University of Virginia Library

Search this document 




Page 365


According to a call from Uncle Joshua, the Chairman, posted
up in the usual places—that is, on the meetin'-house, and on
the center school-house, and on Bill Johnson's store—the
adjourned meeting from February 9 was held this evening in
the center school-house. Democrats all on hand, without distinction
of party,
and the school-house chock full before seven
o'clock. On taking the chair, Uncle Joshua called the meetin'
to order, and addressed them as follers:

“Gentlemen and feller-Democrats, before we take up the
business of the evening, I feel it my duty to say a few words
about the present state of our party, and to lift up my warning
voice against divisions. If we can't come together like
brothers, and all pull at one end of the rope, we're gone. If
part pulls at one end of the rope, and part pulls at t'other
end, the rope snaps, and we all tumble head over heels and
come to the ground. So I hope, feller-Democrats, the divisions
and disputes that broke out in our last meetin', February 9,
won't be seen to-night. I say, feller-Democrats, if we mean
to beat, we must harmonize, as Mr. Ritchie used to say; we
must harmonize. It's true there's some pretty hard difficulties
in our way, but we must get round 'em. When I'm ploughing
in the field with a smart team, and see a hard stump right in
the way, I know better than to go straight ahead, and keep
the plough in, and stick the plough-share right among the
roots, and tear the plough to pieces. But what do I do? I


Page 366


[Description: 688EAF. Page 366. In-line image. A man has fallen on his backside and looks surprised as his horse runns off, trailing its reigns. A plough remains stuck and broken in a stump which is labelled "abolition".]
jest run the plough out of the ground, and slip round the
stump, and then set in again, and go along as smooth as ever.
And so when I'm mowing in haying time, and see a hornet's
nest in the side of a stump, or in a heap of stones, I had a
good deal rather leave a little grass standing round 'em than
to mow up so close as to stir 'em up, and bring the whole
swarm out round my ears. Now, I say, feller-Democrats, if
the Democratic party would only jest keep out of the way of
stumps and hornets' nests, we could get along smooth enough,
and carry the day any time. But if we are agoing to run our
plough-share into every Abolition stump that stands in the
way, and stick our scythe into every slavery hornets' nest


Page 367
that we come across, the jig is up with us, and we may as
well give up the farm at once, and go off to the Grand Banks
and ketch codfish, for it would be no use for us to fish for
offices any longer, unless we can harmonize.

“Gentlemen, that distinguished old Democrat of Pennsylvania,
Mr. Buchanan, lately wrote a letter to the Democrats
of Baltimore; it was dated the 23d of February; it was a
great letter; and Mr. Buchanan is a great man. In that
letter he says: `There has seldom been a period when the
Democratic party of the country was in greater danger of
suffering a defeat than at the present moment.' And, gentlemen,
a Democratic member of Congress, from Ohio, Mr. Olds,
made a speech in the House the fifth of this month, in which
he says: `Mr. Chairman, I am free to acknowledge, as a
National Democrat, that I am humiliated at the bickerings
exhibited by prominent Democrats upon this floor.' Gentlemen,
these handwritings on the wall show us what we are
coming to if we don't harmonize. Therefore, I hope we shall
set an example of harmony here to-night that will send a
thrill through the whole country, from Maine to Texas, and
from the Atlantic to Californy.”

Uncle Joshua sot down, and the meetin' give three cheers
for the harmony of the Democratic party.

Bill Johnson. Mr. Chairman, I rise to renew the motion that
I made at the last meeting, that we choose Major Jack
Downing for our delegate to the Baltimore Convention.

Doctor Briggs. My motion was before that, Mr. Chairman,
which was, that we take up the question of the Presidency
first. And I still think we aught to discuss that matter, and
have a fair understanding about it, before we choose our
delegate to Baltimore. However, in these times I go for harmony,
and for the sake of harmony I withdraw the motion,
and am ready to vote on the delegate.


Page 368

[The motion was then put by the chairman, and Major
Downing was elected delegate to Baltimore by the unanimous
of the Convention, followed by three cheers.]

Chairman. There, feller Democrats, is an example of harmony.
That shows us what we can do when we all pull
together. If we can only make the Democrats all over the
country pull together, we shall choose our President jest as
easy as we have our delegate.

Doctor Briggs. In order to do that, Mr. Chairman, we must
fix on the right candidate. And I hope we shall now have a
full and free discussion, lay down our platform of Democratic
principles, and then examine the candidates and see who is
the best man to stand on our platform.

Chairman. Well, yes, Doctor, you are about right in theory,
but sometimes practice, in order to get along, has to be different
from theory. I am an old Democrat, as you all know, and
I've seen how things has worked this forty years. Now, my
own opinion is, that the first and the main thing is to pick out
the man that we can elect, and not bother much about principles.
It isn't principles that gives us the offices, but the man; and
we must elect our man, or get no offices. The Dimocratic
principles can be regulated after we agree on our man, for
they are all very simple and plain; and the fewer the better.
In Gineral Jackson's time we didn't have but three. One was
the Bank, and one was the Tariff, and one was Internal Improvements.
Them you know was the Whig principles, and
them was the ones we had to fight agin. And I don't think
we can do any better than to stand on the same ground now.
I've thought for some years past that all Dimocratic principles
might be reduced down to one plain simple principle, and
that is, to fight agin the Whigs. That is the safest and most
important principle in the whole Dimocratic creed. And it is
one that is easy to be understood, and easy to really the party


Page 369
upon. The Whigs may bother about as many principles as
they are a mind to; we no need to have but one. We may
bring 'em all under one rule, and that is, to fight agin the
Whigs. We are agin the Bank, and agin the Tariff, and agin
Internal Improvements, because them are Whig doctrines.
Now, let us follow out the same rule, and wherever the Whigs
go for Abolition we must fight agin Abolition, wherever the
Whigs go for slavery we must fight agin slavery. If we stick
to this rule through thick and thin, and only stick together,
there's no danger; we shall carry everything all afore us.

Doctor Briggs. Well, Mr Chairman, I think there's a good
deal of meaning in what you say. And I go for harmony;
so I move we go according to your plan, and pick out a candidate
we can elect, and fix up the principles afterward; for,
jest as you say, what good will the principles do us if we
don't elect our candidate? Now, Mr. Chairman, as you are
Postmaster, and have all the papers at your office, and know
how things get along, I move that you name over the candidates
for the Presidency, and tell us how they stand, so we
may see which is the strongest, and go in for him.

Chairman. Well, as to that, all the States hasn't put up
their candidates yet, but a good many of 'em has, and some of
'em I can name over. There's New York, she puts up Governor
Marcy; and Pennsylvany puts up Mr. Buchanan; and
Michigan puts up Gineral Cass; and Kentucky puts up Gineral
Butler; and Illinois puts up Judge Douglas; and Indiana
puts up Gineral Lane; and Texas puts up Gineral Houston.
And I 'spose there may be more that I don't think of now, but
these is some of the foremost ones. The Dimocratic Review,
printed in New York, that is thought to take the lead in these
matters, divides these candidates into two classes, the old
class and the young class; or, as some of the papers calls 'em,
Old Fogies and Young America. The Old Fogy class is


Page 370
Governor Marcy, and Gineral Cass, and Mr. Buchanan, and
Gineral Butler, and Gineral Houston. And the Young America
class is Judge Douglas. And the Dimocratic Review goes in
decidedly for this last class.

Deacon Snow. I should like to have the opinion of our venerable
chairman about Judge Douglas, as to whether he's the
right man for us, and whether we better go in for him along
with the Dimocratic Review.

Chairman. As to that, I can only say Judge Douglas is a
mere boy yet, only about forty years old, and some folks
thinks he better tarry at Jericho till his beard is grown.
There is good mettle in him; but let him wait twenty years
longer, then maybe it will do to begin to talk about him.

Deacon Snow. That's correct. I move we pass over the
Young America class, and take up the Old Fogies.

Chairman. Well, what say to Governor Marcy? Our Democratic
brethren will please to express their minds freely. In
order to harmonize, we must know each other's opinions.

Sargent Joel Downing. I've no doubt, Mr. Chairman, but
what Governor Marcy is a good sound sort of a Dimocrat, and
has done good service in the party, but I think that patch on
his trouses has done the job for him so he'll never get over it.
If we undertake to run him, we shall get lick'd, that's all.

Chairman. Well, how will Mr. Buchanan do? He's a
strong candidate, and lately got a majority in the Dimocratic
Convention of Pennsylvany, in spite of Gineral Cass, who
didn't get half so many votes as he did.

Deacon Snow. The greatest thing I know agin Mr. Buchanan
is, that I've heard he was once an old Federalist. If
that's the case, I shouldn't like to vote for him; and, moreover,
if there's the least taint of Federalism about him, Mr. Ritchie
will be sure to fight agin him, tooth and nail. So there
wouldn't be no chance to elect him.


Page 371

Chairman. Well, there's Gineral Cass, how does he stand?
Is there any reason why he wouldn't run well?

Sargent Joel Downing. Mr. Chairman, I don't want to be
too particular, and I aint hard to please; but Gineral Cass,
I don't think, would run better than some one of the others.
And, besides, he's got off the true Dimocratic platform, and
wouldn't come under your rule, to fight agin the Whigs. For a
year or two ago he and Gineral Foote and some others went
off upon a slant and jined Webster and Clay, and got up the
Compromise. We can't call that fightin' the Whigs. The
Dimocrats have been a good deal wrathy about it; and it isn't
but a little while ago I see a Dimocratic paper in Richmond,
Virginia, calls 'em “the miserable set of ragamuffins who got
up the Union party.” It wouldn't do to have a candidate that
the Dimocratic papers can talk so about. It wouldn't produce
the right sort of harmony in the ranks of the Dimocracy. I
think, Mr. Chairman, we better go further, if we fare worse.

Chairman. Well, gentlemen, then there's Gineral Butler, of
Kentucky. He's said to be a very safe, careful, sound Dimocrat;
one that it will be hard to pick any flaws in. What
say to him?

Bill Johnson [Mounting on a bench with two or three
papers in his hand]. Mr. Chairman, General Butler is the
worst candidate of the whole lot. Ginerally speaking, he
isn't nowhere; and when you do happen to find him, he isn't
never in the right place. You remember, sir, at our last
meeting, I described in my speech, the Butler bait as being all
nicely rolled in meal and rubbed over with a little Van Buren
oil. Well, sir, since then the meal has been shook off; the
Van Buren oil couldn't make it stick. It's all shook off, and
shows nothing but a black slavery cat. A few weeks ago
Mr. Cabell, of Florida, in Congress called Gineral Butler a
mum candidate.” That straitened him out, and showed his


Page 372


[Description: 688EAF. Page 372. In-line image. A lupine-looking man stands on a bench with a book in his left hand that he is pointing to with his right hand. His hat is on the bench by his feet. A crowd both sitting and standing watches him as he delivers his speech.]
color, and one of his friends in the House read a letter from
him that showed he went the whole hog in favor of the “ragamuffins'
compromise.” Sir, I hold that letter in my hand, and
in it Gineral Butler preaches about the compromise like a
Methodist minister. He says: “It is as though a great
national altar had been erected in our midst, on which every
lover of our common country is invited to lay his offering of
peace, and to offer up his prayers for the perpetuity of the
Union and the continuance of the inestimable blessings which
we enjoy under its protection.” Sir, that language shows


Page 373
that he isn't fit for President; it's enough to turn the whole
Dimocracy agin him. The great Dimocratic paper in New
York, the Evening Post, that was in favor of him awhile ago,
now says: “We cannot congratulate him on the skill with
which he is playing his game for the Presidency.”

And sir, I have in my hand the Dimocratic Review, the
great organ of our party, and that shows Gineral Butler up
in his true colors. It says he isn't nothing nor nobody;
nothing but “a mere beaten horse.” It says the country
might be lost “before Gineral Butler could get an idea into
his head, or a word out of it.” The Review says: “From his
almost total lifelessness in public affairs, it was denied, at
the last Presidential election, even in his own neighborhood,
that he was a Democrat at all. * * * * And General
Butler went to the polls in 1848 and voted for himself, to
prove his own Democracy.” On the whole, the Review says:
“We declare him made up of feeble negatives.” Mr. Chairman,
I move we skip Gineral Butler, and take up the next.

Deacon Snow. I won't pretend to say we can do anything
with Gineral Butler; may be he is out of the question. But
there is some reason to think it is possible the Dimocratic
Review hasn't exactly done him justice. I like to see fair
play all round. Mr. Breckenridge, a representative in Congress
from Kentucky, made a speech on the Presidency a
few days ago—the fourth of this month, if I mistake not—
and he declares the Dimocratic Review is “full of gross misrepresentation.”
I will read, with your leave, Mr. Chairman,
one extract from his speech: “There was a gentleman, full
of talent, full of activity, a particular partisan and friend—as
he had a right to be—of a particular gentleman mentioned
in connection with the Presidency. That gentleman went to
the State of Kentucky upon a political pilgrimage last fall,
the object of which was, I suppose, to drive General Butler


Page 374
from his own soil, to dishonor him at home, by fastening upon
him a corrupt political intrigue. But he failed in his object;
and came back and bought up the Democratic Review for a
political partisan paper for the campaign; and, with no
names at the mast-head, that Review is now pursuing a
course as fatal to the Democratic party as it is false and unfair.”
And, Mr. Chairman, the Washington Union, our great
Dimocratic organ at the seat of Government, comes out agin
the Democratic Review about as hard as Mr. Breckenridge.
Jest hear what it says: “And last, but not least, among the
numerous organs which create dissention and promote discord,
is the Democratic Review. This periodical, once so
elevated in its objects, descends to the level of mere faction,
and opens its batteries upon all the prominent members of
the Democratic party who happen not to suit the taste of the
editor.” The Union paper goes on to give the Democratic
Review a good drubbing. But as Gineral Butler is such a
disputed candidate, perhaps we better pass along to the next.

Chairman. Well, there's the old hero of San Jacinto left,
Gineral Houston, of Texas; what say you to him? He's
said to be a great favorite with the Dimocracy, and has a
good deal of the grain of Old Hickory about him. What's
the reason we can't all harmonize upon him?

Solomon Jones (Trader at the upper corner). Mr. Chairman,
old Sam Houston's hoss can be curried in short order, I can
tell ye. The fact is, he's been all over the country, giving
temperance lectures and making temperance speeches, and I
solemnly swear he never shall have my vote as long as there's
any strength in brandy. [Great sensation. Deacon Snow
called the speaker to order.]

Chairman. Well, gentlemen, we've been through all the
foremost candidates, and there seems to be difficulties all
round. I would call upon our respected delegate to Baltimore,


Page 375
Major Downing, who has had a good deal of experience in
political matters, to give us his views. Now, he has seen the
proceedings this evening, and heard the Dimocracy of Downingville
express their sentiments. I would ask him what
course he will feel it his duty to take when he gets into the
Baltimore Convention?

Major Jack Downing. Mr. Chairman and fellow-Democrats,
after returning you my sincere thanks for the honor you have
conferred upon me this evening, I beg leave to state, that
from the instructions which I seem to get from this meeting
to-night, and the light I now have on the subject, I should
feel bound to propose to the Convention to take a gineral vote
whether they will have a candidate from the Old Fogy class
or the Young America class. If they decide in favor of the
Old Fogies, I should move that Governor Marcy, and Mr.
Buchanan, and Gineral Cass, and Gineral Butler, and Gineral
Houston, be put into a hat and shook up, and then the President
of the Convention draw one of 'em out; and whichever
come out first, the Convention should unanimously agree to
run him, and ask no questions. But if they should decide in
favor of the Young America class, I should move to put Judge
Douglas into the hat, and shake him up, and draw him out,
and agree to run him at all hazards. [Here three cheers
were given for Major Downing.]

Chairman. Gentlemen and feller-Dimocrats, if it be your
minds that our delegate, Major Downing, be instructed to
follow his own instructions, please to say aye.

[The question was carried by a unanimous and very loud
vote. And after three more cheers for the harmony of the
Democracy, the meeting adjourned.]

Copy of the Secretary's minutes, examined and approved for the
press by