Ohio History Journal




PARTY POLITICS IN OHIO, 1840-1850

PARTY POLITICS IN OHIO, 1840-1850

 

 

BY EDGAR ALLAN HOLT, B. A., M. A., PH. D.

 

 

(Continued from the January, 1929, Quarterly)

 

CHAPTER V

 

THE ELECTION OF 1848 IN OHIO

The clash of sectional and personal interests in

Ohio did not end with the pronouncements of the State

conventions. The bitter anti-southern wing of the Whig

party, encouraged by the lavish praise bestowed on Cor-

win by the Whig State Convention, thought that he

might, after all, become the leader of the Whigs of the

Nation. On the other hand, Corwin had lost the confi-

dence of the Liberty leaders and could not, therefore,

hope to rally all the anti-slavery forces; nor could he

command the support of many moderate Whigs who

favored an energetic prosecution of the War. McLean

hoped to conciliate all these forces, but his "Jacksonism"

and his doubts as to the rights of Congress to abolish

slavery in the territories, prevented what might other-

wise have been unanimous Whig support. The friends

of Scott continued to press his interests in Ohio hoping

to find in him the only available candidate.

The overwhelming movement to nominate Taylor

continued in the face of open defiance from Ohio, a

defiance which grew with the cession of California and

New Mexico by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in

(260)



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 261

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850      261

May, 1848.1 Stevenson, editor of the Cincinnati Atlas,

expressed this sentiment well when he assured J. J.

Crittenden, of Kentucky, manager of the Taylor inter-

ests in that State, that "the Wilmot Proviso is 'stronger

in Ohio than Whiggery, democracy and military glory,

all combined. * * * "2 However, he added that Tay-

lor might carry Ohio if he would assume the "no terri-

tory" ground which Corwin regarded as a sine qua non

of his support. Outside of Cincinnati, where there was

considerable Taylor strength,3 the sentiment against

Taylor seemed overwhelming. When it became evident

that it would become difficult to defeat the Taylor move-

ment in the country at large, Whigs of the Ninth, Tenth,

Eleventh, Twelfth, and Twentieth Ohio Congressional

Districts announced that they would not support anyone

who was not pledged to oppose the extension of slavery

or the cession of further territory, or who was not "a

Whig, a whole Whig and  nothing   but a Whig."4

Similar action was taken by the Whigs of Trum-

bull, Lorain, Warren, Cuyahoga, Belmont, Lake,

Geauga, Greene, Clinton, and Ashtabula Counties.5

Anti-slavery Whigs took possession of a Clay meeting

in Cincinnati and passed resolutions refusing support to

any candidate who did not favor the exclusion of slavery

from all the territories.6 By March, almost every county

 

1 McMaster, op. cit., v. VII, pp. 526-527; Erwin H. Price has treated

"The Election of 1848 in Ohio," in Ohio Archaeological and Historical Pub-

lications, v. XXXVI, 1927, pp. 188-311.

2 Stevenson to Crittenden, September 7, 1848, Crittenden MSS., v. XI.

3 N. G. Pendleton to Crittenden, February 10, 1848, Crittenden MSS.,

v. XI; H. E. Spencer to McLean, February 24, 1848, McLean MSS., v.

XIV; Ohio State Journal, February 4, 1848.

4 Ohio State Journal, March 11, April 9, 11, 29, May 9, 1848.

5 Cleveland True Democrat, January 4, 1848.

6 T. C. Smith, op. cit., p. 127.



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in Ohio had declared for Corwin or Clay; Richland and

Summit Counties had declared for Scott; and not one

expressed a preference for Taylor. The Lebanon Star

summarized these events "as a pointed rebuke of the in-

sane attempt of sundry Whigs to thrust a slave-holding

military Chieftain on the Whig party."7 The Hamilton

Intelligencer, edited by William C. Howells, urged the

Whigs to nominate a civilian, instead of a military chief-

tain, in order to make the Mexican War a real issue;8

and the Dayton Journal hastened to assure the leaders

of the State that a Taylor meeting at that place was

poorly attended and did not represent the Whigs of

Montgomery County.9      In the face of a continued de-

mand by Whig leaders of Ohio that Taylor express his

views on Whig principles,10 the General refused to com-

mit himself, simply repeating that he was not a party

man, that he would run even if Clay were the choice of

the National Convention, and that, although he would

accept the nomination of a Whig national Convention,

he would not be bound by pledges.11 This letter writing

left the Whigs of Ohio utterly at sea. Corwin, ready to

support Taylor on the "no territory" issue, privately ex-

pressed the opinion that the General's qualifications con-

sisted in "sleeping forty years in the woods, and culti-

vating moss on the calves of his legs."12 Ohio Whigs

were unqualifiedly opposed to Taylor's candidacy.

 

7 Lebanon Star, quoted in Ohio State Journal, March 22, 1848.

8 Hamilton Intelligencer, quoted in Ohio State Journal, March 7, 1848,

9 Dayton Journal, quoted in Ohio State Journal, April 5, 1848.

10 Marietta Intelligencer and Toledo Blade, quoted in Ohio State Jour-

nal, February 7, 1848.

11 Montgomery (Alabama) Journal, quoted in Ohio State Journal, April

1, 1848; Richmond (Virginia) Republican, quoted in Cincinnati Daily En-

quirer, May 1, 1848.

12 Stevenson to Clay, May 22, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXV.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 263

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850       263

The movement for McLean is more difficult to ana-

lyze. The cession of Mexican territory by the treaty,

which ended the Mexican War, scrapped the rather sim-

ple Whig formula of opposition to the extension of

American territory and made it impossible to evade the

question of slavery in the territories. To many Whigs

of Ohio, McLean's view13 that Congress had no right

to deal with slavery in the territories seemed identical

with Cass's doctrine of popular sovereignty.14 Never-

theless, McLean was at least partially successful in keep-

ing the confidence of the extreme anti-southern men,

who hoped to use him as a figure around which the

North might rally against the pretensions of the South.15

The moderate and conservative elements of the Whig

party preferred McLean's position to the extreme prin-

ciples of Corwin. McLean's friends tried to organize

the State. At the Franklin County Whig Convention,

on February 26th, a secret committee was formed, com-

posed of Samuel Galloway, Lorenzo English, Robert

Thompson, J. Kilbourne, William Miner, John Greiner,

C. C. Rose, Demas Adams, A. F. Perry, and John Tees-

dale,16 and the latter toured the State in an effort to

persuade Whig editors to support McLean, although

most of them were already committed to other candi-

dates.17 The failure to secure greater newspaper sup-

port led to the proposal to establish a McLean paper at

 

13 National Intelligencer, December 22, 1847.

14 McLean to Chase, February 5, 1848, Chase MSS., v. VIII, Pa.

15 Giddings wrote Chase that "The political atmosphere is overspread.

Great events are rapidly transpiring.--My impression now is that Judge

McLean will be the candidate of the Whig party . . . It is true he does

not go as far as we do but I think his election would be a triumph of true

principles." Giddings to Chase, March 6, 1848, Chase MSS., v. V, Pa.

16 Teesdale to Miner, February 26, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XIV.

17 Teesdale to Miner, March 31, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.



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Columbus, but James Wilson, of Steubenville, a staunch

supporter of the Judge, thought that such a paper would

not do as much good as three or four "decidedly Whig"

papers.18 Liberty leaders, upon whom McLean counted

for support, disapproved of the proposal to make Tees-

dale the editor of a special McLean paper because the

latter was unpopular among Corwin's followers and en-

tirely too "Whiggish" to be an instrument of reform.19

That the "Xenia Clique" and other followers of Corwin

continued their hostility to McLean was evidenced by

the continued attacks of the Xenia Torch-Light.20 Whig

leaders in other states assured the friends of McLean

that if Ohio would unite on the Judge he would become

the national leader of the party.21  McLean's friends

tried to create the impression in Washington that Clay

could not be elected and that the only hope of success

for the party in 1848 was to unite on McLean.22

The supporters of Corwin, after they perceived that

their favorite could not be nominated, could not agree

as to the best policy to pursue. In a Convention of

Whigs of the Tenth Congressional District (Franklin,

Licking, and Knox), William B. Thrall, editor of the

Ohio State Journal, John A. Lazell, of the State Central

Committee, and James Noble, all friends of Corwin, de-

clared for Scott, although the friends of McLean se-

cured the appointment of Samuel Galloway as one of the

delegates to the Whig National Convention.23 McLean's

18 Wilson to McLean, January 26, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XIV.

19 Hamlin to Chase, May 14, 1848, Chase MSS., v. VI, Pa.

20 --?-- to McLean, March 8, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

21 Miller to McLean, May 7, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV; Smith to

McLean, March 29, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

22 Moorehead to Clay, May 3, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXV.

23 Miner to McLean, May 20, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 265

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850    265

enemies sought to give the impression in Washington

that Scott would be more acceptable than the Judge, to

Corwin's supporters.24 The enmity of Corwin toward

McLean may be explained by the fact that the latter's

nomination in 1848 would probably defer or make im-

possible the selection of another candidate from Ohio

for several terms, although Greeley claimed that it was

caused by Corwin's fear that McLean would be hostile

to his ambitions.25 But Corwin soon reversed his tac-

tics. On May 19, an editorial in the Lebanon Star

promised to support McLean as a second choice to Cor-

win. Chase regarded the editorial as authoritative be-

cause Corwin was in Lebanon at the time, and Corwin

verified this impression by sending a marked copy of

the editorial to William Miner, with the words, "This

will be the position of the Whigs here."26 The position

of the anti-southern Whigs and of the Liberty leaders,

with reference to the McLean movement, must be ex-

plained further. A letter of Judge Wilson accounts for

much of the opposition to McLean. Wilson wrote that

"Some will have it that you [McLean] voted for Gen-

eral Jackson and opposed the election of Mr. Adams.

Others that you formed a portion of Jackson's Cabinet

--others again, that you were opposed to Clay."27 Since

McLean had been an independent, some National Re-

publicans feared that he would be hostile to their inter-

ests. Webster's friends wanted to know whether Mc-

Lean had any "unfriendly feelings" toward him,28 and

 

24 Caleb B. Smith to McLean, April 22, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV,

See also J. W. Allen to ? March, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

25 Teesdale to McLean, May 10, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

26 Miner to McLean, May 20, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

27 Wilson to McLean, January 26, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XIV.

28 Smith to McLean, May 1, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.



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the protestations of the Cincinnati Daily Gazette, a Mc-

Lean organ, failed to convince the Ohio State Journal

of his Whiggery.29

Although McLean was not anti-southern enough to

be acceptable to Whigs like Tilden and Root of the

Western Reserve,30 the Liberty leaders of Ohio began to

look to him, following the Judge's letter denouncing the

War, as a suitable candidate upon whom all anti-slavery

men could unite, in spite of the fact that the Liberty

party already had a candidate in the field. It will be

remembered that the Ohio Liberty leaders opposed the

nomination of Hale in the hope of being able to take ad-

vantage of schisms in the older parties. This dissolu-

tion of the old parties appeared imminent, and Steven-

son was correct when he wrote Clay that McLean was

trying "to detach Whigs from their party on anti-slav-

ery grounds, and to rope in the Liberty party * * *,

a scheme which contemplates either the withdrawal or

the sacrifice of Hale, and I am sure that Chase and

other leading Abolitionists, here and elsewhere, are in

the plot."31 Hamlin, editor of the Cleveland True Demo-

crat, supported McLean so strongly that Teesdale feared

he would endanger his chances among the moderate

Whigs.32 Corwin, fearing the effect of this Liberty and

Whig alliance on the southern Whigs, urged the Lib-

erty leaders to use discretion in their campaign for Mc-

 

29 Ohio State Journal, February 8, 1848.

30 Chase to McLean, May 25, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV. The Liberty

leaders, Chase and Hamlin, tried to rid Tilden of this impression before he

left as a delegate to the Whig National Convention; See also Whittlesey

to McLean, May 11, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

31 Stevenson to Clay, April 8, 1818, Clay MSS., v. XXV.

32 Teesdale to McLean, May 12, 1848, and Hamlin to McLean, May 15,

1848, in McLean MSS., v. XV.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 267

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850    267

Lean;33 and Teesdale, also aware of the fact that the

support of the Liberty party was a "two-edged sword,"

warned against the sharp anti-southern articles which

Chase contributed to the Cincinnati Gazette.34  To the

time of the Whig National Convention, Chase assured

McLean of his support, and Hamlin lent encouragement

from northern Ohio, assuring the Judge that reports

that northern Ohio favored Scott were unfounded.35

Moreover, an additional weight was thrown into the

scales for McLean when Brinkerhoff announced his

support, an example which Chase thought 10,000 Demo-

crats of Ohio would follow.36

Encouraged by the endorsement of the Whig State

Convention, the movement to nominate Corwin gained

force until it became evident that he could secure no sup-

port from other states. Angered at the opposition of

the followers of McLean, the members of the General

Assembly, favorable to Corwin, forced the dismissal of

Teesdale as assistant clerk,37 and launched an ambitious

movement in New York for Clay, in order to neutralize

the movement for Taylor, so that Corwin might finally

be brought forward as a compromise condidate.38 The

Whigs of Ohio gladly would have supported Corwin,

had there been any possibility of securing his nomina-

tion. District and county conventions, all over the State,

instructed their delegates for Ohio's favorite son, with

Clay as a second choice,39 and an Ohio correspondent

 

33 Miner to McLean, May 20, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

34 Teesdale to McLean, May 8, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

35 Chase to McLean, May 20, 1848, and Hamlin to McLean, June 2,

1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

36 Chase to McLean, May 26, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

37 Wilson to McLean, January 26, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XIV.

38 Mower to McLean, January 29, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XIV.

39 Ohio State Journal, March 4, 6, 11, May 4, 1848.



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of the New York Herald asserted that the demonstra-

tions for McLean and Taylor were merely feints to draw

off the supporters of Clay in order to allow the political

forces of the State to rally behind Corwin.40 Although,

on May 18, the Ohio State Journal declared for Corwin

because "a vast majority of the Whigs of Ohio prefer

him to any other man who has been named," his nomi-

nation was impossible and the important question was

to whom his support should be transferred. Teesdale

believed that the delegates from southern Ohio favored

Clay while those from northern Ohio would vote for

Scott.41 It was generally felt in Washington and in

Ohio that Corwin desired McLean's defeat in order to

improve his own chances for 1852,42 in spite of the fact

that on May 19 he publicly announced in the Lebanon

Star that his adherents would support McLean as a

second choice.

Scott's strength, chiefly in northern Ohio,43 was

based on the belief that only a military hero could de-

feat Taylor in the National Convention.     Follett de-

clared that the Whigs of northern Ohio were willing

to accept Scott simply because he was a northern man,44

and Tilden and Root labored to create enthusiasm for

Scott.45 Scott was endorsed by some district and county

conventions,46 thus making possible his support in the

Whig National Convention.

40 New York Herald, quoted in Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, April 23,

1848.

41 Teesdale to McLean, March 6, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XIV.

42 Dowling to McLean, May 1, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

43 Teesdale to McLean, February 28, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XIV;

Whittlesey to McLean, May 11, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

44 Stevenson to Clay, May 18, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXV.

45 Hamlin to Chase, May 20, 1848, Chase MSS., v. VI, Pa.

46 Ohio State Journal, March 3, April 17, 25, May 9, 29, 1848.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 269

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850      269

Clay's strength in Ohio depended upon the ability of

his friends to create the impression that he could win,

and upon the pledges he might make opposing the ex-

tension of slavery in the territories. Frequent defeats

and the lack of enthusiasm for Clay proved a tremen-

dous handicap.    Chase preferred    McLean, but an-

nounced he would support Clay if he would "take some

positive anti-slavery ground."47 Chase represented the

position of an anti-slavery leader with strong Demo-

cratic proclivities. Anti-southern leaders among the

Whigs also could support Clay if he opposed the exten-

sion of slavery in the territories. It was confidently ex-

pected that Clay would take this position--indeed, Stev-

enson and Bellamy Storer, of Cincinnati, said as much

in a public meeting in Cincinnati.48 When anti-southern

leaders, both Whig and Liberty, in May, signed a call

for a "People's Convention," in Columbus, Stevenson

urged Clay to make an explicit declaration against the

extension of slavery.49 Clay, sensing the gravity of the

situation, but still intent upon the presidency, asked Cor-

win whether or not he should withdraw, and Corwin

replied that any candidate who thought another person

had a better chance of winning the election should with-

draw; that Clay's Lexington resolutions had not quieted

the Abolitionists; and that, although he could obtain

more votes in Ohio than any other candidate from a

slave-holding state, he could not carry it against any

 

47 Chase to McLean, February 12, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XIV.

48 Stevenson to Clay, April 8, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXV. Stevenson

thought that Clay could command southern support by taking the legal

position that the law of a territory remained the same when transferred by

treaty.

49 Stevenson to Clay, May 18, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXV.



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Democrat from a free state.50 That Clay had really

lost the confidence of the anti-slavery leaders was

shown by Hamlin's statement in the Cleveland True

Democrat to the effect that Clay's "heart is not in the

anti-slavery enterprise--he is a slave-holder living in a

slave state, and freedom has nothing to hope from

him."51 Giddings, who had campaigned ardently for

Clay in 1844, now demanded a specific pledge from him

to oppose the further extension of slavery.52

Only for a brief period, in the fall of 1847, did sen-

timent in Ohio seem to favor Clay. This was occa-

sioned by the disgust of the regulars with General Tay-

lor's non-committal letters, and possibly if Clay had

taken strong ground against the extension of slave ter-

ritory at that time he might have obtained the support

of Ohio.53 But Clay refused, and hopes for his nomi-

nation passed so rapidly that his friends, embarrassed

by constant rumors that Clay would not run, insisted

that he give them a statement.54 Clay, still pathetically

interested in the presidency, sounded out the leaders as

to his chances. McLean told him that he should not run

unless there was the highest probability of success.

"Your fame," he wrote Clay, "is of too much value to

yourself and to your country to compromise it, in any

degree, on a hazardous result."55

Desire for the office finally overcame Clay, and, on

April 10, in a public letter, he decided to allow his name

 

50 Corwin to Clay, May 3, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXV.

51 Corwin to Clay, May 3, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXV.

52 Giddings to Chase, March 16, 1848, Chase MSS., v. V, Pa.

53 Stevenson to Crittenden, September 7, 1848, Crittenden MSS., v. XI.

54 Stevenson to Clay, May 18, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXV.

55 McLean to Clay, March 1, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXV.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 271

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850          271

to go before the Whig National Convention.56 Clay's

letter announcing his position was really a revelation of

his weakness and of his gullibility,57 and it had a bad

effect on his chances in Ohio.58 although the Ohio State

Journal remarked that, excepting Ohio's favorite son,

Clay was the most popular man in the State and that

his past utterances had shown that he would resist the

extension of slavery in the territories.59 The Cincinnati

Daily Enquirer (D) went to the heart of the whole

matter with the declaration "There is something rich

in the idea advocated by his friends, that the use of his

name is essential to the salvation of the Whig party in

the free states; that he, a southern man, and a slave-

holder, should be, of all others of his class, alone accept-

able to the north!"    The Enquirer maintained that the

really important consideration was Clay's attitude on

slavery in the territories.60 The Whigs of Ohio re-

mained cold and Clay's chief adviser in Ohio was forced

to admit in May that it might be wise to withdraw from

the race.61 The attitude of Corwin at this juncture is

difficult to explain. After having assured the friends

of McLean that his followers would support the Judge

as a second choice, he virtually repudiated that statement

and announced that he was urging the Ohio delegates

to vote for Clay first, Webster second, and finally, if a

 

56 Ohio State Journal, April 14, 1848.

57 James E. Harvey wrote that "It betrays a willingness to believe rep-

resentations that have not even plausibility to recommend them, and a mor-

bid passion for the Presidency which nothing but charity can extenuate.

It is evident that he plays his last card and that desperation guides the ven-

ture." Harvey to McLean, April 27, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

58 Teesdale to McLean, April 15, 1848, and Leavitt to McLean, May 3,

1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

59 Ohio State Journal, April 14, 1848.

60 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, April 13, 1848.

61 Stevenson to Clay, May 18, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXV.



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civilian were not available, to go for Scott.62 John W.

Allen, editor of the Cleveland Herald, summarizing the

situation in the Western Reserve, maintained that "Cor-

win and McLean can (carry) this region with a rush.

Webster would carry it strongly and so would Scott,

unless his nativism of 1845 were fastened on him. It

would be hard work to do anything for Mr. Clay and

death to do anything for old Zack. The delegates from

this region only desire to know who has the most

strength to determine their action. * * * As to the

free States, I think there will be no quarreling after the

nomination. We desire to win and care less who the

servant we employ may be, than that he be honest and

capable and an orthodox Whig."63 In short, the pre-

convention campaign left the Ohio delegation unpledged

on everything except the defeat of Taylor.

Between January and May, 1848, practically all the

Democratic organs and county conventions in. Ohio fa-

vored Cass for president and William Butler, of Ken-

tucky, for vice president.64 But the political situation

was more complex than this apparent unanimity would

indicate. A portion of the old Van Buren-Jacksonian

Democracy was willing to accept the nomination of Cass,

who was understood to be sympathetic with the South.

His enemies labelled him an "arch-dough-face."  Both

Medary and Allen had been disappointed by the Polk

Administration, the former by being refused a cabinet

and a consular appointment,65 and the latter by being

defeated in the conduct of relations with England in the

 

62 Stevenson to Clay, May 22, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXV.

63 Allen to --?--, May 12, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXV.

64 Ohio Statesman, April -- to May 25, 1848.

65 Medary to Allen, January 22, 1848, Allen MSS., v. VI.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 273

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850  273

"Oregon boundary dispute," and both were willing to

acquiesce in the nomination of Cass. But Medary, al-

though appointed as a delegate, did not attend the Na-

tional Convention. He told Van Buren that he had no

confidence in any of the new leaders, and particularly

not in Cass's advisers, but he explained that he liked

Cass personally and would vote for him if nominated.

Medary claimed that the Democrats of Ohio acquiesced

in the selection of Cass because of the latter's defence

of the American claims in the Oregon question, and

because it was generally believed that the Administra-

tion was opposed to his candidacy. Medary also ob-

jected to making an issue of the Wilmot Proviso be-

cause "There were higher, better, safer and less ob-

noxious grounds to take."66

A small portion of the radical Democracy was unwil-

ling to accept the leadership of Cass, whom they identi-

fied as an ally of the slave power. That they were domi-

nated by a jealousy of southern influence in the govern-

ment, rather than by any moral scruples concerning slav-

ery, was evident from the composition of this faction.

Brinkerhoff, one of the most important, was grievously

disappointed with Polk, who refused to appoint him to

the position of paymaster in the army.67 That he had

no particular sympathy with negroes, was shown by his

desire to prevent them from coming into Ohio, and to

force slave-holders to care for them.68 Benjamin Tap-

pan, who also opposed the nomination of Cass and later

 

66 Medary to Van Buren, May 5, 1848, Van Buren MSS., v. IV.

67 Polk's Diary, v. I, p. 466.

68 Brinkerhoff to Chase, March 22, 1847, Chase MSS., v. II, Pa.

Vol. XXXVIII--18



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joined the Free Soil party,69 continually assured Polk,

in the hope of getting political preferment,70 that his

was the only Democratic paper in Ohio. A third mem-

ber of the Ohio Democracy who belonged to this anti-

southern, rather than an anti-slavery wing, was James

W. Taylor, of the Cincinnati Signal.71 Although a Demo-

crat, Taylor had thrown his influence to the movement

to nominate General Taylor, but he proposed to go over

to the Barnburners, of New York, a radical reform

group under the leadership of Van Buren, if Taylor

should adopt any other position than that of an umpire

on the question of slavery in the territories or if he

should fail to appoint enough northern men to public

office.72  Thus an element of the Democratic party in

Ohio, dissatisfied with the domination of the National

organization by the South, proposed to join a similarly

dissatisfied  group    from   New    York.    They    hoped to

appeal to the voters on the rather abstract question of

slavery in the territories, but only because the extension

of slavery meant an addition to the political power of the

South.

The Democratic National Convention, which met in

 

69 Ohio State Journal, August 10, 1848. See Tappan-Blair Letters.

70 Polk's Diary, v. I, pp. 38-40.

71 James W. Taylor was born at Penn Yen, Yates County, New York,

in 1818; was admitted to the bar; moved to Ohio in 1841; delegate to the

Constitutional Convention of Ohio 1850-1851; State Librarian of Ohio

1854-1856; appointed by President Grant U. S. Consul to Winnipeg, Can-

ada, where he died April 28, 1893. For biographical sketch see Galbreath,

History of Ohio, vol. 2, p. 62.

72 Taylor ended the letter in which he explained his position to John

Van Buren, a Barnburner leader of New York and son of the ex-President,

with a rather obsequious request for a loan in order to rescue the Signal

from financial ruin. James W. Taylor to John Van Buren, April 18, 1848,

Van Buren MSS. v. LIV.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 275

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850    275

Baltimore73 May 22, 1848, was a stormy one. The De-

mocracy of New York, already divided into the "Hunk-

ers," or regular Democrats, and the "Barnburners," sent

two sets of delegates.74 The difficulties raised by this

contest may be appreciated from an analysis in the

Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, which thought that the

Barnburners were "disorganizers," who should be

pledged to accept the nominee of the National Conven-

tion. On the other hand, the same paper declared that

if they were excluded from the Convention, because they

would not accept such a pledge, the delegates from Ala-

bama, South Carolina, and Georgia should be excluded,

also, since they were pledged not to accept any man who

would not promise to oppose the restriction of slavery in

the territories.75 The Convention decided to settle the

contest by pledging each faction to abide by the nominee

of the Convention. When the Barnburners declined to

be pledged, the Hunkers were given their seats in the

Convention by action of a committee. A warm debate

followed, in which the Committee report was tabled, and

the Convention voted to hear the claims of each faction.

The Barnburners denied that they were Abolitionists

simply because they had supported a resolution in the

Democratic State Convention of New York to apply the

principles of the Ordinance of 1787 to the new terri-

tories. On the fourth day, the Convention decided to

seat both delegations and give every other state a corre-

sponding increase of representation, but both Hunkers

73 There had been a loud demand among the Democrats of Ohio that

the National Convention should be held in Cincinnati on July 4, but the

proposal fell upon deaf ears in the East. Washington Daily Union, De-

cember 11, 1847, January 24, February 12, 1848.

74 McMaster, op. cit., v. VII, pp. 544-545.

75 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, May 4, 1848.



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and Barnburners declined to accept the compromise and

withdrew from the Convention.76

On the fourth ballot, Lewis Cass was nominated for

president. McGrane, in his biography of William Allen,

gives Allen's account of the part he played in the Con-

vention, as related by Allen himself in 1873. According

to this account, the forces of Cass and Van Buren were

deadlocked, and a committee, composed of the friends

of each, visited Allen at Washington and offered him

the nomination for the sake of party harmony. Allen

refused the nomination and asked the committee to go

back to Baltimore and nominate Cass. To accept the

nomination, according to Allen, would have been an act

of treachery because he had been entrusted with the

management of Cass's campaign.77 Although this is Al-

len's own version of how an apparent deadlock was

broken, it is difficult to understand how Allen could have

played this role between the forces of Cass and Van

Buren when the latter had not even been placed in nom-

ination. McGrane explains Allen's preference for Cass

over Van Buren by Allen's desire to make the most

strategic political move, because Cass had the support

of the Democratic State Convention of Ohio, and be-

cause Allen did not sympathize with the recent anti-

slavery tendencies of Van Buren.78 It appears that sec-

tionalism dominated the anti-southern group in the Na-

tional Convention to a higher degree than it did those

who accepted the choice of the party. Moreover, as

Medary pointed out, Cass represented, to some degree,

the ardent expansionist sentiment of the Northwest

76 McMaster, op. cit., v. VII, pp. 544-545.

77 McGrane, op. cit., pp. 128-131.

78 Ibid., pp. 127-128.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 277

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850        277

and a hostility to England which always appealed to the

provincialism of the American.79 William O. Butler, of

Kentucky, was nominated for vice president. The usual

Democratic doctrines were endorsed and the Convention

declared that all efforts of Abolitionists and others to

induce Congress to interfere with slavery were danger-

ous and should not be countenanced.80

Cass's nomination was well received in Ohio, al-

though it encountered the opposition of the same ele-

ments that had fought against his endorsement in the

State Convention. Brinkerhoff was on the verge of join-

ing the Free soil movement in Ohio, a movement by

which Chase and the Liberty leaders hoped to obtain the

support of all who were dissatisfied with the actions of

the National Conventions, irrespective of party. Brink-

erhoff wrote to Chase, "I have for some time openly

declared and still do that I will not vote for Cass.

Whether I shall vote at all depends on results. Should

things take such a course as to induce me to believe that

my approval and support of the proceedings of the Con-

vention [People's Convention of anti-slavery elements

at Columbus] to come off on the 20th and 21st, would

be of any use to the Great Cause, I will not be slow in

letting it be known."81 The Cleveland Daily Plain

Dealer greeted Cass's nomination with black type head-

 

79 Political strategy probably played an even larger share, because, on

May 2, Blair wrote Van Buren that "There is, on the part of Benton and

Allen, a willingness to fight the battle on northern grounds boldly and un-

compromisingly." Francis P. Blair to Van Buren, May 2, 1848, Medary

to Allen, January 22, 1845, Allen MSS., v. VI; Medary to Van Buren, May

5, 1848, Van Buren MSS., v. LIV.

80 McMaster, op. cit., v. VII, p. 546.

84 Brinkerhoff to Chase, May 27, 1848, Chase MSS., v. II, Pa.

82 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, May 26, 1848.

83 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, May 29, 1848.



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lines "The Great West Triumphant," and interpreted

the nomination as a victory of the Northwest over the

South in which the two-thirds rule had been unable

to defeat the will of the people.82 This view was even

more clearly expressed in an editorial which declared

that "The fear of falling again into Southern hands,

and plodding through another administration under

Southern rule, has been gloriously relieved. A man has

been nominated whose birth, education, relations and

associations, are all of the Free States."83 The regular

Democrats hoped to keep the dissatisfied elements of the

State in line by interpreting the nomination as a victory

over southern domination.84 The Ohio Whigs, on the

other hand, considered Cass's selection as a victory for

the South, the Ohio State Journal declaring that "Any

other northern man might possibly show some inde-

pendence, but with Cass they [the South] felt safe."85

Thus both parties viewed the issue as one between the

rights of the North and the domination of the South.

The extension of slave territory was to both parties in

Ohio a symbol of the rule of the "Slave power" in na-

tional affairs.

The Whig National Convention met in Philadelphia,

June 5, 1848. That Taylor was the choice of a ma-

jority of the Convention was clear from the beginning.86

The anti-southern wing of the Whigs was anxious to

support McLean, since Chase had pointed out that if a

candidate acceptable to the Liberty men were nomi-

nated, the Whigs would secure the support of the anti-

84 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, May 30, 1848.

85 Ohio State Journal, June 1, 1848.

86 Harlan to Chase, June 2, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXV.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 279

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850        279

slavery forces of the North.87 The Whigs of New Eng-

land and Indiana were ready to cast their votes for Mc-

Lean if Ohio would lead the way,88 but, although seven

members of the Ohio delegation were ready to support

him, the majority thought that he could not be nomi-

nated, and that, in order to defeat Taylor, it was neces-

sary to support Scott, a northern military man.89 Fully

aware that he had small chance of success, Samuel Gal-

loway, representing the McLean delegates, had pre-

sented the name of the Judge to the Convention and

had promptly withdrawn it.90 McLean's friends in-

sisted that his defeat was due to the division of the

Whigs of Ohio,91 but the Judge was probably defeated

by the wide-spread distrust of his orthodoxy on gen-

eral Whig principles and by the lukewarmness of the

support of the anti-southern groups in Ohio. Ohio gave

one vote to Taylor, McLean and Clay, and twenty votes

to Scott on the first ballot, in spite of the fact that there

was no enthusiasm for the latter in the delegation.92

Ohio continued to support Scott until after the nomi-

nation of Taylor, when ex-Governor Joseph Vance

seconded the motion to make Taylor's selection unani-

mous, and made a plea for unity. Vance acknowledged

that he had opposed the nomination of Taylor largely

because of the fear that his nomination would disor-

 

87 Chase to McLean, May 25, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

88 Thompson to Corwin, May 15, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXV.

89 Whittlesey to McLean, June 12, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

90 Galloway to McLean, July 14, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV; this

occurrence later led to a misunderstanding between Chase and the Ohio

State Journal, the former maintaining that McLean was not bound by the

decision of the Convention, while the latter asserted the contrary and pub-

lished a letter from Galloway to show that his name was presented. Ohio

State Journal, July 31, 1848.

91 Smith to McLean, June 13, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

92 Stevenson to Clay, August 10, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXVI.



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ganize the Whig party in Ohio.93 The unwillingness of

the Whigs of Ohio to support Clay bitterly disappointed

Horace Greeley who had labored hard to procure the

nomination of the Kentuckian.94 In order to sow the

seeds of discord in the Whig ranks, the Ohio Democrats

sought to prove that Crittenden, apparently an ally

of Clay, was in reality working for Taylor95 and that he

was responsible for Clay's defeat.96

The Convention also brought Corwin's duplicity to

light. It appeared that, although he had assured the

workers of Clay during the pre-convention period that

Ohio was for Clay, he really had used Clay's name to

neutralize the Taylor movement. After that had been

accomplished, Corwin organized a movement in favor

of Scott in order to produce a hopeless confusion in the

political situation in Ohio. His friends on the Western

Reserve planned a meeting of the Whigs in Columbus

to ratify the nomination of the Whig National Conven-

tion if it should be any other person than Taylor. Should

Taylor be the nominee, Corwin's friends hoped that

Corwin would be the choice of the proposed Columbus

Convention. As matters turned out, the Whigs, who

were dissatisfied by the action of the Philadelphia Con-

vention, finally went into the Free Soil movement and

Corwin was left stranded, as far as his own ambitions

were concerned.97

No platform was adopted by the Whigs in 1848; but

 

93 Ohio Slate Journal, June 14, 1848.

94 Greeley to Clay, June 21, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXV.

95 See letters of Vance and Stevenson to Crittenden in Crittenden MSS.

v. XI.

96 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, July 28, 1848.

97 For this very interesting situation see George M. Botts to Clay,

August 23, 1848, and Stevenson to Clay, August 10, 1848, in Clay MSS.,

v. XXVI.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 281

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850    281

it was understood that the party endorsed the principles

of Taylor's letter to J. S. Allison, to the effect that

he was a Whig but not an ultra-Whig; that the veto

should never be used except in cases of violations of

the Constitution or hasty action by Congress; and that

the will of the people on such issues as the tariff, the

currency, and internal improvements should be carried

out by the President.98

The reaction of the Whigs in Ohio to Taylor's nom-

ination was not unexpected. On June 17, in an address

urging support of the nominee of the Convention, the

Whig State Central Committee stressed Taylor's ad-

herence to Whig principles and quoted from his letters

to prove that because he opposed the use of the veto,

he would not defeat an act of Congress extending the

Wilmot Proviso to the new territories."99 The Ohio

State Journal announced that, though it would have pre-

ferred a civilian to a soldier, and a citizen of the North

to a citizen of the South, Taylor was far better than

Cass, who was servile to the slave interests.100 But

Taylor's nomination awakened little enthusiasm among

the "staid, discreet, and ardent Whigs."101 Anti-south-

ern papers all over the State openly repudiated the nom-

ination, the Ashtabula Sentinel, Giddings' organ, as-

serting that "They [the Whigs] will not be likely to

surrender their honor nor their principles for the pur-

pose of sustaining a man whose hands are red with the

blood of innocence and who is in favor of extending the

98 For events of Convention see Ohio State Journal, June 12-13, 1848;

Niles' Register, July 5, 1848.

99 Ohio State Journal, June 17, 1848.

100 Ohio State Journal, June 10, 1848.

101 Ohio State Journal, June 17, 1848.



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cause of slavery upon territory now free and of erecting

new slave markets on soil that is now consecrated to

the rights of man."102 The Elyria Courier denounced

the Whig Central Committee for attempting to "seduce

the Whigs of the State from their principles."103   By

June 21, the following papers refused to support Tay-

lor: the Warren Chronicle, Massillon Telegraph, Ohio

Star, Ashtabula Sentinel, Cleveland True Democrat,

Medina Whig, Painesville Telegraph, Lorain Courier,

and Butler County Whig. The Mt. Vernon Times, Ohio

Repository, Conneaut Reporter, New Lisbon Palladium,

and the Akron Beacon awaited Taylor's statement con-

cerning his attitude on the Wilmot Proviso.104 On the

Western Reserve, where the defection was greatest, the

Whigs of Trumbull and Geauga Counties, refused to

ratify Taylor's nomination.105 The Cleveland True

Democrat repudiated the nomination in violent terms--

"And this is the cup offered by slaveholders for us to

drink. We loathe the sight. We will neither touch,

taste nor handle the unclean thing. We ask the Whigs

of Cuyahoga County to live up to the pledges they have

made."106 Lewis D. Campbell, a Whig member of Con-

gress and a delegate to the National Convention, pub-

licly renounced Taylor at a meeting of Whigs in Ham-

ilton.107

For a time it appeared that the whole Whig party

of Ohio would repudiate the nomination, but as time

 

102 Ashtabula Sentinel quoted in Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, June

12, 1848.

103 Elyria Courier quoted in Ohio State Journal, July 7, 1848.

104 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, June 21. 1848.

105 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, July 7, 1848.

106 Cleveland True Democrat, June 10, 1848.

107 Ohio State Journal, July 26, 1848.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 283

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850  283

elapsed and it became more evident that the Free Soilers

would endorse Van Buren, the ancient enemy of the

Whigs, for the presidency, the Whigs began to fall in

line behind the party candidate. From the first, a few

papers like the Maumee River Times had hailed the

nomination as the best which could have been made un-

der the circumstances and ended an editorial with the

exclamation, "All hail, then, General Taylor! the Peo-

ple's Candidate, and the People's President."108 "Rough

and Ready Clubs" were formed in Ohio by the Old

Guard of the Whig party, in an effort to exploit Taylor's

well-known traits,109 but the people refused to respond

with the enthusiasm they had shown in 1840. The re-

action of William L. Perkins, a prominent Whig of the

Western Reserve and a delegate to the National Con-

vention, was typical. For two days after the nomina-

tion, he indignantly rejected Taylor and wrote a letter

to that effect to the Ashtabula Sentinel. After closer

examination of Taylor's Allison letter, he changed his

mind and urged the regular Whigs of Ohio to support

Taylor because he was the lesser of two evils. Taylor

had been fairly nominated in a Convention, in which

the Whigs of Ohio had participated, and now, by the

Allison letter he had promised to abide by the wishes

of the representatives of the people. Perkins frankly

admitted that Taylor was the only man who could beat

Cass and that he had been selected because the Whigs

were tired of being beaten. The chief Whig organ of

the State welcomed Perkins's letter as the "dictate of

sound patriotism, enlightened policy, and true philan-

108 Maumee River Times, quoted in Ohio State Journal, June 14, 1848.

109 Ohio State Journal, June 15, 16, 1848.



284 Ohio Arch

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thropy."110     Nevertheless, as Perkins explained to Ew-

ing, it was difficult for Whigs who had announced their

opposition, to come to the support of Taylor. Perkins

assured Ewing that if Hale received the Free Soil nomi-

nation, the Whigs would lose Ohio but that if Van

Buren were nominated, it might be possible, with strong

support from southern Ohio, to carry the State for Tay-

lor."111 Corwin, nonplussed at the miscarriage of his

plans for a defection movement headed by the Whigs of

Ohio under his leadership, admitted to William Greene

that if he "could see any future beyond '52 he would

not vote for Taylor," but, as Chase wrote to Sumner,

"Corwin * * * has bent the knee and received the

yoke and goes for Taylor."112 On July 20, Corwin wrote

from Washington urging the support of Taylor on the

ground that he had been fairly nominated and that the

interests of the North were safe in his hands since he

would not veto acts of Congress.113 Although some of

Corwin's followers emphasized the safety to the North

which would result from Taylor's doctrine of Congres-

sional supremacy,"114 others were defiant. In fact Co-

110 Ohio State Journal, July 6, 1848; Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer,

July 19, 1848.

111 Perkins to Ewing, July 24, 1848, Ewing MSS., v. VII.

112 Corwin to Greene, June 15, 1848, quoted in "Selections from the

William Greene Papers, I," in Quarterly Publications of the Historical and

Philosophical Society of Ohio, 1918, v. XIII, No. 1, p. 28; Chase to Sum-

ner, June 20, 1848, quoted in "Selected Letters of Salmon P. Chase, Feb-

ruary 18, 1846, to May 1, 1861," in loc. cit., v. II, p. 138.

113 Ohio State Journal, August 8, 1848.

114 Ohio State Journal, August 9, 1848; The Ohio State Journal an-

nounced that "We are still, as ever, in favor of applying the principle of

the Ordinance of '87, whenever it may be applicable; and herein, if General

Taylor be not with us, he can not be more full against us than his com-

petitor--and we have the assurance that should that principle be applied

by the representatives of the people, it would not meet with a regal 'I forbid'

of General Taylor, as we have the pledge that it will from his competitor."

Ohio State Journal, June 12, 1848.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 285

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850   285

lumbus Delano actively canvassed the State for Van

Buren until after the State elections in October. He

then publicly declared that he could not support Van

Buren because a vote for him was a vote for Cass, and

that Taylor had given sufficient assurance in the Allison

letters that he would not veto an act of Congress em-

bodying the principles of the Wilmot Proviso, while

Cass had stated that he would veto such an act.115 Peter

Odlin, a delegate to the National Convention, shared

this view.116

Clay's friends could do little except acquiesce in the

nomination, although Peter Van Trump, of Columbus,

was very indignant, asserting that the Ohio delegation

had betrayed Clay chiefly through the machinations of

Vance."117 But Clay's supporters insisted on more satis-

factory evidence of Taylor's attachment to Whig princi-

ples before they would endorse the General. The reac-

tion of Stevenson was perhaps more typical. He ac-

curately summarized the situation in the declaration that

"Though I have a weak stomach for the fight, on two

grounds I must go for Taylor: first, because having

gone into the Convention, honor binds me to the result;

and second, in any aspect, Taylor is preferable to Cass,

and I can see no means so likely to be effective to destroy

Cass as running Taylor, though I confess I do not feel

intensely confident this will be effective * * *."118

Other Whigs, like Greeley, who fought hard for the

nomination of Clay, felt a delicacy in hoisting the stand-

115 Ohio State Journal, October 27, 28, 1848.

116 Ohio Statesman, August 31, 1848.

117 Van Trump to Clay, July 26, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXVI.

118 Stevenson to Clay, June 19, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXV.



286 Ohio Arch

286      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

ard of Taylor at once but later began to support the

nominee of the Convention.119

With the exception of the Liberty portion of Mc-

Lean's strength, his supporters reluctantly ratified the

Whig nomination. Although Galloway abhorred "the

spirit, manner, and motives by which General Taylor

was brought before the public," he thought Cass was

incomparably worse,120 while Teesdale, who had just

bought the Summit County Beacon, agreed to support

Taylor if McLean did not accept the nomination, which,

it was expected, the Free Soilers would offer him.121

McLean dallied with the Free Soilers just long enough

to ascertain that he had no chance of election. He re-

fused to come out openly for either candidate, although

he privately assured an anti-slavery leader that he was

opposed to the extension of slavery and wished that he

might believe "that all who express the same views were

sincere."122 Teesdale then announced his support of

Taylor in the Summit County Beacon on the ground

that he had been honestly nominated.123  William Miner,

another supporter of McLean, favored Taylor because

he wanted to see some removals from office.l24

Although a schism in the Whig party had been re-

vealed in December, 1847, when Giddings and three or

four other Whig members of Congress refused to sup-

port Robert C. Winthrop, the caucus nominee of the

Whigs for the Speakership of the House, because he

119 Greeley to Clay, June 21, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXV.

120 Galloway to McLean, July 14, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

121 Teesdale to McLean, June ?, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV.

122 McLean to Morse, October 26, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XVI.

123 Ohio State Journal, August 5, 1848.

124 Miner to McLean, October 27, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XVI.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 287

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850      287

was an adherent of the "Slave Power,"125 the anti-south-

ern elements of the major parties were unwilling to join

the third party until after their own national conven-

tions. Until Taylor was nominated, Giddings still had

faith in the anti-slavery character of the Whig party

and refused to join Chase in a call for an anti-slavery

meeting in Columbus in case neither of the old parties

nominated an anti-southern candidate because he felt

that such an action would "impugn" his motives.126 The

same attitude was taken by Brinkerhoff, who refused to

join the third party movement until after the Democratic

National Convention. His position was accurately

stated in his assurance to Chase that he was "willing to

do and sacrifice anything, if the result be certain and

important," but that he was not willing to take part in

a "movement likely to effect nothing but the destruction

of what little influence" he then had.127 In a similar let-

ter Tappan advised Chase not to call a convention of

the people until after the Democratic National Conven-

tion.128

The nomination of Cass and Taylor completely

alienated the anti-southern elements of both parties, and,

while the anti-slavery Van Buren Democrats of New

York were forming plans which resulted in the nomi-

nation of the ex-President on June 22 at Utica, New

York, by the New York Barnburners,129 a group of

Whigs, dissatisfied by the nomination of Taylor, issued

125 Giddings, Joshua A., History of the Rebellion; Its Authors and

Causes, p. 262.

126 Giddings to Chase, April 7, 1848, Chase MSS., v. II, Pa.

127 Brinkerhoff to Chase, March 28, 1848, Chase MSS., v. II, Pa.

128 Tappan to Chase, April 7, 1848, Chase MSS., v. XII, Pa.; Hamlin

advised Chase to the same effect. Hamlin to Chase, March 18, 1848, Chase

MSS., v. VI, Pa.

129 McMaster, op. cit., v. VII, p. 548.



288 Ohio Arch

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a call for a Free Soil National Convention at Buffalo.130

A week before the convention which nominated Taylor,

an appeal had appeared in the Cincinnati Gazette, signed

by three thousand voters, and calling for a Free Terri-

tory Mass Convention at Columbus on June 21. The

call, from the pen of Chase, invited all who opposed the

extension of slavery.131 Tappan, with his Democratic

sympathy for the Barnburners of New York, thought

that the Columbus Convention should be postponed until

after the meeting of the New York Barnburners, in

the hope of strengthening the Free Soil movement by a

coalition with the Barnburners, in case the latter nomi-

nated the proper person.132 Stanley Matthews, a pro-

tege of Chase and a Liberty leader with Democratic

proclivities, also opposed a nomination by the Columbus

People's Convention, and favored the adoption of strong

anti-slavery resolutions, the selection of delegates to the

Free Soil Convention at Buffalo, and an invitation to the

anti-slavery forces in other states to join the move-

ment.133 Hale, the Liberty candidate for president, did

not attend the Columbus Convention for fear of embar-

rassing its operations, but he announced his willingness

to withdraw as a candidate in case there was a chance

to unite all the anti-slavery forces under another

leader.134 The defection movement spread so rapidly

that, six days before the assembling of the People's Con-

vention in Columbus, Chase predicted that if a popular

man were named on the Free Soil ticket he would carry

130 Wilson, Henry, The Slave Power, v. II, p. 142.

131 T. C. Smith, op. cit., p. 129; Ohio State Journal, April 28, 1848.

132 Tappan to Chase, May 29, 1848, Chase MSS., v. XII, Pa.

133 Matthews to Chase, June 12, 1848, Chase MSS., v. XIV.

134 Hale to Chase, June 8, 14, 1848, Chase MSS., v. VI, Pa.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 289

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850     289

Ohio.135 Conventions of Liberty men met over the State.

endorsed Hale for president and announced their sup-

port of the People's Convention,136 and Chase labored

unceasingly to obtain a large attendance. His efforts

called forth the favorable comment from the Ohio State

Journal that "He is distinguished for his energy and

ambition. As a speaker, he stands at the head of the

Free Territory interests in Ohio, and is looked upon as

the champion of its reason, and the leader of its argu-

ment."137

The People's Convention met at Columbus, June 21,

with more than a thousand delegates present. Signifi-

cant of the willingness of the Liberty leaders to defer

to anti-southern Whigs and Democrats was the fact that

the president, Nicholas Sawyer, of Cincinnati, was a

Democrat, and the chief officers were either Whigs or

Democrats. At the suggestion of John C. Vaughan,

(Whig Free Soiler) the meeting recommended the hold-

ing of a Free Soil National Convention, at Buffalo, in

August. After addresses by Chase, Lewis and Birney

and the reading of a sympathetic letter from Giddings,

the Convention adopted strong anti-slavery resolu-

tions.138 Many of the leaders in the Free Soil movement

also were aware of the great popular demand for other

reforms along economic and political lines. Hamlin

wrote to Chase urging that, although the Free Soil

movement should not adopt free trade and direct taxa-

135 Chase to Hale, June 15, 1848, quoted in "Selected Letters of Salmon

P. Chase, III, February 18, 1846 to May 1, 1861," in loc. cit., v. II, p.

135. (House Documents, v 104.)

136 Matthews, Garretson and others to Liberty Convention of Columbus,

June 17, 1848, Chase MSS., v. XIV.

137 Ohio State Journal, July 25, 1848.

138 T. C. Smith, op. cit., p. 130.

Vol. XXXVIII--19



290 Ohio Arch

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tion at once for fear of giving too much of a "shock" to

the established order, it should endorse a tariff for reve-

nue so graduated as to protect all interests, and "hold

out the right hand of fellowship to all nations of the

earth for entering into a liberal system of free trade."

Hamlin also advocated such democratic principles as a

state convention to form a new constitution,"139 the elimi-

nation of small notes from circulation and the infusion

of a specie currency, legal reform, exemption of home-

steads from taxation, the advancement and improve-

ment of free schools, repeal of the Black Laws, and a

limitation of the extent to which the State could go into

debt.140 Although these principles were not incorporated

in the platform of the Columbus Convention, they were

approved in a perfunctory manner by another state con-

vention of the Free Soil party in December, 1848.141

The new movement spread so rapidly that by July

the National Era declared that it did not have room to

publish even brief notices of Free Soil meetings in Ohio

and that it seemed as if the old party organizations were

disintegrating.142 On the day following the Columbus

Convention, the Barnburners met at Utica with dele-

gates present from Ohio, Illinois, Connecticut, Wiscon-

sin and New York, and nominated Van Buren for presi-

dent. J. W. Taylor, of Cincinnati Signal fame, was

present to lend encouragement from the Democratic

bolters of Ohio.143

Van Buren's letter of acceptance astounded the regu-

139 See Chapter VII.

140 Hamlin to Chase, May 14, 1848, Chase MSS., v. VI, Pa.

141 See Chapter VII.

142 T. C. Smith, op. cit., p. 130,

143 Ibid., p. 125.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 291

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850     291

lar Democrats of Ohio, the Cincinnati Daily Enquirer

declaring that "Mr. Van Buren has wedded himself to

the one idea and wrecked his great reputation as a com-

prehensive statesman in the whirling vortex of a paltry

faction";144 while the Plain Dealer thought that "Ambi-

tion, either for himself, his son, or his family name; evil

counsels listened to in his retirement, from that whis-

pering gallery where envy holds her court; the poig-

nancy that invariably results from political defeat;

either one or all these causes tell the true interpretation

of this estrangement."145 Although Edward M. Shep-

ard, Van Buren's biographer, acquits his subject of un-

due desire for revenge, he admits that the use of Polk's

administration of the patronage to defeat the Barnburn-

ers in state politics may have influenced Van Buren's

decision to lead a defection movement in the Democratic

party, in spite of a former pledge that he would never

head such a movement.146  Although the regular Demo-

crats of Ohio professed sympathy with the principles of

the Barnburners, they asserted that this local quarrel

should not be allowed to extend beyond New York.147

The attitude of the regular Democrats of Ohio in oppos-

ing Van Buren was dictated by their appreciation of the

growing power of the West and by their belief that the

success of Cass would bring an end to southern dictation

in national affairs. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) de-

clared that southern influence had been predominant

even in the North. "The prominent politicians of both

144 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, June 29, 1848.

145 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, June 27, 1848.

146 Edward M. Shepard, Martin Van Buren, (American Statesman

Series, ed. by John T. Morse), pp. 340-370.

147 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, June 2, 1848; See also Washington Daily

Union, June 7, 1848; Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, July 12, 1848.



292 Ohio Arch

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parties," this Democratic paper asserted, "to even be

trusted by their constituents of the slave states--had

to proscribe anything like anti-slavery sentiments in

their bosoms, as well as utterly to profess, utterly to ab-

hor any political doctrine that had the least kinship to

the unclean thing. That southern influence was in fact

a despotism."148  The regular Democrats thus appealed

to the voters to support a man from the free states who

had a chance of election and who would have their in-

terests in view rather than a slaveholder from a slave

state.149

The question now arose as to whether the Liberty

men would cooperate with the more powerful Free Soil

movement to the extent of deserting Hale. Many of

them felt that such a union would endanger their aboli-

tion doctrines,150 but a powerful impetus toward concilia-

tion was given by the National Era and the Cincinnati

Herald. A Liberty Convention, held at Columbus on the

same day as the People's Convention, endorsed the Buf-

falo meeting but resolved not to support any one who

would not favor Liberty principles.151 From June to

August, "Free Territory" and Liberty conventions co-

operated in the union movement to the extent of electing

delegates to the Buffalo meeting.152 The strategy of the

 

148 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, July 18, 1848.

149 Ohio State Journal, June 29, 1848; Ohio Statesman, June to October,

1848.

150 George Bradburn, of Cleveland, who thought the Liberty Convention

of 1847 "Taylorized" by nominating Hale, declared that McLean was the

"judicial lyncher" of Van Zandt. Bradburn to Chase, June 25, 1848, Chase

MSS., v. XIV.

151 T. C. Smith, op. cit., pp. 132-134.

152 Ohio State Journal, July 8, 1848; The disaffected Whigs of Massa-

chusetts held a convention on June 28, to protest against the nomination of

Taylor. Lewis D. Campbell and Giddings represented Ohio in this meeting

where Charles Sumner and Charles Francis Adams renounced the Whig



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 293

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850              293

anti-southern leaders was to merge the Barnburners

with the Liberty men, and the discontented elements of

the two major parties. The anti-slavery leaders of Ohio

were anxious to have McLean chosen by the Free Soil

party at its Buffalo Convention and to that end negotia-

tions were carried on between him and the Free Soil

leaders.153 But the Judge doubted the expediency of al-

lowing his name to be used. To all proposals to use his

name as a vice presidential candidate he returned a de-

cided negative,154 although it was hinted that he would

be given the nomination for president in 1852.155 On

August 2, McLean informed Chase that in order to pre-

serve his "judicial character from reproach of any kind"

he should not accept the nomination, but two days later

he disclosed that he "might not refuse the nomination"

if there should be a "general upheaving" in his favor.156

Promises from Washington that he would be made the

standard-bearer of the Whig party in 1852, if he main-

tained his position of neutrality,157 probably did more

 

party. It was purposely held after the Columbus Convention in order to

take advantage of any move which the Ohio malcontents might make.

Sumner was anxious that McLean should be made the leader of the new

movement since they had lost faith in Corwin. Sumner denounced the

nomination of Taylor as the consummation of a conspiracy between the

"lords of the lash and the lords of the loom," and appealed to the dis-

contented of both parties to join the new movement declaring that the

issues of the tariff, internal improvements, and banks were "obsolete ideas."

Giddings announced his support of Van Buren with the declaration that he

could carry Ohio by a majority of 20,000. Sumner's Works, v. II, pp.

226-240; Sumner to Chase, June 12, 1848, Chase MSS., v. XIV; Ohio State

Journal, July 6, 1848.

153 Giddings to McLean, July 13, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XV; Thomas

Bolton, Edward Wade, E. S. Hamlin and others to McLean, July 12,

1848, McLean MSS., v. XV; Sumner to McLean, July 31, 1848, McLean

MSS., v. XVI.

154 McLean to Denny, July 31, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XVI.

155 Sumner to Chase, July 7, 1848, Chase MSS., v. XIV.

156 McLean to Chase, August 2, 1848, Chase MSS., v. VIII, Pa.

157 Whittlesey to McLean, July 24, 1848 and J. W. Allen to McLean,

June 24, 1848, in McLean MSS., v. XV.



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than anything else to prevent McLean from actively can-

vassing for the Free Soil nomination. Although Chase

would support McLean for president and John Van

Buren for vice president, he thought that the father of

the latter should be made the presidential candidate with

the Judge occupying second place on the ticket, because

of the moral effect of having representatives of the two

major political parties standing together on the slavery

question.158 As a matter of fact, McLean had no chance

to secure the nomination because the Barnburners, by far

the largest element in the new movement, insisted on the

primacy of Van Buren, and some of the Liberty leaders

were suspicious of McLean's adherence to Liberty prin-

ciples. No "general upheaving" took place and in

August McLean virtually allied himself with Taylor by

publishing a letter to a Whig committee announcing his

refusal of the Free Soil nomination, and asserting that,

without the sanction of law, slavery could not exist in

the territories and that the territorial legislature of a

territory could exercise no power not conferred on it by

act of Congress.159

The Free Soil National Convention was composed of

anti-southern Whigs, Free Soil Democrats, Liberty Men

and the New York Barnburners, the last two elements

being the largest. It was understood from the begin-

ning that the struggle for the nomination would come

Whigs.   By a compromise, the Barnburners secured

though Giddings had the support of the anti-southern

158 Chase to McLean, August 2, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XVI; Samuel

J. Tilden assured Chase that the Barnburners of New York were favor-

able to McLean's candidacy for vice president; Tilden to Chase, July 29,

1848, Chase MSS., v. XV.

159 Ohio State Journal, August 21, 1848.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 295

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850    295

Whigs. By a compromise, the Barnsburners secured

the nomination of Van Buren while they accepted the

anti-slavery principles of the Liberty party. The liberal

nature of other features of the platform showed a desire

to appeal to a variety of elements demanding economic

and political reform. This part of the party program

formed no part of Liberty principles, although a few

men like Hamlin and Chase favored them. The Free

Soil party demanded cheap postage, retrenchment in

governmental expenses and the abolition of unnecessary

offices, the election of public officers by popular vote, a

system of internal improvements, a Homestead Law,

early payment of the public debt, and a tariff for reve-

nue. In a comprehensive and catching phrase, the new

party advocated "Free Soil, Free Speech, Free Labor,

and Free Men." The Convention then selected Charles

Frances Adams, of Massachusetts, as Van Buren's run-

ning mate.160 Van Buren was denounced by the regular

Democrats of Ohio as a traitor to the party and he was

sharply reminded of a former statement that he would

never lead a defection movement. Moreover, it was

pointed out that the platform was silent about slavery

in the District of Columbia, possibly because Van Buren

had declared in 1836 that he would veto such a bill.161

The Ohio State Journal, in an effort to detach the Lib-

erty party and the anti-southern Whigs from the new

movement declared Van Buren's selection was a victory

for the Barnburners, who merely adopted Free Soil prin-

 

160 For details of the Convention, see T. C. Smith, op. cit., pp. 138-143;

Chase described the Convention as an enthusiastic gathering of 20,000 dele-

gates and asserted that McLean could have had the nomination. Chase

to McLean, August 12, 1848, Chase MSS., v. XVI.

161 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, August 20, 1848.



296 Ohio Arch

296       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

ciples for convenience,162 and concluded that "We cannot

forsake our long-tried and cherished party associations

to mingle with the ringed, streaked, and speckled of the

Jacobs of Buffalo.   *   *  *"163

The Free Soil movement, as a practical party in

Ohio, was composed largely of anti-southern Whigs

with conservative tendencies. But the addition of more

liberal-minded Whigs, like Hamlin, and radical Demo-

crats, like Norton S. Townshend of Lorain County, pro-

vided a leadership for the party which impelled it to ac-

cept more democratic principles. Moreover, the conserv-

ative anti-southern Whigs, finding themselves abused by

the regular Whigs, were inclined to accept the doctrine

of their new allies more readily. That the Free Soil

party of Ohio also attracted the support of the poorer

classes, interested in political and economic reform, was

evidenced by the character of the audiences which lis-

tened to Whig and Free Soil orators.164 Moreover, many

Free Soil leaders of northern Ohio belonged to the

"Land Reform Association," of Cleveland, a branch of

the National Reform Association, which opposed all spe-

cial privileges and particularly land monopolies.165

George W. Allen, a candidate of the Free Soil party for

Congress from the Tenth Congressional District, is-

sued an address to the people which was wholly de-

voted to plans for the distribution of government land

among the poor. Allen's address, breathing a spirit of

162 Ohio State Journal, August 12, 1848.

163 Ibid., August 9, 1848.

164 Briggs to Chase, September 15, 1848, Chase MSS., v. XV.

165 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, May 16, 1848. This branch numbered

such members as B. Mahan of Oberlin, Joel Tiffany of Elyria, Norton S.

Townshend of Elyria, Darius Lyman of Ravenna, Enos P. Brainerd of

Ravenna, J. L. Ranney of Ravenna, and George S. Marshall of Cleveland.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 297

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850   297

social revolt, directed the attention of the new party

to the danger of land monopolies rather than to the

wrongs of negro slavery.166

This tendency of the Free Soil party toward radi-

calism compelled the Democratic party to become more

liberal in its pretensions, in order to hold the believers

in Jacksonian democracy. Weller, the Democratic can-

didate for governor, approved the policy of the Na-

tional Reform Association for the distribution of land,

but Ford, the Whig, refused to reply to their interro-

gations.167 A Democratic candidate for the General

Assembly, from Cuyahoga County, found it advisable

to make strong appeals for the labor vote, declaring

his opposition to "exclusive moneyed monopolies," and

claiming membership with the "workers."168 In order

to counteract the new radicalism, the Whigs became

more conservative and appealed for support as the de-

fenders of the Constitution, the established institutions

and the traditions of society. After all, this was the

logical role for them to assume since the more liberal

portion of the Whig party as well as its anti-southern

wing were now in the ranks of the third party which

supported the "radical" doctrines of the Van Buren

democracy. It should be said, however, that the Free

Soil party, as a party, was careful not to assume too

advanced a position on these matters of reform, in

order not to antagonize those anti-southern Whigs and

Democrats who had joined the new movement.

It was evident from the beginning of the campaign

line against the inducements of the Free Soilers. Prac-

166 Ohio State Journal, July 29, 1848.

167 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, October 7, 10, 1848.

168 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, September 19, 1848.



298 Ohio Arch

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tically all political observers agreed that the Whigs

would lose far more votes by the nomination of Taylor,

that the fortunes of Cass and Taylor in Ohio depended

on the ability of the party leaders to hold the voters in

who was a southerner and had not been approved by

the Whig State Convention, than the Democrats would

lose by the nomination of Cass, who was a northern

man and had been approved by the Democratic State

Convention. Open defiance of Taylor marked the at-

titude of many Ohio Whigs even after the nomination.

The support of Cass by the masses of the voters of his

party was secured by the strong stand of Medary, Val-

landigham and Allen, who were able to rally most of

the old Jacksonian Democrats to his support. But there

was little enthusiasm behind their efforts, and some

Democrats joined the Free Soil movement, partly as a

result of natural interests and personal jealousies; partly

because of their opposition to the further extension of

slavery; and partly because of the influence of the

nomination of Van Buren, their former leader.

Among those Democrats who supported the third

party were the ubiquitous James W. Taylor, of the Cin-

cinnati Signal;169 George M. Swan, of Columbus;170 sev-

eral Democratic leaders of Dayton;171 Jacob Brinker-

hoff, of Richland County, still suspicious of his newly-

found allies;172 Charles Cist, of Cincinnati;173 and ex-

169 James W. Taylor came from New York to Ohio in 1841; edited the

Cincinnati Signal; moved to Sandusky, Ohio and edited the Democratic

Mirror.

170 Ewing to Van Buren; October 17, 1848, Van Buren MSS., v. LVI.

171 Jewett to Chase, October 6, 1848, Van Buren MSS., v. XV.

172 Brinkerhoff to Chase, October 18, 1848, and Hamlin to Chase, August

1, 1848, in Chase MSS., Vols. II, VI, Pa. Hamlin wrote Chase in regard

to Brinkerhoff: "Strange combination! It is only a little while since I

was making poetry on him for speaking one way and voting another. But

he is fully straight now and will practice what he preaches."



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 299

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850  299

United States Senator Benjamin Tappan. The latter's

course was determined to a large extent by personal con-

siderations. Replacing Thomas Morris in the United

States Senate, in 1839, because the latter was too zealous

in the defense of abolition petitions, Tappan had de-

clared in the Senate that "Whether slavery shall be abol-

ished in the District of Columbia or not, belongs not to

them to say; much less does it belong to the women of

Ohio to agitate questions of public policy, which their

own State Government has often declared it wrong in

her citizens to meddle with."174 In 1844, the Whigs con-

trolled the General Assembly and Thomas Corwin had

replaced Tappan in the United States Senate, but not

until the latter had voted in favor of the annexation of

Texas. Three and one-half years after the passage of

the resolutions to annex Texas, during which time he

not only supported the Polk administration175 but urged

Polk to run again in 1848,176 Tappan, in July, 1848, pub-

lished a letter in the New York Evening Post explain-

ing his vote on Texas annexation and questioning the

good faith of the President in that incident. Tappan

now joined the movement to nominate Van Buren on

the Free Soil ticket. He explained his apparent incon-

sistency by asserting that he and three other senators

had supported the joint resolution for the annexation

of Texas, permitting the President to negotiate with

Mexico, only after they had received assurance from

Polk through Senator Haywood, of North Carolina, that

he would choose the method of negotiation with Mex-

 

173 Flamen Ball to Chase, August 18, 1848, Chase MSS., v. I, Pa.

174 Cong. Globe, 26th Cong., 1st Sess., v. VIII, No. II, pp. 161-162.

175 Johnson to Polk, October 6, 1848, Polk MSS., v. LXXVII.

176 Polk's Diary, v. IV, pp. 38-40.



300 Ohio Arch

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ico. A letter from Francis P. Blair to Tappan, also

published in the Post, corroborated Tappan's state-

ment.177  Benton seemed to have been under the same

impression.178 Polk and all his Cabinet denied the ex-

istence of such a promise,179 and Blair's story loses force

when it is remembered that he and Polk were bitterly

hostile at the time over the control of the Administration

organ.180 After three years of the closest friendship

with the Administration, Tappan proposed to join the

Free Soil party and to strike a blow at the "slave power"

which had "plotted" the annexation of Texas.

The Democratic leaders in Ohio made strenuous

efforts to prevent a defection from their ranks in 1848.

They found the voters absolutely opposed to the ex-

tension of slavery. While local Democratic conventions

adopted resolutions repeating the slavery clause of the

platform drawn up by the last Democratic State Con-

vention, and opposing the further extension of slavery,

they discouraged joining a "bolting movement" based on

this principle alone.181 In order to convince the Demo-

crats that the election of Cass would not mean the fur-

ther extension of slavery, Senator Allen, whose seat in

the Senate was at stake, brought his great influence to

bear in an effort to secure support for the man whom

he and his supporters had formerly opposed.182 Allen

emphasized that the campaign between Taylor and Cass

 

177 Tappan and Blair letters in Ohio State Journal, August 10, 1848.

178 Benton, Thomas H., Thirty Years' View, v. II, pp. 635-638.

179 Polk's Diary, v. IV, pp. 46-47; Buchanan to Polk, November 9, 1848;

Johnson to Polk, October 6, 1848; Walker to Polk, November 6, 1848;

Bancroft to Polk, October 13, 1848; all in Polk MSS., v. LXXVII.

l80 Polk's Diary, v. I, pp. 87-357.

181 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, September 14, 18, 1848; Ohio States-

man, August 17, 21, 1848.

182 Washington Dailv Union. June 22, 1848; McGrane, William Allen,

p. 130.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 301

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850      301

was a contest of the masses against the classes;183 a

strategic move in view of the fact that the Van Buren

movement drew largely from the poorer classes.184 The

Plain Dealer considered Cass, who favored popular sov-

ereignty, in comparison with Van Buren, as the "most

unswervingly consistent Anti-slavery man of the two."185

Rallies of the Democracy of Cuyahoga County were

described as "Democratic Cass and Butler Free Soil

Meetings."186 Weller labored to prove that, by a cor-

rect interpretation of Cass's Nicholson letter, the people

of the territories were free to make their choice and

that slavery could not be extended into those regions

because of their geography.187 Cass's residence in the

North helped him among anti-slavery Democrats.188 The

Plain Dealer declared that "It is by southern adminis-

trations, sectionally speaking, and almost an unbroken

series of them since the foundation of the government,

that has [been] produced this high-wrought, frantic

and dangerous sectionalism.    Should the South now

succeed in adding still another southern executive--

not a statesman, not even a civilian, but a princely slave-

holder--well may we fear northern rebellion and a vio-

lent dissolution of the Union."189 Ohio Democrats

pointed out that members of their party in the South

were deserting Cass for Taylor because the former was

from an abolitionist state and associated with Aboli-

tionists.190 At a Democratic rally in Portage County,

183 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, October 4, 5, 1848.

184 See letters of Ohio Free Soil leaders to Chase in Chase MSS.

185 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, October 25, 1848.

186 Ibid., October 3, 1848.

187 Ibid., June 20, 1848.

188 T. C. Smith, op. cit., p. 148.

189 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, August 21, 1848.

190 Ibid., October 31, 1848.



302 Ohio Arch

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Reuben Wood, afterwards governor of Ohio, appealed

for the support of the anti-slavery elements by pointing

out that Cass, by association, sympathy and interest was

opposed to slavery.191 Medary was not willing to go as

far as his fellow-editors, in conciliating anti-southern

Democrats. Although admitting that Taylor owned

slaves, the editor of the Statesman declared that the

Democracy of the North and West held the "Union

above all price"; that they would not endanger its safety

by advocating "unjust doctrines"; and that they would

leave the question of slavery to the people of the terri-

tories where it rightfully belonged.192

Late in the Congressional session of 1847-1848, the

Clayton Compromise Bill, providing for a government

for Oregon, California, and New Mexico, was passed.

By its provisions Oregon was to receive the usual type

of territorial government with a delegate in Congress;

but New Mexico and California were given no delegates

and the legislative power was vested in a governor, sec-

retary and judges of the Supreme Court. Oregon could

choose between free soil and slavery, while the legisla-

tive powers of California and New Mexico were for-

bidden to enact any laws concerning slavery. The bill

passed the Senate but failed in the House.193 The Dem-

ocrats argued, in Ohio, that Cass, judging from his

Nicholson letter, would veto such an enactment of Con-

gress; while Taylor, by the terms of his Allison letters,

was pledged to sign it. Since the geography and soil

conditions of the territories in question would effectively

prevent the spread of slavery unless Congress estab-

 

191 Ohio Statesman, July 7, 1848.

192 Ohio Statesman, July 19, 1848.

193 McMaster, op. cit., v. VIII, pp. 527-532.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 303

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850          303

lished it by law, the position of the Democratic candi-

dates seemed to represent true free soil doctrine.194

The dissatisfaction among the Ohio Whigs, over the

nomination of Taylor, far exceeded the Democratic dis-

content over the work of their National Convention.

But Van Buren's attraction for the Democrats, of

course, was much greater than his appeal to Whigs, who

had learned in previous campaigns to dislike the Little

Magician. Giddings thought Van Buren would be sup-

ported less readily by the Whigs than any other possible

candidate.195 Harrison G. Blake, Whig Free Soiler of

Medina County, typical of those anti-southern Whigs

who were more anti-southern than Whig, had favored

the nomination of Hale, but finally supported Van

Buren whom he had opposed ever since he had come

on the "political stage of action," because he thought he

was the only man before the people who was "right" on

the slavery question.196   The Medina Whig, a Free Soil

paper, declared that "The masses of the people opposed

to the extension and perpetuation of slavery * * *

will learn, with chagrin and mortification" that the Buf-

falo Convention sacrificed principle for availability, by

nominating Van Buren.197 Chase found, however, that

194 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, August 27, November 4, 1948; Frederick

Grimke, an able Democratic ex-judge of the Supreme Court of Ohio,

regretted that the Compromise Hill did not pass. He asserted that "It

would not only produce more harmony between the two sections of the

country; it would produce more repose at the north; for I have observed

that the class of considerate, and highly intelligent men at the north feel

themselves exceedingly annoyed by the presence of Abolitionists, whose

manners and cultivation are in general so alien to their own." Grimke to

Greene, August 7, 1848, Greene MSS.

195 T. C. Smith, op. cit., p. 147.

196 Blake to Chase, September 22, 1848, Chase MSS., v. XV; Hamlin

to McLean, September 16, 1848, McLean MSS., v. XVI.

197 Medina Whig quoted in Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, August 18,

1848.

Vol. XXXVIII--20



304 Ohio Arch

304        Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

 

the Abolitionists of the Western Reserve were coming

to the support of Van Buren in spite of their political

opposition to him in earlier campaigns, and despite a

lingering doubt as to his attitude on slavery in the Dis-

trict of Columbia.198 When such men as Joseph M. Root,

Representative in Congress from the Huron District,199

and Giddings200 entered the campaign in behalf of their

former enemy, the Whig leaders of the Western Reserve

were really alarmed.201

The position of the Whigs was further complicated

by the gubernatorial situation. Constant appeals were

made by the party press to the voters not to allow de-

fection on National politics to endanger the success of

the party in the State.202     Since Ford was the official

leader of the Whigs in Ohio, his attitude on the nomi-

nation of Taylor seemed crucial, but Ford kept dis-

creetly silent, in the hope of retaining the Free Soil vote

as well as that of the regular Whigs.203 He explained

his dilemma in a letter to Chase. After naively admit-

ting that he wanted to defeat Weller because the latter

was a pro-slavery candidate, Ford explained that an

avowal of his attitude toward Taylor would make de-

feat certain; and that, therefore, it was his duty to the

State and Nation to remain silent.204 The Democrats

198 Chase to Van Buren, August 21, 1848, Van Buren MSS., v. LVI.

199 Ohio Statesman, October 31, 1848.

200 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, September 27, 1848.

201 J. Durbin Ward to Crittenden, September 2, 1848, Crittenden MSS.,

v. II.

202 Ohio State Journal, June 12, 17, 20, 24, 26, 1848.

203 Stevenson wrote that the Whigs were passing resolutions in their

county conventions to the effect that voting for or against Taylor was not

a test of Whiggery and that "Our candidate for Gov . . . is playing Gen.

Mum as to Taylor, thinking thereby he may whit into the Executive chair

of the State . . . even though Taylor loses the State." Stevenson to Clay,

July 26, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXVI.

204 Ford to Chase, July 29, 1848, Chase MSS., v. XV.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 305

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850          305

taunted Ford for his attempt to straddle the issue,205

and composed the following parody on the difficulties of

the Whig candidate:

 

To bolt or not to bolt, that is the question;

Whether it is nobler in the mind, to suffer

The stings and arrows of outrageous locos

Or to take arms against the Taylor bloodhounds,

And by opposing, end myself? To bolt--to dodge;

No more,--'and by a dodge to say we choke

Our conscience,-'tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wished. To bolt; to dodge.

Aye, there's the rub!206

But Ford continued his silence on Taylor's candidacy

to the end of the campaign. The Democrats charged

that the Whig Central Committee had destroyed a let-

ter defining his position,207 and had ordered him to re-

main silent until after the State election in order to

gain the Abolition vote.208 Ford's policy gained some

votes among the Free Soilers who regarded him as an

opponent of Taylor.209

With the embarrassment of Ford's non-committal

position hanging over them, the Whigs strove valiantly

to stem the tide of defeat in Ohio. Giddings and his

supporters were in open revolt. Appeals were sent to

Governor William H. Seward, of New York, and to

Horace Greeley, of the New York Tribune, to aid Cor-

win in a whirlwind campaign in behalf of General Tay-

 

205 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, July 7, 1848; Cincinnati Daily En-

quirer, July 6, 1848.

206 Western Empire quoted in Ohio Statesman, August 1, 1848.

207 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, October 4, 1848; Ohio Statesman, July

25, 1848.

208 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, September 22, 1848.

209 Chase to Briggs, September 27, 1848, Chase MSS., v. XV.



306 Ohio Arch

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lor on the Western Reserve.210       On the Reserve, Seward

found things "infinitely" worse than he had expected.211

The regular Whigs, in a bitter war on the deserter,

Giddings, nominated an independent for Congress after

Giddings had been selected by the Whigs in a district

convention.212    In a long address to the "Free Soil Men

of Ohio," Greeley appealed for support of Taylor as

the best way to realize their principles because a vote

for Van Buren would be a vote for Cass.

Probably the most effective weapon used by the Ohio

Whigs in 1848, was the Allison letter which they inter-

preted to mean that if the opponents of slavery exten-

sion would elect a Whig Congress, the interests of the

North would be safe because Taylor was pledged not

to use the veto. Greeley developed this argument and

it was used with great effect by all Whig campaigners

and particularly by Corwin, who even intimated that

Taylor favored the Wilmot Proviso.213 Ewing advised

Taylor not to write any more letters on the slavery

question, since the Whigs of Ohio were willing to accept

him on the basis of the Allison letter.214 But Ewing was

too optimistic. The defection of the Whigs went on so

rapidly that, in September, Taylor wrote another letter

 

210 Stevenson to Clay, September 9, October 2, 1848, Clay MSS., v.

XXVI; Whittlesey appealed to Follett to save the Western Reserve from

the "vandals." Whittlesey to Follett, October 11, 1848, quoted in "Selec-

tions from the Follett Papers, IV," in loc. cit., 1916, v. XI, No. 1, pp.

30-31; Crittenden to Ewing, September 1, 1848, Ewing MSS., v. VII.

211 Seward to Follett, November 9, 1848, quoted in "Selections from the

Follett Papers, IV," in loc. cit., 1916, v. XI, No. 1, p. 33; See also J. W.

Allen to Crittenden, September 9, 1848, Crittenden MSS., v. XI.

212 Elisha Whittlesey, a former law instructor of Giddings, charged his

pupil with having secured undue mileage allowances. T. C. Smith, op. cit.,

pp. 151-152.

213 Hamlin to Chase, September 14, 1848, Chase MSS., v. VI; Washing-

ton Daily Union, October 1, 1848.

214 Ewing to Taylor, July 22, 1848, Ewing MSS., v. VII, (Letter marked

"Copy").



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 307

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850                307

to Allison to strengthen the impression that he would

not use the veto to defeat the anti-slavery opinions of

the majority. In spite of this second letter, Van Buren

continued to gain in Ohio.215       It would be difficult to over-

emphasize the use made in Ohio of this doctrine of

Congressional supremacy. For the Free Soilers, it

proved very embarrassing.216          By August, Ohio Whigs

no longer urged the choice of Taylor as the lesser of

two   evils;217 but gave      the  positive   assurance     that he

would not only allow a territorial bill to pass embodying

the principles of the Wilmot Proviso, but that he posi-

tively favored that method of settling the question.

Of course the Democrats denounced this argument

as pure sophistry. Was it reasonable that Taylor, a

southern slaveholder who used bloodhounds to catch his

runaway slaves, would neglect the welfare of his sec-

tion, and prevent the extension of its "peculiar insti-

tution"? Southern Whig papers were quoted to prove

that quite the opposite interpretation of Taylor's atti-

tude on slavery in the territories prevailed in the

South.218 The Democrats pointed out the ambiguity of

 

215 Stevenson to Clay, October 2, 1848, Clay MSS., v. XXVI.

216 Jewett to Chase, September 1, 1848, Chase MSS., v. XV; in regard to

Corwin's labors to that end, George M. Swan wrote Van Buren that "Thim-

blerigging is less reputable business compared to his labors in cajoling the

people of Ohio into the belief that General Taylor is a Wilmot Provisoist,

by intimations that he had in his possession a private letter to that effect.

Thomas Ewing so declares and Mr. Corwin does not deny it." Swan to

Van Buren, October 17, 1848, Van Buren MSS., v. LVI; Ohio Statesman

September 21, 1848; Wilmot Proviso, (Massillon, Ohio), quoted in Cin-

cinnati Daily Enquirer, September 23, 1848; The Whig State Central Com-

mittee issued a secret circular in which they emphasized their belief that

Taylor would not veto any measure prohibiting slavery in the territories.

Ohio Statesman, September 22, 1848.

217 Ohio Statesman, June 22, 1848.

218 Natchez (Mississippi) Courier, quoted in Ohio Statesman, August 22,

1848; The Statesman declared that "while thus in the North Whiggery

claims General Taylor as the opponent of slavery, in the South he is claimed

as its friend, and his southern birth and his southern property as all cited



308 Ohio Arch

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Taylor's statements,219 and the Enquirer called atten-

tion to a pamphlet issued by the "Rough and Ready

Club," of New Orleans, arguing that the election of

Taylor would afford the greatest possible protection to

the South and West, and that these sections had noth-

ing to fear from the Wilmot Proviso if Taylor were

president, because he was a slaveholder, a native of Vir-

ginia, and a citizen of Louisiana with every feeling and

interest identified with the southern Whigs.220

In the energetic campaign carried on by the Whigs

in order to meet the double attacks of their enemies,

Thomas Corwin, who had occupied the most advanced

ground in opposition to the Mexican War, was the out-

standing figure. The Democrats pointed out the incon-

sistency of Corwin's new position;221 and the anti-south-

ern leaders in Ohio, who had only recently thought of

him as a possible candidate for the presidency, be-

moaned his lack of principle.222 Corwin confined his at-

tention largely to the Western Reserve, where Whig

fortunes were at lowest ebb. According to Whig ac-

counts his campaign was very effective.223 The Free

Soilers thought that he was received very coldly.224 Wil-

liam Dennison, Thomas Ewing, Joseph Vance, William

 

as evidence, which cannot be gainsaid, to show that in feeling he is arrayed

against the party that supports him in other sections." Ohio Statesman,

August 11, 1848; Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, July 15, 1848.

219 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, September 10, 1848; Washington Daily

Union, May 5, 1848.

220 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, September 10, 1848.

221 Ibid., August 23, 1848; Washington Daily Union, September 14, 1848.

222 Giddings to Chase, September 20, 1848, Chase MSS., v. XV.

223 Ewing to Crittenden, September 24, 1848, Crittenden MSS., v. XI;

Vance to Crittenden, September 21, 1848, v. XI; Ohio State Journal, Sep-

tember 23, 1848.

224 Bolton to Chase, September 18, 1848, Chase MSS., v. II, Pa.; Corwin

was burned in effigy at Cleveland, and no remonstrance was made although

he was making an address at the time. Hamlin to McLean, September 16,

1848, McLean MSS., v. XVI.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 309

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850      309

H. Seward, Governor Metcalfe of Kentucky, and in the

latter part of the campaign, Columbus Delano,225 were

other Whig orators who joined Corwin in a desperate

attempt to save the party from dissolution; but the fail-

ure of McLean and Clay to interest themselves vigor-

ously in behalf of Taylor greatly injured the party in

Ohio.226 This flying squadron of Whig orators was kept

busy denying minor charges calculated to prejudice

northern votes against Taylor. The Democrats claimed

that Taylor used bloodhounds to catch his runaway

slaves, and Corwin hastened to explain that they were

only used in tracking the slaves.227 The charge that

Taylor had sworn at the Third Ohio Volunteers and

described them as cowards and thieves, during the Mex-

ican  War, brought a categorical denial from        the

Whigs.228 Another fact which the Democrats kept be-

fore the public was that Taylor was a man of wealth,

and that he owned more than two hundred and eighty

slaves, valued at $150,000.00.229

Weller, the Democratic candidate for governor, was

loyally supported by the Democratic organization and

consequently the margin of his defeat was very small,

in spite of the fact of the Free Soil support of Ford.

Weller was attacked by the Whigs as a "hard-money,

sub-treasury free trade, pro-slavery, annexation Loco-

foco, of the straightest sect" and a "pitiful toady of the

Southern Slavocracy."230  He was one of the two mem-

 

225 Ohio State Journal, July 22, August 8, 1848; Ohio Statesman, No-

vember 3, 1848.

226 Vance to Crittenden, September 21, 1848, Crittenden MSS., v. XI.

227 Ohio Statesman, September 19, 1848.

228 Ohio Statesman, August 4, 5, 1848; Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, No-

vember 1, 1848.

229 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, July 8, 1848.

230 Ohio State Journal, January 25, 1848.



310 Ohio Arch

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bers of Congress from Ohio who had voted for the

"gag" rule,231 and his participation in the Mexican War

was conclusive proof that he was a supporter of south-

ern expansion. His resolution to censure Giddings for

his conduct in the Creole case completed the proof of

his abject servility to the South.232 The Whigs added

that Weller had acted the coward during a military en-

gagement, and that, as one of the commissioners of the

Surplus Revenue Fund, he had loaned money without

requiring proper securities.233

The Ohio Black Laws again became an issue during

the gubernatorial campaign, Ford unreservedly favor-

ing their repeal apparently because of pressure from

the Free Soilers.234 The Democrats of the Western

Reserve avoided the issue but their brothers in the

southern part of the State opposed repeal, the Enquirer

drawing a gloomy picture of what would happen to

southern Ohio if repeal, an open invitation to negroes

to come to Ohio, were carried out. That organ ap-

pealed to all the latest race prejudices of whites who

were forced into economic competition with the incom-

ing blacks. The Democrats denied that the Black Laws

were cruel, and argued that they were measures to pre-

serve the State from the offal of slavery.235  The En-

quirer declared that "Ford, and his Abolition neighbors

on the Reserve, may well grow large and liberal-minded,

and soar above all petty and vulgar prejudices on ac-

231 Niles' Register, v. XVI, p. 15.

232 Ohio State Journal, August 22, 1848.

233 Ohio Statesman, May 2, 1848; Ohio State Journal, July 10, October

24, 1848.

234 Chase to Ford, July 11, 1848, quoted in "Selected Letters of Salmon

P. Chase, February 18, 1848, to May 1, 1861," in loc. cit., 1902, v. II, pp.

138-139.

235 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, September 14, 1848.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 311

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850    311

count of color. They have easy times in the way of

paying the piper. It is not their poorhouses that are

filled--nor their criminal courts that are burdened-

their white laborers are not subjected to such a competi-

tion, nor their properties subject to be plundered by

such a people. The southern portion of the State takes

all that. Hamilton County has heaped upon her shoul-

ders a back-breaking load, by way of foretaste to the

delightful burden she may prepare for, when the Re-

serve has it all her own way--at our expense."236 The

issue was far more clearly drawn in 1848 than in

1846.237

The Whigs also emphasized what they termed Cass's

lack of enthusiasm for internal improvements, a good

campaign argument in Ohio where the people favored

internal improvements by the Federal Government, al-

though the Democratic organization had always ren-

dered a perfunctory obeisance to the traditional Demo-

cratic principle of strict construction. In July, 1847, a

Convention was held in Chicago in the interest of in-

ternal improvements, and Cass, among others, was in-

vited. When "circumstances" prevented his attend-

ance238 the Whigs interpreted his action as opposition

to western interests. The Democrats, in answer, pointed

to Cass's vote in the last Congress in favor of a River

and Harbor Bill.239 The Plain Dealer maintained that

Cass had always favored internal improvements in op-

position to certain "crack-brained and hair-splitting

politicians" of the party, and that he had refused to

236 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, September 26, 1848.

237 Geauga Whig, (Ford's organ), quoted in Ohio Statesman, November

30, 1848; See also Ohio Statesman, January 31, 1848.

238 Ohio State Journal, July 3, 1848.



312 Ohio Arch

312       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

attend the Chicago Convention because he knew that

it was arranged by the Whigs for political purposes.240

Both parties endeavored to make political capital out

of Cass's efforts, while Minister to France in 1841, to

defeat the British proposal to allow her men-of-war to

search suspicious vessels off the Coast of Africa in order

to suppress the slave-trade. Cass had defeated French

ratification of the British treaty and, therefore, was

roundly abused by the anti-slavery interests on the

charge of being pro-slavery. But his position, that only

a belligerent can exercise the right of search, was cor-

rect from the standpoint of American and international

law.241 The Whig papers condemned Cass as an apol-

ogist of the slave-trade; while the Democrats lauded

him as a patriotic defender of the old American doctrine

of resistance to the right of search.242     The Enquirer

appealed to the anti-British complex of its readers by

assuring them that the aristocracy of England hoped for

the election of Taylor because of their hatred of Cass.243

The importance of the ever-increasing foreign vote,

due to a large immigration of Irish and Germans in the

'forties, cannot be overlooked in the election of 1848.

The Democrats not only pointed out that the Whigs

were the traditional enemies of the newcomers, having

inherited this nativist attitude from the Federalists, but

that their candidate was endorsed by every native Amer-

239 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, June 7, November 3, 1848.

240 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, May 27, June 12, 1848.

241 J. S. Reeves, American Diplomacy Under Tyler and Polk, pp. 33-38.

242 Ohio Statesman, June 28, July 6, 1848; the Enquirer declared that if

it had not been for Cass "The decks of a vessel, above which floated the

glorious stars and stripes, could be polluted by the tread of some upstart

minion of England's navy with impunity..." Cincinnati Daily Enquirer,

June 21, 1848; Cincinnati Daily Gazette, June 26, 1848; Cleveland Daily

Plain Dealer, November 6, 1848.

243 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, September 27, 1848.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 313

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850          313

ican paper in the East.244 The Enquirer asked the for-

eigners if they would join the "motley throng which

enrolls in its members the church-burning Nativists of

Philadelphia?"245. That the Democrats were clearly

alive to the necessity of retaining their already formid-

able hold on this class of voters is seen from the follow-

ing announcement of a political meeting in Cleveland:

"1000 Laborers Wanted! Irishmen, Germans and La-

boring Men" to be addressed by a Cleveland me-

chanic."246  Although the Whigs made energetic efforts

to reach the Germans and Irish with campaign ma-

terial,247 the Democrats were successful in retaining their

allegiance,248 an enthusiastic Democrat writing that

"The Irish Catholics are right to a man. The Germans

are fired with unappeasable resentment against the Na-

tives and their well-known allies."249

Some effort was made by the Democrats to turn the

election of 1848, like that of 1847, into a patriotic refer-

endum    on the Mexican War. In their gubernatorial

candidate, the Democrats had the incarnation of patriot-

ism. The Ohio Statesman declared that the oft-quoted

statement that Ohio had been in the "forefront of oppo-

sition to the War" would be verified if Ford were

elected;250 while the Enquirer argued that Weller's de-

244 Ohio Statesman, June 16-30, 1848; Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, June

23, 1848.

245 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, October 25, 1848.

246 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, October 31, 1849.

247 Whittlesey to Follett, October 19, 21, 1848, quoted in "Whittlesey Se-

lections from the Follett Papers, IV," in loc. cit. 1916, v. XI, No. 1, pp.

31-32.

248 Jacob Reinhard, editor of the Westbote, made particular efforts to

retain all the Germans in the Democratic ranks, Ohio Statesman, October

28, 1848.

249 Humphrey to Allen, April 17, 1848, Allen MSS., v. XVI.

250 Ohio Statesman, September 23, 1848.



314 Ohio Arch

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feat would be interpreted as a condemnation of the War

with Mexico: "The struggles and sacrifices and brilliant

triumphs of our brave troops, as having been put forth

in a war against God * * * * Yes, the bloody hands

of Tom Corwin may then well be raised in tri-

umph * * * *"251 However, the excitement over

slavery in the territories almost completely absorbed the

interest of the voters.

Ford was chosen by a narrow margin in an election

which was not finally determined until after the votes

were officially canvassed by the General Assembly.252

The Free Soilers held the balance of power, both in the

House and on joint ballot of the Legislature. Most of

the Free Soil members came from the Western Reserve,

the old Whig stronghold.253 If two Free Soilers should

join the Democrats in the House, the Whigs would be

outvoted. A bitter legislative fight followed, aggra-

vated by a dispute over the seating of two Hamilton

County Democrats.254 Taylor Whigs explained Ford's

small majority on the ground that "he lost many Whig

votes that stood too over plumb to vote for a man the

least bit tinctured with abolition" and because he failed

to endorse Taylor.255 The Plain Dealer maintained that

"Old fashioned federalism, new light Van Burenism,

fanatical Abolitionism, National Reformism, par excel-

lence Free Soilism, and every other ism known in this

wizard age, have joined, or rather conspired, to elect

Ford," and that only a nonentity like the Whig candi-

 

251 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, August 30, 1848; See also Washington

Daily Union, December 27, 1848; Ohio Statesman, September 25, 1848.

252 Ohio Statesman, January 20, 1849.

253 Ibid., October 23, 1848.

254 See Chapter VI.

255 Vance to Crittenden, October 24, 1848, Crittenden MSS., v. XII.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 315

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850           315

date could have combined all those elements.256 The

Enquirer concluded that the Democrats had virtually

won a victory, since Ford's election had been conceded

by a large majority in September, and because the Dem-

ocrats won a majority of seats in the next Congress.257

The Enquirer explained these results on the ground that

the progressive and liberal tendencies of the Democratic

party attracted the younger voters; that the Whigs were

disgusted with the nomination of Taylor; and that nine-

tenths of the foreign voters were in the Democratic

party.258   In  some   cases   the  election   of  Free    Soil

members to the General Assembly had occurred in the

face of bitter opposition from both major parties. In

Summit County, the Free Soilers coalesced with the

Democrats to elect an anti-slavery Democrat (Lucien

Swift), while in other counties the third party threw

its strength to the Whig candidate.259 In many cases,

the Whig party was badly demoralized, having lost its

hold on the Western Reserve for the first time since

the organization of the party in Ohio.

The narrow margin of victory in the State election

convinced the Whigs that Ohio would cast its votes for

Cass unless vigorous steps were taken immediately. On

 

256 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, October 11, 1848.

257 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, October 22, 1848; The Daily Union judged

the close vote to be a victory for the Democrats and declared the result to

be largely due to the speaking of Allen and Weller and to the sterling work

of Medary. Washington Daily Union, October 15, 18, 1848; There were

eleven Democrats elected to Congress, among whom were David T. Disney,

Edson B. Olds, Charles Sweetser, Moses Hoagland, and Joseph Cable; five

Taylor Whigs, Robert C. Schenck, Moses B. Corwin, John L. Taylor,

Samuel F. Vinton and Nathan Evans; two Whigs who were not Taylor

Whigs, William F. Hunter and Lewis D. Campbell; and three Free Soilers,

John Cromwell, Joshua R. Giddings and Joseph M. Root. Ohio Statesman,

October 21, 1848.

258 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, October 15, 1848.

259 Ohio State Journal, October 25, 1848.



316 Ohio Arch

316      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

the day of the State election, Ewing wrote that if Ford

carried the state by 12,000, Taylor would win; but that

if the Whig gubernatorial candidate had a majority of

only 6,000, Ohio was lost for the national candidate. At

the same time, Ewing pointed out that if support of Ford

were represented as a test vote in the presidential elec-

tion, the Whigs would lose 5,000 votes which would

otherwise be cast for Ford.260 Cass carried Ohio by

a plurality: 154,769 for Cass, 138,349 for Taylor, and

35,344 for Van Buren--the latter obtaining most of his

support from the counties of the Western Reserve, and

carrying only Ashiabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lo-

rain, and Trumbull.261

It was evident that the Free Soil movement had al-

most wrecked the Whig party in Ohio. Vance believed

the refusal of McLean and Clay to endorse Taylor and

the enmity of the farmers in the sugar-maple region of

Ohio, against the competition of slave labor in the sugar

districts of Louisiana, had injured the party in Ohio.262

Chase concluded that Cass carried Ohio because it was

generally believed that Taylor would not veto the Pro-

viso. The Cleveland True Democrat thought the small

Free Soil vote was due to the inherent prejudice of the

Whigs of the Western Reserve to Van Buren.263

The reaction of the major parties to Taylor's elec-

tion is interesting. To the Democrats it appeared to

be a Southern triumph and an indication that the South

had deserted Cass because Taylor would preserve the

interests of slavery more securely.264 The Ohio States-

260 Ewing to Crittenden, October 6, 1848, Crittenden MSS., v. XII.

261 Ohio Statesman, November 22, 25, 1848.

262 Vance to Critenden, November 13, 1848, Crittenden MSS., v. XII.

263 T. C. Smith, op. cit., p. 155.

264 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, November 23, 1848.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 317

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850      317

man and the Enquirer maintained that it was a vote

of the East against the West, and that it was "time

the West had set up for itself, if selfishness is the pre-

dominant and ruling idea in the East and South."265

The reaction of the Plain Dealer also revealed the grow-

ing dislike of the voters of both parties in Ohio to

the influence of the South in the government. For

"Forty-eight years the South, with less than one-third

population have had the administration of this Govern-

ment," so ran the comment of the Plain Dealer, "and

they have used its patronage and power to strengthen,

extend, and perpetuate the dominion of slavery * * * *

The people of the North have decided to continue this

power in the hands of slaveholders another four years

* * * * It was a crisis at which the Free States, if

ever, should have had the management of the govern-

ment, and settled all sectional questions in favor of free-

dom."266

1848 witnessed the birth of a formidable third party,

dominated by a protest against southern dictation, and,

on the surface, the extension of slavery. The Whig

party in Ohio had been torn asunder by the nationaliz-

ing influence of party organization, on the one hand;

and the insistent demands of the sectionalism of the

Northwest, on the other. The Democratic party, al-

though it felt the strain to a considerable extent, was

able to avoid a breach as an older organization with

strong traditions of party loyalty. The election of 1848

265 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, November 17, 1848; the Union protested

against this interpretation declaring that if they, in the East, had failed to

sweep the country, it was not from any Democratic opposition to the can-

didate from the West. Washington Daily Union, November 14, 1848.

266 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, November 10, 1848.



318 Ohio Arch

318      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

began the disintegration of political parties which culmi-

nated in the formation of the Republican party in 1854.

The struggle between the economic and political interests

of the Northwest and those of the Nation as a whole

continued and formed the basis for the rivalry of the

parties in Ohio for the remainder of the decade.



CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VI

 

 

THE APPORTIONMENT BILL OF FEBRUARY, 1848

From its admission into the Union to 1840, Ohio

had, for the most part, been under the control of the

followers of Jefferson. A number of causes combined

to break this control and make of Ohio during the 'for-

ties a bitterly contested battle-field. The most important

was the transformation of the Whig party from an or-

ganization somewhat "tainted" with Federalism into

one which deigned to engage in the saturnalia of a

"Hard Cider" campaign and trumpet through the state

its pretensions to Jeffersonianism. The Whig party pa-

raded as the "poor man's friend" and its leaders talked

much of the homely virtues. Another cause was the

failure of the national Democratic organization to re-

alize the power of the growing Northwest and the conse-

quent neglect to reward its followers in that section with

patronage in proportion to their importance. Other im-

portant reasons were the recurrent financial depressions

growing out of the panic of 1837 and the stringency of

specie during the early 'forties. Financial intimidation

of debtors by the holders of wealth added followers to

the Whig ranks--followers who accepted the prosperity

arguments of the Whig orators with a facility which an-

ticipated the success of the "full dinner pail" appeal of

later years. These forces resulted in a close political

division of the State. Perhaps as a consequence, gerry-

(319)



320 Ohio Arch

320       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

mandering, a device which lent itself to the schemes of

wily politicians, was frequently used in Ohio to defeat

the will of the majority of the voters and to insure po-

litical control to the party which happened to have a

majority in the Assembly.

Both in aim and in methods of resistance to its exe-

cution, the Whig Apportionment Bill of February, 1848,

resembled the earlier attempt of the Democrats in 1842

to divide the State into congressional districts in order

to secure control of the congressional delegation. This

attempt had been defeated, as has already been pointed

out, by the resignation of the Whig members of the

House, which left the Assembly without a quorum.1

The first Ohio State Constitution provided that the

General Assembly should apportion representation

among the several counties in proportion to population.2

The controversy over the constitutionality of the act

passed by the Whig Legislature on February 18, 1848,3

in accordance with this provision of the State Constitu-

tion, became so bitter that it convulsed the State for

two years; interrupted legislative procedure for weeks;

led to a realignment of parties and to the election of

Salmon P. Chase to the United States Senate.4

Before the State elections were held in October,

1847, attention had been called by Whig papers to the

need of a fair districting of the State, on the ground

that the Democrats had been able to control the General

 

1 Ohio Senate Journals, v. XI, Part 2, pp. 340, 348, 353, 354, 395-396

Vote for passage stood 18-17; See also Chapter II. McMaster, op. cit., v.

VII, p. 71. Ibid., p. 67. Ohio Senate Journals, v. XL, Part 2, p. 400.;

Niles' Register, August 27, 1842, p. 403-404.

2 Article I, Sections 2 and 6.

3 Laws of Ohio. v. XLVI, pp. 57-64.

4 See Chapter VII.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 321

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850            321

Assembly, previously, by gerrymandering.5 The issue

assumed additional importance because upon the 1848-

1849 Legislature depended the election of a successor to

William Allen to the United States Senate. The Ham-

ilton Intelligencer favored dividing the State into single

member districts; and the Clermont Courier recalled

how the Democrats in 1839-1840 had united Clermont,

Brown, and Clinton Counties in order to overcome Whig

majorities.6

Reapportionment had not figured in the campaign

of 1847, and the Democratic leaders, therefore, were

all the more surprised, when on January 12, 1848, an

apportionment measure was introduced by the Whigs

in the Senate, providing among other things, for the

division of Hamilton County into two electoral districts

and assigning two senators and five representatives to

the whole County as before.7 This measure the Demo-

crats denounced as unfair, unjust and unconstitutional,8

and centered their fire on the proposed division of Ham-

ilton County. The Whigs, of course, defended the act,

the Cincinnati Chronicle declaring that it provided for

representation of the business and commercial classes

 

5 Carroll Free Press, quoted in Ohio State Journal, September 7, 1847.

6 Hamilton Intelligencer, quoted in Ohio State Journal, November 13,

1847.

7 Laws of Ohio, v. XLVI, pp. 57-64. As finally passed, the Law pro-

vided that the General Assembly of Ohio should be composed of thirty-six

senators and seventy-two representatives, to be apportioned as follows--"To

the County of Hamilton, two senators and five representatives, to be elected

as follows: So much of said County of Hamilton, as is comprised within the

limits of the district now constituted by the First, Second, Third, Fourth,

Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Wards of the City of Cincinnati, shall

compose the First District, and shall be entitled to one senator and two

representatives; . . . So much of said County of Hamilton, as is not in-

cluded in the First District, shall compose the Second District, and shall be

entitled to one senator and three representatives . . ."

8 Ohio Statesman, February 19, May 10, 1848.

Vol. XXXVIII--21



322 Ohio Arch

322         Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

of the city which hitherto had been outvoted by the

suburban and rural population.9

The Democratic press of the State was united in the

assault on the Apportionment Bill of 1848. The Mount

Vernon Banner described it under the caption, "Revo-

lution at the Capitol"; the Guernsey Jeffersonian re-

ferred to "High-handed Federal Villainy"; and the Lan-

caster, (Ohio), Eagle considered the measure "Revolu-

tionary in    the extreme."10 Samuel Medary's attacks,

as editor of the Ohio Statesman, afford a typical ex-

ample of the violent journalism of the 'forties. Med-

ary spared neither the Bill nor its authors.11 Democratic

leaders and Democratic newspapers followed his lead-

ership, although some papers, like the Cincinnati Daily

Enquirer, adopted a milder and more conservative

tone.12

The Bill passed the Senate,13 was amended slightly

 

9 Cincinnati Daily Chronicle, quoted in Ohio State Journal, February 1,

1848. It became clear in the campaigns of 1848 and 1849 that the division

of Hamilton County had been proposed as early as 1843, but that the "older"

and "wiser" Whigs had opposed the scheme on the ground of constitutionality

and expediency. Nevertheless, zealous and partisan Whigs determined to

press the matter; and, in the 1844 session of the Legislature, R. F. Payne

(W), at the instance of the Hamilton County Whigs, had brought the pro-

posal before the Judiciary Committee only to have that committee, which

was composed of three Whigs and two Democrats, again reject the plan as

unconstitutional. The Senate then requested an opinion from the attorney-

general, Henry Stanbery, and the latter reported, on January 17, that the

General Assembly had the power to divide Hamilton County for purposes

of representation. J. J. Coombs, B. F. Cowen, and R. F. Payne were the

Whig members of the committee; Edward Archbold and James H. Ewing,

the Democrats; Senate Journals, v. XLVI, p. 245. Cincinnati Daily En-

quirer, January 26, 1848.

10 Editorials from these papers quoted in Ohio Statesman, February 26,

1848.

11 Ohio Statesman, January 17, May 10, 1848.

12 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer for this entire period. There had been

friction between the Broughs, John and Charles (editors of the Enquirer),

and Medary, since the campaigns of 1844 and 1846, when Medary supported

Van Buren and "Hard Money," while the Broughs sided with Cass and

"Constitutional Currency."

13 Ohio Senate Journals, v. XLVI, pp. 339-340, January 28, 1848.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 323

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850   323

by the House and returned to the Senate on February

14. Seeing that its passage was certain, the Demo-

cratic senators vacated their seats in order to prevent

a quorum.14 In a paper submitted to the Speaker of

the Senate, setting forth the reasons for their with-

drawal,15 the Democratic Senators declared the Bill was

a "daring infraction of the Constitution and a violation

of all established usage," and argued that, "To divide a

county for representatives and senators, and to appor-

tion one part of the county to one legislative district and

a part of it to another is a plain act of revolution on the

part of the majority who attempt it; it is a fundamental

change of our political organization plainly forbidden by

the Constitution."16 The Democrats consented to return

only if the bill were purged of its objectionable feature

or if the Senate should consider other measures.

The seceding Democratic senators also drew up an

address to the people, notable as a document of social

protest. After referring again to the unconstitution-

ality and injustice of the Apportionment Bill and the in-

ability of the minority to get redress from the courts,

they concluded, "The remedy is now in the hands of the

people. The Democrats have struggled valiantly but

hopelessly for four years against invasions of every de-

scription upon the rights of the people. Law upon law

went upon your statute-books * * * all having one

tendency to destroy that political equality upon which

alone rests the fabric of our democratic government.

Rights were granted to wealth and denied to labor,

 

14 Ohio Senate Journals, v. XLVI, p. 560.

15 Ohio Statesman, February 15, 1848; Ohio Senate Journal, v. XLVI,

pp. 562-563.

16 Letter printed in Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, February 15, 1848.



324 Ohio Arch

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burthens were placed upon labor and wealth was ex-

empted from them. Link after link was added to the

chain and the helpless would have stood before mocking

Whiggery, this giant growing rapidly in the favor of

the people of Ohio."17  The issue was joined for a real

political battle and Medary eagerly accepted the Whig

challenge. His paper gave high praise to the decamp-

ing Democratic senators,18 whom Whig papers, like the

Ohio State Journal,19 denounced as "absquatulators",

accusing Medary of instigating the withdrawal of the

Democratic senators.20 To the reply of the Democrats

that they were only exercising the same right claimed

by the Whigs in 1842, the latter replied that the situa-

tions were not analogous, because in 1842 the Whigs had

resigned during a special session of the Legislature con-

vened for a specific purpose.21 To discredit the Demo-

crats with the voters, the withdrawal was denounced by

the Whig press as a revolutionary and treasonable con-

spiracy to prevent all legislation of which the Democrats

did not approve. "People of Ohio! You are now

threatened with civil revolution * * * equal repre-

sentation is no cardinal principle with the anarchy, the

overthrow of all your state institutions they have in

contemplation,"22 -- so ran one protest.

The Democrats sought a possible compromise, but

the Whigs refused to discuss such proposals and ad-

journed the Senate on February 16 and 17, for lack of

 

17 Ohio Statesman, February 15, 1848.

18 Ibid., February 15, 1848.

19 Ohio State Journal, February 15, 1848.

20 Ibid., February 26, 1848.

21 Ibid., February 19, 1948.

22 Ibid., February 16, 1848.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 325

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850      325

a quorum.23 On February 18, while the Bill was still

before the Senate, the House receded from its amend-

ments which were of little practical significance anyway,

and notified the Senate of its action. Thereupon, the

presiding officers of the Senate and House signed the

Bill, and it was declared law.24  This action was de-

nounced by the Cincinnati Enquirer as a "mockery of

all form, a transgression of all rules, a violation of all

the laws which ever governed legislation in Ohio, an

outrage upon all principle, and all common-sense."25 On

February 25, forty-one Democratic members of the

General Assembly issued an address to the people of

Ohio intended as a battle-cry for the coming campaign.26

The Whigs promptly issued a counter-blast, upholding

the constitutionality and fundamental justice of the Ap-

portionment Law.27

Democratic meetings all over the State protested

against the measure as a deliberate and unconstitutional

attempt by the Whigs to thwart the will of the people.28

At Dayton, the Resolutions Committee, with C. L. Val-

landigham as chairman, produced a strong indictment

of the Whigs, charging that the Apportionment Bill not

only was unconstitutional and unjust but that it was not

law; and argued that if the Governor did not call a spe-

cial session of the General Assembly to pass a new ap-

portionment measure the State would be without a legal

 

23 Ohio Statesman, February 17, 1848; Ohio Senate Journals, v. XLVI,

pp. 561-564.

24 Ohio Statesman, February 19, 1848; Ohio Senate Journals, v. XLVI,

pp. 566-567.

25 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, February 21, 1848.

26 Ohio Statesman, February 25, 1848; Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, March

1, 1848.

27 Ohio State Journal, February 26, 1848.

28 Ohio Statesman, March 15, 1848.



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326       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

government.29   In the columns of the Western Empire,

(Dayton), Vallandigham declared that the Bill had not

been passed according to parliamentary procedure.30

The Dayton gathering also urged the Democratic State

Central Committee to call a State Convention at an early

date in order to devise "a uniform course of action for

the Democratic party throughout the State. * * *"31

On March 3, the Democratic State Central Committee

complied and called a State Convention "to determine

upon such measures as may be deemed advisable to meet

the exigencies of the time."32   The date selected was

April 20, but this was later changed to May 10.

The Whigs, taking their cue from the Dorr Rebellion

in Rhode Island, pronounced the proposals of their op-

ponents as revolutionary. The Ohio State Journal be-

moaned the fate of the State: "One week, only one

week, and this fabric of government under which we

have dwelt * * * will be swept away, and all those

institutions which have been organized in the hope to

secure to the citizen the possession of life, liberty, and

property, will be gone as the baseless fabric of a vision

--gone, gone, forever."33 Nearly every Whig county

convention adopted resolutions upholding the Apportion-

ment Law and condemning the Democratic members

for withdrawing from the Senate.34 The conservative

portion of the Democracy unquestionably feared the

 

29 Ibid., March  1, 1848.

30 The Ohio State Journal pointed out that David T. Disney (D) had

once signed an appropriation bill after his term expired and if that law

were valid, by the same token this law was legal. This the Enquirer ad-

mitted, but claimed that Disney had said that if the law had been contested

it would have been thrown aside. Ohio State Journal, March 20, 1848.

31 Ohio Statesman, March 1, 1848.

32 Ohio Statesman, March 3, 4, 1848.

33 Ohio State Journal, May 3, 1848.

34 Ibid., March 1, April 5, 1848.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 327

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850   327

effect of these charges, and endeavored to reassure the

voters on the one hand, and to restrain the more radical

members of their own party on the other. The Cincin-

nati Daily Enquirer favored settling the matter in the

courts,35 and, although not rejecting the proposed Dem-

ocratic State Convention, regarded the latter only as

means to take counsel with the party membership.36

While this party warfare was going on in the news-

papers, the Democrats, in county conventions, adopted

resolutions condemning the Apportionment Bill; ap-

proving the course of the fifteen seceding Democratic

senators; and appointing delegates to the State Conven-

tion of May 10.37   The Richland County Democrats

resolved, "That it becomes the freemen of Ohio, who

are determined to maintain their liberties, to resist and

oppose this high-handed usurpation and tyranny by all

means within their power and to defeat it peaceably if

they can, but forcibly if they must."38 The Ashland

County Democratic Convention took equally strong

grounds resolving to "stand by the people of the other

counties of the State, even to the last resort of vio-

lence."39

With feeling running high, the leaders of the Demo-

cratic party met in Columbus, May 10, 1848,40 elected

Rufus P. Spalding chairman of the Convention, and

appointed a committee on resolutions headed by David

T. Disney. The importance attached to the Conven-

tion may be seen from the presence of such outstanding

35 Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, March 21, 1848.

36 bid., March 4, 1848.

37 Ohio Statesman, March 21, May 10, 1848.

38 Ibid., April 21, 1848.

39 Ibid., May 1, 1848.

40 Full proceedings of this Convention are given in the Ohio Statesman,

May 10, 11, 1848.



328 Ohio Arch

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leaders of the party as Samuel Medary, A. F. Edger-

ton, John Brough, David T. Disney, C. L. Vallandig-

ham, Edson B. Olds, T. W. Bartley, E. B. Flood, and

H. C. Whitman. The Convention met at a time when

the Democratic party in Ohio found itself jockeyed out

of a favorable position on the question of slavery in the

territories,41 and therefore the Apportionment Law was

seized upon as a new issue in the hope of rehabilitating

the political fortunes of the Democracy. Since there

were signs that the Whigs also were divided on the ap-

portionment question, conservative Democrats felt that

a radical move on their part would discredit them in

the eyes of the people at the moment when fortune was

playing into their hands. In the Convention, Brough,

a leader of the more conservative wing of the party,

attempted to tone down the sharp resolutions presented

for adoption. Resolutions finally were adopted to the

effect that there was no law by which the General As-

sembly could be formed after the second Tuesday in

October; that the Governor should call an extra session

to pass an apportionment law; and that if the Governor

failed to call such a session, Democrats should abide by

the Apportionment Law to the extent of voting in full

force at the next election, "with a view to ulterior

measures for the preservation of their past political

rights." These "ulterior measures," an ominous threat

according to Whig critics, were the refusal of Demo-

cratic senators and representatives to take their seats

in the Legislature. By such tactics, the Democrats

hoped to force a call for a constitutional convention by

the Whigs. Another resolution provided that if the

 

41 See Chapter V.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 329

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850          329

Governor did not call an extra session of the Legisla-

ture, a Democratic State Convention should assemble on

the first Monday in December "to devise the necessary

measures for securing the action of the whole people

on the subject of a new Constitution."42 Another revo-

lutionary act was the appointment of a Committee of

Public Safety consisting of twenty-one members, one

from each congressional district, to meet at the call of

the chairman "to confer for the public good."43 A com-

mittee of five was appointed to draft an address to the

people of Ohio, and eight days later a document of ten

thousand words appeared, repeating all the old argu-

ments against the Whig Apportionment Law,44 and con-

cluding with an appeal to the people, but assuring them

at the same time, that the remedy was "peaceable,

natural, and constitutional."45

The Whigs dubbed the Democratic Convention a

"Dorr Convention" and a "Jacobin Revolt."46 The main

Whig organ of the State warned its followers "that

measures to revolutionize the State and subvert the

Constitution are still in progress--that not one item

of the infamous plots and plans of May 10 has been

abandoned or neglected--that the machinery of treason

and anarchy has been silently, but constantly at work--

42 Ohio Statesman, May 10-11, 1848.

43 Years afterward, with an ironical flourish, Medary, a member from

the Tenth Congressional District, resigned from the Committee of Public

Safety. The appointment of a Committee of Public Safety was a step

which the Hamilton County Democratic Convention had not taken, chiefly

because of the opposition of John Brough. The failure to do this brought

protests from the Hamilton County Democrats. Cincinnati Daily Enquirer,

April 17, 18, 19, 1848. Brough probably did this in order to nip in the bud

an "independent" movement among some of the Democrats who were in-

clined to seek Whig support, especially in 1849, by agreeing to the legality

of the Apportionment Law.

44 Ohio Statesman, May 18, 1848.

45 Ibid., May 19, 1848.

46 Ohio State Journal, July 1, August 8, 1848.



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330       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

and that every threat, even to that of force, bloodshed

and murder, will most assuredly be carried out and ful-

filled to the letter, if the result of the election shall fur-

nish the means by which it may be done."47 The Whig

emphasis on law and order was probably partly in-

duced by the unfavorable position of their party in the

State on national issues.48    Many Whigs were bolting

the Taylor ticket49 in 1848, and state leaders hoped, by

stressing the "revolutionary" tactics of the Democrats,

to keep insurgent Whigs in line.50 By July, the Paines-

ville Telegraph (W) was convinced that state issues

were far more important than national questions, and

declared, with the approval of the Ohio State Journal,

that the question was "Whether we shall maintain law

and order in the State, and preserve the Constitution

and government in its present useful and reliable form,

or cast it at loose ends to the management of such cor-

rupt demogogues as Sam Medary, Dr. Olds, and John

B. Weller."51

The first reaction of the Democratic press52 and

Democratic county conventions53 was to applaud the

work of the State Convention of May 10. At the same

time, there was evidence of a desire to avoid the charges

of revolutionary tactics.54   The Dayton Western Em-

pire, for example, declared, "We contemplate no vio-

47 Ibid., September 18, 1848.

48 Chase to Sumner, November 27, 1848, quoted in "Selected Letters of

Salmon P. Chase," in loc. cit., v. II, pp. 142-143.

49 E. S. Hamlin to McLean, September 16, 1848. McLean MSS., v. XVI.

50 Ohio State Journal, August 24, 1848.

51 Ibid., July 10, 1848.

52 Approval was voiced by such papers as the Akron Democrat, Coshoc-

ton Democrat, Wayne County Democrat, Hillsboro Gazette, Georgetown

Standard, Knox County Democratic Banner, Guernsey County Jeffersonian,

Ohio Sun, Western Empire, quoted in Ohio Statesman, May 20, 1848.

53 Ohio Statesman, May 20-September 4, 1848.

54 Ohio Statesman, September 4, 1848.



Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850 331

Party Politics in Ohio, 1840-1850   331

lence. It is folly to talk of bayonets and bloodshed. We

propose simply to fold our arms, stand by and see if the

Whig party can carry on this government without our

cooperation."55  The Cincinnati Daily Enquirer vig-

orously refuted the charges of the Cincinnati Daily Ga-

zette (W) that the plans of the Democrats were revo-

lutionary and claimed for the Democrats the right to

vote for all the representatives from Hamilton County;

and in case that right were denied, to contest the election

in a peaceable manner.56  The Enquirer advised every

Democratic voter to cast his ballot for the senator and

the five representatives to be elected from Hamilton

County.57 This was in direct contravention to the Ap-