University of Virginia Library

Search this document 




Mr. Gales and Seaton

My Dear Old Friends:—We've made out to ratify at last;
but it was about as hard a job as it was for the Baltimore
Convention to nominate. And I'm afraid the worst on't ain't


Page 384
over yet; for Uncle Joshua shakes his head and says to me,
in a low tone, so the rest shan't hear, “Between you and me,
Major, the 'lection will be a harder job still.” I put great
faith in Uncle Joshua's feelins. He's a regular political
weather-glass, and can always tell whether we are going to
have it fair or foul a good ways ahead. So when he shakes
his head, I naterally look out for a tough spell of weather.
When I got home from Baltimore, says I, “Well, Uncle
Joshua, you got my letter in the Intelligencer, didn't you?”
And says he, “Yes.”

“Well, didn't we do that business up well?” says I.

“I don't know about that,” said Uncle Joshua; “I have
my doubts about it.”

“Why, don't you think,” says I, “the nomination of Gineral
Pierce will put the Democratic party on its legs again, and
give it a fine start?”

Uncle Joshua looked up to me kind of quizical, and says he,
“It has gin the party a pretty considerable of a start already,
it come so unexpected.” And then he sot as much as two
minutes drumming his finger on the table, and didn't say

And then he looked up again, and says he, “Major, who is
General Pierce?
” It ain't a fictious name, is it?”

“Why, Uncle Joshua,” says I, “how you talk! It is
Gineral Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire.”

“Gineral Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire, is it?” says
he. “Well, now, Major, are you sure there is such a person,
or did somebody play a hoax on the Baltimore Convention?”

“Yes,” says I, “Uncle, I'm as sure of it as I am that there
is such a person as Uncle Joshua Downing. To make all sure
of it and no mistake, I come through New Hampshire, and
went to Concord, where they said he lived, and inquired all
about it. The neighbors there all knew him perfectly well,


Page 385
and showed me the house he lives in. He wasn't at home, or
I should a seen him myself, and should got his promise to
keep the Downingville Post-Office for you. But you needn't
be afraid but what you'll have it, for I sent a telegraph to
him from Baltimore, as soon as he was nominated, to keep it
for you.”

Here I see by the looks of Uncle Joshua's eyes that he begun
to get hold of some new ideas. Says he, “Well, Major, it
is a fact, then, is it, that he was nominated in real earnest,
and 'twasn't no joke?”

“Upon my word and honor,” says I, “there isn't a particle
of joke about it—it was all done in real arnest.”

“Well, then, if you've really got a candidate,” says Uncle
Joshua, “I should like to know something about him. Does
he belong to the Old Fogy class or Young America class?”

“I guess about half and half,” says I, “and he'll be all the
stronger for that, because he can draw votes on both sides.”

“After all,” says he, “I'm afraid it's a bad nomination.
Them old pillars of the Democratic party, Gineral Cass, and
Mr. Buchanan, and Governor Marcy, and Gineral Houston,
and the rest, will feel so insulted and mortified at being
pushed aside for strangers to take the lead, that they'll all
be agin the nomination, and their friends, too, and that'll upset
the whole kettle of fish.”

“Don't you never fear that, Uncle Joshua,” says I; “them
old pillars that you speak of are all very much tickled with
the nomination. Ye see, it broke the nose of Young America,
and they was delighted with it. As soon as the nomination
was out of the mould, before it had time to cool, they all telegraphed
right to Baltimore that nothin' in the world could
have happened to suit 'em better; it was a most excellent
nomination, and they felt under everlasting obligations to the
Baltimore Convention. You needn't have no fears that they'll


Page 386
feel any coldness towards the nomination. They'll turn to
and work for it like beavers.”

“Well, how is it,” said Uncle Joshua, “about that boy candidate
for the Presidency that they call Young America? If
his nose is knocked out of joint he'll of course oppose the
nomination, tooth and nail.”

“There's where you are mistaken again, Uncle Joshua,”
says I. “On the contrary, he goes for it hotter than any of
'em; and he telegraphed back to Baltimore, as quick as
lightning could carry it, that the nomination was jest the
thing; it couldn't be no better. Ye see, he looks upon it in
the light that it chokes off all the Old Fogies, and leaves the
field clear for him next time. He thinks so highly of the
nomination, and feels so patriotic about it, they say he is
going to stump it through all the States, and make speeches
in favor of Gineral Pierce's election. You may depend upon
it, Uncle Joshua, we've got a very strong nomination—one
that'll carry all afore it—and everybody is delighted with it,
and everybody's going to go for it. I didn't expect you to
hold back a moment. I thought you would have things all
cut and dried for a rousin' ratification meeting by the time I
got home”

“Well, you know, Major,” said Uncle Joshua, “I always
follow Colonel Crockett's rule, and never go ahead till I know
I'm right. How foolish we should look to call a ratification
meeting here in Downingville, and be voted right plump
down. You know the Free-Soilers are very strong among us;
they are strong in all the Northern States. And you know
the Baltimore Convention fixed up a platform to stand on,
that's all in favor of the Compromise and the Fugitive law,
and is dead set agin the Free-Soilers. Now, Major, you must
have more understanding than to think the Free-Soilers will
ever swallow that platform; and if they don't, we are dished.”


Page 387

“You are wrong again, Uncle Joshua,” says I, “for the
biggest Free-Soiler in all America swallowed it right down,
and didn't make a wry face about it.”

“Who do you mean?” says he.

“I mean Mr. John Van Buren,” says I.

“But you don't mean,” says Uncle Joshua, “that Mr. John
Van Buren accepts this platform, and is willing to stand
on it.”

“Yes I do, exactly so,” says I, “for he got right up in
Tammany Hall and made a speech about it; and he said he
would go the nomination, and he'd stand the platform; at all
events, he'd stand the platform for this election, anyhow. You
needn't be at all afraid of the Free-Soilers, Uncle; they ain't
so stiff as you think for, and they are as anxious to get the
offices as anybody, and will work as hard for 'em. Now let
us go to work and get up our ratification, and blow it out
straight. The Democracy of the country expects Downingville
to do its duty.”

“Well, Major,” says Uncle Joshua, “you've made out a
better case than I thought you could. I'm willing to take
hold and see what we can do. But I declare I can't help
laughing when I think it's Gineral Franklin Pierce, of New
Hampshire, that we've got to ratify. I wish we knew something
about him; something that we could make a little flusteration
about, and wake up the Democracy.”

“Good gracious, Uncle Joshua,” says I, “have you been
Postmaster of Downingville this twenty years, and always
reading the papers, and don't know that Gineral Pierce was
one of the heroes of the Mexican war?”

At that, Uncle Joshua hopped out of his chair like a boy,
and says he, “Major, is that a fact?”

“Yes,” says I, “'tis a fact. You know Mr. Polk sent me
out there as a private ambassador to look after Gineral Scott


Page 388
and Mr. Trist. And Gineral Pierce was out there; I knew all
about it, and about his getting wounded.”

“Good!” says Uncle Joshua, snapping his fingers; “that's
lucky, then we've got something to go upon; something
that the boys can hoorah about. And if we don't have too
strong a team agin us we may carry the day yet. Who do
you think the other party will put up?”

“Well,” says I, “it's pretty likely to be Mr. Webster or
Mr. Fillmore, and they can't either of 'em hold a candle to
Gineral Pierce.”

“Of course not,” says Uncle Joshua, “if he was the hero of
the Mexican war. I s'pose it was Gineral Scott's part of the
war that he was in, because that's where you was. Which
of the battles did he fight the bravest in, and mow down
most of the Mexicans? Did he help storm that Gibralta
castle at Vera Cruz?”

“No,” says I, “that little matter was all over before Gineral
Pierce got to Mexico.”

“Well, the great battle of Cerro Gordo come next,” said
Uncle Joshua; “I dare say Gineral Pierce was foremost in
marching up that bloody Bunker Hill and driving off Santa
Anna and his fifteen thousand troops.”

“I'm sure he would a been foremost, if he'd been there,”
says I, “but he hadn't got into the country yet, and Gineral
Scott wouldn't wait for him. It seems as if Gineral Scott is
always in a hurry when there is any fightin' to do, and won't
wait for nobody.”

“Well, the next great battle, if I remember the newspapers
right,” said Uncle Joshua, “was Contreras; and after that
came the bloody and hot times of Cherubusco, and the King's
Mill, and Chepultepec, and marching into the City of Mexico.
These was the battles, I s'pose, where Gineral Pierce fit like
a lion, and became the hero of the Mexican war. But which


Page 389
battle did he shine the brightest in, and cut down most of the

“The truth is,” says I, “he got wounded at Contreras, and
so wasn't able to take a part in them bloody affairs of Cherubusco,
King's Mill, and Chepultepec.”

“Then he was in the battle of Contreras,” said Uncle Joshua,
“and that can't be disputed?”

“O yes,” says I, “he certainly was in the first part of it,
when they was getting the battle ready, for there's where he
got wounded.”

“Good,” said Uncle Joshua, “he was in one battle, and got
wounded; that's enough to mak a handle of, anyhow. Whereabouts
was his wound?”

“Well, he had several hurts,” said I; “I believe in his
foot and ancle, and other parts.”

“Rifle balls?” said Uncle Joshua, very earnest.

“O no, nothing of that kind,” says I.

“What then; sword cuts? Or did the Mexicans stick
their bayonets into him?”

“No, no; nothin' of that kind, nother,” says I.

“Then it must be grape or bombshells,” said Uncle Joshua,
“how was it?”

“No, no, 'twasn't none of them things,” says I. “The fact
was, when they was skirmishing round, getting ready for the
battle, his horse fell down with him and lamed him very bad.”

Uncle Joshua colored a little, and sot and thought. At
last he put on one of his knowing looks, and says he, “Well,
Major, a wound is a wound, and we can make a handle of
it without being such fools as to go into all the particulars
of how he came by it. I say let's go ahead and ratify Gineral
Pierce, and who knows but what we can make something
out of this Mexican business?”

Well, Mr. Gales and Seaton, the thing was done. We ratified


Page 390


[Description: 688EAF. Page 390. In-line image. A group of people are holding a procession at night. A woman gathers together several of her children, smiling. Several men carry lit torches and one caries a sign which reads in part "Franklin Pierce The Hero of . . . "]
on the 21st of June, in the evening, and it was a tall
piece of business. When I begun, I meant to give you a full
account of it, with some of the speeches and resolutions; but
I've made my preamble so long that I can't do it in this
letter. We had a torch-light procession. Cousin Ephraim took
his cart and oxen, and went into the woods and got a whole
load of birch-bark and pitch-pine knots, and all the boys in
Downingville turned out and carried torches. The schoolhouse


Page 391
was illuminated with fifty candles. Uncle Joshua presided,
as usual. Banners were hung round the room, with
large letters, giving the names of all the great battles in
Mexico; and the enthusiasm was immense. When we'd got
about through, and was just winding up with three tremendous
cheers for the “Hero of Mexico,” a message came up to
Uncle Joshua from the Post-Office, stating that the telegraph
had just brought news that the Whig Convention at Baltimore
had nominated Gineral Scott for President. It gin the
whole Convention the cold shuggers in a minute. Uncle
Joshua looked very serious, and says he, “Feller-Democrats,
to prevent any mistakes, I think you had better give them
three last cheers over again, and put in the name of Gineral
Pierce.” So we did, and gin three rousin cheers for Gineral
Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire, the Hero of Mexico.

Downingville is wide awake, and will do her duty in

So I remain your old friend,