must comprehend the causes and consequences of the struggle, or he can not adopt a policy which will at once win the victory and secure it. His heart and mind, as well as his hand, must be in it, or the enemy which brings to the contest every force of every kind at his command will inevitably defeat him. This ground he must take, or else insist upon peace upon the best possible terms. These are the only two logical and tenable positions in this war. But to stand between, to qualify and hesitate and doubt, to strike, with a reluctant sword in one hand and an olive branch in the other, a foe who is smiting with both hands, to ignore willfully or utterly fail to comprehend the scope of the war, is to invite at once defeat and derision. There is no conceivable contest in which a soldier of the United States could be engaged, in which he would confront a foe so desperate and so disdainful of conciliation as this ; and, consequently, there could be no war in which it would be more clearly his imperative duty to weaken that enemy wherever he could touch him, and pursue a policy which would secure permanently the common peace.

It will be for the people of the country to decide, when General McCLELLAN shall be nominated, whether his career, his counselors, and the attitude and antecedents of his supporters justify the expectation of overwhelming vigor in the field or heroic sagacity in the Cabinet.


THE pressure of our own public affairs naturally distracts our minds from more than a cursory observation of the important political events in Europe. Among these events the late speech of Mr. GLADSTONE must be classed ; for it is a plain declaration by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a member of the Government, that the suffrage should be so enlarged as to include a great number of the non-voters in England. But upon the principles which Mr. GLADSTONE lays down, the movement can hardly stop short of universal suffrage. " What I would state," he says, " is this : every man who is not presumably incapacitated by some consideration of personal unfitness, or political danger, is morally entitled to come within the pale of the Constitution."

He would avoid sudden changes, but the goal is clear. If that is to be the rallying cry of the Reform party in England it will reform the British Constitution altogether. Mr. GLADSTONE thinks otherwise. He says that it will only infuse new vigor into what he calls " the young and flourishing British Constitution."

But by that Constitution British political society consists of three recognized classes, and one not recognized. The King, Lords, and Commons are the three recognized classes, and the great body of the population, the poor working class, is the one unrecognized. This last is numerically overwhelmingly the largest, and when you begin to admit one of them to the suffrage, it will be very difficult, under any plea of

"political danger," to exclude another who is equally fitted. Then you have practically a government of the people, and the inevitable and proper result will be the peaceful elimination from the system of special privilege. Is Mr. GLADSTONE the profoundest, or merely the most good natured, of British statesmen ? Does he really foresee the tendency, which MACAULAY long ago described, of a struggle between Parliament and the people, and does he skillfully suggest this as the beginning of a policy which shall avoid it ; or is he only disagreeably struck with the fact that one man is allowed to vote and his equally competent neighbor is forbidden ?

The moderately liberal London journals are evidently surprised, and even startled, by Mr. GLADSTONE'S speech. What security does he offer, they ask, that the class which is numerically strongest will not obtain complete control of the Government ? Clearly none, for there is none to offer. But the orator sees, what so many observers see, that the legislation of England is really conducted now with regard to the supposed wishes of the great multitude of non-voters. A year ago, in April, Lord PALMERSTON sneered, in Parliament, at the idea of asking a change in the British neutrality laws to favor the United States. Six months afterward Lord RUSSELL, at a public meeting in the Provinces, said that such a change would be asked for if the present laws were found inadequate to keep England from a war with the United States. And the reason he gave was, that he believed more than half of the English people were favorable to our Government and its cause. That was reason enough for his Lordship. So at this moment the Queen, out of regard for the memory of her German husband, and of the fact that the future King of Prussia is her daughter's husband, refuses to take the Danish side in the present war. But the heart of the English people is with Denmark ; and it remains to be seen whether, under some pretense, the Queen may not vacate the throne.

In truth, as a wise European remarks, monarchy is undermined in Europe. With the general enlightenment of the people, which increases every day, the cumbrous and foolish forms of despotism, however modified, must inevitably disappear. The divinity which doth hedge a king is gone, when you may buy his card photograph for a penny, and see that he is merely a dull gentleman in common clothes. When the consent of England deprived the monarch of the supreme prerogative, it began to strip off the royal robes ; and when it is conceded that his Majesty's self is but a ceremony, what becomes of him when all the drapery is removed ?

So great was the excitement and even alarm produced by his speech, that Mr. GLADSTONE has published it as a pamphlet with a preface. Opinions are divided as to the significance of the preface. But as the author says that he publishes his speech as it was delivered, and leaves it to " the discerning consideration of the reader," its meaning remains to us unchanged.

Mr. GLADSTONE'S speech may therefore be properly called a political event. He has hardly the personal qualities that make a popular idol. He is fastidious, elegant, and a scholar. Those are certainly not disadvantageous qualities for any leader. But there must be added to them a personal magnetism, a profound conviction of the heart, and a heroism which the tone of his preface shows that he does not possess. The leader of the future of England must be made of sterner stuff than Mr. GLADSTONE.


"IF General LEE is defeated," recently said a relative of his, " he will seek death upon the field." That is only natural. Few men in history have made so tragical and unhappy a name. Educated by his country, and sworn to defend her flag, he lingered and lingered until he could make his treachery most effective, and then drew his sword against his country's life and his own honor.

It is no excuse to say that he considered Virginia his sovereign State, and that his State had, in his opinion, the right, under the Constitution, to secede. The plain question for him was : " Can I honorably desert the flag I have sworn to defend, merely because it may lawfully become the flag of freedom and justice ?" For even if it were granted that there may be an honest difference of opinion as to the constitutional right of secession, can there be any doubt whatever of the crime of asserting that right by civil war when no oppression is alleged ?

It is the fashion among English writers to call LEE a great General. He is credited with all the results wrought in the Virginia campaigns by the skill and rapidity of STONEWALL JACKSON. But since the death of that General no success, except the repulse at Fredericksburg, has attended LEE'S army. During the present campaign he has been steadily outgeneraled by GRANT, whom LEE has not ventured to meet in the open field since the Friday in the Wilderness. We do not complain of this. He knows where he is safest, and he does right to stay there. But when the question is raised of the comparative military genius of GRANT and LEE it is only necessary to compare the invasion of Pennsylvania last year with the present campaign in Virginia.

LEE is naturally praised in England, for he is the enemy of his own country, which England hates. His success in repelling GRANT would be hailed by monarchical and aristocratic Europe as a victory over republican principles and the power of the United States. He is useful to England, as BENEDICT ARNOLD was. The newspapers praise him, but every noble man in that country must regard him as they would regard an officer of their own army who should head a revolt because the Government was growing more humane. ROBERT EDMUND LEE will be known in history solely as the military chief of a conspiracy to destroy the freest and best of governments for the purpose of protecting and perpetuating human slavery.


THE assertion that Mr. LINCOLN made an " inaugural pledge" not to be a candidate for re-election is simply untrue ; and we hope that no man whom the people of the United States think fit to intrust with the Presidency will ever make so foolish a pledge. The only allusions made to the subject in Mr. LINCOLN'S inaugural are these :

" Yet, with all this scope for precedent, I now enter upon the same task, for the brief constitutional term of four years, under great and peculiar difficulty."

Is this a pledge that, if the people called him, he would not enter upon another constitutional term of four years ? Again he said :

" While the people retain their virtue and vigilance no Administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the Government in the short space of four years."

Is this a pledge of any kind ? And yet these are all the passages in the inaugural address which refer to the subject.


THERE are certain worthy gentlemen who inform us that General GRANT has more enemies than we had supposed. General LEE counts for something in the list ; but the true foe with whom the Lieutenant-General is contending is —the President of the United States ! It is not LEE or DAVIS who plot delays and impede the progress of the army in Virginia, but it is Mr. LINCOLN, who is resolved that Richmond shall not be taken. General GRANT may march and countermarch, may assault and bombard; but it is all to no purpose while the enemy-in-chief takes care to prevent his success. Does the gentle reader ask why the President hinders the Lieutenant-General ? Because he fears, reply these worthy people, that he will not be re-elected if GRANT takes Richmond or defeats LEE.

So also in Georgia, of course. It is not JOE JOHNSTON who is " drawing SHERMAN on"-not at all, it is Mr. LINCOLN. He has but one purpose, and that is to prolong the war. He wishes to entangle SHERMAN about Atlanta ; so that the struggle may be protracted, and a grateful country, not yet satisfied with the duration and cost of the war, may re-elect him to the Presidency: If GRANT should happen to defeat LEE —if Richmond should fall—if SHERMAN should scatter the army of JOHNSTON, never to be reunited—then the American people, justly indignant with an Administration which had made GRANT Lieutenant-General, and had supported SHERMAN in his too triumphant march, would at once rebuke that Administration by refusing to re-elect it. If the war continues, the delighted people will surely approve the Administration. If it ends, they will repudiate the President in disgust ! So maunder these worthy sages; and we hope that nobody is so credulous as to suppose that, in merely echoing the rebel journals in this as in their other views of the war, they really believe what they say.


WHILE the soldiers fight and fall, and their names are hailed and remembered with lasting sorrow and gratitude, let us not forget that there are other heroes whose devotion is not less, and heroines who, forsaking home, and friends, and all the bright promise of life, devote themselves silently to the work of helping and educating the unfortunates whom the war has committed to our charity, and who fall unknown and unnamed, except by the few hearts which have followed them with sympathy and admiration.

Miss MARY E. SHEFFIELD, of Norwich, Connecticut, died lately, at Memphis, of disease contracted in her self-sacrificing labors as a teacher of the National Freedman's Relief Association. Her work was performed with unfaltering fidelity among the poorest and most friendless of her fellow creatures. Her measure of human duty was not the applause of spectators, but the suffering of her brethren, and the true sorrow at her loss is in the heart of those who have love to give and nothing more.

The war has developed a national character that was not suspected. By fire and steel and terrible contest the young men of the country have been cast into soldiers and heroes. But few know how constant and unreserved are the offers for a service that has no outward glory or even mention from the sisters of those young men all over the land. Wherever the army has opened a path they have walked in it. Angels of mercy, and peace, and en- (Next Page)




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