Saturday, November 5, 2016

Salmon P. Chase to Senator John P. Hale,* June 15, 1848

June 15, [1848.]

My Dear Sir: 1 have recd. several letters from you lately for which I feel greatly obliged to you. I can appreciate Mrs. Hales unwillingness to trust you out here in the west: for if we once get you among us you will find it very difficult to get away. Still I hope that you will come & bring her with you also. Mrs. Chase, whose grandfather was one of the original proprietors of Cincinnati & who herself was born in Missouri, & has never been east of Columbus, will be very glad to make proof to her of the qualities of western hospitality.

In reference to Slavery in the District of Columbia I have made up my mind after being somewhat troubled, in a legal way, with the difficulty you refer to. I found it impossible to resist the conviction that the general rule that the laws of ceded or conquered territories remain in force after coercion or conquest must be qualified with the limitation that such laws be not incompatible with the fundamental law or policy of the acquiring state, in other words, that such laws be not such as the legislature of the acquiring state is itself incompetent to enact. I send herewith an article of mine on the subject which states my views with tolerable clearness.

The signs of the times seem to me auspicious. The N. Y. Democracy will certainly remain firm. We had a tremendous gathering of the people here last night in opposition to the nominations of Cass & Taylor old & tried Whigs & young & enthusiastic Whigs & firm & consistent democrats, with Liberty men took part in the proceedings. If a popular candidate with any fair prospect of success could be brought out on the Free Territory platform we would have a fair chance of carrying Ohio.

I recd. a letter to day from Mr. Hamlin of Cleveland, who says that nineteen out of twenty of the Whigs of Cuyahoga refuse to support the nomination. Our meeting last night sent a delegate to the Utica convention & we shall endeavor to cooperate with the New Yorkers. I shall never cease to regret that the Liberty Convention at Buffalo last fall nominated when it did, or that you deemed it your duty to accept the nomination. I remonstrated agt it in the Convention & out of it, for I thought I could foresee something of what has actually taken place, & I wished you to go into the senate as an Independent Democratic Senator, occupying very nearly the same relation to the Democratic Party, on the Antislavery side of it, as Calhoun on the proslavery side. I felt certain that in that event the growing opposition to slavery would naturally find its exponent in you and that antislavery men of all parties, in case both parties should prove false to freedom would concentrate public sentiment to nominate a non slave holder favorable to Anti Slavery principles: but I wanted to be prepared for the contingency which has actually occurred. Your nomination by the Liberty Party, although in yr. letter of acceptance you stated very frankly your real position, has identified you with us & compelled you to share the undeserved opprobrium, which has attached to many of the noblest names of the land, & which, I fear, may not be dispelled until death shall remove all inducements to Slander. It is very true that your senatorial career has attracted the general admiration of all true hearted [patriots] men, and, I verily believe, that if N. Y. democracy would now place you in nomination all objections would disappear and this state could be carried for you.

But they are afraid to do so, on account of the advantage which would be taken of this movement by the Hunkers, advantages which could not be taken had you not recd. the Liberty nominnation. Perhaps I am wrong in my estimate of the influence which the fact of yr. nomination, as our Candidate will have upon the action (of) Free Territory men coming from other parties. I shall be very glad if they will meet in General Convention and nominate you. I hope at all events they will meet in General Convention, and agree if possible. But suppose they meet. Suppose the N. Y. democracy, about to assemble at Utica, calls a National Convention of all who are willing to go into the Battle for Free Territory under the Democratic Banner — what then? Would it not be expedient for you to write a letter to Mr. Lewis the President of the State Liberty Convention,—state your original position as a Democrat — that fidelity to your democratic faith compelled you to assume, with your Democratic friends in New Hampshire the position now occupied so gloriously by the New York Democracy,—that you desire most earnestly the union of Freemen for the sake of Freedom, withdraw your name & urge those who put you in nomination to attend the convention there called & govern their action by its decisions? Then if that convention should nominate you all will be well; if not, you will be still in the Senate, where you can do good service to the cause and await events, — and after the adjournment, by your eloquence before the people, [you will] be a most important auxiliary in the near at hand campaign:

Our Free Territory Convention will, I think, nominate an electoral ticket to support the nominees of the Convention called under the auspices of the New York Democracy, if such a convention be called — otherwise to vote for you. I shall send you a paper containing last nights proceedings.

I have conversed with Mr. Lewis this afternoon. He has had an interview with Judge King who is very anxious for such an union as I mention. I have also a letter from him to the same effect, which I send herewith for your perusal asking you to return it. You observed I suppose, Judge K's name among the signers to our Free Territory call.

* Letter-book 6, pp. 89. John Parker Hale, 1806-1873, member of Congress from New Hampshire 1843-1845; United States Senator 1847-1853; candidate for President of the Free-soil Party 1852; United States Senator 1855-1865; minister to Spain 1865-1869. In connection with the contents of this letter see Hart's Chase, 94ff.

SOURCE: Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 134-6

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