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Page 376


Dear Uncle Joshua:—The job is done, and it's been about
the toughest week's work that ever I did. I've sweat like a
tiger all the week, and I'm as hungry as a bear; not but
what there's been vittles enough, plenty of it, and good too,
and a plenty of liquor too, more than the Maine liquor law
could upset and spill in six months; but the trouble is, we
had so much to do we couldn't get time to eat. I guess I've
made out to ketch a lunch of a few mouthfuls about twice a
day, and got a chance to sleep, upon an average, about two
hours a night. After I've writ this letter to you, I mean to
turn in and sleep over till Monday, and then streak it home
and help get up the mass-meeting to ratify the nomination.
The ratification of Downingville must be a roarer—you better
be getting things ready for it till I come. I wish I could
give you some idea of the week's work we have had here.
I've worked in the logging swamp, and know what 'tis to
handle logs, and pile 'em on the bank, and roll 'em into the
river; and I've worked on burnt fields in clearing up, and
know what 'tis to chop and pile from Monday morning till
Saturday night; but, I declare to man, this has been the
toughest week of log-rolling I ever see. But I don't begrudge
the work a bit, we've made such a nice job of it, and saved
the country. We've put life into the Democratic party again,


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that we thought last fall was dead as a door-nail. We've
killed off Abolition; we've choked to death Secession, and
gin Freesoil the fits; and I expect we've thunderstruck
Whiggery so that it'll never get over it. We've got the
Democratic party fairly on its legs again, standing on the
good old platform that Gineral Jackson left it on; that is,
agin the Bank, agin the Tariff, and agin Internal Improvements;
and now we've nothing to do but go ahead.

But I must tell you something about the duins. I couldn't
get in as one of the regular delegates from Maine, because
the President said my name wasn't on the list. But as soon
as I had told him I was the delegate from Downingville, he
took me by the hand, and says he, “All right, Major Downing,
I'm very glad to see you here; you can come in as supernumerary,
and you can do a great deal more good than if you
was a regular delegate, for you can go round quietly among
all the delegates, and help to make 'em harmonize. There's a
great deal of that work to be done before we can get along,
and I don't know of anybody who can do more in that line
than you. In fact, Major, if you hadn't been sent as a delegate
from Downingville, you would readily be admitted to take
part in the proceedings of the Convention, out of respect
for the great services that you rendered Gineral Jackson in
the times that tried the souls of Democrats.” So I went right
in and took hold, and went to work. There was an awful
jam; it seemed almost impossible to do anything. But I off
coat, and elbowed my way right through 'em, from one end
of the hall to t'other; and I pretty soon got the swing of
it, so I could tell where to pull and where to push, and where
to put under the hand-spikes and lift. And when the members
got up to make speeches, and got to talking too much,
or talking the wrong way, I knew jest when to take hold of
their coat-tails, and pull 'em down on to their seats. And


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sometimes I had to go into the gallery, too, to keep the people
straight up there; and in spite of all I could do, they would
sometimes hoorah and hiss in the wrong place. So you may
judge I've had my hands full all the week. But I was determined
to have a nomination, if I worked my hands off up to
my elbows. It was very hard to get a nomination this time,
and if I hadn't been here, though I say it myself, I don't believe
they would a got one at all.

The first real hard piece of sledding we come across was
the platform business—that is to say, the question whether
we should go to work and make a platform first, or take right
hold and nominate first. It was a knotty question, and seemed
to bother some of the members a good deal. Mr. Nabers, and
Mr. Wise, and some others, insisted upon it that we should
begin at the foundation, and make a platform first for the
Democratic party to stand on, and then make a candidate to
fit to it. No work would ever stand well unless you begin at
the bottom and lay a good foundation first. Here's a dozen
parties here, every one fighting for their particular candidate,
and each one hoping to get the nomination. As long as that
hope lasts it will hold 'em all together, and we can make 'em
all work to help build up a platform. But the moment one
gets the nomination, the rest will fly off in a tangent; there
will be no more working on a platform, and your candidate
will be left standing on nothing. But Mr. Soule, of Louisiana,
and Governor Floyd, of Virginny, rowed as hard t'other way.
They declared we never could make a platform first. If we
undertook to go to work upon it now, every one of the dozen
parties would be pulling and hauling agin each other, and
each one hewing and cutting and carving to make the platform
to suit his own candidate. In that way we never could
make a platform if we should work from the first of June to
the end of time. The fact is, the platform must be made for


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the country; that is, for the Democratic party, and not for a
candidate. As soon as the candidate is ketched and haltered,
and tied to a stump, we can all set down calmly and work
together, and make a platform to suit the whole Democracy.
The dispute went on pretty high nearly all day, and was got
over at last by a sort of compromise to have the platform and
the nomination both going on together. So a committee of
one from each State was appointed to go to work building the
platform while the Convention went on to nominate; then, as
soon as the candidate was nominated, the platform could be
all ready to set him right on to it.

Then come the nominating, and that was all an up-hill business
for about three days and two or three nights. It was
found on the first pull that the Old Fogies was a good deal
too strong for Young America, and if there hadn't been so
many Old Fogies in the field we should a got a candidate the
first haul. Gineral Cass and Mr. Buchanan each started with
a very smart team. Mr. Cass was a little ahead, and he kept
the lead for about twenty pulls, and we thought by sticking
to him like wax we might be able to get him over the hill.
But his team begun to lag after ten or a dozen pulls, and now,
at the twentieth pull, it seemed to be slowly backing down
hill, and the Buchanan team struggled up and got ahead.
Then we thought we better hitch on to Buchanan, and may be
we might fetch him over the hill. We spurred up for a few
pulls pretty well, but didn't get near to the top before the
Buchanan team got stuck, and then begun to back down hill,
and all we could do we couldn't start it ahead again. But
the Cass team, which had backed almost down to the bottom
of the hill, after resting and breathing a little, now took a
fresh start to come up. At that we hitched on again and determined
if possible to shove him over this time. We
whipped, and spurred, and pulled, and pushed, and hollered,

No Page Number


[Description: 688EAF. Illustration page. A political cartoon. Several different teams representing different political interests attempt to lead oxen up a mountain. At the top of the mountain is a team bearing the banner "Presidency". It is pulling a sleigh with the word "nomination." Near the bottom of the hill two different sets of oxen pull sleighs labelled "Young America" and "Old Fogies".]


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and screamed, and the team hauled well. The old ox bows
creaked, and we begun to think we should reach the top.
But when we got about two-thirds the way up, the team got
stuck agin; and though it took eight or ten smart pulls after
this, it didn't get any higher, but every time backed down a

It was pretty clear after this that it was gone goose with
the Old Fogies. We hadn't no hopes of 'em any longer. If
the Cass and the Buchanan teams could a been hitched
together, they would a walked over the hill as easy as a cat
could lick her ear. But there was so much quarreling among
the drivers that this couldn't be done. Every driver was
proud of his own team, and would stick to it and have nothing
to do with t'other. The Virginny delegation went out a good
many times to consider of it and make up their minds, and
every time they come in they marched right up and took their
stand by the Buchanan team. They stuck to that team without
flinching for thirty-three steady pulls; and for the last ten
or fifteen pulls I couldn't think of nothing else but “old Virginny
never tire.” But there was a good many others stuck
it out full as long, and some a good deal longer than old Virginny,
before they gin up. We tried a few pulls with the
Marcy team and a few with the Butler team, but it was no
go. We became satisfied there wasn't an Old Fogy in the
field who could ever reach the top of the bill. We begun to
look round now to see how Young America was getting along.

The Douglas team was made up mostly of young steers;
and it was a pretty smart team, well trained, and pulled well.
But it wasn't equal to the Old Fogies for a heavy pull; it
hadn't so much bone, and sinew, and wind, and bottom. Howsomever,
it made a pretty good scratch of it, and kept gaining
gradually up the hill; so we thought we would take hold and
give Young America a boost, and see if we couldn't get a


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candidate that way. To tell the truth, we bugun to feel
rather streaked for fear we shouldn't get a candidate at all,
and felt willing to hitch on to most anything. But the best
we could do with Young America, we couldn't get only about
half way up the hill before the steers begun to back down
agin, and we see 'twas no use, they couldn't come it. Well,
there we was, all in a fix. We couldn't see no other chance;
we'd got to go without a President because we couldn't nominate
a candidate. One of the members actually fainted away
here, and all of us felt a good deal womblecropt and down in
the mouth. But “old Virginny never tire,” and when we was
all hitchin on round for the thirty-fifth pull, old Virginny
marched into the field with a bran new team. Everybody
stared, and cried out, “What team is that? What team is
that?” And when they heard the answer, “The Franklin
Pierce team, of New Hampshire,” they wouldn't believe their
own ears. But it was a fact, and Virginny drove that new team
one pull all alone. Then one or two others hitched on with
her and tried eight or ten steady pulls. All of us looked on
and watched the working of that new team. At last folks
begun to make up their minds that that was the team to pull
and straighten out the Democratic traces, and with proper
help it might be got over the hill. Old North Caroliner hitched
on, and Georgia hitched on, and Tennessee hitched on, and
by-and-by there was a geneal race all over the field to see who
should hitch on first. It didn't make no odds who, Old Hunkers
and Barnburners, and Free Silers and Abolition, and Union
and Secession, and State-Rights, and Old Fogies and Young
America, all run helter skelter and hithed on to the Pierce
team. That team, I tell ye, went up the hill like smoke.
Some of the States run till they was almost out of breath for
fear they shouldn't hitch on before the team got to the top of
the hill. But they all made out to hook on, and every State


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was “in at the death,” and ready to jine in the general

After this, we hadn't no more difficulty; everything went
as regular as clock-work. The master told us we had read
and spelt well, and we might all go out till four o'clock. So
we went out and took a little bit of a spree, and then come
in and took hold and worked jest like brothers, and hauled
Mr. King right up to the top of the hill in two pulls, and made
him Vice-President.

Then the committee brought in the new platform, and we
all danced on it. In the crowd and confusion we couldn't see
what it was made of; but we was told it went agin the Bank,
and agin the Tariff, and agin Internal Improvements, and was
a first-rate platform; so we all jumped on, and said it couldn't
be no better.

P. S.—I've telegraphed to Gineral Pierce to save the Downingville
Post-Office for you; so you may feel easy on that

I remain your loving nephew,