Political Affairs North

New Orleans Daily Crescent, March 16, 1860

It will be no holiday sport for the nominee of the Charleston Convention, though he be the only one man who has any chance of overcoming Black Republicanism, to defeat that motley but most thoroughly drilled organization, which, though made up of the rags, shreds, and patches of all parties, is united on the one great issue of opposition to the South. Black Republicanism sustained injury, it is true, from the revulsion occasioned by the intemperate John Brown demonstration, which was in accordance with its tenets, but was too violent and premature to be politic, and shocked the sensibilities of the weak brethren who had not yet come to a stern conscientious conviction of the desperate and inevitable nature of the irrepressible conflict.

These sensitive members gave evidence of a rebellious spirit which broke out in Union meetings and kindred demonstrations, the effect of which has been, we fear, to give an undue and unwise confidence to opponents of Abolitionism. How have the astute leaders of Black Republicanism comported themselves to bring the rebels back beneath their dark banner? With the utmost wisdom. Too shrewd to attempt to whip them back into the traces by abuse and denunciation, they have adopted a conciliatory tone, “sinking the nigger” as much as possible from his unpopular eminence in their platform, and cunningly resuscitating old questions that have now scarcely the importance of side issues, which they adroitly advance as the principles they are battling for, and in which they know the rebels must sympathize with them, however strongly they may decline to swallow John Brown. They keep John Brown as far out of sight as possible, knowing that those who endorse him will still cherish him, and that he is obnoxious to those whom they wish to circumvent.

The speech of Senator Seward, the great arch-plotter of Abolitionism, is a patent example of this sort of political finesse by which he and his fellows are striving to win back into the fold and unite on the presidential contest all who were shocked from the ranks by the bloody business of Harper’s Ferry. Seward obtruded nothing that could startle the nerves of the most sensitive of the seceders. He played traitor to John Brown, his most illustrious disciple, and bamboozled the “Unionists” in the most scientific style. No doubt most of them are now convinced that Black Republicans generally, and Seward particularly, are now quite as much against the John Brown method of operation as themselves are, and that they were rather hasty in denouncing the party as a whole. That it was with them after all, and that they were with it and are with it, and will not be compromising their late position by seeing it through the Presidential contest.

It is thus that popular sentiment is being managed and controlled to the end, and, meanwhile, secret electioneering work is not neglected, but is being reduced to the perfection of political management that will result in a most thorough organization of the Black Republican forces in readiness for the day of battle. We have now before us a copy of a secret circular, issued by the Black Republican Central Committee, which is composed of three members of the Senate of the United States and six members of the House. It calls for the organization of clubs in every town, village and city of the North. The circular, signed by the committee, states, “We address you as one known personally, or by information, to the committee as a friend to the cause, and ask an early reply to this communication, with such information from time to time as you may think proper.” The circular especially solicits contributions of money from every friendly voter—a sort of political “St. Peter’s pence”—which is to be collected and forwarded by the “friends of the cause” to whom the circular is addressed, and which sets forth that “the Republican party must rely upon the voluntary contributions of its friends.” This enginery is to be put at work especially in the doubtful States, where they hope to buy up or whip in a majority to carry the day for a sectional President.

Of course the whole South is safe for the nominee of the Charleston. Convention, and most of the Northern States for him whom that of Chicago may select for standard-bearer; but those doubtful States of the North are essential to the success of either. In these the battle will be fought, and it will be no holiday conflict. No labor and no expense will be spared by the Black Republicans, and hence we say that it will be no light work to defeat them, and the man who does, must be he who already has the greatest number of firm and avowed friends and supporters in those States, and not a man scarcely known outside of his own district, who may be taken up and “put through with a rush and a hooray,” simply because he is the nominee of the Charleston Convention. We believe that the only man who has this essential popularity, this ready-made strength in those Northern States which we have the best chance of carrying, and which we must carry to insure success, is Judge Douglas. We believe that a vote sufficient to give him the thirtyfour Northern electoral ballots is already cut and dried, and that it is exceedingly doubtful in what direction that vote will fall if he is not the nominee to claim it. It is quite as likely that it will be directed to the Chicago nominee as to the one commissioned at Charleston. We shall see; but we do not look to it with a calm, philosophical curiosity, for we cannot, and no one can, be oblivious to the fact that the coming Presidential election is a test trial of strength between sectionalism and nationalism.