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Harper's Weekly 07/23/1864


THE POSITION OF THE “RAD-
ICAL DEMOCRACY.”


In the Presidential election of 1860, in which
it took part, the influence known as the Slave
power legally lost the control of the government
of the United States, and immediately attempted
to destroy it. Since the beginning of the war
and the accession of the new Administration the
blows at Slavery, the source and strength of the
rebellion, have naturally been incessant and vig-
orous. Slavery has been prohibited in the na-
tional Territories. It has been abolished in the
District of Columbia. A more strenuous treaty
with England for the suppression of the Slave-
trade has been negotiated. The Fugitive Slave
law has been repealed. Colored men have been
allowed to carry the mails, and their right to
give testimony in courts of law has been estab-
lished. Slaves have been enrolled as free sol-
diers of the United States, receiving equal wages
with all others. The President has emancipa-
ted by proclamation the slaves in all the rebel
section. The Convention of loyal Union men
have declared with the utmost enthusiasm for
an amendment of the Constitution making Slav-
ery impossible. The President hails the propo-
sition with all his heart, having long ago de-
clared that the Union could not endure half
slave and half free, and having lately expressed
the faith of his life that if any thing is wrong, it
is Slavery.


These things have been done under the ad-
ministration of Abraham Lincoln. This policy
succeeds the universal and unhesitating sub-
serviency to the Slave power of Fillmore's,
Pierce's
, and Buchanan's administrations. It
has been cordially supported by the country; the
last three State elections showing every where a
regularly increasing majority for the policy of
the Administration. It is the anchor of hope
for peace and union. Yet at this moment, and
in view of these facts, Mr. Fremont gravely says
that Mr. Lincoln has betrayed his principles,
and Mr. Wendell Phillips speaks of the Pres-
ident's “indecision, heartlessness, and infamous
pandering to negrophobia and the Slave power.”
He could say nothing worse of Pierce or
Buchanan, and words cease to have any mean-
ing when they are so grossly and recklessly per-
verted.


That among the supporters of the Cleveland
nominations there are men who honestly be-
lieve that the Administration is culpably slow in
dealing with the cause of the rebellion can not
be doubted. They will gladly accept Mr. Phil-
lips
as their spokesman, for whoever knows him
knows what sincerity and purity of purpose are.
These gentlemen would doubtless regret to serve
the rebels and their cause, and yet, with Mr.
Phillips, they declare that they are proud to
support the Cleveland action. Will they, then,
reflect a moment to see if their course at this
juncture, and under the present circumstances,
is one which helps the cause which they chiefly
honor? Mr. Phillips says that he does not
expect the Cleveland movement as such to suc-
ceed, but is willing to unite with any body who
will be more radical than Mr. Lincoln. Dr.
Brownson and Mr. John Cochrane invite the
radical Democrats to join the party which wishes
to defeat Mr. Lincoln. To what does all this
inevitably tend?


These gentlemen will agree probably that Mr.
Vallandigham is almost as base a sycophant
of the Slave power as Mr. Lincoln. They have
not forgotten Vallandigham's eager crawling
from Washington to Charlestown in Virginia
with James M. Mason, now the rebel emissary
in London, to see if he could not extort from
old John Brown some word, or hint, or shrug
which should implicate the Republican leaders
in the affair at Harper's Ferry. They know what
Vallandigham was and is. They know that
he is going to the Chicago Convention, and
why he goes there, and whether or not that
Convention will spew him out. They know,
also—or do they doubt?—that the main inspi-
ration of that “Democratic” assembly is negro-
phobia. They know, also—or do they doubt?
—that “the friends” of the rebellion, who last
year resisted the reinforcement of the army, and
hung and burned negroes in New York, will be
represented in that Convention. They know,
also—or do they doubt?—that the great body
of men who mean war and liberty as the hope
of Union and peace will not be represented at
Chicago. And do they not know—or do they
doubt?—that, of necessity, Cleveland is a ten-
der to Chicago—the mere Deerhound to that
Alabama? If they doubt, we refer them to the
organ of Mr. Fremont, and of Mr. John Coch-
rane's
“Radical Democracy.” That paper
says: “There is so little difference between
this party [the Radical Democracy] and the
Democratic party that it would be easy to adopt
a common ticket.” The same paper cries:
“Down with Lincoln! Such be our battle-
cry! Let there be but two parties: let all be
for or against Lincoln.” Bearing this in mind,
let them hear the Atlanta Register, a rebel jour-
nal which heartily agrees with the Fremont or-
gan in malignant hate of the President and Gen-
eral Grant. Speaking of the Copperheads, it
says: “If they will use the ballot-box against
Mr. Lincoln while we use the cartridge-box,
each side will be a helper to the other, and both
co-operate in accomplishing, the greatest work
which this country and the continent have wit-
nessed.” Mr. Phillips and his friends know
whether that work is emancipation. One of the
chief New York Copperhead papers says that “it
is the duty of the country to rally at the next
election and put down Lincoln as well as his
confederate, Jeff Davis.” Mr. Phillips and
his friends virtually say, “Certainly, the slave-
hunter and the slave-hound.” Another of the
New York Copperhead journals declares that
they can certainly poll more votes by uniting
upon Fremont“to defeat the Administration.”
Do Mr. Phillips and his friends think that
these papers have become Abolitionists? that
they are going to support Mr. Fremont, if at
all, upon a platform of negro equality?


It is in vain that Mr. Phillips repeats a res-
olution of the Cleveland Convention calling it
the highest tide-mark of American politics.
The Cleveland keynote was, “Down, with Lin-
coln
!” Chicago had already shouted it in ad-
vance. The cry of rebel rage comes hissing up
from the South, “Down with Lincoln!” Val-
landigham
and his friends catch and prolong
it—“Down with Lincoln!” Every Copper-
head in the land rings with the refrain, “Down
with Lincoln!”Pierce, the Seymours, Reed,
the Woods, all their organs, their orators, and
their resolutions join the chorus which Jeffer-
son Davis
hears and cheers, “Down with Lin-
coln
!”“Down with Lincoln!” is the battle-
cry of every rebel in the field; of every Cop-
perhead and apologist or devotee of slavery in
the land, on the stump, and at the ballot-box;
and of every enemy of the American idea and
system in Europe. It is not love of liberty; it
is not equality before the law; it is not national
honor, and peace, and Union through justice;
it is not humanity and the country which in
spire that cry. It is an “infamous pandering
to negrophobia;” it is a craven wish for com-
promise; it is the abjectness of submission to
rebellious slaveholders; it is lasting national
disgrace, and universal civil war and anarchy;
it is bloody rioting against drafts and the mad
massacre of the defenseless and most unfortu-
nate of our population which howls and roars
and rages in the cry, “Down with Lincoln!”
It is folly for Mr. Phillips and his friends to
say that they don't mean that. It is not they
who raised the cry nor who pitch it. They cry
was raised and meant that long before they
joined in it. Their voices merely swell the
chorus. They push their skiff out upon a
stream which sets fierce and resistless toward
the plunge, and they can not say that they mean
to go up stream and do not mean to go over.


In this perilous hour we have all a right to
demand common-sense of each other. The
radical Democrats talk of a union between Cleve-
land and Chicago. Yes—a union of the minnow
and the whale—by absorption. The minnow
may swell the bulk of the whale. Will the
whale increase the minnow? Do these gentle-
men seriously suppose that the handful of Abo-
litionists at Cleveland will dictate the terms of
any union at Chicago? What is the party that
will meet there? It is that party which, as
such, has steadily denied the right of the Gov-
ernment to touch Slavery in any way. It is
that party whose Senators and Representatives
in Congress, with four exceptions only among
the latter, refused to propose an emancipa-
tion Constitutional amendment to the country.
There is no sign whatever in the speeches,
votes, resolutions, and journals of the Chicago
party but of an unswerving allegiance to Slav-
ery. How can any man believe that the Cleve-
land managers sincerely expect a union at Chi-
cago; and yet, if there be none, how can any
man of sense view the Cleveland movement but
as a practical diversion in favor of the enemy?


Under the circumstances in which this coun-
try is placed, even if the President were the
idler, and sluggard, and blunderer which Mr.
Phillips indignantly calls him, and which we
as indignantly deny, there are but two results
possible in the canvass—his re-election, or his de-
feat by a Copperhead. In this situation, there-
fore, while they denounce Mr. Lincoln for pan-
dering to the Slave power, seeking in that way
to deprive him of the votes of radical Union
men, Mr. Phillips and his friends are doing
the work of James M. Mason and of Robert
Toombs.


If, indeed, they believe that Mr. Lincoln is
so base a betrayer of liberty that their duty to
God and man requires them to connive at the
election of a Copperhead, we have no more to
say. But they must not deceive themselves by
supposing that they are not conniving. If they
are willing, with Dr. Brownson, to see Fer-
nando Wood
or Vallandigham defeat Mr. Lin-
coln
we are equally silent. Or if they think
that Chicago intends to nominate Fremont or
any one else, upon a platform of negro voting,
we certainly say nothing, but we as surely de-
plore the total want of sagacity which such a
view evinces. They undoubtedly have the
right which Mr. Phillips claims of agitating
to make party progress possible. But he and
they are certainly responsible if they agitate so
as to make party progress impossible. Do
they not know that the actual alternative is
the election of Mr. Lincoln and his platform,
or that of the candidate and platform at Chi-
cago? If they do—and we can not under-
stand how they can avoid seeing it—and they
still agitate so as to aid and comfort Copper-
heads and divide Union men, Mr. Phillips
and his friends must not hope to excuse them-
selves by saying that they repudiate expediency,
nor be surprised if from the indignant hearts
and lips of the great host who seek to maintain
the Union and liberty his own words come thun-
dering back: “Heaven will not hold such guilt-
less of the evils unnecessarily brought on this
bleeding land.”



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