Showing posts with label Zachary Taylor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Zachary Taylor. Show all posts

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Diary of Private Daniel L. Ambrose: Tuesday, April 8, 1862

Oh! what a terrible scene does Shiloh's field present this morning. It is a scene of death; its victims lay everywhere. The blood of about thirteen thousand warriors has been shed here in the last two days. My God! what a sacrifice, what a flow of blood. But liberty has claimed it for an emancipated mind, and may it water well the great tree of universal freedom, and cause it to extend its branches fosteringly over a struggling people. In these two days of battle the Seventh sustained a heavy loss. The following are the casualties: 

Major R. Rowett, wounded. 

Company A. — Captain Samuel G. Ward, killed; private Alden Bates, killed. 

Company B. — Captain Hector Perrin, wounded; private Charles Newton, killed; Michael O'Keep, killed. 

Company C. — Sergeant George Mitchell, killed; Samuel Wilson, wounded. 

Company D. — Private Andrew McKinnon, killed. 

Company E. — Private Edmund Keve, wounded. 

Company F. — Killed; private Isaac Britton. Mortally Wounded ; privates John Jackson, Chas. P. Laing, John P. Hale. Wounded ; Wallace Partridge, John Dell, James Harrington, Hugh H. Porter, John Larkin, James Close. 

Company G. — Private John Gibland, killed; Captain Henry W. Allen, wounded ; private George Harris, wounded. 

Company H. — Lieutenant Leo Wash. Myres, killed ; private John H. Duff, killed ; private Ernst H. Myres, wounded; private Charles Ward, wounded; Sergeant Laban Wheeler, wounded; private James Walker, wounded; private Geo. W. Fletcher, wounded; private Carol Hurt, wounded; private Thomas Taylor, wounded; private Charlie Halbert; wounded; private Elam Mills, wounded. 

Company I. — Corporal Seth Hamilton, killed ; private John Bollyjack, killed ; private James Craven, killed; private James Lacy, killed; Sergeant Charles M. Fellows, wounded; private James Crowley, wounded; private John Johnson, wounded; private George Marsh, wounded; private Wm. S. Rogers ; wounded; private Michael Toner, wounded; private George Vesey, wounded; private George W. Byron, wounded; private Marcus McKinnis, wounded; private Daniel J. Baker, wounded. 

Company K. — Private John Nixon, killed; private Charles P. Huffman, wounded; private Jacob Howe, wounded ; Sergeant J. B. Sanders, wounded ; Sergeant Wm. C. Gillson, wounded; private John M. Anderson, wounded; private Thos. J. R. Grant, wounded; private Green B. Johnson, wounded; private George Reiner, wounded; private Joseph White, wounded. Total killed, 14; total wonnded, 43; sum total of casualities, 57. 

Glorious record! Proud names! Yes, proud as any that will ever embellish our national escutcheon. Departed souls, as courageous as history can boast of. From Shiloh's dark wilderness, no nobler, no braver spirit took its flight into the skies than the spirit of Captain Ward, of Company A. He fell mortally wounded in the fiercest of the battle Sunday evening, while at the head of his company, cheering his men on to deeds of valor. Some of his company stop to carry him from the field; but while glory is beaming in the dying warrior's eye, he says to his gallant men: “There goes the flag; it will need all its noble defenders to hold it up in the terrible battle that is raging so fiercely. Boys, it is trembling now! Lay me down to die; leave me and follow the old Seventh's silken folds, and tell the boys of Company A, that ere the sun's light is hid from this field, their Captain will be no more; that I will be silently sleeping in death. Tell them to remember Captain Ward, and keep the old flag in the wind.” 

Fainting he falls; his features lose their glow; his eyes are closed forever to the light. Alone, he died—died in his glory. Noble sacrifices may be offered in this war for the Union, but no nobler sacrifice, no grander type of a man, of a soldier, will ever be offered than has been offered in Captain Samuel G. Ward, of Company A. Captain Ward was among the first to hearken to the first call of the President in April, 1861. From a private in Company A, he was promoted by Colonel Cook to Sergeant Major of the regiment. At the end of the three months' service, Sergeant Major Ward was unanimously chosen Captain of Company A, in which position he served faithfully until liberty claimed him as a sacrifice on Shiloh's field, April 6th, 1862. Every one saw in him the elements of a rising officer; a star that was already shining, the light of which would have been seen afar had not the wild tempest blown it out so early. Though he passed away in youth's hopeful morning, ere his aspirations were reached, immortality's royal messenger will take up his name, and while soft winds chant a requiem around his grave, will say of him: “Here sleeps Captain Ward, whom liberty claimed in its great struggle on Shiloh's plain. He lived, he died, for country, home, and flag.” 

Lieutenant Leo Washington Myres, of Company H, died as the warriors die-nobly. He stood manfully while the bolts of war around him rattled, but he is a silent sleeper now. Amid shooting flames and curling smoke, he bravely sacrificed his life—sacrificed it as one of the martyrs of freedom. Being among the first to rush to the standard when arch treason first lifted its mad head, he was elected Second Lieutenant of Company H, and at the end of the three months' service, he was unanimously chosen First Lieutenant, in which capacity he valiantly served until his life was sealed at Shiloh, April 6th, 1862. 

In the wild storm that swept over that field, no truer patriot soldier was borne down than Lieutenant Myres. As a lover of liberty he followed the flag southward and stood beneath its folds where the gulf winds blew across the plains of Mexico. With Taylor and Scott, he fought for it there. With Wallace he died for it down by the Tennesssee. Oh ! how can it be that stars that gave such brilliant light should go out so soon. The providences of God are indeed mysterious. 

But all died in their glory. Sergeant Mitchell, company C, Corporal Seth Hamilton, company I, privates Alden Bates, company A, John H. Duff, company H, Charles Newton, Company B, Andrew McKennon, company D, Isaac Britton, company F, John Gibland, company G, Corporal J. Nixon, company K, and many others, died crowned with laurels as bright as the midnight stars. Though they carried the musket, we will ascribe no less praise to them, for heroes they proved themselves to be. From Thermopylæ to Shiloh, the world has never produced grander types of gallantry than has been produced in these private soldiers, who fell on this battle-field. Of all the fallen of the Seventh who went down in Shiloh's two days of battle, I can only say of them as Mark Anthony said of Julias Cæsar, “Their lives were grand; the elements so mixed in them that all the world might stand up and say, they were men; they were heroes; they were soldiers.” 

While on the battle-field, Sergeant S. F. Flint, Company I, writes: 

Soft fall the dews of midnight and morning, 
O’er the green hills where slumber the brave, 
Fall on each nameless and desolate grave; 
And soft be the song of the slow flowing river, 
As it pours by the shores they have hallowed forever. 

In peace and off duty the soldier is sleeping, 
No more will he wake at the shrill reveille, 
As it rings through the vales of the old Tennessee; 
But the wail of the wind, and the roll of the river, 
As it thrills o'er the hills his requiem forever, 

Oh! the homes in their own northern prairies and valleys, 
More lonely and dark than those desolate graves, 
O! the wailings that answer the winds and the waves ; 
O! the tears that will flow like the fall of the river, 
As it swells through the dells where they slumber forever. 

But lift up the old flag they died in defending, 
And swear by each nameless but glorious grave, 
That hallowed with triumph its free folds shall wave 
O'er the hills and the vales and the bright flowing river, 
O'er the whole lovely land of our fathers forever. 

We will now pass to yonder hospital steamer. The Seventh's wounded lay here; among the noble company lies the gallant Captain Hector Perrin, wounded badly in the thigh. Though a son of France, he loved freedom, and being one from the school of La Fayette, he fought bravely on Shiloh's field. Among this company we find heroes, all of whom have shown and yet show that they have in them the element of steel. Patiently and silently they endure their suffering. Who ever witnessed such fortitude ? The world will fail in its annals of blood to exhibit grander types. Some have lost a leg, others have frightful wounds in the face; but these are their patents of nobility. Dr. Hamilton, our popular Assistant Surgeon, as ever, has a care for the unfortunate ones. He is now, with his usual promptness, preparing to send them north. Some of them will never return again; but may a grateful people open wide to them their generous hearts, and leave them not to drift through the world in storm. Returning we mingle with the living. Of the noble survivors we can only say of them, they did well; they played their part as nobly as the most gallant warriors have ever done on any battle-field. In these two days of battle Major Rowett, who is now in his tent slightly wounded, but prostrated upon his cot, worn out by excessive toil, proved himself worthy the leadership of brave men. Where danger most threatened, there he was always found. None moved amid the carnage with a more dashing force. Full of fire and life, with a reckless contempt for danger, he stemmed the wild storm. He was wounded twice and had his horse shot but nothing could check him. At the head of his regiment he was always found, and it is conceded by those who knew, that no regimental commander handled his command on Shiloh's field better than Major Rowett handled the Seventh, At no time was the regiment driven into confusion, though many times its line was broken, but each time was reformed promptly, and be it said to the credit of the regiment, not a prisoner was taken in consequence of straggling. Captain Monroe, acting Major, has won the encomiums of all. Fight and battle seem to be his element. He carries with him triumph and glory. Enthusiastic as are all the brave, his voice was ever heard cheering the men and telling them never to let the flag go down. Captains Lawyer, Hunter, Estabrook, Church, Lieutenants Ring, Smith, Roberts, Ellis, Sullivan, Sweeny and Ahern were ever foremost in the battle and ever found encouraging their men, bidding them to stand firm for the flag and freedom. The color bearer, Sergeant Coles Barney, of company H, won for himself the admiration of his officers and comrades, for the gallant manner in which he bore his banner through the wild tempest. 

But all were brave, and all fought valiantly. They marched in blood, and threw themselves against arch treason until the Union's proud banner waved upon a triumphant field. At times it was fearfully dark, and the flag seemed to droop, but our noble men stood around it, and while blood was ebbing, they formed a defense of steel backed by hearts that never faltered. And thus defended, their flag, the pride of the mighty millions, shed glorious light around the noble men of the Seventh. 

Large parties are now at work burying the dead of both armies. Shiloh will be one vast grave-yard, but it will be destitute of marble slabs. Hundreds of Union soldiers will sleep here, and in the years to come, the patriot pilgrims will tread the earth above them, and know not that beneath sleeps Shiloh's martyrs. But should they chance to see some graves that are arched, so that they can be recognized as the graves of the lone soldiers, they will not know whether the sleepers fought for or against the old flag, and the friends of the loved and lost will not know upon which graves to throw their flowers or drop their tears, 

SOURCES: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 57-65

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Beautiful Scene In Washington, May 2, 1850

Correspondence of the Baltimore Patriot.

WASHINGTON, May 2, 1850

Last night was a glorious night for the lovers of the Union, and hundreds upon hundreds of the ‘lads of the clan’ were congregated together at the hospitable mansion of the Secretary of the Interior, on the occasion of the marriage of his daughter, Ellen B. Ewing to William T. Sherman, of the U. S. Army.  The bride and groom of course were the centre of attraction, and considering their youthfulness, and surrounded by such a numerous assembly of the magnates of the land they acted their parts with ease, simplicity and elegance.  Of the groom, I can only say, having no acquaintance, that fame speaks in the highest terms of him as a young gentleman of high toned honor and spotless integrity.  Of the Metropolitan favorite, the lady-like Ellen, I can speak by the card, and inform you that every quality that constitutes a charming woman, there is not on this broad land her superior.  Affection, pride, show, parade, are all strangers to her, and any one, rich or poor, having an unblemished reputation, is always considered by her, good society.—Her father appears to have taken uncommon pains in her education and in giving a proper direction to every act and thought.

If I wanted to adduce other evidence than that known to the world of the honesty and sterling integrity of Thomas Ewing, aye, even before the Richardson Committee, I would just point them to his daughter, brought up under his own eye as a voucher.  She strongly resembles the Secretary in mind and judgment, but is greatly ahead of him in making friends among the democracy.

The rooms above and below were crowded with ‘belles, and matrons, maids and madams.’  The President was there.  The Vice President was there.  The Cabinet were there.  Judges of the Supreme Court were there.  Senators and members were there.  Sir Henry L. Bulwer, lady and suite, with many of the Diplomatique corps, were there.  Citizens and strangers were there, and

Taylor, Clay, Cass, Benton and others,
Moved along like loving brothers.

The Bride’s cake was a ne plus ultra.—The popping of the champaigne was like the peals of artillery at Buena Vista: and the feast was all the art of Ude could make it, while Mr. and Mrs. Ewing and every member of the family made it [feel] as if they were really at home.

SOURCE:  The Lancaster Gazette, Lancaster, Ohio, Friday Morning, May 10, 1850, p. 2

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

John Forsyth Jr.* to Howell Cobb, November 10, 1848

Columbus, Geo., Nov. 10th, 1848.

Dear Sir: The disastrous defeat which the Democracy has just suffered makes it necessary for me to attempt to carry out a wish I have long cherished. It is to pursue my editorial profession in a field of wider influence and greater profit than can be attained in this nook of country. My preference is for Washington, the focus of political intelligence and influence, and my desire is to be connected with the organ of the Democracy in that city.

It has occurred to me that the egress of Mr. Hein from the Union office, or perhaps the declining years of the father of the press, Mr. Ritchie himself, might afford the opening I desire. Personally unacquainted with Mr. Ritchie and knowing that your relations with him are near if not intimate and confidential, I have taken the liberty of addressing you this letter to enquire, first if you can now give me the information I desire; or second if you cannot, to request you if you think proper, to make the necessary enquiries for me and pave the way for a correspondence with Washington on the subject.

Two years ago in Mexico my friend Col. H. R. Jackson and myself indulged ourselves in some dreamy plans and speculations of some joint and future arrangement of this sort. If your reply should lead me to hope that my hopes can be compassed I propose to invite him to embark with me in the undertaking.

A flood of terrible political news has been pouring in upon [us] with lightning speed since the great battle day. We are beaten at all points and have truly “lost all but our honor.” My presages for the future looking to the country (not to party) are gloomy enough. I foresee that the South has to submit to the degradation by exclusion from a joint domain, or push resistance to the verge if not over the verge of revolution of the Government.

The Whigs in our streets are even now preparing excuses for Gen. Taylor, in the event that he “holds his hand” when “the Proviso” is presented to him. The party will uphold him in it.

But enough of politics. We have both “supped full” of it, this week and you are ready to exclaim, Parce, puer, jam satis!

* A Democratic newspaper editor at Columbus, Ga.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 136

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Howell Cobb to A Committee of Citizens in Charleston, S. C.,* November 4, 1848

Athens [ga.], November [4?], 1848.

Gentlemen: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your circular, accompanied by the proceedings of the “Democratic Taylor Party” of Charleston on the first instant.

Flattered with this evidence of your confidence I cannot hesitate to express to you the feelings which the reception of your communication under the circumstances by which we are now surrounded has excited.

My attention having been called in your circular to the proceedings of your meeting, I have been induced to give it a somewhat critical examination. Whilst I find in that paper much to admire and approve, I must express my unfeigned regret that the able pen which claims its authorship has failed to trace the history of the interesting question which it discusses in many aspects in which it is our interest as well as our duty to consider it.

No truth is more plainly written in the political history of our country than the one which teaches us of the continued inroads which northern fanaticism has unceasingly attempted upon our peculiar institutions. Forgetful of the active and profitable part which their fathers took in the measures which led to the permanent establishment of domestic slavery in the South, a portion of the northern people have waged a relentless warfare upon our rights, interests and feelings. It has been conducted with an energy that never tires and marked with an enthusiasm that fanaticism alone can enkindle. However insignificant its first beginnings may have been, I agree with you in the opinion you have expressed that it has now reached a point which challenges our attention and demands our most serious consideration. That we may read in the history of the last few months the fact that there exists on the part of a large portion of the northern people a settled purpose to deny to us our constitutional right to an equal participation in the Mexican territory so recently purchased with our joint blood and treasure, no one will pretend to call in question. This determination so recently sealed with the most solemn testimonial known to our constitution and laws puts at rest all doubt and cavilling upon this point. The extent to which it may cause itself to be felt in the legislative department of the government only remains to be seen.

In now setting upon the proper policy to be pursued by the South for the further maintenance of her just and constitutional rights we must institute a more scrutinizing inquiry into the political associations by which we are surrounded than seems to have occupied the attention of those who prepared the preamble and resolutions adopted at your meeting. I do not flatter myself that I shall be enabled to furnish you with any new facts upon a subject which has so properly claimed your serious attention, but I cannot refrain from a brief reference to some which you have omitted in this connection and which according to my apprehensions deserve to be most deliberately considered.

The course which the two political parties of the North have pursued towards the South is widely different, and it becomes us as well in reference to the duty we owe to ourselves as to others to mark that difference. It may save us from a false step in an important and delicate duty, and in any contingency can be productive of no harm. I will not stop now to trace the history of the abolition question in the halls of Congress as connected with the reception of abolition petitions, nor can it be necessary to remind you, Gentlemen, that during that eventful struggle the records of Congress will be searched in vain for the vote of a single Northern Whig given in favor of the exclusion of these petitions; and yet they were excluded for years by the almost united votes of Southern representatives with the aid of Northern democratic votes. Would it not therefore be unjust to adopt the language so often used by Southern men that all the north of both parties are equally untrue and unsound upon the slavery question?

But we approach a practical test and one which bears upon the point of our investigation. The North threatens to exclude us from the newly acquired territories of New Mexico and California by the enforcement of the Wilmot proviso. How stand the parties at the North upon this issue? Whilst a sufficient number of the Northern democrats both in the Senate and the House of Representatives have been found who in addition to the united Southern vote would defeat this measure so justly odious to us and thereby save the South from this gross aggression upon her rights, not a single Northern Whig in either branch of Congress has yet been produced who was willing to cast his vote in opposition to this measure of wrong and injustice. Does this fact speak no language of interest to the South? Was there nothing in it to command your consideration or awaken your sense of gratitude towards one portion of our Northern brethren whilst you complain with so much justice and propriety of the daring outrage sought to be done us by the other? Are friends and foes to be treated alike with indifference and scorn? Do we regard with the same feelings and emotions the men who have invoked all the powers of the General Government for our oppression and those who have with us declared that our peculiar institutions, whether in the states or territories, cannot be reached by any legislative act of the United States government?

For myself I have been disposed to regard with feelings of a vastly different character these two classes of Northern men. Taught by my experience and observation to look to the northern democracy whenever I sought for the friends of the South upon this important question beyond our own limits, I have watched their movements with an anxious interest and have as yet seen no cause to regret the confidence which I have been disposed to place in their professions of regard for our constitutional rights. When they consented and indeed urged the nomination of a distinguished citizen for the Presidency who had openly avowed his opposition to the Wilmot proviso I had indulged the hope that . . .

* From an incomplete draft in the handwriting of Howell Cobb among the Erwin papers.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 133-5

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Thomas D. Harris* to Howell, Cobb, October 29, 1848

Washington [D. C.], Oct. 29th, 1848.

Dear Col., I thank you for the several letters which you have been kind enough to write me in reference to the prospect in Georgia. I hope the 7th of November may find her on the side of democracy and the country. I should have no doubt of it were it not for the military glory of old Taylor which I somewhat fear may dazzle a sufficient number of soft customers to carry the day.
If we are to lose the State of Pennsylvania it will simply be because we have not democrats enough in the State to prevent it. I think I may safely say that I now know our friends are at work in good earnest in the good old commonwealth. The defaulting Democrats at the last election, with all others who are lukewarm, are being visited by Committees appointed for that purpose to the end that all may be brought to the polls. The idea is an admirable one and if properly executed must tell powerfully in our favor.

In reference to Wilmot's dist. and other infected portions of the state, I had hoped to be specially advised before this time. Perhaps I may receive a letter tomorrow or next day. If so I will send it to you. In the meantime you would doubtless like to have such information as we have from that dist. Birdsall and Dickinson are both at this time in that part of the state, the first of whom as I understand has written to Washington that Wilmot makes no active opposition to Cass, and that if he does anything against him it is done very quietly. He thinks he will permit his people to vote as they please, and expresses the opinion that the dist. will give an increased majority in November on Longstreth. I do not know Mr. B., but learn that he is quite a politician and a shrewd calculator.

It is said moreover that Judge Thompson writes from the Erie district that Cass will carry the State by 10,000. Job Mann writes that we shall carry the state if we are active, and adds that we are active.

In short, sir, every democrat hereabouts feels and believes that the State will be ours as sure as the 7th of November rolls around and if it goes against us all be wretchedly disappointed a second time.

I wrote to Holden the other day, of N. C. Standard, to know the prospects in the old North State, and reed. in reply a most unexpectedly encouraging letter. He says the free-soil movement there will greatly distract the Whig party, which taken in connexion with the great activity of the democratic party affords a well grounded hope for carrying the State for Cass and Butler.

In reference to Ohio, it is generally conceded that Cass must carry it against any and all combinations.

N. Jersey we hope and believe will go with us. At all events the Whigs there are dreadfully scared and the democrats are in fine spirits.

Tennessee it is said is sure for Cass and Butler. I know this is the opinion of old Cave Johnson and I hear also that the President thinks with him.

Louisiana, — La Sere writes Wm. I. Brown very recently that Cass and Butler will carry that state without any sort of difficulty. He speaks of it as not at all doubtful. So you see we hear comfortable news on all sides. I pray the result may not show that our friends were to sanguine. In reference to myself, I think I should be entirely confident if I could be quite sure the people wouldn't turn fools on account of old Leatherhead's military fame.

* A member of the clerical staff of the United States House of Representatives, a devoted friend of Howell Cobb.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 132-3

Sunday, August 25, 2019

George S. Houston to Howell, Cobb, October 23, 1848

Athens, [ala.,] 23d Octr., 1848.

My Dear Sir: What the diel have you been about? Why have you let the Whigs gain so in Geo.? We have many accounts here as to the vote of Geo. The one now most relied upon is that we have a majority of 264 in the popular vote, and that “aint much no how? But to be serious, I am uneasy now for the first time. The news here is that we have Geo. by 264 votes, the Whigs have Penna., by near 5,000, and Florida by something, leaving Ohio doubtful in this election. Well, I think we will get Ohio and probably your State. What do you think of it yourself? I suppose the difficulty between Judge Cone and Stephens injured us some votes, probably a good many. Not that I think Cone was in fault, for I don't know who is in fault; but for the reason that Cone is a large man and Stephens a weakly man, and Cone used a knife. I may be wrong, but these are my own suppositions, so I count upon the votes of Geo. Florida I never claimed. I am greatly at a loss to account for the vote of Penna. Our friends there assured me in the strongest terms that we were certain of Penna., and continued to do so up to within a few days of the election. I hope we have yet carried our Governor, but I judge not. I yet claim the state for Cass and B., and without it we will find it very difficult indeed to elect our men. I have always set Geo. down as doubtful; and with Penna., I gave C. and Butler 153 votes, seven over an election. Take off Penna. 26 and we have 127, lacking 19 of a majority. Geo. 10, (do you say so?) and then we must get 9 more, and one chance to do it is in Maryland, Del., N. J., Connt., Tennessee, La., and probably Florida. Give me your views fully. The Whigs here are in some spirits lately, and offering to bet. I could get bets here that Taylor will be elected. The Whigs will bet on Taylor. There is no excitement at all in Ala. Our majority in this state will be from 7,000 to 10,000, we Demos. think.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 131-2

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Congressman Robert Toombs to Governor John J. Crittenden. September 27, 1848

Washington, Ga., Sept. 27th, 1848.

Dear Sir: Upon reaching home two nights since after an absence of three weeks, I found your letter of the 2nd inst. It gave me real pleasure to find that you corroborated some of the good accounts I had received from the West, especially from Ohio. We are in the midst of a bitter fight among editors and candidates; but there is so little excitement among the people that one can hardly tell which way the current is moving. You have doubtless seen that Stephens was cut down by a cowardly assassin on the 3rd inst. He is yet unable to get out. His invaluable services have been thus far wholly lost in the campaign, which has thrown double duty on me. I have not been at home but four days since I arrived in Georgia. Stephens is getting well slowly — the muscles connecting the thumb and forefinger of his right hand were cut asunder and the wound extended down to the junction of the two. This is now his most serious wound, those on the body being nearly well and doing well. His phy[si]cians are still under some apprehension that he [will] have to lose the hand to escape lockjaw, tho' the chances of such a calamity are daily lessening, and I hope all may yet be well with him.

The Democrats here are fighting for existence, and fight with a determination I never before witnessed. They refrain from opposing Taylor in any way, but furiously denounce Fillmore all the time. We were turning the tide very well on to him until that infernal letter of 1838 to the abolitionists was dug up. That has fallen upon us like a wet blankett and has very much injured us in the State. It gave an excuse to all Democrats who wanted to go back to their party to abandon Taylor. Our election takes place next Monday for Members of Congress — I feel confident of our carrying five — I think the chances with us for six Members out of the eight. We shall carry the state I think certainly for Taylor, but by a hard, close vote. But it will be done. The Congressional election I think will show between 500 and 1000 votes in our favour which will settle the matter for Old Zach by between 2,000 and 4,000 votes. We can lose the popular vote on Members of Congress by 1,000 and carry the State, tho' that would make it a desperate conflict. The Clay men in the State will do nothing; some of them would be glad to lose it with the hope of breaking down Stephens and myself in the State. They will lessen my vote in my district some two or three hundred unless I can get them from the Democrats. I think I shall do so. Had not Mr. Clay put himself up there would not have been even a contest in Georgia, the friends of Clay being the only men here who ever dared to attack Taylor. But I will no longer fatigue you with speculations or facts on our State politics. You may set this state down safe and certain for Taylor, in my judgment.

Florida I still hear is safe, not much dispute about it I think. Alabama is in a perfect turmoil — we have gained more leading respectable Democrats in that State than in any other in the Union. They count pretty confidently on carrying their State and the Democrats greatly fear it. But after witnessing the power of party drill in Georgia, I must confess I have but small hope of overcoming their large majority in that State. I think Carolina will go for Cass. Calhoun, Burt and Woodard and Simpson profess neutrality!! What miserable creatures! I think the solution of all this is that Calhoun found all the upper part of the State strongly against him and was afraid to risk an avowal for Old Zach; but, thank God, the contest will make a party in the State. Charleston is with us by a large majority, and will return Holmes,1 who stands firm for Taylor. In many other districts there are warm contests going on, but the Mercury having been forced to come out for "the equivocating betrayer of Southern rights" I take to be pretty conclusive evidence of how the State will go. Calhoun stands off too, in order to make a Southern party "all his own" on slavery in the new Territories. Poor old dotard, to suppose he could get a party now on any terms!! Hereafter treachery itself will not trust him. I hear nothing from Mississippi — definite. Louisiana I think altogether safe. My accounts from Tennessee agree with yours, tho' our friends there will have a harder fight than they expected. Your election greatly disheartened me, — I knew if the Democracy could so thoroughly rally against you in Kentucky we should have rough work everywhere; and all the subsequent elections have strengthened that conviction. If we are safe in Ohio we shall elect Taylor, but if we lose Ohio I much fear the result.

I suppose after the New York flare up we shall have no more of the "Sage of Ashland." I think no man in the nation is now so heartily and justly despised by the Whig party in the Union as Mr. Clay, and I doubt not but that the feeling is heartily reciprocated by him. Upon the whole, tho' our prospects are not so good as I had hoped and expected, still I firmly believe we shall succeed in electing Genl. Taylor. Every day of my own time shall be given to that object until the sun goes down on the 7th Nov. If we succeed handsomely in Georgia next week it will greatly improve Taylor stock in the South, and I now believe we shall. I will write you next week. I shall be able to tell before you could learn thro' the newspapers and will write or telegraff you as soon as I have sufficient information to know all about it.

Mrs. Toombs and the girls are at home and very well. She complains a good deal at my absence but she is becoming herself warmly enlisted for “Old Zach.” She sends her best love to Mrs. Crittenden and yourself, and says her greatest interest in the success of Genl. Taylor arises from the hope that she may then again have the pleasure of meeting you all in Washington. Lou and Sally send love to both of you. My kindest regards to Mrs. C. Hoping I shall be able to send you cheering news next week.

P. S.—I find talking politics to two or three gentlemen and writing you a letter at the same time “a mixed up” business, as I fear you will find on reading it. Write me the first pieces of good news you hear.

1 As Member of Congress.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 127-9

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Alexander H. Stephens to John J. Crittenden,* September 26, 1848

Crawfordville, Ga., 26, Sep. 1848.

Dear Sir: I reached home a few days ago and found your kind letter, for which I felt truly obliged to you. You have doubtless heard of the occurrence1 which put me out of the canvass in this [state] for three weeks past and upwards. I am now recovering slowly. My right hand is still in bad condition and I fear I shall never be able to use it as formerly. I now can only scribble with my left hand — but enough of this. Our election for Congress comes off next Monday and trust we shall send you a good report. The Democrats however are making a most desperate fight. But I think you may rely on Georgia for Taylor. It is true I can't form so satisfactory an opinion as if I had been in the field for the last few weeks. But I know we were gaining fast when I was amongst them. The whole campaign since then has rested entirely upon the shoulders of Mr. Toombs, and I assure you he has done gallant service. The real Clay men here as elsewhere I believe are doing nothing for Taylor, while many of them are openly in opposition; but I think we shall triumph notwithstanding.

We were greatly rejoiced to hear of your great triumph in Kentucky. The Locos in Congress were making extravagant brags just before the election but I would not permit myself even to feel apprehension. Remember me kindly to Mrs. Crittenden. I cannot say more now and I fear that you cannot read what I have said.

* United States Senator from Kentucky, Attorney-General, etc.

1 Assault upon Stephens by F. H. Cone at Atlanta, Ga., Sept. 3, in which Stephens's right band was severely injured.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 127

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

George S. Houston* To Howell Cobb, September 23, 1848

Athens [ala.], 23d Septr., 1848.

My Dear Sir: I have not recd. a copy or no. of the Union since I left Washington altho I ordered it and have since written for it. I am therefore behind the news. In truth, we have so little political excitement here that we speakers are passing round to the Courts and have even quit speaking. They have so entirely given up Ala., that they make no fight, and of course we can't keep it up. I have not found one solitary democrat who is going to vote for Taylor. My information from Ohio, Michigan, Ill., Inda., Iowa, Wiscn., is that the “free soil” movement will injure the whigs more than it will us, and that we are certain of all of those States. N. York is gone — without hope. Maine and N. Hampshire are all of the New England states we need expect, tho R. M. McLane writes me that he thinks our chance decidedly the best for Maryland, N. Jersey and Delaware. How is Georgia about these times? . . . I notice that Cone used up Stephens. I fear that may injure us in yr. State. What say you? Will it do so? They are trying to make a martyr of Stephens. They tried to get up some feeling here, but we soon killed it off. I have only made a speech or two since I came home. Mrs. Houston's health is so bad I can't leave home, and I fear I will not be able to do so any at all before the election. What is your news from Florida and Louis[ian]a? Have you any? Have you any fear of Pennsylvania? Tennessee is very doubtful—no doubt of it. But I think it will vote for Taylor.

* Member of Congress from Alabama, 1841-1849, and 1851-1861.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 126

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Richard French* to Howell Cobb, September 10, 1848

Mount Sterling, Ky., Septr. 10th 1848.

Dear Sir: As Kentucky is to go for General Taylor in November next, I feel anxious to know what Georgia and the other Southern States, particularly South Carolina and Florida, will do. I think you can decide for Georgia, and give the reason for the hope that is in you for the others. In my quarter of the Union, Kentucky excepted, prospects for Cass and Butler are good.

The slave question in Ky. has taken deeper hold and awakens more concern than usual. Many I think regard the crisis as at the door — but I fear, notwithstanding, the Whigs have their hearts so zealously set upon availability, that even that question will not controul them. How does Mr. Stephens prosper under his motion and vote to lay the compromise Bill on the Table? Knowing Members of Congress abhor long letters, I withhold much that I might say. Congratulating you upon your safe return home and tendering to you my ardent desire for your return to Congress, I remain as ever.

* Member of Congress from Kentucky, 1835-1837, 1843-1845, and 1847-1849.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 126

Thursday, March 14, 2019

George Fries* to Howell Cobb, September 4, 1848

Hanoverton, Ohio, Sept. 4th '48.

My Dear Sir: When we parted at Washington I promised to write as soon as I had looked over the whole field in Ohio and scanned well our political prospects. I have been home two weeks and have spent near all that time in traveling over my district, and, in company with Col. Weller, over part of the Western Reserve. On my way home I passed through the Reserve from Cleveland, and then saw clearly that the Taylor party there was “among the things that were." Since then, Root, Giddings and Crowell have been renominated (I may be mistaken as to the latter) — all anti-Taylor men. Indeed all the strong Whigs on the Reserve are out against Taylor. Among democrats, in that section of the state, there is very little defection. I attended with Weller immense massmeetings last week at New Lisbon, Youngstown, Carrollton and Steubenville.

Youngstown is on the Reserve. I have never seen but one as large a meeting in my life. The best men of our party were there, and assured us that, whilst Van Burenism was eating out the vitals of Whiggery, it would take it as long to fatten on what it gets off democracy as it would have required those asses to have fattened that are said in the good old Book to have “snuffed up the East wind.” The truth is, the democracy in that quarter have been whipped long enough to stand up to anything.

In my district — where Tappan resides—we have some trouble, but much less than the Whigs. From present appearance I think Van Buren will take off five to ten Whigs to one democrat. So will it be in the whole southern, southwestern, N. W., and southeastern part of the state. Take it all in all then, I am happy to say that we are all as sanguine of success for Cass in this state as we are that the sun will rise and set. If you or your Southern friends have a doubt of Ohio, lay it aside. All's well, rest assured of that.

Of Weller's prospects let me say a word. If all the factions that have heretofore opposed us should unite on Ford, he will be elected. This I think they cannot do. So Weller thinks; and all appearances now indicate that Ford's prospects are daily declining. He has thus far not dared to define his position. Let him do that, either for Taylor or Van Buren, and his game is up. As he now stands both factions doubt him, and from both will there be a loss. The few Van Buren democrats will go Weller. So much for Ohio. How stands Georgia? Will you be sure to carry her for Cass? And what is the state of feeling and prospects of success in the whole South? I trust you will write as soon as possible and state to me what we may look for with certainty. There are some here who fear the South.

I had a glorious trip home. Mr. Turner and family were in company to Cleveland, both in good health and both speaking very frequently of you, your wife and sister in terms that showed clearly that they remembered you all with friendly and grateful hearts.

I hope you'll remember me to your sister, and say that I regretted very much not having had time to call before my departure, to bid her good-bye. I hope we shall see you all next winter.


* Member of Congress from Ohio, 1845-1849.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 124-5

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Thomas W. Thomas to Howell Cobb, July 7, 1848

Elberton, Ga., July 7th, 1848.

Dear Sir:  I wrote you by the last mail in relation to the inquiries contained in yours of the 20th June and promised to write again when I could procure better information. I saw here last Tuesday, Col. John D. Watkins from the neighborhood of Petersburg and had a conversation with him about the prospects of democracy in that quarter. He informs me it is true Speed has declared for Taylor and has been that way inclined for a year past. I learn also it is extremely doubtful that Speed voted for Polk, and the general impression is he voted with the Whigs in that contest. Watkins says he (Speed) can't influence a single other vote, and all the democrats there besides, are unanimous and enthusiastic for Cass. A little to my surprise I learned that Dr. Danelly and he both are, and have been all the time, out and out Cass men. At our celebration here on the 4th a Mr. Vinson Hubbard, heretofore considered a Democrat, offered a toast the substance of which was that Gen. Taylor might be elected and fill the office as Washington did.  This looks a little dangerous and I think it probable he will support Taylor, though we shall not cease until after the election in our efforts to reclaim him. He is a poor man and is living on land free of rent, belonging to a strong Whig, and this possibly explains the heresy. The toast he gave however hints at the only quarter whence we may expect danger in the present campaign. The fool-idea constantly harped upon by the Whig press, of having a second Washington in the chair of state, has turned some weak heads. It had begun to tell upon the public mind before the democratic press noticed the operation, and now we should work vigourously and direct our attack to this point. Our Editors are much to blame in this matter. They seemed to have a sort of reverence for Taylor, which was very ill-timed, and refused to lay hands upon him, even after he was nominated by the Whig convention of Georgia. What is once acquiesced in by a party, though but for a short time, is hard afterwards to be contested, and we are now reaping the fruits of having indulged in the weakness of admiring military prowess. As far as my humble efforts could go, I at an early day charged Taylor with being a Wilmot Proviso man. Notwithstanding he was already the candidate of the Whig party in Georgia, the Democratic press differed with me and took the trouble to write and publish articles to show that I was wrong, thereby defending a Whig candidate. In the Constitutionalist of July 21st, 1847 you will find the charge made by me, fully sustained by documents, and in the same paper a reply by the editor defending Taylor. I am glad to see they are getting back in the right track, and the only difficulty is they may not have time to undo all the mischief they have wrought. I throw out these views to you because you may do something to help these Democratic Taylor champions out of the fog. From a close observation of the prejudices and opinions of the people around me I am satisfied they are well grounded. Could not you send Vinson Hubbard (at Elberton) some document showing Taylor had at last succumbed and taken purely a party position, also one of the same sort to Jesse Dobbs?

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 114-5

Thursday, January 3, 2019

William C. Daniell to Howell Cobb, July 1, 1848

Hall County [ga.], 1st July, 1848.

My Dear Sir: I received yours addressed to me at Savannah last night. I have been so much at home since my arrival here — more than a month — that I could give you but little information of the way in which the nominations have been received, but for the arrival last night of my friend Dr. Bailey from Savannah. He has been traveling leisurely up, and taking a deep interest in the cause of Democracy, has made inquiry everywhere on his way. Moving in a private conveyance out of the great thoroughfares, he tells us of what may be deemed, to a considerable extent at least, the spontaneous movement of the people.

He authorizes me to say to you that having travelled over the same country just four years ago, he can say with much confidence that up to this time there is more unanimity and enthusiasm among the Democracy now than there was then, whilst the Whigs are lukewarm. Where there are malcontent Democrats they vote for Taylor. The malcontent Whigs are near two to one of the Democrats, and they will not vote at all. The only malcontent Democrats he heard of were in Hancock.

He thinks that King's1 Whig opponent will take off some 300 to 400 votes, which with the Democratic vote, should the Democrats run no candidate, which he deems the best policy, may elect Seward.2

But at present no one can see the issue that may be made in the coming presidential campaign. What is Van Buren doing? Do give me what light you can on his and Dodge's recent nominations at Utica. Is he no longer a “Northern man with Southern principles?”

If Taylor should, as I have supposed, repudiate the pledges of the Louisiana delegation in the Whig convention, what will the Whigs do? If the movement of the Barnburners should come to the head indicated by Van Buren's letter — of which I have only heard, but which assures me that he will accept a nomination of promise and that he deemed such a nomination (of promise) very probable when he wrote—where can we find the men to elect Cass or any other Democrat? If the hostility to Slavery has become so extended as to tempt Martin Van Buren to bow low and worship at its shrine for the highest office in the gift of the people, how long will it be before our own security will require that we withdraw from those who deem themselves contaminated by our touch? And how long before we shall deem those our best friends who would tell us that our only dependence is upon ourselves?

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 113-4

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Thomas Smith* to Howell Cobb, June 27, 1848

Versailles [indiana], June 27, ’48.

Dr. Sir: Knowing the tax imposed by business, ceremony, and a little real friendship, on Members of Congress, I have refrained writing to many friends that I really wished to. Under this state of feeling I would not write you or trouble you now if I did not think and fear that a momentous political crisis was about developing that is destined shortly to shake our political fabrick. In this Confederacy the Democratic party, long in the ascendant, has had to conciliate and compromise sectional interests and feelings. In this spirit the Slavery question has been put on the ground of non-interference on the part of the Genl. Govmnt. On that basis the democratic party has planted itself. If it can maintain that position, it is the only position that it can maintain in the free states, and is there a Southern man so blind as not see it and so uninformed as not to know it?

To drive us from this ground, the Whigs and abolitionists have agitated for the last 10 or 15 years. Their denunciation of the South, Southern dictation and Southern influence, has been fierce, and their appeals have been powerful and pathetic in favour of the poor negro. To meet these arguments and such invective has required all the talent and forbearance of the Democratic party. The Democratic free-state creed commends itself strongly to the sober sense of community, and those that attempt to overturn it can't but show the incendiary's torch and the assassin's knife— “in their fury the hope of the Union is lost”. The Democratic South in our conventions, in Congress, and at the ballot box has shown the same conciliatory spirit, — in making our last and former nominations they have been foremost in favor of free-state men. But in the nomination of the present Whig candidate it is manifest to all the people, and they can't but see the finger of the South in it, and the dictatorial and domineering spirit they have shown in forcing their man upon the Convention.

It has forced some fears upon the Democrats, as well as confusion and dismay into the Whig ranks, and utter disgust into the abolition breasts. The consequence of all will be to very much widen the breach between the free and slave states of the Union. In the late Whig convention the South showed neither quarter nor respect to the North. She gave not a vote for a Northern man. . . .

But the point to which I wish to call your attention is this: the fear amongst the democratic party is that the South may so far unite on the nominal Whig candidate as to give him all the South, in disregard of the friendly spirit the free states have always shown you. If this shall be the case I cannot doubt that much democratic sympathy will be lost you, and a falling off amongst your friends in these states, that time can never cure. Because it is so plain the nomination of Taylor is a Southern Whig trick, against the feelings of the Whig party, to catch up other than Whig votes in the South, and against the sense and sentiment of the nation, that union of effort of all parties will be made against the South before his term of office, if elected, shall expire. You know that North nothing but a free-state union of effort is wanting to disfranchise the South, so far as the Presidential office is concerned; and what so well calculated to produce that result as such palpable tricks as the South has just perpetrated in the nomination of a man without talent and the independence to speak out boldly his opinions and his party fealty.

In taking such a man at such a time it must be there is something impure in it. Something behind the curtain. But it will out. If the old General shall ever be called by the people unanimously or spontaneously to the Presidency, he will find the need of opinions and fixed principles. His administration, or that of any man, must proceed upon fixed principles, and the better they are matured the better he will bear up under the responsibilities of the office.

You are aware that every Whig in Congress and out of it in all the free States in the Union by their votes, speeches and action in the primary assemblies, amongst the people, and many of the democrats, are committed to the principles of the Wilmot Proviso, and if Taylor is elected, unless they back out from their present position, which they dare not do, it will be engrafted upon the legislation of the next four years. In this great contest the South brings their General into the field unarmed. His anxiety to lead the motley forces of federalism compels him to put on the no-party badge, and to command without a sword or the armor the Constitution has put upon him for his own protection and that of the States. Mr. Jefferson says: the President's negative was given him for his own protection, the protection of the States and the judiciary, against the aggressions of Congress. But I presume as he has voluntarily divested himself of the protection the Constitution in [vested] him with, to get office, he expects to put it on in the heat and smoke of the battle. Let him not think so. If he does it, he will be shot down by his own forces and confederates; and if Tyler was denounced a traitor, he will be justly denounced an arch traitor. It is distinctly understood he will veto none of the people's measures.

Of the success of the Democratic Ticket, Cass and Butler, in this region there is no room to doubt. I have never seen in favor of any democratic ticket so ardent a spirit manifested by the party. I think in this county there is not a dissenting voice. Indiana may be set down for Cass and Butler by a large majority over all opposition. Even should Hale run, and Mr. Van Buren lead the Barnburners, we can beat them all.

I wish to know from you, my dear sir, what Georgia will do in the premises.

I have bored you with a very prosing long letter.

Our very best respects to your Lady and friends.

* Congressman from Indiana, 1839-1841 and 1843-1847.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 111-3

Monday, December 17, 2018

William Coffee Daniell* to Howell Cobb, June 20, 1848

Near Gainesville [ga.], 20th June, 1848.

My Dear Sir: If the Report of Fremont's last exploration has been printed and you have a spare copy you will oblige me by sending it to me. I would not ask this of you if I knew where to purchase a copy.

I fear that the Whigs have by the nomination of Taylor imposed the duties of a laborious and arduous campaign upon the Democratic leaders in this state. I was taken sick the day I reached Savannah from my plantation. I have only recently recovered my strength since my arrival here. I can therefore say but little of the manner in which Cass's nomination has been received, but as far as I have heard there is every disposition among our friends to yield him their support. It would not by any means be safe to count on his getting the vote of this State, though I hope he may. Woodbury would have been a stronger man with us here, but I suppose that Cass has been chosen because he was deemed the strongest in the country.

I see Old Bullion1 is out in a new part, and seems to be quite pleased to play the second fiddle. How are the mighty fallen. No one has asked him to be and no paper has (I believe) spoken of him as a candidate for the Presidency this time, and it is quite manifest I think that he does not mean to be forgotten and consequently overlooked. He is in a worse box than my friend (Calhoun) whom he denominated to Crittenden (so said Toombs who was present) as the “Nigger King.”

* A substantial planter whose summer home lay in Cobb's congressional district.
1 Thomas H. Benton.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 109-10

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

James C. Dobbin* to Howell Cobb, June 15, 1848

Fayetteville [N. C], June 15th, 1848.

My Dear Sir: Your esteemed favour in reply to my first communication was duly received, and its perusal gave me no little pleasure, awakening, as it did, pleasing recollections of incidents during my brief political career in Washington.

I think, my dear sir, I am not deceived in inferring from the spirit and tenor of your letter that an occasional correspondence will not be unacceptable, and will serve but to keep alive that kindly attachment which I trust neither time nor separation will extinguish. Still, plunged as I have been for many months in the laborious practice of the law, I cannot but occasionally abandon the courthouse and stroll into the avenue of politics. They have rather forced me to consent to become a candidate for our Legislature. I have no opposition, and of course will have a quiet time, and a little dish of Legislative politics may not be disagreeable. Well, the agony is over and Cass and Butler are nominated, and Taylor and Fillmore; and although it has produced some sensation, the tickets seem to have been anticipated by the popular mind. We have had a large Democratic meeting here and responded very zealously to the nomination of Cass and Butler. Judge Strange and myself addressed them. The meeting was large, enthusiastic, and everything passed off well.

I struggled hard to prove Cass orthodox on the slavery question, and I would not have done [so] had I suspected him. And his letter to Nicholson is certainly liberal and magnanimous for a Northern man. I was provoked at Yancey's conduct in the convention. The introduction of his resolution1 was unnecessary. The resolution reported by the committee was comprehensive. There was no evidence that Cass had wrong views, and the adoption of Yancey's resolution squinted very much towards a suspicion of Cass and looked too much like pressing nice, hair-spliting distinctions on the subject upon our Northern democratic friends, whose liberality should be appreciated but not abused. My own notion is that the Territorial Legislature while legislating as such and for the Territory and for territorial purposes has no right to pass a law to prohibit slavery. Because if we adopt that doctrine we at once practically exclude the slaveholder forever. The Territory acquired is filled at the time of acquisition with non-slaveholders. The Legislature meets and a law excluding slavery is enacted. This will exclude the slaveholder, for he can't get there to repeal the law. I regard the Territory as the common property of the States. And the people of each State have a right to enjoy it with or without their peculiar property. But when the people are meeting to pass a fundamental law, to adopt a Constitution and to ask admission into the Union as a State, then the prohibition or establishment of slavery becomes a subject for legitimate action. It will not do for us to admit that the first Legislature in New Mexico can pass a law immediately and exclude every slaveholder from the territory — if we do, are we not admitting that it is not the property of each and all the States? But I do not think Cass has publicly — certainly not in his Nicholson letter — expressed any opinion contravening my position. He says “leave to the people affected by the question” its regulation. He does not say that he thinks the Territorial Legislature can prohibit it. I hope he will not say so. Because it may never in all probability become a practical question on which he as President could act. Yet the expression of such an opinion would prejudice him in the South with many, very many.

But enough of this. When you write me give me your views. I can not express to you my feelings about the Whigs' nomination. If they succeed, my confidence in popular virtue and intelligence will be a little shaken. I know much virtue and much intelligence will vote the ticket. I regard it as evidence that the Whigs are afraid of their principles. They know the people are against them. They put up “Old Zac” and surround him with a blaze of military glory, and just behind him is Fillmore lurking, holding ready to fasten upon the country all the odious and rejected measures of the Whig Party. Can they succeed? What do our friends think of it? I was pleased to see that yourself and distingue were on the tour, lionizing. That is right. I have given up South Carolina and am afraid of Georgia and Louisiana. Massachusetts will bolt. Ohio will vote for Cass, so likewise Pennsylvania. But for those miserable Barnburners, New York would be all right. The South will have a hard fight. The slavery question and “Old Zac” being a slaveholder may for a moment shake some of the faithful — but I have faith in our Principles and in Providence.

I can't say much to please you about North Carolina. Reid is doing his best. I don't think he will succeed, although he has sprung up a suffrage question which is taking well. I do think we will carry the legislature. There is a strong probability of it.

But enough of politics. Tell Stephens I heartily appreciate his remembering me so kindly and assure him that the feeling is cordially reciprocated. I like Stephens. With all his bad politics he is a generous hearted fellow and of brilliant genius.

By the by, lest I forget it, in confidence, a friend of mine wishes to go abroad. Do you know of a vacancy — Naples, Rome, Belgium, etc., etc. Remember this when you write . . .

* Member of Congress from North Carolina, 1845-1847.

1 Proclaiming the doctrine of congressional non-intervention with slavery in the Territories. See footnote 1, p. Ill, infra.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 107-9

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Thomas R. R. Cobb to Howell Cobb, May 31st, 1848

Athens [ga.], May 31st, 1848.

Dear Brother, I return you the order which I negligently omitted to endorse.

We have the nominations. I am “reconciled,” not very much “delighted.” I am not a great admirer of Cass, although I think it a generous act on the part of Northern Democrats to nominate both anti-Wilmot Proviso men. I think a more judicious ticket could have been selected. Michigan and Kentucky are too close together to have both candidates. I don't see what strength Butler carried to Cass that any Southern man would not have carried, and more especially Quitman. And on the score of military glory, Scott or Taylor if nominated will overshadow that of either. King of Alabama would have been a much more judicious nomination, although I would vote for no man sooner than Gen. Butler. These are my first impressions. Every county in the district will be represented in the approaching Convention. You will be unanimously nominated, from all I can learn. There will be some difference of opinion as to the Elector. Most of the delegates are for Genl. Wofford if he wants it. McMillan, I think, is rather working to get it, and has friends in Elbert, Madison and Jackson. Hillyer is talked of also, and I would not be surprised if Griffin is looking at it . . .

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 106-7

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Thomas W. Thomas* to Howell Cobb., May 27, 1848

Elberton [ga.], May 27th, 1848.

Dear Sir: Inclosed herewith I send a petition praying Congress to establish a line of stages from the village of Anderson to connect with the Georgia Rail Road, via Elberton. We will be much obliged if you will give yourself the trouble to present it and see that it is acted on and either granted or refused. The impression prevails very generally that such things are always treated with contempt and suffered to die in silence, and I would beg leave to suggest that you take such action in the matter as will be seen in the usual newspaper reports of the proceedings in Congress. Such a course will at least be good policy in this — the people here will see you have done your duty. Petitions for the same purpose as the one inclosed will probably be forwarded by the people of Oglethorpe and Anderson district, but whether these go or not we wish you to act on ours. We stand greatly in need of mail facilities, and if our rights are withheld much longer, I believe the people will secede and form an independent republic bounded by Broad River and Savannah. Such a movement is not only justified by the declaration of independence, but will be in accordance with the spirit of the age. Of the 330 signers a larger proportion than one-tenth sign by “his mark”, — a lamentable but overwhelming proof of the necessity of the light of letters. . . .

Among the names I sent you in the neighborhood of Broad River P. O. was one Henry Stephens. He lately got a speech from you on the Mexican War. He says the Whigs have been lying on Polk about originating the war. He says this speech has Gen. Taylor's letter in it, and it was Taylor “that sent them troops from one river to tother.” We are all curious to know who has been nominated, though we have no anxiety about the result. We have a perfect confidence the Baltimore Convention will give us a man sound on Southern rights. I have not heard a single man express himself for any favorite, though all expect if Polk is not renominated the candidate will be a northern man. Every day serves to strengthen the conviction that we can beat Gen. Taylor as easily as Clay. I can count at least a half dozen Whigs who have pledged themselves not to vote for Taylor on any conditions. I send below a short list of democrats whom I expect you have not got.

* A lawyer and editor of Elberton, Ga.; judge of the superior court of Georgia (northern circuit), 1855-1859; colonel of the Fifteenth Regiment of Georgia infantry in the Confederate army, 1861-1862.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 105-6

Monday, November 5, 2018

Robert Toombs to James Thomas, April 16, 1848

Washington, D. C. Apr. 16, 1848.

Dear Thomas, I received your letter of the 9th inst. today and I am very glad to hear you are improving. You did not state to what point in Kentucky you expected to direct your steps. I have an extensive acquaintance with the public men of Kentucky and could give or furnish you letters to almost any point, and if you know where you will probably remain longest and will write me I will procure such letters as would no doubt greatly increase the comfort and pleasure of your trip. I could send them to any point you might designate, if you are about leaving. Mr. Crittenden, my particular friend and messmate, will leave here for Kentucky about the first of June on a gubernatorial canvass in Kentucky. I will commend you to him especially, and I hope you may fall in with him somewhere in the state, if not at Frankfort, his residence. I will send by this mail or the next some letters for Louisville where I suppose you will most likely land in Kentucky. I hope you will find it convenient to call by Washington. There is much to see here to interest an intelligent stranger; men, if not things.

Clay has behaved very badly this winter. His ambition is as fierce as at any time of his life, and he is determined to rule or ruin the party. He has only power enough to ruin it. Rule it he never can again. In February while at Washington he ascertained that the Kentucky convention would nominate Taylor. He procured letters to [McMillen ?] that he would decline when he went home, and the Taylor men from Kentucky under this assurance wrote home to their friends not to push him off the track by nominating Taylor. Mr. Clay never intended to comply, but without now having the boldness to deny it he meanly hints at having changed his determination. Bah! He now can deceive nobody here. The truth is he has sold himself body and soul to the Northern Anti-slavery Whigs, and as little as they now think it, his friends in Georgia will find themselves embarrassed before the campaign is half over. I find myself a good deal denounced in my district for avowing my determination not to vote for him. It gives me not the least concern. I shall never be traitor enough to the true interests of my constituents to gratify them in this respect. I would rather offend than betray them. Mr. Botts of the House and Mr. Berrien of the Senate and Mr. Buckner of Kentucky are the only three men from the slave states who prefer Mr. Clay for our candidate, and there are not ten Southern representatives who would not support Genl. Taylor against him if he were nominated. The real truth is Clay was put up and pushed by Corwin and McLean, Greeley & Co. to break down Taylor in the South. Having made that use of him they will toss him overboard at the convention without decent burial. It is more than probable that a third candidate may be brought forward, and Scott stands a good chance to be the man. For my part I am a Taylor man without a second choice.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 103-4

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Henry L. Benning* to Howell Cobb, February 23, 1848

Columbus [ga.], 23d Feby., 1848.

Dear Howell, You ask me to write you soon and fully my views of Cass's letter and Dickinson's resolution. I have had so much to do lately that I could not attempt an answer until now, although your letter of the 3d inst., has been on hand for a fortnight. What you require of me involves, I think, my opinion as to the course which ought to be pursued by the democatic party to secure the next Presidency. On a question of such magnitude I am not prepared to speak with confidence; and yet upon your invitation . . . I will venture a suggestion or two.

First then, I do not object to Mr. Dickinson's resolutions. Still I must say that they are not precisely the thing according to my notion of what the exigency demands. The sins are chiefly sins of omission. The resolutions do not declare what principle ought to govern in the interval between the time of acquiring territory and the time at which the people thereof may choose to settle those “questions of domestic policy”, which it is left to them to settle.

Again, they very indistinctly, if at all, condemn the principle of the Wilmot proviso. If I am not mistaken in that principle, it is that Congress may prohibit slavery in acquired territory as long as it remains territory. Now, Mr. D's resolutions say no more than that Congress cannot do anything inconsistent with the right of the people of the territories to form themselves into States equally sovereign with the old states. The W. Proviso principle is not inconsistent with this right. That which it is inconsistent with is the right of the people of the territories to hold slaves therein if Congress forbids.

Once more, no general principle is announced by the resolutions upon the question of the quantity of territory we ought to require from Mexico in a treaty of peace. Perhaps these omissions are merits, but I venture to think not, and more audacious still, to send you what I deem the remedy in three resolutions, or rather two, ac companying this. The first is new, the second, one of Mr. D's unchanged, and the third is the other of his with some additions important but not in my opinion affecting the abstract principle on which the resolution rests.

Why these alterations? Let us consider for a moment the strength of the two parties in a sectional point of view. We see the Whig majorities, both certain and expected, chiefly in the free states, the Democratic in the slave. We see also already organized in some of the important free states a third party having naturally more sympathy with the Whigs than with the Democrats, and in the other free states no inconsiderable amount of the same third party in the state of raw material. If we add together the votes of the certain free Whig states, 51, and of those in which the abolitionists are supposed by the Whigs to have a casting vote, viz, N. Y. 36, Pa. 26, Ind. 12, Me. 9, N. H. 6, we shall have 51 plus 84 equals 135. Now even allowing for Wisconsin, 143 elects, so that those free states with either Ky. 12, N. C. 11, or Mo. 8, may dictate their man. We see too in New York strong symptoms of this abolition element becoming truly formidable, and in Pa. we distrust somewhat—a very little—the ability of the new soldiers under the banner of free trade to resist the temptation which the enemy will assuredly offer them in the resurrection of the Act of 1842. Further, we behold the Whigs in their conventions, legislatures and public meetings North already adopting the Wilmot Proviso, and on the other hand the Democrats generally ejecting the “perilous stuff” from their stomachs, as witness the letters and speeches of Buchanan, Dallas, Cass, etc., Dickinson's resolutions, and the general tone of the press. Seeing all this and much more of the same sort, are we not obliged to infer as a thing accomplished, 1st: That the Whigs intend to bid for Abolition bodaciously? And 2d: That they can afford to bid higher for it than can the Democrats, supposing the latter base enough to enter the lists? And are we not bound also to admit that true policy demands of the Democrats to endeavor to counteract the effect of the fusion of the two factions into one? Can this be done at all except by looking to the slave states?

If, however, we carry the slave states, we have but 117 votes. It won't do, then, to hazard the loss of much of our strength in the free states. The problem is to gain South and not lose North. It is the aim of the resolutions which I send you to solve it.

First then, I say that the Whigs reckon without their host when they count upon absorbing abolition, because they will nominate either Clay or Taylor; and the abolitionists, the honestly mad ones, will die at the stake before they will vote for the reprobate who dares say in word or deed that man may hold property in man— may traffic and trade in human flesh—particularly when his opponent will be a non-slaveholder and a patriot competent to utter any amount of innocent but "moral and religious sentiment" against the “peculiar institution.” What says 1844? Has Mr. Clay set his negroes free since? And Genl. Taylor, a sugar planter, on the poisonous banks of the Mississippi; he is in a much worse predicament, beyond the reach of any fable in Æsop, because by his avowed innocence of all knowledge of political questions and by his self-imposed inexorable taciturnity he will not be able even to tell the abolitionists so much as that he believes slavery to be a great moral and political evil.

But suppose this eccentric faction shedding from its humid hair pestilence upon the nations shall, contrary to the best founded expectations, flying from its orb, sink into the sun of Whiggery. Console yourself because you could not by any possibility prevent it, and because all will not be lost. Democracy will have over-balancing accessions from other sources. The last four years have been fruitful in the product of every good thing, including voters, both indigenous and naturalized. It is not extravagant, I think, for our party to reckon upon two thirds of the former and nine tenths of the latter. Why there are but three modes, or rather two and a half, suggested for conducting the war — to fight, to tax, and to take — which is one; to back clean out of a conquered country, telling the cutthroats that we were unrighteously, unconstitutionally, and damnably there from the first, which is two — to back partly out to an unnamed line, going we only know from ocean to ocean, across the continent where it is all desert and mountain, and there to fight to the very death, provided always that any enemy should dare come up and knock a chip off of Jonathan's head — which is half a one. Now, will any but the old fools (of all fools the worst you know) take up with the second or third of these plans? The young have no more sense than to believe that war is war—blood, chains, gold, territory, and no more “sentiment” than to smite, to rivet, to sieze, and to annex. They feel that woe to the vanquished is weal to the victor. We may call these young fellows ours. How many are there? The New York Herald says 800,000 — two thirds of that number are 530,000, half of which 260.000 would be the excess in our favor. Of them 160 or 170 thousand are in the free states. Then the naturalized vote must be quite large. Again, how Democratic the Army is becoming, even the regulars. Every letter from it will be a personal appeal to father, brother, friends, to put down those who give aid and comfort to the enemy. Above all, our annexation policy must bring recruits from all classes and quarters. All this being so, are we not able to despise the nauseous compound?

How, then, are we to “gain South”? I say by the principle contained in the last clause of the third of the resolutions, declaring that citizens of the slave states may settle with their slaves in the acquired territory until such time as the people thereof see fit to forbid it by legislation. The adoption of this will not carry a single slave into such territory, not one, but it will carry many a vote into the ballot box. Mere barren option, never to be availed of tho' it is, still the candidate who refused it could not at the South in a contest with one who conceded it stand a fire of blank cartridges. What Hotspur felt is nature:

I'd give thrice as much land to any well deserving friend.
But in the way of Bargain I'd cavil on the ninth part of a hair.

But won't its adoption do us more harm at the North than even so much good as this at the South can outweigh? It is not possible. Remember how far Dickinson's untouched resolutions go. These say “it is best” (mind you only expediency) to leave questions of domestic policy, that is whether there shall or shall not be slavery, to the people of the territory. So then it is best to let the people there make it a slave territory if they will. Going thus far will not damage us, it is agreed. Why? Because the good sense of the people North sees that such a permission is a mere vanity. Like laying duties upon cotton — or coal at Newcastle. Now how much further does my amendment go? It only affirms that it is best (expediency too) on many momentous accounts to permit the citizens of all the states to have an equal right of removal into the acquired territory and of holding there as property whatever they held as such where they came from. It does not affirm that such “citizens” have a right to do this or that Congress has not the right to forbid it. The constitutional question, so difficult, such a tool of death in the hands of madmen whether at the North or the South, is honorably and fairly got rid of, as indeed it is in Dickinson's original resolution to the extent to which it goes. For the most that can be made out of the expression “by leaving”, “by permitting” is that it is doubtful whether Congress has power on this subject “to bind and to loose” and therefore that it ought not to interfere to do either. Now, if the reasons assigned by Buchanan, Cass, etc., are sufficient to prove the harmlessness of leaving the question of slavery to the people of the territory, they are equally sufficient to prove the harmlessness of permitting all citizens to remove into the territory with their slaves and there to hold them in bondage. Those reasons amount to this, that the interest of slaveholders will prevent them from wishing to cross the Rio Bravo with their slaves, and so of course the people to pass the laws on the subject to slavery, being all non-slaveholders, will prohibit it. Why is it the interest of the slaveholder to keep away? On account of incompatibility of soil, climate, productions, danger of loss by facilities for escape, and on account of the region being now by the laws of Mexico free. Every one of these reasons will still affect the interest of the slaveholder to the same extent if my amendment should be adopted. It may be said that one of those reasons, viz: that drawn from the fact that the territory is now by law free and a slave going there would become free on touching the soil, would not apply if slave owners were “permitted” to take their slaves and hold them as such in the territory. Practically it is all the same. I submit that a prudent slaveholder will be as shy of putting himself and his slaves in the power of Mexican laws to be made, as of those already made. Very well. The good sense of Northern Democracy can as easily see this as the other. and the prospect of carrying Ky., N. C., and Md., with the principle, and of losing S. C. and all that she can influence, without it, will make the scales fall from their eyes in a trice. One thing is never to be forgotten, that committed as the party is, it cannot in its wildest dreams hope for the vote of an abolitionist, and further, that the action of the abolitionists as a party as to keeping embodied or subsiding into Whiggery will depend upon what the Whigs do and not upon anything that we can do, unless we undo all that we have done. In such a case ought we not to follow the dictates of ordinary prudence?

If the war continues we ought to proclaim some such principle as that embodied in the first resolution. If we elect our man with that as one of bur battle cries, be sure Mexico won't waste minutes before she will come with a decent proposition for peace. And I think the sooner the thing is done the better. Let it have time [to] feel its way into grace and favor and for the Whigs to commit themselves against it. However, as to “grace and favor”, there is no fear that it will need friends. True, we shall continue to hear the dog-in-the-manger growl of the Charleston Mercury. He has been so long only showing his teeth that we have come to believe that is all they were made for. All North it will out run the Cholera, as Prince John said to Jesse.1 Bye the bye, I have just seen the N. Y. Herald's account of the Utica convention. The address is able, not so well written as that of the Albany convention. There is one good thing in it, the declaration that they don't make W. Provisoism a test, a sine qua non. This being so, it has occurred to me that our Baltimore convention could not by any possibility have evidence enough presented to it to decide which to admit, Hunkers or Barnburners, nor the heart to risk making martyrs of the innocent, to the triumph of the guilty, and that therefore it would be obliged as a matter of sheer conscience not to be at home to New York but still to do a good part by her all the same as if she were admitted inside. That is, nominate some man staunch, staunch as Chimborazo, on all the test questions, the sine qua nons, so that both divisions of the democracy may be gratified. Howell, I am death for Equity. Now, equality is equity. By presenting such a candidate the two wings will “spread” themselves in rivalry to speed the common body. What do you think of this. Bright, ain't it.

Well, this is the hand which I want to deal you at Baltimore. I am bound to say that there are some good cards in it. And anybody can play it. Genl. Cass is a good old man, Dallas is a gentleman, Buchanan is touched with the tariff, a man of vigor, tho’, very great, sufficient doubtless to bear letting that drop out of his veins. I care not so much for the player as the cards.

Yes, the grand thing for success is harmony, unanimity in the principles and measures to be sent before the country in the address and resolutions respecting the war question and the territory question, chiefly the last. You Democrats in the House have nothing to do, being a minority, except to ascertain this common ground, compare notes, yield a little, and it will be yielded unto you. Keep the slavery question out of the way of any public discussion in the convention. What the convention does ought to be done without delay, without fuss, with perfect unity and perfect unanimity. Let its work instantly spring forth complete in every part, like Minerva from the head of Jupiter. If there is a will there is a way. There are Democrats in Congress from nearly every State, and what they can all agree upon be sure they can get their several state delegations to Baltimore to agree upon. And then, out of abundance of caution, let one member of Congress, if possible, from each state go down to Baltimore as a lobby member, an organ of assimilation. You know we shall all be strangers to one another. Why can't we organize victory. I see I have written reams. It shows at least that I take interest in the cause and that I am disposed to accomplish the object of your letter, that is (ain't it?) to enable you fellows at Washington to find out which way the wind blows. Write to me again. Speak out. Condemn what I have proposed if it ought to be done, tell me what's better — above all tell me the probable “platform” as well as the man. Dix and Shunk I forgot about. Either will do well, so far as I am at present advised.

P. S. — Tell Iverson I will answer his in a day or two, and show him this. I don't care who sees it.

Send me the address and resolutions of our last convention at Baltimore, if you can do it easily.

[Resolutions enclosed with the foregoing.]

Resolved: That the United States have the intelligence and the virtue and the power to administer with safety, with justice and with equity any quantity of territory which they may honorably acquire from any foreign nation.

Resolved: That true policy requires the government of the United States to strengthen its political and commercial relations upon this continent by the annexation of such continuous territory as may conduce to that end and can be justly obtained, and that neither in such acquisition nor in the territorial organization thereof can any conditions be constitutionally Imposed or institutions be provided for or established inconsistent with the right of the people thereof to form a free sovereign state with the powers and privileges of the original members of the confederacy.

Resolved: That in organizing a territorial government for territory acquired by common blood and common treasure, and conferring in its achievement common glory, the principles of self government will be best promoted, the spirit and meaning of the Constitution best observed, the sentiments of justice of equality and of magnanimity best consulted, the self sacrificing love for the Union best maintained and strengthened, and the shining examples of mutual forbearance and compromise set us by our fathers in every dark day of our past career best emulated, by leaving all questions which concern the Domestic policy of such territory to the unrestrained Legislation of the people thereof, and until such legislation forbid, by permitting the citizens of every state to settle therein and to hold as property there whatever they may have held as property in the states from which they came.

* A lawyer of Columbus, Ga., previously a college chum of Howell Cobb's, and always a keen student of public affairs; associate-justice of the supreme court of Georgia, 18531861; brigadier-general in the Confederate army.

1”Prince John” Van Buren, to Jesse Hoyt.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 97-103