Charleston Mercury, July 10, 1860
The Richmond Examiner and other papers have put forth strong commentaries on the late Democratic Convention held at Charleston, and finally acting at Baltimore. They denounce it, for its unfairness and trickery; and on this ground, justify their opposition to its nominees. On the other hand, Mr. DOUGLAS and his friends claim his nomination for the Presidency, as the legitimate fruit of the regular organization and action of the Democratic party in Convention.
Now, it appears to us, that both sides in this controversy are right, and both wrong. DOUGLAS and his friends are right in affirming that they were in possession of the regular organization of the Democratic party in Convention; but they are wrong in maintaining that, therefore, their frauds and trickeries ought to be tolerated. And the wronged portion of the Democratic party are right in refusing to submit to the frauds of the majority in the Charleston and Baltimore Convention; but they are wrong in denying that this Convention was the Convention of the Democratic party.
The truth is that party Conventions, got up to nominate candidates for the Presidency and Vice Presidency of the United States, are, more or less, fraudulent in their incipiency and practices. Their object is to set aside or supersede the regular action of the Constitution in electing the President and Vice President of the United States. The people have very little to do with them. Here in South Carolina, after a call which excluded all who were not in favor of the State being represented in the Charleston Convention—with but thin meetings of the people—we saw the delegates appointed by them immediately assume to represent the people of the State. Again: As such Conventions are party Conventions, to nominate candidates to be supported by the party, it is clear that the power in making the nominations should be in proportion to the ability to vote for them. States that have no power to vote for nominees should not control the nomination. This is absurd—monstrous. Those States which have the ability to vote for the nominees should have the power to make the nominations. This could be easily determined by taking the relative strength of the Democratic party in the different States, as developed in the preceding elections of members of Congress, and giving them that strength in the Convention. This would approach fairness. But to give States which notoriously cannot give a single Democratic vote in the Presidential election the same party power in nominating the candidates of the party as those which are certain to vote for the nominees, is manifestly the grossest injustice. Here is the great vice of all Conventions held hitherto to nominate candidates for the Presidency. Let this be rectified in the way we have stated, and then the advantages obtained by Mr. DOUGLAS' adherents in the late Conventions could not exist. All the States may vote as units; but they could not bring with them, in nominating candidates for the Presidency in a Democratic Convention, the whole strength of the Black Republican party as well as their own. After the late Conventions in Charleston and Baltimore, the Southern States, we trust, will never again consent to go into any Conventions organized upon such loose and unjust principles. National Conventions are abolished, or they will be reformed. The abuses at Charleston and Baltimore are the natural fruits of their vicious organizations.